After a couple of minutes of complete silence, when all that could be heard in the house was the sound of their breathing, Maggie realized that Jackson was serious, and cold sweat beads formed on her forehead.
"You are serious…" she muttered, stood up, and started to walk in circles around the living room. "Do you even know how it came to this? How this happened?" she just realized she forgot to ask the most important question.
"Yes, I do. My lawyer and I did some research, and the data that my PI provided made all pieces fall into place." Jackson made a quick pause, it looked like he was contemplating with himself whether he should tell her the truth or not, and after a sigh, the first sign that showed he wasn't as calm and collected as he appeared to be, he asked "Do you know who Julia Hendricks was?"
"Was?" Maggie was confused "There was a girl in my high school with that name but I haven't seen her in years, she moved away before the graduation." she blinked a couple of times feeling the headache coming back. "No, wait, I saw her once on the campus before my mother got sick, but it was brief… oh, my God, that was right around the time when my purse was stolen… all my documents were in it at the time! Oh." Maggie felt all her blood drain from her face, and she felt like she was about to faint, so she stumbled towards the sofa and sat next to Jackson and leaned her head back as far as she could.
She remembered that Julia joined their high school as freshmen, and people started confusing the two of them since they were so much alike, they were equally tall, they both were blonds with long hair, and their facial features were quite similar. Only when they stood by each other, you could notice the difference and that they were in fact, not that much alike. Everything about Maggie was soft and kind, she had blue eyes and milky complexion, her brows and eyelashes were light in color too, her upper lip was just a little bit fuller than the lower one and a little asymmetrical too, while Julia had perfectly tanned skin, dark brown eyes, and absolutely symmetrical features. Their personalities were total opposites. Maggie was friendly and kind, ready to help with anything, honest and funny... while Julia was like fire in everything that she did. She was loud and easygoing, she could make trouble out of scratch, and she knew exactly where to find one when she wanted. It was a natural talent. But she was fun to be around. She started hanging out with Maggie and her friends after they bumped into each other in the hall and noticed that what everyone was talking about was actually true. They did look somewhat alike.
Julia moved away after a couple of years, she didn't even graduate with them. She didn't say goodbye, she just didn't show up for school one day, and she never returned their calls. Maggie forgot about her until one day, Julia showed up on campus a year later. She was exiting the dorms when Maggie noticed her by accident and called to her attention. They spoke for a while, and then Julia said she was in a hurry and left, and Maggie never saw her again.
A couple of days later, she realized that her wallet was stolen, and at the time, she thought it was just a mugging. Her ID and the driving license were in the wallet too. It looks like Julia got a passport in Maggie's name. Did she plan to leave the country under a false identity?
"Wait? So you married Julia? Where is she now? Why are you here? You should clear this up with her!" Maggie turned her head towards Jackson, who was still in the same position as before.
"I would. But she's dead," he answered coldly.
"Yes. Exactly. And that brings us back to you… so, what do you say to my proposal?"
"What if I refuse? What if I want nothing to do with what you have planned?" she questioned.
"You are not in a position to refuse. There's too much at stake for you." Jackson answered sounding very sure of what he said.
"What if I do?" Maggie pressed further.
"Then I'll make sure you regret your decision. I am a powerful man, Margaret. I will make your life a living hell if you refuse this." his voice carried an ominous note, and it caused Maggie to shiver. "I will make you lose both of your jobs, and then what will you do? And the bank… uh, I bet I can make them use every loophole in your contract, so you lose the house. What if I bribe the hospital to …" but Maggie's frightened scream stopped him. She realized what kind of man she was dealing with.
"Stop! Ok, just stop. You can't do that!"
"Do you want to bet? I am a rich man, Margaret. And after all, money does make the world go round." a sly smile appeared on the corner of his lips, "How long do you think it will take me to find a soft spot of your mother's doctor? Or what the bank manager hides in his closet?"
Maggie closed her eyes tightly and pinched the bridge of her nose with her fingers. This man knew what he wants and how to get what he wants. And this time, he wanted her cooperation in whatever he had planned. If only there wasn't her mother's life at stake here, she would fight till her last breath against him. But some things are too precious to gamble with. She sighed. She knew the choice she had to make and looks like he knew it too.
"Fine! I'll play in your little charade, just don't dare do anything to my mother. I don't want to go to prison for murder…" she agreed.
"You made the right choice, dear," he commented sarcastically and rose on his feet. "I'll give you a couple of days to set your thing in order, and then I'll expect you to come to Chicago." Jackson pulled a white envelope from his pocket and handed it to her. "There is a plane ticket there and one of my credit cards. Get some decent clothing before you come. I'll prepare the contract for our agreement before you arrive." he was already at the door.
"I don't understand what you get out of this? Wouldn't it be less 'painful' to just get a divorce and never see me again in my life?" Maggie followed him, still trying to reason with him and find the easier way out.
"I'm afraid that things are not that simple. You see, we have a baby together, and that baby needs a mother." Jackson stated on his way to the car parked right in front of the house, not turning back to look at her before he drove off, leaving Maggie completely flabbergasted.
