Revenge of the Nerd Ch. 77byrpsuch©
"Don't worry about it," my father said. "I'll take care of everything. I'll get my staff on it. They'll contact everyone to let them know the wedding is off."
"What are you talking about?"
"I know what he did. I saw what just happened. You really can't afford to hesitate. People are expecting a wedding in under forty-eight hours."
I needed time to assimilate this.
"Well, that isn't enough time for them to make alternative plans, so we'll just stick with the wedding until I figure out what I want to do."
"Now, Ashley -"
"Was I unclear? Is English a foreign language?"
"No need to be rude. I'm not the one who cheated."
"Now who's being rude?"
He didn't answer.
"I'll let you know what I plan to do."
I walked out the door
What did I want? What did I know?
I had an accusation from Sabrina the reliability of which was backed up by her telling my father and supposedly trying to figure out what to do.
She seemed to be telling the truth. I had not seen any indications of deception in her behavior or her body language.
My father had made an allegation about Jeff's motive for pursuing me. There was no doubt they had a loud, acrimonious argument about something after dinner the night my parents met Jeff. Neither would tell me a thing about it so, clearly, it was serious.
My father had persisted in suggesting character flaws in Jeff. Was it out of concern for me?
Jeff had persisted in suggesting my father was up to something; trying to break us up. Was he just setting the stage to counter my father's future allegations against him? Was he trying to get me so suspicious of my father that I wouldn't believe anything he said? Had he convinced me there was a conspiracy and brought me into the battle to counter it for the purpose of casting so much doubt on my father it would be impossible for me to recognize any sincerity on his part?
Whoever was playing me, I had just taken a strong stand against each of them.
I had a nagging suspicion I had screwed up, but I was too tired to work it out. I would be better able to think after a good night's sleep. Alas, sleep did not come easily until I realized what I should have known all along: Jeff wouldn't do that.
Jeff had been right all along and, however briefly, I had been sucked in. It was well after midnight, but I called his cell. I was told to leave a message.
"Jeff, please call me. I'm so sorry I doubted you. We need to talk. Call anytime."
I had done what I could. It enabled me to sleep.
I woke at 10:00. Jeff hadn't called.
Lunch time arrived. Jeff hadn't called.
I didn't know what to do. I called Jen.
"Jen, I can't believe it. I'm the TSTL from those romance novels."
"That seems unlikely. What did you do?"
"Sabrina concocted a story that Jeff seduced her and had my father to back it up. I kind of believed it for a minute."
"How do you know it was concocted?"
"What do I do?"
"Talk to him."
"He isn't calling me back."
Does anyone ever realize how galling it is to be told to be patient? It's always the only thing you can think about and they tell you to just sit back and wait until it happens. I'll bet when somebody tells them to be patient they want to plunge a dagger in her face.
I called the Goldberg home. Sandy answered.
"Sandy, do you know where Jeff is?"
"You really stepped in it."
"I know. I did a TSTL."
"What the hell is that?"
"Don't you read romance novels?"
"It stands for Too Stupid To Live. It's when the heroine, it's never the guy, does something so stupid you want to yell at the book and say no human would ever do that. And it makes you think that if he can take her back after that he wasn't worth it after all."
"I like that: Too Stupid To Live."
"I'm glad you're entertained. I don't even know if I'm still getting married. I've got to talk to Jeff."
"He'll call you when he's ready. Have some faith in him."
"That's the problem. We're supposed to be getting married and I didn't trust him."
"He'll talk with you. Just be patient."
Does anyone at all ever realize how galling it is to be told to be patient? How could I have faith in him? I didn't know if I deserved to be forgiven.
"I'll see you tomorrow," Sandy said.
She sounded awfully cheerful. Was it her excitement over an event that might never happen?
Whom do I call now? I wanted to talk to Sunny, but that would mean calling the house again and I would sound pretty desperate because I was.
It occurred to me something else was wrong. I went looking for my father.
When I told him I wanted to discuss some things he said, "How can I help?"
This was not my father.
"Let's talk in your study. We may not want to be overheard."
His face showed concern with my ominous suggestion.
"You said Jeff suggested a bribe of one million dollars?"
"Yes, he did."
"Doesn't that strike you as awfully low? He makes a quarter million straight out of school with Second Foundation. And he's also a part-time professor with opportunities for consulting. In the not too distant future he could be making that million every year. Why would he ask for that little?"
"Well, you've got to remember he wasn't working then. He was in school. He had no idea what he would be making. That amount would have seemed like a lot of money to a young man."
"Yes, he did know what he would be paid. He was already getting paid quite a lot for working over the summer and during school breaks. Among the things Jeff knows really well is numbers. He knows exactly what kind of financial position he would be in and a million dollars wouldn't change it very much.
"And that doesn't even include the money I have available from my trust fund. It just doesn't make any sense. Even if he asked for ten times that it doesn't make any sense."
Did I see something in my father's eyes when I said that? I wasn't sure.
"Are you saying I lied?"
"I'm saying it makes no sense. There must have been something else going on that you're not telling me about. It may be something you don't remember or didn't give any thought at the time, but something is missing."
And if it was true, he knew damn well the content and significance of the missing information.
"I don't know what to tell you, Ashley. It might have been that I was so incensed at his mention of the money I missed something important. I can't say. All I can do is tell you what he said."
I shook my head. "It just doesn't make any sense."
Dad looked like he was deciding whether to say anything else.
"You're not still going to marry that boy, are you? With that kind of behavior what will you have to put up with in the future?"
That boy? He didn't even have a name? I controlled my temper much better than I had the previous night. I wanted to flatten my father, but I decided it would be better to have all the facts I could before a confrontation.
"That's still the plan. I expect to talk to Jeff before that, but, as far as I know, we're still going to have a wedding tomorrow. I'll let you know if anything changes."
I walked out before he could say anything else.