September 11, 2015 – Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six, Chapter Seven, Chapter Eight, Chapter Nine, Chapter Ten, Chapter Eleven, Chapter Twelve, Chapter Thirteen, Chapter Fourteen, Chapter Fifteen,Chapter Sixteen, Chapter Seventeen, Chapter Eighteen, Chapter Nineteen, Chapter Twenty,Chapter Twenty-One, Twenty-Two,Twenty-Three, Twenty-Four, Twenty-Five, Twenty-Six, Twenty-Seven
Saturday night, and another missed weekend at the Chesapeake home.
Martha Chadwick was not happy, but she knew it was a dead issue. Her husband worked longer hours these days, and although she wished he would retire at times, she knew not to wish for that before he was ready or she would be the one to suffer.
Though the booth she sat in was comfortable, Martha squirmed and sipped a Manhattan waiting for Elyse to show. She felt restless. Patience didn’t come easy to her and she despised waiting for anyone. Martha watched the restaurant fill with couples – it was Saturday night after all – and wondered if people would think that she and Elyse were divorced, widowed, or perhaps gay. She’d wanted to try the new restaurant for months now and this became the perfect opportunity, since her husband had no interest in Ethiopian food, and Elyse would do anything Martha asked. Martha liked it that way.
Rushed and panicked like a prisoner late for his last meal, Elyse arrived at the table looking flushed. Elyse knew Martha’s strict rules of punctuality and offered a slight smile. “I’m sorry I’m late, but the traffic seems to be getting worse every day,” she stammered. “Have you been waiting long?”
Martha grinned. “Don’t worry my dear, why should tonight be different from any other event.” Martha wondered if Elyse actually liked spending time with her or she just felt obligated because she was in charge. Either way, it did not matter. Martha did not feel like spending another Saturday night alone. She enjoyed people bowing to her, and Elyse did that well.
Elyse appeared to have ignored the comment, and when the waiter came over to take her drink order, she ordered a Manhattan, too. “I’m glad you called, Martha,” she said once the waiter left their table. “I absolutely needed to get out of the house tonight. And I have the juiciest gossip for you, too.”
Martha was intrigued, but played it cool. She didn’t like others having more knowledge than she did, yet she wanted to know immediately. “Don’t keep me in suspense, my dear,” she said as coolly as she could muster. Most people would be insulted, but Elyse always took Martha’s comments in stride.
“I’ve heard from Barbara Hillcrest, the women who joined the DIH last year, that she spotted our very own Charlotte having lunch in Fairmount recently.”
Martha shrugged. “I know who Barbara Hillcrest is, and why is that gossip?”
Elyse smiled. She had an annoying way of dragging out news to make it last longer and seem more important than it actually was. Martha felt more than annoyed since she’d asked Elyse to stop doing that on a number of occasions. “It was who she was lunching with that’s the juicy part.”
Martha shrugged. “OK, I give up. Who did Charlotte have lunch with?”
“That woman who owns the antique shop.”
“Yes, that one.”
Martha thought for a moment and then smirked. “There’s no accounting for taste, is there. If she wants to spend her time chatting with the shop girl, let her. I certainly have better ways of spending my time.”
Elyse laughed. “Exactly. What could they possibly have in common?”
“A better question, who cares?”
Elyse took a sip of the Manhattan with great hunger as soon as it arrived. “Did you have a chance to look at the menu?” She asked, picking it up. Then looking over Martha’s shoulder, she did a double take at someone and frowned. “Hey, Martha, do you know that man in the denim jacket at the bar? Don’t look now, but he’s looking this way.”
Discretely, Martha turned around for a fast glance. He did look familiar, but she did not want to start a conversation about him that might last all night. It would bore her. “I don’t think so,” she replied.
“It’s weird, but I’ve seen him in several places in the last few days. It’s almost like he’s following me.”
Once Elyse said those words, it clicked. Martha knew him, too. As Elyse said, she had seen him around in places she had visited over the last week. Was he following her, too?
“It must be just a coincidence,” Elyse said.
But Martha wondered. Perhaps he was following them. But who would follow two prominent members of the DIH board members, and why? Martha did not want to appear to panic, but her paranoia worked overtime and she realized that maybe it was over the missing funds. However, who could have discovered them since she kept the books under constant surveillance? Nevertheless, first thing Monday morning, she had to put those funds back, and then figure out how to explain the absence in the bank account to her husband. She certainly did not need it to become a legal issue, or a scandal of any kind. How embarrassing would that be? When the law firm scandal hit all those decades ago, it took forever to let the gossip die, and socially, they barely lived through it.
“Of course he’s not following me,” Elyse continued. “I’m just being paranoid again because of my prick of a husband.”
Martha grimaced. “You know I hate that word, Elyse. It’s so … common.”
Elyse nodded. “And so is he,” she said. “But I’m making strides with a possible divorce. I’ve concocted a plan to…”
As Elyse went on with her story, Martha instantly tuned out and started thinking about the man at the bar again. How interesting that she wasn’t the only board member being followed? What did Elyse have to hide? Still, it was every man or woman for himself or herself, and if she warned Elyse, she would have some explaining to do. Instead, she simply smiled and interrupted Elyse’s story. “Why would anyone be following you, my dear? Do you have anything to hide?”