Disclaimers : See Part 1

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Part 4 of Loose Change Series - The Addy and Karen series.
(01) Turning on a Dime
(02) New Quarters
(03) One Little Bit
(04) Joint Venture

 

Joint Venture

By

K-Morgan

kmorgan.5674@yahoo.com

(Feedback is appreciated)


Part 5

After Karen discovered that Addy was not listed as a “parent” in Alex's school record, she was resolved to set matters straight at whatever cost. Addy explained that it did not matter to her, and that listing her as a parent might stir things in a way that might get Alex expelled.

“I don't care, Addy. I will talk to Alex and she'll have to understand. We'll find another school, if we have to, or we will buy the school if we must! I don't care. I'm going there to talk to the school master and that's that! I'll rub in his face the ‘Lady' title if I must, but your name appears as a parent or else we are out. Let's see if they can do without all the extracurricular money we throw at them every year. You lost this battle, Ms. Addy. Suck it up!” She opened her green eyes in a way that made Addy smile.

Karen was resolved, and Addy knew that when Karen was so adamant about something, nothing would dissuade her. She turned around, walked out to the car and drove off to the school.

“I guess I'd better start searching for a new school. This is not going to end well.” Addy's biggest concern was not with the school itself, her concern was Alex. How would they tell her that she was not wanted at school because her parents are lesbians? Maybe she could come up with something else to tell her. No, Karen wouldn't accept that either. The idea of lying to her daughter was not a good one. Even if a white lie, it was still a lie and it was about hiding who they were to their own daughter. Karen was right on this one. Things had to be the way they had to be and they'd have to let the dice roll and deal with the consequences.

Karen had called ahead to make her appointment with the school master who was more than happy to see her. Karen and Addy were one of the biggest contributors to the school's capital fund raisers. It was not just Alex's school they supported. They also gave hefty donations to other schools as well. They thought of it as a way to give back to the community who had given them so much since they first established themselves there, first with the Inn and now with the stables and the distillery.

“Good morning, Ms. Larsen, I am so happy to see you.”

Let's see how long that lasts! “It is good to see you also, Mr. Stetson.”

“Very well, how can I be of service to you today? I hear our little Alex is making us all very proud.”

“Yes, she is. She's very accomplished. What brings me here this morning is a personal, as well as an administrative matter. Personal for me, administrative for you. Let me explain.”

“Please.”

 

She proceeded to explain. At the end of the conversation, Mr. Stetson was a mute man. Although he liked the family, having a student of an openly gay family presented a unique situation. One never faced before by the school. St. Claire's was one of the region's oldest institutions, and as such most of its students came from old lineage of traditional Scottish families. Mr. Stetson was treading on thin ice and Karen knew it. He was also very much aware that Karen belonged to probably the oldest of Scottish families in the school and that her financial support was crucial.

“Ms. Larsen, I do not have to tell you of the bind in which I find myself with your request. I understand your desire and I commend you for it. You must know that this will be an uphill battle. As you know, the school is very traditional in its values. I also need to remind you that I cannot acquiesce to your request of my own free will. As I have a duty to you and your family, I have a duty to others as well, since they also support the school. I believe that I will have to put your request through the school board since we have never had this type of request before and the school by-laws require that “new items” be approved by the board. I will present your plea to the school board and will abide by their recommendation. I would like to make clear to you that if you insist on this administrative clarification of the record, upon learning of the circumstances you have just explained to me, one of the possibilities may be that the school board may decide that a student with Alex's background may not be “appropriate” for the school and may request her dismissal.”

Karen was fuming inside, but she had her poker face and spoke calmly. “Yes, Mr. Stetson. I am well aware of the consequences of my request. However, I stand by it. My partner of 13 years, Ms. Marcos, is Alex's adoptive mother under our civil partnership. In fact, Alex is here today because of her, and I wouldn't change that for all the money or the most prestigious school in the world. Alex is our daughter and she will not live a lie.”

“Very well. I will make your case before the school board then.”

“If you'd like, I will speak to them as well. When do they meet again?”

“In two weeks. If you do not mind, I would rather present the matter to them myself.” Mr. Stetson was aware of the composition of the school board members and was trying to avoid any possible personal confrontations. “Having been here for a while has taught me how to present matters to the board in somewhat of a persuasive way, if you will.”

