Into the Abyss–Chapter 9

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Friday morning. I woke up prone on the kitchen floor, where I had collapsed after reading Lucy’s note. I was a mess. My clothes were wrinkled, my hair was going in several directions at once and I needed a shower and shave desperately. What I really wanted to do was crawl up in a ball and shut out the world, but I had to be at work in an hour. I forced myself to get up and get ready. There would be plenty of time to feel sorry for myself after work. I could hibernate all weekend once work was done. Better to at least go through the motions today and put on a brave face. There was no sense in making everyone at work aware of my foul mood. The hot shower felt good, but it couldn’t wash away the memories of last night. Lucy was gone, off on a weekend with Megan. I should have seen it coming. I mean, all the signs were obvious when I had a minute to think clearly about it. Megan must have had designs on Lucy from the very beginning. She was focused on Lucy all the time. I was simply too blind to see it, or maybe I told myself that it would pass. Either way, she’s gone and I can’t bear losing her. As soon as I got to work I went to my office and made sure my reports were generated and then I made one phone call, to Rocco. “Rocco, it’s Frank. I need a big favor from you, my friend.” “If I can provide it, it’s yours, buddy. What is it you need?” “Lucy and Megan have run off together. I need to know where they are. Is there any way you can find out for me? There’s a bonus in it for you if you can pull this one off, Rocco. I’m desperate.” “Consider it done, old pal. I will work every source I have to find them for you. Are you planning on visiting them when I tell you where they are? I don’t want you doing anything stupid, Frank.” “Honestly, Rocco, I don’t know what I’m going to do if I find out. Part of me wants to go to her and get down on my knees and beg her to take me back. The other part tells me to give her some space and let her figure things out on her own. Have you got any suggestions?” “Personally, I would choose the latter option. If she loves you Frank, she’ll figure it out eventually. I’ll let you know something as soon as I find out. I know how important this is to you. Don’t worry, Frank. Let old Rocco work his magic for you.” “You’re the best, Rocco. I’ll let you get to work on this. Thank you for taking this on, old buddy.” I just went through the motions after the call to Rocco, but there was one person I had to see. I left my office and went to see Jan. I was prepared to take her up on her offer. When I got to her station outside of Dr. Browning’s office, Jan was on the phone. She looked up and smiled at me, waving me to take a seat. She told the person she was talking to that an important visitor had just come in and she had to hang up. As I sat in the chair directly in front of me, Jan finished up her call and smiled again. “So now I’m an important visitor?” I asked her. bursa escort “Or was that just to get rid of the party on the other end of that call?” “A little of both, Frank. What can I do for you?” “I need someone to talk to Jan,” I said. “Is your offer from last night still good?” “Of course it is, Frank. I meant every word I said to you. What’s wrong?” I briefly filled her in on what happened when I got back home. She seemed to hang on my every word and when I finished, she asked me if I would like to go to lunch with her so we could discuss it in private. “I’d like that very much, Jan,” I replied. “Just let me know when and I’ll be here.” “Give me half an hour to go over Dr. Browning’s afternoon schedule with him and then come back. I’d like to hear more about this.” Jan seemed eager to help me, and I wondered if she had been interested in me since I first came out here. It was obvious that she was coming on to me last night. She couldn’t be blatant about it because her daughter was with her. She made her point, though. The more I thought about her, the more attractive she became to me. She had a petite figure, but under those loose-fitting tops, dresses and bulky sweaters I detected a nice set of boobs on her. Add to that her close-cropped auburn hair and she was very attractive indeed, no matter how much she tried to conceal it. I heard the rumors that she and Dr. Browning were having an affair, but I never believed them. Jan is a professional, and she would never jeopardize things by sleeping with the boss. At least that’s what I thought. I strolled back to her desk and Jan was waiting for me. “Frank, I hope you don’t mind, but I know a great place where we can have lunch. The food is great, it’s perfect for conversation and no one from here ever goes there. We can have some privacy for our talk.” “Okay, ” I told her, “But you must let me drive. It’s the least I can do for the pleasure of your company today.” We went to a small restaurant in a strip plaza about 10 miles away from our offices. It didn’t look like much of a place, though. The name was interesting enough, Inside Traders. Once inside, Jan asked the hostess for a table where we wouldn’t be disturbed. We were in a corner booth, sitting next to each other. We placed our orders and Jan began the conversation. “Frank, I want you to know that I like you. I have since the day you started working with us. I only hope that your friend Lucy knows that she is losing a good man if she decides to walk away. I also want you to know that you can always come to me with any problems you might be experiencing. I’ll always be here to listen to you.” “Thank you for saying that, Jan. I like that about you, besides the obvious.” “And what would that be, Frank? What’s so obvious?” “You’re a beautiful woman, Jan. I can’t believe that you don’t have men lining up to take you out, that’s all. If you don’t mind me asking, do bursa escort bayan you have anyone special in your life?” “Why, yes, I do. It’s my daughter, Jennifer. After