A degree of dissatisfaction
* * * *I’m so angry with myself; in fact I’m angry with her too. She promised discretion; although why I believed her I’ll never know. It was the company Christmas party and Sara had to pull out at the last minute when our daughter Eleanor came down with flu; I offered to stay home with them but she insisted I go. I disliked social gatherings but as it was my company I had to make an appearance. Not wanting to turn up alone I contacted an escort agency and sent a car to pick up my ‘date’.
When she got out of the car I was gobsmacked. I mean I’m a happily married man but I’m also still a red blooded male and this woman was drop dead gorgeous. Elizabeth (her chosen name for the night) had shoulder length glossy brown hair which had a natural wave to it. She was wearing minimal make-up as requested; well I didn’t want her to look like a tart did I?’
‘Adam I presume?’ she held out her hand and I was unsure whether I was supposed to shake it or kiss it. I had never done this before, Sara and I were childhood sweethearts I had never dated anybody else. I chose to ignore her outstretched hand and merely smiled.
‘Nice to meet you Elizabeth, shall we go in?’ Her smile made me feel weak. I made a mental note to try and avoid eye contact with her for the evening, though now I’m not sure why I thought that would be successful.
The night involved all the usual office party antics. There were those who usually hate each other Monday to Friday suddenly becoming best friends or snogging partners. Some are overheard slagging off each other, although that happens regularly in the office anyway and dancing on tables becomes the norm when alcohol has been consumed. My P.A Gemma arranged the party, she does it every year and it’s always a success. I often wonder if they would have a better time without the boss hanging around then I realise that would mean they would have to pay for their own drinks.
Elizabeth had been amazing, mingling when necessary and flirting with most of the male staff. We had arranged on the phone that for tonight she would be my sister-in-law. Nobody at the office knew that Sara was an only child, why would they? It’s only at Christmas that I socialise with them anyway. Half of them probably don’t even know what Sara looks like, let alone know anything about her. By 9pm I had consumed a fair amount of lager following each pint with a shot of Jack Daniels. I’m not a regular drinker so it doesn’t take long for me to feel the effects and I plonked myself in the corner of the room feeling a bit worse for wear. I was beginning to get a bit emotional. I sent a text to Sara asking how Eleanor was, she said she was sleeping but it looked like our son Sebastian was coming down with it too. I was about to reply when Elizabeth sat next to me, distracting me. Her short black dress rose up her caramel coloured thighs as she crossed her legs, barely covering her modesty. Her dress was fairly simple but on her it looked stunning, maybe it was her long legs that did it. Sara would never have been able to pull off such a simple dress but then she’s only 5’4” she doesn’t really have the legs for it.
I reluctantly dragged my eyes away from her legs and looked up at Elizabeth, she looked sad, her mouth was smiling but her eyes weren’t.
‘You look bored Elizabeth, would you like to go home?’ she tried forcing a smile but I wasn’t buying it.
‘No I’m having a great time; your colleagues are lovely Adam’. I suspect that for the rest of my life I will regret having asked the next question.
‘What’s wrong then? You look sad’ Elizabeth took this as a cue to spill all her life problems. Why she started escorting - to support her son, why she was a single parent – her ex used to beat her, why she chooses the names she uses and what they mean to her. Elizabeth was the name of her first boss, a powerful successful woman with a huge amount of confidence; I have to admit she played the part well on our ‘date’. I’m glad she didn’t use Trixie, the name of her first cat which happened to be a hairless species. I interrupted her when she was about to explain why and when she uses this one; doesn’t take a genius to work that one out. After twenty minutes she was in tears and I felt all eyes on us, so I took her to my office for some privacy. The party was in the office building but we have a large function room downstairs with enough room for a temporary bar. My office was the only one on the top floor, well unless you count Gemma’s office but there was no fear of her disturbing us up here. She likes to oversee everything that’s going on at the party, I should pay her for the hours of the party actually it’s like she’s still working.
