by Agena

Copyright© 2010 by Agena

Drama Story: Who can you trust?

Tags: Ma/Fa   Cheating  

I want to thank DaveT for his efforts in editing this story. He has gone far beyond what I'd anticipated and I hope the reader appreciates the work he has done. I certainly do.

Sorry, there's no sex in this story.

I was going through the morning mail my secretary had just put on my desk when I was alerted to an incoming call on my cell phone. Not too many people knew my cell phone number and a quick glance confirmed that it was from my best friend, Nick Camden.

"Hello Nick, what can I do for you?" I asked as I continued to sort through the mail.

"Jack, can we get together for lunch today?"

A quick check of my calendar and I found I had time in my schedule.

"Sure can. How about Sordino's at 12:30?"

"That's fine. See you then."

As I used the intercom to inform my secretary about my 12:30 luncheon, I wondered briefly why Nick wanted to meet for lunch. Of course, we did get together periodically for lunch, as his office wasn't far away. My attention quickly returned to the mail and then to preparation for a meeting with my staff in half an hour. The rest of the morning went quickly and at 12:20 I was on my way to my luncheon appointment with Nick. Sordino's was a local watering hole and restaurant within walking distance, so I didn't bother taking my car. It was just 12:30 as I walked through the door of the restaurant and spotted Nick sitting by himself in a back booth. He waved to attract my attention as I came in, and rose to greet me as I got close.

"Nick, this is great. I always enjoy these imprompu lunches, " I told him as we shook hands and sat down.

Nick and I went way back to our high school days and we'd remained friends for over twenty years. He and his wife Nadine were best friends with my wife Lynn and me. Nick is also my favorite tennis partner.

"Well, I can agree with that." he responded. "You're the one with the big managers job though. I'm just a lowly salesman with time on my hands."

"Lowly salesman my ass. You make more than I do and put in more time on the job than I do. So don't give me that crap," I laughingly told him.

"Okay, okay, enough BS. Let's eat."

After we'd ordered we started a conversation and updated one another on what was going on in our lives as well as bemoaning our latest attempts at golf. I could tell that something was bothering him though. Finally, as we were running out of conversation, Nick suddenly became very serious and he told me something that left me speechless for a few heart beats.

"Jack, I just got back this morning from Atlanta. I got up early and left on the first flight to get here and it was necessary to be out of my hotel by 6AM. When I was leaving my hotel room to catch the shuttle to the airport I saw a woman, who I swear looked just like Lynn. She was leaving a room down the hall carrying her shoes and went across the hall to another room and used a key- card to enter it. She looked a little disheveled as though she had just gotten up. I was going to say something but I was so stunned and she didn't stay in the hall but a few seconds and so I didn't get a chance to say anything. Does Lynn have a twin sister I've never heard about or a cousin who looks like her?"

When I was able to speak I asked, "What hotel was it?"

It was the downtown Hyatt-Regency. Are you all right?"

I must have gone pale or something because I floundered for another bit before responding.

"Lynn is in Atlanta on business staying at the downtown Hyatt-Regency."

"Oh shit! God, I'm sorry Jack. Maybe I shouldn't have said anything."

"Do you remember what room she left and what room she went into?"

"Let me think. It was on the sixth floor and she must have come out of 611 and gone into 614 or thereabouts."

"Shit! Lynn is supposed to be in 612."

"Damn! That's rotten Jack."

"Do you think she saw you and recognized you?"

"She looked down the hall in my direction as I closed my door. Those hotel door latches make a lot of noise, you know, when they close. She didn't acknowledge me at all after a quick glance before she went into the room. Its just that the way she looked coming out of that room made me think she'd spent the night there, and was sneaking back into her own room before anyone else was up. It was just a very remote chance that I was in the same hotel and just happened to come out of my room just as she was crossing the hall."

"Well, she gets home this evening. I wonder if she's going to say anything?"

