He actually waited four days before he called. Two days longer than I thought. I listened as his smarmy voice oozed through the phone.
"Tom, Tom, please be reasonable. I'm sure we can work out an agreement we're all happy with. Why don't you come by the office, we'll sit and discuss it like reasonable men."
"That's a great idea, Stan. I already know what I want."
He hated being called Stan, insisting on Stanley. I heard his hiss, but he controlled it.
"That's just great, Tom. I do admire a reasonable man. What do you want? We'll have it ready when you come over."
"I want that slut daughter of yours to honor the pre-nup as written. Nothing else is acceptable. Understand me, Stan? And as for coming over, it'll be a cold day in hell before I walk back into that snake den you call a home."
His control and good humor disappeared.
"You low class prick! I told her you were a gold digger, but would she listen? No. Now I'm gonna have to clean up her mess, just like I did when she was in college. You'll regret this, you miserable redneck."
He was practically screaming by the end.
"Stan, Stan. Are you threatening me? I'm hurt, Stan. I always thought a lot of you."
I was laying it on thick, we hated each other from the moment we met. He couldn't make coherent words for about a minute. Then he exploded.
"I'm gonna make one more try to be reasonable. One million, after taxes, and you can divorce her right after the election."
I let a few seconds go by before I answered.
"A million bucks? Gee, Let me think about that NO! Not happening, Stanley old boy. You have a nice day, now. Gotta run. Feel free to call anytime."
He was still screaming when I hung up. The man was delusional. His career was gone, his 'loving' family probably destroyed and about to be vilified by everyone with an opinion. The genie was out of the bottle, and he was still trying to make deals, to 'fix' it.
I immediately sent three copies of what I had recorded off to safe places. I couldn't be too careful.
He was pissing in the wind anyway. The wheels of justice were already turning, and nothing he could do now would stop them.
I met her when I had to lay cable by her house. I was a subcontractor, owning my own equipment. Everyone was going to fiber optic and buried cables. They were faster, cheaper, and best of all being buried they weren't susceptible to weather. Barring earthquakes, catastrophic floods, or a homeowner who wasn't paying attention, they were practically indestructible.
The company I had contracted with had gotten permission from the state to use their right of way, for a fee of course.
I was in front of a house that was the biggest in the neighborhood, in a neighborhood of multimillion dollar homes. Fenced, tall gates, paved circular drive. Expensive cars sat around haphazardly, obviously there was a party going on. I could hear the music booming through my headphones, over the sound of my Ditch Witch, a machine that digs the trench, lays the cable, and covers it in one smooth motion.
It was an April afternoon, hot for the time of year. I had my shirt off to catch some sun, trying to get a good tan before it really got hot. I didn't go to a gym or tanning beds, but doing what I did for eight to ten hours a day, five to six days a week, kept me in terrific shape. I stopped to reload my cable spool, and looked over at the house.
There was a spectacular looking brunette, standing on the balcony in the smallest bikini I had ever seen. If it hadn't been black I would have sworn she was naked. Standing may have been a generous word. She was swaying back and forth, and suddenly tumbled over the rail! I didn't believe my eyes for a moment, then I went running across the yard.
I found her in the bushes under the balcony. She was scratched pretty bad. She was also knee walking drunk. Literally. I couldn't get her to her feet. When I finally picked her up, she screamed when she put her weight on her feet. I sat her back down as gently as I could. I checked her over, and her left ankle was swollen to twice as big as normal, and she moaned when I touched it.
I made her as comfortable as I could, and went to the front door. I rang the bell and pounded, but no one answered. I couldn't go around the house because of the fence. I went back to her, maybe she could call someone inside the house and get them to come out. She was still so smashed she couldn't talk, and her ankle was turning purple.
"Shit, shit, shit" I said to myself as I scooped her up. I put her in my truck, and took a second to write down the address. Fifteen minutes later I was carrying her through the emergency room doors.
I put her down gently and went to the desk. They had watched me walk in.
"What's wrong with her?" The nurse at the desk asked, already shoving a clipboard at me.
