The two of them, each in his or her own way, were simply, as the phrase goes, 'trying to make it'.
Mike Willard was at home. It was rare for him to be there in the afternoon but lately he'd been getting a bit restless and he'd learned long ago to let the business things slide for the moment and take some quiet time with Rumbles, his cat.
Mike had, to tell the truth, inherited the business from his Dad but had, with his flare for the work, translated that into, these days 'businesses'. They were doing that well, and he and Rumbles had a leisurely life.
The fly in Mike's ointment, at 36, was his loneliness. He'd had a very humiliating and saddening 'she left me at the altar', literally in his case, experience with his French fiancé, the French Woman, and simply closed himself down for a period of a year or so, after that.
He suspected, maybe untrue but he still suspected it, that he needed to tone up and make himself more presentable. So, in the ensuing year, while he fended off the attempts by friends and colleagues to 'fix him up', as the saying goes, he got a personal trainer and began to work out. It was a practice that he'd had when younger but had slacked off on. He was sorry for that slacking off, especially during the first month of his exercising.
But it seemed to be paying off. He was in shape now and carried his 187 lbs nicely on his 6'1" frame. He regulated his habits and tried to keep intake of sweets down to a minimum, his great failure and major temptation.
Mike had curly hair, which was already, at his young age, shot through with gray. He never tried a mustache or beard but was tempted. Those were decisions to be put off 'til later.
He called his office and got his assistant, Doris on the phone, who simply told him to relax, everything was humming and he wasn't needed that day at all.
"Thanks, Doris!" he said, "But shouldn't you be heading home soon?"
"Yes," she said, "I'm going out to dinner with that handsome husband of mine!"
"Enjoy!" was his comment, and after he hung up the phone, he simply sighed.
Now, it wasn't that Mike wasn't attractive but he was, from early days, a bit on the shy side. He was periodically heavy and never seemed to attract the ladies. He was still in a bit of a heavy phase, when he met and courted Monitte, the runaway French Woman. That had put paid to Mike's attempts at self confidence with love.
He was having an afternoon cup of tea and idly watching a baseball game on the tv, and talking to Rumbles.
"Know what I think, buddy?" he asked.
And Rumbles lashed her tail against the arm of the chair, where she was sitting.
"I think that I need to simply ask someone to marry me. You know, take a chance; give in to Karma or whatever that is."
He laughed at the thought, and just the pursuing of that kind of possibility made him happier. He laughed and said: "That's what I'll do, old gal! Shall I? Dare me?"
He laughed again and said: "I can see the doubt on your face. You don't think I have the nerve! Well, I'll show you, my lady love, next pretty woman I see is going to get a proposal from me."
That was Mike's frame of mind that Friday afternoon.
While Mike was having his 'do you dare me' talk with Rumbles, the closest he'd come to a real girlfriend for a long, long time —- he refused to consider Monitte that, especially since she did the runner on their wedding day —-outside Tracy Keenen was working her way down the street.
She had her 'faithful companion', it's what she called her giggling eight year old daughter Ramona, with her, and was pleased to at least have a job that day.
With the economy working its way out of a rough patch, there were no jobs for Tracy. She had long ago decided that she'd take anything and this gig today was only a temporary thing.
She'd answered an ad and ended up passing out leaflets for a loan agency from door to door. She knew right from the start that it sucked but she'd get paid today.
She made it a plan these days to hoard her unemployment money but that too was coming to a foreseeable end, and she was worried.
Tracy had lost her parents fairly early and had realized, afterwards, that he father wasn't in as great a financial shape as she'd thought.
Once the bills were paid, there was precious little money left, and that had been bleeding away, since the downsizing at the business where she'd worked as a secretary, while she hastened to get better credentials through an on-line educational outfit, which was now out of the question, since there was no internet anymore, at least not for her or Ramona.
Then there was Ramona. Ramona was literally an accident. It was the result of a night of passion with a guy at a party, where, for the last time, she declared, she drank too much and ended up making love to a faceless, nameless guy. Nine months later there was Ramona. The love of her Mom and Dad had seen her through that but what it meant was that Ramona was now her companion in hard times. They were walking this street together, passing out ad sheets for the loan agency, with a promise from the boss that there'd be more work for her. But the promise was accompanied by a leer that made Tracy say to herself that she'd be clear of the creep after that very day. But at least the pay this day would add to her little pile that she used to see them through the days.
