THE LETTER AND A VISIT
The letter lay open on the desk in front of him. He'd already had a busy morning and read the letter, after it came in with the morning mail, a few hours ago. His secretary/legal assistant Jane knocked on his door then and poked her head inside.
"She'll be here in about 15, boss." she said.
She hesitated then, as usual a good reader of moods, especially of his moods:
"Yes," he said softly. "I don't look forward to meeting with her but it's got to be done, if anything is going to be settled. It just sickens me, all of it. I've tried not to deal with it."
She was leaning against the office door as he recited and rambled.
"Sorry, Janie!" he said, "I won't go on."
"I know you're upset about it, and that's so unlike you and the way you are normally. Can I do anything?" she asked.
"No, Janie," he answered. "I'll deal with her. Though there is precious little to deal with at this point."
"Oh, yes," she sighed, "The will and all."
He gave a sardonic laugh at that point: "Great way to put it really; I mean the 'and all' part of it."
She smiled ruefully: "Sorry for my choice!"
"No," he went on. "It's really only a temporary thing. I'm fine and will be fine, and this will finish this little drama. I'll make sure of it, and I'm getting to the point of not really caring about it."
"Okay, if you're fine," she went on, "Then I'll be waiting and will ring you, when she's here."
She left him, then with his thoughts, thoughts about how it all happened, how it went and the shocking end of all of this business, what he thought of as 'his father's folly'.
He gave himself those few moments to think about it. He clearly remembered the initial shock of his father introducing a new 'lady friend', as his Dad had put it.
This was the kind of thing that he'd often read about, heard about but never in his wildest dreams suspected would happen in his own household, to his own father.
His dad, at the age of 77 had taken on this 20 some year old woman, as a 'woman friend' and in a short period of time had actually married her. He remembered that it didn't bear thinking about at the time. It was too absurd for him to get his mind around it. But it became a fact of life.
It was at that time that he'd moved out of the big house, after talking to his dad about giving them some privacy and went to an apartment. That had been the first hard part, leaving the home where his pleasant memories of his Mom and Dad were all lodged, and leaving with truly mixed emotions, which he hardly dared even to admit to himself.
He also recalled the shock of meeting her. He'd expected what he thought of as 'the usual', that is: blond, stacked bimbo! He was so sorry that his dad had succumbed to such a cliche late in life but realized that there was precious little that he could do about it.
His shock only increased, when he finally met Amanda.
She wasn't the usual; she wasn't what he expected. She turned out to be a quiet brunette. Very pretty indeed, and yes, 'stacked' but pretty much outside of the mold of what he'd been expecting. She'd been from the first, pleasant, very nice to him, almost apologetic.
"After all," he'd thought at the time, "She was in her 20'as and he himself was already 40."
That was was enough of a shock to his system. The other shocks came with a certain regularity, as the old man, his beloved father, proved to be enjoying a second adolescence with Amanda.
Then they'd married, in a quiet ceremony and only told him about it, once their 'elopement trip', as they called it, was finished. At that point his astonishment only grew and he began to mentally simply wander away from the whole incident.
Jered stopped his rambling reverie at that point and went to the office bathroom. He wanted to make sure that he didn't look as care worn as he felt. He ran a quick brush through his gray-dark curly hair and made sure that he looked spruce. He was determined that she would not have him looking tatty and morose, for this interview with the StepMom, as he thought of her.
He cut himself off at that point.
"No," he said slowly, "You're just going to let this go, all of it, and get on with your life. You don't need any of his money or the property. She got it and that's fine. What you make and have is more than enough for an older bachelor!"
He smiled ruefully about the 'older bachelor' comment, and promised himself to be careful to avoid self pity. It hadn't been part of his life up to now. It hadn't even been part of his life, when his dad had died and left everything to Amanda. He wouldn't make it part of his life now! He was determined about that.
He made a mental note to keep his running appointment at the gym today. The run, the workout would, he thought, help him get through this final act in the comedy that had become his life-family lately. He used the workouts, the running, to keep him in shape and help him keep his perspective on things. It usually worked for him quite well. He was hoping that it would work today also, help getting all of this behind him and in perspective. He had, after all, always been able to see the reality of things and wouldn't make a difference with this situation. He lectured himself steadily about the fact that it was all his father's to deal with as he would and that was that.
It was then that Jane interrupted him to tell him that Mrs. Amanda Wilson was there for her appointment.
"Okay, Janie," he said, "Show her in, and you can probably leave now; I'll close up, when she and I are done. I'm going to the gym, after work."
"Do you good, boss!" Jane said. "But I'll be here for a bit; I have a few things to catch up on."
Then, with a knock on the door, Jane opened his office door and stepped back as Amanda Wilson, 'his StepMom', he thought caustically, hopefully for the last time, entered.
She was dressed demurely, in a black skirt and blouse ensemble, without jewelry, apart from simple diamond studs in her ear lobs, his father's gift, he supposed.
He stood and gave her a smile and went to her, extending his hand. It was awkward for a moment, when he sensed that she'd planned on a hug. But he was wary of that familiarity and wouldn't allow it. She shrunk back, he thought just a bit.
He cursed himself at that point: "There's no reason to be a brute about this. What has happened, by his will, is past and you won't gain your mental balance back by being surly."
"Amanda," he said pleasantly, "Nice to see you."
And of course there were things that he was choosing to ignore: mainly her stunning beauty: somewhat tall, though not as tall as he, rich, flowing dark brown hair, and the wide hips and prominent breasts were things that he simply almost manually pushed out of his mind, his inner thoughts. He would not let himself get caught in that kind of trap, even if it were so tempting.
He felt more calm, once he'd gone through these mental exercises, lasting only the fraction of a second and asked her to sit down in his seating area, where he too took a chair.
"Coffee? Tea?" he asked.
"No, thank you," she said, "I know that I'm imposing on your day, your time as it is."
"It's not a problem," he said evenly, "We probably had to meet and have a final go at all of what's happened."
He meant that as a prelude to what he was looking at as a finality, a closure of this whole episode in his life.
It was not apparently the way that she took it at all.
"Yes, I agree," she said, "And I'm grateful for your time, and wish to ask for your help."
"Help?" he asked softly, still wary but trying not to show it.
"Yes, Jered," she said, and stopped to think a moment. "How do I say this?" she mused, almost to herself.
He simply gave her time to collect herself and say what she had on her mind. He'd been a lawyer for many, many years, going on 16 now, and had a very lucrative practice and had had scads of experience in dealing with such situations. It was just so strange that this situation to be dealt with was his situation! (At least that's the way it seemed. But he put his mental brakes on that kind of thinking and leaned forward just a bit.)
She had tears in her eyes, and it made him wonder about her sincerity and her motives there. But he waited for her to get to what she wanted.
One thing was immediately apparent; she was nervous, really ill at ease. He said nothing but waited for her.
"Don't know exactly where or how to start," she began.
"Take your time," he encouraged, his professionalism kicking in and aiding in the process between the two of them.
"Thank you," she sighed.
She paused again and went on finally: "If you don't mind, I would just like to talk a bit about what's on my mind and we'll see if it leads me to where I need to be with this."
"Fine," he said, smiling at her.
(It was helping him to start seeing her more as a client than as his Step Mother; that, at least, helped to calm his own inner concerns.)
"Let me also tell you that I've been thinking about this in the month's since Dan's death. It's been on my mind a great deal and coming to you is about the only way that I can think of to do something about it."
"I thought of going to Mr Ramen, Dan's lawyer, but this seems to be a better idea to me. So, if you don't mind, I'm going to simply talk a little bit here."
He nodded again and she went into her story.
.... There is more of this story ...