CHAPTER 4He was staring at the beauty bending over the open back trunk of her car doing something domestic with her groceries. Maybe 5’5” weighing in at around 110 pounds; she was slender for sure. Bubble butt, maybe B-cups, brown hair and a face that could have launched a thousand ships. He smiled. It was ten to one she was married. But, resist her, not happening.“Hello Miss, need some help?” he said. He’d startled her.“Huh! Oh, no, I’m fine, thank you,” said Abigail Bradshaw.“Oh, well good. I was meeting with someone next door, and I noticed you,” said Owen Cord. He motioned in the direction of one of the offices in the midscale strip mall they were standing in front of: Benson Investments LLC.“Oh,” she said.“Like I said, I noticed you. You seemed like one who might be in need of a knight in shining armor,” he said. Now she laughed. The man was tall and good looking: a little older, but not that much older, probably mid-thirties.She closed the trunk, and for no reason, she would ever be able to explain, smiled at the man. “Well a girl can always make time for a knight in shining armor,” she said. The man seemed to lose a bit of his until now formidable confidence. He regained it.“Time for coffee?” he said. He nodded toward the coffee shop across the parking lot.“I don’t . . . no, I mean yes, okay,” she said. Why had she said yes? This might be a problem; she knew how men thought, all girls did. Men, any man would be taking her yes as meaning she wanted way more than she, in fact, did at that moment.“Well, good,” he said, motioning for her to lead the way.******The chocolate croissants were tasty. The midday coffee acceptable and the conversation light, but why was she here? Why was she talking to a complete stranger, a man? He could be a serial killer! No, he was too well dressed, and if he’d been straight with her, he had something to do with investments: serial killer no, moneyman yes, she thought.“So, Abigail, you are married then,” he said.“Yes, my husband’s in the Army,” she said. “He’s in Afghanistan.”“Oh, kinda dangerous over there,” he said.“No, not for him. He’s a computer geek, his words, for the headquarters thingy,” she said.“Kids?” he said.“Two,” she said, “Sarah and Mia, twins, almost five-years-old. They’re at the sitter’s for the next while.”“Sounds wonderful,” he said. “You know, this accidental meet up could be fortuitous.”“Fortuitous?” she said, she was not sure what the word meant, but it likely meant lucky or something like it.“Yes, I’m a kind of banker, investor, speculator, all of the above,” he said. “I have a conference to speak at this weekend at the Claremont, downtown. I was supposed to bring a plus one. I don’t have one. I know you’re married, and I know we just met; but how would it be if I asked you to be my plus one for the evening?”“You’re speaking at the thing?” she said.“Yes, I do it a lot,” he said, “speak that is.”He was a stranger. She was married. He was a speaker. He was an investor. This could be an opportunity for her, and for her Sam, her war hero. She frowned; Sam might not like her being escorted to some fancy do by a stranger; no, that’s not right, she knew for a fact he wouldn’t like it!”He sensed she was a tiny bit skittish. “In case you’re concerned, Abigail, we could go in separate cars and meet there, in the foyer of the conference hall,” he said.She relaxed. “All right,” she said. “Then yes. Time?”“Saturday, 6:45 if that works for you,” he said. She nodded.“That’ll be fine,” she said.******2002“That your kids you’re always braggin’ on?” said the man across the bunk from him.“Yeah, Sarah and Mia,” I said, “beautiful, huh?”“Yeah, must take after your wife,” said Corporal Michaels.“Yeah, the little woman is the one with the looks in our house, apart from the babies of course,” I said, laughing.I settled back on my bunk and did some thinking. It’d been a year since I shipped out. Her letters had been coming all right, but a little farther apart than they had been. Well, I’d be going back in a few more months.I’d been supposed to go back at the end of nine months. But the Colonel said he needed my invaluable assistance—his exact words. So I was doubled up. I’d been intending to reup anyway; I was promised sergeant stripes when I did. I sure did miss my woman though. I sure did.I had liked the Army after all. I had my wife to thank for that. I never would have signed up but for her insistence that I had to for them, her and the kids.******“You hear from him lately?” said Owen Cord.“Yes, just today, a letter,” said Abigail. “I’ve been terrible about keeping my promise to write him. It’s been almost three weeks since I sent him the new pictures of the children.”“I bet he’s loving those,” said Owen. She smiled.“That’s a real safe bet,” she said. “I’m going to write him tonight.”“Why don’t you just email him? I mean if he’s at the headquarters wouldn’t he have access to email?” said Owen.