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Love Lorn - Work In Progress

  • This is a story in progress. I'll be updating as I get more written, not entirely sure how long it will be in its entirety. Please critique, make suggestions, or just tell me how this story makes you feel and think. Thank you for taking the time to take a gander at my writing so far.


    After nearly 5 years of what I thought was the perfect marriage, we are approaching our fifth year anniversary. Every year my husband says we don’t have the money for a vacation, but that one year we will. He promises every time that next year will be better, that next anniversary we will do something fun or have an adventure. I keep wondering where all the money is going, he makes good money after all. Lately though, it seems as if he hasn’t even realized that our anniversary is approaching. Usually he starts asking me for ideas of what I would like to do or what sounds interesting. Our first year anniversary we went to an amusement park, he let me pick out all the rides we got on and encouraged me to try new rides that I never dreamed of getting on. We ate all kinds of tasty and exotic foods, and talked with some of the vendors. He even won me a giant pink panda in a test of strength. That night on the drive home, he played a mixed tape of all my favorite romance songs. When we arrived, the front door was open so he went in before me. Moments later he called me into the house and said to follow the path. I looked down and there was a path of rose petals. As I followed them, they led me up the stairs down the hall and through our room to the bathroom. The bathroom was dim, but as I stepped further in, I saw it was lit by candles with rose petals and bath beads in a nice warm bath. He lavished me with a nice relaxing soak, then a full body rub. My husband was ever so romantic and enjoyed doing sweet things like this for me.For our second year anniversary, he took me to the fanciest restaurant in town and had bought me an elegant dress to match the occasion. He had requested the entire restaurant to ourselves with each table naked aside from a table cloth and a lit candle. Our table was in the center of the room with a rose in place of where the single candle should have been, with two candles on either side lit for lighting. There was one server and two cooks on staff that night, and for two whole hours we just sat across from one another, gazing lovingly into each others eyes as we ate our meal and talked.On our third anniversary, he had made us a romantic home cooked picnic and took me to a beautiful garden where we ate our picnic surrounded by the most beautiful roses I had ever seen. After our picnic was over, he carried me to our car and drove us home. We had the most passionate night I can remember.Last years anniversary was not quite as romantic, but still ever so sweet. He took me sight seeing as the sunset began to go into full swing, changing the sky’s colors and dazzling against the clouds. It was simple, and cheap, but something seemed off about it. Something about him was off, I should say. For a few months prior to our anniversary, he seemed to be making strange withdraws from the bank that made no sense, and he has continued making these unusual withdraws since.You see, I’m worried now that my husband may be cheating on me, or off buying things for himself without even telling me. I don’t see why he would keep something like that secret from me, we both work and he knows when I make a special purchase for myself. I’ve tried asking my friends but neither of them seem to know anything either. They just keep telling me to trust my heart. My heart tells me he loves me, and that I love him. We’ve been like two peas in a pod since we first started dating back in our last year of highschool, but the past few months I’ve noticed he isn’t the same person anymore. It’s as if he has become distant. He has been working odd hours compared to usual, saying he has deadlines to meet. Whenever I bring up our upcoming anniversary, he quickly changes the topic of conversation or suddenly remembers some paperwork he has to finish at the office before business opens the next day.I am so pained by the idea that after having been together for nearly a decade and married for almost half a decade that our marriage is falling apart. I can’t fault him for working, but I feel as though he should make time for me too. We do have an anniversary coming up, and the 5 year mark is supposed to be important to the both of us, isn’t it? My friends keep saying over and over that it’s nothing to worry about and that I should be happy to have such a devoted and down to earth husband. They say I should be happy we’re still together after having known each other so long, that it’s just the end of the honeymoon phase. Well I never got my honeymoon, it was straight back to work as soon as the wedding was over. It wasn’t even my dream wedding, even if I did marry my dream guy.I know I love my husband still, but it just feels as though he doesn’t love me the same anymore. I must come up with a plan of action to really find out just what it is I mean to him, because I don’t think I can stay in a marriage if the love shared is one sided. A marriage is supposed to be both parts lovingly holding each other together, isn’t it? That was what we swore to do, till death do us part. I don’t know that I could live with myself if our marriage truly has become just a one-sided partnership.

    Chapter 1

    Jane sat frustratedly looking over the finances, looking at the ledgers that her and Will had agreed to write their financial transcripts into. She kept wondering where all the money was going, though sure they had enough to cover all their bills and still have their little luxuries, she saw discrepancies with the ledger and the transactions from their joint bank account. She thumbed through some pages while sipping her morning tea, a frustrated finger tapping on the glass dinning room table. She heard footsteps coming down the hall and quickly closed the bank app on her tablet while closing the ledger and placing it back on the breakfast counter in the kitchen. As Will walked in, newspaper in hand, he reached his hand out as he had done for the past 4 years and 7 months. His hand was met with the handle of a fresh cup of tea, steaming with freshness and the scent of lemon and honey filling his nostrils. He lowered his paper and kissed Jane on the forehead, “Morning honey. How was work yesterday?” He laid the newspaper down, looking lovingly across the table at his wife.She sat with him after refilling her cup and smiled at him, “It was okay, the board meeting went a little longer than anticipated but over all I think we made some significant headway.” Jane sipped at her tea and glanced at her husband, “How was your spur of the moment work that you needed to file?” “Oh, it turned out they filed it in the wrong section. They filed it with the returns for this month when they were the returns for last month. They would be lost without me to help keep them organized.” He smiled, picked up his newspaper again when suddenly his phone vibrated. He frowned, setting it back down to pick up his phone as Jane sighed softly, “Sorry, hon, work needs me.“She nodded hesitantly and stood up, grabbing him his salad lunch and brusquely handing it to him, “I guess I’ll see you when I get off work?” she paused, “Maybe then we can talk about our anniversary?” Jane looked hopefully at Will.“Maybe.” he kissed her forehead as he headed out the door with his salad, quickly grabbing his keys on his way out the door. He paused at the threshold, “Love you Jane, don’t ever forget it.““I love you too, Will.” she called out, a somewhat pained tone coming out as she said it. The door closed with ease and she settled back down into her seat. Opening the tablet again, she started thumbing through the withdrawals that had been made, shaking her head in dismay. Muttering under her breath as she kept spotting inconsistencies, she started mentally doing a tally of all the miscellaneous withdrawals that made no sense. As she looked through the figures and frequency, she realized he had been taking out about a third of each of his paychecks every time he got a paycheck.Janes frustration and confusion began mounting when suddenly she got a phone call. Almost as if waking up, she snapped out of her mental world and back into the real world. Glancing at her phone, she saw it was her boss. With one hand she flipped the phone open and the other she began rubbing her temple, “Yes, Ben?““We need you in sooner than anticipated, someone double booked themselves for a showing today and I need you to cover for them.““Oh great, was it Melody again?““Yes, she booked two showings for 9am. One off Glennhurst and the other off Bartly. You know which one I want you to take over.““On it sir, I’ll be out the door in five.““I knew I could count on you, Jane. Come to my office after you’re done.““Will do sir. See you in about an hour.“*click* Slipping on her heels, she took one final sip of her tea which had now started to cool to room temperature. She closed the app on the tablet, shut it off and placed it on the reading nook table before turning and heading out the door, grabbing her keys out of the bowl. As she approached her car, there was a note on the windshield. It read, “I hope you have a wonderful day, beautiful. There’s a present in the drivers seat for you. Love Will” She opened the drivers seat door and there was a single pink rose and a truffle shaped like a heart. She smiled as she sniffed the rose and placed the truffle in the mid console. She thought to herself, ‘Well maybe everything isn’t so bad, he remembers the simple things after all these years after all.