A week ago"Jack, have you seen it?" Jack raised his head and glanced towards his best friend, Robert Evans, that just entered his office."I am looking at it." words had a hard time coming off his mouth."Dude, it's her. That Maggie, your wife! What the hell?""I know!" Jack growled at Robert. "Apparently, her name is not Margaret Colt, and she's a murder victim in a casino in Las Vegas." Jack leaned back in his chair, took a deep breath, and sighed. "What the hell is happening here?" he was asking, but the question was more meant for himself rather than his friend."We have to contain this as much as possible. I'll call a PI that I trust, I've worked with him before. Maybe he'll find something that will clear this mess up." Robert offered. "Good thing that nobody actually saw you with her in public in the past month... ha. So listen, if the police come, call me? Don't do anything stupid."Jack didn't answer. He was looking at
Jack spent that day and evening in his son's nursery, vowing to be everything he will ever need in life, a father, a friend, the biggest support, and even a mother. He will be everything that he could, and even everything that he couldn't... he will find a way to become what was necessary.When that night Marry came into the nursery, she found Jack standing beside Eric's crib just watching him. She came closer quietly, took Jack by a hand, and led him out. She didn't stop dragging him behind her until they reached the kitchen, where there was food served on the table."You have to eat something. It won't do you any good if you starve yourself. It will be less good for the little one up there." she made him sit. Jack knew Marry was right, and he was thankful for her mere presence here, taking care of him and his son. Marry was his nanny when he was little, she took care of him better than both of his overachieving parents ever did, and there was no time in his life when
In the next three days, Jack was working from his home office and taking care of his son. Marry was of great help, she was teaching him everything that she knew about babies. Marry had experience and was in his earliest childhood memories. She also cooked his favorite meals even though he objected, he didn't want her to exhaust herself.Robert came by again, bringing him everything that his PI managed to find. Hiram used to be an FBI agent, but he kept in touch with his old colleagues since he started his private practice hence had no trouble finding everything that concerned Margaret Colt and Jennifer Lewis. It turned out that was the real name of the girl he married. Jennifer had a few aliases, and Margaret's name was one of many that she used in her not that long life.Jack gave his instructions to Robert about everything that he needed him to prepare for tomorrow morning and after Robert left, Jack took the file his friend brought with him and went into his office
Jack walked around the town for a while, allowing a moment to himself to just not think about anything or anyone, to be alone. He couldn't even remember the last time when he could afford such a luxury. After more than an hour of aimless strolling around, he ended up on the city beach. By then, the sun was at its zenith, but the breeze coming from the sea made the hot day bearable. He took off his jacket and rolled the sleeves up to the elbows before he took a seat on one of the benches placed along the shore.Jack gave himself a few more moments of peace before he pulled his phone from the pocket and dialed the landline number in his home that he knew Marry is going to pick up. She refused to have anything to do with the cellphones for years now, and no one could make her use one.On the third ring, Marry picked up and informed him of every single detail about his son, from how much he ate to how long his nap lasted. After bidding goodbyes to her, he contacted his PA for
Maggie didn't know what to tell her mother about everything that happened yesterday. She couldn't tell her the truth because she knew Rebecca will be worried, and she couldn't lie to her either.Earlier that morning, Maggie gave her resignation to the restaurant manager and said goodbye to her colleagues, and did the same with the club. On her way to the hospital she was trying to think of what to say to her mother, and not make her worry too much.Maybe she should give a call to Jackson and ask him? But she didn't even have his number. He left last night after she agreed to his plan, saying just that he will send someone to pick her up from the airport. She was supposed to fly to Chicago tomorrow, and she had just enough time to pack a few things, quit her jobs, and talk to her mother.Rebecca was surprised to see Maggie again today. She didn't expect a visit before the next week."Mom, I need to tell you something..." Maggie said slowly, avoiding her mother's e
"You did what?" Robert was shocked, "Have you gone crazy?"It was Tuesday afternoon, and Jack had just arrived at his office when Robert came by. His friend was expecting him to bring signed divorce papers and the forms for full custody of Eric, but Jack had none of those.When Jack landed in Chicago, it was after midnight, so he went straight home. This morning he didn't rush to come to the office, he spent a morning with his son, and now when he had a load of paperwork to go through, his best friend was bugging him about something that even he did not understand."You do realize that you just made things a lot more complicated than they were?" Robert pressed further."I know." Jack sighed. "I know…""Then why did you do it?" Robert shook his head in disbelieve."I can't explain it because I don't even understand it myself. I just followed my instincts…""Your instincts?" Robert interrupted him, "What instincts? You don't even have them! You are the most ration
"Miss? Miss?" the flight attendant was trying to get Maggie's attention. After she called her a couple of times, she gave up and reached for Maggie's shoulder, which seemed to do the trick because Maggie snapped out from her deep thoughts and looked at the girl standing next to her."Miss, are you ok?" Maggie heard the girl's question and quickly nodded her head. "Would you like something to drink?" the girl asked again."Coffee, please." and she smiled a little. The flight attendant served her a cup of coffee and moved to the next passenger.Up until a second ago, Maggie was lost in her thoughts. No wonder that poor girl thought something was wrong because she knew she looked like hell. No matter the bottle of cheap wine she drank last night and how tired she was, Maggie didn't get much sleep, an hour maybe… She went to bed around midnight and tossed and turned until the break of dawn. When the sun was starting to show its first signs, restless sleep cre
Jack came home from the office around 6 p.m., and he went straight to the nursery. Eric was awake. Marry was holding him when Jack entered the room, and the joy painted the baby's face as soon as he saw his father. He smiled with his characteristic toothless smile and started to giggle and to move his little legs like he was trying to go to Jack.Jack's heart melted, and he immediately went to Marry and took the baby in his embrace. His one night stand with Jennifer was a mistake, the one he will forever be careful not to repeat. But Eric? Eric was a gift, and he was worth it. If Jennifer were alive, he would do anything to make it work with her for Eric's sake. Now? He will have to figure out things on his own..."Is she awake?" he asked Marry."No," she answered, not taking her eyes from the baby, "I checked on her maybe a half an hour ago, but she was still asleep, so I let her be."After Jack had dinner, he played with his son for a while, bathed him and fed him, and