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Rated: E · Chapter · Relationship · #2287976
Connie and Jacob settle in Hotel Seawind.
Monday, February 5th, 2001
Novillo, 2 hours south of Alquitran, somewhere in California, US
At night, I woke up and went to the toilet. Once I came back to the bedroom, I noticed Connie had fallen asleep holding her phone. The phone still had lights on. Why? Had something bad happened at Connie's workplace? The work-related messages didn't come at night, or if they did, it was something very urgent. Connie was fast asleep. It wasn't my habit to look at her phone because it was her and not mine, but this time I let curiosity get the better of me. Connie's text message application was open. I noticed she herself was the sender of the last message, and the receiver was no one else but Jacob Eastmond. Had Connie heard something work-related from him just before we had gone to bed, and answered?
I gasped, when I saw the message.
"I'm naked in bed."
§ § §
Tuesday, February 6th, 2001
Novillo, 2 hours south of Alquitran, somewhere in California, US
Connie and I sat at the breakfast table. I drank coffee and ate my sandwiches. Connie had made herself a cup of tea.
"So, how did your business trip go?" I asked her, trying to conceal my yawn. I’d need a nap after work.
"It went fine," Connie said. "Jacob was my rock during that trip. If he hadn't been there for me, I would've gotten a nervous breakdown."
“How close are you with this Jacob anyway?” I asked her.
“What do you mean?”
“I saw that message you sent.”
Connie gasped.
“No!” she said. She took two big gulps of tea. “It was nothing! I'd do nothing with your relative I know only through my job,” she said. “Besides, I was tipsy. I drank three glasses of wine, remember?”
“So was it a slip or passion?” I asked her. "And how do you know this Jacob is my relative?"
“A slip,” she said. “A tipsy person’s slip. I apologized as soon as I realized what kind of message I had sent Jacob. He must be your relative. All three of us share the same surname, and you're the one who gave me this surname when we got married."
I didn’t know what to believe. Maybe I should sleep my next night on the couch downstairs. It was the only available spot. Carol and Henry used the bedroom at the top of the stairs, which was only separated by a wall from mine and Connie's bedroom.
§ § §
February 10th, 2001
Novillo, 2 hours south of Alquitran, somewhere in California, US
The doorbell rang. I rushed to the door. Please be Susan, I wished.
I opend the door, and saw Susan. She had red hair that reached over her shoulders, blue eyes and wide, smiling mouth.
"Hi, Bruce!" she said.
"Hi, Susan," I said and opened the door wide. "I'm happy that you made it. Come on in."
I let her in and followed her to the small hallway. Susan left her coat on the small coat rack on the left wall of the hall.
"Do you want some coffee?" I asked her.
"You still remember I drink coffee," Susan said.
"You don't just forget your relatives' drinking preferences," I replied.
Susan and I sat at the table in the kitchen. This meeting could break Susan's heart and damage her friendship with my wife. Coffee was just the thing to calm her, or at least distract her enough during our conversation.
“One can betray a trust on a physical or emotional level. Which one is worse? I don’t know.” I shook my head. “This confuses me.”
“Why?” Susan asked, and sipped her coffee.
“Connie’s work changed this spring.”
“How did it change?” Susan asked.
“Before January this year she worked alone, but her boss assigned her a part of a team last month.”
“There’s nothing bad about teamwork,” Susan said. “We have teams in hotel Seawind too.”
“If only it were mere teamwork,” I said. “Soon after Connie’s boss had announced the teams, he announced a new colleague joining Connie’s team.”
“That doesn’t sound any bad to me,” Susan said. “Who is he?”
“His name is Jacob Eastmond. He has traveled abroad with Connie. She convinces me they’ve been mere business trips. I have nothing against their friendship. I have some colleagues that are women, and we get along just fine. One just has to know the limit, and one must not step over that limit.”
"Hold on a second," Susan said. "Did you just say this Jacob's surname is Eastmond?"
"Yes, and before you remind me, I still remember it's your maiden name," I said. "Connie is sure Jacob is my relative, but I wouldn't rush to conclusions just yet. He's not my brother, of that I'm sure."
“Has something happened between your wife and this Jacob Eastmond?” Susan asked.
“That’s the point. I don’t know. I expected her to spend her summer vacation with me. Jacob sent her a text message every day. They sent so many messages one could have piled a mountain of them. Connie also spent a lot of time out of the house in different friend groups.”
“Friends are just friends,” Susan said.
I nodded. “I agree. You just don’t know everything about this.”
“What do you mean?” Susan asked.
“Some time ago, Connie and I spent an evening together in a restaurant. Text messages flew back and forth between Jacob and Connie during all the courses. If only I had known what the future had in store for me.”
“Did something happen?” Susan asked.
