Scarlett and I move forward with our relationship.
IT WAS FRAUD—Part 4 of 6
We were still asleep in bed when I heard my cell ring. Scarlett reached over to the table to retrieve it. “It’s your mom, Sean.” She answered the call, telling my mother almost immediately, “Hi, Mrs. Sloan; it’s Scarlett. We’re still out in Hershey. Sean took me to the park yesterday. Yes, we had a wonderful time, but some drug-crazed kid tried to steal Sean’s car. Sean beat him off, but he received a minor stab wound in his left abdomen. We finished up with the police around 1:30 and I told him I didn’t want him
to drive home so we’re in a motel.”
I told Scarlett to have mom and dad use their key to enter the house and turn off the alarm. We agreed to get up immediately and drive home as soon as we could get some new clothes. “Expect us sometime early this afternoon, Mrs. Sloan.” We were up a few minutes later and dressed in our bloody and torn clothing. The motel management pointed us to a Tanger Outlet Mall only about a mile down the road. Scarlett parked the Porsche and we walked together into the Calvin Klein store.
I explained what had happened and told the staff that I needed new everything. Scarlett needed a new top and shorts at a minimum. We walked out fifteen minutes later looking like different people, our old clothes in their trash. I sat in the passenger seat, falling asleep once Scarlett had found her way onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike eastbound. I knew she could find her way from there. All she had to do was follow the signs toward Reading and then take Route 422 to Route 100 north to Boyertown and Gilbertsville.
I stirred a while later and saw immediately that she had driven past 100. “I think you missed our turn.”
“No, Sean—I’m taking you to the hospital—to the ER. Any surgeon would give you an antibiotic after surgery with sterile instruments, but who knows where that knife has been? There’s always a chance of an infection with a knife wound. I want to speak with one of the doctors about a preion for you.”
She parked in the doctors’ lot and led me into the ER. She had her lanyard and ID around her neck by the time we walked through the door. We were intercepted by a receptionist and I allowed Scarlett to take control. This was her environment, after all. “I’m Scarlett Davies. I work here as a surgical nurse. Who’s on duty today?”
“Dr. Marino, why?”
“My boyfriend was stabbed last night at Hershey Park and I’d like Dr. Marino to check him out…possibly give him a preion for….” She stopped then as a middle-aged man with a receding hairline strode into the room.
“Scarlett, what are you doing here?”
“Dr. Marino, this is my boyfriend, Sean Sloan. He was stabbed last night out at Hershey Park. It’s already been reported to the police there and the man who did it is in jail. I’d like you to take a look at the wound and I think Sean could use a preion for an antibiotic.”
“Okay, come in here with me.” He led us into a small room where I pulled up my shirt. He felt the area around the wound, but made no effort to remove the dressing. “Is this Bacitracin, Scarlett.” He continued once she had nodded. “It looks like they did a very commendable job. I assume it’s painful so I’ll give you two preions—one for a broad spectrum antibiotic for possible infection and another for a painkiller. If it makes you woozy just take it at night when you want to sleep. Otherwise, you can take Tylenol or ibuprofen. Scarlett, I’ll give you a few of the vinyl dressings and a few packets of Bacitracin in case you need some.”
He wrote the two preions, faxing them to my pharmacy in Boyertown. When I asked him about payment he replied, “Don’t worry about it; I consider it as professional courtesy. I’ve worked with Scarlett several times. You couldn’t be in better hands.”
He shook Scarlett’s hand and mine and we were out the door. But when I walked to the driver’s door of the car Scarlett just laughed and pointed to the other side. She parked in the garage almost thirty minutes later once we had picked up my preions. We walked in, passing my dad who was sitting in the family room watching a Phillies game and up the stairs to the kitchen where I introduced Scarlett to my mother. She had already met my sister Gail. Rather than help, I was banished to the family room. Before leaving I pulled two cans of Bud from the refrigerator.
Dad thanked me for the beer as he commented, “She really is a beautiful woman, Sean.”
“Yes, Dad—she really is—but most of her beauty is inside where it really counts.” Scarlett appeared a few seconds later, a huge scowl on her face, as she handed me one of the antibiotic capsules. I swallowed it with a swig of Bud then introduced her to my father. She excused herself a minute later, telling us that there were about a hundred hamburgers yet to be made. I had just sat on the couch when she leaned over to kiss my cheek before turning and walking back up the stairs to rejoin my mother and sister in the kitchen.
