Albert delivers some information to Maggie which she might regret hearing
Albert looked at his watch. 11:45. Perfect. He placed his coffee cup in the Kitchen sink and looked out the window. A flicker of movement passed Maggie's Kitchen window across the street. He wished he could say he would be sorry for what he was about to do, but he learned a long time ago, he needed to always put himself first to get what he wanted out of life. Any other way, would make him a weak individual. His father taught him how to never again travel the path of failure.
An hour ago he returned Maggie to her doorstep after the Saturday morning coffee, at the main Club House. Over the past seven years Albert carefully cultivated the idea he and Maggie were a couple. Whenever he made it to town he accompanied her to all the functions, staying as close as he could to her side. If anyone asked, they were good friends. Albert planned their future and she would follow it. As he walked across the street he patted his slacks pocket to make sure the envelope remained there.
Maggie always Skyped with her two grown children, and any of the grandchildren around, at precisely 11:00 a.m. every Saturday. She told him once she generally talked for about half an hour. At the Gala he overheard her tell Marshall to come to her place at 1:00. Maggie's aversion to men who involved themselves in problems would do the rest. She would tell the man to leave and never return. Of course, Albert would help her get over the disappointment, a win-win situation. Fixing the collar to the shirt and adding a smile to his face, he lightly tapped on the door.
o o o o o o o o o o
Maggie felt excited and apprehensive about Marshall visiting her. She felt younger when she was around him. The man became part of all her fantasy's. Fantasy's where she was forty again, and he was in love with her. Fantasy's where they spent time together having fun, or just snuggling, or going to bed where he took all consuming possession of her body. She wanted just a little more material to add to those marvelous day and night dreams. She rationalized to herself, she could spend the afternoon with him and then just send him on his way. Shaking her head she knew her heart was in major trouble. Maggie needed to find out if the treatment she received so far, was smoke and mirrors, or if the man was really a drop-dead gorgeous gentleman.
Maggie decided to go with cold subs and chips for lunch. She made iced tea, both sweet and plain, coffee, soda's, milk and a bottle of wine. She didn't know much about Marshall. How he acted the night of her birthday, might not be the real man. She was sure he'd researched her and made sure his client enjoyed the time.
As Maggie arranged the last of the fixings for the hoagies on the platter, her mind wandered to about how little she actually knew about Marshall Corrigan. Yes, she'd enjoyed her birthday date, except for when he got arrested for fighting. He'd been a perfect gentleman during the day. She wasn't sure about the "bad boy" part of life. Jessie had made her life stressful, with his constant schemes most ending with the law involved. She just wanted to enjoy life.
She realized, didn't start the fight at the Pub, but she couldn’t bring herself to stay and watch. She walked away. Now a short ten days later she invited him over for lunch.
When the doorbell rang, Maggie looked at the Anniversary Clock on the pass through counter. Marshall was an hour early. She wiped her hands on the hand towel slung over her shoulder placing it on the handle of the oven. Glancing into the small mirror next to the door she smiled and looked out the peephole. Well crap! Albert stood on the other side of the door smiling. Opening the door she asked, "What do you need Albert? I'm expecting company in a few moments."
"Maggie I know your company isn't expected for an hour. May I come in because I've some information for you which may impact how you feel about having the man in your home?"
Maggie curiosity peaked. Maybe Albert discovered something which would help her make Marshall's day nicer. Normally Maggie would not invade someone's privacy by having them checked out, but she so wanted to make the man feel good. "Ok come in. I can give you a half an hour then you need to go."
Albert walked into the living room, took am seat on the couch, patting the cushion beside him. "Would you like something to drink?" Only politeness kept her from sending the man on his way immediately. He had a look in his eyes, which usually meant he expected her to be upset but he would make everything alright. Maggie took a seat on the other end of the couch. As he pulled some papers out of his shirt pocket he moved closer to her, imprisoning her between him and the arm of the couch.