‘ Pulling out of the driveway, she headed off to the showing in the rich neighborhood of Bartly.As she reached the large estate, she quickly got out of the car and began lighting the gingerbread scented sticks around the house. Light fragrance to make it feel like home, that’s what she was taught. She got the cookie dough out of the fridge they had stored for showings and began baking the cookies in cute shapes like kitties and puppies and snowflakes. The cookies finished baking about ten minutes before the family arrived for the showing. Jane gingerly put all the cookies on the platter and stood at the door waiting for their arrival. It wasn’t too long before the large van appeared. She knew the family could afford the house, she just needed to make sure she got the sale clinched before meeting her boss.Putting on a bright smile, she greeted them at their car and offered the family cookies. “Welcome to your new home, Perri family!” she said enthusiastically. Within twenty minutes of showing them the house and telling them its history and the basics of its foundation and about the electrical work, she had them sold. They wrote the check for $500k and left happily to go pack their belongings so they could move into their new home.Shuffling papers as she waited for her boss to get back from lunch, Jane’s phone pinged as a text message arrived. Smiling at the recognition of the specific text ringtone, she opened her phone to the message which simply read, ‘Might be late tonight, miss you. Love Will‘. Her smile faded as a sigh escaped her. Before she could get swept up in the emotions of missing her husband, Ben walked in the door brusquely.He put his briefcase in the chair against the wall in the corner of the room then sat behind his desk. Ben finally looked up at Jane after settling in, “I thought you said you’d see me in about an hour.” His expression was less than pleasant.“Sir, there was nothing prepared. The house hadn’t been dusted recently, the blinds and curtains had been drawn. I needed to close the deal, so I needed time to make the house feel like a home.““You could have told me.““Sir, I did. Did you not get my message” Jane’s brow raised, a hint of concern on her face.“Well I..” Ben paused and turned on his computer, clacking at the keys for a moment before his face fell. “So you did. I’m sorry, it has just been hard trying to get a viable buyer for that house. I knew I should have put it on your list.” He closed the screen then tapped his fingers on the desk before looking back at Jane, “How bad was it?““Sir, it was bad enough I had to postpone my meeting with the Perris. One round of incense wasn’t enough to rid the house of the musty smell.” Jane’s feet shuffled across the carpet, nervous but knowing she had to be honest, “I don’t think Melody is a right fit for the company, Sir. I had to let the house air out before I could try the incense again, I had to vacuum, dust, sweep, and mop myself.” she paused, gauging the look on Ben’s face before resuming, “I thought she was supposed to of shown the house two days ago? How could it of been in such disarray?“Ben’s face had been steadily growing more and more furious looking as Jane spoke. He stood up, pushing the chair back and dialed out a number on his phone. Jane stood tentatively watching, knowing full well she might very well have gotten a fellow realtor fired. She couldn’t simply get in trouble for someone else’s mistakes though, not when she had so much already on her mind. After waiting for the other end to pick up, Ben’s face became red.“Melody, you had better call me back when you get this. I want you in my office ASAP.” he slammed the receiver down then looked at Jane, “You should go to lunch. I’m sure she will be here any minute and you don’t need to hear what I am going to say.“Jane nodded and hurried out the door, grabbing up her coat on the way. She couldn’t agree more, she knew she didn’t want to be there when Melody got back to the office. On her way back to her car, she took out her phone and texted Will back, ‘You’ve been working late a lot recently. Wish we could just have one night of no surprises, just the two of us. Love Jane‘Sighing, Jane drove home to get herself a quick bite to eat for lunch. Upon opening the fridge, she saw her sub sandwich and began eating as she started a fresh cup of tea. While waiting for her tea to finish, she looked over her schedule. She was free for another two hours, then one last house showing. She groaned as she realized it wasn’t just any house, but an open house. It was hard enough dealing with a family, but multiple families? Jane decided to do a spur of the moment trip to her husbands office to see him before going back to work. She poured the tea into a thermos cup, grabbed her sub and went back to her car.As she arrived in front of the large bank where her husband worked. The sight of the building brought a smile to her face. Taking a quick final drink of her tea, she parked the car off to the side so as to surprise Will. When she walked into the bank, she was warmly greeted by many of the workers and tellers. She waved and greeted them back as she walked towards the back where her husbands office was. Spotting the receptionist busily clacking away at the keyboard, Jane smiled and told her to take a short break.“Oh, Mrs. Harrol, what a pleasure to see you. I think Mr. Harrol is currently on the phone, but I’m sure he won’t mind. It isn’t business related.” she quickly finished what she had been typing and accepted the offer of a short break, practically running for the doors while pulling out a pack of cigarettes.Jane chuckled softly, “I don’t know how that girl manages to work her. She smokes far too much.” she tapped on the door of her husbands office and heard his voice from within. She couldn’t make out what he was saying, but did make out him calling who ever knocked in. As she opened the door and entered the room, Will suddenly said he had to go and hung up the phone.His face turned pink with embarrassment, “Well hello hon. What a surprise.“She hugged him, throwing her arms around his neck, “I figured, I have a two hour break between houses so I should stop by.” Jane smiled.Will backed out of the embrace, forcing a smile, “Well hon, I would have liked some kind of warning.“Jane frowned slightly at the distance he put between them, “It wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you..” hesitantly, she questioned, “Who were you on the phone with? You got off the phone rather suddenly. Rachel said you weren’t handling business, you’re supposed to be on lunch.“Will grinned sheepishly, “It’s a surprise. You’ll have to wait and see.“Jane resigned herself to not knowing, her expression becoming pained and filled with anguish. Will saw the drastic change and frowned lightly, he walked to his wife and embraced her. Giving her a kiss on her head, he handed her a small long box. Smiling reassuringly, he nudged her lightly to get her attention to the box. “Take this and go over to Charleen’s house after work. You only have one showing left, so have a girls night with Charleen and the girls.“Taking the box, she looked at her husband with her brow raised quizzically. As Jane started to open it, her husband clasped a hand over hers, “Not here, dear. Wait until you are with Charleen.” He gave her a loving kiss and embraced her again.Jane stumbled, surprised by the sudden burst of affection, feeling herself melt into her husbands embrace. She relaxed, having missed the closeness they were now sharing. As they broke from each other she smiled at him and tucked the box into her carry bag. “I’ll see you later, then?” Will nodded, then gently guided her to the door with his hand on the small of her back. He gave her another gentle kiss and whispered in her ear, “I love you, my sweet Jane.“As she left the building, she felt in higher spirits. She got into her car and drove the long drive to her next house showing. Upon arriving at the house, it already smelled delightful, the floors freshly mopped and vacuumed. She smiled at smelling the light scent of lavender and vanilla mixed together with just a hint of spice. It gave the house a cozy and comfortable yet warm feel. She checked the usual culprits for dust and was pleased when she came up empty. She then set to getting the cinnamon buns made for the family that would be visiting. She had been given details about this family in advance.It was a close knit family, mother was a stay at home mom who would love the double oven and six burner stove. Would definitely be a help for those big dinners for the family. Dad was a lawyer who worked at a prestigious firm, so the study with a lock would definitely make him happy. It was the kids she worried about. The eldest was a bookworm and wanted her own little book-nook. Finding a house with a bay window that had a ottoman was a tad more difficult than she thought, but she managed to find the perfect one.The second eldest wanted their own room away from her sister, so the five bedroom house would be sufficient for her. Then there was the middle children who refused to sleep without the other. They also had demanded their parents find them a place for a tree house and a backyard fort. Lastly was the sweet baby she had heard about, who barely fussed. All they wanted was a pre-pinked bedroom for her that has a walk-in closet. She could definitely manage that. Selling the family on the house was the easy part. The paperwork and negotiating the price could be the problem. She finished baking the cinnamon buns, but as she was putting the icing on them, she heard the car pull up. Jane made sure they looked picture perfect before heading to the door just as they reached the porch. Opening the door with a bright smile on her face, she greeted the parents and offered the kids the snacks. The showdown began as the kids ran rampant around the house and adults talked shop. It didn’t take long to get the price down solid, they had anticipated the price to be well above what it really was.As they signed the papers and set the date to fill out the loan paperwork and signing of the deed, she breathed a sigh of relief. Barely 4pm and her day was already over. She touched her bag to feel the shape of the box Will had given her hours earlier, a smile reappearing on her face. They shook hands at the door and she wished them a happy day and lovely weekend. As they drove off, she locked the door and got into her car. Jane called up Charleen to let her know she was coming by then started the drive to her best friends house.Knocking on Charleen’s door, Jane heard giggling from inside. Charleen greeted her with a bright smile and a glass of champagne. As she walked in, she saw that Amber, Lisa, and Bev were already here. The moment they saw her, they burst into fits of giggles again and clamoured to give her hugs. Jane could tell they had all been drinking for a while already and laughed, glad to join the gaiety of their gathering.“So, have you opened it? You said he gave you a box. What is in it?” Bev demanded while laughing still.“I haven’t, and I have no idea.“Amber chittered, “Well open it, don’t keep us in suspense!