I could hear laughter coming from the kitchen so Scarlett was obviously getting along well with my family. Dad and I watched the Phillies blow yet another lead and we were on our second can of beer, the latter coming from the family room kitchenette and its refrigerator. We were barely paying attention to the game when I heard footsteps accompanied by lots of talking and laughter coming down the stairs. They were about three steps from the family room when I heard Scarlett say, “No worries about that, Mom.”
“MOM? What the…? When did that happen? What’s going on?”
“Now hush up, Sean. I want to see your wound and I want the benefit of Scarlett’s expertise. I’m sure she’ll explain once we’ve gone. Stand up and raise your shirt.”
I’m thirty-one and I’ve lived on my own for years, but I still follow my mother’s orders so I stood and pulled my shirt up to my chest. Scarlett sat on the couch and pointed out the wound and the discoloration. “Obviously, the areas that look blue are pooled blood. That will disappear in a week to ten days. See these jagged areas on Sean’s skin? That happened when he forced the knife out and away from his body. I doubt that he even felt being stabbed. The EMT’s did a great job of cleaning the wound then they applied Bacitracin ointment and this clear vinyl dressing. That’s an even better option than stitches. Dr. Marino from the ER gave me a few extras and some Bacitracin packets, but these things don’t often fall off. Sean can go into the pool, but no swimming for at least a week.”
“Thank you, Scarlett; I’m glad to know that Sean is in such good hands.” Mom stood up to tell Dad they were leaving. She and Gail hugged and kissed Scarlett before coming to me. “I know how stubborn you can be, Sean. Please follow Scarlett’s advice.” She hugged me, kissed my cheek and then they were gone.
“Scarlett, I need for you to explain what’s going on…please.”
“Of course, Sean--we were in the kitchen and your mom asked me how I found living with you. I told her it was a totally new experience for me because I’d rarely had even a third date with anyone before you. It didn’t take Gail long to figure out that I had been a virgin when I met you. I’m sure my face was as red as a beet then, but your mom was really understanding and supportive. She hugged me and asked, ‘Are you in love with my son?’
All I could do was whisper when I told her, “Hopelessly.” Of course, she asked if you felt the same way about me. I told her that you had said you loved me many times. Then she hugged me again and told me I should call her ’Mom,’ so I did. Are you angry at me?”
I pulled her to me and held her tightly even though my side was hurting. “How could I be angry about that? It tells me that my family has accepted you and loves you. Not even close to how much I do. C’mon, I need to get the beans started. Normally, I’d reach up to the top shelf in the garage, but today I’ll need the stepstool.” I kissed Scarlett then we walked into the garage for my twenty quart soup pot.
I sent Scarlett into the pantry for ten of the big cans of beans while I washed the pot. Scarlett had begun to open the cans before I was done. I set the burner to low as Scarlett poured the beans into the pot. Next I pulled the griddle out and cooked a pound of bacon that we cut and pulled into small pieces, adding them to the pot. Finally, I added a tablespoon of molasses for every quart of beans. By now the entire volume was almost twelve quarts, but I knew from experience that a lot of the liquid would evaporate as the beans simmered. I’d season them to taste tomorrow morning.
“I’m going to need some help from you, but first I think we need to eat something. I don’t know about you, but I’m starving. How about some cheese steak subs?” She agreed so I had her drive us to Talarico’s. It’s a sandwich shop and their food is great. We ate at one of their few tables, chatting with folks I knew from town. Once we were done we ordered a large Italian sub that we could split for dinner.
Once back at the house I told Scarlett that I would need her help. I had rented two cabanas so our guests could change their clothes. I needed to drag them toward the pool. Normally I would just pick them up and carry them. They were only light canvas on a PVC frame, but I doubted that I could do that with the throbbing pain in my side. Once they were fairly close we carried the interlocking vinyl panels there and I set about making a temporary walkway from the cabanas to the pool deck. Then we carefully adjusted the location of each cabana to exactly fit the pathway I had created.
Scarlett and I stripped off and stepped into the hot tub naked. “I think it will be kind of funny swimming tomorrow actually clothed.”
“That reminds me; I have a present for you. It’s in my trunk. Now, don’t go anywhere.” She ran out of the tub and around the corner of the house, returning with a bag from Dick’s Sporting Goods. “I bought two sizes—large and extra-large so I’m sure that one of them will fit you.” She grinned as she pulled two swim shirts—white with blue and gray trim—from the bag. “Dry off for a second and let’s see which fits best.”
I dried off quickly then tried each of the shirts. The Large fit well, but placed some pressure on my back and my wound. The Extra-Large was looser, but we agreed that might be the better choice. “I feel a bit funny wearing a shirt while the rest of me is exposed.”
