Chapter 19: Am I Going Crazy?
Copyright© 2012 by Coaster2
Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 19: Am I Going Crazy? - I needed help with math to stay on the football team. That's how it started.
It was strange to get up the next morning and head our separate ways once again. My ankle was gradually getting better, but I wasn't about to spend all day on my feet. The auditors had arrived yesterday, and were expected to complete their semi-annual visit tomorrow if all proved to be in order. I didn't have much doubt that Jonathan would have all the paperwork ready for inspection. He was that kind of manager. I would meet with the two people from headquarters today and introduce myself.
"Hello, I'm Steve Black, assistant manager."
"Ah, Mr. Black, nice to meet you," the man said with a genuine smile. "I'm Gerry Courier and my partner is Ivy Hanson," he said, pointing to a petite woman in a business suit.
"I was just complimenting Mr. Moir on the excellent condition of your records. I think you've made our work very easy, unlike some of the stores. I put that down to good management."
"Jonathan is an excellent manager with a lot of experience," I replied. "He's helped me a great deal in understanding the book business as well as managing inventory and people."
"Well, as a result, we'll probably be out of here by the end of the day," Courier said. "That's a rare luxury for us. This store is in good hands with the two of you and your staff."
"Thank you, we appreciate the comments," Jonathan said. "I'll let the staff know too."
"That was easy," I said to Jonathan when we had a private moment.
"It should be," he grinned. "We were starting from scratch, so we weren't burdened with old inventory, a pile of returned product and remaindered stock. Life is so much simpler that way."
I found a few minutes later that day to call Arnold Sung and let him know what had happened and that Dory was once again teaching school.
"It must be a big relief getting that problem solved," Arnold said.
"Oh yeah," I agreed. "I could use a few months of regular, sane days. It seems like drama seems to follow us around. I'm hoping this is the beginning of a stable life."
"Well, don't get too comfortable. I think the Valley Farm Investment Corporation is about to go into receivership, and Mr. Joseph McVeigh is about to have his little empire come crashing down around his ears. The bank contacted us and wants to open negotiations to take the business off their hands. Eddie will lead the way, of course, but I have a good feeling about this, Steve."
"Oh, boy, I wasn't really ready for that," I said, slightly dazed. "Just when I thought things might get back to normal and this happens. Are you and Eddie coming over here?"
"Yes. Probably next month. We aren't going to rush this, Steve. There are some legal issues that have to be resolved. Our mutual friend, Paul Ildebrun, will be working with us. You don't need to worry about that, but I'm hoping you're still interested in the business if we can make a good deal on the market."
"Yes. I'm interested. I really like the fellow I'm working with at Carlton, but to be honest, it isn't what I want for a permanent career. The idea of picking up another dying store and turning it around is the big draw for me."
"I was hoping that was the case. I'll keep you informed on what's happening, either directly or through Paul."
"Great. Paul's a super guy and did all the leg work on Dory's problem. You couldn't have put us on to anyone better than him, Arnold. I owe you a lot for that."
"It's always good to be able to help a friend, Steve. I'll be in touch as soon as we know more about Mr. McVeigh. Take care and give our best to Dory."
"Thanks, Arnold. I will."
I hung up the phone and wondered what to do next. How was I going to tell Jonathan? He was a great guy and had made a lot of concessions for me while the whole drama with Dory was going on. I was going to have to sit down and discuss it with him.
I checked with Paul Ildebrun and he confirmed that Randolph Bentley had been picked up on the Friday night he came into the book store. He had been charged with impaired driving and his car had been impounded. Apparently, he blew 1.3 on the breathalyser and his court date was set for early May. He was released on his own recognizance and once again, Alex Colville would represent him.
It was mid-March and we had settled back into our normal life. Mr. Bentley wasn't forgotten, but wasn't foremost in our thoughts any more. Dory was happy that Phyllis Yardley was settling in well as Headmistress and had the full support of the staff. More stories were surfacing about how disliked Randolph Bentley was, particularly with the women. More than one of them called him "creepy."
I'm a fairly heavy sleeper and so is Dory, but something woke me in the middle of the night. It took me a few moments to understand what the squealing noise was and when I did, I was instantly awake.
"Dory! Dory! Wake up! It's the smoke alarm," I shouted.
I jumped out of bed and helped her with her robe as we moved quickly out into the hallway. Our bedroom was in the front of the house, across from the living room and alongside the front entrance. I could see smoke in the living room and it seemed to be coming from the back of the little cottage. I grabbed my cell phone and guided a still-groggy Dory out of the front door and onto the lawn, punching in 911 as we went.
I backed us away from the house as I reported the fire to the operator and gave them the address. It was cold; as we were both barefoot and with only a terrycloth dressing gown and nightwear, we were getting chilled quickly. I could see flames now erupting from behind the house as the fire took hold.
It seemed forever until the first of the fire trucks and the rescue truck arrived from Comox. Then the backup from Courtenay arrived. They were quick to get us into the rescue truck before we were hypothermic and within a few minutes an ambulance arrived. They provided us with some wool socks and blankets to keep us warm while the firemen fought the blaze. It looked like a lost cause to me. I wondered as I held Dory in my arms what else could go wrong for us.
A fireman walked up to the ambulance and showed us a blackened gasoline canister he was holding gingerly.
"Do you recognize this?" he asked.
We both said no. Our lawnmower was electric and we had no gas powered machines except our car and truck.
"We found it in the back yard and it looks like it was used to get the fire started. We've called the RCMP and told them this is a suspicious fire."
Dory and I looked at each other said the very same thing at the same time. "Bentley!"
"What's that?" the fireman asked.
"Randolph Bentley," I clarified. "He'll be someone you want to talk to. He's got it in for us. The RCMP is aware of him too."