“We returned home, changed our clothes, and went to bed. Connie had forgotten her text message application was open. She had fallen asleep holding her phone. I went to the toilet at night. When I came back, I let my curiosity win my better judgment. I saw the most recent message she had sent to Jacob. She had written: ‘I’m naked in bed.’ I lost my sleep for the rest of the night.”
“No wonder! Anyone would lose his or her sleep after seeing such a note,” Susan said.
“Now I can’t help thinking if their business trips are true business trips or something else, especially after the last message I saw.”
“Have you spoken to Connie about this?” Susan asked.
“Yes,” I said. “I told her the whole thing in the morning. I told her what I had seen. At first, she didn’t understand. She said I hadn’t seen the apology message she had sent as soon as she had woken up and realized what kind of message she had sent to Jacob. Before we went to bed the night before, she had taken three glasses of wine, so she may have been tipsy, but not drunk like a sailor. She convinces me nothing has happened on a physical level, not even holding hands, if one doesn’t count the handshake they shared at that moment when Connie introduced herself to him. The last message was the most alarming one. I know drunkenness will reveal the secret passions one wouldn't reveal when one is sober. So was this a slip or a passion? Connie says it was a slip of a tipsy person. I don't want a divorce. My head just doesn't give in. We must find a solution for this. Connie's resigning wouldn't help either. Connie likes her work anyway, with or without Jacob."
“You won’t like what I’m going to say,” Susan said. “Your wife is a liar. My husband and I are a loyal couple. I've traveled abroad with a very charming male boss. I've kept my distance. One must never mix business and pleasure. One time the boss tried to get to my room, but I chased him away. He got my point. He didn't try again. One should never exchange intimate messages with a male boss and take a business trip after that. If one is married, one should never have a relationship with one's boss without the marriage spouse knowing what is going on. Connie's having an affair with this Jacob Eastmond. There’s nothing you can do. She protects him with nails and teeth. If Connie realizes you suspect something is going on behind your back, she’ll cut it off. If you want to find out the truth, the only way to go is to pretend you know nothing about what is going on.”
I poured more coffee for myself and Susan.
"Do you want some sandwiches?" I asked her.
"You know I like sandwiches," she said.
I took a tray from the fridge. There were three salmon sandwiches. Susan took one, and I took another. Susan took a small bite and sipped coffee before we continued our conversation.
“It’s easy to cover an affair if one has business trips," Susan said. "I'd be cautious in your shoes, when Connie speaks about those business trips of hers. The couple may lie for everyone and say their secret meetings and vacations are nothing but business trips. They may have overtime pretty much, but the payment won’t follow," Susan said. "Jacob's wife may make an angry call for you or for Connie. Who do you think advised Connie to send that apology text after Connie texted Jacob about her nudity? It was definitely Jacob himself, and no one else.”
"As much as I know, Jacob's wife doesn't know about any of this," I told Susan. "Connie said Jacob had told Connie Jacob's wife wouldn't understand. Eating has become difficult for me. I eat only, if it is absolutely necessary."
I sipped my coffee and took a tiny bite of my sandwich, hoping if I ate small enough bites, my stomach wouldn't rebel. I'd do my best to cheat on my stomach to believe coffee and the bites of sandwich were something easier to digest.
"Do you know those powdered soups?" I asked Susan after washing the small bite down with some coffee.
Susan nodded. "They are convenient when traveling. I always carry them with me in case I don't have time to eat anything else during the day."
"They're handy," I agreed. "Right now they're about the only food that's going down. Anything more solid than those soups makes me sick. My stomach just won't take anything solid these days. When sleeping is concerned, I sleep on the couch in the living room, but even if I jump under sheets at eleven PM, I wake up at two AM. I lie awake thinking, what could've happened if I hadn't seen that message. Was it the first one? I hope so, but on the other hand, it could've been a stepping stone to the next level. I'd never send such a message under any circumstances, drunk or not. In my eyes it was a step over the limit between friendship and intimate relationship. I don't believe Connie has done the physical thing, at least not yet. She convinces me she hasn't, and I want to believe her from all my heart."
"You can't continue like that," Susan said. She took another bite of her sandwich. "If you keep going like that, you'll fall apart. There's a detective who can help you. You can't leave this matter like this. You are Connie's wedded, lawful husband. You must know the truth of this matter. Connie will never confess, if you only discuss with her. You must put her between the rock and the hard place. Then she'll give you the truth. You're very naive, if you believe nothing physical hasn't happened. Why wouldn't you call Jacob's wife and tell her the entire story you've told me? You may get some more information," Susan said. "I wonder, how Connie would react to that."
Susan ate the last bite of her sandwich and drank the last drops of coffee she had in her cup.