“Don’t worry. I think I can use that to my advantage.” I was laughing as she led me back to the hot tub by my painfully erect penis. Scarlett kissed me once I was seated, breaking it to remind me to remain still. “If you do I’m sure we’ll be able to do it again.”
“And again? And again?” Scarlett laughed and I would have, too if the laughter didn’t hurt so damned much. Then she stopped so she could peer into my eyes. Whoever said that the eyes were the pathway to the soul certainly knew what he was talking about. I could see all the way into Scarlett and all I could see was her total love for me. I prayed in that instant that she could see the same in me. She knew that I loved her, but I knew I’d tell her every day—several times a day—just so she’d never forget.
She pulled back, a huge grin on her face, as she moved to straddle my legs. My strong hands tenderly found her breasts, her areolas, and her hard sensitive nipples as she moved my manhood to her slit and into her velvet vise. My hands gently massaged her breasts as my fingers found their way to her nipples. Between those sensations and the ones in her incredible pussy I could see her orgasm rapidly approaching. I knew that my motions—driving my cock deep into her core—would help her over the top, but just as I was thinking that Scarlett told me, “Don’t even think about it.” I nodded, knowing that she was right. I still didn’t like it, but I felt a lot better when Scarlett came the first time, her body exploding in orgasmic bliss. A few minutes later she came again, only seconds after I had gnawed on her nipple.
Meanwhile, she had done a magnificent job on me. It took every ounce of my strength to remain still as my balls emptied into her. Scarlett sagged onto my chest once I was done. “Damn, but I love you. I think that going through all of that torture was worth it if only to meet and fall in love with you.” I took her head in my hands and pulled her into the sweetest kiss imaginable. It went on and on as we became lost in each other until Scarlett accidentally kneed my side. Then she was off me in an instant, helping me out of the hot tub. She sat me on one of the lounges and dried me carefully.
“You’re not going to drive tonight so I think you should take one of the painkillers, Sean. I can see you’re in distress. C’mon, my love; let’s go inside.” She led me upstairs where I checked on the beans. The heat was low enough that they hadn’t burned, but they had thickened up nicely. I turned off the heat and started to move the pot to the refrigerator until Scarlett stopped me so she could do the job herself. Then she led me to the shower where she washed me right after seeing to it that I had taken two of the pain pills.
She washed and dried me, dressing me in a tee and running shorts before returning to the shower to wash her hair. Normally, I would do that, but not today, and probably not for at least the next week. I was lying on the bed when the phone rang. I could see it was Fred. “Your mom phoned to tell us that you had been stabbed.”
I spent the next ten minutes telling him all about it until Scarlett took the phone from me. “So no roughhousing tomorrow, Fred; Sean isn’t even allowed to swim. He can go into the pool, but only to stand around and kiss me.” I could hear Fred laughing and Judy joined him when she heard what Scarlett had said.
“Don’t you worry, Scarlett. I’ll make sure he toes the line,” Judy commented. We talked together for a few minutes until Fred and Judy told us they’d come early to help out with any physical work that had to be done. Scarlett ended the call as she tucked me into bed.
“Try to get a little sleep, Sean. I know you didn’t sleep much last night.” She leaned forward to kiss me again. It was only a quick one, but she whispered that she loved me before walking out and closing the door. I slept, but fitfully as I played the events of last night over and over in my head. I knew that I would have given the kid the car and called the cops if Scarlett hadn’t been with me. It was my love and concern for her that had led me to act so recklessly. Scarlett was right, though. I had never felt the initial stabbing.
I was awakened about an hour later when I heard the house phone ring. Scarlett was on it in a flash. I couldn’t hear her talking, but the light on the bedroom’s extension phone went out about a minute later. She opened the door to check on me so I told her I was awake. “That was Roy. He and Marianne and their kids are also coming early to help out. If anyone else comes early we might as well just start the party early. It must be nice to have such good friends.”
“It is. I always know that they’ll support me even when I do something stupid like marrying Lori.”
“That wasn’t your fault, Sean. She and everyone else involved lied to you, but they’re getting what’s coming to them now, aren’t they?”
“I guess they are.” I started to sit up and Scarlett propped the pillows behind me. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about two things. First, can you get a week off from work? I have to go to Houston the second week in August to meet with a big contractor at NASA headquarters there. I have a contact at NASA and he has told me that the contractor—Omni Manufacturing—wants me to make something for them. You can be a big help to me.” She started to smile. “Well…in that way, too. I’ll be in meetings all day so you can go to the spa or shop and buy yourself a new wardrobe. I’m sure there will be dinner and cocktails almost every night and you can really help me there. People have a tendency to talk too much when they’re drinking and especially to beautiful sexy women. Having an extra set of ears will be a huge help.”