“Lisa being the ever vigilant one snatched up the box and tossed it around, “Oh, jewelry!” as she heard the faint ching of what she suspected was chain.Charleen grabbed the box from Lisa and handed it back to Jane, “Open it dear.“Jane couldn’t help but laugh as she opened it. Sure enough, it looked like a jewelry box. It had a firm yet soft feel. As she opened the box, her eyes were met with a beautiful sterling silver bracelet with a heart charm made of pure amethyst. Lifting it from the box it was set in, she saw three other charms. A fresh water pearl, a rose quartz, and a crystal heart charm. Jane gasped as the girls looked on excitedly.Charleen was the first to speak coherently, “Well, it seems he is a smart man after all. He remembered the stones for each anniversary. I wonder what he will get this year. It’s only three months to the day before your fifth year anniversary, he better do something big.” She winked at the other girls and smiled at Jane.The ladies gathered around the bracelet, their eyes glinting with jealousy at the craftsmanship of the gorgeous piece of jewelry. As Charleen was helping fasten the bracelet around Jane’s wrist, Bev piped up, “You have the most amazing husband. How are we even friends anymore? I am just so jealous!“Lisa lightly tapped Bev, “You know we wouldn’t still be together if it weren’t for Jane and her picture perfect life. Your husband might be a bore, but her’s knows how to keep the spice in their life. I’m single and loving it.” she winked at Jane and grinned.Jane’s cheeks flushed, then sighed softly as she lightly touched each jewel on the bracelet. “I’m not sure it’s so picture perfect.“All the girls hushed and gathered around her, moving her from the kitchen to one of the lounge seats in the sitting room. Charleen whispered, “What do you mean, sweety?“Jane began divulging to her friends about her fears and worries, the disappearing money. Then she started telling them about his random disappearing acts, his leaving for work at random odd hours that made no sense. As she talked, she began to cry. Her face becoming contorted in a wretched mess of wrinkles and tears. When she got to her visit with him at his office, the girls let out a gasp of surprise. She told them about the strange phone call, and she was certain it wasn’t the first one he has had. It was only the first one she had caught.Charleen wrapped her arms around Jane’s shoulders, hugging her tight. “I am sure everything is fine, honey. Maybe he is setting aside money for a nice cushy retirement?“Jane’s body shuddered with her sobbing, “I don’t know, I mean, wouldn’t he talk to me about it? He hasn’t said anything about it, and I looked at the ledger. I compared it with our banking information, it isn’t adding up.“All four girls now had embraced poor Jane, trying to say encouraging words to her.“I’m positive he has a good explanation.” Lisa quipped positively.Amber suddenly jumped up and squealed, “Maybe he is planning a big vacation for your anniversary!““You didn’t get to have a honeymoon, so that could be it!” Bev reinforced, nodding her head in agreement with Amber.“You did say he was taking large portions of his checks out, so it’s entirely possible sweet heart.” Charleen added, looking at Bev and Amber.“I don’t know, maybe. I just don’t know what is going on anymore. This past few months have felt like there’s some great divide between he and I. Usually we plan our anniversary together.” Jane began wiping her tears, smudging her eyeliner. Sniffling, she glanced at the time. “Oh great, it’s almost 8pm. I guess I’ll be ordering take out for when he gets home, if he goes home.“As she stood to depart, Charleen gave Jane a tissue and ushered her to the bathroom to clean her face up before leaving. “You shouldn’t drive if you can barely see.” she smiled softly, trying to be reassuring. Jane nodded, allowing herself to be led to the restroom.After getting cleaned up, the girls all gathered around and shared hugs and heartfelt goodbyes. They stood and watched as Jane departed from the driveway, then went back to their wine.As Jane pulled into her driveway, she parked the car and sat there for a while. Her arms against the steering wheel as she rested her head on her arms. She heaved a heavy sigh. After she had managed to calm down, she looked up and noticed the garage door was already open. There in the garage was Will’s car. A look of surprise came over her face, mixed with a faint glint of confusion. Getting out of the car, she then saw that the lights in the dining room were on. Curiosity peeked, Jane walked in through the garage side entrance. Will was moving around the kitchen, looking as though he were cooking. The very sight was a surprise to Jane, she couldn’t recall the last time he had cooked something. As she set her bag down, the keys clanged against the metal of the chair. Will jumped, startled. Clasping a hand to his chest as he turned around, his face became a large smile. “Welcome home, dear!” His eyes seemed to glint faintly as he took in her appearance. His face fell as he realized her cheeks were tear streaked. Putting down the utensils, he moved over to his wife. “What is wrong, hon? You’ve been crying?” Will’s expression became that of earnest worry and concern. He pulled out a chair for her to sit in and knelt by her side, “Talk to me, hon. Why have you been crying?” His voice was soft, and his tone was worried.Jane looked into her husband’s eyes, the worry she had been holding in coming back to the surface as she felt tears forming again in her own. “I was looking at the bank records…” she started.Will looked down at his feet and quietly said, “I can’t tell you about that.“She lifted his head with both hands on either side of his face, “Why? What is it that you are hiding from me?“He sighed, “I can’t tell you.” his voice was low, resigned, but unwavering.Jane started to cry, “Why can’t you tell me? Would it jeopardize our marriage? You’ve been acting strange for the last couple months. I only recently noticed, but you’ve been withdrawing sums of money every time you’re paid. Then today, that mysterious phone call!” her voice started to raise, cracking as she sobbed.He could not make his gaze meet hers. Placing a hand on her knee, he whispered softly as he began to rise, “Do you love me?“Through her tears she nodded and managed to say, “Yes.““Then trust me in knowing I cannot tell you.” He said, simply and matter of fact. Will stood and went back to the kitchen and turned off the burner, “I made you dinner.” Without even looking at her, he then exited the room and went to bed.Jane sat there at the dining room table, wondering what exactly was going on. Her main concern was whether or not their marriage would survive. She finally resigned herself and her worries for the night, walked into the kitchen to see what Will had made for dinner. He had made her favorite, stuffed ravioli in pesto sauce with brussel sprouts and a side of thick homemade garlic bread. She smiled softly, it was the first meal she ever learned to cook, without burning it that is. Jane wasn’t exactly a top notch chef, but over the years she had progressed to being able to cook large meals, with much help from her husband.She made a small plate for herself, as she was feeling too distressed to eat much. After eating, she put the rest of the food in containers, cleaned up the stove top and did the dishes. Flicking the light off, Jane then went to the bedroom. Pushing the door open, there was Will, in bed asleep. She went to her side of the bed and pulled back the covers. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Jane got undressed and took off her shoes to lay down, staring at the ceiling. When Jane woke the next morning, Will was already out of bed. She groggily got up, wiping the sleep from her eyes. Swinging her feet out from under the covers and over the side of the bed, she slipped her feet into her slippers that were kept by the bed. Yawning as she stretched, Jane got up out of bed and made her way to the bathroom to brush her teeth and begin her day.It was her day off, there were few houses to show lately. The start of her weekend, and last night had been a terrible way to kick it off. She put her robe on as she exited the bathroom and headed to the kitchen for tea and her daily newspaper reading. When she entered the kitchen, there was already a fresh kettle of tea on, her newspaper already laid out for her to read the news section she favored. She went to the counter and saw a cup already waiting for her to use.Thinking to herself, she wondered where Will was and why he had pre-setup her morning for her. He was usually too busy in the mornings to do the simple things that started her day. She shrugged, poured her tea and got out the lemon juice from the fridge. Adding her honey, she sat down at the table and started to read the news when Will walked in. He saw her sitting at the table taking her first sip of tea and greeted her warmly.“Good morning, hon. Any plans for your weekend?” he asked cheerily.Jane nearly choked on her tea from the surprise of seeing her husband, “What are you doing still home?” she questioned, taken aback.He grinned from ear to ear, “I scheduled to have the next few days off. I wanted some quality time with my wife. Is that a bad thing?“Her expression softened and she smiled, “No, in fact, I’d like that.” she set the newspaper down and patted the chair next to her, “Come sit with me?“He happily obliged, making himself a quick cup of tea before sitting beside her. “Anything good in the news today?“Jane shook her head, “No, just another break in. This time it was only a few blocks away.” she sighed softly.Will draped an arm across her shoulders and kissed her cheek, “They’ll have a tough time breaking in here if they tried.” he smirked.A soft giggle escaped her lips and she laid her head on his shoulder, “I’ve missed you.“Kissing the top of her head, “I’ve missed you too, hon.“Jane looked up into his face, “Are we drifting?” her expression was pained and sad.He shook his head, “No, we are doing perfect. Why do you ask?“Shrugging, she replied, “Well… You’ve been keeping secrets… Hiding things from me like phone calls, and money…” a faint sigh, “You asked me to trust you, but you won’t tell me what is going on.” Her eyes looked sad as he gazed into them, “I promise you, it’s a surprise, and a good one at that.” he smiled brightly at her, “What shall we do today? Let’s have some fun.