She was tired of all the rumors. For the last six weeks she'd heard about her husband sneaking around. Sometimes he was alone. Sometimes he was with another woman. Jen closed her eyes and sipped her drink. How had it come to this? She was up for re-election next year and this could ruin her chances. She felt a tear caress her cheek and hurriedly wiped it away. She opened her eyes and finished her drink, wincing as a cold cube of ice bumped her tooth.
She turned from the window and looked at the man sitting in on of the plush chairs across the room. She stared at him and slowly shook her head. She'd never imagined she'd be meeting with a private detective. She sighed and walked to the bar. "Would you like something to drink, Mr. Weston?" she asked as she refilled her glass.
"Nothing fro me, thanks," Ray said as he watched her refill her glass. He'd seen it a thousand times. They always seemed to think alcohol made the news easier to accept. In his experience, it was the exact opposite. Getting drunk made them more emotional. He hated dealing with emotional drunks. He had no choice but to sit back and watch, though. She was paying him to investigate her husband, not to moderate her drinking. He sighed and settled into the chair, shifting the envelope he carried from one hand to the other.
Jen nodded and walked to a chair near Ray. She sat stiffly and sipped her drink as she stared at the envelope the man carried. That envelope held her destruction. She was tempted to grab the envelope and toss it into the fireplace. Perhaps it would be better to pretend things were normal. Perhaps it was merely a phase and Jeff would quit sneaking around soon. She sighed and sipped her drink again. She took a deep breath and nodded. "Tell me what you found out."
Ray looked at her and shrugged. He opened the envelope and handed the photos to her. He gave her a moment then began his narrative. "I followed him for several days before I got those pictures." He pointed to one showing Jeff at dinner with a rather attractive brunette. They were sitting closer than was necessary smiling and looking at various papers on the table.
Jen looked at the photos then at Ray. "This doesn't prove anything. He's a businessman. It could be a business meeting." She glanced at the photos then tossed them on the small table in front of her. She sat back and sighed softly. It had all been a simple misunderstanding. She'd been worried over nothing.
Ray watched her and knew he'd be better off letting her believe what she wanted. He couldn't do that, though. He was a professional. He'd been hired to do a job and he always did the job he was hired to do. "I checked," he said quietly. "No one at his office knows who she is. He isn't working on any projects that require clandestine dinners." He paused and glanced at the bar, suddenly wishing he'd taken her up on the offer of a drink.
He leaned forward and looked at her. "There's more. The two of them visited a house in the hills together. They'd go inside, stay for as much as an hour then come out and drive back to the city." He sat back and sighed. "I was unable to get photos of them in the house and the owner was never there so I'm not sure what they were doing. I'll continue to follow them and find out."
Jen looked at him and shook his head. "No, Ray. You've done enough. I found out what I needed to know. I can take it from here. Thank you for everything." She reached into her pocket and pulled out a check, handing it to him as another tear caressed her cheek. She closed her eyes and sobbed softly, barely aware of the sound of the Ray getting up and leaving the house.
She screamed and tossed the glass across the room. It shattered as it hit the wall but she wasn't aware of it. She put her face into her hands and cried. How could he do this to her. She gave him everything he needed. His business had improved because of her. What could he get from someone else that he couldn't get from her. She sat in the chair and sobbed softly as she tried to think of a reason for him to cheat on her.
Several hours later she glanced at the clock and cursed. It was her birthday and they had reservations at her favorite restaurant. She considered cancelling but shook her head. It had taken weeks to arrange the reservation and she wasn't going to back out now. She'd go to dinner and pretend everything was fine. When she got her husband alone she'd confront him.
She dressed in her finest dress and admired herself in the mirror. She looked stunning and she knew it. Let that bastard see what he was throwing away, she thought to herself. She smiled again and hurried to the restaurant. She smiled at the other patrons as she was lead to her table. She sat alone and watched the door. Her bastard of a husband would be arriving soon and she didn't want to miss the expression on his face when he saw her.
She saw Jeff walk in and stop when he saw her. The expression on his face was priceless. As she looked at him her mind went back to the photos she'd seen earlier. The thought of him with another woman caused the smile to slip from her face. She tried to push the images from her mind but they returned no matter how hard she tried. She vaguely watched Jeff walk to the table and felt him kiss her before sitting down. She tried to smile and get back to enjoying the evening but the mood was gone.
She glared at him and hissed, "How could you do this to me, you bastard?"
Jeff was stunned by his wife's sudden change in attitude. He had no idea what she was talking about. He reached for her hand as he said, "What are you talking about, my angel? By the way, you look stunning tonight." He tried to raise her hand to his lips and was shocked when she pulled her hand away.
Jen felt a tear at the corner of her eye again and stared at him. "Don't give me the innocent act!" She'd raised her voice and she didn't care. His indiscretion would be a topos for every journalist in the city, if not the state, very soon. She reached for her purse and tossed the photos on the table. "Explain these, you bastard!"
Jeff looked at the photos and felt the blood drain from his face. He looked at her and tried to think of something to say. "You ... you had me followed? Why?"
Jen laughed and glared at him again. "To catch you cheating on me, you son of a bitch. How could you do this to me? I've given you everything you could possibly want. What can that harlot give you that I can't?"
Jeff looked at the photos again then sighed. "Baby, please. It's not what you think."
"Don't give me that. Those pictures were taken today! You were with her instead of being with me. On my birthday no less. Happy birthday to me." She put her head in her hands and cried. She hadn't wanted to do this in public.
Jeff glanced around the room and saw furtive glances from almost everyone in the room. They were trying to pay attention to what was going on without being obvious about it. He didn't understand why she was doing this here. He looked at the photos again then reached into his pocket for a packet of papers. He spread them out on the table and looked at his wife. "Yes, I was with Sarah today. I've been with her quite a lot lately."
Jen raised her head and looked at him. "So, you admit it. Why, Jeff? Why would you cheat on me?"
Jeff sighed and pointed at the papers in front of her. "I'm not cheating on you." He saw Jen open her mouth to say something and held his hand up. "Let me finish. Sarah is a real estate agent. I've been meeting with her because I bought a house in the hills. You've been wanting to move out of the city and you like the area up there. I wanted to surprise you." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a key, tossing it on the table. "It's yours. Everything's been taken care of. You can move in tonight." He grabbed the glass of wine on the table and drained it in one long swallow. "Happy birthday," he said as he stood and walked away from the table.
Jen looked at him as he talked and than looked at the papers. It was all there. The address, the final sale. Today's date. She looked at him again and tried to speak but she didn't know what to say. She felt like an idiot. She watched him walk away and felt the tears yet again.