“I haven’t been there long enough to qualify for vacation time, but I think with enough notice that I should be able to take a week’s unpaid leave. What’s the other thing?”
“In the two years that I’ve lived here I’ve never had a problem with crime or vandalism. Part of that might be my reputation here in the community, but with the expansion going on I see myself putting in a lot of extra hours. I don’t like the idea of you being here alone, especially after last night’s adventure. I only see two alternatives. Actually, I only see one. I have some guns, but I doubt that you could or would shoot someone.”
“I couldn’t, Sean. What’s the other thing?”
“A dog…a big dog. Dogs have incredible hearing and they’re very protective of their owners. I’m thinking about a Lab or maybe a German Shepherd. The dog will bark if anyone comes near and you’ll be able to phone the police. We could go out to Reading to the SPCA and the Humane Society next Saturday if you agree. If they don’t have anything we can use we could go in to King of Prussia the following week.”
“I haven’t given the idea much thought, Sean, but you’re right. We are kind of isolated here, but I’ve never had a dog. I wouldn’t know what to do.”
“All you have to do is show the dog that you love it. I had one when I was a kid. That big mutt was as much a member of the family as I was. We all cried like babies when she had to be put down.”
“Okay, let’s go out to eat first and then we can spend the whole day if necessary. Why don’t you get up now? We can watch TV or maybe read for a while before we have our sub. I thought the cheese steaks were great.”
“Yeah, Talarico’s sandwiches are always good and they don’t skimp on the meat like they do at some places. I’ve been going there ever since I can remember.” I got up, grimacing as I stood. Tomorrow was going to be interesting if I wasn’t any better. I had planned on cooking much of the day and I still might if I could sit down to rest once in a while. I sat in the living room to watch the small TV there. I say “small,” but it was a 40-inch flat screen. Scarlett brought me a Pepsi and then snuggled up next to me. Damn, but she felt great in my arms.
She refilled my soda around seven then brought the sub, a knife, and two paper plates to the coffee table. We watched “60 Minutes” while we ate and she heartily approved of my choice for dinner. The sub was easily big enough for the two of us with Italian cold cuts, provolone, and lettuce, tomato, green pepper, and onion with oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. It was the king of sandwiches so far as I was concerned.
We watched another ball game on ESPN and turned in around 10:00, planning on rising early Monday morning, July Fourth. We brushed our teeth and used the toilet then I lay in the bed on my back. Scarlett moved to my right side away from my wound. “Could we try with you on my left side, like we usually do?”
“I don’t want to hurt you, Sean.”
I leaned down to kiss her, telling her that I knew that. “But I’d like to try. I always sleep well when you’re there.” She moved into place and, as she did, I realized that we’d likely be fine. She was lying on the bed at my midsection with only her head and knee on my body when she asked if I was okay. I kissed her head and hair as I whispered, “Never better. You feel so good right there. I love you more than I can ever express.” She reached up to kiss my cheek and then we were gone.
We slept in—late for us—until almost 9:00 when we got out of bed to shower, shave, and use the toilet. Anticipating a full day of eating and drinking, we began with only a light breakfast of Cheerios and a few strawberries cut into many smaller pieces. After breakfast we went outside to set up as many of the lawn chairs as we could. I must have carried eight from the garage before I realized that the wound in my abdomen wasn’t hurting. I was moving normally without pain. I was so happy that I would have lifted Scarlett up for a huge hug and kiss if she had allowed it. “I can see that you’re a lot better this morning, but let’s not press our luck. On the other hand, I will gladly kiss you.” And then she did. Wow! What a kiss!
We carried the beans downstairs to the family room kitchenette where I put them on the lowest heat possible, stirring at least once every five minutes as Scarlett and I watched the movie, “1776” on TV. We skipped lunch in anticipation of an afternoon of eating, but we did move all of the hamburgers, hot dogs, and Johnsonville Brats outside to the refrigerator alongside the grill. I checked everything to make sure it was clean and ready to go. I had three propane tanks in reserve so we were all set.
I expected my parents around one and they showed up right on time with Nick and his wife, Victoria. Fred and Judy came a few minutes later with their daughters Natalie and Allison. The girls just said a quick hello before jumping into the pool. I would have joined them if I didn’t have some work to do. Scarlett helped Mom place a vinyl tablecloth over the dining set’s table and I could see them talking actively and laughing as they worked. I just knew that I was the subject of that discussion. I didn’t mind a bit.
