The phone buzzed. A forwarded message was coming through from that cheating son-of-a-bitch’s phone. The spyware worked. He would never get a private message that didn’t get sent to this phone again.
Emily Jenkins and Sonja Rodriquez, Emily’s housekeeper and friend, jumped when they heard the sliding glass door to the patio open. The two women had been finishing their lunch when Carol Butler, Emily’s cousin-in-law breezed out onto the patio.
“Carol,” Emily said. “You realize I gave you a key to the house for emergencies only.”
“This is an emergency,” Carol said and flopped down in the chair between Emily and Sonja at the table. “Can you get me one of these, Sonja?” She pointed to Sonja’s margarita.
“Of course, Mrs. Butler,” Sonja said and got up from the table. She picked up Emily’s glass, “I’ll refresh yours as well, Mrs. Jenkins.” Sonja rolled her eyes as she walked away and Emily almost laughed out loud.
Sonja only called Emily “Mrs. Jenkins” when Carol or Emily’s husband, Kenton was around. Both were sticklers about not having relationships with staff.
Sonja returned with the margaritas. She placed one in front of Carol with a slight bow and the other in front of Emily. “I’m going to go clean something. Call me if you need me,” Sonja said and went back into the house.
Carol looked over her glass at Emily, “You really shouldn’t associate with the help.”
“She is more of a friend than the help,” Emily said. “She keeps me sane now that Kenton is gone all the time.”
Taking a sip of her margarita and moaning, Carol said, “She does make the most amazing margaritas. I wish she would give me the recipe.”
“Her mother swore her to secrecy,” Emily said. “So what was the emergency that required you to use the key to the house?”
“Your cousin is having an affair,” Carol stated and took another sip of the margarita.
Emily rolled her eyes. “So what’s happened this time to make you think he’s having an affair?”
“He hired that slut Ashley from Knoxville and is moving her to Nashville,” Carol said, slamming her glass down and sloshing margarita onto the table.
“The one you thought he was having an affair with last year?”
“The very one,” she growled. “He swears she’s gay, but they have been texting each other non-stop for over a year.”
“Weren’t they working together on this deal with the property Morgan Chase Investments is trying to buy just outside Knoxville?”
“I guess,” Carol said. She flipped a strand of her platinum blond hair away from her face. “He got a text from her just a few hours ago that said that she couldn’t wait to see him tonight and that she hoped they would get to be alone. Now, tell me that doesn’t sound like he’s having an affair.”
“How do you know that he got a text from her? Are you going through his phone?” Emily asked.
“No,” Carol said, “I have a tracking service on his phone.”
“What?” Emily sat up straighter.
Carol shrugged. “I had it put on there a few months ago when he started going back to Knoxville a lot.”
“So how does that work?” Emily asked. She had heard about people using tracking services but had never known anyone crazy enough to do it.
“I get a notification every time he gets a text, and then I can read what the text says,” Carol said nonchalantly and took a drink of her margarita.
Sonja came out of the house with a pitcher of margaritas and a dishrag. She wiped up the margarita Carol had spilled and set the pitcher on the table. “Can I get you, ladies, anything else?” she asked.
“Thanks, Sonja,” Emily said. “We’re good for now.” She handed Sonja the grocery list the two of them had been working on earlier. “Please look that over and make sure I didn’t forget anything.”
“Sure, Hon,” Sonja said, giving Carol a hateful glare when Carol scowled at her.
Emily laughed. “I can’t believe you two. You’ve been visiting my house for over two years now. You would think you would be used to our friendship.”
Carol snorted, “Servants have their place.”
Emily shook her head, “Anyway…”
Carol’s phone buzzed, and she snatched it out of her purse. “It’s just Barbara,” Carol said, and then spoke into the phone. “Barb, good afternoon!” There was a pause as Carol listened to Barbara talk.
Emily was trying to figure out how to get rid of Carol so she could go shopping with Sonja, but Carol invited Barbara over to the house, ruining her chance to escape.
“Oh, of course, dear, come on over to Emily’s. I’ll make sure Sonja fixes a margarita for you.” Another pause, “No, Emily won’t mind. She could probably use the help getting ready for tonight’s party.” Barbara must have asked if she was invited because Carol said, “Well, of course, you’re invited. Now, get over here so we can gossip for a little while. I think I’ve finally caught that cheat, Damon, having an affair.” Carol closed her phone and slipped it back into her purse.
“Don’t you think you should check with me before you invite someone to my house? And the party is not until tomorrow night,” Emily said.
“Well, I didn’t think you’d care if Barbara came over. I can call her back,” Carol said, taking her phone back out.
“No,” Emily said with a sigh. “I’m sure she’s almost here anyway.”
“And the party is tonight, didn’t Kenton call you?” Carol asked. “Damon called me this morning and said that Kenton had changed the party to tonight because he has to go to Knoxville tomorrow.”
Emily gritted her teeth. “No, he has not called me, but it’s not unusual for Kenton to change plans like this.” After taking a deep draw on her margarita, she called out, “Sonja, can you come out here, please?”
