They came face to face at the park during their son's soccer game. He had hoped to sneak in, watch his son for a little while and leave unnoticed. It was not to be, she saw him the minute he left his truck. Bonnie was surprised that J.W. was there. She approached him and told J.W. she was worried about him.
If it wasn't so sad, so hurtful, so heartbreaking, it would be funny. She's worried about me? She's the one that snuck out of the house while I was at work, taking the children with her and she's worried about me? Now she's worried about me? Now after breaking up our life and home, J.W. thought.
It had been five days since Bonnie had left and this was the first opportunity that J.W. had to see Bonnie or his son. He still hadn't been able to see his daughter. J.W. hadn't seen them because he didn't know where Bonnie and the kids were living.
"I just want you to be happy J.W., "Bonnie said. "I want both of us to be happy; I want us to be a family again."
"Happy? You damn right I'm happy, "J.W. responded. "As soon as we can get all the legal stuff done, I will be ecstatic." He was really hurting and said some things he shouldn't have.
"What are you talking about? What legal stuff? I didn't leave to get a separation or divorce, I want us to work through this and get back together."
"Well you certainly have a funny way of showing it. You want us to be a family huh? Is that why you ran off with the kids and left me? Is that why you and the kids are living god knows where? It's because you want us back together, BULLSHIT Bonnie."
"It was getting impossible at home, that's why I left," Bonnie tried to explain. "For a week solid you stayed at work as much as possible, you were always angry and wouldn't talk to me when you did come home. Every time I tried to explain, you told me to shut up or you left. I thought if we had some space from each other that when we did meet we could talk things out better. Without all the anger, you know? I've tried to call you every day since I've been gone."
"I would never hurt you or the kids Bonnie," he told her. Why did you have to leave?" His sorrow and hurt washed over her like a big wave.
"It wasn't the fear of you hurting us, it was the wall of anger you erected and hid behind. It wasn't a good environment for the kids or for us. Please let's talk after J.R.'s game," Bonnie pleaded.
J.W. didn't respond to Bonnie, he just stared at her for a few seconds and turned back to his truck. "You're a hypocrite, you don't care about me; you're a liar, you lied to me about your meeting! It was a date. For all I know you were unfaithful too," he told her.
Before she had a chance to say anything, he spun the tires as he drove away, spraying her lightly with gravel and dust. J.W. knew he should listen to what Bonnie had to say but he had seen her with that man and the image kept running around and around in his mind's eye. He was hurting too much right now to listen to her ... As he drove off he thought, Yeah I'm happy alright; I'm so happy I can't stop crying.
J. W (Jake Wilson) Riley and Bonnie (Bonita) Henderson met some twelve years prior to this confrontation. Bonnie was a 25 year old insurance adjuster for the local office of a national company. She was a leggy, very attractive young woman. Sleek, dark complected, auburn hair, with startling blue eyes, she could turn any man's head. Bonnie certainly caught J.W.'s eye.
He had been involved in a minor fender bender and brought his truck in for an inspection by the insurance adjuster. And that happened to be Bonnie. J.W. hadn't really planned on getting the truck fixed, but his accountant advised him to get it repaired. The bean counter said that a truck with collision damage wasn't worth as much as one with the damage fixed. So J.W. made the appointment with the adjuster and to file a claim against the other driver.
J.W. had never really been a ladies' man, he felt more comfortable with the workers and builders than he did with women. He just didn't feel that many women would find him attractive because of the facial scar marring his good looks. Other than the scar, most women would find him very handsome. That scar gave him an inferiority complex, at least where women were concerned.
J.W. had run afoul of a table saw that kicked back a 2 x 4 right into his face as he was walking past. The board sliced his cheek from the corner of his mouth up to the corner of his right eye. It wasn't really horrible but it was more than noticeable. The scar stood out more as his face got tanned by the sun. Whenever a woman looked at J.W., he thought they were looking at the scar and he would shut down. He had thought about plastic surgery but couldn't seem to find the time to take off work so he kept putting it off.
