My thanks again to Glenda Fiddich for invaluable support, advice and encouragement.
There is no sex in this story.
We'd met at work quite accidently. She was the owner's oldest daughter but still his favourite little princess. At twenty-two years of age and a University graduate with some meaningless degree she stood five foot six inches tall. Janet was every man's walking dream with a stunning body and smile that would melt an iceberg. She had long flowing blond hair and the loveliest blue eyes ever seen.
I was already in the lift coming back from lunch when she came running through the foyer to catch it. I guessed she was in a hurry to meet with her father. As she entered the lift she stumbled in her high heels and tripped, in the process falling all over me; we both ended up on the floor. I rose to my feet fairly quickly and helped her up then lent a hand to pick up the contents of her Mary Poppins sized hand bag that had spilt.
I was amazed at how much she could fit into it let alone have the strength to carry it. To be honest I'd seen her before and I was one of the besotted males who idolized her all the time knowing she didn't even see us when she walked past. I knew the floor she wanted and pushed the button and as the lift rose I continued to assist her.
I was handing her the last of the contents of her hand bag as the lift doors opened and as I did so I looked into her beautiful eyes and smiled. She cocked her head then looked at my name badge then whispered, "James Thomas".
That was me!
"Such a sweet name... I like it," and turned then exited the lift leaving me standing there still smiling. Once she was out of the lift she turned and looked back at me as the doors shut. I was smitten.
I was still smiling when the lift arrived back down on my floor and I returned to my work station not quite ready to unravel the mysteries of the accounting software package our company was interested in purchasing.
Next day was pay day and I was about to go on lunch with some of my friends when she appeared at my desk and told me we had to hurry to get to our lunch booking on time. I was stunned and looked around seeing everyone around me staring at us wondering how I'd managed to achieve the impossible and get a lunch date with the Princess.
Things moved quickly after that and within days I was called to the owner's office and told in no uncertain terms what would happen if I hurt his daughter... my job was being threatened because she seemed to like me. I'd studied four long hard years to obtain my degree and find a job I loved and didn't want to lose it.
As it happened we clicked and got on so well although I was kept poor keeping her in the manner in which she was accustomed. It wasn't that I was poorly paid but more a problem of where she wanted to go and how much places like that cost. I was ever mindful that if I pissed her off I'd lose my job so I just put up with all of her demands.
I should mention that she'd promised her parents she'd be a virgin when she married and stood steadfast by her word. That was frustrating but it also meant no one else was getting any from her either.
Almost six months to the day as we came out from lunch she stopped in front of the large display window of a classy jewellery store just to "look at dress rings." I'd only just managed to pay my credit card off and I knew I was in trouble. My recent rapid promotions at work had meant I was finally making more than she spent when we went out.
Janet made some excuse to go inside "just to browse" and I stood with her as she tried on several nice pieces of jewellery then somehow she ended up trying on engagement rings. Before long I knew her ring size and the ring she loved. It was all happening very fast but I'd planned to ask her in a few months anyway. I told her I needed to get back to work and as she turned without her noticing I motioned to the salesman to hold the ring and I'd be back shortly.
I walked her to her car in our building car park then after she left I walked back and somehow managed to purchase the ring she'd fallen in love with. Arriving back into work late I bumped into her father who looked at his watch then raised his eyebrows at me. It's amazing what you can sometimes get away with at work when the boss's daughter loves you.
It was now or never and stopped to talk with him. He was late for a meeting somewhere so as I asked if I could come over that evening to speak with him and his wife I held the ring box in my hand.
He smiled when he saw it and nodded and told me he'd see me for dinner with the family. I returned his nod knowing that dinner was served precisely at eight every night. It was Wednesday so the whole family would be there as was their custom. Janet wouldn't know I'd be there until she came down from her room to eat.
I always enjoyed eating with her family. Her sisters were a lot of fun and her mother and father liked me... I think. From the start they'd certainly welcomed me in and treated me like a son they didn't have. My parents had died in car crash some years before and it felt good to be loved again.
