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Time is Money

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“We need to talk,” Jill whispered as she slid fifty twenty-pound notes, into an envelope, pressed down the seal, and wrote JACK on the front. She laid the package on the breakfast table.Those words sounded alien in her head. If this were one of those romances she used to read, she would make a delicious supper, with excellent wine, and when Jack achieved the right grade of mellow, she would speak — but she knew the words would come out wrong, she would choke on them and upset Jack, and that wasn’t her plan. The brown envelope trick had to work.Jill is a successful finance executive. She is also drop-dead gorgeous — a senseless term. The dead are seldom attractive, and those who admire beautiful women rarely expire suddenly.Having been a brainy, ganging, awkward child, her transformation at puberty to look like film-star dumb blond surprised her. Never interested in what others thought, she wanted to know if they could think. At school, she’d worn her uniform the way girls looked in 1910. Her flat-heeled lace-up shoes were topped with a calf-length skirt and matching three-button jacket. She parted her hair in the middle, straight and trimmed to just below her chin.At University she continued the pretence of being a plain Jane. In her final year, she met Jack, who saw beneath the disguise. Her beauty attracted the wrong kind of men. That made her guarded and defensive. Jack saw the brains behind the beauty, never complimented her on her looks, but praised her speed of thought and wit. Much later he taught her how to turn the lustful intentions of strangers against them.                                                                                      ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~Standing at the dining table, she first placed the money beside the knife, and then underneath it, next to where the eggs, bacon, and pancakes would sit in an hour’s time. Every weekday Jill left for the office long before Jack had one eye open. Jill indulged Jack’s excuse that all creatives work late and sleep late.“Yes, love,” she’d say. “That is certainly true of all the creatives I’ve ever married.”A thousand pounds ought to be enough to make him think all day. Five grand would have made him panic. Jack found money difficult, so left it to Jill. She intended her envelope to be surprising, but not enough to wreck his working day, and with zero chance of Jack understanding her intention.Jill buried herself in work, not daring to think about what would happen when she got home. She considered taking breaks and practising saying her lines in front of a mirror, but she couldn’t imagine how the script would run from there. Her plan was to use the envelope to kickstart the conversation. Money was safe ground to Jill. When she got onto touchy topics, she blushed. She always did. The one time she tried to practice and recorded herself, she coloured up in front of her own webcam; unable to control the blood vessels in her face and neck.The inevitable flush, when she spoke tonight, would give Jack the right impression. She would stumble over the words, be shy and colour up with embarrassment; alerting Jack to how much this mattered to her.Why would a sophisticated, successful, super-intelligent woman worry over telling her husband about an envelope full of money on his breakfast table?If pressed, she would say, ‘Because I was raised all wrong. My brains were the only thing my family noticed.’ She was so much smarter than her brothers; they never played with her because her intelligence annoyed kaçak iddaa them. Even her parents were cautious. They only ever saw her brain. She never learned social graces.Top of every class in school, she had the pick of her university choices. Armed with her first-class degree and further qualifications, she went to work for a mid-sized company with potential. Her career grew along with the firm.Jill did her homework, was never caught out in business meetings, always ready for anything. Typical power-hungry macho types never read her right. She dressed conservatively, at least until she took her jacket off. She wore a knee-length tweed suit with black stockings and under that a silk blouse and no bra. To a casual observer, she appeared to be a secretary who had been told to dress for a special meeting.Last year she’d learned a new trick. A ploy to screw with the men. She arrived early and turned the heating too high. She served coffee, pandering to the stereotypes in so many male executives’ minds.”Shall we start,” she said. “I apologise for the warmth of the room today, gentlemen. You may remove your jackets if you need to cool down.”She watched them relax, and then pulled the trick Jack taught her. She slipped off her jacket. The gaze of the pushy, macho lead visitor cycled back to her nipples every other minute. He spent the rest of the meeting imagining her in bed. She had discovered his weakness long before they met. Her team made a killing that day.Using that super-power stopped her from being embarrassed at work. She ignored the lecherous glances, knowing she could use them whenever the need arose. Sleeping with any of her associates or her opponents held no attraction. Numbers, with pound signs in front of them, were Jill’s interest. Money buys things, but it also buys respect, and in the hard-nosed world that Jill inhabited, that was how you kept score.Jack was unlike the city types she sparred with every day. His business was advertising. It could be corporate and competitive, but Jack was a freelancer who dreamed up crazy ideas, some of which worked. He delighted in being unconventional and she loved him because he was never like the rest.                                                                                      ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~Jack enjoyed his extra hour in bed. At first, Jill’s powerful work ethic made Jack feel lazy every morning, but he was more effective later in the day. When the muse struck hard, he often worked through the night. The first time, he thought Jill would be annoyed, but she didn’t bat an eyelid.”You do things your way, and I do mine.”A year on, when he had a lean patch, he kept apologising.”Why are you saying sorry?” she said.”I’m hopeless. You make more money than me, and I spend too long in bed.””Never think that, love. The money thing is not your fault. We’ll skip the civics lecture, but the simple fact is I’m good with numbers, so I get paid more. Capitalism is like that — nothing to do with you or me. You make a lot with your great ideas, but not every month. I crunch data every day and spot other people’s mistakes. That pays more, but it means nothing. You keep me sane, you help me be a person, not a computer. You are the only one I ever met who sees the real me, not the clever me.”Versions of that ‘civics lecture’ worked for a while, but the pull of the numbers grew. Her company merged and bought their way to more success. She did her magic in the boardroom and her salary increased, along with kaçak bahis her stock