“Yes, but not all of the time, and sometimes the kaçak iddaa emails get lost, at least that’s been my experience. Plus when I do email him he answers right away and under the circumstances… ” she said.“Things are a little uncomfortable,” he said, reading her mind.“Kinda,” she whispered.“Abby, you and I have gotten close that’s a fact. It sure is in my case. But if my being around is, you know… ” he started.“No, no it’s not just you. It’s me too. I like having you around. And we haven’t done anything to be ashamed of. But, I doubt if he’d… ” she said.“Understand?” he said.“Yes,” she said. “I mean you and I go out to dinner a lot and talk about everything and well, date.” He nodded.“Yes, and I’m going to say it, Abby, I’ve kinda fallen for you,” he said. Her mouth literally fell open and she stared wide-eyed at the man.“Owen, I don’t know… ” she said.“Abby, you need to think about things; I know that. But if you think that a guy like me could do it for you; well . . . I’m going to go home now, but tomorrow we’ll talk; I mean if you want. You’ll know better after you’ve had a chance to think,” he said. “Would that be okay?” She nodded but didn’t verbalize any agreement, but she was in agreement with him. Yes, she was.******“Harriet, I just don’t know. Doing it to a good man like Sam, well, I just don’t know. But, I’ve fallen for Owen. He’s a good guy and hasn’t been pushy. But, I’ve kinda made up my mind,” said Abigail. Her friend shook her head.“You should talk to your parents before you dump on Sam. If the other guy’s got any class he’ll understand you not rushing into something like this. I mean dumping a guy like Sam while he’s being shot at! You really need to talk to your parents, especially your dad,” said Harriet. Abigail sighed.“You’re right. I will do that. My dad was always good at knowing what to do,” she said.“When are you going to be seeing Owen next?” said Harriet.“In a little while. We’re just going to Denny’s for lunch. He has some business first at Benson’s, but he said he’d be done by noon. And Denny’s is just across the parking lot from Benson’s,” she said. Her friend nodded.“You know, I still don’t know what Owen does for a living. I mean you’ve told me that he mostly buys and sells money for a living, but that can’t be for real,” said Harriet.“He says it is. He says you can invest in currency, money, and kinda bet whether the currency, the money, grows in value or decreases in value. Yeah, and I know it’s not something that I know how to do or ever even heard of before I met Owen, but he says it is in fact for real. I guess it is,” said Abigail.“Hmm, well he does seem to be well to do,” said Harriet.“Anyway, I better get going. It’s twenty till as it is. I don’t want to be late. He and I have some decisions to make; and, I don’t mind telling you, I’m scared,” said Abby.******She saw him come in. She’d been afraid that she’d be late, but it was him that was late; but she was even more afraid of what she knew the conversation would likely be about. She waved.“Sorry, I’m late,” he said. “Busy making money—time difference between Phoenix and Singapore.”“Oh… huh?” she said. “Singapore?”“Yes, it’s 3:00 a.m. there. I had to get a guy out of bed. There’s gonna be a devaluation when the exchanges open. My man had to do something for me. It’s all good now,” said Owen Cord.“Okay, then good, I guess. And you’re forgiven for being late,” said Abigail.“Well thank you for that,” he said.“So,” she said. “I did some thinking, as we discussed.” He nodded but kept his mouth shut. He was prepared for whatever she decided; well, he told himself that he was.“I will be writing him that I will be asking for a divorce,” she said. Neither of the two of them smiled. It was most definitely a somber moment. He finally nodded.“Okay,” he said. “So, how are you feeling?”“Like shit,” she said. “Him, the babies, our families: there’s going to be some bad stuff going down. But, it’s the right thing to do. For me, it’s the right thing.” He nodded.“For me too,” he said. “Abby, we need to talk some more, make some plans, decisions for us and for him as well. What I can guarantee is that the man will lack for nothing if he will allow. I’m in a position to guarantee his future. His heart will doubtless be broken, but he’ll get over it in time, as will we. Other people divorce, Abby; it happens.”“I know. But Owen, I’m going to say up front here that the children, they’re his as well as mine. He’ll want to be in their lives, and I want him to be. Are you… ”“Am I okay with that? Of course I am. Like I say we will be doing as much for him as we can. I just hope he doesn’t, well, lose it,” he said.“Me too, me too,” she said.******“Hi Lana,” said Cecilia. “How are you doing today?”“Okay, just getting by, you know,” said Lana Meacham. “The VA is doing right by me. Now if only the money would start coming in like they promised me, I’d be able to eat here more regular.”Cecilia laughed. kaçak bahis “Yeah, well your credit’s good here girl. I’m sure they’ll fix whatever’s holding things up pretty soon.”