Disclaimers: See Part 1
© 2012 . All rights reserved. This story, or any of its parts, may not be reproduced without the prior express permission of the author.
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Karen was driving home in terrible traffic. It took forever to make it to Altee.
“Babe! I'm home.”
“We are upstairs. We'll come down in a minute!”
When Karen saw the twosome, she hugged and kissed both as if it had been an eternity since she'd last seen them. It was about 7 pm.
“Sorry I got home so late. I left at 5:15 and by the time I got to the car and made it to the highway, it took forever. I had no idea the traffic was so bad out of Edinburgh at that time. I guess I'm totally out of the loop with the commuting stuff around here.”
Addy put Alex in her playpen. “I'm going to warm up your dinner, go up and change into something comfy.”
Before she headed upstairs, Karen stopped in the kitchen, where Addy was, and kissed her. She then headed upstairs and changed. When she came down, her dinner was warm on the table, and she sat down to eat. “Umm , this is good. I didn't know I was so hungry! So what did you guys do today?” Addy sat next to her on the table.
“Oh, we had breakfast, played here at home for a little while and in the afternoon went to the stables to see the horsies and then came back. Then it was bath and nap time and after that we read some and then Ms. Alex played in her playpen while I was making dinner. Very busy.” Addy smiled and opened her eyes in her customary way. Karen smiled as she chewed her dinner.
When she finished, she placed her dish and cup in the dishwasher and took Addy by the hand. Addy had a cup of coffee in hand. “Here's your latte.”
“Thanks, baby. Come sit with me.” Karen sat on the love seat and pulled Addy to her.
“You should be reclining on me and not me on you. You had a long day with that commute. You must be tired.”
Karen looked at her. “I'm tired, but you feel good. You have no idea how good it is to be here with you.” She gave her a loud sounding kiss. Addy was sprawled over her. Their legs intertwined. “There is nothing like home.” All the time, Alex was trying to get their attention calling them from her playpen. “Mamamama, mamamama…” Addy finally got up and placed her on Karen's lap. The little one was delighted in her mom's arms. Karen kissed her and Alex nuzzled into her.
“Do you think we can get someone to sleep quickly so that we can have time to ourselves?”
“You bet. But first tell me about your day. How's Phil doing?”
“Phil is worried, scared. As for the day, it was a waste. There is so much to look at, I don't even know where to start. This is going to take time, and look at what time I got here today! And then there is the added issue that I don't want to bring anything home with me. I want this far from us.”
Addy looked at her seriously. “You found something already, I know.”
Karen smiled. “I don't know how you do it! Well, it's not so much that I've found something, it's just that things are not adding up and that is indicative that something is not right.”
I found these promissory notes to hedge funds. I need to follow up on that.”
“How much money are we talking about here?”
Addy, who was still reclining on Karen, sat up a bit in astonishment.
“If there is fraud involved. Phil will have to blow the whistle. Sparrow and Finch goes down big time. Everyone loses their jobs. The firm does not have that kind of equity to pay off. Plus, if the partners committed fraud, there might be jail time.”
“Wow! And Phil?”
“He is a partner. He's got to blow the whistle to come out clean. It'll be a mess. He'll lose everything he had in there.”
“Smith, Cronner and Stanton.”
“Shit! The biggies.”
Addy leaned into her again. “How are you going to handle this?”
“Since I have to go there to look at the documents, I guess we'll have more days like this. Sorry, babe, I just don't want to bring any of that crap here. Any ideas? Suggestions?” Karen always asked because she knew that Addy always had good ideas.
Karen raised her eyebrows, knowing that something was coming. “Oh, oh! Why do I suspect a bright idea coming?”
“Because…one is coming! First, I know you can do this. You need to help Phillip and that's that. But, you need peace of mind to think, and to do what you have to do. Most importantly you need to be able to focus on what you are doing. If anyone can help Phil, it's you. Second, today you called me about seven times, and spent an hour going in and two coming back. Nothing of that can happen if you are going to do this, so the solution is simple, for our peace of mind and your safety, Alex and I will move to the apartment in the city until you finish this project, however long it takes. We will be closer and you will feel more reachable and your commute will be practically none. So, it's a no brainer.”
Karen looked at her in awe. “You'd do that?”
“Ker! I'm surprised that you have any doubt that I'd do it! I don't see why you just didn't ask!”
“Baby, because I don't want to inconvenience you and disrupt your life and the Little Bit's routine.”
“Honey, what I do here, I can do there, except going to see the horses, but what are you talking about disrupting my life and Little Bit's? You are my life! Our lives! I go where you go and Little Bit doesn't go to school yet, so we are pretty mobile. You need to help Phil. I can't help him, but I can help you help him.”