options. She enjoyed the praise, but it all took time. She came home later and more exhausted, month after month. The business ate into weekends and stole time from holidays. Jack never complained, but Jill knew.Other directors wilted under the strain, or if they didn’t crack, their marriages did. Unlike the tycoons she rubbed shoulders with, who often had trophy wives, she was the only woman, and she had Jack.She found a counsellor who, for a price, saw her in stolen half hours in her office. Despite some good ideas, the woman’s face showed she was overawed by Jill. The power furniture was a distraction. Jill moved to a different office, with a conference room next door. She added armchairs, artwork on the walls, and dried flowers on her desk. The atmosphere improved, but the counsellor remained timid.She hired a man instead, put pictures of Jack on her desk and a poster of him receiving an award on the wall. The man was dull compared to Jack. He said nothing useful until the end of his second session.”Time is money,” he said as he closed his briefcase and left.Time is money, she thought. If time is money,  can money be time? What if I gave Jack cash to make up for the time I’ve stolen?When the thought first entered her head, she almost laughed out loud; but the idea was enticing. How much was her time worth? The firm charged outsiders five thousand per day for her time.The sum embarrassed her at first, but capitalism requires profit and she’d done the maths. Her time had to be covered. Stand-ins for her were always less experienced, and several people might be needed. Add in the sunk costs, the investment in her training, the costs involved in the history of her gaining the experience the outside company wanted, and the total mounted.How did that arithmetic apply to hours she should have spent with Jack? An impossible calculation. She had, until now, always done Jack’s books. If she hired someone else in the future she could, in theory, free up some time at home — apart from one troublesome fact; they did the work together. Freeing that time would achieve nothing for Jack.Jack hated accounts. In his mind, they were a chore, so Jill added entertainment to help the process along. Jill insisted she couldn’t be a senior accountant and married to a tax defaulter, so she invented a ridiculous game, agreeing to remove one item of clothing each time Jack found some relevant document. She ended up stark naked long before they were done, so she bent the rules, adding another hour of nudity for every item of finance data he retrieved. She spent the next two weekends nude, but the accounts got done.No professional she could hire would play that game. What about other temptations or rewards could she consider?She tried to imagine another woman with Jack. Would he be tempted? Would she be upset?She found it hard to think of Jack in bed with another woman. The thought had a stultifying effect in her mind. It did not excite her or even make her worry. Was there a risk of Jack running away with another woman? She couldn’t see it happening — possibly a failure of her imagination, but it said even more about their relationship. Would Jack like another woman in his bed? There was no way to find out in advance.Did anyone pay for sex substitutes? Stories about wimpy husbands turning a blind eye to their wives misbehaving went round the office. What was the woman’s name? Marjory. Marjory something. illegal bahis Rumours circulated about her all the time, but she was still married to the same man. He must be aware. She never made a secret of it. She never denied the stories. She shrugged, laughed, and carried on as if nothing had been said.Could Jill pay another woman enough to be trusted? Would a penalty clause work in a deal like that?Jill could hold a train of thought, suspend it if the phone rang or if she was interrupted, and pick up where she’d paused. The idea of money for time kept coming back. How did Jack cost his time? She laughed — he’d bid on a project and when he understood the scope of it, he’d do it for the offer price, or turn it down. His decisions were based on the interest and challenges involved, and nothing to do with time or money.She settled on a thousand pounds as enough to grab his attention.Coming home on the day of the envelope, she had to force herself to concentrate on driving. She was nervous — when did she ever have nerves? That was novel, reading her own reaction told her it was a big deal. Fancy that. Her anxiety pushed her to leave work too soon, but she resisted — that wasn’t the point.She had to be late. On any other day, if she wanted to be early, there would be traffic everywhere. Not today. Every light was green, the cars flowed, there were no trucks in sight, the sun shone, and what should have been a forty-minute drive was taking twenty. She pulled into a gas station. She filled her only half-empty tank, called an attendant, played the helpless female, and got him to check the oil and water, and still had time to spare. She persuaded him to do the tyres as well. She gave him a big tip. She still needed to kill ten minutes.There was a car wash a mile down the road.She hated car washes. There was something frightening about sitting watching giant brushes pound the windscreen and shake the doors. She forced herself to cope.Twenty minutes later, she pulled onto the drive at home and sat in the car for a minute, annoyed that she hadn’t planned her entrance. She should have thought about that while she was fretting about the time. She needed to think. She headed straight for the shower.                                                                                    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~When Jack found the envelope, it ceased to be a normal day. It had his name on it, written in Jill’s cultured hand, so he opened it.A thousand pounds left on the table. Why? What had he forgotten? Did she say something last night? As he ate his bacon and maple syrup pancakes, he knew if she said something last night, he missed it. His head was full of a new project that arrived in the mail yesterday.What could a thousand be for? In cash? Was there something being delivered? He checked the doorbell. It was working, but what if he was doing something noisy? He pinned a note next to the bell; ‘If no reply, try side door.’He mowed the lawn, in case this was about a builder fixing the shed roof. Jill said something last week. Builders work to a higher standard if the place looks well kept. Jill habitually hated paying cash to tradespeople — she didn’t agree with them trying to dodge the tax. Maybe this was different.Odd though. It could be something else. If he’d forgotten something vital, he’d better make up for it in other ways. He vacuumed the house, cleaned the kitchen, made the beds, and did all the laundry he could find. That got him to two-thirty with no demand for cash appearing.What else could he do? Supper; there was time to make something she would recognise as especially for Jill. He settled for her favourite beef chili with a flatbread, followed by Pavlova.

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