“A toast! As of today, April twenty-first, nineteen eighty four, Bancroft Marketing Consultants is officially ten years old!” Hadeon raised his martini glass above his head as he spoke to an exceptionally upscale office full of people in fine suits and gorgeous cocktail dresses. Hadeon certainly seemed to relish the looks of admiration as they watched him on stage, and he flashed them all a wry smile that lit up his already striking features. He feigned a sense of humility by running his smooth, creamy fingers through his slicked back, jet black hair as he told the crowd, “It seems like just yesterday we were just a small business cramped inside of my uncle’s garage…” He paused and saw that the projector screen behind him remained empty. “Sorry folks, there was supposed to be slides to go along with this speech…Stacy!”
Stacy snapped to attention from the back of the room, and she felt her pale cheeks flush. She readjusted the black bow in her dirty blonde, feathered hair as a she rushed towards the front of the stage where Hadeon stood. He stayed smiling, but she could tell by the look in his cold, brown eyes that her blunder angered him. “Sorry!” she apologized as she rushed to get the slides up and running.
Hadeon didn’t address her but instead talked to the crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen, you all recognize my wife and your secretary? Probably not since she doesn’t have food in her hand!” Everyone but Stacy chuckled. She pretended to smile it off, but inwardly, she cringed. She was by no means thin, but she hadn’t considered herself overweight either. This didn’t stop the jokes though, a recurring issue that she ignored at the moment as she attempted to get his slides going. Hadeon asked her, “Why aren’t you wearing lipstick?”
She awkwardly answered, “I did. It must have come off on my drink.”
Stacy saw a flash of anger flicker on his face, but his consciousness of his audience caused him to grin and joke, “Save some for the rest of us, Honey!” He got more laughs, but Stacy didn’t respond. Luckily for her, he didn’t expect one since she got the slides going. A picture of Hadeon and a couple of other guys in office casual wear working at a small desk in a crowded garage displayed, which delighted Hadeon. “Ah, there we are! My company started as a simple door-to-door operation, but even back then I knew one day it would grow into Nashville’s number one marketing firm!” Stacy tried hard to convey interest as he continued his speech, but she mostly listened hard for her next cue for the projector.
Later, with newly applied lipstick, Stacy sipped a drink with a straw as she weaved her way through the room. Unexpectedly, a woman from a very posh circle stopped her, “Oh, hello Missus Bancroft!”
“Oh, hello!” she responded politely.
A man from the group remarked, “Congratulations on your company’s anniversary!”
She replied, “Oh, it’s my husband’s company. I just tag along for the ride!”
“Sounds fabulous!” another woman commented. “You are so lucky! I can only imagine the opulent lifestyle you must lead!”
“No need to imagine! We spend so much time here, you can pretty much see our whole life’s story at the office!” Stacy spoke truthfully, but they laughed as if she had said it in jest.
Hadeon strolled up to them, and the first woman complimented, “Oh, hello Mister Bancroft! Lovely speech you gave!”
“Thank you!” Hadeon flashed her a smile before he very measuredly requested, “Will you all excuse me? I would like to have a word with my wife.”
Stacy tried to act casually, but she knew he wanted to lecture her, so she begrudgingly followed him. He led her to an empty office, and she hung her head as he softly shut the door. He turned around and gave her a look of utter malice, and then he very coldly asked her, “What was that?”
“I’m sorry!” she shamefully apologized.
“We planned this!” Hadeon scolded. “You know what you were supposed to do and when, and yet you left me on that stage all alone! How do you think that made me look?”
“I think it turned out fine,” Stacy expressed with the hopes he would realize she had a point and they would skip the argument.
Hadeon’s mood only darkened. “Image is everything! One of the number principles of my business is always be prepared! I teach it to everyone who works for me, and yet my wife slash secretary didn’t prepare for one of the most important events of the year! This could have costed me a client!”
“I already said I was sorry! What else do you want me to say?” Stacy knew she shouldn’t have snapped like that, but she couldn’t help herself.
“You could act more sorry!” Hadeon growled. “You don’t seem to even care about what you did! No explanations either!”
“I don’t have an explanation!” Stacy scoffed. “I got distracted by a good conversation. I should have paid more attention, but it was nice to have a little bit of fun for once!”
“For once?” Hadeon seethed. “You don’t have fun?I give you everything! A job, a nice house, designer clothes… How could you be so ungrateful?”
“I am grateful!” Stacy shouted vehemently. “You take good care of me, but sometimes I wanna take care of myself! I’ve spent the last five years devoting my whole life to helping you and your business, and sometimes I just need a little break to focus on me! It was just nice to have people care about my opinion! I felt like I could be myself for a little while! Look, I really am sorry that I was late for something important to you, but it would be nice if you recognized what’s important to me sometimes!”
Hadeon roared, “Fine, but now isn’t the time!”
“When is the time?” Stacy retorted. “Tonight is about you, and tomorrow is the Easter picnic, and then we’re back to the office for the next six days! I’m not asking for constant attention, but it would be nice to feel important sometimes! At the very least, if I make a mistake, I don’t wanna get punished like I’m a little kid!”
“I treat you like a little kid ’cause you act like a selfish brat!” Hadeon yelled. “Ugh! Look, I don’t have time for this! We’re going to go back out there and I want you to tell everyone how happy you are with this company to make up for what you did earlier! Got it?” Stacy wiped away a tear of frustration, which just seemed to incense him. “You’re going to cry? Great, you’re gonna smear your mascara! Just tell people you have allergies, which make your eyes-!”
“I’m crying, and all you care about is how it makes you look?” Stacy cried out.
“Don’t interrupt me!” Hadeon’s temper boiled over, causing him to slap her across the face! Stacy stared at him in shock, and even Hadeon appeared surprised by his own action. “I’m so sorry!”
“You hit me!” Stacy rubbed her cheek, which felt sore. Her hands started shaking from the sheer adrenaline of the moment. For a moment, she didn’t know what to do. He tried to caress her face, but she dodged his touch. Suddenly, the truth dawned on her, and she knew exactly what to do. “No! I’m done! I’m leaving!”
“Okay,” Hadeon relented. “I’ll tell everyone you went home sick and-.”
“No,” Stacy corrected him, “I’m done with you! This marriage is over!”
Hadeon laughed derisively at her. “You’re too emotional right now. We’ll talk this over after the party.”
“I’m done talking!” Stacy stated firmly. “I’m not staying in an abusive relationship!”
“It was an accident!” Hadeon rolled his eyes. “Quit being so dramatic! It won’t happen again!”
“My father is a police officer!” Stacy reminded him. “I’ve seen what happens when women stay in abusive relationships. I knew you had become neglectful, but I didn’t know things were this bad! I don’t deserve this! I’m packing my things and leaving!”
Hadeon sneered, “Everything in this house was paid for by me! You’ll leave with nothing!”
“Just my dignity!” Stacy countered him. “That’s all I need! I don’t want anything that reminds me of you anyway! I’ll start over with my own stuff and get a fresh start! Good bye, Hadeon!”
As she started to walk out, Hadeon stopped her by saying, “If you walk out that door, you’re fired! You won’t be able to afford anything on your own! You’ll have no choice but to crawl back to me!”
“I’ll make it on my own!I’m never coming back! Never!” She stormed out, and as she marched towards the exit, she passed by the group she had talked to earlier. One of the women asked, “Are you okay, Missus Bancroft?”
“My name is Stacy!” she exclaimed, and then she walked straight out of there without looking back!