By this time I was finished with my lunch as far as I was concerned. I just needed to get somewhere where I could be alone and think through what Nick had laid on me. It certainly didn't look good to be spotted coming out of another hotel room early in the morning like that.

"Look, I need to get back to my office now but I'm going to ask you not to say anything to anyone right now; not even Nadine. If Lynn and I have a problem I'd like to be able to work it out with Lynn before the world knows about it."

"Okay Jack. I'm terribly sorry about this. If there's anything I can do, let me know ... and I do promise to keep it to myself. I hope what I saw doesn't turn out to be what it looked like but I had to let you know. I'd want to know if Nadine was involved in something."

"Thanks Nick. I'll be in touch to let you know what's going on."

We said our goodbyes and I headed back to my office. I didn't get much accomplished the rest of the afternoon as my mind continued to dwell on the possibilities of what Nick had told me.

I guess I should interrupt my story to tell you a little bit about Lynn and myself. Lynn and I met in college. She was going for her BS in Computer Management and I was going for my BS in Civil Engineering. One of our courses overlapped and we ended up sitting next to one another. I think we were both taken with one another and it wasn't long before we were an item. We ended living together in our senior year and we married shortly after graduation. We've been married ten years now. Our sex life has been active and satisfying as far as I knew. Anyway, she'd never complained about it in all the years we were married.

Lynn is now 32 and a very attractive woman. She keeps herself in shape with exercise and diet. I know she gets hit on a lot but I'd always had a complete trust in her faithfulness up till now. She works as a senior buyer for a small plant in town that manufactures components for computers, and travels several times a year to visit and negotiate with suppliers ... It was hard to imagine that she would jeopardize our marriage by playing around.

I work for a national contractor of homes and business and I'm now the assistant manager of the heating and air conditioning department but I'd gained some insight on most of the disciplines that make up a large building contractor. At 33, I think I'm not that good looking but I'm in good shape. Lynn's obsession with keeping herself fit rubbed off on me or I was afraid to not be in shape with her looking so good. So I do a full round of gym work and tennis to maintain my body.

We own a condominium, but have been thinking about a getting a house because at 32 Lynn is getting concerned about her biological clock. If she wants kids I'll go along with it because I've always thought that children were part and parcel of a loving relationship. Without the responsibility of kids it's mostly companionship.

I've never availed myself of opportunities, because I thought about how hurt Lynn would be if she found out or I brought an STD home. I didn't think it was worth the risk and besides, Lynn kept me more than happy at home. I'll have to admit to being tempted at times when my little head tried to take over.

I was sitting in my office after my lunch with Nick and I had an idea to try to find out what I could about Lynn's latest trip. We'd had dinner with Lynn's boss, Bill Johnson and his wife Clare, a couple of times so I thought I'd give him a call.

"Bill? This is Jack Lancaster. Got a minute?"

"Sure Jack. What's up?"

Bill, I'm terribly embarrassed to ask this, but can you ask your travel department what time Lynn's plane gets in this evening? I'd written it down and forgot where I put it. I don't want to embarrass myself with her by calling so I thought I'd give you a call."

"Sure Jack, just a minute."

I heard him talking to his secretary and then he got back on the line. "While she's checking with travel how are things with you? We've got to get out to dinner sometime soon."

"I'm fine. We're keeping busy at work and you may not like to hear this," I told him laughing "but Lynn and I have been discussing starting a family."

"Well that's great, Jack, and its about time. Clare and I have two and we couldn't be happier."

"Sounds great. Say, can you tell me who went with Lynn on her trip? I get uncomfortable when she travels by herself."

"She took Ralph Marietta with her again this time. Ralph is a new hire right out of college, and she's been teaching him the ropes of the tough procurement business."

"Ha, ha." I responded, but I wasn't thinking it was funny at all. "How long have they been traveling together?"

"I think this is the third time."

"Well Jack, here's the information you wanted." He rattled off the airline, flight number and ETA.