“Sure. Thank you, Mr. Stetson. I will be in your debt, then.”

Mr. Stetson was a smart man and knew very well that Karen's words were carefully chosen. He was well aware that her financial contribution was hefty and that he could count on it and more, if he was successful in presenting and winning her plea. He wanted to make improvements to the school and for that he needed money. It would make him look very good, if he could bring in more of the Larsen-Marcos money to the institution. He, obviously, was resolved to make their case.

Karen shook his hand and left.

Concurrent with the situation surrounding Karen's request to Mr. Stetson, was Alex's candidacy for the gifted and talented program at school. The gifted and talented program was a special program for which the brightest students were recommended and accepted on their merit. In second grade, all students were given a standardized test. If the student passed the test with a high mark, the student was allowed to enter a second round of testing. If all the tests were passed with high marks, and the child was recommended by his or her teacher and the academic counselor, the student was considered a candidate for the program, subject to screening and approval by the school board. It was an extremely selective program.

Alex passed all the tests with outstanding scores. In fact, there had never been a situation where the child scored so high, consistently on all the tests. If there was ever an exceptional candidate for the program at St. Claire's, it was Alexandra Marcos MgGuill Larsen. Because she was an outstanding student, her teacher did not hesitate to recommend her and the academic counselor immediately endorsed the recommendation. The caveat of this program was that only the very best students were in it.

Alex was at the top of the list of candidates to be screened and considered by the school board. Thus the issue to be presented to the school board was not whether the school would accept that one of their students came from an openly lesbian family, but also whether that student should be accepted in the schools most prestigious program knowing that the student would most likely continue to excel and would represent and someday be an alumni of their prestigious program and institution. Needless to say, the participants of the program came from the oldest and most traditional families in the school, most of which controlled the school board.

The school board was composed of nine former alumni who came from old Scottish families. The school master attended the meetings, but he did not have a vote. Consistently, all meetings were attended by eight members, the ninth member rarely attended and voted by proxy through the school master.

**

When Karen arrived home, Addy saw her from the window as she pulled up the long driveway, and she opened the door for her. Karen did not look happy. In fact she looked mad. It was rare to see the good natured, easy-going Karen in that mood. Addy knew her facial expressions and was concerned. “Was it that bad? Are we expelled?”

“Nope. Not just yet. He said he had to present the matter to the school board.” Judging by Karen's sarcastic tone, and demeanor, Addy knew that one of Karen's venting sessions was imminent. However, she couldn't refrain from commenting also.

“Great, we are screwed! Those old farts will never accept us.”

“Well, I hope they are as smart as they are old. If we have to part with our child, they will have to part with our money. I think Mr. Stetson is very clear on that. I tell you, Addy, I had to calm myself down as he explained what could happen.” Karen mimicked him in a stern snobby pose. “The school board may find that a student with Alex's background is not appropriate for the school. Fuck! I still don't know why I didn't get up and leave at that very moment! Son of a bitch! Who do they think they are? Insinuating that my daughter, who happens to be the best student at that fucking school, is not appropriate for that fucking, old school?! And by the way, we are considered “new business,” since this request is a first for them, and that's why it has to go to the school board.” In her anger, Karen was near tears.

“And that is okay with you? That it is our money that will keep us there? Wouldn't that be like buying our way into the school?”

Karen rolled her eyes. “Addy, this may be a surprise to you, but everyone at that school has bought their way into it. The kids who go there either come from new money or old money, but do you see what the common denominator is? Money!” Karen continued with her venting.

Addy had a sad, worried face.

“Don't give me the sad puppy face! It was you who used the ‘Lady' thing to get us in there in the first place. We are a lesbian family, but we are also filthy rich. The only difference between them and us is the lesbian part, otherwise, we are just like them. If they can't deal with that, I don't think we should be there. I don't want our daughter raised in such a conservative, snobby environment.”

“We are not snobs!”

“Yes, we are! Weren't you the one who wanted a “better” school for Alex? Well, we have our “better child” in a “better” school together with all the other snobs who want something “better” for their child.”

“But we didn't put her there so that she could be with better people! We put her there for the academics and the safety.”

“And are you sure we didn't consider the school's reputation when you looked at it? Because I, sure as hell, did!”

Addy looked contrite.

