tagLoving WivesAt the Waldorf

At the Waldorf

byMichaelFitzgerald©

Copyright © 2018 - This is an original work by Michael Fitzgerald and is protected under copyright by U.S. copyright law. It is only submitted at Literotica.Com. Any submission to any other site has not been authorized by the Author and is an infringement of copyright. Such other site is requested to remove this story. All persons depicted in this work are at least 18 years of age.

A Note to Readers: I recently posted my first story to the LW site and was treated more kindly by readers than perhaps my story deserved. I want to thank BlackRandl1958 for encouraging me to post and working with me on this story. To all who commented, thanks. If I gave offense in my responses, please accept my apologies; I'll try to do better.

To my new friends of Chlann MacGriogair, Nollaig Chridheil bho agus Bliadhna ùr Toilichte! Did I tell you about the time, at a Christmas party, my wife's girlfriend ran her hand up under my kilt to see if I was properly dressed even as my wife watched? Another time, then.

This is a Winter Holidays submission. Please be generous when you vote. My fragile male ego thanks you.

*

These events happened several years ago before the Waldorf Astoria began its renovations. Then, an elegant lobby ran from Park Avenue, all the way to Lexington Avenue at the rear. At the midpoint there was a great standing clock, ornate, gilded, the Statue of Liberty at its top. When you visit, I'm sure it will still be there to see. A landmark, a perfect place to start a wedding anniversary celebration.

Robert Jones, accomplished print news editor, was hurrying up the street through the swirling snow flurries to meet his wife of 25 years, Ann. Berating himself for having committed again an old sin, he had lingered too long to get a story right and left too late. A successful marketing executive, Ann would of course be there, always on time Ann, always with a plan Ann. They were a power couple, accomplished, admired, independent, and seen as devoted to each other. Robert was the gracefully aging golden boy, whose charm and sharp mind made him invaluable in the melee of the main news room. Ann was the driving force behind many of the most successful campaigns in cosmetics marketing, glamorous herself and known not to tolerate fools, whatever their race, creed or gender.

When you entered from Park Avenue, there was a long flight of marble steps that left you in a great circular room. In those better days, a massive flower arrangement graced the entry. Past the flowers, it was a quick walk past the shoeshine to the right and elevators and cocktail bar on the left to the great clock and a wonderful night.

Robert reached in his pocket. Who knew how many times he'd done that as he raced over? Christmas had intersected with his 25th wedding anniversary. The long thin box, the diamond necklace he'd had made for her, 25 stones - his love for her traced out in gems. He had been secretly saving for years to be able to do this. Robert loved words, telling stories, evoking emotion, prompting thought. So of course something had to be inscribed on the box.

"Our Love in Diamonds."

Why such an extravagant gift? Of course, 25 years is a landmark of its own and Christmas had always been special for them. They met at a Christmas Eve party and every year they held a Boxing Day party to keep the season going. The snow made the night seem special and he could feel his excitement grow as he hurried. A Salvation Army brass quartet was outside Grand Central Station and he crossed the street to make a donation. It slowed him down but he couldn't help himself. It was Christmas!!

Even as he was getting into the Christmas spirit, there were dark clouds at the edges of their life together. It felt as if they had been drifting apart. Ann's climb in her company saddled her with increased duties and a new need to travel. Robert was overseeing a flock of young reporters, full of energy, short on experience and a perfect opportunity to get the paper sued unless a firm hand ruled. They had seen less of each other and Robert feared that Ann and he were getting used to that. Ann had suggested that they not pay so much attention to the holidays and find things they wanted to do, perhaps together, perhaps not.

His hope was to get ahold of Ann's attention and pry her away from whatever was consuming her. To join him, to join with him in renewing their marriage; it wasn't that he was worried. Ann would never cheat. Their relationship had always been solid and he trusted her. It never occurred to Robert to ask whether Ann was okay with how things were between them. Some things should be taken for granted. Isn't that what trust meant?

He cleared the flowers, not far to go now. Robert was singing a Christmas carol, a spring in his step. He couldn't wait to take Ann in his arms and sweep her off to the fabulous night he had planned for them. Several men walked out of the bar. Ann was just beyond them, standing by the clock, looking about. Of course, she would be. Ann was never late and seemingly Robert always was.

