The story so far:
Tom and Sue are two workaholics who’ve been married two years. They’re beginning to realize heavy work schedules and other individual activities are slowly eroding their marriage. Tom decides to try and recapture the atmosphere of their courtship days three years previous in a night dinner at the restaurant where he proposed to Sue. Each of them identifies issues they’ll have to face personally to restore magic to their marriage. Later Sue discovers she’s pregnant, and while reporting this to Tom feels he’s disappointed. Tom struggles to reassure Sue and takes time on a rare beach picnic to discuss their future. Back at work Tom gets accolades from board members for his work, and a prominent board member Jake offers to take Tom and Sue to the revolving restaurant in the city. Tom wonders what will be discussed at that meeting.
“What a spectacular view!” Sue stood for a few moments to watch a glittering city outline slowly move past her line of vision. They’d never been to The Needle before; the place reeked of money and success as she shifted her gaze to tables where elite of town sat chatting and adding to their millions. She had a brief moment of envy as she thought of what it would be like to have this kind of lifestyle and not be worried about their future.
“Do you like it?” Both Tom and Sue spun around in surprise. Jake and Claire stood smiling as they extended hands in welcome. Sue immediately warmed to Claire who beamed with delight at Sue’s presence.
“I’ve heard so much about you and Tom,” said Claire as she moved forward and hugged Sue. “I’m so glad to meet you.”
Jake had already taken control and had waiters scrambling to find the best table so they could enjoy a good vantage point as the restaurant revolved and produced a kaleidoscope of spectacular views. Obviously the waiters all knew Jake and waited patiently for the customary handshake resulting in a hand full of money for each of them. They darted off to fetch menus for everyone.
Sue was delighted with the evening and found she had so much in common with Claire. Sue and Claire chatted away swapping stories of relatives and friends. Half way through the evening Claire decided on a trip to the powder room and Sue went with her.
“It was really nice of you and Jake to invite us this evening, I’m having such a good time.” Sue reached out and touched Claire’s arm fondly. She really liked this woman. Claire was obviously rich, but she didn’t flaunt her wealth and had the knack of making Sue feel comfortable in her presence.
Claire responded with genuine pleasure. “When Jake first told me about you and mentioned all the things you accomplish I was determined to meet this superwoman!”
Both of them laughed.
Claire sobered quickly. “Do you know why Jake invited you both this evening?”
“No,” said Sue instantly catching the change in atmosphere. She grew apprehensive.
Claire smiled again. “The CEO of the company Tom works for told the Board he was resigning and they are looking for a replacement. A few of the members have asked Jake to sound Tom out and see if he’s interested. You could be using this restaurant a lot more Sue if Tom says yes. Unfortunately you’ll not see very much of Tom if he does, that job is a total commitment. But there are compensations.” Claire carefully brushed her designer clothes in a meaningful gesture.
“So Tom already knew about this?” Sue’s eyes narrowed. She glanced at her watch. “I guess the men will be wondering where we are.”
Claire looked at Sue in surprise. “Did I say something wrong?”
Sue realized she’d let her emotions out and quickly recovered. She forced a smile. “Claire you didn’t say anything wrong. I’ve really appreciated meeting you this evening and hope we can be friends. I’m pregnant so do get a bit moody at times.
“Wow!” Claire smiled happily and gave her a hug. “Congratulations, and I hope we can be friends too.”
Back at the table Sue studied the face of her husband. He seemed to be in shock, but how could he be if he’d attended that board meeting and already knew what the evening was all about. This was an exercise in strong arming his wife and he’d brought Jake and his innocent wife to help Tom convince her. At least he could have talked this over with her in advance, and what a hypocrite he was for acting out that night at the Harbor Inn and the day at the beach. That was a warm up for the soften Sue exercise. The more she thought about it the angrier she got, but still maintained the picture of friendliness to her hosts for the rest of the night. Occasionally she shot a black look at Tom who added surprise to his shocked look.
On the way down in the elevator the good humor continued until they reached their car. As the car door shut, an icy gloom surrounded the couple.
Tom looked at Sue’s set face and reacted in surprise. “What?”
“You know what!” Don’t play innocent with me.
“Sue I don’t know what’s gotten into you. Jake and Claire pulled out all stops to make us feel happy this evening and I thought you were enjoying the experience until you made that trip to the powder room. What on earth did Claire say to you to make you like this?”
“Don’t pick on Claire! You’re the one who needs to explain yourself.”
Tom shook his head in disbelief. “I need to explain myself? I think you need to explain yourself!” Anyway we need to talk, Jake made a proposition to me this evening and I told him you and I need to talk this over before I get back to him.”
“Well, I’m not prepared to talk about it this evening and I’ll let you know when I’m ready to talk about it!”
“But we must talk about it Sue, Jake wants to have our reaction tomorrow morning.”
Sue said nothing, and as soon as they reached home she went about her preparations for bed totally ignoring Tom who desperately tried to get her to talk with him.
Finally he decided to tell her about Jake’s invitation to make himself available as one of the candidates for CEO of the company. Sue listened in silence, then climbed into bed and turned to face in the opposite direction to Tom’s side of the bed.
Tom’s surprise turned to anger. He’d wanted it to be their decision, and he had no idea why Sue was acting the way she was. He’d have to phone Jake early in the morning and ask for another days grace to make their decision. That should give him time to get to the bottom of Sue’s strange behavior. Grabbing his pillow he headed for the lounge to spend the night. Sue broke out in silent sobs as she heard the door close behind him.
“© Ian Grice Copyright 2010 All rights reserved”