Normally, I would have helped Fred carry the keg to the pool deck, but now Nick helped him while Dad carried Fred’s big galvanized tub. They did allow me to carry three big blocks of ice for the tub—one at a time. I poured water from the hose until it was about ten inches deep—more than enough to keep the beer cold all day. I knew that Dave Collins would bring more ice when he came. His wife, Nancy, was bringing her cupcakes for the kids and a strawberry pie for the rest of us. That would make at least three because I knew that Roy and Marianne were bringing two.
The party was in full swing by two and having it here where we had a pool was obviously a great idea. Everyone but Scarlett, Gail, and I were in the water, jumping and splashing and having a great time. I had started the grill, placing about a dozen hot dogs, a dozen burgers, and a package of bratwurst from the refrigerator cooking on the grid. I had a pot of sauerkraut on one of the side burners. Even with everything that was cooking I still had room to toast some buns, something I always did. When I asked if anyone was hungry there was a mass exodus from the pool, led by Roy’s two pre-teen sons. I limited them to a single dog, telling them that they could come back in about ten minutes. Doggone if they weren’t back in line then.
I was taking a break when Scarlett approached. I had just taken a brat off the grill and had added mustard and sauerkraut when she told me, “I’ve never had bratwurst. What’s it like?” Rather than answer I just held it out for her. She had a smile on her face as she opened her mouth to take a big bite. I was only praying that she didn’t spit it out a second later. Instead, she smiled again as she took the roll from my hand. “Thanks, Sean—I really like it.” She laughed as she walked away and Mom joined her.
“I recognize a conspiracy when I see one,” I joked. It really was no big deal. I just grabbed another roll, toasted it for twenty seconds and took another brat from the grill. Things slowed down a bit then so I lowered the heat and stepped away so I could get into the pool. Scarlett removed her tee shirt, revealing her most modest bikini which was none too modest. Fortunately, she had the body to wear it.
Normally, I would be the subject of the kids’ attention in the pool. I had often served as a diving platform in the past, but apparently they had been told to leave me alone because of my back which no longer hurt and my stabbing wound which was on the mend. That didn’t stop Fred’s daughter Natalie from asking about being stabbed. I raised my shirt and showed her. Suddenly, all of the kids were around me asking a million questions. Their parents—my friends—tried to shoo them away, but I wouldn’t allow it. I showed them the wound and Scarlett explained what had happened and what they were seeing. I dropped the shirt once we were done.
We stayed in the pool for more than two hours and the kids were thrilled when Paul Martin told them he’d be their diving platform. He easily lifted the kids to his shoulders, laughing as they dove or did cannonballs into the deep end. Of course, I had a diving board, but where’s the fun in that. I went upstairs to change my clothes as Scarlett and I had arranged earlier then I returned to start the grill again. Playing in the pool must make people hungry because they were lined up for everything I had. I cleaned the grill at 8:15 only because we had run out of things to cook. Every burger, hot dog, bratwurst and every ear of corn had been consumed. We still had a few devilled eggs, some barbeque beans, and some salads left. The kids had devoured every cupcake and I’d had more than my share of the fresh strawberry pies.
Despite the day’s heat the temperature began to drop so most of the parents made sure the kids had a warm shower so they could change out of their swim suits into tees and shorts. Scarlett had gone upstairs to change when I led Natalie and Allison around the side of the house in the hopes of seeing one of the bats as they left for their nightly work.
We were looking up when Natalie, known by all of us as Nellie, asked what all of the white stuff on the concrete was. “Well…that’s something from the bats.” I was debating how to diplomatically tell her that it was bat shit when I felt an arm around my waist and saw a hand on Nellie’s shoulder.
“It’s bat poop, Nellie. They’re not too careful about where they go, are they?”
“Oh, that’s the stuff Daddy uses on our garden. He says that’s what makes the tomatoes taste so good.” I laughed and gave a big fist pump. God bless you, Nellie!
“Say, Nellie…why are you called Nellie when your name is Natalie?”
“That happened when Allison was little, Aunt Scarlett. She couldn’t say ‘Natalie’ so she called me ‘Nellie’ instead and it stuck. I kind of like it. I always know if someone on the phone is a friend. If they call me Natalie I know they’re strangers; same when I’m online. Mommy and Daddy have told me to be very careful.”
“You’re very lucky to have two parents who love you so much, Nellie. Oh…look! There’s a bat.”
“There’s another one, Uncle Sean…and another. Boy, they sure do fly fast, don’t they Allison.”
