It was a girls' day out, and they were all there. Judy Wainwright was having a coffee and pastry get together with her three girls, the twins, Cecelia and Sharon and the youngest daughter, Martine, a.k.a Marty. It was a rare treat for all of them.
('Rare' because Judy was so constantly busy with her job as a accounting assistant at a local business and also working nights in a restaurant, as a waitress. She was absolutely determined that the girls, her girls were going to get the kind of 'head start' in life that she envisioned for them. Working all the extra hours didn't really bother her.)
But today was a holiday and they were out and having coffee at a local popular bakery. Their talk was animated and effervescent.
"Momma," you look so tired, Marty was saying.
"You work too much," Cecelia, a.k.a. Sissy, said.
"Girls, I'm fine," Judy replied. "I work to keep us all afloat and it'll be okay; it's only for a definite time period."
Sharon, the 'sensible' one among the group of girls, put in, at that point: "I just think you should let us, drop out of school and get jobs and pay our ways."
"No," Judy said, "We're not going to do that. This is positively my vision for you, for my girls and I'm intent upon doing what is necessary."
The girls were, to be sure, working at the school, the state university that was located in that smallish city. That helped a bit with the school bills but Judy was responsible for most of it. It was certainly a scramble but one that she'd been successful handling, up to that point.
Nor would she ever admit to them that she was feeling tired, and beleaguered by the school costs for the three of them.
Judy Wainwright was a lovely, though a bit work worn, 39 years old. She had short dark hair, almost black with just the barest hint of a kind of red about it. Her gray eyes were among her best features, and, though she was certainly not interested in attracting a man, at that point in her life, she was physically lovely. She was a conservative dresser and the only person who knew for sure that she was lovely, without her clothes, was Ralph, who'd been gone from their lives for years and years. In fact, Ralph Wainwright had pretty much dropped off the map, at least in terms of helping with day to day items and schooling and all, he was just gone. Judy had long ago divorced him for abandonment. He was a totally 'gone' issue in their lives.
It had been long enough that the four of them had formed a kind of society of women, that was their home. Maintaining the home, mortgage payments etc, was one of the pressures that Judy was facing, facing but facing successfully up to now.
None of them, Judy, Sissy, Sharon or Marty, noticed the slim, dark haired individual with the dark glasses, as he moved silently toward them.
If they had been paying attention, maybe the hoodie that he wore might have at least tipped them off to something about him.
(As a matter of fact it was Sharon's theory that the government could well cut down on crime simply by outlawing hoodies. Sharon had a number of ideas of that nature.)
They didn't notice him but he had been certainly noticing them. He watched as they kept their conversation going and were frequently enjoying laughter about some item or other.
It was during one of those moments of laughter that he decided to move.
He'd seen the purse sitting on the side of the table. He watched and no one removed the purse to make it less accessible. Then he began to move quickly.
But not everyone in the coffee house was so busy and engaged. Justin Shields was having a morning coffee break. He'd been working late at the plant, on invoices and new orders and had told his assistant/secretary Winnie that he'd be late.
She knew, of course, what that meant for Justin and told him that it would be fine but it would cost him a scone for her. He promised to bring one.
Justin had certainly noticed the four women, when they came in and while they were talking with one another. He enjoyed the sound of their laughter and the way that the obviously got along. It was also clear to him that it was a mother —- the pretty one, and three daughters. Two of them looked like twins, which they were.
Out of the mere corner of his eye, he also noticed the kid with the hoodie and dark glasses.
"Don't quite like that," he said to himself.
Justin Shield had a background of military policing before getting out and beginning the process, with the help of his Uncle Ted, who was unfortunately long gone now, of setting himself up in manufacturing. His place, Shields and Kaufmann, named for his Uncle Ted Kaufmann, was by now a going concern. He was 42 years old and in great shape. A big man, he stood 6'5" and handled his 225 lbs rather well. He also had a quickness that might have impressed the kid wearing the hoodie, had he seen it in any way other that what was about to happen.
His background made him just a little more observant than most people tend to be, and so, his take on the kid in the hoodie.
The movement of the kid in the hoodie caught Justin's eye and he saw the kid swipe the purse from the table with the pretty lady and her daughters and hustle for the door.
By the time the kid made it to the door, he was running and the four ladies were crying out. The kid was smiling. He knew that with the outside crowds, he was 'home free' as soon as he got out of the door. Mentally he was already counting the money he'd make from the stolen purse. He gave one last look over his shoulder at the women.
"Fuckin' babes," he thought to himself, "Love to get one or two of them alone. Show them a fuckin' thing or two. Naked ass kicking for them; I'd like that..."