"I really don't think you have anything to worry about when Lynn travels by herself though. She's pretty independent and can take care of herself."

"Thanks and you're probably right, Bill, so please don't mention I talked to you about it or that I misplaced her airline information. We have to stay on the good side of our spouses, don't we?" I laughed

"You're right Jack. Have a good day."

I rang off and sat there at my desk thinking awhile. If she were playing around on her trips I now had a pretty good idea who it was with. She'd never mentioned about anyone traveling with her before so maybe she'd been lying by omission. The fact that she'd never mentioned Ralphie Boy was indicative of an attempt to deceive. I had to be very careful here and not go jumping the gun. It would be too dangerous to confront her based strictly on circumstantial evidence. I'll wait until she gets home, act normally and see how she reacts. I haven't noticed anything different in her demeanor after her last two trips. In fact, I think I'll go to the airport tonight and meet her. She normally takes a cab home but I can explain showing up by telling her I missed her.

I was standing back from the security area waiting for Lynn to come through so we could go home. I'd watched the arrivals board and was expecting her momentarily. The first passengers were coming through security as I watched. It was toward the end of the influx that I saw her, but she wasn't alone. A tall, good-looking younger man was with her and he had an arm about her shoulders. I slipped into a convenient store front and continued to watch as they headed toward Baggage Claim.

They continued to Baggage Claim talking together animatedly. I unobtrusively followed and managed to take pictures of them with my cell while I was getting madder by the second. When they reached Baggage Claim I was appalled to watch as they exchanged a passionate kiss goodbye after collecting their luggage. It was a kiss that indicated a lust and passion that you would normally share with someone you've had intimate relations with. I was thankful for my cell to have a record of what I'd seen, but I was now raging inside and couldn't wait any longer to confront her.

As Lynn turned to head for the exit to catch a cab I stepped forward and she saw me. She initially smiled when she recognized me. Then she paled as she saw the look on my face and she suddenly remembered what I might have witnessed moments before. She stood there undecided from the shock of seeing me and what it might mean to our relationship as I walked up to her.

"Lynn, don't come home. Get yourself a room for the night or go to your parent's. I don't want to see or talk to you until I'm ready. I want you to know that I'll be talking with a lawyer."

Leaving her with a stunned look on her face I turned and started to walk away. Before I got beyond earshot she'd recovered enough to call out.

"Jack, wait." and hurried to catch up to me. "It wasn't what you're thinking. It was just one kiss of friendship. We can't divorce over that."

I turned back to her. Several people were standing and listening to our little drama. Ralph had disappeared.

"Yes we can Lynn. That wasn't a kiss you should give to another man if I weren't around, and we can divorce over it when I know there was more involved. Irreconcilable differences might cover a multitude of reasons which can also include adultery."

She paled again at the use of the A word.

"Honey, I would never do that to you. My gosh, it was just a kiss."

"Tell me Lynn. Whose bed were you in last night?"

If it was possible for someone to go chalk white Lynn managed it, but she continued to deny any inappropriate behavior.

"I spent it in my own bed. You've got to believe me." She croaked out.

I decided to try a small bluff to see if I could extract a confession out of her.

"Nick was in Atlanta at the Hyatt Regency this morning and saw you leave the room of your traveling companion, Lynn. If you've got a good excuse why you were leaving his room carrying your shoes at 6AM this morning I might be able to overcome the inappropriate kiss I just saw."

She looked shocked for a moment and glanced briefly at the people listening to us before responding. I think she knew that she was caught.

"Jack, I think we need to take this somewhere more private. Can I go home with you? I promise if we can't resolve this by talking for half an hour I'll leave."

"I don't think so. If you can explain right now why Nick saw you coming out of that room at 6AM I'll agree to talk further. I'm not going to give you time to think up a cockamamie reason for what he saw. Its either the truth right now or goodbye. Our marriage may hang on you coming up immediately with a rational reason for what he saw."

