Being a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic, I couldn't let Valentine's Day go by without sharing some kind of love! I thought about it off and on all day, finally deciding on a short story that I wrote a while ago. It was supposed to be included in a short story collection I was working on ... but I took a turn and ended up in the executive seat of my own publishing company instead of finishing the book! Still, I pull out these stories from time to time to enjoy -- they're my favorites because...they all deal with love. I'm thinking someday I'll have to finish compiling them. For now....I hope you'll enjoy this one as my Valentine's Day gift to you ~ my way of sharing the love!
The Lucky Ones ~ a short story by Linda Boulanger
Marci’s Mom had unknowingly planted the seeds of doubt in Marci’s head several months before. Marci had mentioned all the weight her husband had lost and how good he was looking. Hot, if you could say that about a forty-eight year old man. She was feeling pretty lucky to have him.
“Maybe he’s having an affair,” Connie Gordon had teased. “Men do that, you know. They reach middle age and suddenly the pastures look greener across the way.”
She was joking and Connie, Marci, and Marci’s older sister Diane had laughed. Marci had never been fearful that Greg might stray; partaking of the fruits of another woman. She’d been lucky that way.
Yet here they were at a company event and Marci was finding herself more and more concerned that perhaps her mother’s words had been true. Greg continuously circled them around to where one Danielle Stevens was in his sights. She certainly had eyes for Marci’s husband…and a bright smile and a pat on the back and a hand ran down his arm.
Greg returned the flirtatious behavior unabashedly, making Marci extremely uncomfortable. She wasn’t sure but she suspected others were noticing too. She thought the looks she was receiving from his coworkers were looks of pity and warning.
At last she found herself in a near-secluded spot with her husband whose eyes still searched for the young, attractive, 30-something Danielle.
“I’m going home,” Marci hissed, removing the name badge they’d been required to wear and throwing it at her surprised husband.
“What? Why?” He grabbed her arm as she turned to go.
“Oh, please! Heaven forbid I stand here and be humiliated any longer. Now I know why I never come to these things with you! And to think I busted my rear to look good for you so you’d be proud to have me at your side. What a fool I am.” She breathed deeply fighting back unwanted tears as she tried to free her arm. “Let go! Go find your precious Danielle.” She jerked free. “And don’t bother coming home.” She yelled back as she wheeled and began to walk away.
“Marci!” He matched her steps.
“Greg?” Danielle called as they passed the little group she was with. “Everything okay?” Marci heard her ask. She could hear Greg’s voice and knew he’d stopped to talk to the younger woman which fueled her irritation.
Greg was at her side again before she reached the exit. She felt his hand close around her upper arm, trying unsuccessfully to stall her forward movement. There was no stopping the hurt-filled, determined woman. She burst through the front doors with Greg in tow.
“Marci! What is going on? Why are you so angry? What did I do?” Marci turned on Greg, her eyes wide with disbelief at his cluelessness. She studied her husband, trying to discern if he truly was that dense.
“You’re unbelievable Greg. You have two advanced degrees and you direct a top notch group at a major corporation that deals with highly sophisticated equipment. You’re joking right? You know exactly what you’ve done. Jerk!” Marci was seething. Greg shrugged and shook his head.
“Maybe you could ask Danielle and she could….oh, Greg, hee, hee, hee, hee, hee….maybe she could fill you in.” Marci chided, mocking Danielle’s giggly little voice. She rolled her eyes and turned again to make her way to where they’d parked. She fished in her little bag for the keys.
“You can’t be serious, Marci. You’re acting as if you think I’m interesting in Dani. That’s absurd….”
“Dani is it now?” she interrupted.
He stared at her, bewildered. “Marci! She’s a co-worker. And she’s well connected.” He acted as if that should clarify everything.
“Yeah, she’d like to connect with you, Greg, and everyone in your office except maybe YOU is well aware of that fact! Stupid, stupid, stupid me.” She peered into her hand bag. “WHERE are my KEYS?”
Greg chuckled, pulling the keys from his pocket and jangling them before her. “We came together, Marci.”
Marci grabbed for the keys but he stepped back, laughing at the sheer, unmasked emotions on his wife’s face.
