Steve looked across at his attractive wife of seven months.
Not only was she a beautiful woman, he thought, but she knew how to handle their Jeep
Cherokee. As she knew how to handle most things, he thought. Steve counted his blessings
yet again as Sally piloted the Jeep along the winding back road.
'Here we are darling,' said Sally, turning to her husband with a smile as they drove between
two tall, stone gateposts. 'Home,' she added.
Steve peered down the drive as they approached the large house.
It had been a long drive up to this remote part of the mountains. In fact, thought Steve, it
had been a long trip of a different sort, these last few weeks. He reached over, and put his
hand on the tight denim of Sally's muscular thigh. Thank God I married her, thought the
slightly built young man.
Steve had met Sally at an executive 'power retreat'. Sally had been one of the facilitators in
the program Steve had attended. Outwardly confident, Steve in fact found aspects of the
corporate world daunting, and had attended the out-of-state course during his annual break
in order to 'empower' himself. He wanted to eliminate the nervousness he often felt before
major events in his business life. The feelings of inadequacy seemed to be growing as he
ascended the corporate ladder in his field.
Steve had met Sally at the second session of the first day. They had hit it off very well, and
he was pleased when she asked him to have coffee with her.
After a few more sessions, and a few more coffees, Sally told Steve that he was really
handling things well, and that any nervousness he felt was based on groundless fears. He
was a very competent businessman, Sally had assured him. Steve had left the retreat early
and returned to work, buoyed by Sally's positive view of his potential. The pair maintained
their friendship, which in a few months had led to a proposal of marriage, from Sally
actually, although Steve assured himself he had been thinking about it.
Marriage to this wonderful girl a few short weeks later had further increased Steve's new-
found confidence. He had almost begun to swagger through his days at the office.
Then calamity struck. Steve was sacked in a routine cleanout of dead wood in his financial
services organization. He couldn't understand it, or bring it into line with his view of things.
Steve didn't just lose his swagger in mid stride; he lost his nerve completely.
'A psychological breakdown brought on by pressure of corporate life' was the medical view
of his present condition.
Sally told him that she felt responsible - that she felt her assessment of Steve's capacities,
bolstered, she said, by her love for him, meant that the fall had been even harder for him to
And it was Sally who had come up with a solution. While she took up a six month post in
Europe, Steve was to stay at Sally's mother's remote ranch in order to relax completely, far
from any corporate pressure, and find his strength again.
Steve had only met his mother-in-law twice, at the wedding and once before that. 'Mrs
Jones' had seemed as remote as her home proved to be. A wealthy widow, she lived by
herself in the mountains way out of any town, not needing to work her large holding, and
spending her days, Sally had said, 'writing and painting'.
The couple had agreed that it would be the perfect environment for Steve to recover his equilibrium.
Now, Steve's nervousness rushed back as they slowed to a halt on the gravel outside the
big portico. He felt a childish urge to run and hide.
But his mother-in-law, Janet Jones, stood waiting for them and had fixed her eye on the
nervous young man in the passenger seat of the dark blue Cherokee.
Mrs Jones was powerfully built, like her daughter. She wore gray leggings and a tight green
sweater. The clothing hugged the rounded feminine contours of her hips and waist,
forcefully proclaiming her gender. Steve swallowed as he looked at her. Sally's large breasts
and wide hips obviously ran in the family, he thought smiling uncertainly at the woman.
'Hello, Steve,' his mother-in-law said as he climbed down from the Jeep and stood in front
of her, turning his cheek to her proffered kiss. Steve immediately noticed how tall she was.
He wasn't sure he had ever really seen his mother-in-law standing up before. Sally, at 5'
10", was almost three inches taller than Steve, (not that it mattered - Steve would remind
himself of showbiz 'odd couples' where there was a similar size difference) but Sally's
mother was a good two inches taller than Sally. Steve had to turn his face upwards to be
kissed by her.
'Call me Janet,' Mrs Jones said brightly, then turned to her daughter, She asked Steve to
bring the luggage into the hall. and the two women talked animatedly as Steve carried in
After a pleasant round of drinks in a sort of parlour, Steve collected his things from the hall
and followed Janet's instructions to reach the upstairs room he was to use for the next six
months. It was a large room, with a big bed and a window looking out over the broad valley
occupied by the ranch. Steve liked the room. He was glad that neither woman had
mentioned why he was there. Most of the talk had centred on Sally's forthcoming European appointment.
Sally had said that her mother was very happy about the idea of Steve 'unwinding' at the
ranch for a while, and it had been very fortuitous that Sally's overseas job had come up
when it did.
So here he was, thought Steve, sitting on the bed for a few minutes and looking out the
window. It was funny how it had all happened without him making any decisions.