Janet was the oldest of three sisters and by far the prettiest. The next oldest was Debby. She was exceptionally smart and although pretty in her own way was quite plain if she stood next to Janet. She was also a little chunkier with long mousey brown hair and brown eyes. It didn't take long to realize she had an abundance of personality and a loving nature. The youngest was many years their junior and most probably an accident. She'd be a stunner like Janet when she was older.
I liked Debby a lot though and quickly noticed she had to work so much harder than Janet to be accepted. She was doing IT at university and unlike Janet was looking forward to working in her father's company when she finished. If she had a boyfriend I never heard her talk about him or saw him.
Debby was always underfoot asking so many questions involving concepts she was learning at university, particularly when Janet took her time to come downstairs. We got on so well and always had so much fun together and sometimes I got the feeling I'd be more suited to Debby. It was far too late to change ships in mid-ocean. Besides I loved Janet even though I always let her have her way and walk all over me.
Janet was surprised to see me standing at the table waiting for her and after everyone was seated their father told everyone he'd invited me. Dinner was nice and the wine was something special brought up from his cellars and when we finished eating I turned to her father.
He'd obviously told Janet's mother why I was there and she'd said nothing as well but I could see her squeezing her husband's hand until it turned white. I smiled then politely asked him if he would allow me the pleasure of asking for Janet's hand in marriage. The three girls started squealing as their mother and father shed tears of joy and then he told me I had their permission.
As I turned to Janet I took the box from my pocket and opened it as I asked her to marry me. After dinner the women went into a huddle searching for the right date and they decided to wait six months before we married. I assumed the women wanted enough time to organize everything and as it happened there was another big promotion for me.
The wedding went off like a military operation any General would've been proud of. The service was flawless and the reception was fit for a king. No expense was spared and the meal was perfect.
Janet wanted to spend our honeymoon in Hawaii and was adamant we'd spend our first night as a married couple there so immediately after the cutting of the cake and changing into travelling clothes we were whisked away by limo to the airport to catch our flight - first class of course; it cost me a bundle.
As we boarded I noticed one of the caterers sitting much further back. He saw us and waved. I waved half-heartedly as I didn't like him when I'd met him and thought him sleazy. Janet thought he was cute but all I saw was a predator.
Half way through the flight I started to feel unwell and by the time we landed I'd used several sick bags. I'd never been air-sick before so wondered if I'd caught or eaten something. There was a serious vomiting virus doing the rounds at work before I'd left and I decided it must've been it.
But the time we'd signed in at the Hilton and gone to our honeymoon suite I knew I was in serious trouble. I could see Janet was distressed that I was so sick and that her perfect wedding night plans had been destroyed. The last thing I remember was having a shower to try to feel better then waking up in hospital with Janet beside me asleep on a chair.
She woke with a start when I vomited into a bag just as a doctor entered the private room. As he circled my bed to check me out I saw my carry-on bag tucked into the wardrobe... Janet must've brought it up with some clothes and toiletries. He told me what I'd already suspected and that I had a serious strain of the vomiting virus; maybe Janet had said something about it.
I suggested to Janet that she catch a cab back to our hotel and shower and change then have something to eat before coming back up to join me. I could see she was worried by the tears in her eyes but she agreed and left. I'd see her in a few hours.
The doctor told me I should've starting feeling much better; but I wasn't. The pain in my stomach was getting worse and now I was just vomiting bile. My stomach muscles hurt so much that when I had to vomit I felt like I was about to shed tears from the extreme pain.
Before I'd met Janet I'd had a similar virus but it felt nothing like what I was feeling now and started to think it felt more like when I'd eaten some bad chicken from the local deli and got really sick.
