Rattled, Faye sat in her car trying not to cry. She declined Richard’s offer of conversation over a cup of coffee. He watched from his Mercedes waiting for her to pull off, when she didn’t, he drove his car to the empty spot near hers. He said a prayer hoping she hadn’t given up on a situation that was getting more difficult than it may have been worth. He tapped on the driver’s window causing her to look out at him with her now puffy eyes. She let down the window and tried to smile.
“I told you, you were a stalker,” she said laughing through her tears.
“I only stalk pretty women who spend most of their time crying, open the door.”
Faye obeyed mentally fatigued and too tried to think of an excuse not to.
“Richard, are you a God send, or a tormentor? You’re a constant reminder of what my sister thought was another failure. I don’t know that she’d be happy that you’re so persistent.”
“I haven’t asked her for anything. Nor do I expect her to understand any of my motives. I am doing this for selfish reasons. I need a secretary, and I need to be able to live at peace knowing I didn’t push her over the edge. Everything that has happened since then is connected to the fact that I didn’t tell her she was being considered for the job. Something that simple could have stopped her from thinking of herself as a failure.”
“I can’t say that you are wrong, but I know nothing about this is simple. It's not easy for someone to want to take their own life and leave those that love them behind. I don’t think that’s an easy task. So I think it’s deeper than the interview or whatever you said or didn’t say.”
Richard knew she had a valid point, but he was determined to understand Janet Robinson. Faye’s phone rang, and she searched her purse looking to answer it before the music stopped. She let the voice mail pick up when she saw it was Marcus trying to contact her. She listened to the message and rolled her eyes. She closed the flip top on the phone and looked at Richard.
“Richard, do you mind returning to the hospital with me? I don’t want you to be in the middle of this, but my brother-n-law can make this ugly for Janet. I lead him to believe that you might, well I let him believe that the two of you ….”
“Where is he?
“On his way here, I need to call home. Can you stay around for another thirty minutes?”
Richard smiled, “Anything to stalk you and your sister again.”
“You know; you're entirely different than your appearance projects you to be.”
“Good, then your brother-n-law won’t be the wiser.”
Richard knocked on Janet’s door and waited for her to answer. He agreed with Faye; it would look believable if he was already visiting when Marcus arrived. He hoped Janet would understand their attempt at keeping Marcus in the dark about the real reason Richard had befriended Janet and Faye. He knocked a little louder and opened the door, so he could see if Janet was sleeping.
“Janet? It’s Richard Burnett, are you up for company?”
He didn’t know how long it would take Marcus to arrive, but the time was limited for small chat. He had what he thought was a short time to explain the plans, he and Faye discussed. Faye went home and left it up to Richard to deal with Marcus, the jealous, cheating husband.
Janet grabbed her robe glad Faye brought her new one from home. She remembered Richard’s voice fading on the phone, although she couldn’t understand his message. Her memory of the interview was a lot more vivid. Richard Burnett, the man with the hypnotizing eyes came to visit her. Maybe Faye was right she still had a job waiting and a boss who had more than an employer’s interest in her. She smiled as he reached to help her adjust the sleeve of her robe.
“I guess your thoughts about me have changed. First, I give you my story of misery and pain and then this. Did you come here to have me fill out my mental release papers?”
Richard flashed the smile of a man who liked what he saw but wouldn’t touch until given permission. Janet was attracted to his subtle personality, but she remembered her judgment of men wasn’t the best. After all she thought she would be celebrating her anniversaries with Marcus for years to come.
“I’m here to make sure you know you’re okay. Do you remember my message I left on the phone?”
Janet hung her head too embarrassed to want to return to what memory she had of that day. The shame would only bring her tears, and she had cried enough over the past few days.
“No, no much of it.”
“It doesn’t matter. I do have papers for you to sign. But more importantly I need to know what your intentions are. Are you still seeking the job and will you accept the help from Faye, Dr. Norris, and me? Your sister said she talked to you this afternoon. I was with her but decided to leave the two of you alone; I’m back for your answer. Maybe if you answer me Faye will stop thinking I’m just a stalker.”
Richard and Janet laughed and talked as though they had known each other for more than five days. Their conversation included discussing the care of the children once she could return to work to what her likes and dislikes were in family recipes. Richard almost forgot about the plans to keep Marcus at bay until Janet mentioned her children by name.
“Marcus Jr., hmm strong name and the only male, does he talk about missing his father?”
“Not as much as the girls do, but they’re younger. He has his activities and friends. Their father has lied so much to them that I believe M.J. ignores him totally, another issue.”
“And do you miss Marcus, your husband?”
“What is that your question, or your friend, the doctor?”
“No, it’s mine. Faye told me Marcus was on his way here, and I want to make sure my presence is not standing in the way of your relationship. I want us to be friends Janet. I don’t want to cause any problems for you or pretend not to be concerned when I am. Maybe I’ll explain it better at another time.”
“No, explain it to us now Mr. Burnett.” Marcus didn’t bother to knock on the partially closed door. He heard only the last two sentences.
“Marcus, this is Richard…..."
“We met. Again, I ask; why are you here?”
Richard pulled out his card. “Janet I don’t know if you have the office phone number with you.”
He was surprised when Janet read between the lines and answered with what one would expect if she and Richard had an intimate relationship brewing.
“I think Faye has my cell. All your numbers are in it. If you speak to her again tonight can you tell her to give it to you to drop off here when you visit tomorrow? She said she’d be with the kids and my mother most of the day.”
Marcus sat in the seat that Richard left open. Although he was standing when Marcus walked in the room, he imagined Richard had a spot on Janet’s bed. He watched the conversation between his wife and this man he didn’t trust hoping he didn’t have to ask him out of the room.
“No problem, anything else. I’ll go by the apartment in the morning do you need anything?”
Janet was slow on her response and a little confused. She was pleased to play the game that Marcus and Karyn played with her early in their relationship. She smiled trying to remember how Karyn did while saying, “We’re just friends." She wanted to laugh in spite of herself. Karyn would pretend she didn’t understand Janet’s anger. Marcus would learn a lesson, and Richard would be the teacher.
“Look in that overnight bag, no hand it to me let me check. You wouldn’t know what I was talking about.”
Richard handed her the bag while Marcus held his tongue. Richard knew the awkward position would elevate her husband’s anger.
“I’m sorry man. I’ll be out in a minute, soon as the little lady sends me on my way.”
“How ‘bout we cut the shit. I’m sending you on your way. This is still my wife, and I call the fucking shots.”
Richard stepped toward the bed with his back deliberately facing Marcus. “What else did you need?” He continued to move around the bed closer to where Marcus was now standing.
“You’re not leaving are you? You just got here.” Janet had reservations about being alone with Marcus.
“I’m gonna step out and give the two of you time to talk. Its six now. How about seven?”
Richard faced Marcus for a nod of approval. When he didn’t get anything but a bitter glare, he turned again and winked at Janet. “I’ll be back sweetie.”
He leaned and kissed her on her forehead. When he turned to step away from the bed, Marcus swung only to get his chin checked by Richard’s right fist. Marcus staggered toward him as Janet screamed.
“Marcus, what the hell is wrong with you?”
Richard sat a slumped Marcus in his seat. “I’ll be back.”
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