"Jacob's comment about his wife almost made me sick. Does Jacob consider his own wife so inadequate that he can't tell or reveal anything to her when she's so simple? In case Jacob is caught at home, he will probably claim Connie is single. The reason is Jacob is afraid his wife will call you or Connie next. You could tell her about the messages between Jacob and Connie. Maybe there has been this cheating before, so Jacob can't afford to get caught. Has your wife noticed your physical discomfort? Take care that your wife doesn't make any big financial moves now. Can she, for example, secretly apply for an employee apartment, i.e. is she planning a divorce?
And how could Connie know the wife of her colleague? Jacob has manipulated Connie to believe he is her best confidant. At the same time Jacob has manipulated Connie so, that she must not tell you what she knows about him. Connie is a bit too naïve, if she believes telling the truth to you, her own husband, is forbidden. Be cautious about “open discussion”, if Connie mentions such. You can tell her, though, that manipulative cheaters pretend they’re in love and manipulate their victims at home and at work. Then the trust between the loving couple will be cut off. Don’t blame Jacob straight. Connie would not believe, if you did.”
“What should I do then?”
“Pretend that you believe what Connie says. If you want her to get caught, you must not show your doubt. You’d better prepare for divorce together with your lawyer. Don’t tell Connie anything. If you want evidence, send a private detective after them the next time your wife has “a business trip”. You’ll find out that they kiss without a shame in the hallway and elevator, when no one is looking. If you find Jacob's wife and talk to her without Connie and Jacob knowing anything about it, Jacob's wife may very well open up and tell you about Jacob's past antics. It may be a less pleasant story, but it can give you the weapons you need to protect Connie from Jacob's lies.“
§ § §
Thursday, February 15th, 2001
Novillo 2 hours south of Alquitran, somewhere in California, US
“This is one of the hardest times of my life. It causes me a lot of stress. Your presence makes me forget all that. Maybe one day I will get the chance to hug you for real and whisper that in your ear.”
I read the message I had written with my communicator. This had to do. I sent the note.
“I’ve noticed you have been sad in the last couple of days,” Jacob wrote back. “I’d like to cheer you up. You’re always close, but so far away. But why wouldn’t you be? We’re just colleagues. You know nothing about my wife, and I know nothing about your husband.”
“I’ve been sad for a reason. My turn to tell you about my life will come, but not now. It’s good to have a cup of coffee and spend some time together with you. Recovery takes time. I’m in fragile condition at the moment,” I wrote.
That evening Henry's wife Carol and I sat in the big living room that had two big windows on the back wall and one large window next to the bookshelf. The green, velvet couch was opposite the bookshelf wall. In the middle of the room was a big armrest chair, which was usually Henry's TV watching spot. Now Carol sat on the couch next to me and knitted something. She had brown, shoulder-length hair, fair skin, and brown eyes. Her lips were thick, but not as thick as some African woman.
"I don't want Peter to know about this," Carol said.
"Why? Is it a surprise?"
"Yes," Carol said.
"You can tell me," I encouraged her. I wouldn't reveal the secret, not even though Carol and I weren't even sisters-in-law to each other, even though we were married to men of the same family.
"This sweater is his..." Carol cut off her sentence. She looked at me and blinked as if she had hesitated.
"What? Is something going on?"
Carol stopped her knitting and sipped tea from her cup she had put on the table.
"Do you remember Peter's most recent letter to me?" she asked me.
I nodded.
"How could I forget? You behaved as if a bee had stung you that night. And the next day you counted all of the cups and forks and knives we have. I saw something bothering you, but decided not to disturb you, because there's time for things to come out in the open."
"Peter has found a girlfriend," Carol said and smiled.
I gasped.
"Did you say your son has a girlfriend?"
Carol nodded.
"But that's wonderful!"
"And it seems the relationship is pretty serious," Carol said.
"How serious is it?"
"I think we'd better wait until we find out how serious it is. Prepare to set the table for six, when Peter comes to his skiing vacation."
§ § §
Friday, February 16th, 2001
Novillo 2 hours south of Alquitran, somewhere in California, US
I sipped my morning tea and looked at Henry's wife opposite me. Henry, Carol, Bruce and I had moved under the same roof after Henry's and Carol's son Peter had moved away from home.
“Carol, I must tell you something.”
“What?” Carol asked and took a bite of her rye bread.
“You must survive without me.”
Carol swallowed the bite she had in her mouth. “What do you mean?”
“Bruce and I won’t be here when Peter comes to visit with his girlfriend.”
Carol almost spilled her tea. “What?”
“We have to leave before Peter arrives.”
“If there’s anything I can do, just tell me and I’ll do it,” Carol said.
“The only thing you can do is stay here and welcome Peter and his girlfriend. Once Bruce and I get our things cleared up, we can celebrate Peter's engagement together, all six of us.” Or then I’ll be at Peter’s engagement party without my rings.
§ § § END OF CHAPTER 2 § § §
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