A simple premise; a bold promise
To present one story per day, every day—providing exceptional authors with exposure and avid readers with first-rate fiction.

The cost of doing business

She wondered if he ever thought of her.

He was ensconced now in the posh hills of Sausalito overlooking the Bay. He was with his heiress, as he had been, these last years. With her family’s name and old money, he had drawn a protective cloak around himself, but at such a personal cost. He had been so certain of his station in life. After all, colleagues and followers had always called him “brilliant.” He knew he was easy on the eyes and knew how to tempt to admirers with his towering frame. Even men were taken with envy by his fine intellect as well as his classic, handsome presence.

With such unrivaled gifts, he knew he knew it only fair that he find a woman of means, one perhaps just inherently fragile enough that she might regard him as a god. What a raw trade it had been:  he would cure her and offer her solace; she would fund his leisure. It was so good at the start. He would sleep in, read the paper, savor his morning coffee on the veranda, yawn and stretch. Then he would nap a little in the afternoon on the chaise under the gentle sun and blue skies. Yes, he thought, as he stretched again, looked up, and watched the soft, fluffy clouds float slowly past. Life could be so simple. He would write a little. Maybe once or twice a month, he would hold seminars—and a few weekend workshops occasionally—around the world. Her money had bankrolled several important foundations he now headed, and word of his work continued to spread Oh, life was good. He deserved this.

Then her drinking overtook her, and her looks smeared like wet lipstick after a fevered kiss, passion spent. Her soft blonde hair had become a wiry gray. He didn’t know when it happened, but her sweetness had faded. The gossamer fragility he’d once found so comely and elegant had overtaken her in ways he had not anticipated. She had become demanding and short-tempered with him. Arthritis had bound her to a wheel chair, turned her soft hands and delicately long fingers into twists of corkscrew willow, and she clutched now at her fortune and at him.


Abigail Jardine has taught and written for many years. Her stories focus on gender, family dynamics, and American culture. She lives in California.

Read more stories by Abigail Jardine


To comment on this story, visit Fiction365’s Facebook page.