“They have to be fast in order to catch moths and mosquitoes. And they catch thousands every night. Okay, let’s go back to the party.” I wrapped my arm around Scarlett and walked back through the gate toward the pool. Nellie and Allison ran, yelling that they had seen some of the bats. The last thing I heard before the laughter was Allison telling her parents, “I saw the bat poop, too. Aunt Scarlett showed it to us.” I broke down long before we had reached the pool.
Scarlett and I spent the next hour watching the kids play with the three-foot sparklers, waving them around and watching the trail of sparks. They were having a lot of harmless fun and I could easily see the vicarious pleasure in their parents’ faces. Truthfully, I was jealous. Then Fred started the real show.
He always used three pieces of black iron pipe that he hammered into the grass. In some places where people practically pray to their lawns this would be a sacrilege, but we were in rural Pennsylvania and most of my lawn was nothing more than “field grass” which is a lawn made of whatever plants grew in the area mowed down to make a lawn. I had seeded with bluegrass and it had filled in many of the bare places, but my yard would never win any prizes.
Fred began with something he called “Fountains.” They were cone-shaped devices that shot a fountain of multi-colored sparks about six feet into the air. They were nice, but not terribly impressive. Next he lit several Roman candles. I recalled holding them in my youth, but some kid had been badly injured a few years ago when the Roman candle he was holding exploded in his hand. Fred stuck them into the pipes and we watched and cheered as they shot thirty feet into the air.
Finally, he broke out the rockets. There were all sizes and colors and they got the most “ooh’s” and “aah’s” until he told us of his real surprise. “I hope your windows are all open, Sean, because I think this is going to be really loud. It was an aerial bomb about three inches in diameter and almost a foot high. Fred lit the fuse and ran about twenty feet away before the charge was shot almost fifty feet into the air. Then it exploded and I thought it was more like a stick of dynamite than some firework. We could see the flash of the explosion almost three feet across as the sound of the blast reverberated through the nearby hills. We applauded and cheered like crazy for about five minutes
The party began to break up then. Natalie was the oldest of the children and she was only ten. I could see the other kids winding down. I would have been happy to let them sack out in the bedrooms, but then we’d all be drinking and that could put our friends in danger. Everyone thanked Scarlett and me and it was great to see how well Scarlett had been accepted. We walked out to the street to wave as everyone drove down the street and away.
Scarlett and I had walked back to the pool deck when she pulled me to her for a long deep kiss. “Know what I just noticed? Take a guess.”
“Um…that I love you?”
“No, silly—I already knew that. I haven’t seen a single mosquito all night. I guess those bats really are good at their jobs.”
“Well, you did hear Allison, right?”
“Yeah, I loved how she was so excited about the bat poop. C’mon, Sean we need to get to bed. I’m sure you’re tired. Also, you need your pills. You really are a terrible patient.” I wasn’t going to argue. Scarlett was right. I took her hand and, together, we walked in and locked up the house. We showered and climbed into bed. I was asleep less than a minute later.
Scarlett and I spent the next six weeks getting to really know each other. If anything, making love got even better as we became even more in tune with each other’s needs and desires. We spent our weekends taking advantage of the area’s many recreational opportunities, but first we went to look for a dog. Our first stop was the Reading SPCA. They had plenty of puppies and some small dogs, but nothing that met our immediate needs. I still gave them a donation of fifty dollars because I believed strongly in the service they provided. It was almost lunchtime when we decided to see what might be available at the Humane Society.
There one of the staff asked what we were looking for. Once she knew she told us, “We may have what you are looking for—a twelve month old spayed female Lab, but you need to know that she was abused by her owner. She’s terrified of people.”
“Can we see her anyway,” asked Scarlett. The aide led us to the rear of the building where we saw a number of large outdoor kennels, all surrounded by high chain-link fences. There, cowering near her dog house was a beautiful chocolate Lab. Scarlett sat on the concrete floor and whispered to me to join her. “Sit down, Sean so you won’t appear to be a threat to her.” I joined her on the hard dirty surface.
“C’mon, Sandy,” the aide said as she opened the gate. Sandy just stood there, her tail down between her legs, but Scarlett had come prepared. She tossed a doggie treat into the kennel. It was several minutes before she tentatively sniffed and took it into her mouth. Then Scarlett threw another, this time not quite as far. Sandy looked around and took the two steps to reach the treat. Scarlett threw two more, each bringing Sandy slightly closer to us. Finally, Scarlett held the treat in her hand, holding it straight out from her body.
Sandy sniffed cautiously then took it from Scarlett’s hand. Scarlett reached out to pet Sandy’s head and scratch her ears. I held out my hand and once she had sniffed it I joined Scarlett in greeting our new pet. I could see Sandy begin to relax as her tail began to wag wildly. Scarlett looked up with a smile and said, “We’ll take her.”
