Sometimes I wonder how he could even be my son. Stu, god I hate that name and although I'm happy to be rid of his mother who insisted on naming him, every day I am reminded of the silly cow and the years of frustration and water treading I wasted with her. I am alone now, happily single and thriving, thank you very much.
I own my own business, nothing large, mind you, but I employ several workers and sales people, to get my little invention onto the store shelves of hardware stores nationwide. After divorcing Stu's mother, settling up costs and distributions, I scrimped and saved and then put my business plan into action. Ruthless? Cold? I would like to think of myself as prudent. I of course had come up with the idea while I was married, but Ingrid, my wife at the time, and Stu's mother as well, had smashed my dreams of climbing the financial ladder immediately. Apparently my hard earned money had to go towards the household and Stu's tuition, far be it for him to go to public school like his old man.
So I waited, developed my plan in my own rare free time. I had everything thought out and anticipated, so that when the time was right, I could strike with my plan and get the loan, get production up and running and also get the patent and contracts.
It was tough for the first couple of years. I lived in a studio apartment in the rough part of town. Hell I was even mugged a few times, until word was spread that I didn't have much to steal. And what of Ingrid? My Scandinavian she-demon, continued to pressure me for money for alimony, and tuition for poor baby Stu, who was now attending a very expensive college.
All that money spent on them and yet I was still able to rise from the ashes of my former life and actually move out of the neighborhood of despair and into a decent home.
My business grew by leaps and bounds as I hired on people to help and sell my product. My product was a simple device really. It replaced a faulty design in plumbing fixtures. Turns out, the fixtures would break down and leakage would occur until the entire unit needed to be replaced. My little stop-gap fixed the faulty fixtures. The day I secured the deal to have one of the largest manufacturers to implement my little device in all their models, was a banner day. Sales and profits exploded a thousand fold and my business grew again to keep up with the demand.
I had hoped that Stu, now known by everyone but me as Stuart, would have shown some interest in coming to work for me and learn the family business, but much to my chagrin, the little toad studied art in school. One hundred and fifty thousand dollars in tuition and my son chose to get a useless profession. Hell he could have gone to State instead!
One good thing came from that one hundred and fifty thousand dollar investment. Maybe the best investment I ever made: Donna. Stu met Donna at college and the two of them, after graduation got married.
Donna was slim, small and classy. Her parents knew the value of a dollar and had sacrificed to send her to a good college to get an education she could "fall-back on". Why fall back? Because they really sent her to meet a man.
Not just any man, but the future captain of industry type that would normally be sent to such an expensive school like the one the attended. The joke was on them though as Stu was shocked to discover that there was no job awaiting him after college. There just didn't seem to be a market for Fine Arts majors in the real world.
I offered Stu a position in my company, working the factory floor, so that he could get a full comprehensive understanding of the business. He was my son after all. He sniffled and refused. I was disappointed, but not surprised. He felt it beneath him and questioned me on why I didn't make him VP. It was high time for Stu, who had everything handed to him, to learn how the real world worked. If he wanted to starve, so be it.
It was two months later when Donna came to my house alone. Dressed in threadbare clothes, her sweater barely kept her warm, and I noticed that her dress had been mended a few times. I ushered her to the den where the fire was lit and soon she and I sat together sipping some warm tea.
Donna looked tired and a bit drawn. Her face betrayed the first signs of worry lines that a person her age should not have. She was a pretty thing, brunette hair that contrasted to Stu's and his mother's golden locks. She had always had a very gentle face to go along with the inherited charm and grace that flowed through her body. Stu was lucky to have married her, I wondered to myself.
"Mr. Swift," she began.
"Donna, you know you can call me Jason," I interrupted. "Or Dad..."
"Jason ... Dad ... Mr. Swift ... I need your help."
I leaned forward as Donna began in a whisper. This was very hard for her.
"I know that Stuart turned you down for a job in the factory ... but I was wondering if maybe there was a position for me instead?"
I was surprised for a moment. But this was Donna, not my brood.
"Donna, this is sudden. I thought that Stu and you decided that my business was of no interest to you?"
Donna choked down a sob.
"Dad ... I only found out after Stuart refused your offer. I ... we've had some very intense discussions about it."
"I thought that Stu was not interested in you working, didn't he want you to stay at home?"
She nodded. "Dad, things have been hard for us. I'm afraid Stuart is not able to find a job and the bills keep piling up. If we miss another rent payment, we'll be thrown out onto the streets."
