The light was on in the living room when Jack stepped into Jane’s apartment. Her kitchen was dark. No tantalizing aroma taunted his empty stomach. Jack flipped the light on and shook his head at the mess on the counter. A fine dusting of organic cocoa speckled the white of Jane’s countertops. A bottle of honey stood next to a jar of something he didn’t recognize. The lights were off in Jane's bedroom. Her laptop was sitting on her desk but the background was black. In the bathroom Jack almost tripped on a pile of Jane’s work clothes.

A damp towel lay on Jane’s bed. Jack dropped her dry cleaning into a basket in Jane’s closet. Her gym bag was out on the bed. Back in the bathroom Jack picked up a mug that had obviously held tea earlier. A sodden lemon wedge fell into Jane’s otherwise empty trash can. Jack picked up a magazine that lay on the edge of the tub. His smile faded when he saw it was last month’s edition of Working Mother.

A half eaten piece of toast sat on the edge of Jane’s plate in the living room. She was lying on the couch. Her hair was wrapped in a peach colored towel. Her bathrobe was purple, the penguins on her teal pajamas were wearing hats and scarves. She had left the TV on but there was no sound coming from it. About an inch of scummy cocoa sat in the mug on the coffee table. Jack dumped it down the drain and picked her dish cloth up. He wiped the counters down and opened the fridge. He smiled at the jar of baby carrots, pushed a container of lettuce aside and pulled out a container of yogurt. There were strawberries in the freezer, he wrote blueberries on her grocery list and poured the last of her freshly squeezed orange juice into the bottom of her blender.

Back in the living room he bent down to kiss the woman sleeping on the blue couch. “Jane, wake up.” Light from the lamp above her burned Jane’s eyes even with her hand in front of her face. When she pushed her comforter down the towel around her head fell forward. Jack’s hand was there for her to hold as she tried to stand up. He sat down and started untangling her from the bedding. “Jack…” She twisted away from him but he grabbed her by the waist and pulled her down. Her hair smelled better than the perfume she dabbed on each morning. Thick strands of clean damp hair clung to the side of her forehead when he kissed it. “How was your meeting?”

Jane was sitting sideways on his lap. He started rubbing the back of her neck. She pulled the covers up wondering if she was going to start crying again. Tiredly she put her head against his chest. “I had the worst day.”

“Mine wasn’t all that great either. I figured you had a bad day. You left some clothes in the bathroom Jane. Someone could trip and fall over your clothes. How would you feel then? Huh?” He saw the expression on her face change. “Hey, I’m just kidding. What was so bad about your day?”

“I wasn’t ready for my meeting. I got lost because there was construction. Lunch was late and no one listened to anything I said. I had to meet with the president of our company today and I had to tell him the controller he wants to hire is engaged in a sexual harassment lawsuit. I hate my job.”

“I’m getting demoted for six months. But you probably knew that.”

“I hate to say this but you’re lucky both of us didn’t get fired. Never listen to me again.”

“We would have been fine if I wouldn’t have screwed up those two lines of code. That’s what I get for being in a rush.” Jane smiled for the first time in hours. “And here I thought you were perfect.”

“I thought you were until I came home to the mess you made. I should have taken a picture. No one will believe me when I tell then you’re a slob.”

“My parents would believe you. You should have seen my room when I was a teenager.”

“I waited until I moved out to become a slob.”

“Your apartment is fine Jack. Really.”

“I guess I’m a slob at work and you’re a slob at home. How do you keep everything so organized at work?”

“At work I have a place for everything. At home I don’t.”

“I’m the opposite. At home I know where things go. At work I keep getting paperwork and projects. People throw things on my desk and then I get so many stacks of paperwork going I lose track of which one is which.”

“I’ll help you. I love organizing paperwork.”

“You know what I love?”


“Coming home to you.” Carefully he wrapped a strand of her hair around his index finger. “The funny thing is I was going to call and order something to eat. I didn’t because I figured you’d have something made. You want me to order something?”

“I ate so much for lunch I wasn’t that hungry for supper. I can make you some eggs. I won’t even make you eat my leftover toast.”

“What are you doing tomorrow night?” The curve of her lower lip beckoned when she smiled. “I’m going to bed early. With you.”

“What are we doing before that?”

What do you want to do?” There were a lot of things he wanted to do. Her comment had made him uncomfortably aware of the layers of clothing between them. Before he could explain that he wanted to take her out for supper her home phone rang. She stood up and shoved her comforter aside. Jack followed her into the kitchen. “Who is it?”

“Someone from work. I don’t know why they’d be calling me at this time of night.” Reluctantly she picked her phone up. “This is Jane. How may I help you?”

“Jane, it’s Marcus. From security. Someone broke into your office. How soon can you get here?” Jane’s mind raced as she processed what Marcus had told her. “Give me half an hour. Is anything missing?”

“Not that we can tell. It looks like someone tried to hack into your computer and when that didn’t work they broke into your filing cabinet where you keep the personnel files. Was it locked when you left?”

”I always lock it. I’m the only person who has a key. The spare is at the bank.”

“Do you have a record of whose files were in there?”

“I always fill out a red tabbed file holder. I put that in and grab the files I need from the main room so if someone else needs the file they know I have it. I can give you a list of people who have access to that room.”

“I’ve got a list but thanks. Do you have someone you trust who can come to the office with you? Chances are the intruder doesn’t know where you live but right now, your safety is our main concern.” Jane’s eyes flicked warily over Jack who was standing next to her in the kitchen. “I’m home alone right now. Could you send someone to come and pick me up?”

“Tom Leibowitz is here. Do you trust him?”

“Not in this particular instance. Is Charlie around?”

“He’s not here right now but I can call him and see if he’ll pick you up. I’ll stay on the phone with you until then.”

“Sounds good. I’m going to have my locks changed first thing tomorrow morning.”

“Fill out an expense report so you can get reimbursed. We’re going to give you a new cell phone too. Anyone who calls the old number is going to be investigated so if you can give me a list of family and friends who have the number that would help.”

“I’ll get you a list by noon tomorrow. Will I still have access to my phone?”

“I’ll talk to Charlie and get back to you. He may want you to carry your old phone and the new one. Do not under any circumstances give the new number out to anyone and don’t let anyone else borrow your phone either. We’ll put a sticker on the new phone so you can tell the two apart. I just got a text message from Charlie. He’s on his way.”

“Good. I’m going to wait in my apartment. Did we happen to get anything from the surveillance videos?”

“We have a flash of someone’s arm. Whoever broke in knew which cameras were watching your office. Be careful Jane. Don’t trust anyone.”

“I don’t.” In the bathroom she pulled a comb through her tangled blonde hair. She moved her head to the side when Jack stood next to her and as soon as she was done with her hair she dropped the comb in her drawer. She had been a fool to trust Jack. Their eyes met in the mirror. His were a deep sincere brown. Hers were green, mistrustful and scared. She had trusted him once before. That had been a mistakeIt wasn’t one she was going to make again.

This may or may not be continued.


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