Yes, I know. Yesterday was Freebie Friday and you were waiting patiently for your next chapter of ‘What Line’ to magically appear – and then it didn’t 😦 Do these reasons for being late count for anything?
- Rain-rain-rain-and more rain. The creek is up and the birds are swimming!
- Busy-busy-busy! I got this excuse from Andrew. 🙂
- No internet access. I did have access but it sounds good. Right? Good thing this isn’t a paying job!
Well, here’s another unedited chapter of ‘What Line’ for you to enjoy on this rainy, rainy weekend in the Sunshine State! And it’s only one day late! Hummm…now where is that sun?
The rest of the week spent in New Orleans at the convention was a whirlwind of entertainment – entertainment of the wrong kind. Jim had not been able to just walk away from Lori after that first encounter. With trying hard to concentrate on the meetings and workshops he was required to attend and concentrating on Lori in the evenings his brain was about fried.
Keeping a close check on Helena every day and at night was an even harder task. He didn’t want Lori in his room in case Helena called the room phone so he was toggling back and forth between both rooms all week. There was no telling what Lori would do if she had the chance to answer the phone. Helena had said when she met Lori for the first time she didn’t trust her, and Helena was usually pretty much right on target when it came to first impressions! Lori wasn’t happy with him when he said he had to call and check on her. She said that he wasn’t checking on her but checking in with her.
“That’s not true. Do you want her to get suspicious of what is really going on here?”
“What is really going on here, Jim? Do you care about me at all? Is this just something fun for you to do? I’m not used to behaving this way. It has taken a lot for me to adjust to this connection we have with each other.”
His back was against the wall right now and he didn’t know where to turn. It was nice to be with Lori. You could even call it great, adrenaline-charged, exhilarating! He was on cloud nine! However, he knew it was wrong and yet, he couldn’t say no to her. There was too much of a pull. For the rest of the week he kept in touch with Helena in secret. Lori was no more the wiser and neither was Helena.
On the plane ride home Jim tried to talk to Lori to let her know this behavior was wrong and would have to stop when they returned home. The look on her face was heartbreaking. He didn’t want to hurt her and tried to make her understand their families would be hurt if it ever got out.
“I don’t really care anymore who gets hurt. You make me happy. My life with Stan is not happy. I try, but he always finds fault with me and the way I do things. I’ve thought of divorcing him and now maybe I can.”
“What are you saying, Lori? You said you love Stan. And remember, there is Lillie to think about too. Don’t act too quickly.”
“I thought you cared about me. Is Helena more important?”
“Helena is my wife, Lori. We have been married for almost thirty years. We have children and a grandchild together. I can’t hurt her with this now. Yes, I care about you, but what is it you want of me?”
“I think we could be happy together. People get over relationships. Divorces happen all the time. Helena will be fine, and so will your kids. They are grown and have lives of their own.”
Jim fidgeted with his briefcase and looking at Lori responded, “I’m not ready for that Lori. You’ll have to be happy with seeing me now and then after work, but I can’t give you too much right now. This wasn’t something we planned. It just happened. We can’t read too much into it.”
Lori looked hurt and Jim not knowing how to react to the tears brimming over in her eyes put his arm around her pulling her to him. “Come on, cheer up. We just had a great trip and a wonderful time together, but now we have to get back to reality. We’ll take it one day at a time and see what evolves, ok?”
Lori reluctantly agreed and laid her head on his shoulder for the rest of the trip. Stan and Lillie were outside in the driveway when Jim drove up to Lori’s to drop her off. Stan walked over to Jim’s truck and shook his hand thanking him for bringing her home from the airport as he retrieved Lori’s baggage from the back seat. Being this close to Stan made Jim a little nervous and he knew his hands were sweating. He left quickly, not knowing what to do next. That is when he decided to go by the office and think this mess through – to make a plan – get his thoughts straight before going home.
He had to think of a way to keep Lori quiet and not let Helena find out what had happened – or what was happening. He knew he wouldn’t be able to say no to Lori. She had a way of stroking his ego and he liked it. He did love Helena though and was not planning on ending their marriage for another woman he did not really love. His marriage and his family were important.