I asked the doctor if it could've been food poisoning from the chicken I'd eaten at our wedding but he told me Janet had already phoned her parents and all of her friends and no one had food poisoning so that was unlikely. Then he reminded me that he was the doctor and I'd do better to stick with my computers. Janet must've been doing a lot of talking since I'd collapsed.
Janet never came back that night. She phoned after a late dinner saying she was tired and would see me next day. I'd like to think that I dozed on and off but usually it was the vomiting that woke me every time.
I could see the doctor was worried and ordered blood tests and analysis of what I was bringing up. About the same time as the results came back I'd almost convinced him it could've been food poisoning.
No matter what he gave to cure me nothing worked and I could tell he was getting frantic trying to think of something that could help me... no drugs seemed to be working. At least he was straight with me when he told me it was potentially getting more fatal every day.
After lunch, Janet was with me again... she told me her body clock was confused by the different time zones. I could already see that although she was worried she was really bored. Towards dinner time she kissed me on the cheek and told me she had to get back to the hotel for dinner as she had booked so I said good night just before I started vomiting bile again.
I barely slept that night as the vomiting became much worse then finally I'd had enough and next morning I bribed a nurse to find me some baking soda. She didn't ask why but she easily agreed as I slipped a fifty into her hand and told me she'd be back after her lunch break.
I could see the doctor was even more worried and said if I didn't improve soon my body would start to shut down. I really needed Janet with me but she hadn't been back since the evening before. Finally she showed up but seemed different somehow. I quickly picked up her mind was elsewhere.
She didn't stay long and I didn't even get a kiss before she said good-bye and walked out. She stopped and I heard her asking the doctor how much longer I'd be in for and shook her head as he told her easily another week or more at a minimum.
My bed was near a window and I missed her so much and wanted to see her as she caught a taxi back to our hotel. I leaned over as far as I could and watched and waited then saw her walking down the path to the taxi rank. Then she waved.
Except something was very wrong; she wasn't looking up at me or even in my general direction but at a man standing down near the taxis waving back. My heart hurt instantly from jealously and then I recognised him. He was the sleaze from the catering company... the predator. The pain was too much when I saw them embrace before entering a waiting cab.
The pain I felt then was worse than anything I'd felt so far. I must've been crying or at least had tears in my eyes when my nurse appeared with my baking soda. She just stared blankly at me and told me she'd passed them as she came back from the shops.
Then she said, "She's not worth the pain. If she cared about you she'd be here instead of out with lover-boy. Get the evidence while they both think you're here and they're not expecting it."
She dug in her pocket and pulled out a card and handed it to me. "Here's my brother's card. He's a good private investigator and his office is across the road. I'll get him right over here. He's sitting in his office doing nothing at the moment. I was just over there talking to him. Let him find out what's really going on and then you can decide what to do. Who knows; they might just be long lost cousins."
I couldn't chase after her... I could barely move my arms let alone stand. I knew they weren't cousins and just thanked her then gave a weak smile as she used the phone beside my bed to call him. When she hung up I asked her to bring three cups of boiling water and a teaspoon as well as some extra bags to vomit into. She looked at me like I was mad but she did it. I dissolved a teaspoon of baking soda into each cup then waited until they were still hot but cool enough to drink.
While we waited I explained that I'd read during some research I'd done on an assignment years before at university that during World War Two there was a famous Australian doctor who was a prisoner of war in Changi Prison who saved his fellow prisoners from dying of food poisoning by treating them with baking soda and the three cups with a spoon in each was his cure. At least it was worth a try.
It was hard drinking it knowing I'd be vomiting again but what would happen if I didn't would be much worse. I drank the first cup knowing that as soon as it reached my stomach it would be straight back up; and it did; into a waiting receptacle. The second cup went down and sat in my stomach for a brief moment before it returned to the outside world with a vengeance as well, then the third cup was swallowed and the nurse waited for the explosive vomit to appear except it didn't.
She asked, "What happened to it? Why haven't you vomited?"
