Chapter 1: Prologue

Prologue:

The woman’s back was as rigid as a length of steel. She was facing the large, floor-to-ceiling window, looking out at the expanse of lawn.  The man was silently watching her, knowing there would be a reaction, but not knowing how it would manifest itself.  When it came, it was delivered in a calm, controlled voice.

“How could you have done this?”

He wasn’t fooled by her calmness. He knew he had to proceed cautiously.

“It wasn’t planned. You know me better than that. You can’t think I would’ve purposely let this happen.”

“It seems that I don’t know you at all. It also seems that you don’t know me very well either.  You obviously expect me to accept this situation lying down.”

She turned to face him.  She still spoke in a quiet, even tone, but he noticed the look in her eye.  He knew that behind her serene exterior her mind was working at a dizzying pace, considering and rejecting the many possibilities open to her.  He was going to pay dearly for this, but he had been left with no choice in the matter.

“I don’t expect you to accept anything lightly. But I know how reasonable you can be, and once you consider the alternative you’ll see how much we both have to lose.  In the long run, I believe you’ll do the right thing.  I also believe that, eventually, you’ll see it as a small sacrifice to make.”

When he saw the flash of anger in her eyes, he realized he may have gone too far with his last statement. He quickly tried to cover his tracks.

“ What I mean to say is, obviously, it’s no small sacrifice, but the fallout from the alternative would be disastrous for both of us.”

“Oh, don’t worry, I know just how disastrous it could be and I have no intention of letting it happen.”

The man thought he saw a ghost of a smile appear on her face, but in the shadowed darkness of the room, and with the light coming through the window behind her, he may have imagined it. The one thing he was very sure of was the need to pacify her.

“I know you’re very capable of handling this turn of events.”

“Yes.”

Her answer was very simple and decisive. Her voice was gentle and reassuring.

The man smiled gratefully and inwardly released a  sigh. Another problem had been solved and could be wiped off his list of worries. Granted, it was a larger problem than he usually encountered in the course of a day, but he was confident it had been taken care of, and life could return to a semblance of normality.  Actually, he dared to speculate, maybe life would take a turn for the better.