She broke down and cried now. I held her while she tried to put herself together. I felt her bones point through her back. She had not been eating as well. Quietly I cursed my son. Such a pig-headed stubborn fool; just like his mother. Poor Donna had chosen wrong and now was living to regret her decision.
I liked Donna. She was always kind to me, and tried to mend the fences between her husband and me. The two of us were just too different, so son and father never really had any common ground to bond with. Donna kept trying and forced herself and Stu into my life, whether I liked it or not.
Stu had burned his bridge with me, but poor Donna was stuck in the middle. If not for all her effort and kindness, I would have wished her luck and sent her on her way, back to the cold ratty apartment she and her husband shared. Seeing her like this, my heart wept for her.
"Donna," I pulled her out of my chest and she tried to stifle the sniffles. I handed her a box of tissue and she blew her nose and wiped her eyes.
"Donna, I've been thinking for a while now that the business is getting to be a little too much for me to oversee by myself. I think I need to find myself a good personal assistant. One that I could trust of course, and one that could look out for me and my best interests."
I smiled at her and lifted her chin to face me, like a father would to his child.
"Might you be interested?"
She smiled back, sniffled and then nodded. "Yes, Dad, yes!" She hugged me, and I held her for quite sometime. I smelled her hair. It was sweet, like honey.
I drove her home, she had taken a bus, and in this weather with her light sweater, she would have caught cold. As I parked in front of her building, I pulled out my wallet, and handed her my AMEX card. She looked at me in confusion.
"Money's a little too tempting for Stu. This card is for you to go tomorrow to the stores and for you to get a business wardrobe together. You represent me now, and I need you to look professional, not like your clothes came from Goodwill."
The look on her face told me that indeed her clothes had come from Goodwill.
She kissed me on the cheek and opened the door to leave. A blast of cold air came in and we both shivered.
"Donna, make sure your first purchase is a good coat."
She turned to look at me and mouthed to the words: Thank you, to me, unsure of her voice, and then hurried into the apartment.
I never received a thank you from Stu. I heard nothing from him and suspected that he was angry with Donna for overstepping his bounds and asking me for assistance. Donna showed up bright and early two days later, ready for work. Gone were the used dresses and in their place was a smart looking young woman in a tight business suit. It was a little awkward at first as I didn't really have a spot for her. She wound up sharing my office as I cleared away a small desk and had a phone line installed for her to use.
The first week we toured the entire business, as I showed her everything. She soaked it up with keen interest and I must admit that I was proud to finally be showing someone in my family my success. No one else had shown any interest, and I realized that I was starved for attention. Donna seemed proud of me and what I had accomplished. Her family was poor but they were honest hard working people and she had learned to appreciate success in small measures.
By the second week, Donna had entrenched herself quite formidably into the business. Her degree had been in accounting, a useful "fall-back" and she had already started to identify areas that needed improvement. First off was the filing system of which she and I spent the weekend while everyone else was off, reorganizing the entire system. Files were strewn about the entire floor as she and I were on hands and knees crawling over all the files.
We turned it into a game after a while and both giggled as we raced to find the file in question first. Leaping and lunging for the files; we had once fought over one file, rolling over each other on the floor trying to pry it loose from the others grasp. I somehow managed to wind up on top of her and for a moment, she stared back into my eyes, lost in them. We were quiet, and at that moment I noticed just how captivating this creature was.
I held that gaze for an uncomfortable moment. Donna's face shifted from an amused look to one of concern.
"Dad?" she queried.
My bubble burst. With those words, I pulled myself off her and we spent the rest of the time being formal to each other. The wall had come up between us. I caught Donna looking at me from time to time. She would quickly avert her gaze when I would turn to face her.
The time came a few months later when I had to travel back east to drum up some more sales as well as check in with my current clients. This time, I needed Donna to accompany me. The need was real. She had helped to institute a new pricing structure, one that for the life of me I just couldn't explain to my clients. This would also be a chance for Donna to have a real trip away since before she was married.
"Are you sure, you need me to come?" Donna asked me. Whether she was worried about coming, or that she didn't really think I needed her, I was not sure.
"Donna, you are my assistant. You come with me. Besides, you're the one who came up with the new pricing structure, so you get to be the one to explain it, if anyone has any questions."
She seemed to accept her fate. The rest of the day was quiet.
That evening I received a call from Stu.
"Dad, what's all this about a trip Donna has to take?"
He sounded angry. Still out of work, it must have been difficult for him to see Donna blossom into a smart confident professional woman.