She looked at me very sadly before replying.

"I'm sorry Jack. I truthfully have no excuse that would satisfy you. I love you and don't want to lose what we have together. Please let me come home."

I was still simmering in my rage and I wanted to hit back by humiliating her publicly. It didn't bother me that I was announcing to the world that I was a cuckold. What I needed to do was identify her as an adulteress and make the humiliation hers.

"I'm sorry too Lynn. Right now there's no way I see that we could make a go of it. My trust in you is seriously jeopardized and a good marriage is based on trust. It would only be a sham of a marriage if we tried to continue after what you've done. I refuse to spend the rest of my life wondering about you when you weren't around. Let's just make a clean breast of it right now and let me get on with the rest of my life." I told her and turned and walked away.

As I left I heard someone clapping in the background and another guy, who had been listening, gave me a thumbs up as I exited the terminal. I didn't look back.

Tears were running down my face as I got in my car in the short-term parking lot. I couldn't drive for half an hour as I fought not going back and getting her. I hadn't really known how deeply I loved her and needed her until that moment.

The weekend was spent in sort of a daze. I don't remember anything about it. I think I watched a lot of old movies on the TV. Maybe I was trying to go back in my life to when things were happier. Thankfully, Lynn didn't try to contact me, I think I would have hung up on her if she had tried. I did start feeling bad about publicly humiliating her, but then I felt she had something coming as revenge for what she'd done and I didn't feel so bad.

I awoke on Monday morning after a fitful sleep. I hadn't heard from Lynn and I realized it was time to do something about making at least a preliminary decision regarding my marriage. A couple of days before, my boss had been looking for someone to take over the office in Seattle for a few weeks. Maureen, the regular manager, had to take maternity leave, and as far as I knew he hadn't found anyone yet. Maybe some time away would give me a chance to cool down and get my thoughts in order.

When I went into work that morning I stopped in at my boss' office and asked whether he'd filled the job in Seattle yet.

"No I haven't." he responded. "Are you interested? We really need someone out there soon."

"I think I'd like to go for it then. How soon do I have to be there?"

"I don't mean to pry, but I assume you've cleared this with Lynn and she's okay with your absence for six to eight weeks."

"Lynn and I have separated and I have the time now to look at other options for my future life."

"I'm sorry to hear that. I thought you and she were going to start a family soon."

"For reasons I'm not going into I don't think that is going to be a possibility of that any time soon. I need this time to sit down and give my marriage a lot of thought."

"All right, I don't like to take advantage of problems in your personal life, but I need you out in Seattle as soon as possible. You need to be brought up to speed on operations there before Maureen leaves and she's due in less than two weeks. So anything you can do to expedite your presence out there would be appreciated..."

"I should be able to be out there in three or four days." I just need a little time to tie up the loose ends in my personal life and I'm gone."

"Well, try to fit in some time to give Matt a little update on where you're at on the Kingston Project, and you're free to take the rest of the time off before you go."

"Okay. I have to take time off to take care of a few things this morning but I'll get with Matt after lunch."

He stood up and took me hand.

"Thanks for doing this Jack I appreciate it. I'm sorry about you and Lynn, and I hope it works out okay for you. Keep me posted on your progress and if you have any problems."

The rest of the morning I was running around trying to isolate half our joint bank and investment accounts to forestall her making a run on them if she felt our marriage was over. I hadn't heard from her since the confrontation at the airport, and I had no idea where she was. I expected to hear from her soon though.

In the afternoon I got with Matt, my co-worker, and brought him up to speed on the project I'd been working on. He was surprised that I'd taken the job in Seattle. Obviously, my boss hadn't alerted him to my personal problems.

"What does Lynn have to say about being gone for a couple of months?" My wife would kill me if I took something like that. Of course we have two kids I'd have to leave her with and leaving her alone with them would go over like a lead balloon."

I didn't want to let it out that we were probably going to divorce so I soft pedaled my response.