For Tracy it was Ramona too who was the sun in the sky. She was a lovely little girl, as lovely as her Momma, with a sunny and very bright personality. She seemed to be wise beyond her years and often enough raised her Momma's spirits, when they were flagging, by her own insistence that things were going to be just fine. It was Ramona's mantra: 'Things are going to be just fine'!
Tracy, at 26, was just a little on the heavy side, really more 'zaftig', as the Germans say, than heavy. She was a treat for any man who wasn't looking for a skinny model type.
During the time when she was working, she worked extra hard to get back into shape, after the birth of Ramona, and tried to keep herself that way.
The death of her parents, in an accident, and the tough times that came later, once the job went away, had almost conspired to keep her from getting heavy. She used that determination as a way of disciplining herself.
Today, with her walking these streets with Ramona and the loan company ad sheets, it was food and rent for them. Those were her main issues.
That's what she was thinking of, as, walking hand in hand, she came to Mike Willard's door.
He happened to open the door, looking for the mail, just as Tracy and Ramona, laughing about something, got to him with her loan agency ad sheet.
After having talked to Rumbles about his determination, Mike had no idea that Tracy and Ramona were just then approaching his door. He was in a good, almost a fey mood, and the 'determination' that he spoke to Rumbles about was sitting on his mind.
What happened then might well have been choreographed by Fellini, and strangely it was little Ramona who fairly saved the day.
Mike Willard was prepared to carry out the threat that he'd told Rumbles that he was about to perpetrate, and the effect was to set Tracy Keenen's world ultimately on its ear.
He was surprised to find, as he opened the door of his house and looked for the mail, that a pretty woman and a lovely little girl were approaching his door.
"It's a sign!" he said softly to himself, and heard Rumbles making cat noises behind the door, as if in agreement.
It was then that he did it, as the two, the woman and the little girl, approached his porch.
(Mike's house was one of his indulgences for himself. He'd bought it to celebrate the fact that the business, and then businesses were doing so well. He needed to do something tangible to celebrate that, and after a late night chat with Rumbles, decided to move from his apartment into a grand, large house. That's where he was, when Tracy and Ramona came up his walk.)
He stopped the two of them dead in their tracks by asking, with a smile on his face: "Hi! Will you marry me?"
Tracy only stared, as though looking at a crazy man.
"What?" she said.
"I asked, will you marry me!" he repeated, a broad smile on his face.
Ramona giggled and asked: "Momma, are you going to marry the man?"
"I'm sorry," he said, "Are you already married?"
Tracy, who was still rendered semi-speechless by the request, shook her head 'no', indicating that she wasn't married.
"Good," he said, "Then you can marry me!"
(Mike was having a great time with this little ruse of his, and realized that he had to get serious and stop showing the lady that he was a crazy man.)
"Momma?" Ramona said, "You didn't answer the nice man!"
"No, honey," Tracy said, "I didn't."
She turned to Mike then and said: "No, not today!"
Mike turned to Ramona and said: "See! She didn't say definitely 'no', did she?"
"No," Ramona said, giggling again, "Momma didn't say definitely 'no'."
"Well," Mike went on, "In that case, will you sit and have some iced tea and scones with me? They're fresh today?"
"Well," Tracy said.
But Mike interjected: "I'm sure that your, um daughter?, is tired from walking around and passing out whatever you're passing out. Iced tea and scones on the porch?"
"Momma!" Ramona said this time, shaking her head 'yes'. Tracy then said: "Yes, thank you! We've been up and down these streets for hours."
"Well," Mike said, "Settle down on the screened porch here and I'll fetch the tea and scones."
The side porch of Mike's wrap-around porch was screened and the two of them, Tracy and Ramona went into the screened porch, where there was a little table. They sat there and waited.
Tracy was grateful to get off of her feet, and she was sure that Ramona was tired also.
"Momma," Ramona said quietly, "He's so handsome!"