"Ann, is that you? Ann, I don't believe it." One of the men broke off from the group to go to her, giving Ann a big hug and kiss. On the mouth.

"Mike, what are you doing here?" Obviously flustered, Ann pulled away. Robert stopped and stepped back to watch. Ann was still looking about but she wasn't annoyed. No, now she was nervous.

"I'm in town for a quick meeting and then flying out of JFK to London first thing in the morning. Are you free? You know, ... is your husband ...?"

Without realizing it, Robert had been slowly walking towards them, listening with increasing dismay. Who was this man? What was he to Ann? And then it was made terribly clear. Was Ann free to be with him? Was her husband out of the way? He could see the wrapped present in her hands. Was that for him? Or this stranger? How surprised was she? At seeing this man at all or merely so soon and in such a public place?

"Robert Jones," he offered his hand. Ann's face froze, her eyes racing from her lover to her husband and back again.

"I see you know my wife, Ann. And your name is ...?"

"Bill, Bill Johnson" came the stammered reply. Bill glanced helplessly at Ann. What was he supposed to say?

"I see I've caught you both at a bad time. You two should catch up and I should go. Ann, perhaps we will catch up later." Robert was fishing in his pocket, trying to fetch his keys. He found himself pulling out the gift box instead. Ann was fumbling with the gift in her hands, not knowing what to do.

"Ann, you take the car. I'll find my own way." Robert looked down at the gleaming long, flat box, its lustrous black ribbon. Were there tears in his eyes, he thought there might be his.

"And, for what it's worth, this is for you." He was turning away even as he thrust the necklace at her.

There was commotion behind him. Cross words were being exchanged. He had stopped paying attention. Robert had to go, to get away. How had it come to this? What had he missed by being too busy elsewhere? How could his Ann betray him so?

"Robert! Robert!!"

Ann was calling but he was already at the top of the steps. Her voice was getting closer but he was out the door. A cab was there, and he quickly got in. Robert supplied an address and was gone.

Ann caught up to see the cab pull into traffic. One taxi in a sea of them, hopeless to find. What had she done? Robert was never supposed to know. She had been so careful. How could she have known? Who knew she would run into Bill? How could he have been so thoughtless to approach her so openly. Had Bill ruined everything? How could Ann fix this, if she even could?

Bill had pried himself away from his companions and finally caught up. "Ann, are you okay?"

"Do you think he knows?"

"Ann, you know he knows. Of course, he knows. Ann, I'm so sorry."

Ann nodded and told Bill it wasn't his fault but silently she blamed him. What gave him the right to accost her like that, in public, where anyone could see? He couldn't have just said hello and moved on? It was a disaster. Robert would be destroyed. She'd have to move her schedule around to make time for her husband. She would talk with Robert and explain why they should get past this unpleasantness. Before long, Ann had mapped out what she would say to bring Robert around. It was a good plan and Ann could see no reason why it would not work.

Robert looked out the taxi's window at the passing lights. What had he missed? When had she drifted so far away? Was he angry? He felt that he was but if he was, why wasn't he screaming or punching something? Instead, he was alone, speeding away from the woman he loved, lost in recriminations, silent, trying not to cry. Whatever he was feeling was so much more than anger. For the first time that he could remember, Robert Jones did not know what to do. He felt blinded, abandoned and left to swallow a bitter truth.

No matter what they may say, you are never too old to cry or your heart to break.

When Ann got home, Robert wasn't there, not much surprise in that. Ann changed into pajamas and a big robe, dragged a chair from the living room into the foyer and camped out for the night, waiting for her husband to come home. She woke up with the sunrise to find herself alone. It was Saturday.

He must have gotten a room. He'll be home this afternoon. She resisted the urge to call his mobile. He needed time to process things, she told herself. When he calms down, as he always does, we'll talk and work things out. By noon, Ann was getting nervous; by three in the afternoon, she was in a full blown panic.

Ann called his cell, his office, the gym where he worked, two bars she knew he liked, a half dozen of his friends, and his mother (with whom she had never gotten along). No one had heard from him.

