I glanced at the clock on my nightstand and saw that only ten minutes had passed. I looked at the man lying beside me and his snoring confirmed that he was already out for the night. I readjusted the pillow under my butt and settled in for at least another twenty minutes until I could finally get comfortable and thought about my life up until this point.
Bill and I had been high school sweethearts. His parents had ‘old money’ and my parents loved him along with the fact that he was ambitious even at a young age. He knew he wanted to eventually get into politics so he tailored his lifestyle with that goal in mind. He was two years older than me, so when he went to LSU for college I followed him after him as soon as I graduated high school.
I thought I was in love with him, but when he proposed to me after I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration my first reaction wasn’t to jump up and down screaming “Yes!” I hesitated because I was unsure. He had proposed in front of my parents and when I looked over at them I could tell that they wanted me to accept, so I did.
My mother along with Bill’s mother planned the entire wedding. They even picked out my dress, who the bridesmaids would be, and what they would be wearing. And…it didn’t bother me one bit. I had a role to fulfill, so I did what was expected of me.
Bill was my first and only lover and he could be very gentle and sweet when he wanted to, but more often than not I’d have to take care of ‘business’ on my own to get the release my body needed.
And now here I was, lying in bed with a pillow propped up under my butt after another unsatisfying round of sex with Bill in an effort to get pregnant. We’ve been married for five years now and Bill decided that we needed to have a child (preferably two) to represent the perfect family because that’s what the public wants to see in their elected officials. Bill had become a town council member and had his eye on the mayoral election two years from now. He figured that if we had a baby by then and I was pregnant with another one he’d be a shoo in.
I, however, wasn’t ready to have a baby now. I’d gotten a job at Northman Industries right after I graduated and was lucky enough to have bosses that recognized my potential. I was on the fast track to being the youngest VP of Acquisitions in the company’s history. It was ironic that I gave in so easily in my personal life to whatever everyone else wanted me to do, when at work I had a fierce reputation. Maybe I just took out my frustrations there. Much to Bill’s dismay, I had chosen to hyphenate my last name with his. I told him it was because I had already started my career as a ‘Stackhouse’ and didn’t want to lose the recognition that came with my name. I secretly did it because I felt that by giving up my name I would be giving up myself entirely, and I wasn’t prepared to do that. Everyone at work still used just the ‘Stackhouse’ portion of my name as well, and I never corrected anyone.
A baby now would only derail my career. Bill expected me to stay home once we had children saying my days would be filled with the luncheons and committees I’d have to attend as the wife of the mayor. My mother wholeheartedly agreed and they all just looked at me working as a passing fancy that I should be happy to be done with once I got pregnant.
I was a late bloomer as a teenager and my periods only came sporadically. My mother had put me on the pill as soon as Bill and I became girlfriend and boyfriend, even though we didn’t have sex for the first time until the end of my senior year in high school. I had stopped taking it six months ago when Bill tossed them out deciding we would start trying then. I had only gotten my period once since then, but many negative pregnancy tests later we were still trying. Everything had become so mechanical that the majority of the time I made mental lists of things I needed to see to at work while Bill did his two whole minutes of pumping into me before shoving a pillow under my butt and going to sleep. I couldn’t remember the last time I had an orgasm from him.
I had just sat down with a cup of coffee the next morning and while waiting for it to cool off enough for me to take a sip Bill threw me for another loop.
Without bothering to look up from the newspaper in front of him he said, “We’ve been trying to make a baby for six months now and you’re still not pregnant. If it doesn’t happen soon it’s going mess up my timeline in order for you to be pregnant a second time when the elections come around in two years. I took the liberty of making an appointment with a fertility specialist for you on Friday morning at 8 a.m. You’re not to eat or drink anything that morning so they can take some blood samples. Hopefully they’ll be able to tell us what’s wrong with you and can fix it.”
I sat there in disbelief trying to stare a hole through the newspaper in front of him to bore into the center of his skull. Of course, I thought, there must be something wrong with ME. Nothing could possibly be wrong with Mr. Perfect and his perfectly planned life. I huffed out loud as I checked my calendar on my blackberry.
“Sorry, ” I said, “but I have a staff meeting at 10 on Friday morning and I don’t want to chance being late. ”
He lowered the newspaper then and stared me down as if trying to will me into submission with merely a look. I stared back and just waited him out. When he picked up his phone, I internally high-fived myself for winning that battle. My celebration was short-lived when he took my blackberry and made me an appointment for this morning seeing that I had nothing scheduled. He took the coffee cup out of my hand before I ever got my first sip saying I’d better hurry because they were expecting me in 45 minutes. When I still didn’t move he played his trump card saying, “I wonder what Mother Stackhouse would say if she knew you were pouting like a petulant child instead of doing whatever is necessary to give her a grandbaby.”
