A Cautious Man Ch. 14-16bycoaster2©
If you have the feeling you've read this before, you have. I inadvertently mis-numbered this chapter and having done that, was refused posting of the final two sections. My apologies for busting up the continuity.
When Marion and Bill vacated the apartment, Bill had given it to Sam Carstairs. He had been living alone and spent almost every hour in the shop. It made sense and Sam was very grateful. He had passed his 70th birthday and his arthritis had begun to give him problems with his hands when it came to handling the small parts and delicate assemblies. Sam was reluctant to admit the gradual loss of skill, but Buck had made Bill aware of Sam's problem and by simple observation, Bill confirmed Buck's concern.
He had thought about what he would do to help Sam and Buck as they aged and the company grew. There was really no need for the shop any more. The day-to-day business had dwindled, as expected, with the onset of cheap, almost throwaway appliances. CSI was 99% of the business now and what Bill had in mind was finding a way to use the massive knowledge and experience that Buck and Sam possessed. The answer was simple. He would create a new, much needed department. Buck and Sam would train his new staff.
Sam was enthusiastic with the idea. He loved passing along his knowledge and experience and this was the perfect opportunity. Buck, on the other hand, was not so sure. He still had all his skills and enjoyed the daily workload and regular visits to their clients. Bill proposed a compromise. Buck would do the field training as an on-site teacher, while Sam would maintain the shop work and look actively for someone he could develop for the day-to-day routine. Both men accepted the proposal, although Buck was certain it would slow him down. Over time though, the plan worked well, and Buck became a very good teacher.
Buck was nearing his seventy-second birthday when his world was shaken violently. Bernice was diagnosed with leukemia. While CSI's health insurance would guard him against financial ruin, it could not protect him from the pain of watching his life-partner slowly ebb away. He was with her every day, only coming to work as a way to take his mind off her ever-deteriorating health. She lived only seven months from the time she was diagnosed, and Buck was heartbroken when finally it was over. For all their bickering and constant nattering at each other, Buck loved her dearly and he had no idea how he would cope now that she was gone.
Once again, Bill stepped in. He talked to Sam and wondered if he could stand a roommate in the apartment. Sam smiled and reminded himself just how understanding and wise this young guy was. It was Sam that proposed the move to Buck and while at first he resisted, a month later, he put his house up for sale and moved into the little apartment.
For their Twelfth Anniversary, Bill and Marion took the children to Disney World. Lexi, as Alexis was now affectionately known, was going to be eleven in June, while Bill Junior would soon be eight years old. He was hoping their vacation would be delayed for a month so that he could attend the big Daytona 500 NASCAR race, but that didn't happen. Nonetheless, he was happy to be going to Florida and excited to see Disney World for the first time.
While they were in Florida, Bill detected a change in Marion. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but she had seemed a bit distant. As he wandered around Disney World with the children, his thoughts drifted back over the weeks following Thanksgiving. Their sex life had dwindled to once or twice a week in the past year and it seemed to Bill that it lacked the passion that had been part of their union for so many years. Now, here on their vacation and celebrating an anniversary, she didn't seem to be enjoying herself the way he would have expected her to.
When they returned to Cambelltown, Marion seemed to perk up a bit. She was more like her old self, busy flitting about from place to place with her Women's Club and various social activities. She had made herself visible in the community with both charity and volunteer work. Her name appeared in the social column of the local paper now and then, and she was quite proud of the recognition. When a picture of her and Bill appeared in the local paper when they attended a Variety Club Fundraiser, she was ecstatic. She was thriving on the publicity.
It was three weeks after their return from Florida that Bill had his world rocked again. He was leaving the office for the day and looking forward to dinner with the family. As he approached his car, he noticed a white piece of paper stuck under the windshield wiper on the driver's side. At first he thought it was an advertising flyer, but when he pulled out, he saw it was a sheet of computer paper that had been folded in half. He opened it and read the typed single-sentence content.
"No wife should betray a man as good as Bill Orton."