By Sunday, she had called the NYPD, the FBI, the state police and anyone else she could think of. An elite private investigator was driving out to the house. Of course, she did all those things. Her husband was missing and they needed to find him!!

For some desperate reason, she thought it would help if she drove into the city and looked for Robert herself. The crowds out shopping left her trapped in traffic and turned her search into a waste of time.

When she called her sister Beth for help, her family got their first glimpse at how dire things truly were. By Sunday dinner, Ann's two sisters and their husbands, their kids, her parent's, her mother's sister Beverly, his mother, some of Robert's oldest friends and her immediate staff from work were packed into the dining room, listening to the detective.

People leave all the time. Holidays are always a bad time for emotional trauma and Christmas was the worst. There was no reason to believe there had been foul play or that Robert was injured. He had suffered a big emotional shock. (That observation drew several sharp looks Ann's way.) From all the detective had heard, Robert was a sensible guy. They should give him a chance to surface and see what he says.

Ann went ballistic, screaming. No, that was not all they could do. No, they were not going to wait and see if her Robert was floating in the river. They were going to put down their donuts, do their fucking jobs and find her husband.

Didn't they understand, Ann wanted to scream at them. She needed her husband. She needed to talk with him, to explain. If anything happened to Robert, how would he ever understand? How could he forgive her? How could she forgive herself? The detective said all the right things and slipped out the door. Really, there was not much more he could have done. This was Ann's mess and her job to clean it up

His exit signaled the start of the Great Angry Argument. People said they knew people who could get things done and then hid behind their cell phones as if suddenly important. Ann's brother led the chorus chastising the police for not doing more. The two mothers commiserated at the misery befalling their families, In truth, they were powerless and knew it, and terrified by what might happen. Her sisters despised her, Ann could feel it. Beth announced that Christmas Even dinner was cancelled and until Robert was found, she would prefer that the family give each other some room.

As voices got louder, Ann fell silent. Her rage had been exhausted and her fear was at her throat. As Beth made her announcement, Ann realized that she had no voice in this room. What could she say to people who cared more for her husband than she had? They would have no ears to listen to anything she had do say. Ann had learned what it was to be truly alone.

Eventually, everyone left. She went up to her bedroom to change into something fresh. Ann would go back down to that chair in front of their door and by pure force of will make her husband come home. Her dress from Friday night was still on the bed. She picked it up and saw the gift box. What was the last thing Robert had said? No, not the last thing ... what had he said as he left? For what it's worth, this is for you.

Ann read the inscription and opened the box. She caught the glittering necklace in a trembling hand. The next morning, she woke where she fainted and fell, the necklace still in her hand. It was Monday. Christmas was three days away and her husband was still gone.

Emergency forces in the city have dormitories where they can eat and sleep when working long shifts. Newspaper men know where such places are and have friends who will let them crash for a few nights when they can't or don't want to go home. No questions asked.

It was a 30-minute walk to the office and Robert was still in his clothes from three nights ago. A quick stop in a men's clothing store fixed that. Another quick stop picked up a razor and travel sized shave cream. No matter how bad things were, he still had a role to play. The paper would go to press; deadlines were deadlines.

He used his voicemail to screen calls, led the 9:15 story conference, met with writers until noon, and spent the afternoon working on a piece discussing sea level rise. The paper operated as do all great bureaucracies. If you don't know exactly how to contact the person you want, there's no easy way to contact them at all. If Ann had tried to reach him, she hadn't succeeded.

Just as well, what was there to say?

For her part, Ann was useless. Her PA was ready to tell her to go home but that would only make things worse. She had her people scouring hotels, motels, anywhere someone could stay - from Boston to DC. She turned the entire staff of her department into a personal detective agency. If senior management didn't like it, she didn't care. At one point, Ann was heard yelling that they should start looking under bridges, a measure of the mounting frenzy.

Holly, a senior graphic artist, was the one who cracked the riddle. Her father was NYPD and they had their own places, she said. In twenty minutes, Ann had a list of addresses and phone numbers. Two minutes later, every dorm had gotten a call. Already in a cab when the address was confirmed, Ann was on her way.