My mother was my greatest weakness. She knew how to push every button I had and I’d discovered early on in life that it was much less traumatic to just do what she wants when she wants. Sighing, I got up and got dressed to go to the appointment. I didn’t miss the look of smug satisfaction on his face when I got up either.
Two hours and 5 vials of blood later I was sitting at my desk going over the files I had been compiling on an investment firm in Australia that had a solid foundation but needed more capital if they were going to succeed. I had been following their progress for months now and thought Northman Industries would do well to either merge with them as a financial backer or acquire the firm outright. I had a meeting scheduled with the owner of Northman Industries, Andre Northman, this afternoon and I planned to give him the formal proposal then.
I heard a knock on my door and looked up to see my assistant, Amelia Broadway, standing there. We’d grown close after she had started working for me and was the only person I was comfortable enough with to know the real me. She knew the real relationship I had with Bill as well my parents. She couldn’t understand how I was tough as nails at work, but would roll over so easily at home. She told me daily to just say to hell with them all and leave. As much as I would like to, I knew I wouldn’t be able to withstand the hurricane force that is my mother.
Amelia came trotting in my office with her whole face lit up with a secret she was dying to spill. I’d seen that look many times on her. She waited until she was right in front of my desk before letting loose with, “You’ll never guess who’s going to be at the staff meeting on Friday!”
I gave her a look that said ‘Who cares?’, but I secretly was chomping at the bit to find out. The look in her eyes told me she didn’t buy my faked indifference for one minute. “Come on! Guess!” She waved her hands at me like she was on fire and trying to fan the flames away.
“Ugh, I don’t know Amelia, so why don’t you just tell me!”
She let the moment of suspense build up once more and then leaned over my desk whispering, “The Prodigal Son.”
What, I thought? Why in the hell is HE going to be there? I guessed that I must have thought out loud because Amelia answered both questions.
“Mr. Playboy European Jet set Party Boy is going to be at the meeting! Mr. Northman is making some big announcement, but no one knows what it is.” She slumped in the chair in front of my desk coming down off of her gossip high and just grinned at me.
Mr. Northman’s son, Eric, was well known within the company. He was well known all over Europe and several gossip magazines as well. There were many times that Amelia and I read about his exploits online and looked at pictures of him going in and out of parties and bars all over the world with a different floozy, celebrity or otherwise, on his arm. According to the ragmags he had turned 30 last month and had a huge party in Monaco hopping from yacht to yacht in the Mediterranean Sea.
I didn’t know much about him other than what I had read, but they say pictures are worth a thousand words. And the pictures I had seen seemed to back up the stories that went along with them. He was very nice to look at, eye candy even, but I had no respect for anyone that never worked a day in their life and had been giving everything without earning any of it. Mr. Northman never discussed his son with me, and I never asked. I honestly could care less, but a part of me thought it must be nice to not have any responsibilities and be able to do whatever you wanted whenever you wanted.
Looking back to Amelia I said, “Well, I guess we’ll find out in four more days.”
A few hours later I was sitting across from Mr. Northman as he was looking over my proposal. I had already given him my verbal assessment and was waiting on his response. While he was looking over the figures I had compiled I took the opportunity to glance around his office. There were some beautiful, and I’m sure expensive, pieces of artwork adorning the walls surrounding his beautifully carved mahogany desk. A floor to ceiling glass wall behind him looked out over the city of Shreveport. I took a closer look at the framed pictures on the credenza behind him and noticed one was of the playboy as a child. It appeared to be a school photo and he was wearing a blue blazer with some sort of crest on the pocket.
It figures, I thought. He probably had the best education money could buy and what does he do with his life? Parties like it’s his last day on earth every day.
The sound of Mr. Northman clearing his throat brought me back from my musings. “Well, Ms. Stackhouse, you certainly have done your homework. I knew you were something special when we first hired you but I must say you’ve certainly exceeded the expectations I had for you.” I blushed at his words of praise before he continued. “Now you know Mr. Dearborn, our former Vice President of Acquisitions, retired unexpectedly last month. I have several big announcements that I’ll be making at the staff meeting this Friday concerning that position and I certainly hope you’ll be pleased when you hear them. I’ll also have a decision for you on your proposal here by then.”
I could barely keep myself from jumping up and down before I left his office. I pulled Amelia into my office and told her what Mr. Northman had told me about the VP spot and we both squealed like two school girls at a Justin Beiber concert. She hugged and congratulated me and I relished in it while I could. I knew better than to mention any of this news at home. History has proven that Bill would only use the opportunity to mock my decision to work citing my responsibilities at home as his wife and my mother would be there cheering him on. They didn’t care about my successes, so I didn’t care to tell them.
On my way out of the office that evening I took a detour passed Dearborn’s old office and peeked inside. It was a corner office with two walls of floor to ceiling windows and much larger than my current one. I mentally pictured where I would put my desk and thought of maybe buying a plant or two to liven it up since there would be so much sunlight. I skipped out of the building and into my car counting down the hours until the staff meeting on Friday.