Then the world changed for Lester, our friend in the hoodie. Justin Shields reached the door a few seconds before Lester and Lester, distracted by his thoughts about one or more of the 'babes' naked and at his mercy, ran into Justin's outstretched arm. It put him down, as though he were a tree felled by a woodsman.
The ladies had caught up to the center of the fracas by then and stood to see Justin pick Lester up by the collar and hand the stolen purse back to them.
"Thank you, sir," Judy said and the girls were chiming in.
The bakery owner had meantime called the police and a siren indicated that the police were coming.
Lester was still, at this point, having a bit of a time breathing, after being 'clotheslined' by Justin and was bent over and holding his throat.
"You almost killed me, dude," Lester rasped.
"Too bad I failed," Justin said.
It was then that the police arrived. Lester, still bent over, heard an unfortunately familiar voice, Office Bill Steffins, say: "Damn it, Lester, when are you going to learn?"
Lester looked up with a chagrin on his face at the familiar face of the arresting cop.
"Guy clotheslined me," Lester complained. "Didn't do nothin'."
"Well, we'll find out about that quickly enough," Officer Steffins said.
He did indeed discover quickly, from the testimony of the witnesses what had happened and hauled Lester away. Then, as Lester was being put into the back seat of the black and white, Officer Steffins asked if the women and Justin could come to the station to make a statement.
The girls said, in a bit of consternation: "We walked over from the university."
Then Judy said: "I can drive them, though I feel really shaken by this."
It was then that Justin put in: "Look, I'm parked right here and can take us all to the station and then wherever you need to be."
As he talked, he indicated his tan Jaguar XJ sedan at the curb.
"Cool," Marty said, speaking for all of them.
It was decided to do it that way. The three giggling girls got into the back seat of Justin's Jag and Judy got into the front.
"Lovely car," Judy said.
"Really cool," Marty put in, echoed by Sharon and Sissy.
As they went to the station, Justin introduced himself and indicated that he was the owner and CEO of Shields and Kaufmann.
"I know that," Sharon said, "Isn't that a kind of space industry place?"
"Yes," Justin said, "We do some business for the space industry along with all sorts of other kinds of projects."
"Cool," Marty said again.
They got their business at the police station taken care of, and were told that they'd be contacted if anything further was needed from them.
By the time that they were finished at the police station, Justin was busy thinking up ways that he might extend their relationship.
To tell the truth, he was simply 'taken' by Judy Wainwright and her lovely daughters, but especially by Judy.
They all went back to his car and he drove them back to the university part of town, where the coffee shop was located.
They sat for a few moments, when they'd arrived. It was Judy who spoke for the group:
"Mr Shields, we are in your debt. I hope there's a way that we can say a proper 'thank you' for your help."
"Well," Justin spoke up, realizing that this was his opportunity, "I was hoping that you'd, all of you, let me take you to dinner some time soon."
This set the three girls giggling. Judy gave them a 'please be quiet' look but it didn't work, since she too was grinning.
"Don't mind the children," Judy said, and the three girls giggled even louder.
Then Judy, apparently having made up her mind, said: "But won't you please let us invite you for dinner at our house, to say 'thank you'? We'd like that."
Justin realized that Judy was anxiously sincere about her invitation and said: "Yes, I'd like that. Why don't you let me take you out first and then I'll come to your house. Is that okay?"
At that point, Judy agreed and it was on. They set a date for the coming Friday, when the girls had some time. Judy gave Justin the address and home phone number, so that he could pick them up.
Then she indicated that she wanted a hug to say 'thank you'. Justin then enjoyed a hug from Judy, and then hugs from Sissy, Sharon and Marty also. It ended with another hug from Judy, as they went to Judy's car.
Justin was smiling broadly, when he got back in his car.
When he got to work, finally with Winnie's scone, he was 'grilled' about what took him so long.
He sat with Winnie and told her the story. It made her smile and giggle a little.
"Sounds like an opportunity, boss," Winnie said.
"She was gorgeous!" Justin said, matching Winnie's smile.
DINNER WITH JUDY AND THE GIRLS:
Of course, it happened a bit differently than proposed. Judy spent a good part of the day wondering about it. She talked to the girls fairly frequently and was getting a lot of talk from them about 'her date' with the big gorgeous man. Judy constantly tried to suppress that kind of talk, and refused to admit that she was excited about the possibility.
Then it all went kind of south. Just before Justin was scheduled to arrive, she got a call from Sharon, talking for the three girls. Sharon told her that they'd be a bit late that evening and would certainly be there at home for dessert, after Judy's dinner out but that the three of them wouldn't make it early enough for dinner.