"Yes, but he might be crazy!" Tracy answered and they giggled, just as Mike emerged from the house by the side door with a tray filled with the tea and scones, and milk for Ramona.
He was followed, quickly in his wake, by a very nosey Rumbles. Ramona let out a squeal as the large orange cat began to wind her way around Ramona's legs, rubbing against her.
"Oh, I love her!" Ramona said, "What's her name?"
"She's Rumbles!" Mike said, getting a giggle from Ramona.
"She's so nice!" Ramona said.
"We live in an apartment where pets are not allowed," Tracy explained.
"Well," Mike said, "Pets are allowed here at 426!" (His house number.)
Mike set the tea and scones and milk in front of them and said: "Sorry to startle you with my proposal!"
"First one I've had today!" Tracy said with a grin. "Only one I've had today!"
"Good," Mike said, "Don't want competition for your hand!"
Tracy giggled again then, and Mike introduced himself.
"You already know Rumbles," he said, "I'm Mike Willard."
Tracy extended a hand and said: "Tracy Keenen and this is my love Ramona!"
Mike began, without pausing to sing the song 'Ramona', making both the mother and daughter giggle.
Then he said: "And you already know the lady of the house, Rumbles!"
They sat, fairly companionably, to the tea and scones when Tracy, curious said: "So, the proposal, a story?"
"Yes," Mike said, "It's usually best to tell your stories to strangers; it's easier."
"Strangers?" Tracy asked, "You've already asked me to marry you!" She giggled, joined by Ramona.
Ramona then interjected, with the élan of youth: "I like you, Mike Willard and I love Rumbles!"
"Well, thank you, pretty Ramona, girl of the song!" Mike said, "I like you too and it seems that you've captured the very heart of the lady of the house!"
"But, yes," he said, "Your question."
He talked then about the French Woman, as he called her, and the debacle at the church, where he was literally waiting for her and only got a message instead that she had left the area that morning.
"Oh! How dreadful!" Tracy said.
"Yes," Mike agreed, "I refuse to try those dreadful on-line dating sites and just told Rumbles that I was going to ask the next pretty woman that I came into contact with to marry me."
Tracy giggled and said: "Me!"
"Yep! You!" he said.
He gave her a broad smile and said: "So, what do you think? Want to marry me?"
Ramona and Tracy were both giggling again right away and Tracy said: "Thank you again, but not today!"
"Okay, acceptable answer," he said, "But know that I'm persistent. It's what has made me such a success in business."
"Oh, you're a successful businessman as well as a prospective groom?" Tracy said with humor.
"Yes," he said, "Willard Industries, that's me!"
"Oh," she said, "I've heard of that company."
"Yes," he said, "We're doing well, at least well in business; not so well at the altar waiting for the French Woman."
He said this last with a bit of humor and she joined in a laugh with him.
"So, what are you on the streets for?" he asked. "Rumbles wants to know. I know better than to be really nosey but Rumbles insists."
She talked then for a bit about the economy and having lost her job in the downsizing of the company. She mentioned the name and he said: "Yes, I think that they're on the way out. At least that's what my sources tell me."
She hesitated to tell him really personal stuff and he didn't push her.
"What did you do?" Mike asked, and Tracy went over what she'd been doing and the kind of training that she was getting on-line, mentioning too that cost cutting made it necessary to delete their connection to the internet.
"Well," he said, after a bit, noticing the somber tone of what Tracy had been telling him, "I recognize what you're saying. The economy is only now coming back. We've noticed that at the companies too."
He thought for a moment and said: "Tell you what, if you won't marry me today, why not stop at my office on Monday and I'll fit you up with a job?"
Tracy was struck dumb by the kindness of the offer and what it would mean for her and Ramona.
"That is so nice of you!" she said, taking out a tissue to wipe her eyes.
"My pleasure," he said, "After all, I need to keep my eye on you so that you don't run off with anyone else, while I'm waiting for you to say 'yes' to my proposal."
That caused him to smile and both Tracy and Ramona to giggle.
"Well," she said, "If we're going to get paid, we need to do three more blocks of door to door with these loan company ads."
