On Monday morning Ed went into a computer store and purchased a computer just exactly like the one he had in his basement office. They didn't have the same type of printer but he found one that would be simple to operate. Ed thought he would wait two weeks before seeing Sally again, but decided he didn't have any reason not to go north this weekend.
Ed burst out laughing when Bill came into his office on Wednesday and asked Ed what he should wear. "I don't want to be overdressed and I don't want to appear to be a slob. Ed, I'm serious. I can go into an international meeting with all kinds of bigwigs, but this woman really scares me. I want her to like me. What if her daughter hates me and won't have anything to do with me?"
"Bill, relax, you are just coming to my house for supper. You're my friend. Just because there is a person there that you want to get to know better is no reason to get uptight. Be yourself. You don't want to have her think you are one thing and then find out later that isn't who you are. She is coming off a relationship where that happened and she needs you to be honest with her. Trust me, be yourself."
"Well okay, but I want to bring something. What do you think I should get?"
"A small bouquet of flowers for the table would be a nice thought and maybe a small box of chocolates for Cindy. Remember you are coming on my invite so you might bring me a six pack. Anything more would be too much. At this point you are just being nice and want to be thought of kindly."
"That sounds good to me."
Ed reached home a half hour before Bill was expected. Penny was flushed and Ed couldn't tell if it was from the warm kitchen where she had been baking and cooking or the excitement of meeting Ed's friend again. Cindy had done her studying early and had set the table and folded the linen napkins which Penny had found in the closet.
Cindy came over and plumped down on the couch beside Ed. "I don't think I am going to like this man. Why couldn't you fall in love with Mom and then I could be happy always?"
"Cindy, Bill is my friend and I like him a lot. I like your mom a lot too. Give my friend a chance. You will see that he really is a nice guy."
Ed could see Cindy was all ready to dislike Bill and she stated why. "I bet he will be just like Bob. I heard Mom being kidded by Aunt Sally about being kissed by him and she doesn't even know him." Cindy looked so sad.
"I think your mom had such a nice time at the dance, maybe she let him kiss her as a thank you. You know I had such a good time at the dance with Sally, I kissed her to show that I enjoyed being with her."
"You kissed Aunt Sally? Does that mean you love her?"
"No, I was kissing her as a friend to show I had a good time."
"Maybe that is the only reason Mom got kissed." There was a knock on the door, which precluded me from having to answer any more speculation about Bill and Penny kissing.
Ed met Bill at the door and took the beer out of his hands. He came in holding an attractive bouquet and presented them to Penny as she stepped from the kitchen to greet him. She thanked him and went to put them in a vase.
He turned, saying, "Ed said that he had a young lady staying with him. I've met your mom and now I'd like to meet you. My name is Bill Brokaw and you must be Cindy? I have a niece about your age I think. Maybe she is in the same class with you. Her name is Morgan Rich. Do you know her?"
"Yes I do and she sits in the same row as I do."
"Morgan loves chocolates. I thought you might like them too." Bill handed Cindy a small beautifully wrapped box that would hold six or eight candies at the most.
Cindy's eyes lit up and she thanked Bill before running to show her mom what had been given her. As we sat down to our meal Cindy placed the little golden box beside her plate and every once in a while would run her fingers over the embossed wrapping. Ed beamed when it was Cindy who gave the now familiar blessing. "Lord, bless this home and the food before us. Please bless the people sitting here and may they always be happy. Amen."
Penny was the perfect hostess, serving food and keeping up a friendly conversation going throughout the meal. Before the dessert was served, she announced that she had accepted a job with Bill's brother-in-law's firm. She would be starting on the coming Monday. She had won the concession to have somewhat flexible hours as she still had to care for Cindy.
Bill was interested in where she would be residing and Ed said he didn't see the need at this time for her to change her abode. "Cindy has promised to help with the housework and make breakfast sometimes."
"I make really good pancakes and I can make scrambled eggs. You need a good breakfast to go to work on." She blushed when she realized that she had sounded like she was bragging.
Ed could see that Bill was envious of Ed living in the same house with this beautiful woman ... envious and maybe more than a little jealous. When the end of the meal came, Ed spoke to Cindy, "Come on Cindy, Your mom has had a very busy day. She went into town and had an interview and got hired to go to work. Then she came home and prepared a wonderful meal. Let's you and me do the dishes while she talks with Bill."
Cindy was reluctant, but complied. Cindy kept glancing in the living room to see how close Bill and Penny were sitting on the couch. This being a Wednesday, there was school tomorrow and Cindy had to go to bed early. Ed promised to read a story to her as soon as she said goodnight to her mother and Bill. It wasn't long before Cindy was asleep so Ed went down to work on his computer. Ed was tired too, so an hour later he came upstairs to find that Bill had left already.
Ed was almost asleep when there was a soft knock on his door. "Ed, may I come in for a minute?" Penny was waiting for his answer.