“Frowning slightly, Jane lifted her head from his shoulder and thought for a moment. She looked at the clock and saw it was only a few minutes past 8am. “Let’s take a drive and see what strikes us.” she nodded, thinking that was a perfectly good idea, since most places weren’t open for another hour or so.Will gently took her face in his hands and kissed her forehead, “That sounds lovely, hon.“They both got up and began getting ready for the day. After Jane had finished getting dressed, she sat by her bedside table on the edge of the bed, exchanging her slippers for her shoes. She’d decided to go with a casual white button down and one of her relaxed tan slacks. Will entered the room, dressed in a nice blue button down tee and tan khaki shorts.“Are you ready, hon?” he smiled at her.Jane nodded and stood, smiling back at him, “Ready.“As they headed for the door, he picked his keys out of the bowl and opened the door, letting his wife step out before him. Locking the door behind him, he went and opened the passenger door for her then got behind the drivers seat and set out into the bustling city. As they drove through the neighborhood towards the epicenter of their fair city they called home, they listened to upbeat classical music. They held hands as they traveled, enjoying the fair weather of morning.Will kept stealing glances at his wife as she peered out the window, and he knew deep in his heart that his secret was safe, for now.As they drove around, Jane watched as the outside of the car changed from trees and homes to little boutiques and little mom-n-pop shops, with a random cafe sitting in the midst of it all. She looked at her husband and wondered just how long they had lived in their quaint city. When they’d first moved into the neighborhood, it was comprised of just a few houses and tons of locally ran shops. You could find anything from hand-crafted clothes to fresh cut meats. Sadly, the town they had moved to was now a bustling city. They drove on into the heart of the city where they could see people opening up shop for their this and thats. As they were going along, Jane saw the hair stylist shop where her friend Bev worked. She smiled, knowing Bev had a full day planned. Her thoughts then drifted to Charleen, who worked at a top end shoe store. She wondered who Lisa would be working on today, she was top notch with cosmetics and worked at a well known beauticians boutique. Amber helped out at the beauticians boutique by cleaning up here and there, and also did pedicures and manicures. It was actually how Jane and Amber had met, through Lisa. Though Bev, Lisa, and Charleen had known eachother all through school.Suddenly the car stopped, and Jane snapped out of her little world of thought. She looked at Will, then realized why he had stopped. There was some kind of march of ducks going through the intersection. She sighed slightly, a hint of frustration.“What is it, hon?” Will asked, having noticed the sigh.“I don’t get why the ducks have to go through town to get to the city fountain. It always mucks up traffic.” She responded irritably.He raised his brow, looking at her in confusion, “Well how else are they going to get to the water to have a nice cool play in the water?““Why can’t they just fly there? Isn’t it faster?” She snapped back, looking at him with disdain that he didn’t agree.“The baby ducks are too young to fly for very long.” He said matter of fact, then proceeded to drive after the last little duck had gone past. “Nature doesn’t bend to the whim of the people, people must bend to nature’s whim.” Will gently gripped his wife’s hand, “Let’s not let a silly thing like nature’s obstacles ruin a perfectly good day. It is only the morning after all. Plenty of time to have a lovely day.” He smiled.Jane huffed slightly, but knew that he was right. She didn’t know why she was being so combative and irritable, it wasn’t nature that was mucking about with her life. Suddenly an idea struck them both at the same time, and they spoke in unison.“How about the museum?” they said and started to laugh as they realized they’d spoken and thought in tandem. Jane smiled, it felt nice to laugh together.Will squeezed her hand and nodded. “To the museum!“As they drove, Jane changed the music from classical to a mix of techno and instrumental. They had spent their school age years learning they had very similar tastes in music, hers being more geared towards instrumental and his being more techno. They most enjoyed when both were combined. It was the perfect mesh of both their interests musically, and they blended seamlessly. On the way to the museum, they seemed to hit every single red light in the city. Two stop lights away, they saw it. The large flying banner that read, “Grand Opening Of The Evolution Of Music And Dance Museum“. Jane started to get excited, and Will grinned broadly. He loved it so when she got excited.Driving up to the entrance, the valet waited for Will to get out of the car as an attendant opened Jane’s door and welcomed them to the museum. Will gave the valet a $50, handing him the keys as well. He went over to Jane and held out his arm, “Shall we, my dear?” Smiling, Jane linked arms with her husband and they went up the marble steps to the beautiful stained glass doors. One door was a stained glass mosaic of musical notes with the faces of some of the most famed musicians, the other was of different couples dancing. As they reached the doors, a gentleman in a tux opened the doors, greeting them with a short half-bow, “Welcome, we hope you enjoy your visit.” and handed them a pamphlet of all the exhibits there were to explore.She excitedly chittered about what exhibits she wanted to see first and questioned Will about what ones he was most interested in. They both agreed that the Dance exhibit was the first one they wanted to peruse. They spent their first few hours looking at all the different styles of dance that have been around from the first ballroom dances of royalty, to the freestyle dances of the early 20th and 21st centries. Jane loved the exotic dances of the Tango and Rumba. She thought they were both very erotic in how they were performed. Will stood silently by her side, watching as she tried to follow the steps, a grin forming on his face as she would stumble then get right back into it.As they made their way over to the music area, they were greeted by a butler who offered glasses of water on a silver platter. The butler spoke not a word, but merely waited silently for them to finish, gave a short bow and departed. It was just about the time when they entered the music section that they noticed they were completely alone aside from the museum staff.They spent quite a while in the music museum half, Jane swaying with the tempo of some of the songs that echoed in the respective chambers. Each style of music had their own little closed off room, so that one could truly immerse themselves in the sounds of each type of music showcased. Some styles, both Jane and Will would hate the sounds like rap, grindcore, metal, but they both felt soothed by the styles of electroacoustic, smooth jazz, and of course, classical. They spent a good deal of time listening to Industrial songs, in which they stood in the center of the room and she would lean against him as he held her, immersing themselves in the songs.On the way home from the museum, Will and Jane listened to some more Industrial style music. They’d never listened to it before, but both found themselves quite fond of it and it’s rather unusual style compared to their usual musical interests. They had enjoyed a wonderful day at the museum, and even more so, they had gotten the chance to share a closeness that Jane had feared was drifting away. When they arrived home, there was a package on the doorstep.As they got out of the car, Will quickly went to the porch and picked up the package. It was just a standard brown box, but it was a rather large box. Jane looked at her husband questioningly, brow raised as she saw the excited look on his face.“What’s all this then?” She inquired.He turned around and grinned sheepishly, “Oh, it’s nothing. I have to go for a bit, I’ll be back in time for dinner. Chinese sound good?“Her expression and body language went from that of having had a good day and being curious what the box was to irritable and foul, “Sure, fine, whatever.” She muttered as she unlocked the door and walked into the house, closing it before he could enter.Setting her bag down in a huff in the entrance hall, she went to the kitchen to find the menu for the local Chinese place. After finally locating it, exactly where it was supposed to be, on the fridge held up by a magnet, she called in an order. Within an hour the food arrived, and still there was no husband. Her frustration with the situation kept mounting. She sat down and ate her dinner, and afterwards decided she was tired of waiting. It was now past 9pm, and she was tired from being on her feet all day. She got a quick shower, then retired to bed for the night.When Jane awoke the next morning, to find Will was not in bed. Still. She got up, grumpy and irritable still from the night before. As she got out of bed to start her day, she heard something in the kitchen. She finished brushing her teeth and went into the kitchen. In the kitchen she found her friends gathered, making breakfast and drinking wine. Jane started to laugh as she shook her head.“Just where did you come from?” she said, grinning.“Well, Will let us in on his way out the door.” Bev grinned, handing her a plate of scrambled eggs, and a glass of wine. “Breakfast of champions!“Charleen laughed, “Bev, you’re terrible.““Ha, you’re no better, you brought the wine!” Lisa cheered.“Oh, you know you’re loving it.” Bev jeered.Amber simply sat there on one of the breakfast stools drinking her glass of wine, oblivious to everything going on around her. Bev came up from behind and lightly pushed on her, laughing, “Hey, join the fun lady.““Ophm!” Amber nearly choked on her wine, sputtering. “Hey, party foul!“Bev laughed, “Quit being so quiet!““I’m trying to enjoy my breakfast. Hmph.” Amber looked at Bev then started laughing, as she noticed she had sprayed her with the wine she’d been drinking. “Well look at that. Justice.““Oh, you want justice, eh?” Bev asked, daringly with a glint of evil in her eyes.“Come on you two, we’re here for breakfast, not world war III.” Charleen said, her face looking stern.“Oh you spoil sport.” Amber mumbled, “Fine.“Jane shook her head, laughing as she looked at the lot of them, “If I knew any better, I’d say you all were crazy.” she grinned.