A Complicated Matter- Pt. 1
Here is the first of a three part story. Enjoy.
Samantha’s hand was shaking as she reached for the phone. Never would she have ever imagined she would be making a call like this. Shock was radiating from her body, and grief was standing idly by waiting for its opportunity to settle upon her. She didn’t have any idea how to proceed. And yet, she knew that she had to do something. Charles’s body was splayed out on the kitchen floor. The longer she hesitated, the worse things would look for her.
She had heard the thump as she was getting out of the shower. At first, she simply thought that Charles had dropped something. When she didn’t hear any swearing, she called out to him. The quiet was eerie, even out here at the beach house in the middle of winter. As she wrapped the towel around her, she assumed that he had not heard her and was in his head figuring out how to manipulate the press conference in a few hours.
Charles could do that- tune out the world in a split second, as his mind worked out the next move in a business deal, the best way to woo a skittish client, or what direction he should take his company in the next twelve months. He was always planning, always thinking, always doing. Not noticing the people and activity around him was standard behavior. When he came out of his thinking coma, he was totally refreshed, and fully engaged. He could turn things on and off without a second thought about the ones in his presence.
The cold tile on her bare feet registered in Samantha’s brain as she made her way down the hall. She wondered why she never brought socks or slippers when she came out here. There was a chill in the air because Charles had not turned on the heat when he first got to the house. As a matter of fact, she had only turned the heat on right before she got into the shower. Before then, they were planning on making enough heat together. Sam had been smiling at the thought when she entered the kitchen. Charles was going to give her plenty to smile about tonight. They had a private celebration to begin.
Charles had taken Samantha and the entire executive team to dinner at Carolina’s that night. The food and wine flowed freely. They had just managed to complete the largest merger in southeast’s history. This not only meant more technology jobs for the city, but it made Anderson Enterprises the largest software company on the east coast. And this was just the beginning. Charles was planning to make AE a real contender in the national computer software arena.
Charles and Sam had lingered at the table after everyone left. It was already 11pm, and Charles had sent his titans of industry home. Tomorrow would be the beginning of the media blitz, and he wanted them all fresh and appealing. He wasn’t one to hog the spotlight. He prided himself on the fact that he groomed his executive team to expand and grow in their skills. He also knew that one day, one of them would defect to one of his competitors. He welcomed the challenged. He wanted to see what folks could do outside of his realm. What had he taught them? How would they use what they knew against him? He needed that kind of interaction to keep his mind sharp.
“Do you need to go by your condo before we head to the beach house?” Charles asked Sam, not considering that not going to the beach house was even an option for her.
“Actually, Charles, I had every intention of hitting my own sheets tonight and sleeping in. Tomorrow is going to be a long day with the press conference and all, and I want to be on top of things.”
“I’ll send the car for you, so that you don’t have to drive and see you in about an hour. I have a surprise planned.” It was as if he hadn’t heard her.
Sam laughed at the arrogance of the man seated next to her.
“I’m going to run home and pack a bag, and I’ll see you in about an hour. And I’m driving myself so that I can leave earlier in the morning. Tell your driver to take the night off.”
Charles laughed and signaled the server for the check. As they waited, Sam noticed that he kept rubbing his left arm. As a matter of fact, she realized that he had been doing it most of the evening. As she headed out of the restaurant, she figured he was winding down from the excitement and stress of closing the deal and quickly put it out of her mind.
Sam didn’t spend a lot of time in her condo. She kept a bag packed for her trysts with Charles. She never knew when his schedule would open up, so she decided to always be ready. It was that kind of relationship.
The drive from her condo on the Ashley River to the beachfront property on the Isle of Palms was a mere 35 minutes. Sam parked in the driveway and headed to the front door. There was an electronic keypad that she used to let herself in. There was no pretense to their situation. Charles was a practical man with practical ways. Samantha knew that she would find him in his office, leaning back in his leather executive chair, feet up on the matching ottoman, facing the window with his Mac in his lap and his Blackberry in his hand. He liked to joke that he could multi-task better than a 14 year old.
He was exactly where she knew he would be, wearing a pair of trendy sweat pants, no shirt, and no shoes. She was pretty sure he wasn’t wearing any underwear. She walked over to his chair and leaned down to kiss him. This was the first kiss they had shared in over a week, and she missed his thick lips on hers. She moved from his lips to his cheek, to his neck, and then turned to walk over to the sofa on the far side of the room.
