The phone rang seven times before Jenny got out of bed to answer it. Her cold was worse, so she was taking the day off from household duties and her job. Mercifully, Mike was being kept in the hospital till his lab tests showed an improvement. She could hardly talk when she answered the persistent ring. Finally she coughed and the voice at the other end said hello.
“Sorry, I can’t talk any louder. I have laryngitis.”
“It’s Will, Jenny.” He was a heavy breather.She wondered if he had a cold, too. “Will?”
“Will Rawley. Surely you haven’t forgotten me so soon. It’s been less than two weeks. Nine days, to be exact.”
He was counting. “What is it? Jim isn’t here. I’m very busy,” she lied.
“Not too busy for me, I hope. I’ve been thinking about our meeting.”
“We never had a meeting and you know it. You tricked me into thinking we were helping Jim. You are nothing more than a customer at the lounge, and a business associate of my husband’s. That’s all.”
“My you’ve forgotten our great time at the motel. I picked you up after work and we drove over. You remember,” his voice was thick with innuendo.
”You damned creep. What do you want?” Her throat was tightening.
“I haven’t told Jim about our little tryst and how you came onto me. He’d be very interested.”
She slammed the phone down and sat there crying silently. Her voice had screeched with the exertion. The phone rang again and she snatched at it. “We have nothing to say to each other.” Both her head and her throat throbbed.
“Don’t hang up until I tell you to,” he commanded roughly. “I have something to say to you that I’m sure you will want to hear.”
She didn’t bother to reply, but sat listening and crying.
“It’s been rumored around town that you and your husband are having all kinds of problems. I just added a few comments of my own to keep the gossip going, not about us, of course.” His voice hardened, “I have a way to help you out of your financial difficulty. I am willing to give you a fair price for the coat that your brother so generously gave you,” he laughed and took long labored breath that sounded almost like sobs.
She felt nauseous. Any amount he was willing to pay was too little for what it would cost her.
“You won’t have to degrade yourself by working in the lounge. That’s no place for a beautiful woman like you. “I will also agree not to tell Jim about the motel.”
She didn’t have the strength to answer. She knew he had not destroyed the film even though he said he did. She listened to his words but they fell on her fear. Choking with emotion, she hung up the phone and the next five times it rang. When it had finally stopped she cried into her pillow. Then realizing the time, she knew Jim would be home for lunch because it was a Saturday. She hurried to the bathroom to put a cool washcloth to her face. Somehow, she would get the courage to tell him of an affair that didn’t exist.