Thanksgiving at Casey’s new house was a busy, cheerful affair. John and Casey had bought the three bedroom, two bath house a few months earlier and had finished furnishing it just in time for the holiday. She and John had invited Maggie and Ben, Kevin, and Des and Jacob to stay for the weekend.
Sleeping arrangements had been studiously organized. Obviously Des and Jacob were in the guest bedroom. Ben and Kevin shared the living room, one on the sofa and one on the floor. Maggie was given an air mattress on the floor of the home office, but she didn’t mind. She was grateful that she had a private space; anyone seeing her neck would undoubtedly require information she didn’t feel like giving a shit as she worked as an escort on a directory.
Both Casey’s and John’s parents were invited for Thanksgiving dinner. Early that morning, Maggie heard Casey moving around in the kitchen and she smiled to herself. She knew her friend well enough to know she’d want this day to go perfectly. Maggie got up too, happy to pitch in with preparations. She carefully dressed, making sure the scarf she wore completely covered the angry marks John had left on her neck.
The day before, when she’d left the office, Michael had insisted that she ride to the airport in the car from his service. His flight to the Bahamas would be later in the evening so his car was available.
When Ben arrived at the airport, he’d had been too preoccupied with his own concerns to notice Maggie’s reticence. He’d prattled about work and his new boyfriend, who he still refused to name, throughout the entire flight.
The Thanksgiving meal was a huge success. The turkey was perfectly done, and the stuffing made from an old family recipe was delicious, as were the yams, green beans, and cranberry sauce. Casey had made certain that the dining room had been tastefully furnished and decorated for the holiday and dinner was enjoyable, everyone talking about their experiences now that they were out in the real world.
Snow began falling in late afternoon and by dark the ground was covered with a beautiful white blanket. After dinner, the men adjourned to John’s man cave. e women discussed Casey’s wedding plans as she showed them fabric swatches and photos of cakes, owers, and wedding dresses. After John’s and Casey’s parents left, the women joined the men downstairs for a pool tournament.
Maggie, however, begged off. “I have a little headache. I think I’ll just go to bed,” she said. Alone in the office, she unwrapped her neck and checked it using a mirror from her purse. It really was ghastly.
She put away the mirror and checked her phone. A notification indicated that she had a Snapchat message from Michael.
“Hey, Mags,” he smiled ruefully into the camera. “I don’t want to interrupt your holiday. I was just thinking about you and hoping you’re okay.”
Maggie smiled in spite of herself. He was thinking about me. She held her phone in front of her. “Hey back, Michael. You aren’t interrupting. I’m doing alright. You must be having fun in the Bahamas. Is it warm? We have snow here.”
Moments later Michael replied. “It’s in the 80s in the Bahamas. Are you having fun? How’s your neck?”
In the 80s. Maggie rolled her eyes. I’ve got to get my passport. She pressed record again. “Temps in the 80s sounds amazing. Send pictures of the water. My neck is okay, I guess.” She held the camera so that her neck showed in all its bruised glory. “I’ve been keeping it covered with scarves.”
Michael grimaced. Maggie’s neck looked bad, all black and blue and purple. “Scarves and turtlenecks seem the way to go,” he said into the camera. “Take an extra day, Mags. We don’t have to be in court until Wednesday. Come back on Tuesday, you’ll have plenty of time to get up to speed.”
She considered this. “I don’t know, Michael. There’s so much to do,” she said. “You know, again, it would be easier to have this conversation over the phone.” She arched one eyebrow.
On video, Michael laughed. “But I like doing it this way. You’re the only account I follow.” He smiled and nodded. “Take an extra day on Monday. Rest up and feel better. We’ll manage without you for a day.” Maggie reluctantly agreed and they said their goodnights.
Michael hadn’t actually lied to her. It was in the 80s in the Bahamas. He just happened to be in Manhattan. After he’d sent Maggie to the airport, he’d called Gretchen and cancelled. She’d been none too pleased, but he’d explained that there was an emergency at work that couldn’t wait.
He’d called Murph and asked about bringing a new lawyer up from downstairs to replace Maggie. He needed someone else to do the grunt work. Maggie was moving up. He’d arranged for the designer who’d decorated his apartment to meet him at the office bright and early on Friday. John Hemphill’s office was going to be completely redone and would be Maggie’s new office. Putting her off until Tuesday would ensure that everything would be ready when she returned.
Saturday morning, Michael carefully packed up Maggie’s things and le the boxes on his conference table until her office was ready. By that afternoon the office renovation was well under way, the walls freshly painted a pale lavender, the herringbone hardwood floor nearly completed. Furniture had been ordered and was guaranteed to arrive the first thing Monday morning. Michael interviewed Josh Miller from downstairs and decided he’d be right for the job of replacing Maggie.
Michael leaned back in his chair and propped his feet on the desk as he listened to the sound of the power saw cutting floorboards down the hall. She’s going to be happy when she gets back. He smiled a satisfied smile.