I bought a steel choke collar, not that I had any intention of choking her, and one of those leashes that could extend to twenty-five feet or retract into a stainless steel case. Sandy jumped eagerly into the rear seat of the SUV, placing her head on Scarlett’s shoulder as I drove home. I stopped on the way at a Pet Smart store where I bought a load of supplies, all of which had been recommended by the staff at the Humane Society. After buying the leash and collar, I also gave them a donation of a hundred dollars. We were home by 2:30 and Scarlett led Sandy around the lot while I set up the bowls in the kitchen and placed the large bag of food in the pantry. Her bed went to the foot of ours. Scarlett led Sandy into the house and up the stairs then around the house, winding up in the kitchen for another doggie treat, a bowl of water, and a Nylabone which she held between her paws and gnawed for hours.
Later, after we had eaten dinner, I filled her bowl with Dog Chow and some fat from the steak we had eaten. I put Sandy out keeping an eye on her to make sure she didn’t fall into the pool and possibly drown. I needn’t have worried. She never fell in accidentally, although she did jump in a few times when she thought one of us might be in distress. On those occasions I lifted her bodily and carried her up the stairs, cringing when she shook herself dry, wetting me and everything around her.
The following Saturday we took her down to Valley Forge. We had two reasons for going—visiting the extensive park to learn about our nation’s history and to help Sandy become better acclimated to other people. We met dozens of kids, almost all of whom wanted to pet her. She was cautious at first, but with Scarlett’s help and support she learned to overcome her fears.
That was great because we would need some help with her when we went to Houston. On Sunday we invited Fred, Judy, and the girls over to use the pool, to join us for dinner, and to meet our new family member. They came at one and the girls rushed around the house and through the gate, skidding to a stop as soon as they saw Sandy. “You got a dog, Uncle Sean?”
“Yeah, c’mon over here and meet her. Just hold your hand out so she can get your scent. Once she’s done that you can pet her. Just watch out for her eyes, okay?” The approached slowly and I could see Sandy’s interest. She’d had a wonderful time with the kids at Valley Forge yesterday and we’d thought at the time that she had turned a corner. Now, with Fred and Judy’s girls, she faced the real test.
Allison was first, stepping right up to Sandy and holding her hand out under Sandy’s nose. She sniffed Allison’s small hand and looked at Scarlett. She smiled and spoke in a soft soothing voice. “It’s okay, Sandy. She won’t hurt you.” Sandy sniffed again and Allison reached forward with her other hand to pet Sandy’s head.
“She’s so soft, Aunt Scarlett. Can I hug her?”
“I think so; just be careful. Her first owner abused her so she’s cautious around people she doesn’t know.” Allison put her arms around Sandy’s neck, rubbing her back and side as Sandy’s tail began to wag wildly. Nellie stepped up then, holding her hand out for Sandy. Soon, she too, was petting and hugging our pet.
“Would you like to play with her for a while? You can play Frisbee. She loves it, but only for about fifteen minutes. I don’t want her to get overheated.” I reached under my towel and Sandy reacted immediately once she saw what was undoubtedly her favorite toy. I gave it to Nellie and watched laughing as they ran into the vast open space of the back yard.
By now Fred and Judy had walked their way through the gate just as Nellie threw her first Frisbee. Sandy ran under it, jumped, and caught it in her teeth. Nellie and Allison screamed for joy, jumping up and down when Sandy ran back to them. Then she played hard to get, moving the Frisbee out of the girls’ reach. That only made them laugh even louder.
“You got a dog?”
“I think that question has been asked and answered, Judy.” I rose to hug her even as Fred hugged Scarlett then we switched and I hugged one of my oldest and dearest friends. We had just sat under the umbrellas when I opened the cooler, passing Fred and Judy a cold can of Bud. Then I explained why we had gotten the dog.
“Great idea, Sean. Most people think that having a gun is a good safety measure, but I’ve lost count of the number of accidents we’ve had involving curious young kids. I hate getting a call like that. So, how long have you had her?”
“Sean took me out last Saturday morning. We got her from the Humane Society, but it was touch and go. She was abused by her owner and I could see she was terrified when the worker opened the kennel. It took me almost ten minutes to get her to come to me.”
“Yeah,” I added, “That and half a dozen doggie treats. There’s no question—she’s Scarlett’s dog. Sandy follows her everywhere. If she goes into the living room to read, Sandy’s right there at her feet and that’s exactly what I wanted.”