“I want Alex to learn and accept diversity. You know what? If they don't kick us out, I think one of us should get onto that school board and make some much needed changes there and introduce diversity. I don't see any black kids in there, or middle eastern, or oriental! I think there may be a couple of Spaniards there, that's all, and yes! They are very diverse, the Spaniards are the blond kids with blue eyes, you know who I'm talking about, the girl is in Alex's grade, Ah! I think her name is Carmen and her brother Manuel. And, by the way, I think their father is half owner of a Spanish petroleum company in Aberdeen .”

Addy was quiet. Karen was right. “You win this one, blondie. You are right. Let's see what happens.”

Karen had been pacing back and forth in her usual ranting mode, but suddenly stopped. “I have to go to the office. I'm sorry, Addy. I feel like I vented all my anger on you. And this is not your fault. This is society's fault. I'm just tired of having to adapt to other people's lifestyles. What about us? What about if they adapt to us for a change? I'm sorry, Addy. I'm doing it again. Are you mad at me?” She asked in a somewhat apologetic tone.

Addy smiled and came forward. She unbuttoned Karen's jacket, wrapped her arms around her waist and kissed her below her right ear.

“I'm guessing that's a no?” Karen all of a sudden smiled. “You know, you have the gift of calming me instantaneously, right?”

“Um huh.” Addy continued to smile and to kiss her softly near the same spot.

“If you continue doing that, I will be left with no alternative but to give you a demo of—.” Karen's lips found Addy's. Addy smiled through the kiss. Karen pulled out a bit. “Inadequate lesbian love,” another kiss, “in which case . . . ,” she kissed her again. “I will need to call Phil to tell him,” another kiss, “that I will be late to our meeting with the clients,” another kiss, “because I have never left you wanting and I'm not about to start now.”

Addy pictured Karen actually calling Phil to convey such information and it made her laugh. Her laughter made Karen laugh as well and it broke the spell. “I can just imagine you calling Phil to tell him such a thing!” She continued to laugh. “Go! Meet with your clients. Bye!” She separated from Karen and shoved her off. Karen chuckled and began to walk away, but not before pulling her closer for a final kiss.

“Later, alligator.”

“In a while crocodile!”

**

When Karen came home that evening, she found Addy in the dining room table busy in her computer. “What are you doing?”

“Looking for schools. You know I like to do my research. I will not have Alex go to just any school.”

Karen smiled. “Snob!”

Addy looked at her, grimaced and stuck out her tongue. “What kind of parent would I be, if I didn't want the best for my child?”

“Snob!'

Karen laughed and went upstairs to change.

**

Raising Alex proved to be a challenge in more than one way. She was very bright and was never afraid to raise questions.

“M'Addy am I adopted?”

“Whatever makes you think that, Alex? Haven't you looked yourself in the mirror lately? Don't you see that you look exactly like your mother?”

“Yes, but I don't have a daddy, and I also don't look like you. And two women can't make a baby! I know that already. A daddy has to kiss a mommy to make a baby. How come I don't have a daddy?”

Addy had to provide an answer and although she didn't like to lie to Alex, she also didn't need to lay it all out. In this case, the lawyer in her took over and the solution simply was to provide the necessary information asked. After all, someone who thought that a daddy had to kiss a mommy to make a baby had a long way to go to understand artificial insemination. Or was she ready?

Alex was looking at her expectantly.

Oh dear! “Well, Alex, I thought we discussed this some time ago.”

“M'Addy, I'm six. The God and the angel story were okay when I was four, but I'm all grown up now and I want to know why I don't have a daddy.”

Well, there was no point in postponing the inevitable, but how could she explained it in a manner she'd understand?

“Okay, let's see how do I explain things to you? First, Mommy Karen is definitely your mom. You were in her belly for nine long months.”

Alex smiled.

“You are also right. Two women cannot biologically make a baby. We however, made you up in our minds and our heart. You see, Mommy Karen and I were already together when we decided to have you. We wanted you very much. So, since we needed a man to make our baby, we went to see a famous doctor in Sweden .” She paused and almost felt like saying: ‘the doctor took her magic wand and—.' But she thought that the magic wand story would be right there with God and the angel ones and decided to keep it as real as possible.

“The doctor in Sweden specialized in something called ‘artificial insemination.'”