"Okay then, we'll talk to them when they get here. I'm afraid everything in the back of the house is pretty much destroyed, however. Are you insured?"
"We're just renting. I have insurance on our possessions, but the owners must have insurance on the house."
"Do you know where the owners are?" he asked.
"No, but our real estate agent does," I said. "If you contact Albert Feller, he can help you."
"Thanks," the fireman said. "I'm sure the RCMP will want to get that information too."
"Is this never going to end?" Dory cried, burying her head into my chest.
"It makes you wonder, doesn't it? What more can happen to us?"
"What are we going to do, Stevie? Now we don't have anywhere to live."
She was shaking with her tears as the reality of our situation overcame her. I had no answer for her, but I had to be the strong one now. I couldn't let myself fall into the same pit she was in. I had to give her some confidence.
"Don't worry, Dory. We'll be all right. The insurance will look after our losses and our expenses, I'm sure of it. We're going to be okay, you wait and see."
We didn't have much to say to each other after that. We just held each other, wondering what we would do now. No clothes, no identification, no place to live. What next?
We must have sat in the ambulance for a half-hour before an attendant stepped inside and told us we were going to St. Joseph's Hospital for an examination. Their main concern was smoke inhalation. As we pulled away, I could see that the fire was out or at least under control, but the back half of the house was gone. It was pitch black as we moved at regular speed down the winding road to Comox and the hospital.
It was past four in the morning when an RCMP officer stepped into the examination room and identified himself.
"Mr. Black, I'm Constable Dupuis. How are you feeling?"
"I'm okay. I've been checked out and other than being out on the street with just our nightclothes, my fiancée and I are unharmed."
"I'm glad to hear that. The fire department has set the cause of the blaze as suspicious. I understand that the gas canister they found didn't belong to you. Is that correct?"
"Yes. I've never seen it before."
"I also understand that you suspect someone of setting the blaze, if in fact it was set by someone."
"Yes, Randolph Bentley. He's the former headmaster at Surgenor Academy. You'll find you've had some problems with him, including a drunk driving incident a few weeks ago. He would be first on my list for doing this."
"Has he threatened you before?"
"Yes, both my fiancée and me. We have witnesses. That was the night he showed up drunk at the book store where I work and then left after threatening us."
"Why would he threaten you?" the constable asked.
"He assaulted my fiancée and we filed charges against him. He was suspended from his job and blamed us for his problems. One of your officers discovered he was in the country under an assumed name and got his job with false references. He was angry that we had 'sicced the law on him' as he put it."
"So, there should be some of this on file with our detachment?"
"Yes, definitely," I said.
"Very well then, we'll follow it up with Mr. Bentley. Is your fiancée able to talk to me?"
"I haven't seen her for a few minutes. She was being examined for smoke inhalation and she was pretty upset. I think they wanted to calm her down."
"I won't bother her unless she's okay with it," he said.
"Thanks." I was trying to think of what to do next.
"Constable," I said suddenly as he was about to leave. "Is there any way to see if my wallet and car keys are still intact? They were in our bedroom and maybe the fire didn't get that far."
"I'll check with the fire department," he nodded. "They usually collect that kind of thing if it's visible."
I sat there for what seemed an endless time, but probably wasn't more than a few minutes before Dory appeared. She looked awful with reddened eyes and her hair a mess. I almost smiled at the sight, but stopped myself. There was no humour in this situation.
"How are you, love?" I said, holding her in my arms.
"I'm alright now. Tired and depressed and angry, all at the same time. It just never seems to end, does it?" she said, looking up at me sorrowfully.
"It will. Sooner or later, it will all come together and we'll be out of this."
"I can't wait," she mumbled into my chest. Neither can I, I thought.
We sat there, wondering what to do next when we got a surprise visitor.
"Paul? What are you doing here?" I asked, delighted to see a friendly face.
"I have a trouble alarm built into my brain," he grinned. "When people I care about are in trouble, it goes off."
"Yeah ... really?" I smiled for the first time that night. "Well ... whatever, we're sure glad to see you."
Dory had gone to him and hugged him, kissing him on the cheek and thanking him for being there.
"Okay, I have some things for you, courtesy of the fire department. Here is your purse, Dory," he said, pulling it out of a soot-soiled pillow case.
"And here is your wallet, your phone charger, and your car keys, Steve," he said, passing the items along to me.
"That's great, Paul. Thank you so much. At least now we can get some clothes and food and find a room to stay in for a while."
"Did you have insurance on your possessions?" he asked.
"Yes, the policy is in the kitchen, but I'm sure it was destroyed in the fire," I said.
"Okay, that's not a big thing, but they won't pay out on it anyway until the investigation is complete. This looks like arson and until that they determine you are not responsible, that will hold up any claim. In the meantime, keep all your out-of-pocket receipts. Rooms, clothes, meals ... everything."
"Got it," I said.
"I know where there's a basement suite you can rent in the meantime. It's not ideal, but you need something temporarily until this thing is settled. First things first, though. You're coming home with me. Then, you and Dory give me a list of your sizes, and my wife and I will get going and find you some clothes for the next day or so until you can go shopping for yourself."
"Paul, this is way more than we can ask you to do," Dory said. "I can't tell you how grateful we are for all your help."
"We're past the lawyer-client relationship stage," he smiled. "I have a vested interest in seeing you two happy and married and successful in your careers. You are going through an amazingly difficult time, and I'm impressed at just how mature and together you both are. You are barely out of your teens and you're handling this like much older adults. I'm pleased and proud to help you."
That got him another hug and a kiss from Dory and a handshake and hug from me.
Paul escorted us to his car, driving us to his home.
"Miranda, this is Dory Paulson and Steve Black, our guests for a day or so," Paul said, introducing us to his wife. She looked amazingly awake and fresh considering the early hour.