I spent the remainder of the night in the parking lot of a suburban shopping mall. I didn't get much rest. I was much too upset to sleep.
I had a membership at the local YMCA. They opened at 6:00 AM. As soon the sun came up I drove over there and took a shower. After I cleaned up I walked across the street to the Tip Top Cafe and ordered a ranch breakfast. By the time I was finished eating it was 7:30.
I needed to call my buddy Albie Porter so I turned on my cell phone. I'd switched it off as I left the Calvert Hotel. When I stormed out of the house after my confrontation with Kelly I didn't bother to turn it on again. At the time I didn't feel like talking to anyone.
I had five messages. All of them were from Kelly. I listened to the first one. "Timmy, please call me. I know this looks really bad, but you misunderstood everything. Baby I'm not having an affair. If you'll give me an opportunity to explain I'm sure I can fix all of this. Please call me."
I shook my head in disgust. Kelly was still trying to lie her way out of this crisis. I erased the rest of her messages without bothering to listen to any more of them.
I called Albie. When I explained the situation he told me I was welcome to sleep on his couch until I could find a place to live.
After I dropped my clothes at his apartment I started searching for a second part time job. I knew I wouldn't be able to support myself on my income from The Southwest Crier.
I was lucky. A convenience store in Albie's neighborhood, Kirby's Quick Stop, was looking for an early morning cashier. The job fit my schedule perfectly. I could work from six until ten at the convenience store and then spend the afternoon working at The Crier.
The owner, Kirby Lundquist, was a retired navy cook. He was a big man with a giant belly and huge arms that were covered with an elaborate tableau of colorful tattoos. While Kirby was a little rough around the edges, he had a wonderful sense of humor and he loved to laugh. We hit it off immediately. He hired me on the spot and asked me if I could start in the morning. I agreed. I needed the job. I needed it right away.
The next several days were difficult. I was lonely. Kelly kept leaving me messages on my cell phone begging me to call her. Even though I missed her I kept erasing them. I loved Kelly, but her deceitful behavior was slowly destroying both of us. I couldn't allow that to continue. I also had several messages from someone at JTandR. I couldn't imagine why anyone at that firm would want to talk to me and I had absolutely no desire to find out, so I erased those messages too.
The following Wednesday morning I was finishing my shift at Kirby's Quick Stop. It was 10:30. Elvira Higgins, the afternoon cashier had just arrived.
Elvira was seventy-two years old. She and her husband Maxwell had been married for fifty-one years. Max had died of a heart attack the previous spring. Elvira told me that her husband's death had devastated her. She'd spent the next two months locked in her bedroom crying. She explained that she didn't need the cashier's job. She had plenty of money. Max had a good pension. She'd get a monthly check for the rest of her life. She took the cashier's job because she knew that she had to get out of that bedroom before she withered away and died.
I liked Elvira. It was hard not to, she was one smart old lady.
Elvira and I had just finished tabulating my cash register so she could take over when a black Cadillac Escalade with dark tinted windows pulled into the parking lot. A middle aged man wearing a navy blue pinstripe suit got out of the back seat and walked into the store. He looked around for a moment and then he turned to me and asked, "Are you Timothy Jamieson?"
"My name is Edward Baylor. "Now, are you Timothy Jamieson?"
I shrugged, "Okay, you found me. What do you want?"
"Could we have a word in private?"
Looking around, I chuckled. "I don't see any conference rooms in here. Maybe we could talk next to the beer cooler."
"I thought we'd have our discussion in the back seat of the Escalade."
"I don't know. My mother warned me about getting into cars with strange men."
Not at all amused, Mr. Baylor took a deep breath and said, "Mr. Jamieson I am authorized to present a proposition that could be very lucrative for you. If you choose to make light of it and ignore me that will be your loss."
"Yeah all right, let's go sit in your car."
As soon as we were both settled in the back seat of the Cadillac SUV Mr. Baylor said, "Mr. Jamieson, I work for Jackson, Tyler and Reynolds. I believe that you are familiar with the firm.
"Yeah, my wife works there."
He shook his head. "Actually she doesn't."
"I don't understand?"
"Your wife resigned from her position on Friday. Her resignation took effect immediately."
"No Mr. Jamieson, I am not. I never kid."
I believed him.
Mr. Baylor paused to think. He seemed to be trying to choose his next words carefully. I waited.
After a moment he said, "Mr. Jackson, Mr. Tyler and Mr. Reynolds were all quite distressed when your wife informed them that the two of you were having marital problems. They were even more distressed when Ms. Mason submitted her resignation. They considered her to be a valuable member of our team."