Robert felt better about things after a couple of days. The desk sergeant let him know he was welcome to stay until whenever he wanted to go. Work seemed to be going okay. At least, he had that. A beautiful, cold clear morning, he looked forward to the walk. Ann was standing in the way, not fifty feet ahead.

"Robert, I've been looking for you everywhere."

"And you found me."

Robert suddenly felt detached as if he was watching himself speak even as he did. Shouldn't he be more emotional, he wondered. Something was happening inside him. He wasn't sure what it was. He could see Ann in this amazing focus. But as much as he was aware of Ann, Robert felt dead inside. It occurred to him that he should be more upset, but he wasn't and didn't feel the need. Was he losing something of himself? It felt like he was saying goodbye, but he wasn't sure to what.

"Please, Robert, let me explain. I didn't want to hurt you. I didn't want you to find out the way you did?"

"Of course, Ann, but really what is there to say? That you have affairs with other men, I know that now. That you hid that from me, I know that too. That you were caught only by chance, I was there. I don't want to hear about the grimy details or silly protests that it was just sex. What really can you say?"

Ann could feel Robert slipping away and started walking towards him, hoping physically to close their emotional distance. "Do we have to talk about this in public? Can't we go somewhere and just talk things out?"

"Ann, I found out in a hotel lobby. Can't get much more public than that. If you have something to say, I suggest you say it." That stopped her in her tracks. Ann realized she was not going to lull Robert into a sham normalcy and then wear him down.

"Alright, Robert, let's talk. ... I love you so much. I always have but I started to feel restless. I didn't know what was wrong and didn't know how to tell you because I didn't understand it myself. When I got the promotion and spent so much time traveling, I was with lots of different men who were paying attention to me. Sometimes they flirted with me and I realized that I liked it. It was that they were new that made the attention different. I wasn't restless anymore, I was excited to be appreciated as a woman. I needed that and I couldn't ask you to give me that. How could you? We've been together for so long. It wouldn't have been fair."

"Ann, you could have told me any of that, or all of it, at any time. That my beautiful wife gets compliments? Do you think I'm such a fool as to be surprised by that or jealous? There was more, wasn't there? No need for details, just yes or no?"

Ann looked down and hesitated. To her credit, she looked her husband in the eye. "Yes."

"And so we have it. I don't know why or how we got here. I can't say where I failed you so badly that I lost you, but clearly I have." Robert heard himself saying goodbye. Did he do that because Ann had confirmed his worst fears? Or had than been his unconscious decision when he left Ann to her lover at the hotel? He couldn't say. All he knew was that the words came out of his mouth. It was if someone had taken control over his mind and body and he had been a bystander.

Robert watched himself step past his wife and go on his way. Ann stood in shock, trying to absorb what her husband had just said and done. It was just sex, a bit of excitement, it didn't matter, she loved only him. She had explained. Why didn't he see that? Why didn't he believe her?

The city blocks in midtown Manhattan are short on streets running north and south, but long going east and west. A native New Yorker, walking back to her office Ann got lost. She kept looking for landmarks, something to orient herself but she was too distracted. She kept coming back to what Robert had said. He didn't mean all that, did he?

Her feet hurt, she was cold, and her phone was ringing so she turned it off. There was a coffee shop and she found a seat. Why was Robert so angry, so sad? He hadn't really said. He didn't want details. How many men? Were they better lovers? Are they rich? Were they "bigger" than him? Better in bed? Isn't that what men want to know? Things to throw back in her face. To call her a whore and burn her reputation to ash. All the possible reasons why, Robert simply didn't want to know. The mere fact that Ann had concealed what she was doing was enough to shatter him. Had Ann misjudged him? Was Robert that weak? Why wasn't he fighting back? He should be claiming her for his own. That's what men do.

It hit her later like a sharp pain. No, you fool, you broke your husband's heart because you didn't trust him to listen to you. You never gave him the chance to talk with you about what you wanted. You never told him that you were changing. You didn't give him a chance to find ways that you both might do to make things work. Why should Robert to believe her now when she didn't trust him before?

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byMichaelFitzgerald© 58 comments/ 27236 views/ 29 favorites

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