"She fell off a balcony. I think she broke an ankle, and I'm pretty sure she's drunk."
Another nurse went off to check her while the other shoved the clipboard at me.
"Her name here. Your name there. Type of insurance. Relationship to each other. Medical history. It's pretty self explanatory."
I shoved it back.
"I don't know her name, and I'm not giving you mine. I saw her fall off the balcony at a house I was working in front off. There was no one home, she was in obvious distress, so I brought her here. I can give you the address. She'll tell you who she is and who to call when she sobers up, I'm sure."
I lied about the party, and I don't know why. Probably to make the story sound better and get her taken care of more quickly.
The desk nurse frowned, and tried to talk me into signing.
"Not gonna happen, lady. I don't mind helping her, but I won't be responsible for her. Judging by her house her family has a few coins. You shouldn't have a problem getting paid. Now, you gonna treat her, or what?"
She grumbled, but really didn't have a choice. I sat with her until they took her back, then split. Last thing I wanted was to be a designated sitter to some little rich bitch.
I got back to my equipment and looked up her driveway. All the cars were gone, and a small Mercedes was pulled to the front. It was too late to get anymore work done, so I pulled my machine up onto my trailer. I wrestled with it for a bit, but decided someone needed to know.
I walked up the driveway and knocked on the door. A really attractive woman who resembled the girl opened the door. I assumed it was an older sister. I found out quickly it was her mother, forty two at the time, she looked early thirties.
Her eyes were cool.
"Can I help you?"
"No ma'am, but you can help someone else. I was working in front of your house earlier today, and saw a woman fall off your balcony. I think she hurt her ankle pretty bad, and I took her to the ER at Methodist. I felt like someone needed to know. She was, er, too hurt to think straight."
"Oh my God!" she burst out, running to her car. She peeled out of the drive, leaving me standing there with the door to her house standing wide open.
"Rich folks are a strange bunch" I thought, as I pulled her door closed, making sure it was locked.
I had lost half a day and was on a schedule, so I was there bright and early Saturday, and worked twelve hours, finishing my portion of the job. I glanced at the house several times, debating whether to check on the girl, but there were no cars in the drive, so I left.
Five weeks went by and I had pretty much forgotten about it when someone knocked on my door. There were two women standing there, one on crutches. I didn't make the connection. I ran my business out of my home, so I thought maybe they were potential customers.
"Can I help you ladies with something?"
The older one smiled and said in a light voice.
"Yes, you can invite us in and let us thank you."
I moved out of the door and motioned them in.
"Thank me for what?"
The younger one actually laughed.
"He doesn't remember us, Mom. I would think watching me fall would have made a bigger impact on you."
Recognition came to me.
She smiled. "In the flesh. And my name is Eve. This is my Mom, Greta. We came by to thank you for helping me."
I sat them down and got them both a soft drink.
"You're welcome. How's the ankle?"
"Mending. I broke it in two places. My tennis days are over, I'm afraid. Good thing I was so drunk when I fell or I would have gotten hurt a lot worse.
Her mother drew in a sharp breath.
"Relax mother, it's the truth and you both know it."
She turned back to me.
"I wanted to come by earlier, but between my ankle and the counseling I was taking, I didn't have an opportunity. I wanted to thank you for helping me, and making me realize where my life was headed."
Her mother looked uncomfortable.
"Eve, I really don't think you should burden Mr. Yount with details of your life. Maybe..."
She overrode her mother.
"No, mom, I want to tell him."
She looked back at me.
"You helping me gave me a wakeup call. There were over thirty people in my house when I fell, and not one came looking for me. Mom ran them all out when she got home. She didn't know I was hurt until you knocked on our door."
"When they treated me at the hospital, besides a broken ankle, I had a concussion, a blood alcohol lever of .17, just under poisoning levels, and they found a mild STD."
"When I came to my senses, in a hospital room, I had no idea how I got there, what was wrong with me, or how long I had been there. Mom came in a little later, she had been there for hours, and was filling out forms when I woke."