"How long have you been out?" he asked, a bit concerned, especially for Ramona.
"Oh about two to three hours," Tracy said.
"Where's your car?" he asked next.
"Car?" she said ruefully, "One of the casualties of the economy and our need to cut back to the basics. I mean rent and food."
"Okay," he said then, "Never let it be said that I've let my fiancé in the lurch. Let me get my car and I'll drive and then whisk you both home."
"Goodie!" Ramona said, and Tracy nodded too, she realized that Ramona was probably tired.
They waited on the porch and soon enough, after putting Rumbles into the house and taking the tray back in, Mike appeared down the driveway with a Jeep, and they clambered in.
"This is my favorite car," he said, "I have a more snazzy one but it's in the garage just looking pretty."
He drove them to the edge of the blocks that they still had to cover and he did one side of the streets, while they, Tracy and Ramona did the other. It made the rest of the distributing of the leaflets that much easier.
It was mid afternoon, when they were finished.
"Ready?" he asked.
"Yes," Tracy said, feeling already a kind of a bond with this man, who at first appeared to be certifiably crazy.
"Back home," he said, "Give me directions."
He took them home then, to their apartment building. They sat in the car for a few moments and he said, finally: "How about if I pick you two up at 5 PM and we'll go out to dinner?"
Before Tracy could even respond, Ramona was pulling on her Momma's sleeve to agree.
Tracy laughed and said: "Yes, that'll be lovely. Dress code?"
"Shall we be comfortable and causal today and keep the big guns for the future, when you say 'yes' to my proposal?"
Tracy giggled and said: "Exactly the best! Five o'clock. We'll be ready."
They got out then but Ramona, who was a hugger, insisted on a hug from him, and then Tracy got one too.
"Thank you," she said softly.
"You didn't say 'no' at least!" he said brightly.
"No, I didn't!" she responded, kissing his cheek as she went into the building with Ramona.
They got inside their apartment and Tracy turned to Ramona, who was saying that she liked Mike Willard and she liked Rumbles too.
They had some tea then, milk for Ramona and a few cookies.
"It was so strange," Tracy said, as though talking to a pal instead of her daughter.
"Yes, but I liked him!" Ramona said too.
"You know, I did too," Tracy said, with a smile, "And just think, if he does give me a job! Maybe these slim times will be over for us. Won't that be great, sweetie?"
Ramona gave Tracy a hug and simply repeated that she liked him.
They were dressed casually for their outing that evening. Tracy was wearing a pair of jeans and a blouse. Mike was exactly on time. He was waiting for them in front of their apartment building. He was driving, that evening, a cream colored VW Passat, his 'snazzier car'.
(Mike Willard had a 'thing' for VWs, always had and Jeeps. It's what he provided for himself, instead of something bigger, more expensive and flashier. He simply catered to what he liked.)
They were coming out the door, as he emerged from his car and he got a hug right away from Ramona, and then also from Tracy.
"We're making such good progress!" he said brightly. "Do you want to marry me tonight?"
Tracy giggled and said: "Not tonight, thank you for asking!"
He swept his hand toward the car and said: "I have a passion for VWs, always have had, since I was a kid and Jeeps."
She smiled at him and he explained further: "Just wanted you to know why you're not being picked up in a Caddie or a Lexus or a Benz or such."
"This is just lovely," she said, and Ramona agreed.
They went to an Italian place for dinner and Tracy was pleased to go out to eat, first of all, and to not have to be extra careful about the price of what they wanted to order secondly.
They spent the dinner time getting to know each other better, and falling into a fast but good friendship.
Toward the end of the meal, he asked: "Dessert? Sweets for the sweet?"
Ramona looked at her Momma, who nodded her head. The waitress came to their table and Mike spoke up right away: "She's going to marry me! I've asked her and she didn't say a definite 'no'!"
Tracy simply covered her mouth with her hand and giggled into her hand, while the waitress congratulated them, causing Ramona to giggle then also.
They had their dessert and then Tracy indicated that it had been an active day for Ramona with all the walking to deliver the loan company ads, and that she thought they'd call it a night.
"Fine," Mike said, leading them from the restaurant, where, at the door, they got another 'best wishes' from their waitress.