“Well, sweety, we are.” Charleen smiled. “That is neither here nor there. Why don’t you sit and eat though, I’m sure you’re quite hungry. Will told us you didn’t have much for dinner last night.“She frowned slightly, “Speaking off, any idea where he went? He disappeared late last night and didn’t come home until some time after I’d fallen asleep.” the girls could hear the deafening dismay in her voice clearly.Charleen walked over to Jane and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, “He said he had something he had to go do. I thought you two had a good day yesterday?” her voice was concerned as she spoke.Jane sighed, playing with the eggs with the fork as she sipped the glass of wine, “It was a good day, until we got home.” frowning slightly, “When we got home, there was a box on the porch. Instead of staying and opening the box, he decided to take it for a drive.” Jane huffed, “Who takes a blasted box for a drive?“Charleen laughed, “He took a box for a drive?“Bev sat at the table with Jane and stared at her, trying to look positively serious, “Jane, is he cheating on you with a box?” she burst into uncontrollable laughter.Amber started chuckling, “Oh no, the other woman is a box!” she fell over off the breakfast stool.Jane looked at them, her fury and rage mounting, “It isn’t funny. Why in the world would he decide to take a box for a drive, after he said he took a few days off work to spend time with me on my weekend?“Soon, all the girls were around Jane, hugging her.“It’s okay, hon. Maybe it was supposed to be a surprise gift? Or maybe it was something his parents ordered and had sent to their house?” Charleen offered, trying to cool the situation.Jane sighed, “Maybe… I think they did order something from the store that was too heavy for them to carry.” she looked down at her plate of eggs which were now so destroyed that she couldn’t get a bite of them on her fork.Lisa gently nudged Jane, “See? It could have a perfectly simple explanation sweety. No reason to fret your pretty head.” Lisa smiled, trying to be comforting.Jane nodded, “I guess. It could be nothing, but… Why wouldn’t he say anything?” she sighed, exasperatedly.Bev just sat there, hugging Jane, as did Amber, both being a tad too tipsy to be of any consolation at this point.Charleen gave Jane a gentle squeeze, “He might have just been excited to get it to his parents. He doesn’t often have reason to go see them, you know.“Jane nodded sullenly, resting her head on Charleen. “That is true. Between his job and trying to spend time with me, he rarely sees his parents outside of major holidays.” She sipped at her wine.Lisa poured everyone a fresh glass of wine and sat with them around the table. Once Jane had calmed, around the third or fourth glass of wine, they all moved from the kitchen to the living room. They gabbed about everything and anything, ranging from the museum from yesterday to the last time Jane had a proper mani-pedi. They yammered on and drank wine well into the afternoon before Jane realized her husband wasn’t home still and she hadn’t eaten a thing yet.“I’m starved, who else?” Jane managed to get out, though she was drunk her speech was still clear, just took extra effort to speak.“Ayy aahhh, fuuu shuurrrr.” Bev drawled, “Wahh fuuu fuuuud?” All five ladies burst into incoherent laughter when suddenly the door opened. Jane let out a shriek of surprise and the ladies all fell to the floor, wine spilling on the floor as they scrambled to hide behind the couch.“Hon, I’m home.” Will called from the door as he dropped his keys into the bowl. He walked in, closing the door. Looking around, he saw wine glasses everywhere but no sight of anyone. He knew he’d heard voices, so he yelled, “Where are you at, hon?““Ohhnnn haa ffuuu!” called out Amber, who had now turned into a heap of drunken laughter.Will came into the living room and walked around the side of the couch where his eyes were met with the most amusing sight. There on the floor between the couch and the coffee table were all five women, crumpled into a heap on top of one another. “Well looky here. What has been going on in my absence?” he chuckled.Charleen, who happened to be on the bottom of the pile, was busily trying to move an elbow from her face, “We ahhrr hauuing ah gurs daah. Wii wiiee.“Will burst into laughter, “Let me help you ladies up. A pot of coffee may well be in order.” he started helping the women up off the floor one by one and assisting them with sitting back on the couch. After he had gotten them all sitting, he went and made a pot of coffee after cleaning out the machine. Moments later, he returned with a couple cups of coffee then retreated to get the rest to make sure they all had a cup. “Here, drink this slowly, it should help bring you back to reality.“He sat himself in the lounger, shaking his head as he laughed, “You girls sure do know how to have a good time. How many bottles this time?“Lisa, between sips of coffee, held up three fingers.Jane had managed to regain her faculties much quicker than the others and looked her husband dead in the face, “I. Am. Starving.” Almost as if on cue, grumbling stomachs could be heard echoing through the room.Will turned into a mass of shaking flesh as he laughed so hard it echoed, “I would say so. From the sound of it, you all are!” He took a moment to regain himself somewhat, “Well, what would you like to eat?” “Food.” All five girls responded, almost in unison.“I guess I’ll see what I can rummage up. It is about time for dinner.““Pizza!” Squealed Amber suddenly, and the other women started nodding their heads in agreement.“Okay, pizza it is. Anchovies, pepperoni, and olives with extra cheese?” He questioned before heading for the house phone.“Oh please, yes!” groaned Bev, a sudden second wave of grumbling stomachs sounding through the room at different intervals.Will laughed as he shook his head, then headed to the kitchen and called the local pizzeria. The next hour was filled with groaning and grumbling stomachs. Jane had just started whining about dying of starvation when the pizza delivery arrived. Amber was ahead of them all as she jumped the back of the couch and made a mad dash for the door. Her eyes were met with the sight of a thin scrawny looking fellow, clear skinned with a mess of freckles everywhere and thick rimmed glasses framing his eyes.“That’ll be $47.95 please, ma’am.” he requested as he started pulling a stack of 4 pizzas from his keep-warm pizza bag.“Oh, he’ll get it.” Amber spit out as she grabbed the pizzas and bolted back to the living room, inhaling the delightful scent of pizza. She dropped the pizzas on the coffee table after the girls had pushed aside the coffee cups and wine glasses. “Hey Will, the delivery dudes here!” she shouted out before opening the top box and grabbing a slice, stuffing it into her mouth.Will came out of the bathroom where he had been hiding and went to the door, paid the delivery guy. He gave hims thanks then bid him good night as he closed the door. Walking back into the living room, his eyes were met with a most unlady-like sight he had ever seen. There were all five ladies hunched over the coffee table, gorging out on the pizzas. All four boxes had been opened and each box had multiple pieces missing. His eyes widened in surprise as he saw his own wife was the front runner of the group, her appetite having apparently gotten the better of her as she was double-fisting slices of pizza.“Well… That’s a sight I won’t be forgetting any time soon.” He chucked and grabbed the camera off the entertainment center and snapped a picture, the flash catching their attention.“William Donovan Harrol, you better delete that this instant!” Jane shouted, forcing food down her throat so she could speak clearly. “You are going to delete that immediately!“Will shook his head, “Nope, I’m keeping this for posterity sake.” he grinned and disappeared from the room, taking the camera with him.“If you know what is good for you, Will, you will delete that picture!” she screamed, meanwhile the girls were too busy laughing as her face was turning as red as the pizza sauce around her mouth.All that could be heard was Will laughing from the bedroom. Jane turned to her friends, “I think I’m about to make myself a widow.” She stood up and dusted herself off, took a napkin to clean the mess from her face and ran down the hall to her bedroom, leaving her friends sitting there giggling.“Well, I for one don’t want to be a witness to murder.” Charleen joked as she gathered herself. “I think it is time we take our leave, ladies.” Grinning at the girls who were still having fits of giggles.“If not a witness, how about an accessory?” Bev chided, laughing loudly.Lisa shrugged, “I don’t have anything else going on, why not?” “I for one would rather not, I’m quite sure my husband would be quite peeved.” Amber piped up, snickering.“Quite positive Jane can do this on her own.” Charleen snickered, “Plus, I’m positive my husband is wondering where I’ve been off to all day. He never can find my notes.“The ladies packed their belongings and departed the house. As they were leaving, they could hear both Jane and Will laughing from inside.Jane and Will were in their room, Jane trying to wrestle the camera away from her husband and him barely managing to keep his balance enough to keep it from her. “Come on, give it here!” She yelled.“Not by the hair of my chiny chin chin.” He laughed, “You’ll never reach it.“She tried to jump on him but ended up falling and landing on her bottom, “You better give it back, darn it all!“The whole while she was trying to get the camera from him, he was slyly moving the photo over to the memory card. Once it was confirmed it was on the memory card, he popped out the small disc and tossed the camera into the air.“Catch!” He called out and watched as she dived for it. As soon as he saw it in her hands, he ran from the room for the kitchen, laughing. Will hid the memory card under a rarely used glass on top of the cabinets, then bolted for the door from the kitchen to the garage.When Jane realized that the photo wasn’t there to be deleted, she stood up and chased after him. “William Donovan Harrol! You’re a dead man!” She could hear his feet echoing as he was running through the kitchen, she followed the sound and came into the kitchen just in time to see him ducking out and into the garage. Will barely managed to close the garage door before she got to it, making her collide with the garage door. He could hear an “Ohmph!” from the other side of the door as she hit it. “Will, you better open this door!” Jane hollered through the door.