Judy wasn't fooled at all by this ploy.
"Ok," she said, "What's going on?"
Sharon just gave a kind of giggle and said: "Just giving you a chance with the big, handsome man, Momma."
"Don't you dare!" Judy said only to get a reply of: "Done deal, Momma. We'll be there for dessert."
By then there was no time for Judy to alter the invitation given to Justin Shields at all. Almost as soon as she got off of the phone with Sharon, the doorbell rang.
She ran in front of a full length mirror to check and see how she looked. It was fairly conservative, blouse and a-line skirt. And now it looked as though the skirt were too tight.
"Shit!" she exploded to herself. "No time to change!"
That was her mind set, as she went to the door. She opened the door and he stood there. He was bigger than she had remembered. He also had flowers in his hand. That pleased her.
Her hand went to her mouth and she smiled.
"Hi," he said. "How's Judy the beauty?"
She moved to let him in, blushing now, from what he said.
"Um," she said, "Um ... the girls can't make it. Not until later. They just now called."
Justin got a huge grin on his face.
She was shaking her head and said, not even knowing why she said it: "They talked about giving us time for our date."
He chuckled then.
"Don't you dare," she said, grinning through her straight talk, "This is not a date; I don't date; I haven't dated since that no account father of the girls faded into history."
By the end of her statement, her head was down and she was blushing furiously and not really knowing why.
What he did next simply shocked her. It also impressed her but it was a total initial shock.
He put the flowers down on the hall table and then his arms were around her, who was totally non-plussed by what he was doing.
But he quickly shaped them into a figure for dancing. It wasn't his attempt to begin embracing her at all; though he thought that it was a great idea.
He began to dance with her. He was humming and singing into her ear and simply guiding her around the hall and then the living room. He was a superb dancer.
Judy Wainwright loved to dance. She'd had little opportunity. Even during 'the Ralph' time, as the girls so often put it, Judy didn't dance. Ralph had left feet and didn't like to dance. So, Judy had almost no opportunity.
Almost only to herself she said softly: "Oh, love to dance."
"Then dance with me pretty Judy," Justin said.
He still sang for her. His voice was bass baritone and lovely. Judy was getting lost in what was happening. For her, right then, this was the kind of stuff from novels and not any reality that she knew or expected.
He finished his song and stopped the dance but she stayed with him and clung to him for a few long seconds.
"Oh, wonderful!" she said. "He never danced."
"I do, always with pretty Judy," Justin said, smiling down at her.
"Yes, with pretty Judy," she echoed, and strove to get a hold of herself.
The phone rang.
"Excuse me," she said, going to answer it.
"It's the conspirators," she said to him. "Yes, girls," she said into the phone with some asperity in her voice.
"Yes, he's here; no, we're not snogging. We were just dancing."
He could hear Sharon's voice loudly telling the other two that they had already been dancing.
"I'm going to hang up now and don't want you to be calling every ten minutes. And, no, he's not spending the night here."
The last statement made Justin grin at her broadly.
"Don't you start, mister," she said.
"Yes, I was talking to Justin; he's just standing here grinning," she explained to Sharon on the phone.
"Good night, girls," she said. "Do not call me; I'll call you, if I get a chance."
Then there was a shouted "Hi, Justin!"
He heard it and said: "Hi, girls! I'll take such good care of her."
The phone call ended then with all sorts of giggles from the girls on their end.
"Now," he said to her, once the phone had been put down. "Dinner or more dancing."
She had a slight smile on her face. "You're as bad as they are!" she said.
"Yes, but I'm here and they're not," he replied.
"Well, hungry here," she said, trying to push the whole conversation into another, alternate direction.
He grinned at her, realizing what she was doing and said: "Good, dinner for you and me."
"Not a date!' she said.
He held up a hand and said: "Definitely not a date!"
She was shaking her head then and said: "I'm so rattled."
That did concern him and he said: "No, Judy, let's not let it be that way. They were just trying to show their concern for you and your life. Let's go out; get to know one another and just have a nice dinner. Nothing else is on the agenda."
She was shaking her head in agreement then.
He grinned and said: "And I won't even ask to spend the night."
Her reaction was to simply shake her head, as though she were engaged in a losing battle. She leaned her head forward against his chest and just let it rest there.
"Pretty Judy," he said, kissing her hair. "Pretty Judy," he repeated. "It's fine. I'm gonna take care of you."
That made her sigh.