As Jim was locking up his office his cell phone rang. It was Helena and he pushed the ignore button quickly, not ready to face her yet. Could he play the game and keep them both happy? For a while he would have to try. Who would be the wiser? With that decided, Jim felt a little better but the knot that had formed in his gut a few days ago was still there. He hoped it would go away soon.
As soon as he drove in the driveway, Helena opened the front door and walked out smiling. It was so good to see her and even though he had been with Lori for a week, he had missed his wife. “Gosh, I’m so glad to be back. I don’t ever want to go on that trip again without you or be away from you for so long!”
“Well, I was beginning to worry about you. Your plane should have landed hours ago. I called your cell phone and you didn’t answer. Do you have it on?”
“I’m sorry. My phone has been acting up a little. I had a little trouble with my luggage and it took longer than it should have to get away from the airport,” he lied easily – too easily. “I should have called you. You look so much better than you did when I left. I think the rest was good for you.”
“I think so too and I actually got all my paperwork cleared up. I know you’re tired so come in and rest while I unpack your suitcases. I made us a salad for dinner if you’re hungry. Jason got in yesterday and is out with his friends now. He should be home soon. You would think he would be tired of being with them after being together for over a week!”
Jim sat in the living room reading the paper with the TV on while Helena unpacked and finished her dinner preparations. They went out on the deck to eat since it was such a nice evening and just as they finished his cell phone rang. He glanced at it and nervously said that it was Jeffrey calling and he should answer.
“Go ahead. I’ll clear up these dishes and then we can watch a movie. I think I hear Jason driving up.”
Jim answered his phone as Jason walked in the house, holding his finger up to his lips to quiet him as he bounded in the door. “Just a minute Jeffery,” he said and stopped for a minute to hug his son and tell him he would be on the phone for a minute. The he walked into Helena’s office shutting the door behind him.
“What’s going on Lori? Sorry about all that, but I told Helena it was Jeffery calling. Are you ok?”
“Yes, I just wanted to hear your voice for a minute. Do you mind?”
“No, of course I don’t. You know you can call me anytime? Was Stan ok with me bringing you home?”
“Well, he wasn’t too happy about it and told me so. He won’t argue too much in front of Lillie though. He got over it really quick. I’m trying to hold it all together, but it’s really hard.”
“Sure it is. Sure it is,” Jim repeated. “Me too. We need to cut this short. You remember how I feel, ok?”
“Ok, I’ll see you in the morning at work. I only hope that I can control myself around you so Jeffery and Pam don’t figure it out.”
After Jim hung up the phone he took a few deep breaths before walking into the kitchen to talk with Helena and Jason. They sat and talked about Jason’s trip for a while and about his graduation coming up, and then Helena reminded Jason he had to get up for school early in the morning.
“You haven’t graduated yet and finals will be here before you know it.”
“Don’t remind me,” Jason answered. “I’m going to bed in just a bit. There’s a paper I want to finish before I turn in though. It’s not due until Tuesday, but maybe if I turn it in early I can make some points!” he said jokingly.
“That’s good thinking,” Jim replied. “Keep that thought in your head for college this fall. Your mother and I are going to watch a movie, then go to bed.”
After the movie was over, Jim took a shower while Helena prepared the coffee pot for the morning and locked up the house. She was waiting in bed for him when he stepped into the bedroom.
“I miss you so much when you are gone. I wouldn’t want you to have a job where you had to travel all the time. I would have to quit working just so I could go on all your trips with you. Did you miss me?” Helena said smiling.
Jim’s mind was reeling with unanswered questions as he pulled down the covers and crawled into bed beside her, replying, “I’ll show you how much I’ve missed you.” The warmth of her body made him forget all that had happened during the past week. However, he lay awake beside her long after she was asleep, wondering how long he could keep up this charade. It won’t be easy – and is really not fair to Helena – or Lori.
# 4. (insert after #3 above) My computer just froze and now it’s almost two days late. – This is really true! I guess that’s what I get for making excuses.
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