Karen was touched by Addy's words. “I love you, Adriana. Have I ever told you that I even love the sound of your name? Adriana.” She kissed her nose, her cheeks and her lips. “Having the two of you closer will definitely give me peace of mind. I was restless today thinking that you guys were so far away. The thought of you needing me and me being so far made me anxious. You are right about that. I need you close to me.” She pulled Addy closer and they kissed again. Addy combed Karen's hair back and smiled.
Alex was jumping up and down on her lap. “Let me take our Mexican jumping bean here upstairs and put her to sleep. If you do it, it will take longer because you play too much with her. That will also give me some time with her. I've barely seen her today and I missed the little brat.” She made playful faces to the little one who was extremely happy jumping up and down on her lap. “After, we can have our time.”
“Okay. I'll lock up and do my Sudoku and then I'll come up.”
Karen took Alex, warmed up a bottle of milk and went upstairs. An hour later, Addy came up to find mother and daughter sleeping on Alex's mattress.
Addy knelt in front of her and whispered in Karen's ear. She didn't want to risk waking up the little one. “Ker, baby, get up.”
“Umm, ah, yeah, is she?”
“Sssssh, yes, come on.”
They tucked the little one in, kissed her and went to their bedroom.
“I'm going to shower.”
“Always. Come on, we can leave the door open to listen for the little one.”
“I have a better idea. Let's take a bath in the Jacuzzi.” Addy smiled. Karen was already running the water. Once the tub was full she got in. “Come here, sexy.”
Addy finished removing her clothes and got in between Karen's legs and began to rub Karen's toned thighs. Karen immediately wrapped herself around Addy and snuggled into her neck, gently caressing her. “Umm! Nothing like coming home.”
Addy leaned back against her, letting her head rest on Karen's shoulder. “You drive me up the walls, Ms. Addy.”
“Umm, I love driving you up there.” She turned a bit and kissed her.
Karen continued to caress and massage her abdomen and peripheral areas slowly taking longer strokes, each one going further and further down. Addy stretched out and gave her better access to where she wanted to be touched. A few minutes later she was trembling in Karen's arms.
Karen nibbled her ear and whispered. “You okay?”
“Umm, awesome, baby.” She was totally spent in her arms.
“I think I'm going to like having you in the apartment so close. Maybe I can come home for a quick treat.”
Addy chuckled. “I've never seen any quickness on our menu. I don't think we know the word quick.”
Karen chuckled. “Um huh. You are right about that! Slow and long, that's our specialty.”
“But we could whip up something.” As she talked, they switched places. Karen was aroused just knowing that she was between Addy's legs. “You may want to practice on the quick something because it's not going to take long, baby. I don't know how you do it, but you sure know how to put me on the edge in a matter of seconds!”
Addy chuckled and nibbled and whispered lovingly into her ear, as she caressed the body in her arms with gentle, long strokes. “Addy…” Addy acquiesce to the demand, reaching deeper as Karen shuddered in an overwhelming orgasm. “Oh God!”
“I got you love, I've got you.” Karen collapsed in her arms. “Addy…” Addy continued to kiss and caress her, as she came down from her high. There was a long, relaxing silence. “Are you falling asleep, baby?”
“Um huh. I am in a perfect spot. I don't want to move.” Karen replied
Addy smiled. “We are going to be like prunes in the morning, if we don't get out of this tub! Come on. Let's go to bed.”
They got out and dried themselves and returned to cuddling in bed as they continued to talk.
“I'll start packing tomorrow and move over the weekend, unless you need to be there sooner.”
“The sooner the better. We'll move during the week and spend the weekend there. I can go in on Monday.”
“Ker, what are you going to tell everyone there now that you are going to be going in regularly?”
“I guess I could say that I'm working on a project for Phillip. That is actually what I'm doing, no? That bath relaxed me.”
Karen grinned and kissed her. “Yes, the bath!”
Addy smacked her on the butt as they rolled into bed.
“Hey, we'll have to tell JP and James about the temporary move. I also have to go to the stables and square things away there.”
Karen was not talking anymore. She just listened to Addy's plans.
She noticed that Karen was falling asleep. “I love you, baby.”
A sleepy Karen mumbled. “Me too.”
Following Addy's suggestion, that same week they packed, made arrangements for the apartment to be cleaned and moved. Since the apartment was furnished they only took Alex's things and their clothing. The move was easy. It only took two trips. They went grocery shopping and by the weekend they were already settled in. They used the weekend to make themselves at home. By Monday, Karen was ready to go off to help Phil find the proof he needed. Having Addy and Alex close by made Karen feel better, and when she left Monday morning, she was okay.