“Not on my life, my sweet Jane.” he chuckled, “I value my life too much.““Obviously you don’t since you took that picture of me!” She pounded on the door with her fist, “Open up!““Nope.” was the simple reply. Will was grinning to himself, enjoying the rare moment of catching her in a compromising position.“Uhg, I’m going to bed.” Jane said, frustratedly. She stood up and stormed off to the bedroom and dismissed getting dressed for bed. She flung herself onto the bed then curled into the blankets, quickly falling asleep as she was exhausted from the events of the day.“Jane dear, wake up.” Will softly called to her through the locked bedroom door.“Go away!” She yelled back, throwing one of the pillows at the door which hit the floor with a soft thud.“I made you an omelet for breakfast.” He said through the door, “You sure you won’t get up?““What kind of omelet?” She asked, lifting her head from the bed, curious.“Ham and cheese with chives, your favorite.” He said, the smile on his face evident in his voice.“Fine, I’ll get up.” Jane mumbled barely loud enough for him to hear. She got out of bed and took a shower, then changed into a fresh clean outfit for the day. Unlocking the bedroom door, she headed to the kitchen where the aroma of the omelet met her. Will was busy with plating the omelet, grabbed a fork and placed it on the table.“Good morning, sleepy head.” He smiled warmly.“Morning to you too, husband who still might die.” She looked at him with the faintest hint of contempt, masking her playful grin. “All depends on how good this omelet is.““I promise only the freshest ingredients went into making it, and it is seasoned to perfection.” Will said, beaming.She took a bite of the omelet and raised a brow, took another bite then nodded. Clearing her throat, “You’ll live.” Nodding in confirmation, she finished eating. Once done, she got up to clean her dishes, but Will stopped her, “Tsk” he grabbed the dishes from her then cleaned them himself.“I have to work today, but you enjoy the last day of your weekend, hon.” He smiled at her, kissed her forehead then headed for the door. As he was picking up his keys from the bowl, he heard her coming up from behind him. Jane wrapped her arms around him from behind in an embrace, “Thank you for last night. It was fun.” she said softly.“I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.” He replied, placing a hand over hers. Turning to face her, he gave a gentle loving kiss on the lips, “Have a nice relaxing day, hon.““I’ll do my best.” She smiled. “You do know you could have unlocked the bedroom door at any time, right?” her brow raising.“Oh, I know. I had, but when I came in, you were sleeping so peacefully and had taken over the entire bed.” Will chuckled, “I didn’t want to disturb your beauty rest.” He kissed her forehead once again, “I’ll see you after work.“Jane watched as Will pulled out of the driveway, waving goodbye. It was her last day off work, and tomorrow she began the ever relentless grind yet again. She was one of the top realtors at her location, but something about greeting smiling happy families day in and day out sort of made her feel as though she were missing something. Of course, she would never tell Will that she wanted to start a family. Jane had been waiting for Will to bring it up, but unbeknownst to her, he has been waiting for her. As she walked back inside, she went to the couch and turned on the television to see if there was anything interesting on at 7am. Much to her chagrin, all that was on was boring soap operas. She had no interest in them, they always had someone cheating on someone, somebody getting pregnant, or someone framed for some crime by someone no one else would of suspected. Becoming bored by the television already, she got up and went to the kitchen. When Jane got into the kitchen, it was clean. All the dishes were done, counters wiped down, floor was pristine. She couldn’t think of a thing to do in there. It was almost noon, and she had no idea what to do with her day. Suddenly an idea struck her with the swiftness of a lightning strike. She put on a kettle for tea then went into the garage to look for her easel. While rummaging about, she found her old oil pastels. Soon after, she found her easel, still stocked with Mi-Teintes she had bought the month previous. Grabbing her easel, she went out around the house to their backyard and began setting up.After getting her materials set up and a small table fitted with a dozen napkins to set her pastels on, she started to look for something to draw. Her eyes were drawn to a little apple tree that had started dropping its fruit. Inspired by the beauty of the tree and its fruit, both fallen and still ripe on the tree, she began drawing the tree’s elegance. As she drew the outline of the tree in its vibrant colors, the multi-toned leaves and its soft brown trunk, the picture starting taking shape on originally blank paper. Using one of the many napkins she had brought out, she started coloring in the tree, using the napkins to add texture and shading. She had been drawing the tree for what felt like minutes, but had really been almost an hour. Once she had gotten the tree how she thought it looked best, she began starting on the bushes that lined the fenced in yard. Some of the bushes in the yard were looking worse for wear, but she pushed on. Soon the Mi-Teintes paper was full of life, vibrant and beautiful as she made the grass come alive. A squirrel appeared in the yard by one of the walnut trees, her hand moving as she watched the creature eat one of the fallen nuts. Jane kept at it, drawing more details as time drew on. Finally completed with her yard, she began onto the sky. It had started changing colors as the sun was beginning to set. She drew in the hues of red and orange as they filled the sky, getting the sun just peeking over the tree tops far in the distance. As she finished with the sky, she added in some shading to match the scene before her. She had spent the entire day outside drawing her yard and its beauty, so filled with life and nature. Looking at her picture she had made, she smiled fondly. Getting everything outside had been easy, but now it was becoming night and her eyes were heavy as she took everything inside, one at a time. She set the picture on the table in the kitchen, then gathered up her easel and her oil pastels, returning them to the garage. Throwing away the used napkins, she put the remaining clean ones back in the kitchen drawer. Jane gathered up the little end table she had borrowed from the living room and brought it back inside, setting it in the corner between the two couches.Looking at the time, she saw it was nearly 7pm. She groaned, not feeling up to the task of cooking anything or being on her feet anymore for the day. Jane flopped backwards on the couch in a heap, reached over and grabbed the remote off the coffee table and turned the television on once more. After a while of browsing the channels, she finally found a movie that looked interesting. It was a sci-fi movie about a child who had gotten separated from their family while on vacation and had made friends with a tiny alien that liked to sit on his head. Not even halfway through the movie, and Jane was sound asleep.It wasn’t until 8:37pm that Will got home, and when he arrived, he assumed his dear wife was still awake. As he got out of the car, he rummaged in the car for his lunch box and his briefcase. After a moment, he had both and went inside. “Hon, I’m home.” He called as he entered the house. There was no reply, so he began looking around the house.His first stop was the kitchen. Upon setting down his briefcase and lunch box on the counter, his attention was immediately drawn to the picture Jane had drawn and he smiled. “That’s a lovely picture you made, hon. Where are you?” He asked as he went into the living room.Will chuckled as he saw her on the couch passed out. Gently taking the remote from her, he turned off the television and set it on the coffee table. He picked her up and carried her off to the bedroom, laying her down gently. Will took her shoes off, then her socks and covered her with the blanket. He gently kissed her forehead and whispered softly into her ear, “I love you, my dear Jane. Just you wait, I’ve a big surprise for you.“It was a Saturday morning, but for Jane, it was her Monday. As she woke, she stretched, her hands unsuspectingly hitting the beds headboard. She hadn’t done that in some time, but then, she also hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in a while too. Tossing the blanket off her, she realized she had no clue how she even got into her own bed. Looking around, the room was tidy and the door was slightly ajar. Jane got up out of bed and peeked out the door. What met her was the delightful scent of pancakes.She wandered into the kitchen and saw her husband standing there, flipping pancakes while making scrambled eggs. Jane came up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist.“Good morning, dear.” She whispered softly in his ear. Giving his rear-end a squeeze, she went to go about making herself a cup of tea.“No need, hon. There’s a fresh cup on the table for you.” He turned away from the stove long enough to give her a kiss. “I hope you slept well. You were passed out before I got home.“She laughed softly, “I don’t remember going to bed, I must have been more tired than I thought.““Oh, you weren’t in bed when I got home. You were asleep on the couch.” He chuckled, “You looked adorable. I didn’t want you to wake up knotted though, so I took you to bed when I realized you were asleep.” Will smiled at her as he began plating some breakfast for her.Jane’s cheeks flushed slightly, “That explains how I woke up.“Sitting down beside his wife, Will looked at her with concern, “What do you mean?” He placed a plate before her and one for himself.“I woke up, began to stretch and found my hands hitting the headboard.” She laughed, “I haven’t done that in a while.“He chuckled, shaking his head, “It’s all right, you fell asleep in one place and woke in another. It is to be expected.