This is a reposting of "A wife's Commitment."
I was done with it, but some readers suggested that I continue. When it ended, I thought the end would suggest enough that the readers could make up their own story after that. I will fill in what I implied in the original ending.
Jenny Marie Jenkins felt that her life was finally starting to look up. Her husband had finally opened his own architectural business and was on the edge of taking off. She had worked so many long hours grading papers, making out lesson plans and paying for class supplies the school didn't have money for, that she was really getting sick of teaching her high school classes. She had spent her summers working on her master's just to be able to keep her teaching certificate.
All this time, her husband had been working for one of the best firms in New York for almost no credit. He had constantly designed award winning designs that his boss had won numerous prizes for. Finally, in a fit of anger and frustration, he had quit in order to open his own office.
Office space in New York was draining Jenny's account. If not for her modest inheritance from her parents, it would have been impossible; but she believed in her husband and had gone all out to help. Joe had done a number of very small commissions that barely broke even when they were done. Never-the-less, he had won some recognition for the design of several small homes. He just never got the big enough break that would set them on easy street.
Jenny's inheritance was just about gone. The bills for engineering on the last project were coming due. The landlord was giving Joe several letters that their rent was way past due.
Joe had called her to say that he was meeting a client for dinner and he was hoping that she could join them. The news was not new. He had brought the subject up a number of times. Jenny was willing to do whatever it would take for Joe's success, but did not know enough about architecture to be of much help.
They had been married in college, when she was a freshman and he was working on his doctorate. She had learned to cut out cardboard models; help fill in grass patterns with an ink pen on the site plans, but didn't really know much about the real design or working drawings.
She knew that this new client could make or break their family. Joe had had an ongoing dialog with Conrad for a number of years. Conrad had been a client of Joe's boss for quite some time, and Joe was trying to get him away from his former boss.
Conrad was planning a new house on Martha's Vineyard that was going to cost millions. Joe wanted this job desperately. Jenny pulled up in front of Guinevere's. The valet came around and opened the driver's door to help her out. He tried not to stare as he discreetly glanced down. Jenny tried to gather her short dress in her left hand as she swiveled her legs up and over the quarter panel of the small Mazda Miata convertible.
The valet held the door with one hand as he used his right hand to firmly lift her to her feet as she got out. She didn't want the help or contact, but had learned this was the most modest way of getting out of a very low car with a short dress.
Jenny held the car keys in her right hand and put them between them as he pulled her up against him. He got her name, address and phone number to put on the valet ticket. Jenny didn't like giving out that kind of information, but it was the only way of securing and reclaiming the car.
Jenny walked in, knowing that her husband and Conrad had already arrived. The hostess escorted her over to a table by the window, where she spotted her husband with the older man who she had heard so much about.
She knew Conrad was a very wealthy businessman, but didn't realize he was black. She had heard that he had played professional football for many years, but she did not really understand that this six foot six inch behemoth was a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs. She had not identified wealthy successful businessmen as black linemen.
Her husband introduced the two to each other, and they sat down. Jenny was a little embarrassed that she was sitting between the two of them and facing the outside window, which was about four feet above the outside public walk.
The conversation during dinner went smoothly, but Jenny never felt quite comfortable with Conrad. He was very gracious and flattering to both of them, but Jenny was very uneasy about his subtle behavior. She did not like the fact that they needed the work so much and Conrad seemed to hold all the cards to their future.
Conrad did not tell them that he had run a credit check of them. They did not know that he actually owned the building that Joe was a tenant in. They did not know that he had done enough business with Joe's former boss that he knew exactly what Joe owed everybody.
Before desert was served, Joe thought everything was going well enough to bring up business.
"Well Conrad, you know what kind of work I can do, and I would like very much to do that vacation home you are planning in Martha's Vineyard. I have been through all of your space planning requirements and budget to know I can give you a building that you will love." He did not say that he knew it would be good enough to win a number of awards from the AIA. That would be enough to put him over the top.
"Well, Joe, I am sure you are good enough to do the job, however, I have been friends with your former boss for a number of years. He has done a number of big businesses for me over the years, and I kind of feel obligated to him too."
The conversation stopped. Conrad looked over to Joe, then back to Jenny. Jenny was humiliated. She did not want to be any part of this conversation. She did not want to be in the presence of her husband to see him humiliated by getting rejected by this man who held their future.
Conrad looked from Joe over to Jenny. "Joe, why don't you go over to the bar and get a couple of drinks for us. I want to talk to your wife for a second." Joe was stunned, but he stood and walked over to the bar as ordered. He stood there a while as he repeated the request for the drinks they had already been having.
While he was waiting at the bar, he turned enough to see Conrad put his hands over Jenny's; lean over and whisper something into her ear. He was too far away to even remotely hear, but he could see that Jenny recoiled like she had been hit with a hammer. Her lower lip trembled. She took her wire rimmed glasses off and wiped her eyes. She looked back up at him as though pleading for mercy. No words were spoken. She looked down at her hands which had been folded under the table on her lap.
When Joe got back, he set the drinks down. He looked into Conrad and Jenny's eyes. Conrad had no reaction, but Jenny had clearly been upset. She tried to force a smile she clearly did not have as she looked over at her husband.
Jenny picked up her white linen napkin and slowly refolded it on the table. She picked up her small clutch purse as she stood. "You men will have to excuse me. I will be right back." She said as she stood and turned for the women's room.
Without quite understanding, Joe watched his forty-year old wife head for the women's room clear across the dining room. The grey high-heeled boots which stopped just below her knees clicked across the honed limestone pavers. Her long red hair which had been finished into a French braid switched back and forth as she walked, like the tail of a cheetah as it changes direction. Jenny's years of early morning jogs had helped her keep the physique that had given her a track scholarship. Her grey button front dress was much shorter than she would have preferred, but was consistent with what most of the younger girls bought from Forever Twenty One. Joe could not see it, but he knew what the men seated along her path could see.
Joe knew that the already short dress he had asked her to wear had the last one or two buttons above the hem unbuttoned. He could see the startled men's gasps and the sparkle in their eyes as she passed. What he could not see was the outrange and humiliation in her eyes as she fought to keep her composure.
Jenny's mind was racing as she walked through the vestibule of the women's room. So far, she had only gone into the restroom as ordered by Conrad. That was the easy part because it took no decision on her part. As she walked, she was fighting with the next part of the command.
Jenny was sick. She fought with her options, but couldn't see any as she walked into one of the stalls and shut the door behind her. Her fingers were trembling as she unbuttoned the front of her dress and peeled it down so it draped over her waist. Her mind raced as she reached behind her to unclasp the back of her bra. She rolled up the black lace garment and put it into her purse. She buttoned the top back up.
She might as well have been naked. The dark silk dress fit so snug there was no way to hide the protrusions of her long-stemmed pink nipples. Her cheeks flushed as she felt the almost transparent material pressing against breasts. She pulled her dress up and slid down her panties. Jenny put the lid down on the toilet and sat down so she could pull the garment down and over her boots. Jenny scooted her but up enough to hike her dress back down. She crossed her legs as she struggled to get the black lace panties into her small purse.
.... There is more of this story ...