Chicago Romance – Part 4
M. Bradley McCauley
Part One is Titled - Interesting Enough to Read More
It surprised me that I missed Jack more than I'd expected. He had called from the airport on his way to Singapore. He said he didn’t know if he would be able to call me again since they had meetings planned almost continually, plus there was the time change. Before he finished the call, he hesitated and then said softly. “Ellen, I’m in love with you.”
I was glad he hung up without waiting for me to respond. I was very touched and came close to telling him I loved him too, but I couldn’t, at least not until I was sure. The wall I’d built around my feelings was beginning to crumble. I was still afraid of being hurt, and still untrusting, but the pleasure I felt when I was with Jack was gradually crumbling that wall.
The days moved slowly. Work had increased, which should have made time go faster. It didn’t. I found that by evening I was missing Jack and our time together. I was looking forward to Nora’s night off. We decided to go to a movie. We also decided not to go back to the bar where she worked. She told me that Doug, the server, asked her if she would see if I would go out with him. She told him I was pretty exclusive with Jack but he was insistent that she ask me. I almost said yes, just to see if I could enjoy another man’s company as much as I enjoyed Jack’s. Remembering the way he had looked at me, a look that I can best describe as lascivious, is why I told Nora definitely no.
Jack’s trip was unexpectedly cut short. Evidently Mindy’s mother had told her on the cruise about Jack seeing me. Shortly after, Mindy attempted suicide by overdosing on a mixture of prescription medicines she had, plus combined them with some of her mother’s. Fortunately her mother found her shortly after she taken them, and the ship's Dr. was able to pump her stomach. A chartered helicopter came and took her and her mother to a Hospital in Athens. Jack and her father flew directly there from Singapore.
I got a call from Jack shortly after he arrived in Athens. After he told me about what happened, he said, “Ellen, I’m coming home. Don begged me to stay and be with Mindy but I told him no. I’m not going to carry on this charade any longer. I told Mindy that she and I are not a couple. She seemed resigned to it, of course she is somewhat sedated. Don and her mother will be taking her directly to the clinic in Switzerland. I’ll be home the day after tomorrow.”
He hadn’t paused for a second, barely even for a breath. The feeling I had knowing he was coming home was the finally blow to that wall. It crumbled, and I knew I was in love with Jack. Before he hung up, I told him I loved him too. I felt life was going to be perfect. I could love again. I could trust again. I could be happy again.
The thought didn’t last long. That night after I drifted off to sleep with thoughts of a future with Jack, the call came. This time though, it wasn’t just someone breathing. It was a menacing, gravelly voice, that sounded like a recording.
“You are going to regret what you are doing.” It repeated twice before I realized what was happening and slammed down the phone. I was shaking. The call was threatening; the voice, though technically recorded, was filled with hostility. The phone rang again. I frantically pulled the cord from the wall jack, picked it up, and angrily threw it across the room.
I was certain it wasn’t Mindy. She was in a hospital in Athens. My mind raced over the different people I knew who were aware I was dating Jack. There were the people from work, Nora, and Doug, her co-worker. My family in CA, I’d told them about him. But what if it wasn’t about Jack. What could I be doing that I might regret?
There was no way I could think of that my job would cause any problems. I approved almost all the ads, after making some minor changes on some. I’d only advised not using a few and they were rewritten, resubmitted and I was able to approve them for content and quality ad sense.
Nora was really my only close friend. We had a few mutual ones but I couldn’t think of anything I might have done to them that I would eventually regret.
I stayed awake the rest of the night thinking, dozing, muttering, and even swearing a bit. I was angry and perplexed and had no idea what to do next, other than keep the phone unplugged. Little did I know that I would soon be getting untraceable text messages sent to my iPhone from a computer.
“Continue what you are doing and there will be hell to pay.” The cryptic text words were even more threatening than the recorded phone call.