"We're having some personal problems so I'm using this as time apart to try to let the dust settle a little."

"That's too bad. I hope this separation works then."

The rest of the afternoon was spent going through the details of my project and introducing him to some other key people. Before leaving for the day I told him, "I'll be around a couple more days so if anything comes up you're unsure about give me a call on my cell. Its Monday now and I expect to be leaving Thursday."

On my way home I decided I didn't feel like cooking so I stopped at TGIF for dinner. After dinner and a couple of cold brews I continued my trip home. It didn't feel right to eat out by myself but I figured I'd better get used to it for awhile. Maybe forever for the way I was feeling about my marriage right then.

I noticed her car was gone from the garage when I got home, so I assumed she'd been over to pick it up and probably taken some clothes and other personal items away with her.

I'd barely gotten in the door when my cell phone rang. Looking at it I saw it was Lynn and decided to answer.

"What is it Lynn?"

"Jack, can I come over so we can talk? I was there earlier and picked up my car. Dad drove me over and I took some clothes and other things. I'm staying with my folks for now."

"I don't see that there's much to talk about or I'd care to listen to right now, Lynn."

"I'm really sorry Jack. I know I've hurt you badly, but we need to try to give our marriage a chance. I know if we could talk I'm sure we could work something out to your satisfaction that would save our relationship."

"You broke the contract of commitment we had Lynn. Right now I'm too angry to consider any thought of staying together. I suggest you not contact me again. When I'm ready to talk I'll call you."

I heard a sigh of resignation.

"All right Jack. I'll wait, but can you make it soon? You should know that mom and dad are not too happy with me either."

"Lynn, I'll tell you what You can come over Thursday evening about 7:00 and do your thing. I'll be able to give you an idea on my position then."

I didn't plan to be there, but I'd be leaving her a message that would express my feelings. I just have to work out what the 'message' would be.

"Okay Jack. Thank you. I love you."

I felt I had to get a crack in before hanging up even though I felt it was a little childish, "You can also bring your fuck buddy and have a good time in what was our bed if that turns you on."

"Jack, it was a one time thing and I will never, never do that again. You can be assured of that."

"I don't know how I'm supposed to be assured or believe you or whether it was even the first time. When we get together to talk you'd better be prepared to address the issue of trust because right now your rating on that is zero. How do you expect me to agree to raising a family together if I can't trust you?"

"I understand Jack and I can't say I blame you. Please, just give me a chance. I'll..."

"Good bye Lynn."

I hung up; I was done talking to her.

The next day I was busy. I made an appointment to see a divorce lawyer for the next morning (Wednesday) and then I spent the day packing my all my clothes, except what I needed for my trip to Seattle, and all my personal possessions and then moving them to a storage locker. It took most of the day. I didn't know whether I'd ever come back to this home because it held too many happy memories of our times here together that could never be forgotten, but were now tarnished by her duplicity.

I then checked into a motel near the airport for the next two nights.

On the way to the appointment at the divorce attorney's the following morning, I stopped at the office and picked up my travel itinerary and had a last talk with my boss.

"Well Jack, have a good time out there and say hello to Maureen for me. She's quite a gal. I think they're grooming her for bigger and better things."

"I met her once at a corporate retreat and I was impressed with her. Not only is she smart and personable; she's not bad looking either."

"Well, she must be married now if she's having a child. Anyway, say hello to her for me. You never know, she might be our boss someday."

"Will do. Take care and I'll see you in a couple of months."

We shook hands, and I left the office heading to the divorce attorney.

I was right on time for my appointment and I was ushered in as soon as I arrived. The attorney was an older woman, who no doubt had handled many divorce cases, and she first asked me to explain my problem and to tell her what I wanted.

I related to her about my discovery of Lynn's infidelity and then told her about accepting a transfer out of state for a couple of months. "As far as what I want to do, I need to know what options I have."