“Yeah, well that’s the hope as the saying goes,” said Lana.“Haven’t seen your hubby in here in a while; is he still out of town?” said Cecilia. Her friend sighed.“Yeah, I guess, permanently,” said Lana.“Huh?” said Cecilia.“He left me. Filed for divorce he did,” said Lana.“Oh my God!” said Cecilia. “What in the world . . .”“Yeah, my words exactly. Well, truth is, that if that’s the kind of guy he is, I’m glad to be rid of him,” said Lana. “The reality is he just couldn’t deal with me being blind, so… ”“I hear yuh,” said Cecilia. “And you’re right he isn’t worth it.”Cecilia Milano continued her tour of the café’s booths and tables.“More coffee Missus Bradshaw?” said Cecilia.“I guess,” said Abigail. “I’m waiting for someone. Got some paperwork to take care of.”“Okay, fine, let me know if you want anything else,” said Cecilia.She saw the man come in, Cedric Johnson, CJ everyone called him. She was about to seat him and ask if he wanted a menu, but he waved her off. CJ was a regular and a very well-known and very expensive family practice attorney. She watched as the man settled in where Abigail had stationed herself. It was clear that Abigail had something important to discuss with a man who it was way beyond her ability to afford. This couldn’t be good, she thought.******“Missus Bradshaw, right?” said the man.“Yes, sir, that’s me. Please,” said Abigail, motioning him to have a seat. He did.“So, Owen says that we have a divorce action to consider,” said Cedric Johnson.“Yes, sir, and it’s kind of a hard one, I’m afraid,” she said. The man smiled.“Don’t worry; I can get it done for you. You’ll come out on top of this no problem,” he said.“Mister Johnson?” she said.“You have nothing to worry about ma’am. I know how to do this; you’ll be fine. Your hubby, well, not so much,” he said. He was still smiling.“Mister Johnson, I think we may be having a misunderstanding here,” she said. “Didn’t Mister Cord explain the situation to you?”“Well no, not exactly. He just said he had a friend that needed to get a divorce and to make sure she got one as painlessly as possible. I’m here to do that for you,” he said.“Yes, painless, but not on my account, on my husband’s account. I do not want him hurt any more than is absolutely necessary. He gets everything except my car and personal stuff. And he gets unlimited and unrestricted visitation with the children,” she said. “I need to have that written in stone. He mustn’t think that I am trying to screw him over.”“Oh, I see,” he said. “Well, okay I can do that for you, for him.”“Yes, please,” she said. “Mister Johnson, he’s in the Army. He’s in Afghanistan right now. He should be back in a few more months. But, well, there is some urgency involved here. Mister Cord, Owen, and I are going to be getting married.”“Oh, Owen didn’t mention that, but in his defense, he’d kinda caught me when I was on the run. That said, he did say that he wanted to get things done for you as soon as possible; but, he didn’t give me any of the details. He just said that that would be for you to do. As you just have, I guess,” he said.“Yes, well, yes,” she said.The meeting went on for some time: two cups of coffee worth. She was not feeling really good about what she was about to do to her good man over there in the war zone. But it was a sight better than waiting for him to return and get the news after the fact: the fact of her having found a new man, a man she had come to love very much. And, who loved the children as much as did her other man, the man she was leaving. But, she was not screwing the man over, nor would she let anybody else do so. No, he, her Sam, would be left in a very good place and able to start over no problem. And, as for the children, he’d be there for them just as he would have were there to be no divorce. Yes, she was doing this right. Yes, she was. Still, all said and done, he would be stung. He would be stung real bad, and there was nothing for it; it couldn’t be helped. Damn, she wished that it could. CHAPTER 5 They were seated in an office at Benson’s that he sometimes used for business. He, for whatever reason didn’t have an office of his own, hadn’t wanted one though he had been thinking about getting one in the near future. The fact was he was thinking of buying out Benson’s. And, not because he needed an office for himself or a business address per se. He needed one because he was at the point of needing to hire a staff to help him out. That since he was going to be hooking up with a woman permanently, something he’d all but sworn to himself that he would never do. A woman, and especially one with children would be draining a lot of time off of his calendar; he had no illusions about that. He would need several sets of hands to cover for him on the job. “So you met illegal bahis with my man?” said Owen.“Yes, Mister Johnson, but he said his fee was already taken care of,” said Abigail, her words were an implied question.