"I'll have you surrounded," Mike said, "And then you'll have to say 'yes'."
"I see!" Tracy said, simply smiling.
Mike then drove to his house, and Tracy simply looked at him.
He held up a hand and said: "Let me simply talk here. I'm going to give you a job and that will get you on your feet. I know you're going to marry me so what I'm going to do is give you the VW to use, until you get yourself arranged."
Tracy gave him a shocked look and Ramona said: "Oh, Momma, how nice!"
"Yes," Tracy answered, "It's very nice."
She leaned over then and kissed Mike on the cheek.
"You're a gem!" she said.
"Good," he answered, "Then marry me!"
He laughed as he said it and got a giggle from Tracy too, who said: "Thank you, not tonight!"
Ramona said: "Momma, maybe you should!"
Tracy looked into the back seat of the car, where Ramona was and said: "Ramona! Thank you, not tonight!"
"Yes, Momma," Ramona said but smiled at Mike, who winked at her.
Tracy then turned to Mike and said: "I don't know what to say, except a very sincere thank you. We'll take such good care of it."
"Well," he answered, "I don't want you and especially Ramona to not have means of transportation. It's that simple and I always use the Jeep."
"Yes, your other passion," Tracy said.
"Correct, apart from marrying you!" he said laughing, with both Tracy and Ramona joining in the laughter.
Tracy and Ramona, after dropping Mike off, went back to the apartment building, with Ramona saying, while they were on the way: "This car is so nice, Momma!"
"Yes, it is," she said, and turning to Ramona said: "I just don't know what to think with his asking me to marry him every five minutes."
Ramona giggled then and Tracy joined in the giggle.
"We'll just have to see where it leads," Tracy said, with Ramona shaking her head in agreement.
They were in bed together that night. They'd been talking and Tracy just lay down with Ramona, once she put her to bed.
"Church tomorrow, Momma?" Ramona asked.
"Yes," Tracy said, "The choir is singing this week. Is it okay for you to sit by the choir?"
"Oh, yes, Momma," Ramona said, "I love to hear you sing."
Mike Willard was a 'once a month attender at the Episcopal Church. He felt that good about the way things had been going with Tracy and Ramona that he decided that today would be his Sunday in church.
The coincidence that occurred, once he went into the church that Sunday was the strangest part of a very strangely developing relationship.
He was in the back, deciding where he'd sit, when he noticed a child sitting in a pew right next to where the choir members were sitting.
He looked a second time and realized that it was Ramona, and then he noticed that Tracy was indeed sitting with the choir. It put a huge grin on his face.
Tracy saw him first, as he approached and noticed how many people nodded to him and said 'hi' to him outright. She realized that he did indeed belong to their church.
Then Ramona saw him approaching and she gave him a huge grin. She stood and hugged him, as the claimed a seat next to her in the pew by the choir.
Tracy was looking at him and smiled and gave him a short wave.
He mouthed the words 'marry me' to her and she giggled into her hand and mouthed the words 'not today' to him. He nodded and smiled.
They met after the service was finished and Tracy gave him a kiss on the cheek.
"Didn't have to take the bus to church today!" Tracy said. "Thank you so much!"
"Well," he said, "After all, they are our cars; you are going to marry me some day."
She laughed with him and said: "But not today!"
"Brunch on the future groom?" he asked pleasantly.
"Yes, lovely!" Tracy said and they walked to the parking lot, where both cars were, with Ramona walking between them holding his hand on one side and her Momma's on the other.
Tracy just smiled at the three of them and at the picture that they were presenting to the world. He kept her head fairly spinning with his constant repeating of the offer of marriage, and she didn't know if he was ever serious or if it was all his constant jest.
She did reason, however, that if it were a jest, he was at least taking really good care of them, and she liked that. She liked that for Ramona especially but she also was beginning to admit that she liked it for herself too.
After their brunch, he apologized and said: "I really have some work items that need my attention today. I'll be going to the office to work on those."
"Rumbles?" Tracy asked.
"Oh, she's fine by herself, unless you want to go and entertain her. Ramona is one of her fast favorites," he answered...
