When we were just eight years old together, I gave Mary Sue Milligan a daisy that I had just picked out of the park garden and told her that "She was my girl." She just laughed and smiled at me but put the flower into her corn silk golden hair above her hair before giving me a blushing kiss on my even more embarrassed cheek and then raced off to join the other girls playing in the park. From that day on we were virtually inseparable and a regular fixture at each others homes.
For all practical purposes we were the boy and girl next door, except actually we lived about half a block apart from each other. By middle school we were as thick as thieves together and shared our first true romantic kiss together behind the Scout troop shed after one fine spring day when we were both thirteen. During High School we were as tightly attached as any two couples could be. Neither of us even considered dating, let alone kissing, anyone else. We were the Valentine King and Queen for the school's big annual St. Valentine's Day dance in our Senior year and never left the dance floor, or each others arms once the entire night. We shared our bodies together later that night in our first true act of lovemaking and we both gently lost our virginities together. Afterwards we pledged our undying love to each other and vowed that we would marry immediately after we finished college. We just knew that we were meant for each other — forever.
We kept that vow to marry as soon as we graduated from our local State University together, but it was a very near thing. We had been lovers and roommates since virtually our first day on campus and even our own families began prodding us to just give up and tie the knot already. Still we waited until the day after our graduation; we had made a promise and we always kept our vows extremely seriously.
We knew married life would be different and our relationship more complicated once we were out in the 'real world' and both working for a living but we resolved to never bring our frustrations with our unsatisfying jobs home and never to go to bed angry with each other. Money remained a problem for us, however. Neither of us earned enough to consider starting a family yet, let along allowing one of us to quit work to stay with a young child for several years.
Mary worked as a bank teller, and received several minor promotions over the next few years but very little in the way of pay increases other than a minor cost of living adjustment. I wasn't enjoying considerably greater success either working on the business management side of things a small engineering firm. I knew I'd have to work hard to get my name remembered favorably by the partners but somehow, despite all of the increasingly hard work that I did, the promised dangled carrots of big bonuses always seemed to be just as far away from me at the end of a project as they were at the very start.
There was one slight golden thread. An acquaintance of mine who worked for one of our clients was as equally annoyed with his employer, who had declined his pet project, which I agreed was a very marketable and potentially profitable business niche. Since there would be no professional conflict of interest if we decided to produce and market this product on our own, we resolved over a number of beers one night to do just that. Assuming that we could somehow manage to obtain a small business loan of over $400,000 in order to finance the needed equipment and lease a suitable office/manufacturing & warehouse site. Easier said than done. In a weak economy, every bank and venture capitol firm we went to was intrigued by our proposal, but in the end declined to finance us.
I began to despair of achieving any sort of financial success and I regret that my unhappiness began to influence Mary into making the most unfortunate decision of her life.
Mary was having problems of her own at work. Her bank was known for being extremely stingy and paid significantly less than the industry median wages. Turnover was high, including in the supervisory ranks, but Mary just couldn't seem to get a toe into the management doorway. Until a new branch manager, Jeff Hudson, took over operations at Mary's branch. He was tall, good looking and extremely articulate, and always looked sharp in a good suit. He also had a bit of a reputation in the company for fishing in the company pond and had been transferred from his previous bank branch due to allegations of sexual harassment, but no one at her bank knew that at the time.
From the very start apparently, he began casting his line for Mary. At first just gently complimenting her appearance and skills, and hinting that if she kept up the good work he'd find a supervisors job for her. As he pressed harder, it eventually became crystal clear to Mary that if she wanted that much higher paying supervisor's position the price would be her body — either she would have to allow him to fuck her or she'd be virtually guaranteed to never get any sort of promotion as long as he was the top boss.
For Mary, it was no decision at all — she told him flat out, No! Until the day I lost my job.
Despite my habit of working twelve hour days, and often most of Saturday as well, our company lost a couple of critical clients and faced a 40% massive company layoff of personnel. It was nothing personal and they had vague hopes being able to invite me back next year, but for at least the next six months my income would be reduced to just receiving unemployment compensation. A poor substitute. With the pittance that I'd now bring in and Mary's own meager salary we could still pay our rent and her car note (mine was an older car already paid off) and put a bit of food on the table, but there would be nothing for entertainment money or for savings, in the event of an emergency. I kept telling Mary that it didn't matter, as long as we were happy together, but I could tell that Mary was obsessed about somehow getting her long overdue promotion that she more than deserved — or at least a raise that would give us a bit of long overdue comfort.
I redoubled my efforts to get that small business loan and was meeting nearly daily with every venture capitol firm in the phone book, until one day all of the stars and planets finally came into the right sort of alignment. A good first meeting that morning led to a second larger follow-up meeting that afternoon with the top firm partners that could potentially approve my business proposal on the spot. During our Noon lunch break I tried to call Mary to give her the good news and to tell her to cross her fingers and toes for me. She wasn't at the bank — she'd gone out for lunch, they said, and I couldn't reach her on her cell phone either. I left brief happy messages on both her office and her cell phone and then turned off my own cell phone so it wouldn't disturb our afternoon meeting.
This meeting went about as well as I could have hoped and I left there with the promise of a final meeting early the next week with their lawyers and my business partner to sign all of the paperwork and get our check. We'd gotten the financing to start our own company! I wanted to share the wonderful news with Mary but her phone never answered, but I could tell she'd also been trying to call me and had left several messages for me. I dialed up my saved messages and after listening to the four separate calls discovered the cruel trick that fate had now played on us.
.... There is more of this story ...