Reaching out and squeezing her thigh, he unfolded the papers, holding them in his hand as he stared into her eyes. "Dear Maggie, I've known you for eight years. I've come to think of you as a very special friend. When the girls told me what they planned I used some of my contacts and checked out Bailey Escort Services and their personnel. I wanted to make sure you and the girls weren't taken advantage of. What I found I kept to myself until now because you were safe. I wouldn't bring this up now if it wasn't for the fact one of the employees is trying to ingratiate himself into your life." Albert handed her the envelope. "You need to read these Maggie. You told me what kind of life Jessie gave you. I know you loved him, but Marshall Corrigan is far worse. He craves danger and confrontation." Albert sat back as Maggie opened the envelope. He would give her a chance to read some, especially the parts he highlighted with a yellow pen.
Maggie just sat staring at the papers he handed her. She had no idea what to say or do. On some level she understood why Albert had Marshall investigated. Apprehension mixed with the need to know more. She trusted Marshall. She was not sure why but trust was there.
After a few moments Albert continued, "First, Mr. Corrigan's been arrested more than once, more than the night of your paid date. Two court dates still remain in his future. Second, he was made to leave the Seabees with a less than honorable discharge. He attacked a fellow officer for no apparent reason according to the representative of his old unit. The other officer refused to press charges so he was saved from a dishonorable discharge. Third, there's no visible means of income other than Bailey's Escort Service. With the large amounts of the deposits to one of the three accounts, money's coming in from somewhere else, probably illegally, or he's making unbelievable tips from the clients."
Albert scooted closer. Their knees touched. He reached out and put his hand on her arm. She shook. Good he was getting through to her. "Maggie you're not safe alone with him. Ask yourself why a man like him would want a mature woman like yourself. He's after something, I just know it."
Maggie had enough, the "mature woman" comment the last straw. Sure what Marshall had done before in his life helped shape the person he was now. She knew she was close to head over heels in love with him. Whether because she stayed lonely and wanted love and romance or because he made her feel like a woman, worth something, Maggie wanted to be with Marshall.
She glanced at the clock. Marshall was due in 20 minutes. "Albert I understand why you've done the research you've documented. I appreciate your concern and I promise to take all of them seriously." Maggie stood up as Albert folded the papers and put them into his shirt pocket. she motioned toward the front door. "Now if you will excuse me I need to finish getting ready for my company."
"You don't understand Maggie. You need to tell the man to leave you alone. or he will pull you first back into a world you've worked years to get away from and forget." Albert knew he was laying it on hard. "Please Maggie we're worried about you. I'm worried about you. The man's not for you," Albert said as he grabbed her shoulder and squeezed.
Maggie took a step back when Albert stepped toward her and took a painful hold on her upper arms. The look of anger on his face frightened her. "Albert let go of me and leave please. I think whether the Marshall's for me or not is totally up to me. Now leave." Maggie shoved hard on Albert’s chest, breaking his fisted hold. Backing up farther she made it to the other side of the counter, which separated the kitchen from the living room. She stood close to several items she could use if the man came closer. Straightening her shoulders she pointed toward the door, willing her hand not to shake. "Leave."
Albert stood staring at her. Finally he squared his own shoulders, ran his hand down the front of his shirt and smirked. "You will see what I'm saying is true enough very soon. He's going to hurt you. The longer you wait to decide the farther away happiness will get." Albert started for the door. With his hand on the knob he half turned toward her. "Don't wait too long," he said as he left.
Maggie leaned on the counter and held on, fighting tears. Albert had always been kind, attentive and a perfect gentleman. They enjoyed each other's company. The Albert who just left was a different man, scary and controlling. Maggie filled a glass with tap water and drank it down.
As she put the glass in the sink the doorbell rang. Peeking out the side window to the screened in porch she found Marshall standing with flowers in hand and a smile on his face. She took several calming breaths as she walked the few steps to the front door.