The night before they had what Addy called the re-initiation night at the apartment. As if they needed any excuse, Addy liked making pronouncements of that nature and Karen loved the things she'd come up with. In the morning, Karen was treated to what Addy called “a complementary wake up call.” Karen whispered in her ear. “I'm beginning to love this apartment. It has so many perks. I'm wondering if there could be any mid-day treats?”
Addy chuckled in her ear. “Don't even think about it, woman! You have a job to do. No fooling around in the middle of the day!”
“But you said you were going to think about it!”
“I did, and the answer is no. No quickies! Go shower, now!”
Karen grimaced and headed for the shower.
Addy got up and took care of Alex who was already calling.
When Karen came out of the bedroom she was all dressed up. She went to the kitchen got her coffee and bagel and ate while Addy fed the little one.
Alex was in her playpen and Addy was in her robe in the kitchen putting away their breakfast dishes and cleaning up.
“You look sexy in your robe.”
Addy smiled. “Don't start woman! You have to go. You'll be late. I don't even want to look at you. If I do I might tear that blue suit off. You look too awesome, I need you out of here now!”
Karen smiled and came close. She undid the belt on her robe and wrapped her arms around a very naked Addy. She kissed her and whispered. “I can still smell your scent in me.”
“Out!” Addy pushed her, still smiling and wrapping her robe around her again. “Out!” Karen walked out grinning and throwing her kisses with her hand.
“For God's sake woman, just go! Why is it so hard for you to leave this place?”
“Because this place is heaven and everyone wants to be in heaven!” Karen chuckled, kissed her and walked out the door.
“I'll call you when I get there.”
“Whenever, baby. We'll be here.”
She called ten minutes later when she got to the office.
It took eleven weeks for Karen to uncover all the proof needed regarding the fraudulent activities. Phil was satisfied and ready to make the move. The problem was how to go about it.
That night when Karen came home, she presented the matter to Addy. “So, what's your take on how to proceed now that we have gathered all the evidence?”
“What do you mean?”
“How do we report this to the appropriate authorities?”
“Oh that! I thought about it already. Leave it to me.”
Karen chuckled intrigued by Addy's response. “Care to share?” She was readying herself for another Addy spin. Addy seemed so nonchalant about the whole matter, as if it was just a matter of reporting a power outage to the power company.
Addy was in the kitchen, she had been cooking and had a wooden mixing spoon in her hand. “I need to give you a little history before I proceed.” She waved the wooden spoon in the air as she spoke, making Karen smile.
Karen sat in the stool behind the kitchen counter munching some cheese and sipping some wine. She waved her wine cup in the air as if toasting. “By all means! Proceed, my lady.”
Addy smiled. She could tell that Karen was amused by her demeanor and was not expecting a real plan, but perhaps some crazy idea. “Well, you know how sometimes you've questioned my charitable contributions to the Battered Women Fund Society?”
Karen raised an eyebrow. “Yes, but how is that related to my question and our current matter with Phil?”
Addy placed her elbows on the counter and held her face in her hands very close to Karen's face. “Stephanie Sinclair is the Chairman of the Board of the Society.”
“She also happens to be the head prosecutor in the financial crimes division for the city of Edinburgh .” Addy paused and wiggled her eyebrows in the very cute way she knew Karen liked. “Thanks to my involvement with the fund we are on a first name basis. Do you remember the society meetings at the Inn ?”
Karen nodded and smiled, unbelieving the woman in front of her. When they had the Inn , Addy helped to put together several fundraisers for the Battered Women Fund Society. Not only had she helped, but as her contribution she had not billed the fund for the events. It was then that she met Stephanie. Stephanie thought the world of Addy and had told her that if she could ever help her with anything not to hesitate and ask.
“All I need to do is make a phone call, schedule a meeting, lay out the situation and ask for terms. She will acquiesce to any terms because she is ambitious and looking for that case which will put her in the public eye. This is that case for her. So, all we need to decide with Phil is what are his terms. Then I'll schedule the meeting. You, dear one, may be the financial wiz, but my business is…. people.” She stressed the ‘people' word opening her mouth and moving her tongue inside her mouth left and right several times, in a gloating mode.
Karen chuckled. “You are amazing! I cannot believe the things you work out sometimes!”
Addy got closer and kissed her. Karen held on to her, biting her lower lip, and spoke in a husky voice. “How about you and I holding a very private meeting in the bedroom now?”
In the same seductive tone, Addy asked. “And what do you propose doing with the little one?”
“She can play in her playpen for a while. We'll play a tape for her. I think we need some play time also.”
Addy laughed. “We'll see if your scheme works with the Little Bit.”
It did. Little Bit played and watched her movie from the playpen and the moms played joyfully in the next room.
“Stephanie, I'm glad you could meet me for lunch.”
“Addy, it's always a pleasure to see you. So, what brings you to the city? Is there something I can do for you?”
“Yes and no.