The dinner was really a treat for both of them. Early in their dinner together, she asked: "Did you tell the girls to back out of the dinner tonight?"
"No," he said, "But I wish I had; I love conspiracies."
She only shook her head at that.
He took her to a friend's Italian place, where they were cordially received and sat at a back table in the darker part of the place.
They took time to talk to each other about their stories. She told him about Ralph and how she'd become pregnant with the twins and almost as quickly, just before Ralph left and was never heard of again, after her delivery of the twins, with Marty, the youngest.
She was honest with him about the fact that it had been difficult trying to be the 'bread winner' and the Mom and Dad at the same time.
"But," she said, "They've always been wonderful, just wonderful."
"Of course they're wonderful," he said, smiling, "Look at who their Mom is."
She smiled at him then, and talked a little about her current life: working full time and waitressing at night to make ends meet and let the girls get their education.
"They have even wanted to drop out and go to work to help make ends meet but I'm determined to do enough to get them through all of this, and get their education.
He told her right out that he admired her for her determination and her willingness to do what was necessary for her girls.
Then it seemed to be his turn. He talked about his early life, when his business was just getting started. He spoke about his life with the military police and how that kind of thing attracted him but also about his ideas for a business, which were encouraged by his Uncle Ted.
He also mentioned then the death of his wife, Julie and their infant daughter, from complications in child birth.
"The baby came way too early and was too frail to survive," he said. "And Julie had a hemorrhaging problem that took her also."
"I'm so sorry," Judy said.
"Old history now," he said, "Something to live with."
They were quiet, as he drove her home but both seemed to be contented. The incident with him dancing with her never left her mind for even a moment. It had her a bit on the run, and she knew that she needed to think about that.
He kind of suspected as much and had decided to give her the kind of room that she needed.
"May I call you?" he asked.
"Yes," she said, "That will be nice, and we do owe you dinner at home."
"Yes," he said, "I'll be sure to collect."
"I guess you need to report in?" he said, after a moment.
"Yes," she said, grinning, "Or they'll be on my doorstep, and they might be even so."
A CONSPIRACY ACTIVATED:
The next step occurred for Justin Shields a few days later. He was in his office, when Winnie paged him and said that he had three Ms Wainwrights here to see him.
"Ohhhh," he said, smiling. "Send them in."
"Hey, you three," he said, greeting Sissy, Sharon and Marty, who were all grinning at him.
"How was it?" Sharon asked.
"Is this a conspiracy?" he replied.
"It can be," Marty put in.
"It was fine and better than fine," he said.
"We thought so," Sharon said, "Momma was mooning over it, though she wouldn't admit that."
"Mooning? Eh?" he said. "That sounds good."
"So what can I do for you?" he asked.
"We're here to be squealers," Marty said.
"Yes," Sissy put in. "Want to tell you where Momma works at night. It's at Fabrio's. It's a kind of up-scale diner. She's a waitress there."
"Well, thank you," he said. "When does she work?"
"Today," Sharon said, "And tomorrow are her regular days.
"Good to know," he said. "But lunch?"
"Can't" Marty replied, "Got to get back to school."
"Need a ride?" he asked.
They looked at one another and said: "Yes, please."
He gathered the information that Judy was the only one with a vehicle and it was an old Oldsmobile and cranky at that. He said nothing but simply kept his own counsel about it.
That evening he went to Fabrio's. He was pleased to see that the three girls were already at a table, where their Momma was waitressing.
"This chair taken?" he asked.
The three girls just giggled and he got a surprised look from Judy.
"What you doin' here?" she asked.
"Conspiracy," he said, "Can't tell or they'll do me in."
It set the girls giggling and Judy just gave them a fake strong look. They grinned back at her and Sissy said: "We love you, Momma."
"I love you three also," Judy said. "And I can barely keep up with the three of you, let alone the four of you."
This got a grinned response from Justin as well as the three girls.
After they'd eaten, Sissy said: "We have to go, Momma. We need to get the bus back to school."
"No," he said, "Let me drive you. It'll be fine."
They smiled and agreed and filed out. Before he could get away, however, she put her arms around him and said: "You're so nice."
"Almost began to sing to you and dance," he said, causing her to grin at him. "Keep that thought," she said in response.
"You okay about getting home?" he asked.
"Yes," she said, "I have the Olds and am fine. If it works."
"You call, if you need," he said.
"Yes," she said.
He noticed her tone of voice and the thought struck him that she maybe didn't have a cell. In fact, she didn't but wasn't about to let on.
He took the girls home and was bombarded by all sorts of questions from them. He also asked them to call Judy to tell her that they'd gotten home okay.
