Just as Michael was walking out the door to head home, he saw the flashing light on the telephone, telling him Mr. Jackson was on the other line, waiting for him to pick up. As Michael debated whether or not to answer the phone, he remembered that Mr. Jackson didn’t like to be kept waiting, so Michael picked up the phone.
“I need you to fly to Japan tomorrow,” Mr. Jackson said with a touch of weariness in his voice, “The investors are getting cold feet and we need this contract. YOU need this contract.”
“Its my wedding anniversary tomorrow, I was hoping to be able to spend it with my wife,” Michael said as he began to go over in his mind how to break the news to Rebecca.
“Just buy her some jewelery or a new car, she’ll understand,” Mr. Jackson barked angrily into the phone, “If you have any intention of ever promoting within this company or this industry period, you’ll be on the first flight to Japan tomorrow morning.”
“Alright, I’ll go.”
As Michael hung up the phone and moped out of his office with his head hung low, he started to rehearse what he would say to Rebecca. The past few months had been difficult for them and he wasn’t even sure he’d have a wife to return home to when he got back from Japan. He knew she was having another affair, but this time seemed more intense, like she actually loved whoever it was she was sleeping with. He didn’t care that she was cheating. Lord knows he’d done it enough himself, but something about this affair terrified Michael, and he couldn’t pinpoint why.
As he headed for the elevator Michael saw Stephanie strutting towards him. She was the Vice President of Marketing for Jackson enterprises. In the back of his mind Michael wondered how a 26-year-old Harvard business grad had managed to get such a high level job in such a short time. A quick glance over of her figure provided the answer. She wasn’t skinny, but her curves complimented her attitude, and she carried herself with confidence. It didn’t help that she had the face of a super model and perfectly blond hair styled daily by one of the best hair stylists in the business. She knew how she made it to the top, and she made sure to take care of her strongest assets.
“Hello Michael, how are you this evening?” Stephanie said with a hint of flirtation in her voice.
“Fine, just on my way home to see my wife,” Michael said dryly, instinctually moving away from Stephanie as she closed in on his personal space. She was aggressive, to say the least.
Michael began to play with his platinum wedding band, becoming all too aware of how close Stephanie was to him. His mind wandered to the last night they had spent together, nearly three months ago. He had told Rebecca he would be working late as Stephanie was unbuttoning his pants without even blinking. They had spent the night wrapped up in each other’s arms, too focused on each other to prepare the slides for the presentation they had the next morning. She looked like she was ready for a repeat performance. As the elevator doors closed Stephanie moved in even closer to Michael, running her one hand over the buttons of his shirt as she played with the hem of her skirt with the other hand. She leaned up against him as he struggled to maintain his composure. She didn’t take no for an answer.
“I hear your going to Japan tomorrow,” Stephanie said coyly, backing away as Michael began to sweat profusely, “I’m sure Rebecca isn’t going to appreciate that, especially since its your anniversary tomorrow. Did you have any special plans?”
“Nothing I can’t reschedule,” Michael said with a touch of annoyance in his voice, “She knows how important my work is to me, she’ll understand.”
As the elevator doors opened Stephanie leaned in even closer, stopping a mere breath from Michael’s sculpted face.
“I guess I’ll see you in Japan tomorrow then,” Stephanie said as she walked confidently to her car.
Being in the presence of a woman like that was intoxicating for Michael, and he was halfway to his car when it dawned on him what she said. He turned around to find her, but she was already speeding away in her BMW. He called Mr. Jackson’s office, hoping his workaholic boss was still in the office. A gruff voice came on the line.
“Hello?” Mr. Jackson said as his secretary scuttled out of his office, buttoning her dress back up as she went.
“Mr. Jackson, its Michael. I just wanted to find out who else was going on the trip with me to Japan,” Michael asked, even though he already knew the answer.
“Well Stephanie is going of course,” Mr. Jackson said, annoyed that he had been interrupted for something as trivial as this, “She is the head of the marketing department you know.”
“Oh okay,” Michael said as he tried to come up with a way to get out of going, “Thanks for letting me know.”
Michael was in for a long night, that’s for sure. How was he supposed to tell Rebecca that not only did he have to cancel on their anniversary plans for the second year in a row, but he would be spending a majority of their time apart with the one woman who had nearly wrecked their entire marriage? As he drove away his mind wandered to the night Rebecca had surprised him with dinner at the office. She had walked into his office just as Stephanie was buttoning up her dress and he was zipping up his pants, both unaware that she had been standing there watching them. She had thrown the glass casserole dish on the floor and stormed out of the office before either one of them figured out what had happened.
In his revelry Michael wasn’t paying attention to the road. He frantically slammed on the brakes but it was too late. As he crashed into the back of the semi, all Michael could think about was how much he had screwed up with Rebecca, how much he had hurt her. His head hit the dashboard on impact and Michael was knocked unconscious as the car crashed into the guard rail over a dozen times.