About a year and a half after the accident the doctor told him that he could smooth out the skin around the scar but there would always be a very noticeable line of scar tissue down his face. J.W. decided that if he would still have the scar why go through the surgery and opted not to have the work done.
It surprised him at how attracted to Bonnie he was. She was very pretty but it was more than that. When they met and introduce themselves, she didn't seem bothered by his looks at all. The more time they spent talking, the more at ease J.W. became. They spent about thirty minutes doing the insurance thing and J.W. signed the paperwork. He didn't want to leave her, but their business was finished.
"What does the J.W. stand for?" Bonnie asked pointing to his signature, J.W. Riley. She already knew his real name because of the paper work involved. Bonnie didn't want for him to leave either.
"Just waiting," he answered. He didn't know where he got the nerve but he was going to ask Bonnie for a date.
"Just waiting? Just waiting for what?"
"Just waiting to find out when I can take you out to dinner," J.W. said smiling at Bonnie.
Bonnie had been attracted to J.W. too, until he turned and she saw the scar. J.W. was very tanned and the scar was a white line running down his face. She was a little put off until she looked into his eyes. He had the most gentle eyes she had ever seen. During the inspection Bonnie had asked questions she didn't really have to just to spend a little more time with J.W.
"I think tomorrow night would be about right, don't you?" Bonnie replied with a big grin.
The next evening they went to a the steak house for dinner and Bonnie and J.W. found out more about each other than you normally would on a first date. Bonnie had gone to college for two years after high school. The she decided to spend two years in the Peace Corp in Africa.
She was dedicated to the work, but the corruption of the war lords and tribal rulers quickly disillusioned her. When her tour was over she came back to her home town and started working for the insurance company as a claims clerk. After three years she had worked her way up to a full time adjuster.
"You're pretty young to own your own company aren't you? You're about 30 right?" So tell me your success story. Bonnie wanted to know more about J.W. and teased him a little to get him to talk about himself.
He nodded and told her how he came to own the small construction company specializing in custom homes. J.W. had worked for the largest home builder in the area for eight years after he got out of high school. He took classes in design and architecture at night for those eight years.
Two years ago he left the builder to branch out on his own. J.W. knew he could build better homes and give the customer more "bang for their buck" and at the same time make a more than decent profit.
While he worked for the builder he met several of the home owners as they inspected the construction of their new house. J.W. made it a point to answer their questions in a friendly manner and tried to put them at ease. One man in particular, William Jasper, was very impressed with the young construction foreman and approached J.W. when his house was finished.
William Jasper was one of the richest men in the state and he knew quality workmen when he saw one. The house that had just been completed was for his daughter and he asked J.W. about doing sort of side job.
Mr. Jasper wanted a summer cabin built on his property at a nearby lake; actually the term cabin was misleading. This "cabin" was to be about 5000 square feet. J.W. told Mr. Jasper that a house couldn't be built on a part time basis and the J.W. couldn't afford to just take off from his full time job. J.W. thanked Mr. Jasper for the confidence he showed in him and thought that was the end of it.
Two weeks later J.W. got a call from Mr. Jasper asking if he could meet with J.W. on Friday afternoon about 3:00 at a local coffee shop. No reason was given except that Mr. Jasper wanted to talk about the house. J.W. naturally thought it was about the house he had just completed and agreed to the meeting. He wanted to take care of the problems, if any, with the just completed house.
At their meeting, J.W. was stunned by the offer made by Mr. Jasper. He wanted J.W. to quit his job and build the cabin for him. Mr. Jasper would set up accounts at all the construction supply houses, pay the workers, and pay J.W. a salary until the job was completed. J.W. would be the contractor, ordering supplies, hiring the sub contractors and scheduling the work.