my divorce from Dean I hit the dating scene pretty hard and probably made some bad choices along the way. I’ll be honest with you, it was like musical beds for me, as if I had to make up for lost time and pay him back in spades for cheating on me. Well, I didn’t exactly find what I was looking for and I had a very young daughter who needed a full-time Mom. Ever since I realized that I’ve devoted myself to raising Jennifer, so much that I haven’t had time to get involved with anyone, and I mean it’s been years. I suppose it’s also because the right man hasn’t come along. I can be a little picky about some things.” “And Frank, I hope you don’t mind me being blunt, but what your wife Susan did to you was just plain mean. She didn’t have to rub your nose in shit the way she did. You know, when Dean and I divorced it was because he cheated, but I knew that it was over before I found out about his affairs. That made it a little easier for me to get on with my life. I also knew that he is always going to be Jennifer’s father and he needs to be in her life. Understanding that made our lives since the divorce quite civil, if not downright friendly. He has his life and I have mine, as unspectacular as it has been, but Jennifer has been our calming point, so to speak. We both put her before everything, and there’s no sense in being unreasonable. What’s done is done, I guess.” “I wish it were that easy for me. I fell hard for Lucy, but maybe I jumped into it too hard and too fast. It had been over five years since I had any kind of , let’s say, romantic activity. I think that her sexual openness turned my head and may have clouded my judgment. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.” Jan moved closer to me in the booth and took my hand in hers. “Please don’t beat yourself up about it, Frank. I can help you get over it, if you’ll let me.” We sat there looking at each other as Jan continued to hold my hand. I wanted so badly to kiss her at that moment, but I didn’t want to move too fast and spoil things. “I’d like that, Jan. You have a way of making my problems seem less significant than what I think they are. Yes, I’d like that a lot.” Just then our food arrived and the moment was interrupted by the server. Jan withdrew her hand and we prepared to eat. But suddenly the food didn’t matter to me. All I could think about was this woman sitting next to me. She had sacrificed her personal wants and needs for all these years in order to give her child what she needed. She had a way of disarming difficult situations and difficult people. Her work at the facility was evidence of that. She was witty, kind to a fault, even-tempered and, despite her attempts to conceal it with her choice of attire, quite beautiful. In other escort bursa words, she is everything I desire in a woman. And she likes me. Jan noticed that I had hardly touched my food. “Frank, is something wrong? You’ve been sitting there staring at your plate since the food arrived. Trust me, these are the best fish tacos you’ll find on the entire West Coast.” Her words snapped me out of my reverie. “I’m sorry, Jan. You’re probably right about the tacos, but I was thinking about a few things. Jan, would you do me a big favor?” “If I can I will, Frank. Tell me, what’s on your mind?” “Would you have dinner with me tomorrow night? I’d like to get to know you better.” Jan smiled broadly at my request. “Frank, I’d be happy to join you for dinner.” This time I was the one who reached over and took her hand. I gently kissed her hand and then I tried the tacos. She was right about them. After we returned to work I was nearly giddy with delight all afternoon, I told Jan that I would pick her up at 6 o’clock and my only regret was that I didn’t ask her to go tonight. I really needed to talk to Rocco tonight to see if he had any news for me. The way that Lucy and Megan ran off together crushed me, and it would be nice to know where they were, but it wasn’t a feeling of desperation that I felt now. I have Jan to thank for that. As I left for home at the end of the day, I stopped by Jan’s desk at her request. When I arrived she handed me a folded piece of paper. It was her address and cell number. I smiled and wished her a good night. It’s amazing how just 24 hours ago it seemed as if my whole world had fallen down around my shoulders and threatened to ruin any chance I had at happiness. Now I was being given a second chance and I planned to hold onto this one. Once I got home I checked to see if there were any messages on the land line. Nothing there, although I didn’t expect anything beyond the standard telemarketing nonsense anyhow. I called Rocco on the cell to see if he had any news about Lucy. He said that he had some leads, but nothing concrete yet. I told him to keep on trying for now, but at some point he might have to give up on finding her. Rocco always knew when the well ran dry, so I trusted him to let me know when he had hit the wall. The possibilities with Jan really put Lucy on the back burner for the time being, at least in my heart. There was no reason for me to beat myself up over her, though. If she really loved me she would have stayed with me and weathered the storm. I had to face reality and come to terms with the possibility that she didn’t love me after all. It hurt like hell to even entertain the thought of it, but it was what it was. No amount of hand wringing and crying myself to sleep was going to change that. I wasn’t very hungry, so I thought I would do some laundry and maybe order a pizza later. It’s funny, but when I first came out here doing laundry and ordering pizza was a pretty exciting evening. Once I met Lucy I began to live a little. Now I had come full circle, just me and a jug of liquid laundry detergent, with pepperoni to follow. As my last load was rinsing, I lay down on the couch and watched a little bit of TV.

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