“As they ate, they sat in silence, aside from asking for butter or syrup for their pancakes. They enjoyed a moment of peaceful quiet as they ate. Though they didn’t speak, they kept glancing at each other. Every now and then they’d look lovingly into one another’s eyes, almost as if entranced with their love for eachother.Jane jumped as there was a sudden knock on the door, startled at the loud noise. Will patted her arm, “I’ve got it, hon. Don’t bother yourself with it.” He got up, taking the dirty dishes and setting them in the sink before going to the door to see who had knocked.Jane glanced at her watch and frowned slightly, “Who in the world would be knocking on our door at almost 7 in the morning?” She got up and started heading for the door, but as she got into the hallway, she watched Will slip out the door and caught sight of what looked like someone dressed in red. Her curiosity piqued, she went to the door to peer through the peephole. All she could make out was the back of Will’s head. Jane could barely make out the sounds of whispering, but couldn’t make out any words of what was whispered between the two. Frowning, she resigned herself to getting ready for work for the day.As she was getting ready to head out the door, her bag in hand, Will came back inside looking flustered. Jane stood there in the hallway that led to the door, hand on her hip with a stern look on her face as she eyed her husband.“So, who was that?” She asked, sounding casual and aloof, though her tone, facial, and bodily language showed just how irritated she was.“Oh it was a wrong door.” He said, paniced as he looked at his wife, gauging her reaction.“Right.” Was all she responded with and swiftly pushed her way past him and out the door. She didn’t even pause to say goodbye as she grabbed her keys and got into her car to drive to her office.All in a huff, she ran through a red light on accident, her mind being elsewhere. Her usual forty minute commute to work only took her twenty-five minutes, there having been little to no traffic and her lead foot having taken over in her silent rage. She punched in at the clock then went to her desk to review her schedule for the day.She had three houses to show, one was a simple little house, a small two bedroom one bath, nice fireplace in the livingroom. It was a basic essentials home for a starting family, or for a couple planning to create their own family. Another house was a standard three bedroom one and a half bath with dine in kitchen, loads of counter space and a living room and family room. The final house was one that she had been handed recently. It was sort of run down and definitely a fixer-upper. The last tenant of the house had left it in ill-repair, water leaks and some of the electrical work needed repairing. She groaned, but suddenly felt relieved when she saw the person who she was showing it to had registered that they were single and a handyman, looking for property to really dig his heels into and fix. It was the perfect set, a handyman and a fixer-upper house.Jane wasn’t expected at her first showing for another hour or two, so she set to work on the paperwork for the Perri family house. Her frustration of the morning having fueled her, she finished the paperwork in half the time. Now all she needed to do was wait until after showing the first house for the appointment to sign the finalized documents and get them a face to face with her boss to seal the deal and get the deed to the house. Her appointment with the Darrens wasn’t until tomorrow, so their paperwork could wait until she left for the night.As she filed the paperwork away into her desk in its own manila envelope, Jane decided she would get an early start on preparing the house for its showing. Just as she was picking up her bag, her phone pinged. ‘Have a great day, hon. Love Will.‘ She smiled softly and quickly texted a reply, ‘You too, my love. Love Jane.‘ and out the door she went. Jane appeared to have some pep to her step as she went out of the office, and some of her fellow co workers had taken noticed as they smiled and waved to her as she departed. As she got into her car, she noticed that Melody wasn’t in today. Shrugging it off, she figured perhaps Melody was just off work, there hadn’t been any early morning announcement about her being let go.The first house she was due to show was the three bedroom home, it was in a moderately good community so she had to make sure the house was in good clean condition before the family arrived. As she drove through town to the little gated residential area, she saw a flock of geese flying south. She loved the beginning of fall, the leaves changing and the imminent return of winter. Thoughts of long nights cuddled in front of the fireplace filled her mind as she drove. It was still warm out, but the summer heat had begun to pass.When she arrived at the house, it was only a quarter to 9am, plenty of time to get the house ready as they weren’t due to arrive until half-past. She went inside the rather large home, immediately noticing the collected dust and bits of dirt on the floor. Going to the hall closet, she grabbed out the broom and swiffer with the wetpads to clean the wood floors. The whole house had wood flooring, but the wood was pristine. It’d been recently redone by the previous family, shortly before they’d moved on to a smaller home as their children had grown and moved away. It only took her twenty minutes to get the family room, living room, dining room and kitchen swept and mopped up. Jane had done the kitchen last so that she could make some fresh pumpkin shaped cookies. It was only the 7th day of September, but it is never too early for pumpkin, at least not in her mind.As the cookies were baking, she set to dusting the windows and stairs. The task took very little time to complete and soon she was sweeping and mopping the upstairs. As she cleaned each bedroom and the two bathrooms, she made sure to scrub the toilets and the bathtub. Pleased with her hard work and dedication to ensuring a clean fresh smelling house, she went back downstairs and got the cookies out. Setting them on the counter to cool, Jane headed for the door. Jane had stood on the stoop for close to five minutes when the family arrived. Welcoming them to the home, she informed them there were fresh baked cookies for the kids to snack on while she showed the parents the home.To her disappointment, the house was a bit out of the families range. They loved the location, the house, and the school district but the price was just too high for them to afford. As they parted ways, they informed Jane that they would speak with their financial institution and see if they could get some wiggle room and asked that she inquire about possibly lowering the price to fit their needs. Otherwise, they would have to start the search all over again. She promised them she would see what could be done and watched as they left. Gathering up the remaining cookies, she cleaned the dishes and headed back to the office.Jane arrived just in time for the Perri family to be pulling up to the real estate office. She brought them to her office where she’d drawn up the paperwork and had them sign here, initial there, and double checked to make sure everything was official. “I’ll be just a moment, Mr. and Mrs. Perri, I’m going to check that my boss is ready for you so that he can sign the deed over to you.” Jane smiled at them and departed.Knocking on Ben’s door, she heard something clatter then a sudden, “What is it?“She opened the door barely enough to peek her head in, “Sir, are you ready for the Perri family?“He huffed and bruskly replied, “Send them in. The deed is ready.“She nodded and went back to her office and got the family over into his office to get the deed, “If there is anything else I can help you with, Mr. and Mrs. Perri, just let me know.” Jane smiled warmly.“You’ve been wonderful, Mrs. Harrol, thank you for everything.” Mr. Perri said as they went into Ben’s office.Jane closed the door behind them and went back to her office to file the paperwork, then she opened the little drop slot that led to her bosses office and stuck the file in. She could hear Ben grabbing the folder and looking it over one final time, and she knew that the house would be theirs as she heard the hushed conversation through the opening. Jane smiled, pleased with herself. She took a moment to look over her schedule. Next house to show was the fixer-upper. She didn’t really need to put any effort into it, as the whole house was in desperate need of repair. It was only half an hour till the man was to due arrive, so she headed out of the office to the little house. The area the house was in was a decent enough place, but that house was an eye sore on the housing market. She knew she needed to sell the house, and she hoped the gentleman who was looking at it today would buy it off them. They were showing the house at noon, to accommodate his work schedule so he would be on lunch break for the tour.When Jane arrived, he was already there, scouting the outside of the building with intense interest. “Hello, Mr. Davies. I see you found the place just fine.“He laughed, “Just call me Jon, Mrs. Harrol. It wasn’t hard to spot, they said it was a fixer upper and it sure is!” Jon seemed to be positively beaming with delight. “I couldn’t help but arrive early, I wanted a sneak peek before you started all the legal jargon.“Jane nodded, “Okay, Jon. I’ll do my best not to speak legal jargon.” She smiled.As they headed into the house, she kept looking at him, trying to gauge his reaction. So far, he seemed to love the house. It was almost like watching herself when she and Will had been shown their home for the first time. She could see he was immediately in love with it but she couldn’t figure for the life of her what was so lovely to him about this house.It didn’t take long for Mr. Davies to find nearly every flaw inside the house. After a while of watching him explore, she became more and more worried that she wouldn’t be able to sell. Jane kept trying to give quips of information, but she could tell he wasn’t paying any attention as he scoured the house. Every now and again, he would let out a strange sounding squeal. The noise reminded her of the sound bats make when they’re flying at night and it made her shudder. Their hour to view the house was almost up, and soon Jon would need to be back at work.“Well, do you have any questions, comments, or concerns, Mr. Davies?” Jane asked tentatively, trying to mask the concern in her voice.“Not a one. I’m willing to pay whatever the price is, it’s perfect.” Jon replied.The shock on her face must have been very blatant because Jon began to laugh, “Why the strange look, Mrs. Harrol?“Jane blinked and simply gawked in bewilderment for a moment longer before finding her voice again, “But the house is in shambles…” she trailed off.