"Mom didn't want me to tell you these things, but it was important to me you should know. I wanted you to understand the woman I had become. I couldn't move for ten days because I was in traction, and it gave me a lot of time to think. I went into some serious counseling, just short of a rehab program. I learned a lot about myself, things I didn't want to learn. I'm trying to change, be a better person, and it took the kindness of a stranger to set me on that path. That, sir, is what I wanted to thank you for."
I looked at the women, they sat there like they expected me to say something.
"All I can say is you're welcome. Anyone would have done the same. And I'm glad you've decided to be a better person, we could all use a few more of those. Just out of curiosity, how did you find me? I didn't give anyone any information at the hospital, and your mom and I never exchanged names."
For the first time she giggled.
"I was wearing your shirt, remember? Something else I need to thank you for. That bikini didn't conceal a lot, now did it?"
Not much at all, as a matter of fact. A thong bottom, and every time I moved her one or both breasts popped free of the top. I had a clean shirt with my company logo and contact information in one of the storage boxes on my trailer. T shirts are walking billboards, and I did get several jobs because of them. For that reason I always carried three or four to give away. I got a 3X out and slid her into it. It went well down her thighs, and preserved her modesty.
"Yeah, I forgot about that. You're welcome."
Her smile got even wider.
"It's become my favorite sleeping attire."
She and her mother stood.
"Well, we won't keep you. Thanks again."
She was almost at the door when she stopped.
"Oh yes, I almost forgot. My dad wants you to have dinner with us Saturday. Seven sharp. I'm sure you remember where the house is."
They were both shocked when I declined.
"I'm sorry ladies, I have a commitment Saturday evening I just can't break. But thank you for the offer."
Both stood with their mouths open in shock. Finally Greta spoke.
"Do you know who my husband is?"
"No ma'am, I don't even know your last name."
Eve actually giggled.
"It's Wallace. My dad's name is Stanley Wallace, as in Stanley Wallace, Speaker of the State House. Sure you won't reconsider?"
"As gracious as the invitation is, what I have to do is time sensitive, and can't be postponed. Perhaps another time, with a bit more advance notice."
Greta stood in shock. Eve was laughing.
"Mom, can I tell dad? He's not going to be happy. He doesn't take disappointment well."
Eve took my hand.
"Thanks again for everything. Maybe we can have dinner another time. I find you fascinating. I'll give you plenty of advance notice, I promise. Bye now."
Before I could react she leaned in and kissed my cheek, and hopped into the car. I watched them drive away, thinking how strange it all was. I still had her scent on my cheek.
It smelled great.
I was rattling round in the garage, loading what I needed for where I was going, when a convertible Mustang pulled in the drive. The door swung opened, and I heard her.
"Can I get a little help?"
It was Eve. I helped her out, and gave her the crutches.
"I apologize, I don't want to make you late for your date. I meant to be here sooner, but got delayed. I'd like to try again. Would you join my parents and I for lunch next Saturday? Please?"
What could it hurt?
"I accept your invitation. Tell me a time and I'll be there. And for clarification, I don't have a date tonight. I said I had to do something time sensitive."
She sat and watched me load up while we talked.
"This time sensitive thing, can I come along?"
I looked at her, thinking.
"I don't think so. I don't think you'd enjoy it. Then I would be obligated to keep you entertained and then I wouldn't enjoy it."
I knew I was making a mistake.
"All right. We'll most likely be out all night. Still wanna come?"
There was a glint in her eye.
"You're not gonna hurt me, are you? Then yes, I would love to accompany you."
She made it sound like we were going to the opera.
"Call your mom. Tell her you won't be home until much later."
She seemed surprised.
"I'm 22 years old! I don't need to call and get permission."
"I don't expect you do. I was thinking more on the line of being thoughtful, so she wouldn't worry."
It looked like the concept was foreign to her, but she called.
"Mom, hi. I'm with Mr. Yount. I'll be with him most of the night. Didn't want you to worry. What? All right."