Alex opened her eyes. “I was artificially inseminated?”

“No, silly! Mommy Karen was!”

It was questionable at this point who was the silliest, since Addy didn't know for a fact that Alex knew what artificial insemination was! However, in cases of uncertainty, the best tactic is to always probe to see what the other party understands the terminology to mean.

“Do you know what artificial insemination is?”

“Yes. I saw a documentary on TV about it.”

Oh dear! They are showing that on prime time now? We are going to have to pay closer attention to what this child is watching. I need to talk to Karen about this.

“I watched it because it was about horses.”

Addy chuckled in relief. “About horses?”

“Yes. Like they take a little piece of a champion horse and put it inside the mare and then she has a baby horse that is going to be a champion. It's like a miracle!” She then opened her eyes real big. “Is that what happened with me?”

“Yes, Alex, they do that for humans who cannot have a baby themselves.”

“Like you and Mommy Karen because you are both women.”

“Correct.”

Alex smiled at first, but then her face quickly saddened.

“What's wrong?”

“You are not my real mommy.”

This one she could tackle. “But I am, Alex.”

“Because you adopted me?”

Karen was coming down the stairs and overheard the conversation, however, not wanting to be caught in the situation, stopped behind the wall and listened. She always left these hot potatoes for Addy.

“Alex, let me explain something to you. Do you remember what you just said about the baby horse being a miracle?”

“Yes.”

“Alex you are more than a miracle. First let me say something. Some people have children because they can, others can't have children and adopt them, you, however don't fit in any of those categories. Mommy Karen and I wanted you and dreamed you together, and we went to that doctor together, and I was with Mommy Karen for the whole nine months that it took her body to make and develop you. I talked and sang to you when you were in her belly, and I was there the day you were born, and I was the very first person who ever held you when you came out.”

Alex's eyes revealed excitement. Karen listened attentively with her hand to her mouth to control her lips from quivering. Addy continued in a very calm tone. “The adoption papers were drafted much before you were born, Alex. I wanted you as much as Mommy Karen. I may not be your biological mother, Alex, but I am every bit your mom as Mommy Karen, and by golly if that darn school doesn't want us we'll find another one!” At this point Addy was off her chair and pacing the room.

Alex couldn't quite understand where that last part came from, or why the school had anything to do with her being her mother. It was then that Karen showed up from behind the wall smiling. Alex looked at Karen.

“What Mommy Addy said is all true, Alex. You are hers as much as you are mine. What's more—.”

Addy interrupted, she feared what Karen was about to say. “Ker!” She paused and Karen stopped talking.

“You were listening?” Addy smiled.

Karen realized that she had been purposely stopped and caught. She pursed her lips and gave her a contrite smile. She had been about to tell Alex that it was actually Addy who wanted her and all that stuff about her being her gift to Addy, but Addy interrupted her because she thought that Alex was too young to comprehend that level of love and might think that Karen didn't want her, so she had to cut her short. Karen had no sense when it came to dealing with Alex. She sometimes forgot that although very smart, Alex was still a child.

Alex seemed perfectly happy with the explanations given and with the display of emotion and endorsements from the moms, so she first hugged Addy and then Karen. And all things returned back to normal, at least for the moment.

**

The school board met in the oak paneled conference room. The room always gave the ominous look of antiquity. The green carpet and the massive oak conference table surrounded by the enormously tall leather chairs were a reminder that the school had been there through the ages. The stern faces on the pictures on the wall were also a reminder that the school was the home of Scotland 's oldest families.

Mr. Stetson entered the room and looked around at the familiar faces. Tonight these faces looked different, though. They looked severe. They represented centuries of traditions, unyielding to change. They knew nothing about diversity and would most likely condemn what they could not understand. These were the people who held back the school, and the world. These were the people who had to go to make room for change and for progress. But tonight this was his reality, and he knew he had a tough road ahead.

He feared that his final remarks tonight would be the element of the feared changes that would bring about a tsunami of issues. But these were indeed the changes the school needed so badly. Tonight would be a decisive night in the history of the school. It would mark whether St. Claire's would survive and continue to accomplish its mission in all its greatness to educate Scotland's best, or whether it would succumb to the abyss of obsolescence like many other great institutions which were unable to adapt to the changing times.