"Well, how about if Ramona and I go to see Rumbles and I'll fix us some dinner, for when you get home from work?" she asked next. She held her hand up then and said: "And no snooping; I promise!"
"Snoop away," he said, "It's where we're going to live, once we're married!"
She giggled and he asked: "Marry me?"
"Not today, Mike Willard!" she answered.
"Okay," he said, "But I'll keep asking."
He gave them a key and they went to his house.
"Momma," Ramona asked, "May we look around a bit?"
"I don't think he'll mind," Tracy said, and made a mental note to tell him that they did indeed have a look around.
They were greeted orally at the door by Rumbles, who showed that she remembered Ramona well.
Rumbles followed them around the house, as Tracy and Ramona took a tour of the place, noting its huge size and the loveliness of the place.
(As a matter of fact, Mike had expended a good deal of energy and certainly money to have the place rehabbed before he moved into it. He and Rumbles stayed in their bachelor pad, while the work was being done. It was intended, originally for Mike and the French Woman, who pooped out on him to be sure, but it turned out to be a lovely, lovely redone old home.)
"Which room will be mine?" Ramona asked, and the two of them giggled about the question. They did, however, seek out the bedrooms and picked a room for Ramona.
They went to the kitchen then and explored what Mike had in his larder, for dinner. Tracy was pleased that he was well equipped and found enough that she could work with.
While Tracy was working on some dinner, Ramona went to the library, where there was a computer. She used the computer for a while. Their connection had been given up, once the hard financial times hit.
After a bit, Ramona came out of the library and sat down, while her Momma worked on the dinner.
"Momma," Ramona asked.
"Yes, sweetheart?" Tracy responded.
"Does he mean it, do you think?" she asked.
"Well, honey," Tracy responded, "At first, I don't think so; it was some kind of, I guess, funny thing to him but then, as it went on, and the way that he's trying to take care of us, maybe he really does."
"What do you think?" Ramona asked then.
Tracy thought for a bit and said, at last, "I think that one of these days, I'm going to say 'yes'. Why not live for once and take what life is offering?"
Both of them had a giggle then.
Tracy was in the kitchen putting some finishing touches on some baked chicken, when she heard the Jeep drive into the driveway.
Soon enough, Mike came through the door and had Tracy, Ramona and Rumbles to greet him, as he entered.
"My, my," he said, "Coming home was never like this, never at all!"
He got a hug from Ramona and a hug and cheek kiss from Tracy. At the time, both she and Mike clung to each other, letting the hug go on for a bit. Both of them smiled and filed the feelings away for another time.
Once the hug broke up, Mike asked: "So, did you pick out a room for Ramona?"
Tracy blushed. "How did you know that we talked about that?"
"Easy," he said, "You're gonna marry me; it would be natural if you picked out a room for Ramona."
"You certainly keep me off balance!" she said, shaking her head.
"Is that a good thing?" he enquired.
"It might just be!" she said, "It might just be."
He grinned at her.
Both Tracy and Ramona were reluctant to leave that night, after the dinner dishes were done and all. Mike did, of course, ask her to marry him but she said 'not tonight' and mentioned that she needed to get some sleep, since she had a job interview tomorrow.
"Oh," he responded, "Are you gonna marry the new boss?"
"Probably not tomorrow!" Tracy said with a small laugh and then hugged him, only this time, with a kiss, the first kiss. It was soft and pleasant, and, she thought, exciting.
"Ohhhh," she said, fanning herself with her hand, after the kiss. "That was something!"
He smiled at her and then she kissed him again.
They went then to find Ramona, who was in the library with Rumbles and was playing a game on the computer.
"Love this!" Ramona said.
"Yes," Tracy explained, "We had to give up the internet due to both an old computer and lack of funds for the connection."
"Tomorrow at nine AM?" he said.
"Yes, I'll be there, looking my best!" she answered.
"You always look your best!" he said.
"Oh, aren't you the nice one!" she replied, and kissed him quickly, as they went out the door to drive back home.
He watched them go and then, turning to Rumbles, proclaimed that he had a plan now and was going to make a phone call.
