The Crisis

“Mr. Hardwicke, there’s a woman here to see you.”

“I’m rather busy, Irina.”

“She said that the matter is very urgent.  It concerns Cate.”

“Cate?” That got his attention.  Cate was his younger sister.  “All right, send her in.”

“Yes, Mr. Hardwicke.”  Irina excused herself.  Five minutes later, she returned with the woman.

Edward stood up.  His eyes traveled over her.  She was an African woman possibly in her mid to late thirties.  He had never seen her before and was curious to find out what her business was with Cate.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Hardwicke,” she apologized.  “I know that you’re a busy man but I had to see you.”

“Please have a seat and tell me what this is all about.”

“Thank you.”  She sat down and he lowered his tall frame in his chair.  “This is very delicate matter. You see it involves your sister and my brother.”

He stiffened. “What do you mean?”

“They are having an affair.”

“You must be mistaken, Miss…?”

“Sorry, my name is Gladys Moore.”

“Yes. As I was saying, Miss Moore, you must be mistaken. Cate is engaged.”

“And my brother, Derrick is married.”

His face grew pale. “How do I know that what you’re telling me is true?”

“Mr. Hardwicke, trust me, I won’t be here wasting your time and mine telling you this if it weren’t true. I came here to find out what we can do about this nasty business.”

“I find it very hard to believe that my sister would get herself involved with a–“

“Black man?”

His lips compressed. “That isn’t what I was going to say, Miss Moore.”

“So, you don’t have a problem with her being involved with a black man?”

“I have a problem with her having an affair with a married man, if what you’re saying is true.”

“My sister-in-law found a piece of paper with your sister’s name and number on it. When she called, a woman answered. My sister-in-law pretended that she had called a wrong number. When she asked my brother about it, he acted like he had no clue.”

“Are you sure it was Cate?”

She went into her handbag and took out a piece of paper. “This is the number my sister-in-law called. Do you recognize it?”

He took the paper from her and his face went pale. “It’s Cate’s,” he acknowledged tightly.

“What was my brother doing with your sister’s number?”

“I don’t know but it doesn’t mean that they are having an affair. There could be a perfectly logical explanation.”

“How do you explain my brother calling your sister at 1:30 in the morning?”

He sighed. “I can’t.”

“I’m sorry. I realize that this must be very upsetting for you. Try to imagine how devastating it is for my sister-in-law.”

“I’m thinking about how this would affect our family too.” He stood up. “Thank you for coming, Miss Moore. I will deal with Cate while you deal with your brother.”

“Yes, Mr. Hardwicke. Thank you for your time.”

“Is there a number where I may reach you?”

She handed him a business card. “Goodbye, Mr. Hardwicke.”

“Goodbye, Miss Moore.”

After she left, he sank heavily down in his chair and sat there, staring at the piece of paper with Cate’s number on it.


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