Shrugging, I said, "She must have been, they sure paid her a hell of a lot of money."
"Mr. Jamieson, Mr. Jackson would like to meet with you."
"No shit?" I was surprised.
I considered that for a moment and then I shook my head. "Nope, not interested. Our life fell apart when my wife started working for your firm. I don't blame you guys for what happened. Kelly and I are both adults. We're responsible for our own behavior, but I have nothing to say to Mr. Jackson and I'm not interested in hearing anything he has to say to me."
"Mr. Jackson suspected that might be your response so he's authorized me to offer you five thousand dollars if you will agree to meet with him for thirty minutes."
"He must feel like he has something pretty important to say to me if he's willing to pay that kind of money."
"Actually Mr. Jamieson, for Mr. Jackson the thirty minutes of time is more valuable than the five thousand dollars."
"He must be a pretty busy guy."
"Believe me, he is."
"Okay, I can use the five grand right now and if a guy as busy as Mr. Jackson thinks it's that important to talk to me, well I guess I'd better go see him. Will you set up an appointment?"
"You already have one."
"Really? When is it?"
"Eleven o'clock today."
I looked at my watch. It was 10:45. I chuckled. "You guys are pretty sure of yourselves, aren't you?"
"I guess we'd better get going. I'll get my car and follow you."
"I'm sorry Mr. Jamieson, we don't have time. We'd like you to ride with us. John will take you back to your car after the meeting is finished."
I shrugged. "All right, let's go."
As soon as the Escalade stopped in front of the Whetmore Building Edward Baylor opened the car door. We stepped out. Before he closed the door he leaned in and said, "John wait here so you can drive Mr. Jamieson back to his car after the meeting is over."
John looked at me. "I'll be waiting for you right here Mr. Jamieson."
I nodded and then I followed Mr. Baylor into the Whetmore Building. We got into the elevator. He pushed the button for the 52nd floor.
When the elevator stopped the doors opened into an oak paneled alcove. There was a set of double glass doors on the opposite side of the alcove. The name Jackson, Tyler and Reynolds was etched into one of the panes of glass.
Mr. Baylor opened one of the glass doors and said, "After you Mr. Jamieson."
For the first time in my life I walked into the reception area of Jackson, Tyler and Reynolds. It was about the size of a large living room, but much more opulent. The entire room was finished with the same oak paneling that I saw in the alcove outside the elevator. The luxurious carpeting was deep burgundy. Eight comfortable looking brown leather chairs were arranged in two groups along each side of the room.
I was standing with my back to the door to the elevator alcove. A corridor led off to my right and another one led off to my left. An immense oak desk occupied the space at the opposite end of the room. An attractive brunette appearing to be in her early thirties was seated facing me at the far side of the desk. There was a third corridor behind her.
As soon as she saw me she stood up. "Good morning Mr. Jamieson. Welcome to Jackson, Tyler and Reynolds. My name is Janet Collins. You should call me Janet." She pressed a button on her desk. At the same time she said, "Mr. Jackson is expecting you. Please come with me."
I wasn't surprised when Janet Collins appeared to recognize me. During the trip downtown Edward Baylor made two cell phone calls. He made the first one right after we left the convenience store. He made the second one as we pulled up in front of The Whetmore Building. This was a well organized operation.
Janet turned and walked down the hallway that was behind her desk. I followed her. She stopped when she reached a door at the far end of the hall. It was closed. She knocked one time. It opened immediately.
A handsome middle aged man wearing an expensive looking dark gray suit stepped out. He walked directly over to me with his hand extended. "Mr. Jamieson, I'm Martin Jackson. It's a pleasure to meet you."
After we shook hands he said, "Please come into my office." He put his hand on my shoulder and gently guided me through the door. As soon as I was inside he turned to Janet Collins. She was still standing in the doorway. "Janet for the next thirty minutes I do not want to be disturbed for any reason."
"Yes Mr. Jackson. I'll see that you're left alone." She closed the door.
Mr. Jackson gestured towards four brown leather chairs similar to the ones that I'd seen in the reception area. They were arranged around a small oak coffee table. "Mr. Jamieson, why don't we sit over here."
I sat in the chair closest to the door. As soon as I was seated Mr. Jackson asked, "Can I get you anything? Water, coffee, a soda, or maybe a cocktail?"
I shook my head. "No thank you, I'm fine."
He sat down in the leather chair opposite mine. "Mr. Jamieson, thank you for agreeing to meet with me."