She handed the phone to me.
"Thank you Mr. Yount. I think this has been the first time she called me about her plans since she was sixteen. Where are you taking her?"
"I'm not going to spoil the surprise. Suffice to say it's quiet, off the beaten path, and completely safe."
"Well, try to have a good time. My daughter can be ... distracting, at times."
I stopped at a Walmart on the way out of town.
"I need to pick a few things up. I won't be long."
Back in fifteen minutes, I tossed the bags in the back of the truck.
It took almost an hour to get there. The city lights long behind us, it seemed to magnify the stars. I turned up a driveway and stopped in front of a typical farm house of the area. White board, black shutters.
An older man, slender and spry for his age, came to the door.
"Hi, Uncle John, just checking in. Anybody else here yet? Are you coming up?"
"Ron and Cassie and the young'uns, Bob came. Junie couldn't make it. Fred, Celeste, their kids. Most of the gang is up there already. No, I'm staying in, getting too old for this."
I couldn't help it. I had noticed her car, parked discretely in back.
"Too old? Or maybe got a better offer?"
I raised my voice.
"How are you tonight, Marie?"
A voice came from inside the house.
"Fair to middlin', Tommy. Now why don't you go on up and stop teasing your uncle. We got unfinished business."
Uncle John stood there blushing, and I told him to have a GOOD night, and climbed back into the truck before he started asking about my own companion.
We drove up the hill, stopping at the edge of a large meadow. Two fires were burning, I could smell a grill going, and eight kids were roaming around the tents that were set up.
"What are we doing here?" Eve asked.
"We came here to see a show, but it doesn't start for a few hours. Come on, I'll introduce you."
Everyone was curious about her. I had never brought a woman before, and you could see the speculation in their eyes.
Celeste fussed at me, saying we almost missed dinner. Soon we had a plate of burgers, potato salad, and baked beans in front of us. I was surprised to see Eve clean her plate. They got into a conversation about fashion and beauty products, and I took this as a sign to leave them alone. Let the interrogation begin.
I had warned everyone not to tell her what we were all doing here. I could tell it frustrated her no end. She was apparently used to getting what she wanted, when she wanted.
After about two hours Ron called out.
"Almost time, folks. Get ready."
I freaked Eve out, telling her to take off her clothes.
Celeste laughed. I had given her the bags I had picked up at Walmart.
"Come on honey, let's get into my tent so you can change."
It was the last week of May, and it was chilly up where we were. Eve was way under dressed in her thin tee and jeans. She had been staying close to the fire.
I had bought her two sweat suits and a pair of thick socks, guessing her to be a medium.
While she was changing I put the air mattress and sleeping bag on my platform. Over the years, we found it easier and much more comfortable to use the raised platforms, it really eased neck strain. Celeste brought her to me.
"All ready now. I'm sure she appreciated your foresight."
She was dressed a sweat suit, hair back in a ponytail. I never saw baggy clothes look so good.
"If you don't tell me what's going on I'm going to explode. This isn't some sort of cult is it?"
"That's right, we're all star worshippers. Now lie down, nothing bad will happen. Just watch."
She was still nervous, and lay on the mattress as far away from me as she could. We lay there for about fifteen minutes before she became impatient.
"How long are we going to lie here?"
"Most of the night. Now hush, you said you wanted to come, so be still. The show should start any minute."
Sure enough, five minutes later, a vivid meteor swept across the sky.
"Did you see that?" she asked in a little girl voice.
"Yes. It's the aquarid meteor storm. If we're lucky we'll see three or four dozen."
That's why we were there. We were far enough away from the city to eliminate light pollution. We were an informal astronomy club, meeting when times were right to stargaze. Mostly family.
It had gotten cooler.
"Time to slip into the bag. Don't worry, you're safe from me."
She slipped in, with a little snicker. Snuggling against me she whispered.
"Yes, but who's going to keep you safe from me?"
It was distracting having her lie there, rubbing that amazing body against me. I was about to give up when I felt a tug on the bag. It was Amy, six year old daughter of Fred and Celeste.