Glancing in the small mirror she gasped at the paleness of her face. Quickly she patted her cheeks then pinched them several times trying to put some color back. Looking around the room one more time she pasted a smile on her face and opened the door. "Hello Marshall, you're right on time. Please come in."
o o o o o o o o o o
Marshall parked in front of Maggie's trailer, leaving room for other vehicles to pass. Looking toward the home he saw Albert leaving Maggie's screened porch. Marshall followed the man with his eyes, as he strode to the trailer across the road. Grabbing a small bouquet of flowers he had picked from his garden, he got out of the truck, hit the locks on his key fob and went to the door. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He know the man watched him from across the street. Pushing the doorbell he waited.
When Maggie opened the door he stepped inside. Except for her cheeks she looked pale. He put the flowers on a small table near the wall and held out his arms. His heart beat faster when she stepped into his embrace, resting her head on his chest. He felt her body shaking. "Shhhhh.. Sunshine, it's going to be alright. I promise." They stood locked in each other's arms for a few minutes. Marshall would gladly stand there and hold her forever, but he needed to find out what happened to the sweet woman.
He felt the deep breath the woman took as she pushed out of his embrace. She opened up to his comfort and just as quickly shut down. He reached around and picked up the flowers off the table, never taking his eyes off her face. Some color returned, but she was still not back to her normal.
Maggie patted Marshall’s chest and took two steps backward. Reaching out she took the flowers. "Thank you. They're beautiful. And thank you handsome for the hug. I confronted by a friend a bit ago and I really don't like fighting" It was one reason she planned on not asking Marshall about what Albert told her. She needed to stay in the here and now. The gorgeous man would soon come to his senses and realize she was just a plain old lady. Granted she felt 40 again especially with Marshall around. "Are you hungry?" she asked as she turned and walked to the other side of the kitchen counter. "I've hoagies, chips and fruit for lunch."
Maggie took a vase from under the sink, filled it half way and arranged a bouquet then placed it at the end of the counter near the wall. Marshall nodded to her question. "Ok, then have a seat on the couch and I'll bring everything out there." She watched as he removed his jacket. The casual pull over he wore stretched across his muscles. With difficulty she tore her eyes away, only after he made himself comfortable on the middle cushion of the couch, She flushed slightly when he winked at her.
"What would you like to drink?"
"I'll take sweet tea please."
Maggie set the platter of meat, cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, lettuce, mayo and mustard on the rolling butler tray. She added the pitcher of sweet-tea, and ice bucket. She already placed the plates and silverware on the coffee table. Carefully she rolled the antique cart into the living room. Soon the object of her dreams, daydreams and night dreams, would tire of being around. She would just need to hang onto all of the feelings, bringing them slowly back out when the loneliness returned. She allowed a genuine smile to hold her face.
When she returned to the room, Marshall sat on the couch holding up several pieces of paper.
Marshall knew Maggie hadn’t told him everything. He'd seen the look on "the friends" face. Maggie and Albert argued. She would need to trust him more to let him in on her private life, a top priority on his list. Relationship, interesting thought.
He strategically took a seat in the center of the couch. No matter where she sat they would be close. Crossing his legs at the knees he looked around, at the comfortable looking room. It had a definite female flavor. The firm couch he sat on, faced a wall decorated with pictures of people beside framed children’s artwork. Marshall smiled remembering their talks during their time together.
His eyes dropped to the coffee table in front of him. Two place settings sat on the side closest to the couch. Several pieces of folded paper on the floor caught his eye. Reaching down to pick them up, discovering his name on the top of the first page. Unfolding them he glanced at the in-depth information about his past. Information found by someone with some pull in data retrieval in sensitive areas, including governmental. The woman had him checked out. Parts of the information would make it difficult for her to trust him without further discussion on the details. On the one hand he fully understood her being careful and applauded her for it, but it rankled him she didn't just ask him about his background.
As Maggie walked toward him, pushing the rolling cart he held up the papers and raised his eyebrows. He wished he hadn't when her face went white and she stopped in mid stride. Slowly he rose and walked toward her. "Here let me help you with this." Taking the platter off the cart he placed it on the table. As he helped to remove the condiment tray he glanced at Maggie.
Marshall poured them each a glass of iced tea and sat in his original position on the couch. Maggie joined him placing her clasped hands in her lap.