I smiled at him. "Five thousand dollars is a powerful persuader."
Mr. Jackson nodded. "Yes, it was important to me that we talk." He paused and then he said, "Mr. Jamieson, let's get right to the point. I think I've been involved in some very bad decisions regarding your wife. Actually I think you're in an excellent position to sue my firm and if you choose to do that my lawyers tell me that it's likely you'll win."
I stared at him. "I don't understand?"
I'll explain everything in a moment, but before I begin I have to say something to you. It's important to me."
"Mr. Jamieson, do you know what we do?."
"From what Kelly has told me I gather that you're corporate raiders who use other people's money when you're doing your raiding."
Mr. Jackson laughed. "That's not a bad description, although I am leery of the term corporate raider."
"Why is that?"
"Most corporate raiders act like a swarm of locusts. When they take over a business they swoop in and suck every penny they can out of it without regard for the people who have spent their entire lives working for that company. Once they're done feeding they walk away leaving a pile of worthless rubble and a group of shattered lives behind them."
He shook his head. "My partners and I not only think that's inhumane, we also think it's bad business. Instead we look for businesses that are failing because of poor management or a streak of bad luck. We study them and if we decide that they can be salvaged we buy them or if we have to, we purchase all the available stock and take them over. Once we own a company we try to repair it and get it to be profitable again. If we're successful we either sell it or run it ourselves."
"What happens if you're not successful when you try to revive a company?"
Mr. Jackson smiled at me. "Mr. Jamieson, we are very good at researching and planning and we are even better at executing our plans. We rarely fail."
He paused for a moment and then he continued. "Mr. Jamieson, I am telling you this because I want you to understand that while we are ruthless businessmen, we are not inhumane monsters. We try to make money without hurting people." He took a deep breath. "I am afraid that we have inadvertently hurt both you and your wife. This meeting is the first of several steps that I plan to take in an effort to right those wrongs."
"I still don't understand."
"Why don't I start at the beginning."
"We were first attracted to your wife because of her writing and organizational skills. Mr. Jamieson, at JTandR we are careful when we hire new team members. We are also constantly looking for quality people who can enhance our firm. Because of the high standards at Kelroy, we monitor the student body there very closely. We have several faculty members who alert us when they spot a particularly talented student. Your wife was brought to our attention during the second semester of her senior year. You may remember that she had her first interview with us about two weeks before she graduated."
I nodded. "I remember it very well. The night before the interview Kelly was so nervous that she couldn't sleep."
Mr. Jackson smiled. "When we interviewed Kelly we were impressed by her self confidence, her resourcefulness and her ability to express herself. We decided that we wanted to hire her. While we were making that decision John Reynolds, one of my partners commented on her attractive figure and joked that it was too bad that we couldn't hire her as a hostess."
"Mr. Jamieson when we are executing a takeover we have to find ways to persuade people to join us. Sometimes we require their financial support, sometimes we need to get them to vote with us during stockholder meetings and sometimes we just have to persuade them to give us information. Earlier I told you that we try to be humane, but let there be no mistake, we are still ruthless businessmen. We will use any means at our disposal to persuade people to join us and sex is a very powerful motivator."
"So a hostess is a company prostitute."
Mr. Jackson sighed. "I suppose you could say that, but technically it wouldn't be correct."
"Why do you say that?"
"Prostitutes have sex for money. Like the rest of our employees, our hostesses earn a base salary and then they earn bonuses when we achieve company goals."
"I think you're splitting hairs."
"I won't waste time arguing that point with you."
Suddenly I realized what Mr. Jackson was telling me. I stared at him for a moment and then I asked, "Are you telling me that my wife was a company whore?"
"Mr. Jamieson, whore is a harsh term. We prefer hostess. Your wife and her peers are actually partial to the title courtesan."
"My wife was a prostitute?"
"Again Mr. Jamieson I would prefer to avoid that term, but I don't think it's fruitful to spend time arguing about semantics so my answer is, yes that is correct."
For a moment Mr. Jackson and I stared at each other in silence. I needed some time to process the information he'd just given me and he was astute enough to understand what I was doing.
Finally I said, "Okay, my wife worked as a company whore for you. It's going to take me a little time to work through that."
Mr. Jackson nodded. "That's understandable."
I looked at him with a puzzled expression. "Right now, I do have to admit that I'm a little confused."
"All right, tell me why." It was clear that Mr. Jackson was trying to be patient with me.