“That’s why it’s perfect! The house isn’t going to be lived in for a while, I’m buying it for my sister and her kid. Her boyfriend turned out to be a real piece of shit deadbeat who went to jail and she hasn’t anywhere to go but to live with me.” Jon paused excitedly, then continued, “In my down time I’ll be repairing the house, and in her downtime she will be cleaning it. It works, and she doesn’t need it for another few months, 7 more to go.” He seemed to be positively beaming, the joy in his face was astounding.She shook her head in disbelief, “Well, the asking price is only ninety grand.” Jon nodded, “That’s fine, I’ve got a nest egg about half that size. Since my wife passed away and we never had children, I see no better use for it than getting a house for my sister and the baby.” He was smiling so hard it looked almost like the corners of his lips were trying to steal away from his cheeks and dive into his eyes.Jane shrugged, “If it’s what you want, Sir, we can set an appointment to get started on the paperwork to finalize the sale.“Mr. Davies clapped his hands together in excitement, “Hows about tomorrow, same time? I’d like to get started on it as soon as possible.“She blinked, still bewildered by all the excitement, but glad to have the house off her listing, “That’s fine. I’ll make sure my boss has no other plans so we can go ahead and get the deed finalized for sale.“He nodded and went out to his repair van, hopping into the drivers seat. Just before he pulled away, he rolled down the passenger window and called out, “Thank you, Mrs. Harrol, the house really is perfect!“Jane stood there, a shocked look on her face as she watched him drive off. She quickly decided to pinch herself to see if she was awake. Sure enough, she was awake and she’d just sold the dilapidated house! Today was a win, no matter what happened before or after that moment, today was definitely a win. She only had one house left, and she could still bargain with Ben on behalf of the Perkins family for some wiggle room on the house. She had time to take a quick half hour lunch, before she was needed at the final house of the day. Luckily for her, she knew the location and surrounding area of the last house and there was a perfect little dine in restaurant that made a mean grilled chicken and grapes salad with croutons and sesame seeds.When she arrived, three of the waitresses waved in greeting. She seated herself in a window booth, not bothering to pick up the menu. She merely looked through her folder to read more on the family she was showing the last house of the day to, trying to get some insight into what would help push them to buy the house. As she was looking over the files they had requested prior to scheduling the showing, she saw that it was just a man and wife who were wanting a spare bedroom for in case they had a child. Of course, the file hadn’t been updated in the past few months so maybe there was already one on the way?She shrugged, figuring she’d find out when she showed them the house. Just as she was putting the files back, one of the waitresses came over with her salad. She smiled at Jane and wished her a good day and the best of luck, she’d become somewhat of a regular since the new development had created new business for the establishment. She ate her salad in quiet, enjoying her lunch. Before she knew it, it was time to head off to the house to begin preparing for the couple to arrive.When she got to the house, she opened the door and it smelled fresh of cleaning product. A look of confusion drew across her face as she wandered through, but seeing nothing needing to be done. When she got to the living room, there was a note affixed to the fireplace.

    Dear RealtorWe hope you find this home a good family, we cleaned up before we left.Sincerely,Drifters

    Jane stared at the short letter for a few moments in shock, then decided to double check each room of the house. It was spotless, and smelled pleasantly clean. She tucked the note away, realizing that the couple would be there soon and waited for them out on the porch.Not even two minutes had passed and the couple was pulling up into the driveway. Jane greeted them warmly as she approached the car. The first thing she noticed was the young woman had definitely had a change in her itinerary for life. The baby bump wasn’t extreme, but it was very obviously there.As the woman was exiting the car, Jane clasped her hands around the young ladies outstretched one, “Congratulations Mrs. Furro.” she was positively beaming at her.Face flushing, “Thank you, Mrs. Harrol.” Mrs. Furro hurriedly spoke, obviously uncomfortable.“Come now dear, Mrs. Harrol is just being polite. No need to get self conscious.” Her husband said snapily. “We’re just here to look at a house, not impart our lifes story.” His voice was sharp and cutting as he spoke, Mrs. Furro’s head drooping as he talked down to her.“Let us get this underway, I’m sure there are more pressing things you would much rather be doing, Mrs. Furro.” Jane smiled, gently holding the woman’s arm as she guided her into the house.Mrs. Furro allowed herself to be guided into the house, her husbands face contorting into a confused look. He quickly fell in line, following the ladies into the house. As they went through the house, Jane kept addressing the young lady, telling her about the advantages of the home and soon enough, Mrs. Furro found herself warming up to Jane. The whole while, Mr. Furro’s face seemed to become more and more enraged as he was ignored by the ladies.“What do you think, Mrs. Furro?” Jane asked, smiling brightly at the young woman who had softened and started to glow instead of looking awkward and uncomfortable.“Please, call me Lizzy, and I love it. Could you tell me more about the kitchen appliances?” She asked, her voice soft and pleasant now.“Absolutely, Lizzy. Now you’ll notice, there is a five burner stove top with a double oven and a microwave above for those convenient quick fix meal times when you’re too busy with baby. It’s the most energy efficient on the market, as is the double doored fridge with pullout bottom freezer. The refrigerator is large and built to hold food for an entire family, and the freezer is perfect for quick drop crockpot dinner storage ideas.” Jane was speaking warmly to her, keeping her at ease as she continued, “The previous occupants left behind a bunch of kitchen appliances like a blender, crockpot, food processor, a mixer, griddle, an iron with ironing board. There is also a can opener affixed to the base of the cabinet there,” she pointed to the far edge of the cabinets where it was screwed into the wood, “And there is a mini food processor for making your own solid baby food for when your little one gets to that stage of life. The family who had lived here left them behind at no extra cost and all are energy efficient, their only stipulation was that we find the home a new family that would take good care of it.” “Oh, would you please excuse me? I think I need to use the little ladies room.” Lizzy said suddenly.“Absolutely, there is a bathroom just down the hall off from the kitchen. It’s the second door down.” Jane smiled, pointing in the direction of the toilet.“Thank you, I’ll just be a moment.” She dashed out of the room to the bathroom and disappeared from sight.“Now you look here, I’m the one you should be talking to, Mrs. Harrol. I’ll be the man of the house.” Mr. Furro snapped quietly in a hushed voice as soon as his wife was out of the room.Jane turned and rounded on him, her face becoming very close to his, “Your wife is pregnant and you disrespected her in front of someone neither of you know, you’re lucky I don’t send someone to investigate for abuse on her behalf. She is carrying your seed that is growing within her body, feeding off her very existence and you have the gall to say I should address you?” The fury in her eyes was intense as she spoke quietly yet very directly, “You’re going to be a good man to Lizzy, you’re going to take care of whatever she needs and so help me, if you disrespect her again, I’ll make sure she can get a house but you’ll never be able to step foot in another. Her body is changing and she is going through waves of emotions that will make her seem crazy, the last thing she needs is some little man trying to make her feel small and insignificant.” Even though Jane was shorter than Mr. Furro, she appeared to be towering over him as she spoke with clear concise words, her voice cutting the air. “Do I make myself clear?“Mr. Furro, eyes now wide and filled with terror. He’d heard tales of her and how hard she works to get the best houses on the market, her rise from just an intern to number one realtor in the area. He gulped and nodded, “Crystal.” His saucer like eyes were filled with fear.Just then, Lizzy came back in, breathing a sigh of relief. “Oh, much better. So, Jane, how much will this house cost us?” The look of relief becoming replaced with worry as she thought of the financial setback getting the house might be.Jane walked to her and smiled, “Well, let me know your price range availability and we will work something out, I’m sure. Won’t we, Mr. Furro?” She shot him a look that dared him to disagree.He simply stood there, eyes still wide as saucers, “Absolutely. Whatever you want, dear.“After about twenty minutes of discussion, they’d come to an agreement on a price the banks would be willing to help them with that the house owners would accept. As they parted ways, Jane gave Lizzy her personal number and invited her to come by for dinner.Looking at the time, Jane decided it was time to go back to the office and prepare the Darrens paperwork as it was already half past 4 in the afternoon and closing time was 5pm. On the drive back to the office, Jane found herself humming a tune that she’d heard when roaming the museum. It took little to no time to finish up the paperwork, and soon enough it was time to punch out for the day. She had sold two houses and negotiating her third, and it was only her Monday! Jane was quite pleased with herself.On her way home, she stopped by a little lake that had been turned into a fountain pond near the epicenter of their fair city and just sat on a bench, watching the birds play in the evening light. It wasn’t until dusk that Jane finally went home. She wasn’t very hungry when she arrived, so she ate some grape tomatoes and headed off to bed, anxious to meet with the Darrens tomorrow morning.