Sonja came out a few minutes later. “Did you need something?”
“Yes. Kenton apparently changed the party to tonight, and Barbara McKinsley is on her way over. Would you fix another pitcher of margaritas and then go to the grocery store. Oh, and tell Fernando to go ahead and start setting up the tables. ”
“Right away,” Sonja said and rushed back into the house. She, too, was used to Kenton changing plans. Sonja and her husband, Fernando, who was the groundskeeper, had worked for Kenton for several years before Emily and he had married.
“I guess I will need your help after all,” Emily said to Carol.
“It must be so annoying, Kenton changing plans like this.”
“It is, but I’ve gotten used to it,” Emily said. “It has become my job to be prepared to put together a party at the drop of a hat.”
“Well, it’s similar to what you did as an administrative assistant,” Carol said.
“True, but I got paid to be an administrative assistant,” Emily said.
With a sweeping gesture at the opulence surrounding them, Carol said, “You don’t think living with all the things you have isn’t pay? Just imagine it all being taken away.”
Emily hadn’t thought of things that way, but she supposed it was true. She would never have been able to afford this home with the huge pool, the gardens, the three-car garage, and all the other amenities on the salary of an administrative assistant.
Emily had been working at Morgan Investments when she met Kenton Jenkins. Kenton was one of the senior brokers and very charismatic. He had swept Emily off her feet shortly after she had started working for the firm. They had a whirlwind romance with Kenton asking her to marry him after only nine months of dating. Emily had been so infatuated with him that she hadn’t hesitated to say yes. That was six years ago, and a lot had changed.
Kenton’s boss, Walter Chase, who had bought out Morgan Investments and renamed the company Morgan Chase Investments, was not supposed to be at tonight’s party, but Emily decided she had better call Kenton just to make sure. Walter would only drink champagne, and she wanted to make sure they had his favorite brand. She took her phone out of her pocket and was about to text Kenton, when he walked through the patio door.
He gave Emily and Carol his million-watt smile as he strode out onto the patio. The sun glinted off his short-cropped blond hair, and he ran his fingers through the little-flipped bit on his forehead. His bright blue eyes sparkled as he strode toward them.“Carol,” he said, “Lovely to see you.” He bent down from his six-foot height and kissed Carol on the cheek.
Coming around the table to Emily, he picked up her glass and sniffed it. “A little early for margaritas, isn’t it?”
“Maybe,” Emily said. She turned her face up to Kenton for a kiss, but he kissed her on her forehead instead of her lips, and then downed what was left of her margarita.
“I sent you a text earlier telling you that the party had been moved up to today, did you not get it?”
Emily gritted her teeth. “No, I didn’t get it, but Carol informed me about the new time when she got here. Barbara McKinsley is on her way over. They’re going to help me set up.”
“Good,” Kenton said and headed toward the house. “I’m going to get a shower and a nap. Why don’t you join me in a little while?” He winked at Emily and disappeared into the house.
Carol looked at Emily and grinned. “Wink, wink, I guess we know what he wants.”
“Well, if he can’t bother to kiss me on the lips, he most certainly isn’t getting anything else. Besides the fact that I now have less than six hours to prepare for this party,” Emily growled.
Kenton poked his head out of the door. He’d already taken off his shirt, revealing his tanned, muscular torso. “I almost forgot. Walter and his son, Frank, are coming. Make sure we have plenty of champagne. Wake me later.”
He went back into the house, and Emily pursed her lips. “God, he is such an ass sometimes.”
“You have got to be kidding,” Carol said. “At least he hints around that he wants sex instead of just taking it.”
“I wasn’t talking about that,” Emily said, frowning. “He just expects so much out of me.” She looked at Carol, “So Damon what, just shows up and throws you on the bed?”
“Sometimes there’s a bed involved, but it’s usually where ever and whenever he decides he wants it.” Carol took another drink of her margarita, finishing it off, and poured herself another one from the pitcher.
“So why do you think he’s having an affair if he wants to have sex with you all the time?” Emily asked picking up her glass and heading toward the house.
“He doesn’t want it all the time, and he never wants it when I want it. And, I think he’s having an affair because he doesn’t want it like he used to, and he’s always talking about meeting this woman from Knoxville at unusual places. He talks about sending her gifts, and wanting to be with her,” Carol said.
Emily stopped at the sliding glass doors. “So he sends her a text saying, I want to be with you, meet me someplace, I have a present for you?”
“Not that plain,” Carol said, rolling her eyes. “They talk in code, and he doesn’t use her real name. He uses some kind of initials code, but I know it’s her.”
Barbara opened the sliding door, making both of them jump. She was standing there holding a margarita in one hand and her purse in the other. “I just saw your delicious husband, Emily. He is just gorgeous.”
Emily pushed past Barbara, “Well, Gorgeous is throwing a party for at least twenty people tonight, and I only have five and a half hours to get ready for it; you two going to help or what?”