"You have several options. First, you can do nothing for your time away and continue your marriage when you return. That would be accepting her adultery, and I don't think you would want that without undergoing extensive counseling. Another option would be to file for a legal separation to see if the time away from each other will allow the marriage to heal. Finally, just go for a divorce."

"In your case, since you'll be gone for a while, I would recommend that if you still love your wife, you can create a separation agreement which you can be used as the basis for a divorce in the future and it protects your assets while you're apart. It can also be used to require things of the other party. In your case you could require her to see a psychoanalyst to see what caused your wife to commit adultery and whether it's predetermined she will do it again. However, you may have to promise to give the marriage a chance afterward for some amount of time. If it still doesn't work the settlement terms of the agreement are the basis for a divorce."

I thought for a few minutes about my love for her and how I'd enjoyed living with her before and then told her to go ahead and draw up a separation agreement based on her recommendation. I laid out what I wanted in terms of a split of assets, which included giving Lynn the heavily mortgaged condo and contents except my personal items and a few other articles that might still be there. I'd already made a 50/50 split of our finances and she documented that in the agreement.

I did not want to resume the marriage without some indication that would provide me some assurances that our marriage had a reasonable chance of succeeding after psychotherapy. The duration of the therapy would be determined by the therapist. Lynn also needed to document for me how many times she had been with her lover and how many lovers there had been since we were married. I think there was only the one, but I wanted it from her in writing so that if something turned up later that hadn't been noted by her we would proceed with the divorce.

The lawyer listened to my conditions; taking notes as I rambled on,.When I was through she told me she could have it written up and ready for my signature that afternoon. I told her that would be acceptable although I was a little nervous about what I would do if she told me she had taken several lovers while we were married, and that I was a cuckold several times over.

After leaving the attorney's office I called my friend Nick and asked if I could come around that evening to talk with him and Nadine. He told me they would both be home that evening and I told the I'd stop by about 7:30.

After lunch I stopped back at the lawyers office. She had the separation agreement ready for my review. After looking it over I asked for a couple of small changes to my conditions, which her secretary quickly incorporated, and I signed it. I asked if she could have it given to my wife tomorrow evening about 7:00 at our house. She'd be there expecting to talk with me but I thought the separation agreement would provide everything I wanted to interface with her about. I'm sure she'd get the message. The lawyer told me it could be done for an extra charge that I agreed to. She also told me she would keep me posted on the legal aspects while I was away. I made sure she had my cell number to call me.

After leaving the lawyers office I decided I had one more thing to do. I placed a call to Bill Johnson, Lynn's boss.

"Bill, this is Jack Lancaster."

"Oh, hi Jack; what can I do for you?"

"Bill, there's something I think you need to know. Lynn and I are separating, and its because I discovered she's been sleeping with your other employee, Ralph Marietta, while they were traveling together."

There was a stunned silence for a moment.

"Oh my god, I'm so sorry, Jack. I don't know whether you know it or not but we have an anti- fraternization policy for company employees, and both Lynn and Ralph signed on to it when they were hired. Can you provide proof of this?"

Just a witness that saw Lynn leaving Marietta's hotel room at 6AM in Atlanta on Monday and Lynn admitted it to me. Plus, I have photos of them kissing inappropriately in the airport Monday evening."

"That certainly indicates some degree of intimacy that shouldn't have occurred. I'd like to talk with our HR department and then I'll have a talk with Lynn."

"Okay Bill."

I felt a little better after hanging up that I'd done something about Ralphie Boy. I'd be interested in what came out of it.

That evening at Nick's home, I explained to them what was going on between Lynn and myself. They were sorry to hear about our separation and that I would be away for so long.

"I think a couple of months apart will give us both time to reflect on our marriage and where we want it to go if we stayed together on a trial basis."

"You might be right, Jack." Nick told me. "We're going to miss getting together. You guys have been our best buds for a long time. I don't know what the hell we're going to do without you both."