Almost by instinct, he unlocked the door and slid into the driver's seat without taking his eyes of the paper. He sat behind the wheel, wondering what he was being told, and even if he should believe it. He wasn't certain how long he sat there, contemplating the meaning of the note. A cold chill ran through his body, and once again, the little bells were ringing. He folded the note and put it in the inner pocket of his jacket and started the car.
He had no real recollection of driving home. His mind was whirling and he was desperately trying to think of what to do about the note. As he pulled into his garage, he willed himself to be calm and not reveal his turmoil. He needed to think of a plan. He had already made one decision. He would not ignore the message.
When he arrived at his office the next morning, he picked up the phone and called "Tex" Langhorn. Tex was his head of security, and he would be the man to talk to confidentially. The need for a security man had occurred when his government contracts were vulnerable after the September 11th mayhem. He would need to vet all the CSI employees to maintain his present and future business. He had total confidence in the big man, and right now he needed someone he could trust. Within five minutes, Vera was announcing his arrival.
Tex strolled into Bill's office, closing the door behind him.
"What's up, Boss?"
"Have a look at this," Bill said, passing him the note.
Tex looked quickly at the note, blinked twice and put his hand to his face, pinching his nose and then rubbing his eyes.
"Aw shit, Bill. I think I know where this is going."
"Yah ... I can't ignore it. Besides, there might be a way to stop it in time if it hasn't gone too far." It was a faint hope, but right now, Bill needed some hope.
"Anyone else seen this?" he asked, waving the note in his hand.
"Nope, just you and me. I'd like to keep it that way ... at least for now."
Seppi "Tex" Langhorn was a six foot-seven inch giant of a man. He had emigrated with his family from Austria when he was seven years old, thirty-two years ago. He got his nickname from one of his schoolteachers. His last name was pronounced Longhorn and when a teacher suggested the moniker "Tex," it stuck. He spoke unaccented English and was a veteran of both the military and the police. He had specialized in intelligence in both services and had been responsible for breaking up an organized crime ring in the capital. The publicity he inadvertently gained made his job untenable, and the CSI job was a welcome opportunity to start again, this time on "civvy street."
"OK, Bill. I'll get a couple of my guys on it right away. I'll let you know if and when we find something. Let's hope its just bullshit." His rueful look didn't give Bill much confidence that Tex thought it was phony. The big man let himself out of Bill's office and headed off down the corridor to his own.
Bill went back to his routine, but his concentration was gone. He was having a hard time coming to grips with the idea that Marion might be having an affair. What reason would she have? He was not away often. He was attentive and loving and supportive. He had given her almost everything she had every asked for including their ridiculously large new home in Brentwood, and her new BMW. He just couldn't think of what would turn her to find someone else.
As Bill was pondering the mystery of his wife, Marion was on the telephone.
"Yes, Mark. Yes, I know you want me. I just have to be careful. My husband is everything to me. You're just my lover. It can't be any more than that. No, you can't see me today. I have a Women's Club meeting. Yes, Mark, I'll see you tomorrow. The usual time at our new place. Bye, love. I can't wait to see you again. Bye."
She hung up the phone with a dreamy smile on her face. He was becoming a bit too possessive, but so far, she had been able to control him. That was the danger of a younger lover. He was too impetuous. He thought she would drop everything just to be with him. But she made her feel young again. That was her excuse. She would be 37 soon and she was afraid she wouldn't be desirable to men. Her husband had never wavered in his passion for her, but that wasn't enough. She needed someone young and alive and handsome to make her feel attractive, and that was Mark. He was also a great fuck. She could indulge herself with Mark.
She had missed him when they were on vacation. She didn't realize how dependent she had become. The sex they had when she had returned from Florida had been amazing. He had fucked her into submission. She had gone home that first afternoon and wondered if she could wash the aroma of sex from herself and her clothes. She had barely beaten the kids home before they had arrived from school and only had time to throw her clothes in the washing machine and then shower. It was a close call.
"Bill, Tex is here," Vera announced.
"Send him in." Bill pushed his papers aside and waited as the big man strode in and sat in the large chair across from him. He could tell from his body language that the news wouldn't be good.
