After Michael left my office I sat behind my desk with my head in my hands. I was feeling very unsettled by the encounter. I knew it was going to be difficult to put it out of my mind.
I was jolted out of my thoughts by the sound of a brisk knock. I looked up to see the door slowly opening and my two co-workers peering through the opening. Charlotte and Sandra glanced at each other and then sauntered into the room. By the looks on their faces I knew I was going to have my hands full. They were obviously brimming with curiosity and speculation. Sandra, as usual, didn’t beat around the bush. She immediately launched to the attack.
“So Becca, tell us who Mr. Hunk is and why you’ve been hiding him from us.”
I held up both hands to ward off the onslaught, hoping to nip it in the bud before it began.
“I haven’t been hiding anyone from you. It isn’t what you’re thinking.”
“C’mon. You can tell us.” This was from Charlotte, accompanied by a wink.
“There’s nothing to tell. I’m dealing with him about a personal topic, not a romantic one.”
“Sweetie, if that’s true, I think you should start working harder on the romantic aspect,” remarked Sandra. “That guy’s drop-dead gorgeous, and you’ve been too long without a man. I’m telling you that if he so much as glanced in my direction, I’d be all over him like white on rice.”
Despite everything, I couldn’t help but chuckle.
“Don’t you think Marty would object?”
“He might. But after seeing him, I think it would be worth a try. Your man can put his slippers under my bed anytime he wants.”
She laughed as she said this. I knew how much she loved her husband and it would never enter her mind to cheat on him, but she couldn’t pass up an opportunity to make a joke.
At this point, Charlotte fixed me with an inquisitive look. “So?”
“So, what? There’s nothing going on, and there never will be. If I never see that man again, it will be too soon. Is that clear enough?”
My co-workers must have recognized the beginnings of irritation in my voice because they decided not to take their inquisition any further. They simply shrugged their shoulders, almost in unison, and skulked out of the office.
Once again, my mind returned to my conversation with Michael Walters. I was still feeling uneasy about the whole situation. I knew he was responsible for the man following us, but I had to analyse his reasons for doing it. Possibly, he wanted to have photos of Melissa to see if there was any resemblance between them. But why go to all that trouble when all he had to do was come to the house to see her?
Maybe his reasons were more sinister. Maybe he wanted to physically harm either Melissa or myself in order to scare us away. Despite my dislike of the man, for some reason, I had trouble imagining him as a violent person, especially towards children.
No, he probably wanted to find out more about our home and financial situation. He obviously thought of me as a fortune hunter, and he likely wanted to figure out how much money I was going ask him for before I went away and left him alone.
But, why had he come here today? Was he expressing false concern for Melissa as an excuse to stick his nose in my business, see how I made my living, and learn whether I was successful or not? You would think, with his resources, he could simply hire a private investigator. Perhaps that was the real reason for my unease – I was having trouble getting a handle on how his mind worked.
I could only see one way to resolve the problem.
I spent the evening considering my proposal and how best to present it. Many times, I came close to dropping the whole idea, but I didn’t see any alternative. It was the only way to convince him that I wasn’t interested in his money, and to insure he would leave us alone. After a restless night, once again, I made my way to Michael Walters’ office