"Let's hope Lynn and I are back together in a couple of months. I'll be counting on you two to help our marriage heal if it can be done."

"You can count on it Jack." Nadine told me. "I'll call Lynn and talk with her. Do you know where she's staying? I'm sure she's devastated about this."

"At her parents' she told me. Do you have her cell?

"Oh yes. I'll call her tonight."

"Well, I must be going. I'd appreciate hearing from you guys while I'm gone and letting me know what Lynn's doing. If she's still seeing that guy or any guy while I'm gone there won't be a snow ball's chance in hell that we'll have a marriage.

"We'll do what we can, Jack. So long and have a good trip."

I left them and went back to my motel. When I went to bed that night I felt I'd tied up as many loose ends as I could before leaving for Seattle in the morning.

The trip to Seattle was uneventful and after picking up the rental car at the airport I headed to my extended-stay hotel. The hotel was located about two blocks from the office and I could see that it would be an easy walk every day if the weather cooperated.

After checking in and unpacking, my stomach said it was time to eat. But since I was tired after so many hours of travel I opted to use the hotel dining room. Looking at my watch as I ate I noted that the time back home would be 8:00 and Lynn ought to have my message by now. I'd left my cell off all day and I turned it on to see if she had tried to call me. I wasn't surprised that there were four calls from her in my message file and one from Maureen. I listened to the one from Maureen first:

"Jack, welcome to Seattle. I'm looking forward to seeing you in the morning. Come in early and we'll go to breakfast together. Call me on my cell if that's a problem. See you tomorrow anyway. Bye."

The calls from Lynn were pretty much all duplicates of each other. She was most desirous for me to call her as soon as possible. I decided to wait till I finished eating and return to my room before responding.

I ate a leisurely meal followed with a cup of coffee before heading up to my room. Once there, I got myself comfortable and then placed the call to Lynn. I wanted to keep my conversation with her as emotionless as possible and not let my anger govern our talk.

"I received your messages Lynn. Did you get the separation papers at the house?"

"Yes I did. I wanted desperately to let you know how much I appreciate that you're giving our marriage another chance. Can you tell me where you're at and when will you be coming home?"

"I'm in Seattle taking over the office here for the manager while she's on maternity leave. I'll probably be here a couple of months. That will give you a chance to get into therapy and maybe we can discover what your problem is."

"I've already been researching the subject, honey, and I hope to have the name of a psychotherapist in a couple of days that will see me as soon as possible."

"Would you please keep me posted on what you're doing?"

"I'll call every evening Jack, and let you know."

"All right. I'm tired and need to go to bed. Good night."

"Before you go, I had a talk with my boss, Bill Johnson, today. I guess you talked to him and he was definitely unhappy with me for my actions with Ralph. An official reprimand has gone into my file and I won't be traveling for the company anymore. I've been transferred to the Finance department. Because Ralph was still on probation he was fired. I feel really bad about the whole thing but mostly about the hurt I've caused you. I'm considering quitting work because the reason for my transfer will certainly leak out and I couldn't face my co-workers."

"I'm sorry Lynn, but I don't feel too much sympathy. Good night."

"Good night, Jack. I love you."

I didn't respond but just hung up. From that I hope she knew I was still very upset with her. I was satisfied that I'd gotten a little revenge on Ralphie and, Lynn too for that matter.

I had a good night's sleep and next morning was out early after showering and walked down to the office; arriving there at 8:00. The office didn't open until 9, but there was a car in the manager's parking place so I knew Maureen was there as I entered.

As the office door closed behind me she came out of her office smiling with her hand reaching out.

"Hi, Jack. It's been awhile. Welcome to Seattle."

I was awe-struck momentarily as I took her hand. She was almost as tall as I with shoulder length, red hair and looking very pregnant. She had the happy glow of impending motherhood. With intelligent, green eyes looking out at me, I was enthralled.

"Maureen, it's good to see you again."

"Are you ready to go for breakfast?"