Having dealt with Addy before, Stephanie started to laugh.
“Oh, oh! Why do I smell trouble here?”
Addy grinned. “Do not fear, my friend, I think you are to benefit from this meeting more than I am. Which goes to show that, sometimes, it's good to have friends who bring some trouble.”
That intro immediately caught Stephanie's interest.
“Spill, woman, you have me biting my nails already.”
Addy laughed s the waiter came to take their order. They placed their order and started talking about their respective families, the shelter for battered women, and finally about the main topic.
“So, Addy, what was this that you said you had for me?”
“Stephanie, I am going to dump on your lap a hot potato. Which I think will gain you front page on the papers.”
Stephanie was super attentive now.
Addy explained without mentioning names.
“So what's the deal here?”
“The whistleblower comes out clean. The investigator remains anonymous.”
“Why wouldn't the investigator want credit for uncovering whatever?”
“Because the investigator is not in the business of investigation and is doing this as a favor to a friend in trouble.”
“Good enough. You have a deal. Spill. Who are we talking about?
The biggest law firm in the country, Sparrow and Finch.”
Stephanie was in almost shock. “For God's sake, speak! First, who is the whistleblower?”
“And the investigator?”
A wide-eyed Stephanie asked. “Your Karen?”
“Yes, my Karen.”
“Still interested, or is this too much to tackle?”
“No. I want to hear this. Phillip Tidwell is nobility and a top financial mind in the country and if Karen found irregularities, this has to be genuine. What is going on?”
When Addy mentioned that Karen was the one looking for the evidence, Stephanie's demeanor changed. Karen's financial expertise was well known. Karen had arranged innumerable IPOs and consolidated business conglomerates and prepared bankruptcy plans for billionaire companies. Karen had also been contacted by the SEC and the Federal Reserve for advice. In the business world, those who knew the business, knew who they were. Karen was at the top of the list on financial matters. She also knew that if Karen found proof. The proof was good.
“I need to talk to Phil and I need to see the evidence.”
“Tell me when. Phil will come in. I will bring the evidence.”
All was done. Phillip spoke to Stephanie and Karen handed over to the Justice Department experts all the she had uncovered. The evidence was totally damning and well defined once exposed. Stephanie took on the case and was able to prove the accusations in court. The partners' assets were immediately frozen. They were indicted and found guilty of several felonies which resulted in jail terms. The firm closed, after going bankrupt. The firm did not have sufficient assets to provide restoration.
Phil lost a lot of money with the firm going bankrupt, but at least he did not lose his reputation and did not have to serve jail time. After the debacle was over, he withdrew to his family's estate. The entire credit of the investigation went to the Justice department and mainly to Stephanie. Stephanie became famous overnight and a year later she was up for a judgeship position in Glasgow .
Stephanie met them after the trial was over. They had Alex with them. “It seems like everyone got something out of all these except you two. You didn't even get paid for your investigation and all the inconveniences it put you through. Why?”
Karen spoke. “We helped a friend. We were not in it for anything else. Everything happened as it should have.”
“So, now you are going back to Altee? To do what? I mean you guys are perfect. You are the savviest business women I've ever known and there you are tucked away in a tiny little town hiding from the world. Karen you are widely known for your financial expertise. You guys could be at the top of your game.”
Karen spoke again. “We are not hiding. We are living the life we want.”
“Karen, but you have a bright financial mind and…”
“Stephanie, we were partners in a law firm in DC. We know what it's like. We left all that behind. We don't want that anymore. We've made other choices and we are happy. We are now raising our daughter and that is what we want to do.”
“Well, if there's ever anything I can do for you, you got it.”
“Thanks.” The women said their goodbyes and left for home.
Soon after, they moved back to the cottage. On the trip back Karen was driving and Addy was very quiet. Alex was making all kinds of noises in the back before she finally fell asleep.
“She's out already. I can believe it sometimes. It only takes a three minute car-ride and she's done.” She chuckled. Addy remained quiet.
“Are you okay? Why are you so quiet? I don't like it when you are quiet. It means that you have something on your mind. It was what Stephanie said, isn't it? I know you too well, Adriana. Your mind has gone wild, I know it.”
Addy grinned and looked at Karen. “You know me too well. I can't even have private thoughts anymore!”
“Nope, no private thoughts. We are one, aren't we?”
Addy gave her a smug look. Karen looked at her. “What?”
“Are you happy Karen?”
“Addy! What kind of a question is that?”
“No, seriously, Ker. I know you are happy with me and with Alex. I'm not talking on the home front. I'm talking professionally. I mean, all of a sudden I'm thinking. When we left DC and came here, I was tired of what I was doing and, you well, you were thrilled about being together at last and left everything behind for us and for a new beginning. Then we were both working from here and that kept us, mostly you busy. Then I quit again and then I asked you to quit because we didn't need the money and you were killing yourself without need. But the truth is that you never really quit because you wanted to. I've seen you these last few weeks while working, and I see that spark in your eyes again. Now I'm wondering whether you should go back to work, or if that's what you want to. That's all that's on my mind now.”