When completed J.W. would receive his fee less the salary already paid. In addition, Mr. Jasper had two partners that wanted houses build at the lake too. J.W. would have the same deal as with Mr. Jasper on those two cabins and they would split the profit on them. By the time the three houses were done, J.W. would be established and able to continue on his own.
Mr. Jasper explained that his share of the profit from the other two cabins would cover J.W.'s fee on Mr. Jasper's cabin. Basically Mr. Jasper would get his house for nothing but the cost of materials. In addition, he would have the best quality built custom home available.
The partnership was formed and J.W. started his company. Two years later his company had more business than they could handle. They had a waiting list, a very nice problem for a new company to have.
"That's the story of the birth of Riley Custom Construction, "J.W. finished and glanced at his watch. "Oh jeeze, I've been talking for almost forty minutes. I'm sorry; you must have been bored to tears."
"Not really, it was an interesting story and told very well I might add, "Bonnie replied smiling.
"Let's get out of here before they throw us out. I'll take you home."
J.W. walked Bonnie to her door, took her hand and said good night. Bonnie pulled him to her, gave him a hug and kissed his cheek telling him thank you. When Bonnie hugged him, she realized for the first time how solid and massive J.W. was. At 6' 3" he towered over her 5' 7" and spread 245 pounds over that large frame. He looked like a pirate with that scar, but he was really a teddy bear. She hoped he would call her again. If he didn't, she vowed to call him.
Bonnie had looked past the scar. She accepted his dinner invitation because he was a little shy and seemed to be a nice person. After their dinner she knew what a good man J.W. was. A week went by and just as Bonnie thought she would have to call him; J.W. came by her office and asked her to go to some kind of industry awards dinner dance.
J.W. was totally tongue tied by how beautiful Bonnie looked when he picked her up for the dance. She wore a long gold gown, with a slit up the side and a little low cut on top. Bonnie's neck and shoulders were bare with her auburn hair was piled on top of her head in some glorious fashion and she had a string of pearls around her neck.
"You clean up pretty good, J.W., "Bonnie said smiling at him. She twirled and asked, "Will this be okay?"
He stood there with his mouth open. Finally he said, "You're beautiful Bonnie."
That dinner dance was the beginning of a relationship that J.W. never thought he could have. Other than work, he and Bonnie spent almost every waking minute together and six months later they were married.
J.W. and Bonnie were married for almost twelve years and had two children: A son Jake Wilson Jr., called J.R. for junior and a daughter Alyssa called Ally. During those years, Riley Customer Construction grew into a very successful company. The company usually built one or two upscale houses at a time and had a waiting list of clients. Bonnie had climbed the ladder at the insurance company and was now the lead adjuster and defacto supervisor. She had been offered a promotion several times, but it would mean a lot of travel and she turned it down.
A few months after their eleventh anniversary J.W.'s world imploded. His marriage came under attack, at least in his eyes.
He was involved in building four custom homes at the same time and in the same general area. It was a stretch for the company, but if they could complete the construction on time the payoff would be huge. Consequently J.W. was spending a lot more time at the construction trailers on the sites. He wouldn't get home most nights until 9:00 and sometimes 10:00. This was his normal six day a week schedule. Early Sunday morning he would return to the trailer and tie up loose ends until around noon. J.W. would come home and do some of the normal maintenance around their house and then veg out until time to go to bed.
This left Bonnie at home with the kids with no adult interaction, other than at work. By the time J.W. got home he was beat. He would eat, shower, and go right to bed; to start all over again the next day. She understood the pressure he was under and knew he the hard work and long hours were for his family. The payoff on these jobs would set them up for life; it was almost life changing money. Bonnie never complained about the hours, but she did get lonely for adult social conversation and company.
On a Sunday evening, before J.W. got too tired, Bonnie sat down in his lap. "Honey I would like to go out for dinner and some girl talk with some people from the office once a week. I love J.R. and Ally, but I need some adult stimulation before I go nuts. No don't apologize, I know you are working long hours and I'm not complaining about that. I just need to unwind a little myself. What do you think?"