"A few minutes ago you told me that you made some decisions regarding my wife and me that you now regret. You also started this conversation by telling me that I was in a position to successfully sue your firm. I don't understand. My wife is an adult. Unless you drugged her or coerced her in some way, it seems clear to me that the choice to work as a prostitute was her decision. The fact that she chose to lie to me about it was also her decision."
"Why don't I continue telling you about the process we went through when we hired Kelly."
"My partner's comment about your wife's figure intrigued me. Mr. Jamieson, I am sure you understand that for many men your wife is a living, breathing Venus.
"Yes, I'm well aware of that fact."
"For obvious reasons, our firm employs a thorough group of investigators. After Kelly's interview I sent them to Kelroy with the task of learning everything they could about you and your future wife. They talked to dormitory maids, other students, custodians and anyone else who might have known anything about either of you. Their report was very interesting."
"I imagine that you learned about her reputation as the blow job queen of Kelroy College."
"Yes, and of course that piqued my interest. A young, attractive, natural blond who has large breasts and enjoys giving fellatio is the ultimate sexual fantasy for a large number of men."
I smiled. "Yes I also understand that very well."
"There was still a major problem."
"What was that?"
"You, Kelly was about to get married. For obvious reasons we prefer hostesses who are single."
"That makes sense."
"But the report included some other startling information. Even though the two of you were engaged to be married Kelly was still openly dating other men and you didn't seem to mind."
Suddenly feeling uncomfortable, I leaned forward in my chair and prepared to stand up. "Yes, well now this is getting sort of embarrassing."
Mr. Jackson held up his hand. "Mr. Jamieson I'm fifty-two years old. During the course of my life I've encountered a wide variety of individuals. I stopped judging people long ago."
I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself. After a moment I said, "I can handle this." The words were more for my benefit than Mr. Jackson's.
Mr. Jackson smiled at me. It was a gentle smile, one that I wouldn't have expected from a ruthless corporate raider.
His reassuring smile helped calmed me, but I was now feeling extremely defensive. I took a few more seconds to fully regain my composure and then I said, "So you knew my wife loved giving blow jobs and I didn't mind that she dated other guys. What did you do? Call her up and ask her if she wanted to be a company hooker?"
Ignoring the sarcasm in my voice, Mr. Jackson answered, "For obvious legal reasons we couldn't do that. No, we hired her as an administrative assistant and assigned her to Chris Kendricks."
"Who's Chris Kendricks?"
"He's one of our corporate analysts. He also occasionally works as a host."
"Let me explain. The majority of the stockholders and investors that we deal with are heterosexual men. Men seem to be a little more open to casual sexual encounters, so hostesses are in greater demand than hosts. We only employ one full time host, the others all have additional duties for the firm. Our hostesses are all socially skilled, but our hosts are even more skilled. They have to be."
"Determining whether or not a male associate." He smiled at me. "When we're working with stockholders or investors we refer to them as associates or guests."
"Trying to determine if a male associate is interested in a little extra curricular sexual activity is generally quite easy. Most of the time all we have to do is ask. If we do feel the need to be a little more discreet about the offer we'll find a reason to bring one of our hostesses into the room while were meeting with the associate. We might ask her to bring us a file, or maybe a pot of coffee. While she's in the room we watch the associate to see how he reacts. If he seems interested we'll wait until she leaves and then one of us will make an off hand comment like, Isn't she beautiful? If he responds we pursue it and hint that she might be available. If he doesn't respond or show any interest we simply move on."
Mr. Jackson shook his head. "Women are much more difficult. We have to be very careful. If we're too direct, we risk insulting them. Generally one of my partners or myself will invite our associate to dinner. We'll include Chris or one of our other hosts in the party. Chris is one of our most adept hosts. He's in his early thirties, handsome, very bright and he has an engaging personality. Most women find him extremely attractive. At dinner we'll make sure that Chris is seated next to our associate. Before the dinner we'll arm him with a detailed overview of her interests. Chris excels at small talk and the information we feed him gives him an excellent opportunity to engage our associate. Once we've finished dinner Chris will suggest an after dinner drink in the bar. The rest of us will decline and politely excuse ourselves. After that, the rest of the evening is up to Chris and our associate."
"I assume you're telling me this so I'll excuse my wife's behavior because she was swept off her feet by a master of seduction. Mr. Jackson, I am not upset with Kelly because she was sleeping with other men. I'm upset because she lied to me about it."
"No Mr. Jamieson, I am not trying to provide an excuse for your wife's behavior. I am telling you this because I want you to understand why I feel that I've made decisions that harmed both you and your wife." There was a slight hint of irritation in Mr. Jackson's voice.