“Addy, I don't want to commute to the city and I don't want Alex to grow up caged in an apartment downtown. I don't like the litigation, I enjoy the financial work, yes, I'll admit to that, but I'm not going to sacrifice my family just because I enjoy playing with numbers!”
“But you could work from Altee, if that's what you want. And now with no Sparrow and Finch, I'm sure there are lots of people out there looking for a good securities and finance lawyer. This may be your opportunity.”
“Forget it, Addy.”
“I can't! You spend a lot of time and money on a great financial legal education, and I hate to see your great mind not used to capacity.”
“Addy, you think too highly of me.”
“Why? Because I see the truth and I call it? You are amazing and I want you to use your brain. I want our daughter to grow up and see what a financial whiz her mom is. She needs a good example.”
“I could say the same thing about you. What are you doing professionally for yourself now?”
“It's different with me. I didn't like what I was doing. I had it with the legal world. I didn't want to be a lawyer anymore. I like dealing with people. I handle people well and I do that all the time. I enjoy hosting events at the distillery and at the stables and networking and meeting people. That's my thing, that's what I really do well and enjoy doing and what I am actually doing, as a matter of fact. You instead, are acquiescing to all of my nonsense!”
They were both quiet for a while.
“So, you propose that I start a financial firm from the cottage and work while Alex naps?”
Addy was thoughtful, and chuckled.
“No. That will not work. If something is to be done, it will be done well.”
“So what do you have in mind? What do you propose I do? I'm all ears, Addypooh.”
“Nice, Ker! Putting it on me!”
“Well, you are always the one with the bright, crazy ideas that work! This sounds right up your alley!”
Addy smirked. Karen could see hurricane Addy coming with full force. She had fueled this force of nature and nothing would stop it now.
“The Manor house, the law firm will be at the manor house.”
“What?! Now you've really flipped!”
“Sssh! You asked for a bright working idea….this is my vision. It was once an Inn . It's a huge house. Part of it can surely be converted into legal offices. I'll call Sandy and make the arrangements.”
“Addy, Altee is an hour away from Edinburgh . Who will come here to do business and where would they stay?”
“Aha! You'd know if you'd let me finish!”
“You know that movie that said something like ‘build it and they will come?'”
“They will come to Altee looking for the brightest and best legal financial brain in the country, that, my dear, is you.”
Karen laughed. “Ha!”
“We will build the offices on one side. We can talk to Sarah and cover the expense of fixing up a few nice rooms at her inn. If anyone ever needs to stay overnight, we'll board them and the inn. JP and James can rehabilitate Isabella's house which is way closer to the distillery and move there. We've talked with them about it before. You can ask Phil to come and work with you and as the business grows you can hire younger attorneys to do the heavy lifting. This would all be for now. If the firm takes off big time, we'll expand and maybe buy a building in town. We'll see.”
By the time they got home, Addy had built an entire firm for Karen. They got out of the car and Karen came around to her side to take Alex out of the car seat, but before she did, she stood in front of Addy. “In all my life, I have never met anyone like you Adriana. You can build a mountain from a grain of sand! You build an empire out of an idea. You are either the craziest or the most amazing person in the world.” She rolled her eyes and removed Alex from the car seat.
Addy smiled. “I will go with amazing. Everything starts with an idea, Ker. Some are successful, others aren't. Someone has to try them to see if they work.”
“Here, take the baby. I'll get the door.” Alex was still asleep.
Once inside the cottage, Karen continued to talk. Addy had Alex in her arms and was heading upstairs.
“Addy, before you talk to Sandy and have the 23 rooms at the manor converted to offices...”
Addy sneered, hearing Karen's comments.
“Let me talk to Phil first about clients. We cannot start anything without clients. And the ideal thing would be to have only a few clients with hefty accounts. I don't want to have to litigate. I like the financial aspects better.”
“Then, why instead of a law firm, not open a consulting firm for law firms. You'd be working as an independent contractor for the law firms as a financial expert and they can do the litigating.”
Karen was in shock looking at her. “Do you think of all these things in advance or is it a spur of the moment thing?”
Addy was wondering what she meant. “What?”
Karen nodded unbelieving. “You have all these brilliant ideas in the fraction of a second and you are asking me what?”
“Well, here's another idea. Since Stephanie came out triumphant as a crusader for the rightfulness of the financial world, why don't we contact her? Maybe she already knows of law firms looking for financial expertise. She already thinks very highly of you.”