The school had to open its doors to all. It had to integrate itself into the modern world. It had to diversify to educate and nourish the minds of all individuals equally. It was only through that exchange that it would enrich itself and its pupils. This was the way to grow and advance into the future. Yes, diversity was not only the right thing, it was necessary to keep abreast of the times. Although he knew there would be an immediate uproar from the board members upon hearing his presentation, in a strange way, he felt good that he would be the one to stir things up in the room tonight, and he smiled thinking of the face of the lovely six year old who was about to turn a four hundred year old institution upside down.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I call this meeting to order. We have three items on the Agenda, and I believe the last item will consume most of our time.” The first and second items were discussed and agreed upon within the first twenty minutes. It was that third item that sent everyone to the spin zone.

“I have been asked by one of the parents to make a correction to one of our student's record. The correction concerns the student's personal information. The student at issue is Ms. Alexandra Marcos MgGuill Larsen, who happens also to be the highest ranked candidate for the gifted and talented program. Ms. Larsen's accomplishments are many. Some of you may already know her from her consistent participation in many school activities.”

“Delightful child.”

“Yes, very articulate and well behaved.”

Some of the board members who knew her spoke very favorably of her.

“You will find her accomplishments and qualifications in the package of information given to you tonight. The correction was requested by Ms. Larsen's biological mother Lady Karen MgGuill Larsen. The correction requested is that Ms. Adriana Marcos appear listed as a parent rather than as the student's legal guardian.”

The members of the board looked up from the paperwork in front of them appearing to be at a loss with the request. Lord Stevers, a gentleman with a very stern look, spoke. “I beg your pardon, Mr. Stetson, did you not say that Lady MgGuill Larsen is the child's mother?”

“Yes, Lord Stevers. I did.”

“Then how could it be possible that Ms. Adriana Marcos can appear as the child's mother as well? Or for that matter how is it that she appears as the child's legal guardian? Is this child the product of a divorced home?” He seemed almost upset with the prospect that the school would have enrolled a child of a divorced home.

The school master pursed his lips, bracing for what was coming. “Lord Stevers, Lady MgGuill Larsen and Ms. Adriana Marcos have a civil partnership under English common law. They established their partnership thirteen years ago. Much before the child was born.”

Lady Audrey Cameron spoke. “And what exactly does that mean? I don't quite understand what their business partnership has to do with all of this! What does this partnership matter, Mr. Stetson?”

Mr. Stetson was about to explain, when everyone was startled with a huge bang on the table. “It means they are bloody gay people! And I will have none of them at our school!” Lord Chesney yelled at the top of his lungs.

“Please! Lord Chesney!” Mr. Stetson called for him to calm down.

With Lord Chesney's bang on the table, his loud uproar, and the sudden realization of the matter at hand, Mrs. Rosalind Thompson, one of the oldest members of the school board exhaled and fainted, dropping her head sideways, thus creating a downward force which dragged her down to the floor right under the table. Everyone rushed when they saw her sliding off her chair. The school secretary ran outside to get salts. It was not the first time there had been a fainting at a board meeting. They practically had to pick her up from under the table as she quickly slid down the leather chair. She was a bit heavy and they had to drag her to the nearby leather sofa.

“Mrs. Thompson, Mrs. Thompson, please wake up!” Ms. Jenkins, the school secretary, cried out to her at the same time that she administered the salts. She was stretched out on the leather sofa. She had lost her shoes and was all discombobulated on the sofa. As Ms. Jenkins applied the salts, Mrs. Thompson began to regain consciousness and sat up on the sofa. “Oh, dear! Oh, dear, Oh dear! Where am I? Samuel, Samuel? What has happened?” Samuel was her dead husband. Even though he had been dead for over twenty years, she still called for him.

“We were talking about Ms. Alexandra Marcos Larsen—.” Mr. Stetson tried to remind her.

“Oh! Dear! That poor child! What are we to do?” She was one who until a few minutes ago had been complementing Alex. “That darling child! Who would have thought? And those two women with her, I thought one was an aunt or something. They look so normal!”

As Mrs. Thompson was being revived, others spoke amongst themselves.

“Looks like we find ourselves with a bit of a pickle here! What are we going to do about this now? I never thought we would be faced with people like that! I thought we were screening people better before accepting them!” Malcom Bride spoke. He was retired military.