Not willing to be cowed, I stared at him and responded in an icy tone, "Very well, go ahead."
Mr, Jackson paused before he answered. It was clear that he was taking a moment to try to quell the tension that had suddenly developed between us. Finally in a calm voice he said, "Chris did eventually seduce your wife, but it took him almost two months to do it. Not grasping the significance of that fact was my first mistake. Your wife is a gorgeous woman and I jumped to the erroneous conclusion that she was ignoring Chris's advances because she didn't need him. I assumed that she was already overwhelmed by a steady flow of propositions from a large group of very handsome men outside of work."
I laughed. "Kelly has been inundated by propositions since she was a teenager."
Nodding, Mr. Jackson said, "I now know that at that time your wife was staunchly fending off every one of the propositions she was getting. Sadly, I didn't recognize that fact. I should have. When Kelly was so tenaciously resisting all of Chris's advances I should have asked why and then taken the time to do some additional investigation. If I had done that I would have discovered the vow of fidelity your wife made to you on your wedding day."
He looked at me. "Mr. Jamieson, I am ashamed that I missed that crucial detail. It was uncharacteristically sloppy research on our part and that oversight caused us to act in a manner that was detrimental to both you and your wife."
"When did you learn about it?"
"Last Friday morning when Kelly came in to see me to explain why she was resigning."
"I thought you asked Kelly to resign."
Mr. Jackson shook his head. "No, the resignation was your wife's idea. I offered her a leave of absence, but she turned it down. Kelly told me that she plans to devote the rest of her life to trying to regain your trust and win you back. Mr. Jamieson, I am a very wealthy man, but I would happily trade all of that wealth to have just one person who loves me as much as your wife loves you."
I stared at him. After a moment I said, "But Kelly lied to me."
"Yes Mr. Jamieson she did, but before you decide to end your marriage I suggest that you try to find the answer to one very important question."
"Why would a woman who professes to love you so much, decide to lie to you?"
Mr. Jackson glanced at his watch. "Our time is coming to an end. At the beginning of this meeting you asked me why I felt responsible for your wife's sexual indiscretions and why my attorneys thought my firm was vulnerable to a law suit. The answer is quite simple. Your wife came to us seeking a normal job. Because of a negligent failure on our part to gather adequate background information, I deliberately threw a carefully calculated temptation at Kelly and kept throwing it at her even though she repeatedly rebuffed it. Once she finally succumbed to our temptation I callously ignored some obvious signs of unhappiness and distress in your wife and allowed her to continue working in the job that was causing that unhappiness and stress."
Shaking his head, he said, "Mr. Jamieson, at best we are guilty of callously ignoring the desires, health and well being of you and your wife. At worst we are responsible for deliberately entrapping your wife in a life of prostitution and destroying your marriage."
Rubbing his forehead, Mr. Jackson said, "My lawyers tell me that if we're lucky we might be able to settle for as little a $500,000 in damages, but they think the amount could easily be as much as $2,000,000. I am prepared to offer you a settlement of $4,000,000."
"Why are you being so generous?"
"Mr Jamieson, I'm a businessman. I'm not a monster. In the past two years I've made several critical mistakes that resulted in injury to both you and your wife. I wish to try to atone for those errors."
He paused for a moment and then he added, "I'm also going to include an incentive."
"What is it?"
"If you are able to reconcile with your wife I will double the amount. That's $8,000,000 and if you are willing to trust me with that money for five years, I believe I can easily turn it into thirty million dollars."
Laughing, I said, "That's an attractive offer." But then I closed my eyes and sighed. "Why are you really doing this?"
"Because I think you and your wife had a storybook love and I was responsible for destroying it."
"My wife lied to me."
"Yes Mr. Jamieson, she did, but I suggest that you ask yourself why she did it. Your wife loves sex. Her vow of fidelity was never realistic. She wanted to be the perfect wife for you, but her model of perfection was based on the cultural norms that had been instilled in her since she was a little girl rather than your actual expectations. I believe that she understood that you had no objection to her dating other men, but she couldn't reconcile that fact with her conception of how a proper wife behaves. She had to slip. It was inevitable. I don't believe that Kelly is capable of being faithful to one man."
Agreeing with him, I nodded.
Mr. Jackson smiled at me. "The problem is that when she slipped she felt like she was letting you down. We both know she wasn't, but her traditional upbringing made her feel like she was. After Chris finally succeeded in seducing her she was too ashamed to tell you about it. Of course that pushed her into a new quagmire. She'd lied to you and of course that was the one thing she'd promised she would never do."