It was still early evening, when someone rang the apartment doorbell. When Tracy answered the door, he identified himself as Ray from the computer store, the Apple store.
"Yes," Tracy said.
"Well, I have a new Apple iMac that's been sent by Mike Willard. It comes with a full year of internet services paid for, and I simply need to know where to set it all up," Ray said. "Mike said that you could call him to verify.
By then Ramona was there and was fairly jumping up and down at the gift of the computer. Tracy called Mike and, when he answered, he said right away: "Tracy, marry me!"
"You lovely man!" she said, "One day I'm going to say 'yes' and then you'll be in a fix."
"Then Rumbles and I are going to be the happiest pair around!" he corrected.
"The computer!" she said next. "Thank you."
"My pleasure," he said. "Just bring it with you, when you marry me and move in here with me and Rumbles!"
"I will!" she said and he shouted to Rumbles: "Closer and closer, pal!"
Tracy and Ramona spent the balance of the day surfing the internet and enjoying the computer, playing games and getting their e-mail addresses put in.
Tracy made arrangements with her next door neighbor, Mrs Ramos, to watch over Ramona the next morning, explaining to her that she had a job interview.
"Oh, that's so nice, dear!" Mrs Ramos said.
"I think I might get it too!" Tracy said.
"End of the really bad times?" Mrs Ramos asked.
"Hope so, and I appreciate all that you've been doing for me and Ramona. You are an angel!"
The older woman gave Tracy a hug and cheek kiss and wished her luck with the interview.
They were ready at Willard Industries for Tracy, that morning. She was greeted in a very friendly fashion by the personnel chief, whose name was Rita.
"Welcome, Ms Keenen," Rita said, with a smile, "Word has come down from on high that we're to be nice to you."
Tracy giggled and said: "It's Tracy."
"How nice," Rita said, "Tracy. So, let me show you around and then we'll talk about the business and what we have in mind."
As they talked, Tracy realized that all of her work to get her advanced education in accounting was finally going to pay off. They were offering her a job in their accounting department. What's more the salary that they were offering, with benefits, was a very good one.
Tracy was pleased that the days of needing to count her pennies and worry about taking correct care of Ramona seemed to be coming to an end.
"Mr Willard wants to see you before you leave," Rita said, "To finalize this."
"Thank you so much," Tracy said, "This is wonderful."
At that point, she was tearing up. Rita noticed it and simply put her arms around Tracy.
"It's been hard!" Tracy said.
"It's better now!" Rita said.
"Yes, you're right," Tracy admitted.
"Mr Willard's office is this way," Rita said, taking her to the other side of the building to a huge office, where they found Mike.
Rita knocked on Mike's door and it was he that opened the door.
"Here she is, Mike," Rita said.
"Thanks, Rita," he said, "Go over it all with her?"
"Yes, I did," Rita said. "I'll leave the rest up to you."
Mike toured her around the offices then, introducing her to Doris and the others that worked there. She was greeted cordially by all of them.
By the time they went into his office, Tracy was close to tears. He noticed right away and, when the door was closed, put his arms around her.
"You've turned my world around!" she said softly. "I was afraid of what was going to happen, not so much to me, but to my lovely Ramona!"
The tears were streaming down her cheeks by then, and he took his handkerchief and wiped them away.
"Pretty Tracy," he said softly. "Marry me?"
She looked up at him and said: "I can't answer that right now. It's time for me to be thinking, and I know that you're not playing with me, and my affections."
"I'm not!" he said. "Rumbles has already had this conversation with me!"
"Yes," she said, "Rumbles, the best of us all!"
"You think and give me your answer, when you can," he concluded.
"You keep asking though!" she said, smiling now.
"Oh, I will!" he said, "It's one of the things that has helped me in business: knowing what I want and setting out to get it."
"Good for me distributing those loan company leaflets!" she said.
"Oh, I would have found you anyway," he said. "But let's talk about the business and what we have in mind."
He went over it all for her and indicated that Doris would get her started the next day.
"What about Ramona?" he asked.
"I've talked to my next door neighbor, Mrs Ramos about it and will be paying her to take care of Ramona for the balance of the summer."
