Chapter 29: Bitter and Sweet

Copyright© 2009 by Jujubees

Callie began shuffling through the box of invoices that Cade had brought over from the Jameson's house. "What are you doing?" Ashley asked. Callie breathed a heavy sigh, "I have to sort through this box of invoices and figure out which clients have paid and which ones haven't. Ashley thought the task looked enormous. Part of her wanted to offer to help, but a bigger part of her wanted to read or doing something else.

The phone rang and Jessica answered. "Mom," Jessica called.

Callie picked up the phone and it was Angie. "Did Cade give you the invoices?"

"Yes," Callie said dully.

"I appreciate your help more than you know," Angie said on the other end of the line and Callie could hear Angie's kids screaming in the background. Angie felt guilty for pushing the chore of the invoices on Callie, but it was too much for her to handle along with everything else.

"It's OK," Callie sighed, attempting to hide her bitterness as she finished her conversation with Angie and hung up the phone.

Callie sent the children outside and sat down to begin sorting the invoices. She put the paid invoices in one manila folder, the ones that owed the full amount in another folder, and those that were partially paid, she marked the amount still owing, and placed those in yet another folder.

It took Callie two days of sporadically working on them to get the invoices organized. She then took them over to Angie's house to give them back. Angie was very pleased with Callie's work. She quickly pulled Callie over to the computer and explained how to bill each customer. There was a system of billing for the customers owing money in the past thirty, sixty, and ninety days. The bills were to be sent to a collection agency if they were more than a hundred and twenty days past due. Callie was familiar with collection agencies.

"I really need someone to help," Angie explained and Callie got a sinking feeling that she had not seen the end of her work. "Don't worry; we'll pay you for all of your time, so keep track of your hours."

Callie looked at the computer, "Cade didn't say anything about helping with the billing."

Angie wasn't about to let Callie off the hook. "Oh it's very simple," Angie explained and she began to show Callie how to do it. "You just fill in the amounts, and print the bills out so that we can send them." Callie took a deep breath and as the kids played together that afternoon, she began to work on the bills. Angie leaned over her shoulder and helped until Callie caught on to what she was doing.

Callie wasn't sure why Angie hadn't bothered to hire someone to do the billing, because it was a lot of work, and some of the bills were very delinquent.

Cade fully supported Callie helping Angie do the billing because he knew it was a huge issue and that Angie and Lonnie didn't have the time to do it. Callie helped catch up the bills and it gave her a sense of satisfaction. She no longer missed her job at the diner because her days were full, and the money that Lonnie and Angie paid her paid for clothes for all of them.

"I sure appreciate you helping with the plumbing bills," Cade said as they lay together in bed one night. He kissed her on the forehead.

"I don't mind doing it," Callie responded, "I just wish I knew more about bookkeeping and accounting."

Cade pulled her close and began to kiss her. "I thought you were learning," he said softly as he reached beneath her nightshirt and caressed her breasts. She moaned with pleasure when he touched her, and soon they became intertwined. He had not had sex with her since the night he found out she was cheating. He had been rough with her then, but this time he caressed her gently, and gave her oral pleasure. She had been longing for him and she climaxed almost immediately as soon as his tongue touched her labia. He smiled with satisfaction as she wriggled and squirmed, and he tasted the hot liquid that seeped out of her vagina. "You exploded on impact," he laughed.

She looked into his eyes as he climbed on top of her and inserted himself, beginning to thrust in and out of her. He could not help thinking how much he loved her. He took his time and when he felt her climax a second time, he urged himself to release with her, and soon they were both moaning and sweating. After it was over, he rolled over and lit a cigarette, and then he lay holding her, their naked bodies sweating from the summer heat.

"I like doing the billing," she confessed as she took Cade's cigarette out of his mouth and puffed it.

"I'm glad to hear it," he sighed as he took his cigarette back. "Angie and Lonnie hate it."

He held her for a while before extinguishing his cigarette and then they both rolled over and fell asleep.

The date for the town council meeting drew near. Angie continued working feverishly on getting the petition signed. She also did some research at the library about property taxes. She didn't want to convince the town council to get rid of the tax increase; she wanted Cade to do it. Both families sat under the shade trees in Lonnie's backyard Saturday afternoon before the town council meeting. The kids ran around playing.

"You need to be the one who talks the town council," Angie said to Cade, "I just know you can convince them to get rid of the tax increase."

Lonnie chuckled, "She's right you know."

Cade threw Lonnie a frown. "I don't think I should be the one to do this," he said.