Shaking his head, Mr. Jackson said, "It's ironic that in Kelly's desperate effort to keep you, she committed the one sin that you could never forgive."
"Okay, Chris seduced her, but she ended up working as a corporate whore."
"Mr. Jamieson, you are an intelligent man. I'm certain you understand that the first bite of the apple is always the most difficult to swallow. After that each bite gets easier. We all live on the edge of a slippery slope. Your wife's problem was that as she slid down that slope it became increasingly difficult for her to tell you about it."
Mr. Jackson looked at his watch and stood up. "Mr. Jamieson, our half hour is over. I would love to spend the rest of the afternoon talking with you, but I have some pressing business that requires my attention. I hope you'll understand."
I stood up. "Mr. Jackson, if you'll indulge me I have one more question."
"What is it?"
"Who is Roger Baldwin?"
Mr. Jackson smiled. "Roger Baldwin doesn't exist."
"Of course he does, I heard him talking to my wife in that hotel room." I shook my head. "Judging from the conversation between Kelly and the bellman I gather that the two them are frequent visitors to the hotel."
"Mr. Jamieson, the stock holders and investors that we deal with are all extremely wealthy individuals and often pillars of their communities. When we're entertaining them it's essential that we take utmost care to protect them from scandal."
"You don't want them to get arrested."
"That's not the problem at all. No money changes hands when our hostesses are entertaining an associate. Prostitution laws aren't an issue."
"So why are you worried about scandals?"
"Business Mr. Jamieson. When our hostesses are entertaining an associate we're trying to influence them to do something that we want them to do. The worst thing that could happen would be to let an unethical competitor catch them in a compromising situation. We have to be very careful that we don't put our associates in a position where they can be blackmailed."
I nodded. I was starting to understand.
"When they're visiting this city, most of our associates stay at the Calvert Hotel. We employ four full time hostesses and one full time host. The firm maintains a permanent suite at the Calvert for each of them. Your wife's suite was 1712. Those suites are all reserved under fictitious names. Kelly's was registered to Roger Baldwin."
I closed my eyes and sighed.
Mr. Jackson continued. "When we set up a date for one of our associates we give them a room key and instruct them to arrive at least fifteen minutes before our hostess. The night you followed your wife her associate was already in the room when she got there.
"Several of the bellmen, including the one you saw, are well paid to help us play out a charade. After our hostess arrives they always bring a bottle of champagne to the room. Whenever there is a knock at the door our associates are instructed to go into the bathroom. This is to insure that they're protected in case a photographer tries to burst into the room when the door is opened. When the bellman delivers the champagne he and the hostess have a script that they follow that's designed to fool anyone who might be outside the room listening."
He smiled at me. "It appears that our system works. We certainly fooled you."
"Yes you did."
"When a hostess is with an associate she's instructed to always use the name of the man that the room is registered to. In your wife's case it was Roger. Again we are attempting to confuse anyone who might be listening at the door."
He stared at me. "Mr. Jamieson, your wife was not having an affair with another man and she certainly hasn't fallen in love with anyone else. Please believe me, she loves you and she loves only you."
"But the man had a pet name for Kelly. He called her Melody. That name is extremely important to my wife. He had to know her very well."
"Mr. Jamieson, I don't know about the importance of the name to your wife, but I can tell you this. In order to be discreet, all of our hostesses use a pseudonym. Your wife chose the name Melody. While that name may be important to Kelly, I can assure you that the man she was with at the Calvert that night didn't know anything about its significance to her."
I took a moment to digest that information and then I looked at Mr. Jackson and said, "May I ask you one more question?"
Mr. Jackson took another quick glance at his watch. "Yes, but only one more."
"Have you had sex with my wife?"
Mr. Jackson closed his eyes and sighed. "At the beginning of this meeting I promised you total candor, so I'll answer that question. Mr. Jamieson, do you remember when I alluded to the fact that there are some men for whom fellatio is the ultimate sexual pleasure?"
"I happen to be one of those men. Please excuse my vulgarity, but I don't know how to put this any other way. For the past year your wife has been giving me a blow job at least three times a week."
I slowly nodded. "Mr. Jackson, thank you; I appreciate your honesty."
"Please believe me Mr. Jamieson, I never would have done that if I'd known you were unaware of your wife's activities."
I smiled at him. "It's all right." And then I chuckled as I added, "She gives a pretty good one, doesn't she?"