"Uncle Tommy, can I get in with you? Bobby and Jimmy are acting up, and I can't sleep."
I tousled her hair.
"It's fine with me, baby, but I have a guest. If she says it's okay, climb in."
She gave her best baby voice when she asked.
"Please, Miss Eve? I don't wiggle much, and I won't make any noise."
Eve's heart melted, of course, and pulled her between us. She snuggled down and was asleep almost instantly. Soon Eve went out.
The sun rising woke me up. I looked over, and Eve and Amy were snuggled together, her little head nesting on Eve's shoulder.
Celeste was standing there grinning, holding a camera. She put her hands to her lips.
I slipped out of the bag quietly and followed her back to the picnic table. Some of the others were up fixing breakfast.
She scrolled through the pictures she had taken, stopping at the one she liked best.
"Here's what you're gonna look like as a family man. Cute, huh?"
We were all snuggled together. Eve was in my arms, and Amy was on top of us, her cheek resting just below Eve's chin. It was cute.
I used the Portajohn we kept there, and took a quick shower in the makeshift bathhouse we had built. Four fifty five gallon drums fiberglassed together, heated by gas. You were allowed twenty gallons, fresh water being pumped from a nearby spring.
When I was dressed I went back to the tables. Eve was up, and Amy was sitting on her lap. Amy was the youngest of four, the only girl, and had to fight for attention.
I showed her the bathhouse and explained it to her, giving her a fresh sweat suit.
"Sorry, I didn't shop for undies" I said grinning at her.
Not to be out done, she grinned back.
"That's all right, I kind of like going commando."
Amy didn't understand any of what we said, and surprised us all by wanting to shower with Eve. She came out giggling. Her mom asked her what she was laughing about. She had to lean close for the answer.
"Me and Miss Eve are going commando! We don't have panties on!"
She said it loud enough for a few to hear, and Eve glowed for a few minutes. She busied herself brushing Amy's hair.
Breakfast was soon served, and we ate as a group, familiar with each other after years of shared experiences.
Eve told them how we met, omitting the drunken party part, saying she slipped and fell off her balcony while I happened to be working there. By the time she was done you would have thought I did the ankle surgery by myself.
Amy was smitten with hero worship. She was about as subtle as a six year old could be when she came out with what was on her mind.
"You know, if you and Uncle Tommy got married, You'd be my aunt. How cool will that be?"
Eve let her down gently.
"It would be very cool, sweetie. I might just marry him to get to spend time with you. But he has to ask me first, and we're not that far along in our relationship. But, he's already passed the sleeping together test. He doesn't snore and he doesn't hog the blankets, unlike someone else in the sleeping bag last night."
Amy puffed up.
"Do not snore!"
Eve was right back at her.
"Yes you do baby. You snore like a fat puppy. It's the cutest sound in the world."
That mollified her somewhat, especially when she told her she could call her Aunt Eve.
"Will you come back and watch the stars and sleep with us again, Aunt Eve?"
She looked at me.
"I'd love to, sweetie, but that's up to Uncle Tommy. If he says I can, I will."
Amy came up to me and tugged my beard. Since she was two years old if she wanted my attention and I was ignoring her, she would tug with her little hands until I gave her my attention.
"Say Aunt Eve can come back next time. Please Uncle Tommy?"
I looked at Eve, she seemed anxious somehow.
"If she says yes when I ask her, I'd love it."
Amy, Celeste, and Eve were smiling like it was a done deal. I made a mental note to reel my sister in law in. She seemed to take it as a personal affront that I remained unmarried.
She took another shower when we got to my house. She came out dressed in the jeans and tee shirt she had on yesterday, hair and makeup perfect.
She saw me frowning.
"Nothing. Not my business."
She eyed me.
"You've got my interest piqued now. Say what's on your mind."
"You're a really, really attractive woman. Why do you wear so much makeup and hide that beautiful face?"
Well, I said it, now for the fallout.