“Give me those keys and GO AWAY!” she demanded with a stomp of her high heel-sheathed foot.
“Not gonna happen, Marci, may love and you know why?” She glared at him. His smiling face was as disarmingly handsome as it was when she first met him. She felt that familiar tremor of desire course through her body. She breathed deeply as he walked toward her, stiffened as he slipped his hands around her waist and pulled her to him. He released her with one hand and used it to tilt her chin up. He kissed her now trembling lips softly and wiped the lone teardrop from her cheek.
“Because I love you, Marci. Only you, always you. I’m sorry you misunderstood and that it hurt your feelings. Did you happen to notice who Dani…Danielle was with? Stan Golden. Marci, Mr. Golden holds the purse strings to my next project. I was playing games all right. But not with Dani. With Stan. Everyone knows how I feel about you, Marci. Didn’t you see them all looking at me like I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth?” She’d thought they’d been looking at her as if she was an idiot for not knowing her husband was having an affair with a colleague. Marci still wasn’t completely convinced. Greg could tell.
“You look amazing, Marci and, in case you didn’t notice, I’ll bring to your attention the fact that I never left your side the whole evening.”
“Yeah, I noticed. I was right there watching you ogle and be mauled by Miss I’m-thirty-and-look-awesome.” She tried to pull away as another tear streaked down her cheek, but he held her tight.
“She did look awesome.” Marci shot him an are-you-for-real look and he laughed. “But you look awesomer. And you are the one I’m going home with whether you like it or not. Now if you’ll let me help you into the car, I’d love to take you home now. And on the way, I’d be happy to tell you just how much I love you and exactly what I’ve been thinking about doing with you since our children are staying at your mother’s and we’re alone all night for the first time in a very long time. And I will tell you I will very much enjoy doing those things with you and will NOT be thinking about Dani or any other woman besides you while doing them. And I’ve never considered sharing such said events with anyone but you. Enough said or shall I continue?” he asked as he felt the tension in her body begin to ease. “I can continue but I’d really rather drive home and quickly at that.” He kissed her quite passionately leaving her in a twixt between breathlessness and laughter.
“I’m so silly,” she said as he helped her into the car and slipped around to the other side.
“Yes you are. It’s one of the things I love about you.” He booped her nose and started the ignition.
The happy, laughing couple did not notice Danielle Stevens near the entry as they drove by. But she noticed them. With a smile she turned to another co-worker. “I hope I can make someone that happy someday. He’s a lucky man.”
“Yes, and his smile will be even bigger on Monday when he finds Golden’s decided to increase his funding for the Cross project. He’d have told Greg tonight if they hadn’t left in such a hurry. Wonder what happened to make them skip out like that?” She smiled and elbowed Danielle conspiratorially before they headed back to rejoin Stan’s group.
Stan smiled at Danielle as she walked up. She patted his back and he leaned close to her.
“I’m glad you came back.” He ran a hand down her bare arm. Danielle breathed deeply, clearing her head of all thoughts of the unavailable Greg. She’d heard he was a happily married man though his wife seldom came to company events. She’d begun to have her doubts but the evening had proved her wrong. No matter, she thought as she turned her overly bright smile up to the man at her side who received it eagerly. Stan Golden, a superior, though not directly over her. Still, he was well connected. He wasn’t bad looking, he was always fun to be around and…there was no ring on his finger. Another lucky guy perhaps? If his smile was any indication, he certainly seemed to think so. Danielle felt pretty satisfied with the way the evening had progressed. Not at all what she’d hoped for but so much more than she’d expected. She thought of Greg and the way he’d looked at his wife and how Stan was looking at her. It was more than an evening office flirtation. She felt sure of that. And she was feeling pretty lucky herself right then.
Across town Marci had a sudden urge to call her mom and tell her thanks for nothing and thanks for everything at the same time. She giggled as Greg nuzzled her neck and she thought of the look on his face when she’d thrown the name badge at him.
“What?” he asked.
“Nothing,” she answered with a smile. “I was just thinking I’m glad to be one of the lucky ones; especially in your arms tonight.”