"Good," he said. "We'll pick up the cost of that. And here is this."
As he said that, he handed her an envelope.
"This is a kind of advance, so that you have money," he explained.
"Do you always make your new employees cry?" she said, wiping her eyes with his handkerchief again.
"No, only pretty Tracy who's going to marry me!" he said.
Her response this time was to get up on her tip toes and kiss him.
"My, my!" he said. "Closer!"
She smiled and said: "Closer!"
That night was a celebration for Tracy and Ramona. They put on good clothes and went out to dinner, to a favorite where they hadn't been for a long time, due to simply lack of money.
They talked and giggled like school chums, as they enjoyed their dinner and a fine dessert.
"How is your new boss?" Ramona asked.
"Asked me to marry him today!" Tracy said, with a smile.
"You gonna?" Ramona asked.
There was a following silence, which finally Tracy ended by saying: "Oh, sweetie, I'm really seriously thinking about it at this point."
Ramona simply looked on, as her Momma continued: "This has all been so strange! It was such a grand joke at first but then he started doing things to see to our welfare, to take care of us and that has been one of the nicest things imaginable.
"Yes, Momma," Ramona said, "It has."
"Sometimes I don't know what to think and sometimes my head is fairly clear," Tracy said at last.
They got home fairly early and Tracy said, after thinking about events for a bit: "Honey, I have to go out tonight for a bit."
"Him?" Ramona asked.
Tracy smiled and said: "Yes, I need to talk to him!"
Tracy made arrangements with Mrs Ramos for her to look in on Ramona. Mrs Ramos was happy to help out, and insisted that no payment for her doing that was necessary.
"It's just so nice to see you back on your feet again," Mrs Ramos said.
"Oh, you're the best of the best!" Tracy said, giving the older woman a hug and cheek kiss.
"Go and enjoy yourself!" Mrs Ramos said.
They made the arrangements and Tracy took a quick shower and got herself ready. She wore, for her outing, a pleated skirt and a blouse with heels and thigh high stockings. She regarded herself in the mirror and approved of the way that she looked.
She drove to his house and could hear Rumbles on the other side of the door before Mike even got to it to open it.
"Hi!" she said brightly.
"Oh, Rumbles," Mike said, "It's the bride!"
He turned to Tracy then and said: "Please come in!"
She stepped in and he turned to her and said: "Tracy, marry me!"
"I'm going to get into your pants first!" she said, "This is officially a seduction!"
"A seduction, Rumbles! Good for me! Good for us!" he replied but by then she was in his arms and kissing him.
As they paused the kissing, she whispered to him: "You've made a monster and now you pay the price!"
"The price?" he asked, kissing her again.
"Yes, put your hands on my ass!" she said into his ear.
"Gladly!" he said, kissing her again and reaching down to encircle her ass cheeks with his hands. He played with them at first through the fabric of her skirt but then she raised the skirt, giving him access to her panty covered ass.
"Ohhhh," he said. "Perfection!"
"Yes, yes," she said into his ear, licking the inner ear between her words. "Play with my ass. I like that!"
"So do I!" he said, hefting her ass cheeks up and down and spreading them with his hands against her nylon panties, and poking a finger in between her cheeks.
They continued to kiss and the kisses were sensational. She sent her tongue into his mouth, licking about and discovering and he did the same with her open mouth.
She captured his tongue with her lips and began to suck on his tongue. When she stopped, he grinned at her, as she said: "Discovered another of my talents!"
"Yes, I have!" he said.
"Now I want the feeling and ass play to continue," she said, "But I want you naked, while I'm still dressed."
"Kinky bride!" he said, already slipping his tee shirt up and off, and setting it aside.
"Kinky!" she agreed, watching him, as he was taking his running pants down and off now.
Under the running pants, he wore no underwear. He'd come home from the office and took a shower, and didn't bother with underwear, when he was dressing, after the shower.
"Kinky!" she said, "No panties on you!"
"Was waiting to get a pair of yours," he said with a grin.
"Now play with my ass again!" she demanded.
"You are enchanting, when you make demands!" he said.
"Told you that I was going to get into your pants and now I have you, naked and mine!" she said with some pride in her voice.