Karen continued to nod her head. “Goodness, Addy, you are on a roll!”
Karen talked to Phil, and Addy talked to Stephanie and the machine began to work. In two weeks, Karen was already visiting prospective law-firms. She had decided to follow Addy's suggestion and be a consultant. She'd remain as an independent contractor to the law firms and would not have to litigate but rather serve as their expert in specific projects.
She decided to be selective and interview with only a few law firms. She was not doing this for the money, nor did she want to kill herself with work. The problem was that she was good at what she did and law firms would soon be pouring in for a piece of her. She promised Addy to keep it simple, and she was resolved to keep her promise. It would be a privilege for any law firm to count on her services.
She also had to make sure that whoever her clients were there would be no conflict of interests. A month later, she was already working. Phil accepted her job offer and Addy began her law office project at the Manor.
She called Sandy , and the remodeling began. They only remodeled a section of the Manor. They chose the left side which was furthest from the pool area. They modified the patio also by bringing the fence in so that the pool would not be visible from the offices. They opened a side entrance and parking area on the side so that the offices were isolated from the rest of the house. There were going to be seven offices, two conference rooms, one reception area and, of course, bathrooms and a pantry area. From Karen's office there was a door that opened to the house. That door remained closed for now. Addy decided that a minimum of seven offices was necessary because she thought soon they would need more help.
“You should take one of the offices, Addypooh. You can run the stables and distillery events from there.”
Addy was only in charge of Hospitality and social events. She also looked over the managing of the stables. James pretty much ran the distillery. Addy was in the process of looking for a manager for the stables, but no one had met her specifications yet. Once that was done, she and JP would handle events only. She was also going to be the caretaker of Little Bit during the time Karen spent working. Alex would be with her when she was arranging events, and when she couldn't take Alex, she would drop her off with Karen for a few hours. Their schedules were flexible and things always worked out.
Addy declined the offer of an office in the manor. “Thanks, baby, I would rather operate from home. I also think it will do us good to have our own space.”
“Why?” Karen asked worried. She always wanted to have Addy close.
“Because that way we'll each have something to talk about in the evenings. And you need to keep a professional look over there. Having milk bottles, snacks in the refrigerator and a playpen in an office does not give the appearance of financial professionalism.”
Karen chuckled, not too happy. But she had to admit that Addy was right.
“Maybe when Alex starts school, I will, but not for now. Who knows! We may need to add extra offices!”
“Yeah, right! Like we are going to be a million dollar operation!”
“Think big, honey, think big.”
Karen grinned and thought that this is why Addy was always successful. She always thought beyond the obvious and immediate, beyond the plain and simple. She'd build a castle while others built a house!
“I'm interviewing someone today to manage the stables. Maybe he will work out.”
“When are you meeting this person?"
“At 2, why?”
“Because someone just turned into our driveway.”
“Who could it be? I'm not expecting anyone.”
When the driver got out of the car, they realized it was Carol.
Addy ran outside to greet her. “Carol! It's so good to see you!”
Addy was immediately hugging her. Karen pursed her lips. This is why she is a ‘people' person. She's always hugging everyone! Karen was never too happy when she saw Addy hugging other people.
Addy just couldn't help it, it was the way she was, a warm person. They had talked about the issue of hugging people before. “I don't like it.” Karen admitted at the end of the conversation. “I cannot believe that you are jealous, Ker!” Karen knew her reply was absurd and remained quiet. “I don't hug everyone like I hug you!” She winked. Karen knew, for sure that this was true, and smirked. Addy loved to tease her.
“So, Carol, what brings you to Altee?”
“Oh, my God! This must be the little one!”
She took Alex from Karen's arms.
“Karen, you cannot deny her! For God's sake, she your spitting image!”
Karen smiled. She always had mixed feelings about that remark. On the one hand she was very proud. On the other hand it made her sad because Alex looked nothing like Addy. Alex didn't even get the planned brown hair. She had told Addy about how she felt and Addy always had something to say.
“Yep, I have two of them to love now!”
“Oh, God bless her! Well Addy, if what you are wondering is if I came looking for Mary, the answer is no, so help me God!” She laughed. “My sister and I are going to start a bakery café in town though. This time it is going to work, I have some help. I have some money saved and I'm planning to buy Mildred's cottage at the end of town and open up the place there. My sister just retired and is going to help me.”
“That is nice. Won't you come in and have some tea with us?”
“Oh, well I don't want to impose, I just wanted to say hello and…”
“Come on, Carol, you are very welcome, plus we need to catch up. Tell us all about what you've been doing in Glasgow .” They walked inside the house. Karen rolled her eyes, and was already trying to figure out how to make her escape. Yeah, Little Bit needed a nap! Sometimes having a kid is useful!