"Stu, she's my assistant, she needs to come with me and meet with our clients."
"She's my damn wife!" he hollered back at me.
"That's true," I told him. "But right now, your wife is paying the bills, and if her boss says she needs to go on a trip with him, then she's going on a trip with him. You don't like it? Well son, I offered you the position first. It could have been you going away with me now instead of your wife."
Stu mumbled something about my corporate soulless company and hung up.
The next day, Donna arrived a little late and had her wrist bandaged.
"What the hell happened?" I pointed to her wrist.
Her eyes welled up and she tried to tell me she had fallen and hurt her wrist.
"Stu did this, didn't he?" I roared.
She neither confirmed nor denied it. All was not well in their house. I grabbed my coat and headed towards the door.
"Wait! What are you going to do?"
I turned to face her. "I've done a lot of things wrong with that son of mine, but I never would have imagined that he would hurt a woman. It's time to teach him a lesson."
"Wait! Don't!" she threw herself at me, trying to block my way. "Dad! Daddy! Please! I beg you! You'll make things worse!"
She tried. She really did try to pull at my heart strings, but I would not hear of it. I picked her up and set her aside me and out of my path.
"You'll just make things worse for me!"
"Donna, tomorrow we leave for a week and a half. Until then, you will stay with me, away from my chicken-shit son! That's an order, not a request!"
I left her standing there, crying, and headed for a visit to my son.
He opened the door after my twelfth bang. Still in his sweatpants and a stained t-shirt he slept with, I grabbed him by the throat and marched into the apartment. He struggled with my grip, but I held fast.
"Listen here, you piece of shit!" I growled as his face started to turn blue.
"You hurt your wife again and I'll make sure that will be the last thing on this earth that you ever do. I brought your sorry ass into this world and you better believe that I'll take you out as well." (Yes I know, such a cliché!)
I let him go and he dropped onto the worn couch.
I looked around the apartment. It was a mess.
"Let me guess, you don't cook or clean either? You're wife, after spending a hard day at work has to come home and make you dinner?"
His look answered my question.
"Son, you're going to loose that girl. She's the best thing to ever happen to you."
"Ha!" he croaked. "She's just a user. She used me to get married and now she's using you to move herself up!"
I just shook my head in disappointment.
"I'm sure she'll be shopping for a new husband on this trip!"
"Well Stu, you certainly make it easy for her to do that. She loved you, probably still does, but what do you offer her?"
"I give her love! I'm free of all these material things!"
"Love, son, is not enough. Just look at you, look where you are living. In fucking squalor! You went to college for god's sake. You are living below the damn poverty level. She went to school as well, and this is what it got you?"
Stu rubbed his throat. "That cunt went to school to land a husband! The jokes on her though, she landed an artist!"
I lunged towards him, but he was quick and he jumped away and grabbed a beer bottle and brandished it with menace.
"You just fuck off, Dad! I never needed nor did I ever want your help! Mom was right about you! You abandoned us and as soon as you were free and clear you went off and made your fortune!"
I was seeing red, but that beer bottle looked to be painful and damaging if I pursued killing that son of mine. "I'm so sorry for you," I told him and left the apartment.
"Tell that bitch that she isn't welcome here!" he screamed after me.
We closed up early that day. I had gone back to the office and told Donna everything that had happened. She had tried calling home, but Stu had been short and to the point over the phone. Donna came back to my house for the night.
The business trip was a success as Donna fit in quite nicely as my assistant. She was able to highlight the new pricing structure and our current clients had all been satisfied. We stopped over at her parent's house for a nice dinner and I had left them to spend time alone. Both of Donna's parents were older than I and we had always gotten along well. They were most grateful for my help in getting Donna a job and experience. I got the feeling that Donna had not been able to tell them just how hard of a time she was going through back home.
Sensing some intimate time between their daughter and themselves, I excused myself and told Donna that she was free to spend the next full day with her family. I would meet her back home as I was taking an earlier flight. She was very grateful as were her parents. Her father, Jeff walked me to my car.
"Jason, I want to thank you for being such a stand up guy to my daughter. I know she thinks the world of you, and without your help, I don't think she would be where she is now."
I shook his hand, told him it was a pleasure and that Donna was family.
I left that night looking at the little cottage in the rear-view mirror until I crested the hill. A sudden fear came over me as I wondered if Donna would be traveling back. There was no husband to come back to, only a job, a job that with her new experience, she could find a replacement closer to her family.