Mr. Jackson grinned at me. "Mr. Jamieson, your wife is an artist."
I nodded in agreement.
"And now Mr. Jamieson you will have to excuse me. I must move on to other business."
He took my arm and led me to the door of his office. As he opened it he said, "Janet has your five thousand dollars. She'll give it to you on your way out. John is waiting in front of the building to drive you back to your car. My attorneys will contact you next week to begin negotiating the financial settlement that we discussed."
He extended his hand. "Mr. Jamieson, it was a pleasure to finally meet you. I do sincerely hope that you will be able to reconcile with your wife."
I shook his hand and said, "Thank you Mr. Jackson." I stepped out into the hallway. He closed his door behind me.
When I passed by her desk Janet Collins handed me an envelope and informed me that it contained fifty one hundred dollar bills. While I was a little uncomfortable about accepting the money, Mr. Jackson had just told me that he was a very wealthy man. I needed the cash, so I thanked Ms. Collins, put the envelope in my pocket and left the office.
John was waiting for me in front of the Whetmore Building with the Escalade. He drove me back to Kirby's Quick Stop so I could get my own car.
After we arrived at the store I stopped inside and said hello to Elvira Higgins and then I got into my car and drove to a small park that overlooked the Mississippi River. It was a place that I visited when I needed time to think or relax.
I parked my car, walked out to a bench, sat down and began trying to make some sense out of this situation. The meeting with Martin Jackson had been filled with startling revelations. Of course, the most startling of all was that my wife had been working as a prostitute for his firm.
I understood that he preferred other terms, but it didn't really matter. You could call Kelly a courtesan or a hostess, but it still boiled down to one fact. They were paying her to have sex with their business associates.
I considered that and came to the conclusion that as long as Kelly was doing it because she wanted to do it and they weren't coercing her, it really didn't bother me. Actually it helped. I could easily understand that Kelly was so concerned about how I'd react to what she was doing that she'd try to find ways to avoid telling me about it.
Still, I didn't understand why Kelly didn't tell me when Chris Kendricks seduced her? She had to know that it wouldn't upset me. As I thought about that I remembered Mr. Jackson's words. "Kelly wanted to be the perfect wife for you, but her model of perfection was based on the cultural norms that had been instilled in her since she was a little girl rather than on your expectations."
That actually made a lot of sense. I remembered our college days. Sometimes late at night, while we were lying in bed after she'd come home from a date, Kelly would ask me if I hated her because she enjoyed having sex with so many different men. I would scoff at the idea and tell her we were perfectly matched because I loved being her cuckold. While that always seemed to placate her fears, it was apparent to me that her infidelity had always bothered her. That would explain why Kelly was so insistent on making a vow of fidelity to me when we were married.
As I considered that I began to understand that when a handsome man like Chris Kendricks started trying to seduce Kelly, the conflict between her need to be a proper wife and her desire for sexual adventure must have created a nearly unendurable level of anxiety for her. I also realized that she must have been ashamed when she finally succumbed to his advances. She didn't lie to me because she wanted to deceive me, she lied to me because she was ashamed of what she was doing.
But what had caused Kelly to make the transition from having a casual affair with a handsome man like Chris to becoming a courtesan for JTandR?
As soon as I posed the question I realized the answer was obvious. Part of it was the slippery slope that Mr. Jackson had alluded to, but there was another factor. It was the reason that Mr. Jackson was so worried about legal action. Kelly's boss and his partners wanted my wife to be a courtesan and they deliberately created an environment that would encourage her to behave like one. Of course, that fed right into my wife's love of sexual adventure. It was a little like giving a candy lover a job in a chocolate factory. In Mr. Jackson's defense, he didn't know that the candy lover had vowed to only eat sweets with her husband.
Part of me, the offended husband, protested that all of this was just psychological mumbo jumbo, but another more rational part of me argued that this situation was much more complicated than my original assumption. This was definitely not just a simple case of my wife deliberately trying to deceive me in order to hide the fact that she was falling in love with another man.
The rational part of me won the debate. I now understood that before I could give up on our marriage I had to hear my wife's explanation for what had happened. I had to call Kelly.
I turned on my cell phone. There were eight messages. All of them were from Kelly. I ignored them and pushed the number for her cell phone on my speed dial.
My wife answered after three rings. "Timmy is that really you? When I saw your name on my caller ID I didn't dare believe it."
"Yes Kelly, it really is me."
"Timmy thank you for calling me. Baby, I'm so sorry I lied to you and I've been so awful to you lately. I don't blame you for hating me."
