Sarah stared at the watch on her wrist. Framed in diamonds, it sparkled beautifully in the soft light of their living room. She sighed. How could he do this? Jim had missed so much lately; Michael's games, barbeques with their closest friends, always enveloped in work and separate from the family that needed him. She could tell from his voice on the phone today that his promise to arrive on time was a hollow one, but still she had believed him, trusted that he would remember. And now here she stood, alone, and with only a cold apology resting on her wrist.
Sara sat down on the couch and rubbed the bridge of her nose. She knew her husband meant well, but it was getting harder and harder to forgive his absence. When they started their business they had been a team, partners in their ambition, young, determined, and dearly in love. But they had made a promise to one another: that they wouldn't lose sight of their family. At the time balancing the kids and their real-estate seemed manageable, but as the years passed by and their business profited, Sarah felt she was the only one left to support their children, working with as much enthusiasm toward work as her husband. He was blinded to the needs of his family and it infuriated Sarah.
Tonight, the night of their anniversary, she had been so hopeful. He would walk through the front door, exactly on time, together they would go out to an elegant restaurant, and spend the evening in the privacy of each other's company, no talk of work, no cell phones ringing. It would be just them. But against her hopes, Jim was late as always, some new excuse fresh on his lips and hasty bought gifts in his hands.
Just then the Phone rang. Sarah stood from the couch to answer it, her frustration still steaming inside her. Picking up the receiver she hid her emotions under a veil of professional politeness.
"Evers residence, this is Sarah speaking," the greeting was prepared in the case of client call.
"Good evening, Miss. Evers." An old voice hoarsely replied through the telephone. Sarah was surprised to feel the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. There was as strange, ancient sound to the man's voice, as one only hears in the darkness of dreams, or Sarah thought, in nightmares.
"Hello…" she said hesitantly, "may I ask who's calling please?"
"An assistant, madam, on behalf of a Mr. Edward Gracey. My master is the owner of a very large estate and is in desperate need to… move on"
"Aren't we all." Sarah said, slightly under her breath. She reached for the pad and paper they kept by the telephone, "If you'd like to give me the address for the house we can schedule you for a site inspection. You can set up and account shortly after that." The man on the phone proceeded to tell her the address, which Sarah quickly wrote down; some place an hour or so out in the bayou territory.
He spoke then, the sudden severity in his voice catching her off guard.
"Miss. Evers, it is of the utmost importance that you come as soon as possible. Mr. Gracie was hoping to arrange a meeting for … tomorrow night." Sarah was curious toward the man's urgency, but checked their appointment book all the same.
"I'm sorry sir, but we're unavailable tomorrow night. My husband is already scheduled for an appointment then. But perhaps next week…"
"Your husband is scheduled, but you are not? Surely you can come without his attendance." The man interrupted. Sarah shook her head.
"I'm sorry but my husband and I work as a team." Although after tonight she was starting to doubt that herself.
"I see. Madam, you must understand. Mr. Gracey is a very private man, and he is not one to let strangers freely into his home. However, he thought you had a very trustworthy face. Toward your husband, on the other hand, he felt… differently."
"Oh, you saw our flyer?" Jim's cheesy salesman grin coming into her mind.
"Yes, madam. You see, the Master is in desperate need of your services. Your husband seems able to work without you, after all, surely you can make this inspection alone." Though abruptly forward, Sarah couldn't help but hear the truth in what he said. It was true, Jim was once again leaving her behind. And for what? To run off to another oh-so-important Evers and Evers sales pitch. And on the night after he had missed their anniversary no less. Sarah's frustration from before welled up inside her. She was sick of her husband's ignorance and after tonight he had abused her trust one to many times. After all, she thought, an evening away from Jim would give her time to clear her thoughts, let her emotions calm down.
"What time should I be there?"
"4:30, the Master was hoping you could discuss the affaires over dinner."
"Sure that sounds fine. I'll be over by then. Is there anything else Mr…?"
"Ramsley. I will alert the master of your arrival tomorrow, he will be very pleased. Have a good evening, Miss. Evers" The man hung up before Sarah could respond, not that she was enthusiastic to continue the conversation. Sarah set down the phone and looked over the unfamiliar address. It would be just a quick inspection, she told herself, a bite to eat, a look around, she'd be back home before Jim even noticed she was gone.
Mr. Gracey, the master. Sarah chuckled to herself. Short or not, this meeting was sure to be an interesting one.