Surprisingly, she seemed to have tears in her eyes. Before I could move I was the recipient of a very nice kiss.
"That's one of the sweetest things a man has ever said to me. Thank you."
All I could fumble out was "you're welcome" as she hobbled out to her car. I helped her get situated.
"This cast comes off next week, then a month of physical therapy and I'm supposed to be good as new. Thank you for last night, it was one of the most memorable experiences I've ever had. I'd love to go again, if you want me to. After all, we owe a six year old a new aunt. Wouldn't want to disappoint, now would we?"
She took my phone and punched in her number, told me to call, and swept off.
I thought about her all week, but didn't call. We lived in different worlds.
I went on the internet and did a little research. Besides her dad being a big time politician, they were rich. She had a trust fund for an undisclosed amount from her maternal grandfather, and the family wealth was estimated just below fifty million. Way out of my league. It was too bad, I really liked her.
I got a pretty sharp call Thursday evening.
"Why haven't you called me? Never mind, I'm just reminding you of lunch Saturday. One, sharp. My dad hates to wait."
She hung up before I could reply.
I thought about driving my work truck, but opted to drive my car instead. It was an MG midget, a small British sports car, based on the old Austin Healy designs. It wasn't worth a lot, but I liked it. It took me four years to totally restore it. For a small engine, rated just over fifty horsepower, it was surprisingly fast and very agile. I had never driven it in the rain.
Eve was waiting for me at the door.
"Nice car? Yours? Oh and you clean up very well."
I had gone to my barber that morning. I called her a barber, but my sister in law Celeste is a very successful stylist. When she heard who I was going to dine with, she threatened to come over with her battery operated hedge shears if I didn't come in for a trim. She fussed over me for forty five minutes before saying she had done the best she could with what she had to work with.
"Honey, you need to lose that beard, it makes you look thirty seven, not twenty seven."
A very nice button up shirt, casual slacks, new docksiders. It was about as dressed up as I wanted to get.
She met me at the door. I reached in my car for the bouquet of flowers.
"Ooh, you shouldn't have."
She was reaching for the flowers when I told her they were for her mother. Her smile became cool again. I let it sit on her face for a second before I pulled out the other bouquet.
"This one is yours."
She was all smiles again. Leaning in, she whispered in my ear.
"They're lovely, thank you. If you can be that thoughtful, maybe you can be trained on how to use a phone. It's simple really, if you can read. You go to contacts until you reach Eve, and hit the button. It even dials for you. I find modern technology very useful, wouldn't you agree?"
Before I could frame a suitable response we were through the door. Her mom and dad were waiting in the foyer. I think the gift of flowers was unexpected, and she seemed genuinely happy to get them.
Well, there he was in the flesh. At six four, he towered over my five eleven. He was in pretty good shape, using his home gym and his membership at the capitol religiously. We looked at each other and the room got smaller. We were two alpha dogs, circling, looking for an opportunity to go for the throat. It surprised me, I usually didn't react this way.
He was infamous for trying to intimidate people by sheer size and strength, and his bone crushing handshakes were near legendary. I knew what was coming when he reached his hand out. You get a pretty good grip and a set of muscles manhandling equipment and picking up two hundred fifty pound rolls of cable. He tried to squeeze and I squeezed back just a bit harder. It caught him totally by surprise. I saw his eyes widen a bit before they became narrow with anger.
Eve and Gretta were expecting me to react like everyone else did and rub my hand, but I simply let go and continued with the small talk.
They looked at him and he just shrugged. Later I learned he told them he had gone easy on me for Eve.
The lunch was delicious, and I minded my manners. He didn't stay long, citing pressing state business. He did thank me for helping his daughter, and I think he actually meant it.
It was like sunshine after a cloud when he left.
"I know he's a bit much when you first meet him, but he really is a good man."
Greta said it like she was used to apologizing for him.
"Nonsense! I found him most interesting."
They looked at me like I had just had a stroke and couldn't form coherent words. Then Greta smiled.
"Interesting. What an apt decision."