“Expelled them! That's what we must do.” Lord Chesney proclaimed.

“Mr. Bride, Lord Chesney, may I remind you that Ms. Larsen is a Lady and thus of noble rank? We cannot possibly expel this child. She and her mother are nobility. If we were to expel her, we would be in every newspaper in the country. We would come across as bigots and it would be known worldwide. Something like that would be detrimental to future patronage of the school. We must be very careful with what we decide. Our decision, could determine the very existence of the school.” Mr. Robertson who was a managing partner of a CPA firm declared.

Mr. Stetson smiled inwardly. Although, Robertson did not yet express his own opinion, at least he was well aware of the consequences of their decision and that was favorable for Alex's cause.

“I will not have it! You admit one and soon we will have a million of them! I will not have the school full of gay people!” Mr. Chesney was very adamant about his position.

Lord Stevers and Lady Cameron seemed to share his position as well.

Paul Bryer, another member of the board and a real estate broker spoke. “I would like to remind the board of several facts. The MgGuill's are not only nobility, but they also hold an influential position in the community. Ms. Larsen is a well-known corporate attorney, known internationally for her expertise. Also, Ms. Marcos single handily created, and managed the Inn of Scotland and later the Inns of Europe, where I'm sure a lot of you stayed in your trips to Europe . They are also the owners of the well-known MgGuill Scotch Distillery, and Stables. The distillery is one of the largest business enterprises in the shire and the country, and its Scotch is known internationally. It is also a very profitable enterprise and crucial to the revenues of the community. When we consider our recommendation, we must bear in mind that we are considering here individuals of the highest caliber in our community. We must also consider that the student in question is an extremely gifted child. My vote is to keep her and to have her attend the gifted program.”

“Thank you Mr. Bryer.” Mr. Stetson couldn't help himself from showing his excitement and obvious position regarding the matter. Mr. Stetson thought to add wood to the fire now. “I would also like to remind the board that, Lady MgGuill and Ms. Marcos are the highest contributors to our school fund raisers and that if we could not count with their contribution the impact would be felt in many of the schools programs.”

“Just exactly how much money do they contribute, Mr. Stetson?” Lady Cameron asked.

“Lady Cameron, I do not have the figures with me. I can provide them to all of you tomorrow, but I assure that the contribution is such that its loss would be felt.”

“Dear God! How much money do they have?” Lady Cameron asked.

Mr. Robertson, the CPA, spoke. “The MgGuill distillery is not a publicly owned corporation. Therefore, its revenues are not made public. Because the distillery is privately owned, that means that these two ladies are the full beneficiaries of the distillery's gross revenues. I wouldn't even dare to estimate the amount of money made by, probably, one of the most well-known Scotch whiskeys in the Kingdom, or maybe even in the world. And, if they ever went public, the queen would be wise to keep them as friends in case, the country ever needed to borrow some cash.”

“Dear God!” She shocked by Mr. Robertson's response.

“Do you still want to see the figures of their contribution to the school, Lady Cameron?” Mr. Stetson asked.

She waved him off with her hand.

There were general comments amongst the board members. Some were in agreement with Mr. Bryer. Some were in an uproar over his suggestion. Some were surprised that the women had so much money. Some talked about the child who was innocent and a ‘poor victim' of the women's deviant behavior.

There were also comments about how could ‘such people' be allowed to raise a child. Some of the board members wanted details of what a civil partnership was, and some inquired as to its legality in Scotland . And some commented as to where this world was headed. Others wondered as to whether the adoption was legal. Between Mr. Stetson and some of the more rational and progressive board members, most of the questions were answered.

The meeting went on well past 11 PM that night. It was at that time that Mrs. Thompson again tipped over, this time due to sleepiness. She again had to be rescued from under the table, and propped up on the sofa. After all, she was past her 8 PM bed time. Lord Stever was also having trouble keeping his eyes open and had snorted a couple of times. Lady Cameron was startled with the snorts and screamed. She in turn startled Mrs. Thompson who was barely coming back from her slumber. Not having reached consensus, Mr. Stetson decided to adjourn the meeting and reconvene in two days when everyone would have had time to think. The next meeting would be held at 4 PM to make sure everyone was well awake.

Karen was aware of the board's meeting day and the following day she called the school.