"Who'll get the kids from after care at school? I can't promise that I can be home early even that one night a week."
"I usually pick them up, but they can ride the school bus home one day a week. I'll hire Sarah next door to come over and stay with the kids until one of us gets home. Her husband is in Afghanistan and she can use the company and the money. I'll usually be home by eight. Is that alright?" Obviously Bonnie had already approached Sarah.
"Sure, you deserve a little "me" time. I know my hours are hard on you too; I wish I could join you gals once or twice to chill out too. Yeah, go ahead and enjoy yourself."
The routine was set, Sarah was given a key to their house and on Thursday afternoon she would come over and sit for the children until either J.W. or Bonnie got home. J.R. was nine and Ally was seven and rode the same school bus. They were dropped off in front of their house and Sarah would play "Mom" for the evening.
Either Bonnie, if she didn't get home first, or J.W. or sometimes both would call and talk to the children before bedtime. A few times Bonnie would call J.W. at work to see if he could get done early enough to join her and her friends. Twice he was able to get away and join the "hen" party. The program worked very well.
The seventh week of the routine, fate or some devil or some evil spirit conspired to bring down this happy family. Thursday morning a truckers strike was called. This stopped deliveries to J.W.'s job sights, which basically shut down the construction. You need supplies to build and the sites only had enough for at best a couple of days. The strike could possibly put J.W. weeks behind and cost his company a huge amount of money. He went into his search and destroy, think outside the box, solve the problem mode.
J.W. wasn't a union man but could sympathize with the truckers. His problem was that if the strike lasted very long, it could bankrupt his company. He felt that sometimes the unions went to extremes in their demands, but management could not be trusted to be fair to the workers either. If it came to a choice of loyalty to the union workers or providing for his family, the family was the obvious choice every time.
He made arrangements to rent several trucks to pick up supplies locally on Friday. The crews wouldn't be able to work that day, but could return to work on Monday. He offered to pay some of his crew to drive the trucks and anyone who wanted to honor the truckers strike could do so with no repercussions. After all they were hired as construction workers not truck drivers.
J.W. had no trouble getting enough drivers and they could continue using this solution until the strike was over. Problem solved, with no work the next day he decided to go home at a decent hour for once.
J.W. pulled into his garage at 4:30, the first time he had gotten home in daylight for over two months. J.R. and Ally had just finished their dinner and were very happy to see him. They had missed their daddy too. Sarah was surprised to see him and started to leave. J.W. told her to stay, he did have some work to go over and after he played with the kids for a while, he would get to it. Sarah could supervise the children's baths and put them to bed as usual.
Bonnie came home at 5:45 and blew past Sarah to the kid's room. She spent a few minutes with them and learned that J.W. was home. She found him in the den going over some schedules.
"What are you doing home so early?" Bonnie was very surprised that her husband was home, it was evident in her eyes. She went to him and kissed him.
He explained the strike and his solution to the problem. "I guess we get a night for ourselves for a change. Let me get changed and I'll take you to dinner. Maybe we could come back here for a little cuddle time afterwards."
J.W. could tell by the way Bonnie tilted her head and the faraway look in her eyes that she was thinking about something other than his invitation.
"I can't Honey. The people from work are getting together for a dinner meeting and I just came home to change," she responded. "We're going to meet at Arrowhead at 7:00."
"You can't pass up one week with the girls to spend some time with me?" J.W.'s disappointment and a little anger showed in his voice.
Bonnie heard the emotion in his voice and tried to make him understand. "This isn't just the office crew, my boss and the other three department heads will be at the meeting. And their boss is in from the corporate office and will be there also. This meeting could be important to my job and important for us. Please try and understand."
J.W. didn't answer for a few seconds. To Bonnie those seconds were almost like torture. If J.W. was going to be really upset she would have to forego the meeting.