They took me on a tour of the house. Seven bedrooms, large pool house and a heated pool an Olympian would have been proud to train in, a grounds keeping crew, a maid and cook. So this is how rich folk lived.
I thanked the cook for an excellent lunch when they showed me the kitchen. I don't think she got compliments often.
Eve had made a slide show out of the photos Celeste made. There was even one or two of the meteors. She stopped on the one of all of us snuggled together. Greta looked at her pointedly.
"Such a nice picture. I hope in the not too distant future I get an opportunity to enjoy some grand children."
Eve laughed and kissed her cheek.
"Relax mom, I'm only twenty two. I have to find a man I like well enough to have children with first. Don't turn me into a brood mare just yet."
We had a pleasant afternoon. Just as I was leaving Greta sent her to get some of the dessert we enjoyed at lunch for later.
As soon as she was out of earshot Greta started talking.
"I want to thank you again for saving my baby, in more ways than one. The fact that a stranger took care of her while her good time friends continued to party wasn't lost on her. She told me she had the best time in her life when you took her to look at the meteors."
"Tommy, I want you to be careful around her. Not to be impolite, but you come from different worlds. I don't want either of you to get hurt."
Before I could answer Eve was back. She insisted I take her for a ride in my car, so we spent a pleasant couple of hours just drifting around. She had me stop in an empty parking lot just before we returned.
"Why are we stopping here?" I asked.
"So I can do this" She replied, shoving her tongue down my throat.
My high mindedness and good intentions went right out the window. We kissed for about ten minutes before she pulled back.
"Hon, we have to stop or get naked, and I don't think my dad would want to see his daughter arrested in a school parking lot for being naked and performing lewd acts. Time to go home."
I think they should install eyelids on phones so we can sometimes out stare them. I lasted until Tuesday before I called. She picked it up on the first ring.
"I was giving you one more day. You just beat the deadline. Wanna do something tonight?"
"Sorry Eve, I have to work tomorrow. Just wanted to hear your voice and say hi."
"Are you at home? Not going back out?"
"Yes, and no. I'm in for the night."
She hung up on me. Well, so much for pleasant conversation.
I redialed but it went to message.
Twenty five minutes later her car pulled into the drive. I helped her out, and carried the ice cream she had brought in. I helped her to the couch. For someone about to be all better she sure was helpless.
"What are you doing?"
She smiled that killer smile.
"You're not going out, ergo I have to come to you. Now give me the remote and scoop the ice cream. And since I had to come out here, I get to pick the movie."
She pulled up a chick flick on Netflix, "Under the Tuscan Sun", which I actually enjoyed. I had to get her a drink and another bowl of ice cream, then I had to help her to the bathroom. I hated pausing movies, since I lived alone I had gotten out of the habit. But the company was well worth the interruptions.
She was misty eyed by the end, snuggled to my shoulder, her hand gripped firmly in mine.
We sat and talked afterwards. She had just graduated college with a degree in art. I shocked her by showing her my prints of Starry Night and Sunflowers. What can I say, I liked Van Gogh.
"A Van Gogh fan, I would never have guessed. Anybody else catch your eye?"
"Well, I really like Monet, and Manet, but not as much. I'm not to keen on Dali and Picasso, or surrealists. And I like a lot of American artists. The Wyeths, all of them, Whistler, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Rockwell when I want something feel good. Oh, I also like Rodin and Remington sculptures."
She sat there with her mouth hanging open.
We discussed art, among other things, until midnight. As she left she asked if I had a good suit.
"Good, wear it Friday. We're going somewhere special."
I think she felt me tighten up.
"Sorry, that came out all wrong. If you're not busy, the art museum in the capital is having a small event. I don't know if you heard, but there's a traveling exhibit of Monet works touring the country. The grand opening is Saturday. It's a preview, for sponsors and invited guests. Our family is always represented, and this year it's my turn. It would be nice to go with someone who actually understood what I was talking about. Please come with me."
I was a sucker for saying yes, and she knew it.
"Next time we date, you pick. If you can top our last one, I will be suitably amazed."