"I'm starved."

"Let's go then." She told me as she headed for the door I'd just entered. I fell in behind her and waited as she locked the door behind us.

"We don't have to rush back." she told me. "Laurie, my assistant, will be along shortly and she'll be looking after things. Are you in the mood for pancakes?"

"Sounds good."

"Let's go to IHOP then."

Getting in her car, I was impressed with her take-charge demeanor. This was a person who knew who she was and what she wanted. After squeezing her belly behind the wheel of her car, she drove competently and smoothly to our destination. We chatted about the weather and the traffic as we drove.

When we got into the restaurant, she led the way to a booth at the back and after placing our orders and getting our coffee, I noticed for the first time that she didn't have a wedding ring on her finger. She had a beautiful diamond, engagement ring but no wedding ring. I wondered about it but there was no way I was going to ask her about anything so personal. I may find out someday but I wasn't about to even hint about her private life. However, she did ask me about mine.

"What does you're wife think about you spending time out here, Jack? I assume she must be okay with it."

"I guess it doesn't matter because we're separated right now, and are using my time away from home to give us both time to think about our marriage."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. I didn't mean to pry into your private life. I notice you're still wearing your wedding ring."

"I'll leave the ring on until our marriage is formally dissolved by court decree."

"I'm sorry about your marriage. I hope it all works out for you. While we're on the subject of personal lives I think we should clear the air on my status."

"You don't have to do that," I blurted out.

I'm pregnant and I suppose you noticed that I have an engagement ring and no wedding band. My fianc' was in the active army reserve when he was called up and sent to Iraq and I didn't discover I was pregnant until after he left. Somehow the birth control pills didn't work for me, so here I am, a bloated cow."

"You don't look like a bloated cow. I don't think there's anything more beautiful than a pregnant woman. When do you expect your fianc' back?"

"He's back and buried in the Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington. He was killed by an IED after being there just three months."

"Oh, my gosh!! I'm so sorry." I exclaimed as I unconsciously reached over to grasp her hand. That must have been devastating for you."

"I've done my crying and now I want to live for our child. It's a boy and he's going to be named after his father."

"Wow, that's awesome!! When is he due?"

"The official date is two weeks from yesterday, but that can be plus or minus a few days. That's why I need to get you up to speed on our operations here as soon as possible. I've been sweating bullets until they found someone to fill in for me."

"Well I'm here now so we can get started whenever you're ready."

We'd been talking while we were eating and were now just sitting enjoying our coffee.

"Before we go," she told me, "I'd like to make you aware that my assistant, Laurie, had been hoping she'd be taking over the office while I was gone. She's very ambitious but has only been working with me about six months. I hired her right out of college and she's smart enough but, like I said, inexperienced. She'd be fine if she had a couple of years or so under her belt. That's why I asked for someone who had experience in the corporation and a little more maturity. Anyway, she felt a little put out when I didn't offer her the job, so you might find her a little resentful at first until she accepts you as boss. She's a good worker, knows her job as assistant and she'll be invaluable to you. I doubt she is resentful enough to sabotage you."

"Well, thanks for the heads-up. I appreciate it."

"That's one reason I wanted to have breakfast away from the office. The other reason was I wanted to get to know you before you start. So, are you ready to go to work?"

"I'm ready. I think I'm going to enjoy working with you even if its only for a week or so."

We left the restaurant and headed back to her office. She was right, the office was open when we got there and a young woman was standing, talking to a secretary outside Maureen's office. When she saw us come in she came over to meet us. She didn't look too happy.

"Laurie, I like you to meet Jack Lancaster. He's the one who'll be filling in for me while I'm gone."

I received a grimace instead of a smile so I knew Maureen was probably right in her assessment of Laurie's attitude toward me. She was a brunette with the most beautiful blue eyes, a nicely proportioned, slim figure and good looking legs.

"Nice to meet you Mister Lancaster." She told me as she shook my hand.

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