"OK, Tex. Give it to me straight."
"I'm sorry, Bill. I wish it wasn't so, but I'm afraid Marion is involved with another man."
Bill closed his eyes and willed away the pain that washed over him. "Who is he?"
"His name is Mark Dreesen and he's, get this, 24 years old. He is a part-time massage therapist, but recently his license lapsed. I have some more stuff coming, but he's nobody special." Tex had relayed the information in his usual matter-of-fact tone. It was just another report, except this one was personal.
"Do we know how long it's been going on?"
"Not yet, but I should have something tomorrow on that and more on this guy's background."
"Where have they been meeting?"
"Not sure, but yesterday, they were at the Marriot. She paid."
"I guess I should be grateful that it wasn't our home," Bill said sullenly.
"Well, I hope for your sake, it never was. That would be hard to swallow."
"Thanks, Tex. Now, I guess I have to decide what to do about it."
"Good Luck, Bill. I'll see you tomorrow if I get the information we're looking for."
Once again, the security chief made his way out of Bill's office.
As he drove home, Bill was sure of one thing. He needed to get this over with. He needed to confront Marion and find out if their marriage was salvageable. He was still at a loss to know what would make her so unhappy that she would seek another man for comfort and sex. He just couldn't get his mind around it.
Their supper meal was normal with the usual chatter from the kids and Marion about their activities of the day and their plans for tomorrow. Bill couldn't detect any difference in his wife, and yet he knew that she held a devastating secret that he would expose tonight. It was just a matter of when he would choose to talk to her. Finally, he decided he would do it after the children were in bed.
A little after nine that evening, Bill walked into the living room where Marion was watching television.
"Marion, would you please turn the TV off. I need to talk to you."
Marion looked at him with surprise and just a flicker of fear in her eyes. Bill saw neither as he concentrated on how he would begin the conversation. Marion picked up the remote control and turned off the TV.
"What do you want to talk about, Bill?" Her voice was tentative and uncertain.
He sat in the big armchair across from her. He looked at the beautiful woman who had been his wife and the mother of his children. He wondered if he would be able to say that when this was over with.
"Marion ... I'm aware of your affair with Mark Dreesen." He saw the look of shock and the color drain from her face. She was rigid and almost gasping for air.
"What do you mean? What are you talking about?" she finally managed.
"I'm talking about the affair you have been having with a 24 year old man named Mark Dreesen, a part-time massage therapist, I'm told. You met him at the Marriot Hotel yesterday and you spent several hours in room 816. Please don't embarrass yourself by lying about it."
It was like watching the air go out of a balloon. She almost collapsed and the tears and then sobs were not far behind. She put her hands to her face and fell back in the sofa. Bill patiently waited until the sobbing had stopped and she began to show a semblance of composure.
"Are you going to divorce me?" she asked in a meek, shaky voice.
"That depends on you, Marion. I want to know why. I want to know how long this has been going on. I want you to know that I have professional investigators who undoubtedly will dig up the truth. If you lie to me, I will know it and it will be over. Do you understand?"
Marion had nodded her acknowledgement. Her husband's voice had been level and calm, completely without emotion. It was in stark contrast to the turmoil going on inside him.
"Why Marion? Why did you betray me?"
"I don't know, really. He was young and handsome and he thought I was beautiful. I felt good when I was near him. He made me feel young again."
"Is there something I've done to make you feel old, or not beautiful or loved or respected?"
"No ... no Bill. It's not about you. It's me. I'm the one that cheated on you. You've been the perfect husband. I don't have any excuse except my insecurity." The tears were still flowing, but she was managing to be coherent.
"How long have you been seeing him?"
There was silence as she contemplated her answer. Her head was bent, her eyes looking at her hands in her lap.
"What! That's four months. You've been seeing him for four months?" His voice had risen for the first time.
She nodded without looking up.
"How often ... how often did you ... meet with him?" He wasn't sure he wanted to hear her answer.
"Once or twice a week." It was almost whispered.
"My god, woman! That's twenty or thirty times you had sex with him. How can you possibly justify that?" He had raised his voice for the second time.
