If you missed the previous parts - Lust in Chicago was the original title. <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474981606944">Lust in Chicago Part One</a>
<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474981607881">Chicago Romance Part Two</a>
We didn’t have a whirlwind, go everywhere and be seen at all the ‘in’ spots, which are numerous in Chicago. Instead of The Second City Comedy Club; we went to a little improv place off the Loop. We skipped the Chicago Symphony. Jack had a friend who directed an amateur orchestra in a fellowship hall in Evanston, just north of the city. Doing things together was the highlight, not where we were going.
Weekends Jack would go to Winnetka. Sometimes I seethed, imagining him spending the night sleeping with Mindy. Even when he assured me her parents insisted on separate rooms, I wasn’t sure. I knew he wanted to make love to me, there was no doubt about that, and I sure wanted him. We came close several times.
“Ellen, I want more from this than hot and heavy sex. I want a relationship that is going somewhere. I’ve had too many in the past few years that went nowhere.” He put both hands on my shoulders, let the look in those gorgeous eyes penetrate mine, and whispered, “I think we have a future.”
My problem was that I didn’t think I wanted a future. I wasn’t looking for commitment. I’d had that. It didn’t work out. I didn’t want to go through that kind of pain again. Not ever.
Admittedly, there were moments when I thought I could change my attitude about falling in love with Jack, and going for the everlasting, I take thee, kind of life. They were fleeting moments that I could shake, when memories of two years of being cheated on jarred any romantic thoughts.
I know not all men are like my ex. There are good guys. Unfortunately I had several girl friends who went through some similar situations like I did, and that tarnished my outlook on faithful men.
Look at how I was feeling about faithfulness even then. I was suspecting him of sleeping with Mindy when he assured me he wasn’t. Would I ever trust a man again? Did I want to take that chance?
Admittedly I was mellowing, maybe even leaning a little when I was with Jack. He was attentive, thoughtful, and so darned good looking. He called me at least once every day during the week. He sent flowers or wine on the evenings we were going out. We always met somewhere rather than have him come by the apartment. It was easier to be ‘uninvolved’, as he referred to our non-union, until he had broken it with Mindy. Told you he was a commitment kind of guy.
Things were going exceptionally well until the non-verbal calls on my landline. Late at night the phone by the bed would ring. When I groggily answered, there was just an empty line; not even heavy breathing to indicate someone was there, then an abrupt dial tone.
After the third or fourth call, I mentioned it to Jack when we were having a burger after a late movie.
“Not anything but dead silence?” He looked perplexed.
I shook my head.
“Maybe it’s a wrong number and the person realizes he doesn’t recognize your voice.” Jack slathered his french fries with a catsup, mustard mixture.
“No. It happened twice last week and again last night. Somehow the caller ID is blocked.”
“That’s easy enough to do. The caller just has to dial *67 before they dial your number.”
“What? Why am I paying extra for caller ID if people can block it when they call?”
He shrugged. “I couldn’t tell you. I just know when I was trying to make some calls to a client who owed me money and he never answered my calls, someone told me how to block my number.”
“And you finally got through to him?”
“Eventually.” Jack signaled for the check. “I’m sure the calls will stop once the guy, or gal, realizes the person they are trying to reach isn’t at your number.”
But they didn’t stop. They increased. After six calls I nixed the idea of a wrong number and of course I suspected Mindy. She was the first one to suspect. Jack had told me she was unstable. I couldn’t imagine how she knew about us, we were keeping a low profile, but you never know how people get wind of things. Maybe a friend had seen Jack and me somewhere.
I ventured the thought to him one night as were having a nightcap at Jilly’s.
He protested. “There is no way. Sure she can do some strange things but there is no way she knows that I’m seeing you. She would have asked me. There would have been some clue by her actions.”
My friend Nora stopped by briefly as we were talking about the calls. She was serving tables but not ours. The winking, talking to everyone he served, waiter was taking our order. He had greeted me by name when we came in. I later found out from Nora that he'd asked her who I was, after she and I had been there on one of her nights off. She didn’t go into detail, only telling me that he was a man of mystery. “Everyone loves Doug, and he seems to know everyone who comes in, but no one knows anything about him.”
I introduced Nora to Jack. I could see she was impressed when he stood to shake hands with her. She had to scoot back to her section but gave me a huge smile as she darted away. I could tell she approved.
“Jack, I don’t like suspecting Mindy but I honestly can’t think of anyone else who could be calling and not talking.”
“I don’t like you getting the calls either, Ellen. I’m sure it isn’t Mindy but I’ll be more aware when I see her this weekend. I’ll pay more attention to her. The problem is my mind is on you when I’m there. It’s not fair to her. I talked to Don, her father. He knows I’m seeing you and that I want to tell Mindy. He’s asked me to hold off until they can take her to the clinic. He said seeing me is the only thing that keeps her from going into one of her depressed phases.”
I knew what Jack meant. I was reminded of a cousin who had committed suicide his freshman year of college. It stunned all of us because we knew he had finally gone on medication to treat his depression. We thought he was going to be cured.
I told Jack about him. We were both quiet, listening to the combo playing a medley of 80’s hits.
“I’ve been holding off telling you something all evening.” Jack broke the silence.
My ‘uh oh’ antenna went up.
“There’s been a snag in the merger. Don and I are going to fly to Singapore on Sunday. I’m not sure how long we’ll be gone. Depends on how soon we can work things out. Mindy and her mom are going to be on a cruise. This whole merger thing was supposed to be over by now and Don and his wife were booked on a cruise. They had expected to have Mindy in the clinic and were taking a Mediterranean cruise before coming back to announce the merger.” Jack sipped the last of his drink. Since he can’t go, Mindy will be going with her mom.”
I had mixed feelings. I would miss Jack, but knew it probably would only be for a week. On the other hand, it would give me time away from him to sort out my feelings. I knew my feelings were moving into a more serious vein than I’d wanted. I was near the getting hurt phase; the thinking about a commitment route. Time away from him would help me decide how far I wanted our relationship to go.
I was also feeling good. If it were Mindy making the phone calls, she wouldn’t be making them from the cruise ship. At least I was pretty sure the calls would cease.
“You guys doing okay?” Doug pointed to our empty glasses. “Can I get you another round?”
Jack looked at me. I shook my head. I was ready to call it a night. Doug handed Jack the check. “I hope to see you the next time Nora has a night off.” I got the wink and the smile. I should have been flattered to be flirted with, but I didn’t feel comfortable. His look was more than flirting or friendly.