The kids were screaming and Buddy, the dog, was chasing them. He had almost healed from his injuries.

"I'm not good in front of groups," Angie scoffed, "And you are Cade."

Callie leaned back in her chair, "Well Cade, you were able to get all the neighbors around here to band together," she said with raised eyebrows.

"Oh not you too Cal," Cade scoffed and rolled his eyes. He then gently reached over and stroked Callie's cheek and she grabbed his hand and kissed it.

If James Harrison and Burk Jameson could have seen into the future, they would have smiled at one another over what they saw. Despite the rocky road that both families traveled over the years, Cade and Lonnie had become the best of friends the same way James and Burk had once been best friends. It was like history repeating itself.

The kids rushed around and squealed with delight. They had no idea what the adults were talking about. Cade couldn't help smiling at them as he watched them play.

Angie went inside the house and emerged a short time later with a fresh pitcher of lemonade. The kids swarmed around her attempting to get their fair share. "Nine kids," Lonnie shook his head as he watched the kids enjoy their lemonade, and then he reached into the cooler beside him and handed Cade another beer, before he took one for himself.

Cade grinned. He recalled the neighborhood where he had grown up. There had not been a carefree feeling, and remembering that made him more determined to win the battle against the town council. His children deserved to grow up happy, and he knew that in order to give his family security, he would need to get the tax increase abolished, and after that, one way or another, he would have to stop Bill Pennington from his continuous meddling.

Drake Pennington and his friend Gary Holmes sat in Drake's office sipping scotch from two very expensive glasses. "Tuesday's council meeting will be an interesting one," Gary observed. "It's the day Harrison will present his argument to abolish the tax increase."

Drake laughed, "Yeah, good luck to him."

Gary wished he shared Drake's optimism. "We don't have the town council members in our pocket the way we used to."

Drake frowned, "I think you underestimate their loyalty."

Gary leaned back in his chair, "This town has grown a lot over the years, and since Harrison has shown up, many have sided with his fight against us."

Drake scoffed.

"I get the impression that even some of the council members are sympathetic to the farmer's plight," Gary mused.

"The council members know who lines their pockets," Drake said with confidence.

Gary took a swallow of his scotch, "I wouldn't underestimate Harrison if I were you, that's all I'm saying."

Drake attempted to appear confident, but he was concerned. Ever since Cade had come to town, it had brought to mind all of Drake's past memories of Dusty. Drake didn't care about the land anymore, not really, mostly he wanted to see Cade tumble to his knees in humiliation and lose everything he had. That's all he cared about, because he still hated Dusty after all of these years.

Tuesday night, the time of the town council meeting arrived before they knew it. The weather was hot and sultry and the town hall was full of onlookers. Cade brought his family with him, and so did Lonnie. Angie gave Cade the notes from her research. She had crammed them into his hand on Saturday, "They listen to men more than women in this town," she confided.

Cade read Angie's notes several times, and held the signed petition. The council had some business to conduct, and afterward they opened the floor for discussion. Cade was more nervous than he had ever been, even when he had formed the Farmer's Co-op. Drake was sitting up front with the other members of the town council, and when he saw Cade's family, he recognized Callie immediately as the nice looking waitress that he had lusted after at Beatrice's Diner.

"Yes?" Mr. Eric Mills asked when Cade slowly rose to his feet. Eric Mills was the Chairman of the town council. He was around Drake Pennington's age and he owned a car dealership in town. He had been a council member for many years.

Cade nervously wiped his sweaty hands on his jeans. "Well sir," Cade said slowly and beads of sweat dampened the sides of his face. "I have a signed petition," he said in an even tone.

"State your name please," Eric Mills commanded.

Cade shuffled nervously from side to side. "I'm Cade Harrison sir."

"Let me see your petition Mr. Harrison," Eric Mills motioned, and Cade slowly approached the row of tables and presented the petition, which thanks to Angie's efforts had been signed by nearly 5000 people.

"There are a lot of signatures on your petition," Mr. Mills remarked.

"Yes sir, there are nearly five thousand," Cade swallowed. "I would like to make a motion on behalf of the Farmer's County Co-op, which was newly formed several months ago, that the tax increase the town council passed last February, be abolished." Cade managed to speak in a clear voice despite his nervousness. There was dead silence in the hall.

"I see," Mr. Mills said as he looked at the petition.

"You can see that there is a lot of support from the citizens of the town." Cade said. "We could have kept gathering more signatures, but we wanted to bring our request to the attention of the town council as soon as possible."

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