© Copyright 2005 by Diana Mylek
Emily was at her desk, looking out the window and wishing for two things—sleep and Stuart. It was four-thirty, the day’s accounts were finished, and she had a half-hour before she could punch the time clock. Stuart would be here at five. If only she could spend the next thirty minutes sleeping…A shadow made her look up from the desk. Raymond stood in front of her, smiling and holding roses.
She frowned. “How did you get in here?”
“Told ‘em I was your fiancé. They’re morons in security.”
Emily looked around anxiously. “Ray, this is not the place…”
“Let’s go somewhere we can be alone.” He handed her the flowers.
She didn’t take them.
“You were supposed to come over last night,” he reminded her.
“I couldn’t…I mean,” she said, correcting her words, “I didn’t want to. It’s over, Ray. I have someone else.”
“But you love me, Emily. You need me. He’ll dump you anyway when he finds out you’re damaged goods.”
“You made me that way, remember?” Anger flashed in her eyes. “I showed you nothing but kindness and you…” A tear slipped from her eye. “Go away. I don’t love you, I never have. I didn’t like you on our first date, when we had the car accident. I thought you were a jerk and I was hurrying home to get rid of you.” There. She finally admitted it to herself.
“I’m gonna sue you, Emily. For damages.”
“You already did, through my insurance company. You said that was common practice, nothing personal.”
He leaned close to her and whispered menacingly. “I’ll hurt him, Emily. If you choose him over me, I’ll hurt him so bad he won’t ever want to see you again. It’ll be your fault. Do you want to see him hurt? If you love him, Emily, dump him.”
She bit her lip. Would he? She recalled the time Raymond threw dinner across the room because it was overcooked. And the time no one else knew about, when he had dragged her down a staircase because she dared to take too long to move. She explained the bruises, saying she had tripped at work and fell against a desk. Stuart meant so much to her; she couldn’t let him be hurt because of her own selfish desire to be with him.
“Do it, Em,” Raymond hissed. “Or else.”
She stared at her desk in misery. Raymond moved into her eyesight, and straightened slowly. “I knew you’d see things my way. I’ll expect you tonight at eight. And wear something real nice. Tonight, everything is going to change.” He dropped the roses on the desk and walked away.
Dear God, Emily prayed, show me what to do. I confess I’ve allowed him to separate me from you, and look at the mess I’ve caused because of it! Please, God, protect Stuart. Intervene for me. And Lord, forgive me. If I had obeyed you in the first place, and not dated an unbeliever, I wouldn’t be in this predicament.”
At five o’clock, a heavy hearted Emily walked out to the parking lot where Stuart stood by his truck waiting. He smiled in greeting and kissed her in front of all the other employees. She looked nervously around the parking lot, and spotted Raymond in a car on the other side of Stuart’s truck. He raised his hand and made a shooting gesture.
“Umm, Stuart, I think…I think you’d better just take me home. I’m really tired.”
Stuart frowned. “You don’t feel well?”
“No, I’m fine, uh, tired though.”
“You don’t want to see me? You changed your mind?”
“Yeah, that’s it.” She turned frightened eyes to the car on the other side of the truck. Stuart followed her gaze.
“Oh, you’re afraid of he’ll cause trouble?” Stuart laughed. “Is that it?”
“Stuart,” she cried, taking his arm, “He said he’ll hurt you if I don’t break it off with you. Please! You mean too much to me!”
Stuart laughed again and waved to Raymond. “Hey, Ray! Two words, JAIL TIME!” He shook his head, chuckling. Raymond made a face at him and ground the starter on his car. It wouldn’t start.
Stuart turned to Emily. “Remember when I told you I lost my cell phone last night?”
“A ruse. I heard your phone conversation with Ray. I disabled your car so you couldn’t meet him, then pretended I was back to find my phone.”
A slow smile crossed her face. “Clever boy!”
“And today, I was here at four—I found myself falling asleep at the marina and thought I might be late picking you up from work, so I left early, figuring I could sleep in the parking lot here. That…creep parked next to my truck. I forgot he thought Eric was your new boyfriend. He ignored me and went inside, and…” Stuart held up a spark plug.
“You really should lock your car,” Stuart called to Raymond. “You never know what you’re going to lose.”
Emily laughed too, and threw herself into Stuart’s arms.
“Now, Emily we have some fishing to do.” He helped her into his truck. “I hope you snag something better than me.”
“Oh, no,” replied Emily, kissing him with all she had in her. “There is no better catch than you, Stuart.”
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