David Porter watched his wife and two sons as they played on the monkey bars at the park. He smiled in contentment as peals of laughter rang out. Two short weeks ago, he’d been in danger of losing his family.
His executive secretary had left on a well-deserved vacation while a trainee had stepped into her shoes. Michelle had been with the company for less than three months but showed promise in her work. David stood and prepared to leave for the day when Michelle tapped on his door.
“Sorry Mr. Porter, but I can’t find the Bremmer file for the eight am meeting.”
“Linda told me she left everything you’d need for the week on her desk.”
“I know, but I’ve looked everywhere for it. I don’t mind staying later to help you redo the file.”
David glanced at his watch and sighed. “Give me a minute to call my wife. It’s going to be a long evening.”
Two hours later they closed the new file and were ready to head out.
“Would you like to stop for a drink or dinner before you go home, Mr. Porter?”
“I can’t tonight, Michelle. My wife’s parents are visiting. But please, feel free to put a good meal on your expense account. I’ll see you at 8:00 sharp.”
David walked her to her car before returning to his private parking space and his late model SUV. Jean had kept his dinner warm and now he relaxed with a drink and visited with his in-laws, whom he admired very much. He hated to work late and miss tucking his sons in bed.
The long hours of work paid off though, the meeting had been a big success, the clients were pleased. “Thanks again, Michelle, for your help. We would have been in a bind without that file.”
“Anytime, Mr. Porter.”
The rest of the day passed swiftly and David was eager to get home to be with his sons. Michelle looked up as he neared her desk. “Mr. Porter, would you like to go for a drink with several of us?”
“Another time, Michelle. My boys are expecting me, but thanks for asking.”
He hurried home and set up an old train set that had been his as a boy. His sons put on their engineer hats and the three played until Jean called them to eat. After dinner, David helped his wife clean up the kitchen, then bathe the boys and tuck them in bed. Working together allowed them time to snuggle on the couch and watch a movie. He loved his family so much it scared him at times.
Next day, David was eager to get through the workday so he could take his wife and sons to a children’s program at the new civic center. Since Michelle had asked to leave an hour early for a doctor’s appointment, he decided to close the office early too.
When he got close to his SUV, a strong odor of oil wafted past before he saw the puddle running from beneath it. “Dammit! How in the hell did this happen?” He got inside and started the engine, and as he expected, the oil gauge flashed its message. He’d no sooner stepped outside the vehicle when Michelle pulled up alongside him.
“Is something wrong, Mr. Porter?”
“Yes, looks like I’ve ruptured the oil line somehow.”
“I’d be happy to drive you home.”
“Thanks, Michelle. It’s quite fortunate you happened by when you did. I’ll call the garage to take care of this.”
David could still smell the oil on the way home. He must have stepped in it. He thanked Michelle again when she dropped him off at his house.
David’s boys laughed all through the children’s program. They both had a balloon animal made by a clown. The excitement wore them out and both conked out on the drive home. They didn’t even wake up when they were put in bed.
David walked in the house the next evening to find Jean sobbing. ”Honey, what is wrong.” He was stunned when she pushed him away.
“Are you cheating on me, David?”
“What!? No way. Why would you think such a thing?”
“A woman called here. She said you were lovers, that you’d been with her the night my parents were here. She threatened me, David, if I told you she called.”
“It’s not true, Jean. Please, trust me.” His phone rang and he turned away to answer it. “Are you sure?
“That was the garage calling to tell me the oil line under the SUV had been cut. It may sound vain, but I believe Michelle is behind this, stalking me. She had no reason to be in the parking garage last night when she gave me a ride home. But, how do we prove it?”
“I’d recognize the voice. She told me I’d lose you, she laughed at me.”
“I’ll invite her to dinner at the Durango Grill. Get your mom to watch the kids and meet us there. I won’t tell her you’re joining us. I love you, Jean. We’ll get through this.”
Michelle appeared delighted to discuss a new client over dinner. She even winked at him as if he’d planned a tryst with her. Seated at the restaurant, he pulled his legs back when she attempted to rub against him. The waiter had just brought drinks when Jean arrived. The look on Michelle’s face told him he was right in his assumption.
“Hi, sweetheart. Sorry, I’m late.”
David took her hand, “Michelle, meet my wife, Jean.”
“It’s…it’s nice to meet you, Jean.”
“Nice to meet you too, Michelle. I’d like to assure you, my husband will never be yours. I’ll scratch your eyes out if you try any more bullshit. You have a very distinctive voice.”
David observed shock, guilt, resignation, and defiance flit across Michelle’s face. “You’re fired, Michelle. I’ll send your belongings to your agency.”
“Go to hell!” She screamed at them, then stood and fled the restaurant.
Bio: Leona Pence is a mother of four a grandmother to twelve and great-grandmother to seven. She started writing later in life after the death of her husband of forty-four years. Hemphill Towers was written when she was sixty-five published at 70. You can find her on Amazon; Bump off Your Enemies Anthology; The Darwin Murders Anthology; iTunes; and at her Blog Leonaschatter