“Good morning, Ms. Larsen I did not call you because I do not have an answer yet. Last night the board met and deliberated until late, but no consensus was reached. We are meeting in two days to take a vote. I will give you a heads up, though. I'm afraid we are encountering a lot of opposition. I did what I could in terms of presenting your position but you must understand that I cannot do more than I've already done.”

“Yes, I understand, Mr. Stetson. I expected opposition. Thank you for bringing the matter to them. Please let me know the decision.”

“Yes, you will be hearing from me.”

When Karen came through the door that evening, Addy knew things weren't right. She had only but to look at Karen. “No decision yet, I will give you details later.” She didn't want to say ‘when we are alone' because Alex was close by and she could hear.

“Okay.”

They always talked in their bedroom. They had just turn off the light when Karen told Addy what Mr. Stetson said. “It's not looking good, Addy. I'm sorry. I don't know how or what are we going to tell Alex if this doesn't go well. I think I screwed up.”

“No you didn't. You are right on this matter. We are who we are and we have our rights. Alex has to learn to live according to who she is. There are things that will be tough in her life, but she has many advantages and benefits that others don't have. I hope she will rise above all the people that would want to make her life miserable. She will be a better person for it. She will have an understanding of humanity that few people do. Don't worry about it, baby. We'll figure it out. As a matter of fact, I think that if they decide to expel us, we should take them to court. After we win and expose them for their discriminatory treatment, we will take Alex out of the school and place her somewhere else.” It was now Addy who appeared to be venting.

Not getting any response from Karen, Addy looked down and realized that Karen had not heard a thing because she had fallen asleep. She combed Karen's blonde hair back. “I can only hope she finds someone as wonderful as you someday.” She kissed Karen on the cheek and Karen immediately responded finding her lips and giving her a delicious, sweet, wet kiss. It was so good, Addy's insides churned and she chuckled, thinking of the many times Karen had claimed that she responded to her even when asleep. Look who's responding now! Karen had also always claimed that she could find Addy's lips in a pitch dark room.

**

Interestingly, Addy wasted no time to start preparing Alex in case the worst happened. Karen was reading sitting across from them and had to look up upon hearing the initial comment, then she could not take her attention from the conversation developing in front of her.

“You know when I was growing up I went to more than ten schools.”

Alex looked at her wide eyed. “Why?”

“Well, once we left our country, my parents moved a lot trying to find a good place to live.”

“Did they find it?”

Addy smiled. Alex always wanted more information. No wonder she was so smart. She was like a sponge absorbing everything around her. However, Alex's question took the conversation out of context and she had to get the conversation back on track.

“Yes, they did. But you know what? I think that even if I had lived all my life in the same place, I would have liked to have gone to more than one school.”

“Why?”

“To meet new people, see other things.”

Karen had to bite her lip not to laugh at the absurdity of the conversation. Alex nevertheless saw her smile. Karen had to cover up saying that the book she was reading had funny anecdotes.

“But that's not a funny book, Mommy. It's a book about the economy. I can see the title. What is funny about that?” Alex asked.

“Baby girl, this economy is a joke!”

Alex laughed. Then she turned to Addy and asked. “M'Addy, do you think I will get to go to other schools also?

Bingo! Now it was Addy who chuckled. Karen looked like she had swallowed a fly.

“Sweetie pie, I'm sure you will. You are young and life is long. There are a lot of good things ahead of you. But now we must go to bed.” Alex jumped to her feet, picked up her homework papers and began to walk upstairs followed by Addy. Before going up, Addy looked back to Karen and winked. Karen said nothing and smiled.

**

Two days later the school board reconvened. “Ladies and gentleman, two night ago we had a very animated conversation. I hope everyone is well rested and that serious consideration has been given to the matter. The decision you will make today, will be decisive to the school's survival. I suggest that we immediately carry out a vote and accept the vote of the majority as final. If upon tallying the votes, the majority is in favor of expelling Ms. Marcos Larsen, I will call Ms. Larsen in the morning and communicate the news allowing her the necessary time to make the necessary arrangements to make her child's transition to another school adequately. If on the other hand, the majority votes to keep Ms. Marcos Larsen as our student, I move to immediately accept her into the gifted program and that we continue business as usual. I also move that the board extend apologies to the family for the inconvenience and stress caused.”