I would of course give her a glowing reference. She was valuable to me, to the company, but a part of me knew that her marriage with Stu was on life-support and ready to die away. We hadn't spoken about Stu for the entire trip. We both had decided to ignore it and pretend it didn't exist and just focus on business and the sights of the trip. Reality now loomed as the trip had come to the end. Was Donna going to be a fond memory? Would she be a footnote in the life history of my useless family?
I heard nothing from Donna until the morning she was due to report back to work. She was there early, and I was surprised when she had my coffee ready for me as I walked in.
"Donna? You're here!"
She looked at me oddly and smiled.
"Of course I'm here, I work here, you remember?"
I sat down at my desk, my mind working a mile a minute as I took a sip of my coffee to steady my feelings. What were my feelings? That confused me.
"I called Stuart and we worked things out. I'm back home with him."
"Oh," I said. My heart fell a little.
"He apologized and begged me to come back. He needs me..."
I stopped listening after that. What a vicious cycle she was getting herself into. It hurt me to think about it.
Six months went by and it was getting to be close to summer. Donna and Stu still lived in the same run down apartment. Donna had been saving all that she could but Stu had found the money and spent it on frivolous things. Donna was a wonder at work, and often times the two of us would be alone after hours ordering dinner and coming up with our latest strategy. Her formal education in business practices compensated for my lack of education, while my instincts compensated for her book knowledge. We were a perfect match.
One evening at a restaurant where Donna and I were eating with Karen, a client of ours, the subject of dating came up. Karen had groused about not finding any of the available men particularly interesting.
"I mean, we all can't be lucky like you Donna and land a man like Jason!"
Our faces showed shock. I blushed a little and Donna choked on her drink.
"Karen, Donna is my daughter in-law." I corrected.
Donna looked at me with a cryptic look. She seemed a little upset.
Karen leapt on this newfound knowledge. She scooted closer to me and grabbed my hand. "Well know! Am I to take it that the dashing Jason Swift is an eligible man?"
Karen was well put together. Perhaps a little too much make up and perfume, but her blonde locks and trim body were very pleasing, and at that moment, I had realized just how long it had been since I had had the pleasure of a woman in my bed.
Donna snorted. I looked at her and couldn't read her face. Emotions were flowing over her, but at that moment, Karen had dropped her hand onto my thigh. Later, I realized after I had finished my drink that Donna had left.
I tried searching for her, but Karen had assured me that she had safely gotten into a taxi and headed off to home and her waiting husband. Now I was alone, within reach of the clutches of Karen and her well manicured claws, make that nails!
She was here on business so naturally we headed back to her hotel room after she had taken the lead and kissed me. Her eyes held a certain spark and I might have been out of the game for a while but I knew that look would lead to me getting lucky.
She was different from Ingrid, my ex-wife. Not content to just lay there and let me do the work, Karen had dropped to her knees and fished my hardening cock of out my slacks. Deep-throating me, she had a keen sense of urgency and I mumbled for her to hold off before I climaxed. She ignored me and soon my knees buckled and I shot my load down her mouth. She swallowed and smiled.
"That's was just to clean your pipes out, lover!" She started undressing me. "Now we'll have time for the main event!"
I stood before her naked, while she was still dressed. She appraised me and her eyes wandered all over my body. I felt self-conscious, and blushed.
"Nice!" she told me and then she pushed me back onto her bed. She did a strip tease for me, and soon my cock was hard again. Her bra was padded, and once her clothes were all off, I saw the tell-tale signs of stretch marks all over her body. She had battled weight issues all her life it seemed. She quickly turned off the lights and crawled on top of me. Shoving her tongue down my throat she pulled one of my hands up to her small breast while she mounted my cock.
"Oh! It's so big!" she exclaimed as she slowly tried to lower herself down and take it all in. I feigned interest in her, but truth be told, she was a little too pushy. In the dark, my mind drifted and one of the thoughts that popped into my head just as I was climaxing was of Donna, and her tight body, and her deep brown eyes. I exploded into Karen and yelled out. I wanted to scream out Donna's name, but kept it garbled.
Karen cooed and settled down next to me, where we spooned together and drifted off to sleep. My thoughts were troubled as Donna kept coming into my dreams. Feelings were coming to the surface and I was confused. Did I really have romantic feelings for her? Donna and I had drifted close since she had started working for me. She had become the daughter I never had, interested in me and my interests. I had taken her under my wing, when my son had abandoned me, and nurtured her. Just what did I feel for her?