I felt sad that Elizabeth needed to do this sort of work because she couldn’t find employment elsewhere. I couldn’t decide whether hiring her for the night meant I was helping her or making things worse. I explained to Elizabeth that she could do any job she wanted if she really tried.
‘I can’t I don’t have any qualifications’ she snivelled. I passed her the box of tissues from my desk and sat down.
‘You can be whatever you want to be Elizabeth. Qualifications are overrated anyway, I don’t have any and look at me’ I blurted out, the influence of Jack Daniels becoming apparent. I tried to cover up what I had just said but I could tell by the confusion on her face that she had heard.
I’m a highly respected lawyer with my own company, I rarely take on clients myself anymore but I have managed to get by for several years without actually having a law degree. If anyone found out I would be finished and the clients I have represented would certainly not take too kindly to the news. Now I’d let the cat out of the bag to someone I had known for little more than five minutes. The whiskey clearly didn’t agree with me as I felt the need to reveal the whole story to this woman, so I did. I spilled out everything to her, she listened intently without interrupting. Sat in my comfy brown tub chair I felt like I was talking to a counsellor. Elizabeth made me feel relaxed, well the combination of her and the drink obviously worked well together. She sipped from her wine glass while I explained how I failed at university and still managed to convince Sara that I passed. How I bought a fake certificate, hired a gown and got photos taken at a pretend ceremony. I managed to get Sara to book a girly holiday that accidently coincided with my graduation ceremony to avoid making excuses. I learned enough at university to get by and with the help of two other lawyers who did actually graduate, I built up my own company. Sara and the kids are used to our luxurious life and I do my best to ensure that nothing catches me out. Until now that is.
* * * *I’m sat in the office now my phone is still ringing. I’m going to have to answer it I don’t want Sara worrying, well not yet anyway.
‘Hey sweetie, sorry I’m running a bit late’ I’m trying my hardest to sound convincing but I know Sara picks up on the smallest of things; she’s known me for too long not to.
‘What’s wrong Adam? You sound worried’ I can hear the TV on in the background and Eleanor shouting out.
‘Is Daddy on his way home? It’s film time’ Friday night is family night in our house, we get takeaway for tea and veg out in front of the TV watching films and eating sweets.
‘Nothing’s wrong, I just lost track of time. I’ll be home in half an hour I promise, tell Eleanor she can pick the film tonight’ my stomach flips when she ends the call.
‘Okay sweetie, we love you.’
Why did I think I could get away with it? I have to go home, put this to the back of my mind and worry about it tomorrow. Before I leave the office I re-read the email that Elizabeth sent this morning.
The party was great thanks and so was our chat. You gave me a lot to think about and I’ve decided to get out of the escort game and start a new life with my son. To do that though I need money and that’s where you come in. You see I pull the crying card on most dates I’m hired for but none have come up trumps like yours. I recorded our conversation that night and you have a choice to view this as either blackmail or buying my silence. I’ll return the tape to you on receipt of £1 million. It may seem a lot (though probably not to you) but it will keep me in the luxurious life that your wife and kids already have but that me and my son deserve. I’ll give you a week to reply to this email to arrange this, if I don’t hear from you I shall make copies of our conversation and forward them to all appropriate people.
I don’t have that sort of money to pay out, yes we have a luxurious life but most of my money is tied up in the business and our house. There is no way I can let anyone find out what I told her. Sara would be distraught; I know she would leave me and take the children with her which would break my heart and I couldn’t live with that. I have a week to come up with a plan. Instantly I realise I don’t need a week, I know what I have to do. I pressed delete on the email and opened up the Google page. I clicked the little white arrow in the search box and typed in ways to commit suicide. I had a quick look through the information that popped up on screen and found the perfect idea. I’ve managed to fake being a lawyer for years; it would be easy to make murder look like suicide. Now all I had to do was find out her address. For now though I’m going home to my family and film night. I am looking forward to watching cool runnings for probably the tenth time this year, maybe we should stop letting Eleanor pick the film.