"Of course. Come in."
Penny entered. She had her hair up in soft curlers and a nightcap on to hold them in place. She was also wearing one of Alice's robes wound tightly around her. She came over and sat on the bed where he was lying "Ed I wanted to thank you so much for this evening. Especially for keeping Cindy occupied. Bill seems like such a nice guy, but I want to be sure about him, so I need to talk with him."
"Bill is a nice guy. I've known him for years and he has always been my friend. I think you are nice too, although I haven't known you for that long. I think that is mostly because of the way you treat people I've introduced you to. And then there is Cindy ... no person that can raise a child like her can have any flaws. This is why I am giving you and Bill every chance to come together and maybe make a life together."
"I'm half in love with you."
"Okay, I can understand that. We do seem to get along well together. I have some great love for you too. If I hadn't met Sally our affection for each other might have blossomed more fully. I have though and taking nothing from you, beautiful as you are, I ache with longing whenever I think of her. In fact I am going north this weekend with the excuse to further Paul's expertise with a computer. I feel I have made some progress with him and I want to keep moving forward. The real reason though, is to be near Sally."
"Ed, I think that is wonderful--both for her and certainly for you." Penny leaned down and gave Ed a kiss. The atmosphere suddenly became sexually charged. Ed knew that she was his and all he had to do was to reach and draw her to him.
Not wanting to complicate their relationship, and suddenly envisioning a disappointed Sally and the same for Bill, his friend, in his thoughts, he just said, "Goodnight Penny. I'll see you in the morning."
Bill came into Ed's office and didn't have much to say about the last evening. He just said a thank you and said he had a really good time. One thing he did mention was how much he was impressed with Cindy. Ed, curious said, "How about Penny? That's the reason I invited you."
"I don't know what to say. There is just no way I can say enough about her. If I had my way, I'd ask her to marry me tomorrow, but I know it is way too soon. Probably there's something I'll find out about her I won't like. It just doesn't seem possible that she isn't as perfect as she looks. Help me out Ed; I don't want to make a fool of myself, but God I can't get her out of my mind."
"I got you together and as the saying goes, 'you're on your own.' Live with it." Bill left Ed's office, laughing. He'll be okay, Ed thought.
Ed's mind drifted to Sally's son, Paul. It seemed that one of the critical areas lacking in Paul's mind was emotion. Sure he got excited and agitated at times. And some times he showed pleasure. Ed had heard "Yaakk" enough. Basically his mind was similar to a computer. You plug information in and it searches for the answer and when it finds it, it displays it for you to see.
What would happen if Paul was fed a hundred years of history about a certain subject? Trading futures for instance. With Paul's brain such as it was, would he store information like you would in any archive? Could he be smart enough to retrieve it, and along with the historic rules, to act on certain situations?
Hundreds of articles had been written on the subject and base-line-predictability and formulas had been established. Then when you were satisfied that Paul had a grasp on all of this information, you then could start feeding real time information to him. Wouldn't he then be able to make what moves in the market were called for?
Ed had given Paul his starter course to practice on the computer. Ed, himself, had tried this in the commodity market, buying futures contracts. Ed's problem was he didn't have the discipline to watch the trends in the market to make informed judgment on when to buy and when to sell.
Another one of Ed's problems was that he would get a feeling that whatever commodity contract he had purchased was going to go up or down and he would buy, sell or hold that contract when he should have done just the opposite of what his "feeling" was. He was derelict in placing his stops and then moving them as the tried and true formula dictated. Ed just wasn't cut out to assimilate that much information and make it work for him.
Take the human factor out, which was what Paul was deficient in, why wouldn't Paul do well trading commodities on the CBOE? It was worth a try. If the only benefit was to keep Paul's mind occupied this would be a plus. It seemed that the main stimuli that Paul could process came while working on the computer. Ed wished that he had more time to concentrate on the boy.
Friday morning as Cindy was making pancakes, Ed announced that he was going north to visit Sally and Paul. He said he had purchased a new computer and wanted Paul to get familiar with it. Cindy spoke up, "Can I go with you Ed? I still have a lot of friends there and I'd love to see them again. Besides I may see Bob and I want to thank him for my gift. I know how much his collection meant to him."
Penny looked at Ed, but spoke to Cindy. "Maybe Ed had plans to do something with Sally this weekend. They have Paul to look after and might not want another young one around."
Ed knew what Penny was thinking, but Cindy looked so disappointed, he quickly said, "No I have no special things to do with Sally or Paul. I'd love to have you with me. Should we call Sally to see if she has room?"
"Oh I always sleep with Aunt Sally when I stay at her house. She would love to have me come. I know she would."
It was set that Ed would pick Cindy up from school if she would hurry up and get her pajamas packed and stored in Ed's car. Cindy left the pancakes burning and took off to pack. Penny was laughing. "I guess you have a chaperone for the weekend."