When Carol left, they were having lunch in the kitchen. Addy had to leave to meet the prospective manager for the stables.
“So what do you think about Carol's return? Do you think she really meant that she didn't return to look for Mary?” Addy asked.
“To be frank, the idea of an ex in town means trouble. An ex is always an ex!”
At two that afternoon, Addy was at the stable waiting for Mr. Marshal Kennedy to arrive. An old truck pulled up and a woman with a cowboy hat got off. She was probably in her fifties. Kind of full figured, about 5'7, big boobs and a very commanding demeanor.
“Looking for Ms. Adriana Marcos.”
“That would be me, and you are?”
“Marshall, Marshall Kennedy.”
Addy was a bit surprised. To begin with, she was expecting a man. And then, this woman did not look like your traditional woman. Marshall had the look one would have found in a movie of a frontier woman. In her sixties, tanned skin from excessive exposure to the sun, wrinkles again marked by, perhaps, over exposure to the weather, about five feet ten and husky in her body type. “Well, come on in and let's talk about horses.”
Addy liked her immediately. She was not pretentious and very down to earth. She came well recommended and knew about horse breeding and boarding, exactly what she needed. She had run ranches in Kentucky and Texas and retired to Scotland to move in with her sister, but living with a sister proved to be the wrong move, so she put out the word that she was looking for a job and as soon as she found one she could find a place to live.
“I've interviewed with a few other people. I'm waiting on their offers also, you know.”
“Yes, I understand, Ms. Kennedy. I would just like to show you the apartment which would be your residence, if you would like, of course.”
“Apartment? Didn't know you provided living quarters.”
“Oh, yes. It's a very nice two bedroom apartment with all the modern conveniences. We also have a brand new four wheel drive vehicle that we want to get for you, if you decide to stay with us. We didn't want to get it until we knew your preference.”
The latter was not a true statement, but Addy threw that in because she wanted this woman to accept the job. This woman had the right credentials and came highly recommended. She was perfect for the job, and Addy knew it. Addy also knew how to sell an idea. After all, a person who was in the business of the ‘bright ideas' as Karen called it, had to know how to sell them!
“What? My preference, a four wheel drive? Ms. Marcos, you give me a place to live, a brand new vehicle of my choice and a salary. Ma'am, I'd like to take the job.”
“What about your other possible offers? Aren't you going to wait for them?”
“Ma'am, I know a good thing when I see it. One thing I do well is recognize value. You've got class. You are not nickel and diming me. If you give me the job, I'll take it.”
“When can you start?”
“I can be here tomorrow morning. There's one thing I have to tell you, though. Some people don't like it, but it's who I am and I'm not the type to be hiding from anyone, too old for that. I'm gay and I'm out.”
Addy smiled. “Well, Ms. Kennedy…”
“You can call me Marshall, Ma'am.”
“Well, Marshall , you will be glad to know that you can feel right at home, because my partner and I are also lesbians and we are out as well! So, I'll be here at 10 tomorrow to introduce you to everyone. You can move in whenever you want to. Here is the key to the apartment. Let me take you there.”
“Well, I should go on and play the lottery, how much luckier can one get on one day?”
Ms. Marshall got much luckier than that when later that day while scouting the town, she came across Carol and her sister who were surveying their newly bought property. Cupid did his trick and that is how Ms. Marshall got into the habit of going to town for cookies in the evenings.
“What?! You are buying a new four wheel drive for the stable s manager?! Are you out of your mind? Wait why do I even bother asking? I already know that you are out of your mind!”
“No, Ker, this woman knows her business and I want her!”
“Trust me, baby!!!”
Karen sat in the living room with Alex. She was still nodding.
“It's tax deductible as a business expense!” Addy yelled from the kitchen.
“Alex, she's going to take us to bankruptcy court!” Alex was all smiles on Karen's lap. Even she had to laugh when she saw the tiny one smiling at her.
All of a sudden Karen registered a small detail. “Wait! Did you say woman? Marshall Kenedy is a woman?”
“Yes, and by the way, she happens to be a lesbian.”
“What? Why is it that all of a sudden this town is attracting so much family?”
“Maybe because we are a gay-friendly town. I suppose that is good. Anyway, do you have any issues with gays and lesbians?” Addy was using a mocking tone now, obviously.
“Very funny Ms. Marcos. I just like my peace and quiet and all of a sudden I see trouble brewing in the horizon with all the possible drama coming from relationships. All I ask is that you do not meddle into other people's business, please!”
“Your wish is my command, my Lady.”
“You keep that up and I may be requiring services sooner rather than later, love slave!”
Addy bowed in jest.