Charles put his laptop and phone on the desk, and then rose to his six feet five inches to walk towards Sam. He never said a word, just extended his hand to pull her to her feet. She got up and followed him as she always did. Instead of taking her to the bedroom, he took her out onto the deck that was just off the office.
Once outside, he began to kiss her on the forehead, the nose, and eventually worked his way down to her lips. He wrapped his arms around her and slipped his tongue gently between her parted lips. The kiss was not passionate and lusty, but tender and caring. Through her shirt, she could feel the warmth of his hands on her back. After a couple of minutes, Charles stepped back and finally spoke.
“This is one of the best nights of my life, and I am so l glad that you were there every step of the way. I could have never made this happen without that brilliant legal mind of yours.”
Samantha smiled as she lowered her arms from around his neck to his chest. If she weren’t still in her stilettos, she would be standing on her tiptoes.
“This deal was all about you and your charisma. Once you made up your mind, they didn’t stand a chance.”
Charles laughed. “You’re right. I’m a god.”
Sam playfully pounded his chest and quipped, “whatever” as she turned to face the ocean and nestle her back into his chest. They stood that way for a long while and listened to the waves rolling in, and a few gulls cry out. The moon was beautiful, and it’s gleam on the water, picture perfect. Eventually, the cold became too much and Charles suggested that they go inside and knock the chill off. When they walked into the bedroom, Sam saw that there were lit candles around the room, and a fire already burning in the fireplace.
“So, you decided that a cliché would be the best way to celebrate tonight?”
Two of the reasons that Charles loved her: her sense of humor and the fact that she was not afraid to say what she really meant around him. So many people wanted to be in his favor, that they often censored themselves. He hated a kiss-ass.
“Yeah, babe. I wanted to see your ass on a rug by firelight. Seeing as I’ve seen it every other way.”
She laughed loudly.
“I’m glad to see that your male sensibilities remain fully intact. Before you get a load of my ass on this very expensive rug, you’ll have to grab me some ice cream and a bottle of water while I take a quick shower. I didn’t have dessert at the restaurant, and now I’m wanting something sweet- besides you, I mean.”
“Deal. But make it quick. I’m in the mood for a marathon.”
“How in the world do you have energy for a marathon? I’m tired from all of this wheeling and dealing. How about you give me one good orgasm, and I’ll treat you to a buffet this weekend.” She smiled as she kicked off her pumps and began to unzip her dress.
“Sheesh woman. I’m twenty years older than you are. You should be able to keep up.”
Sam balled up her dress and threw it at him and then ran into the bathroom before he could toss it back at her.
She didn’t waste any time in the shower. She knew that Charles would take care of her needs first. He always did. She heard the thud as she was drying off. Sam wasn’t afraid that someone was in the house. Charles’s security was state of the art, and he also kept a gun in the nightstand drawer. She was a country girl who had learned to shot almost as soon as she could hold a gun.
As she made her way down the stairs and into the kitchen, she expected to find Charles cleaning up a mess and cursing about whatever it was he dropped. Instead, he was in a weird position on the floor, with a vacant look in his eyes.
“Charles- are you ok? What happened?”
Charles did not answer.
Sam shook him, and called his name, but there was no response. No blinking. Just the blank stare. She felt his neck for a pulse, and found none. She just figured she didn’t know what she was doing, so she tried his wrist, and then his neck again. Still, there was no response from Charles, nor was there any pulse.
She needed to call for help, but she would have a lot of explaining to do. She was wearing a towel, in her bosses home, with candles burning in his bedroom. It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what was going on. And what did that mean for her reputation, for her career, never mind for Charles?
It was pretty clear that Charles was not all right. It was actually pretty clear that Charles was dead. She stood up and grabbed the phone off the counter. With the tremor in her hands increasing with each number pressed, she dialed the one person who would be able to quickly get a handle on things. As the phone began to ring, her breathing was so shallow, she was afraid that she would pass out.
The phone was picked up on the third ring. “Hello?” The voice was husky for a woman. As if she had, of course, been sleeping at this time of night.
“Marilyn, it’s me Samantha Reynolds. It’s Charles. Something’s happened, and I need you to come.”
“I can see from the caller ID that you are at the beach house. I’ll be there in thirty minutes. Don’t move.”
The next sound Sam heard was the phone being hung up. She held on to the receiver for a while, until she realized that she should not greet her lover’s wife in a towel.