"No more vomiting and I'll be out of here soon I hope. It's gotta work, nothing else seems to be helping." I could see the questioning expression on her face and said, "I have no idea how it works, it just does. It worked in the Japanese prisoner of war camp and I'm praying it still works now."
"Your doctor won't be back for two days so let's see how you go. If your loving wife phones instead of coming up I'll tell her you're in a bad way and totally bedridden. Maybe the guilt will make her see the light."
I'd just finished speaking and the nurse's brother walked into my room. I looked up at him and he held out his arm and we shook hands. Janet then phoned saying she was visiting tourist sites and wouldn't be back up as we planned... she thought she'd be too tired again after dinner. Once she said that I only heard blah, blah, blah, blah as she told me where she intended to go.
I explained to the PI what I was scared was happening and we discussed what we could do to confirm or disprove my worst fears and he smiled when I told him the hotel room was booked in my name. We decided he should plant hidden cameras throughout our suite straight away while she was out visiting tourist landmarks during the afternoon and he'd follow them over the next few days. As luck would have it I still had my swipe card for the hotel suite in my wallet so he could gain easy entry while my wife was out.
An hour or so later he phoned to say the cameras were installed. He was quick and obviously knew his work. After that he stayed at the hotel and waited for my wife to come back then secretly videoed them from his secluded spot. He then phoned me again and told me they'd gone to separate rooms to get changed for dinner.
I was really worried about Janet being near that sleaze and I tried to phone her numerous times but she didn't pick up. After a while her phone was turned off. I tried to get out of my bed but was too weak and collapsed. I had to save her.
I still felt like shit but at least I didn't vomit again. I felt a needle prick in my arm and any thoughts of saving my bride were lost as I sank into a deep drug induced sleep. I must've been out all night and when I woke all I could do was think about not being able to stop that predator fucking my wife. Maybe I should've spent my money on someone who would've made sure he couldn't get near her.
I wanted to get up to try to save what was left of my marriage but I was strapped to the bed. I just kept on struggling until the nurses noticed and sedated me again. When I awoke my friendly nurse was on shift and she released me from my restraints and cleaned me up.
I asked if Janet had been up to see me and she checked the visitor's book and couldn't see her name since I'd seen her get into the taxi with that sleaze but she did say Janet had phoned the last two days about lunch time.
The doctor finally showed up and was amazed I hadn't thrown up again and the nurse told him I'd taken the Baking Soda. He'd never heard of it being used before and asked a lot of questions I couldn't answer except the most important one. I hadn't vomited since. He said I needed to stay a few days longer to regain some strength and warned me if I tried to leave I'd be restrained as I was still too weak to even walk.
I told my nurse I still had to rescue my bride but I could already see a pained look in her eyes. I didn't want her to tell me but I knew what was coming when she said her brother had evidence of her infidelity.
Her lover had even moved into our room and the sex had been almost non-stop. It was too late and she held me while I cried on her shoulder. My marriage was over without even having been consummated.
I had her note on my file at reception saying there was no change in my condition and I was sedated. I was gaining a little strength by the hour as I started to eat limited amounts of steamed rice and dry toast.
The final lab tests came back and confirmed the chicken I had eaten had been tampered with a highly unusual strain of botulism; it was man made in a laboratory in my home state and had been developed years ago for germ warfare. My doctor then told me that the police and other interested agencies in my home state had been sent a full report and they were waiting for my return.
As I gained my strength I set about straightening my life up. Janet had totally ceased visiting and no longer phoned after she'd been told that day I'd be discharged in time for our flight home. I still couldn't even get her on her phone and even left messages at the hotel reception. I really missed her and by now all the nurses knew what had happened and looked after me.
One of my new friend's close co-workers, another nurse, came in one day and told me her father was a divorce lawyer in my home town and she phoned him while she was with me. She told him I was a good friend and had been poisoned at my wedding and the culprit had stolen my bride. It seemed my bride no longer cared for me and I wanted a divorce.