When Marshall spotted Carol in town they immediately liked each other. Marshall was in her old truck scouting the town when she saw two women hauling bags of mulch and barely able to drag the bags. Marshall immediately parked her truck and offered to help the ladies in distress. To repay her kindness for helping them out, she was invited for tea and tea turned into dinner when she and Carol became instant friends. Carol was delighted when she found out that Marshall was going to be working for Addy and Karen.
“ Marshall , you struck gold with those two. You cannot find better people around here. I mean, this entire town practically owes them for its existence. That Inn they had put Altee on the map, and later the distillery and the horse farm.... I cannot tell you enough good things about them. They have a little one, you know. Her name is Alex and she's barely around one year old, a beautiful little girl. They are also very generous. If you work well for them, you become family and they'll back you up on anything.”
Marshal was delighted with all the information she got about her new employers and especially because she felt good about having made the right choice. She was also delighted because she and Carol seemed to have made some kind of connection. They somehow managed to tell each other about their sexuality and immediate availability. Carol sister had been tired from all the yard work and after talking to her daughter in Glasgow went to her bedroom.
“Thank you kindly for your hospitality, Carol. I'm wondering if it would be to bold of me to ask you to dinner this coming Saturday. I like you already and think that we might want to get to know each other a little better.”
“I'd love to Marshall . I like you too.”
“I will stop by on Saturday at 6 o'clock if you think that is an appropriate time for your dinner. Since I'm new in the area, I'd be much obliged if you chose our eating place, if that is okay with you.”
“Oh! You are so kind! No, it will be a pleasure.”
After having dealt with Mary's lack of attentions for her, Marshall was as refreshing as a summer's breeze. Carol was delighted.
“Good night then.”
Marshall drove back to the stables with a grin on her face. This new job and town looked very promising and now, she even hoped to sample some treats from this lovely lady.
In light of Karen's opening the business and envisioning the possibility that clients might need to stay overnight. Addy talked to Sarah about expanding the Inn .
“Addy, I would love to do it, but I don't have the money. Sure, I have clients but this is not like your former inn. As you know, my inn only has five rooms.”
“Well, how about, if we subsidized you and we do a little sprucing?”
“Oh, Addy, I couldn't!”
““Sarah, you'd be helping us as well. It wouldn't be anything super fancy, just a refreshed comfortable look. I'll ask to Sandy to send someone over and see what they recommend.”
“Oh my God, I can't believe you are doing this!”
“Just make sure that if we ever need to keep a client overnight, he or she has a room.”
“You bet! By the way, I wanted to tell you that Mary has been staying with me.”
“Yes, I know. I also don't know if you know that Carol is back in town. She's living with her sister at the other end of town.”
“Oh, no! Do you think she wants Mary back?”
“Not from what I've heard. Good night Sarah.”
Sarah remained preoccupied. When Mary came home that day she had a long talk with her.
“Don't worry, dear. That is all in the past. You are the woman of my dreams.” In the back of her mind, Mary was already thinking of paying a visit to Carol, after all, the other side of town was kind of far from the inn.
As soon as Karen finished interviewing law firms interested in her services, she made her choice. She chose three law firms. All the firms were prominent in the field of corporate finances and all paying very well for her services. She'd laid out her terms and the terms were accepted.
Phillip immediately joined the firm and they hired an administrative assistant to help with the clerical work.
Thereafter, they established a work routine which lasted for years. Karen would leave for the Manor house by 9 am every day and would be home by 5 pm. Sometimes when there was a lot of work to be done, she would leave earlier, but she always, consistently through the years, never worked past 5 pm. Her time with her family was precious and she would never give that up. Many times, when work was light, she would cut her day short and let others handle things and she'd come home for lunch and stay. She always took the Holidays off and she would never take work on past Thanksgiving because she wanted to make sure that she could take at least two weeks off at Christmas. She also made sure she kept two weeks open during the summers. They bought a lot of land on the island of Culebra and built a beautiful house with all the comforts and amenities of a resort. And, yes, it was a bunker and Bunker was its name. Over the years, they continued to spend many Christmas and summers in the Caribbean .
Before Alex went to school, they would sometimes leave for months at a time and Karen would work from Culebra or from wherever they were. Her work was portable and she kept it to a minimum during certain times of the year. As Addy had mentioned even before she started, she worked for the joy of it and that did not require being stressed out or sacrificing her life for work. She never did. She always kept to her word. They traveled all over the world. Alex became the worldly person her moms wanted her to be.
“Gorgeousness, are you making ready for this summer's escape?”
Karen smiled. She loved all the names Addy always called her. “Yes, my goddess, looking forward to it!
They always had wonderful vacations. Laurie and Joey would join them on the islands every year. It was always a fabulous family reunion. Not everyone could stay for the whole time, but a lot of time was spent in the Caribbean . Their summers in the Caribbean became a sacred family tradition that everyone looked forward to.
To be continued in Part 13
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