“Yes, I took care of it. He and I go back a long ways,” said Owen.“I suppose it would be impolite to ask how much he cost?” she said. He smiled.“It’s not a big deal,” he said. “He’ll make it painless for Sam. He, Sam, will be set for life. All he has to do is sign the papers. And yes shared custody of the children, as per your wish, is included in the offer. I made sure of that, but he does have to sign the papers.” She nodded.“Okay, good,” she said. “This is going to sting him no matter what, but maybe it’ll be all right once he realizes that we are bent on treating him right.”“Abigail, we are not just treating him right; we’re treating him generously. Five-hundred-thousand, shared custody, all of your common property and chattels except your personal stuff go to him. Sam will be fine. Stung yes, and I wish we could avoid even that, but it’s the one thing that is not in our control. I just hope he doesn’t lose it, as you’ve worried over so many times in these last days,” said Owen. She sighed.“Yes, I really really hope he doesn’t, lose it that is. Sam is not a violent man; he’s a truly gentle soul. But this, the divorce, I’m going to be hurting him seriously bad; I feel so guilty,” said Abigail.“Yes, as do I. But we’ve talked about this. Divorces happen. All we can do is the best we can do. I love you, Abby, have since the first moment I saw you in the parking lot. There was just no helping myself,” he said.“Owen, I feel the same way. And, I could not help myself either. Owen . . .“I don’t know if I mentioned it with everything that’s gone down, but in his last letter he did say that he was going to reup with the Army,” she said.“No, I don’t think you did, mention it that is,” he said. She didn’t notice the look that came over him as she said what she said, a worried look that hadn’t been there a minute earlier. He shook it off.“You know it just came to me. He’ll have money and the other things that we’ve talked about. But . . .” he started.“But?” she said.“Do you think he’d consider a job offer if I could arrange one? I mean one coming from us might be kinda pushing it, but he is into computers. I know people. I could arrange it if you think it would be a good idea to do so,” he said; “then he wouldn’t have to reup and risk his life over there.”“I—I don’t know. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to put it out there. I mean if his mood would allow him to consider something like that,” she said. The man nodded.“Okay, then, we’ll keep it in mind until we know what his mindset will be. I guess that that really is the best we can do.“Anyway, I guess we better get going. I do have to work tomorrow,” he said.******The ride to her apartment had been slow and safe and well, slow.“Well if you have to go, but would you like to come in for a bit anyway?” she said. “The children are at my mom’s tonight.”He smiled at the woman across from him in her seat. “Uh-okay, for a little bit, sure,” said Owen.She smiled back at him and waited for him to come around, and, like the cultured gentleman that he was, help her from her seat. “Thank you, sir,” she said.She led the way to her apartment, the one she had long shared with her husband, Sam. The thought of that good man caused her to pause, but she forced herself to put the thought of him out of her head. Tonight would be the first time for the two of them: herself and Owen Cord; it was time.She pointed towards the couch. He looked her askance but took the proffered seat.“I’m nervous,” she said.“I know,” he said. “No need to be, but I do know. I guess I can relate to some of that myself.”“I need this, Owen. I need it bad. But… ” she started and stopped.“Yes, it is kinda the real beginning of everything isn’t it. And, yes, I know you’re thinking of him and how he would see things.“Abby, we can do this tonight, but if we do, there will be no turning back. So, I’m going to say this now. We can back off and just walk away from our plans. I can do it. It’s not what I want. But I can do it. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s kind of up to you. You’re the one who’s married to the man; I don’t have any attachments. Well, I don’t except for you. So… ?” he said.She came toward him and stopped a foot or two from his knees. She lowered herself to the cushioned seat beside him and laid her head on his shoulder. He turned his face to hers and kissed her.Wrapping his arms around her he pulled her to him, not aggressively so, but deliberately, meaningfully. His right hand slid from her upper back to her arm and around to her breast which he gently massaged through the fabric of her white cotton blouse. She emitted a sigh and let her hand trace its way to the front of his pants and to the bulge that was hardening even as they embraced. She squeezed his manhood and he swallowed hard.She pushed him away and began unbuttoning her blouse. As she slipped out of it, he deftly undid the hook at the front of her bra exposing for the first time to his view her fleshy orbs.