Before I could respond, she gave me one more kiss and was gone.
I called Celeste, and she called Eve, so I was able to get a nice, presentable suit for Friday night. She insisted we take my car. It was my first instance of valet parking, and I'm sure it showed.
"Don't worry, they won't get a scratch on it when they joyride." She said, then laughed at my reaction.
"Your car will be well taken care of. These people are professionals. Now, let's mingle."
I recognized a lot of the people, shakers and movers in our state, and was surprised most of them were pleasant companions.
She introduced me to a woman in her late fifties and we got into a discussion over whether Van Gogh really committed suicide or if he was in fact shot accidentally by a group of teen boys who had been tormenting him at the time. A few minutes went by and I noticed Eve was gone. I felt guilty for ignoring her, and looking around the room, found her in deep conversation with two men our age.
She caught my eye and I think she saw the flash of jealousy. She had a hard time controlling her smile when she rejoined my side.
"Who were you talking to?"
Her smile got a little wider.
"Nobody, darling, just an ex boyfriend or two. Tell me, did you like Vivian?"
Trying to cover my jealousy, I answered
"She's a very sharp woman, and she looks familiar somehow. Is she married to someone in the public eye?"
By now she was grinning.
"No, but her husband is. She's the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court. I hear she was a terror in her day as an attorney. When a lawyer gets to argue in front of her they're both honored and scared, she has a reputation for being brutal."
"Wow. I thought she was just a nice lady. She's sweet."
I felt a tug on my arm and turned. It was Vivian.
She was a small woman, and she pulled me down, surprising everyone by kissing my cheek.
"Thank you, Tommy, I've been called a lot of things over my career, and that was one of the nicest."
She looked over at Eve.
"Eve my darling, I insist you and this nice young man join my husband and I for dinner in the near future."
She turned and gave me a card.
"Here, just in case she forgets my number."
Flashes had been going off randomly as photographers got shots for the papers and state magazines.
Eve was floored. It was all she talked about on the way home.
"Dad is gonna have a fit. He's been trying to get some private time with her for ages. You must have made quite an impression."
We were on the cover of the art and social sections of the Sunday papers across the state.
The art section identified me as a local critic, based on a flippant remark Vivian had made to a reporter about what a discerning eye I had. They had captured the kiss she had given me, and several shots of Eve and I in groups and separately.
The society page had one of us together and several of us in groups of important people. They did identify me correctly as a local businessman, and speculated on our relationship.
Eve and my family found the whole thing vastly amusing. Eve told Celeste that if anybody asked she would identify me as her boyfriend. It made me smile.
We started spending a lot of time together, she was at my house two or three times a week, and we went out every weekend. I was falling in love, and fighting it tooth and nail. Our worlds were just too different. It would never work. Still, I never tried to break it off.
Celeste and Eve had become friends, to the point where when she wanted to take Amy on a date with us she agreed. I was the last to know, as usual.
It was my turn to pick where we were going, and the state symphony was in town. I had told her, and she told me not to worry about tickets, her family were patrons, and one of the perks was free tickets.
Eve picked up Amy and Celeste up the day before and they took Amy shopping for a dress. Celeste said later it made her uncomfortable at first, she had never entered many of the shops they went to. Amy loved being the center of attention. She flounced and twirled, and wheedled, and ended up with three dresses instead of one. Eve refused to let Celeste pay for anything, reminding her it was her treat. They lunched at a really nice tea room Eve frequented. Amy was awed.
She hadn't told me who was going with us, just that it was someone dear to her.
Celeste and Amy showed up giggling an hour before we were due to leave. Eve immediately rushed Amy into the guest room, leaving Celeste with me.
"Has she told you yet?" She was smiling that smile again.
"Has who told me what?" I replied, trying to get my tie straight. She came over and helped me.
"Eve. Has she told you she loves you yet?"
I'm glad she was handling my tie, I would have strangled myself.
"No, and I think you got it wrong."
"Bullshit" she snorted, smoothing my tie.