“I second the motion.” Bryer remarked. Lord Chesney turned such a color of red he looked as if he could explode.

“All in favor?”

“Aye!”

“Are you well, Lord Chesney? Would you like Ms. Jenkins to fetch you some water?”

“Some Scotch is what I need!”

“Would that be MgGuill Scotch you'd be having?” Mr. Bryer inquired with a smirk on his face.

“Bloody not! Damn women! Or whatever they are!”

“Now Gentlemen, let's proceed with order and keep our decorum.” Mr. Stetson suggested.

“Very well, let's proceed, by secret ballot. Those wanting to expel, will write expel. Those wanting to keep, will write keep. It's a simple vote.” The board members proceeded to write down their votes. The votes were passed down. “I have in this envelope the ninth vote, as usual, I am acting as proxy for . . .”

“Yes, Yes! Stetson, go on!” Lord Chesney couldn't wait to get it over with. During the last two days, he had called all the board members and had lobbied for his position to expel. He claimed that the prestige of the school was at stake and that if they allowed one instance, even if due to special circumstances, others would come.

Mr. Stetson proceeded to count the votes. Four were in favor of expelling, four in favor to keep.

“Looks like the ninth vote will be the tie breaker.” All eyes were on Mr. Stetson, when he opened the envelope.

“It's a letter addressed to the board.” Mr. Stetson remarked.

“'For God's sake! Read it then! What does he have to say?”

“In all my years in Altee, I have never met more remarkable women than Karen Larsen and Adriana Marcos. I will not talk about their credentials of nobility, wealth or standing in the community as you are all most likely aware of their position. So, I will speak about them as human beings. A few years ago, much before their little Alex was born, one of my patients a young boy of six years was very ill and needed an appendectomy. In the worst night ever seen around this part of the world, with snow to my knees, those two women answered my plea to drive the boy, his mother and me all the way to Edinburgh in blizzard like conditions. Needless to say, we got there in time, the boy had his appendectomy and he did well. Had it not been for the courage and generosity of those two women, that boy would be dead today.” Mr. Stetson continued to read.

“As for their young daughter, I have never seen anyone raise a child, with such love, care and dedication. In a custody battle that took place years ago, with Ms. Larsen's ill-hearted relatives, these women signed off their entire estate to their relatives in exchange for keeping their child. Only the intervention of our beloved friend and barrister, Andrew Kimbell, with the entire town of Altee backing him up, were able to stop that great injustice. “I attempt to do the same today.” Mr. Stetson paused to give some thoughts to the words he had just read and then he continued reading.

“St. Claire would do itself a great favor by keeping young Alexandra as its student. I'd wager my entire estate that this particular young lady will one day make St. Claire's proud. My vote is to keep her enrolled and to list Ms. Adriana Marcos as her mother as well as Ms. Larsen. In addition, the failure to admit the child into the gifted program would be a travesty, as it is not often we have the opportunity to shape the heart and mind of someone so special. I also vote that this matter be put to rest today and that the shame of having carried out this vote never leave the walls of this conference room, for the sake and reputation of the school. We have no right to dictate what is right and what is wrong in the eyes of God. Who are we to judge our fellow men? And, for that matter, who are we to judge love? In the eyes of God, love is love, and that is what I see in this family, a lot of love. This is my vote. Respectfully, Sir William Naylor, MD.”

The room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Mr. Stetson spoke. “The votes are five to four in favor of keeping. As agreed earlier, no more will be discussed on this subject. I will call Ms. Larsen tomorrow and present our apology. No one said a word and the matter was put to rest. Cheney left fuming, but resigned to his fate.

Mr. Stetson called them immediately and offered apologies for having been put through such an ordeal. The women were overjoyed with the news. However, Karen was still concerned, and that night, again, they talked in the privacy of their room.

“The vote was 5-4. That is cutting it close and I don't like it. I really think we need to find a way to infiltrate the school board, Addy.” She looked at Addy as she undressed. Addy was already in bed. Karen turned off the light and cuddled to her, making her usual sounds of pleasure as she did every night while Addy responded with her usual chuckle. They immediately ran their hands over each other's body “Am I all here?” Addy would ask sometimes joking. “Oh, yeah! Very much.”

**

To be continued in Part 6.

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