"I can't. I was like a drug. One I started, I couldn't stop. I didn't know how."
"Did you ever bring him here ... to our home ... our bed?"
Her head snapped up. "No! Never!"
"Well, that's something I guess," he said wearily.
"How did it start?" His voice had returned to the previous level calm.
"He was giving massages to a lot of the women at the club. They were talking about him. They said he was cute and sexy and gave the best massage. I didn't think there'd be any harm in having a massage. I decided to find out what the talk was all about."
"He was very good. He told me how beautiful my body was and that I was the sexiest woman at the club. He told me that if I wasn't married, he'd be banging on my door."
"I ... I ... fell for it. It made me feel good. He was getting very ... personal with his massage. Pretty soon, I wasn't thinking clearly. I was very ... aroused. I let him touch me ... and then ..."
"I let him have me. I wasn't thinking straight. I hated myself after. I couldn't believe I had let him have me." She was sobbing again and Bill waited until she had calmed down.
"Was that all?"
"No. He wanted me to meet him. I didn't want to, but ... he was very persuasive. He said no one would know. He said he had to have me. I was too beautiful to let go. He made it hard for me to say no."
"When did you meet him next?"
"Two days later. I booked a massage and it was like the first time, except he didn't wait ... to start seducing me. His hands were everywhere. It felt so good. I wanted it. I can't believe it Bill, but I wanted it. I wanted him to make love to me. I felt so alive and beautiful. It was like I was twenty again."
"When did you start using the hotel?"
"I tried to break it off. I stopped going to the club for massages. I stayed away from him. I felt horrible. The next week he called me at home. I don't know how he got my number, but he told me that he had to have me. He couldn't live without me and he would come for me if I didn't agree to meet him. I was afraid. I was afraid he would tell you about me and him. I agreed to meet him at his place."
"And the hotel?"
"That was later, before we went to Florida. He said his roommate was around and he wanted to come here. I wouldn't allow it. He threatened me. I told him we could use a hotel room. He made me pay for them. At first, they were sleazy motels, but I couldn't stand them. Finally, yesterday, we used the Marriot. It was the first time. I was scared. I thought someone would recognize me."
"As it turns out, someone did recognize you and that's how I found out you were unfaithful."
Again, her head snapped up and then, as the realization sunk in, her head dropped into her hands and her shoulders began to shake again.
"What's going to happen to me now, Bill?"
"I don't know. I'll wait for the final report on you and your lover and see if what you told me matches what they find out. After that, I don't really know. I can tell you I am very hurt and sick inside. You have taken the most sacred thing I had and destroyed it. My trust in you is gone. My love ... it's still alive, but I am hurting and I don't know how to fix that. Right now, I can't tell you how this will all turn out."
"Are you going to stay?" she asked timidly.
"I'll sleep in the spare bedroom for now. I don't think I can cope with being close to you right now."
"What about the children. What will you tell them?"
"Nothing yet. You can tell them whatever you choose. I'm not the one that has to make explanations."
"I don't want to lose you, Bill. I love you. I know I've hurt you and you might not believe me, but I do truly love you. I will do anything to make this better."
"There is no better, Marion. You can't take back what I already know. At least there are no pictures to make it even worse." He paused for a moment and looked coldly at her. "Tell me, did you let him do things to you that you wouldn't have me do? Did you give him things you deny me?"
She stared at him with her puffy, red eyes and a look of resignation crossed her face. "Yes."
"I gave him oral sex. I didn't enjoy it, but he insisted. He forced me to."
"We had anal sex. I'm not a virgin there. He took advantage of that."
"No. He tried to get me to go along with having sex with one of his friends, but I went ballistic on him. He got the message."
"Well that's quite a story. Quite a revolting story. I thought I knew you. I was wrong. I don't know you at all." He stood and walked to the middle of the room before turning back to her. "I'm going to bed. I have no idea if I'll actually get any sleep tonight, but I need some rest. We'll talk again after I've seen the final reports. Maybe by then, I'll have decided what to do about this ... mess. Goodnight."