"Kelly, I'd like to get together with you so we can talk about this."
"Oh yes please, that would be wonderful."
"Kelly listen to me."
"Yes, I'm listening."
"I don't care what you've done. It doesn't matter to me if a thousand different men have fucked you in the last year. I can forgive anything, but please do not lie to me anymore."
"Timmy I promise to tell you everything." Kelly paused. After a moment she quietly added. "But Timmy, I've done some awful things. I'm afraid you're going to hate me after you learn the truth."
"Kelly have you murdered anyone or stolen money?"
"Well no, but..."
"Kelly, I know the woman I married. She's not a bad person. I don't believe you've done anything I can't forgive."
"Timmy a lot of men have fucked me during the last year."
"I know, it's okay."
"Yes, really, just promise that you won't lie to me anymore."
"I won't Timmy, I promise I won't."
"Kelly are you at home?"
"Yes Timmy, I am."
"Can I come over?"
My wife laughed. "Of course you can silly, nothing would make me happier."
"Kelly, I'm at our favorite park by the river. I'll be home in fifteen minutes."
"Thank you Timmy, thank you so much."
As I was driving to our house, I was suddenly overwhelmed by a sickening fear. What if Kelly really didn't love me anymore? What if she actually wanted to be rid of me so she could freely continue the wild life she was leading at JTandR.
As the paranoia insinuated itself into my tired brain I remembered a nagging concern that used to wake me up in the middle of the night during my senior year in college. Kelly was way out of my league. What would happen when she finally realized it?
Suddenly everything looked different.
I remembered Mr. Jackson telling me that when Kelly turned in her resignation she'd told him that she was doing it so she could devote the rest of her life to trying to regain my trust. I desperately wanted to believe she'd said that, but Mr. Jackson was a clever man. He was obviously concerned about his exposed legal position. That may have been a ploy to take the edge off of my anger so I'd be more amenable to accepting an out of court settlement with his firm.
Kelly sounded anxious to talk to me when we spoke on the phone. She'd also left numerous messages for me. She appeared to be eager to reconcile with me, but she'd lied to me so freely lately and she'd been treating me with such blatant disdain that it was easy to be skeptical about her motives. She might just be saying these things to try to lure me into a reasonable divorce settlement. I didn't actually know much about the divorce laws in our state, but I assumed that a judge would not look favorably at Kelly if he found out she'd been working as a courtesan for JTandR.
I laughed. Courtesan, why did I choose that term? Why didn't I say whore or hooker? Mr. Jackson had said it was the name that Kelly and the other hostesses favored. I could see why, it made what they were doing seem sophisticated and glamorous.
I smiled. I knew exactly why I chose that term. The idea that my wife was a corporate courtesan excited the cuckold inside me.
I bit my lip. I had to get those thoughts out of my head. This was a moment when I needed to be making decisions with my brain, not my perverted little pecker. I chuckled to myself. I'd better be using my brain. People often misjudged Kelly when they met her. They only saw a blond with big tits. The truth was, my wife was an extremely smart woman.
I started to get very nervous about this meeting. I pulled over to the curb, stopped my car and took out my cell phone. I was just about to call Kelly and tell her that I wasn't going to be coming over when I realized exactly what I needed to do.
I relaxed. All of the fears that were running through my brain were related to protecting myself financially, but I didn't give a damn about money. I've never cared about money. Hell, I had five thousand dollars in cash in my pocket, a part time job at a hack newspaper and another part time job at a convenience store. No one could hurt me. I had more than enough resources to start a new life.
The divorce settlement and Mr. Jackson's offer of four million dollars meant nothing to me. If she wanted it, Kelly could have it all; the house, our savings, our stocks and bonds, Mr. Jackson's millions, everything. Hell, it was all hers anyway. She'd done the work to earn it.
All I wanted was my wife. If it turned out that she didn't want me, then there was no amount of money in this world that would make me happy.
I started my car and pulled away from the curb. I now knew exactly what I had to do. I would begin our meeting by presenting my wife with a generous proposal. I would offer to walk away from the marriage and leave her with everything. If Kelly was indeed seeking a divorce, my proposition would be very difficult for her to resist.
If a divorce was what my wife wanted I needed to establish that fact as quickly as possible and get on with my life. Losing Kelly would be excruciatingly painful for me, but if it was inevitable then I preferred to suffer the pain in one quick blow rather than prolonging it over weeks or even months.
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<a href="https://www.lushstories.com/stories/cuckold/courtesan-ch-03.aspx">Courtesan Ch. 03</a>