Sissy asked if she could use his phone, and confirmed to him that way that they didn't have cell phones.
It was a few days later that the invitation for him to dine at Judy's with all of them was set. In this case, Judy insisted that the girls be there and not back out like the last time.
"Just let any romancing up to him and me," she said.
"Yes, Momma," was the answer that she got from all three of them.
Justin showed up on time that night with a large bag. He got a hug at the door from Judy and then, in succession, hugs from Sissy, Sharon and Marty.
"It'll be a few minutes before dinner," Judy said.
"Good," he replied, "I have something to show you."
They went into the living room and he sat in a chair facing the four of them.
"This isn't meant as any kind of insult," he said.
"What?" Judy said, and he got only quizzical looks from the three girls.
"I have these," he said, reaching into the bag and pulling out four iPhones.
The girls were squealing with delight immediately. Judy just looked on, the surprise on her face palpable.
Then Judy herded the girls into the kitchen and said: "Girls, give us a few minutes."
When she came back, he had a sheepish look on his face and said softly: "Please let me do this!!!"
"Oh," Judy said, "The only problem is that it's never been this way; I mean not ever all the way back. It's always been the four of us and a struggle. It's so hard to get used to being taken care of."
"Good," he said, "Then I'll keep trying."
She went to him then and was in his arms, sobbing against his shoulder.
"Momma?" came Marty's voice from the doorway, where all three of them were waiting.
She moved away from Justin and said brightly: "Well, come on, you three; let's see how to use our new phones."
Justin grinned and the three girls were all motion and noise right away.
He went over the phones with them, and indicated that the data plans for the phones were paid for the next year and he'd keep taking care of them.
"I also put my phone number, my cell, on them so that you can get in touch with me," he said.
He was then in the very midst of three separate and then mingled hugs from the girls, who were overcome and fairly emotional about what he'd done.
That night, at home, when he was already in bed, he got a phone call; it was Judy.
"Hey," he said, "Hi, pretty Judy."
"Just trying this out," she said. "Wanted to say 'good night' and thank you."
"Part of my campaign," he said.
"Overwhelming," she replied.
"Well, I intend to keep pitching," he said then.
There was a silence and she broke it by saying: "Please do. I'm astounded by this but please do."
NOT MY CAR:
Justin realized that his next plan was even more drastic and potentially difficult but he was determined about it.
Judy was finishing her shift at Fabrio's, when she came out of the kitchen only to find Justin sitting at one of her tables. She gave him a huge grin, and bent down to kiss his cheek.
"Hi, big guy," she said.
"Hi, yourself, Pretty Judy," was his reply.
"What'll it be?" she asked, standing right next to the table.
She froze then for a few seconds, since he'd put his hand on her thigh, just above the hem of her waitress uniform.
"Not going to let go until I know what color your panties are," he said softly.
She just stared at him, not sure what to do.
"Need to say it louder?" he asked.
"No," she said, "Not going to answer that out loud."
He grinned and she wrote on her pad, setting the pad sheet down on the table in front of him. It had one word on it: 'Pink'.
"Pink, goodie," he said, "Love that."
"Ordering?" she asked.
"If I ask, can I have your panties?" he inquired politely and quietly.
"No," she said, "Order something else."
"Pie," he said.
She nodded and moved away, grinning at him.
"Came to take you home," he said, once she'd brought his pie.
He was driving that night a white cadillac ATS-V sedan that evening.
"Lovely car," she said, and he only nodded.
When they got to her house, they noticed that her Olds was in the driveway.
"Oh," she said, "The girls are here. They had the car. Can I offer you coffee?"
"Love it," he said, "As long as I can't have your pink panties, the coffee will be nice."
"Not tonight, big guy," she said. "Am tired and probably smelly from working. Long day at work and then long night at Fabrio's."
The girls were excited about seeing him, and the two of them together.
"Didn't know it was you," Marty said.
"No," Sissy agreed, "Different car."
"What happened to that lovely Jag?" Judy asked then, idly. "Got rid of it?"
"No," he said casually, "The Jag is not my car."
"Oh," was all that Judy said, letting the topic drop.
But Justin had a huge grin on his face and went on: "The Jag belongs to you and I didn't want to keep driving it without permission."
Judy only stared. The silence was deafening. The girls were stunned.
Then the pandemonium started. All three of the girls were talking at once and Judy was only staring.
"I don't understand," she said. She sat and was quiet for many minutes, and the girls were now only staring at her but Justin waited.
It finally really sunk in and Judy had tears in her eyes. She realized that his was the next part of his 'campaign' as he called it.