We talked for a while until the girls came running to us with Sandy at their heels. I filled her bowl with water so she could drink while Nellie and Allison jumped into the pool. I thought that Sandy might follow, but Scarlett had held her collar when she went to drink. Fred petted her and so did Judy. Eventually, Scarlett let go of her and Sandy did exactly what I had predicted; she curled up under her feet, but I could see that she had her eyes on the girls the entire time.
We all walked into the pool a few minutes later, but Scarlett told Sandy to “stay” so she remained under the umbrella while we cooled off. I had just grabbed another round of beers when Judy asked me, “When are you going to Houston?”
“Sunday, August tenth. We have a 10:00 flight. I’ve made arrangements to take the air taxi from Pottstown.”
“What’s that, Sean?”
“Basically, it’s a single engine plane that will take us and our baggage to the General Aviation terminal in Philly. It’s a lot faster and much easier than driving and parking or taking a limo. Looking down at the roads and houses is really interesting especially when we get to the Main Line communities just outside the city.”
“Are you going, too, Scarlett?”
“Yes, I’m getting an unpaid leave. Sean told me that he thinks I can help just by listening to what people are saying. And then there are the stress treatments I plan on giving him.”
“Stress? I have a funny feeling that Sean is stress free most of the time.”
“Actually, Judy—I think it’s all the time.” I had to be more careful. I had just taken a big drink when Scarlett laid that gem on me. Her remark had caused me to cough, forcing beer up and out my nose. They all laughed and I could see my face turning the brightest red.
“Give me a little warning next time, will you?” In reply Scarlett ran her hand around my waist and moved up for a quick kiss.
“If both of you are going to Houston, what are you going to do with Sandy?”
“I guess we’ll have to board her in a kennel.” Then I heard and saw our future as Nellie and Allison begged and cajoled their parents into taking Sandy for the five days.
I was about to speak again when Judy said it was okay with her. “I think the responsibility will be good for the girls. I’ll see to it that Sandy’s care is in their hands and—yes—that does mean cleaning up her poops.”
Scarlett and I thanked them then I walked up the steps and out of the pool to get the flank steaks I had marinating in the refrigerator. I put the steaks on the grill around 5:45 and we ate outside at the table up on the deck at six o’clock. The food was good, but the company was better. We made Sandy sit away from the table. Neither Scarlett nor I liked to have a dog begging for food. Sandy would learn that she’d eat once we were done. Flank steak is really lean so there was no fat for her, but I did cut a few slices into small pieces that I placed on top of the regular food. We had made it a habit of making Sandy sit until she was told she could eat. I had Nellie help me with her food and she gave Sandy the signal to eat, not that she needed much encouragement.
My company’s expansion took off over the next few weeks. The smaller building that would hold our new furnace was completed and had passed inspection. Of course, we had to pass all of the OSHA and Pennsylvania safety guidelines in addition to the county building codes. I would have done that anyway. We started operation three weeks after our Sunday with Fred and Judy. Paul Martin and Angus had recruited two of our existing employees and interviewed for two more. All were young and strong males—a prerequisite for the job. Both took an active role in their training, emphasizing the need for safety above all else.
Meanwhile, all of the walls and most of the roof were completed on the larger building and the drainage field for the septic system had been dug and backfilled. Plumbing and electrical work had begun and would be completed by the time we returned from Houston. The big advantage in a factory was that all of the pipes and conduits could be constructed exposed on the sides of the walls rather than hidden within. Connections for the machinery were run across roof struts and down I-beams. I anticipated that we would be up and running by Labor Day.
Scarlett and I were up at six on Sunday morning. I had already packed the SUV last night, needing only to add Sandy’s bed and water bowl and our carry-on. I drove us to The Bear’s Den for breakfast, leaving Sandy in the car with the windows open three inches so the car would stay cool. After that I drove to Fred and Judy’s. They had assured me that they would be up and about long before 7:00. They must have been because Nellie and Allison ran out the door to greet us. Well, they said they wanted to greet us, but Scarlett and I thought it was Sandy they really wanted to see.
The Pottstown Airport isn’t much more than a big field with a single asphalt runway, paved lanes to and from the terminal, and a building with a wind sock and radio to communicate with incoming and outgoing pilots. We walked in and a few minutes later the pilot came out to help me with our suitcases. We were in the air less than ten minutes later. I could tell that Scarlett was fascinated as she looked out the window at the houses only a thousand feet below. Especially interesting were the mansions with their swimming pools in high end communities like Radnor and Lower Merion.
We were in the air about forty-five minutes before landing on the long runway in Philadelphia, just like all of the jumbo jets.
We took a shuttle to the Delta ticketing area and were intercepted by one of their representatives who insisted that we print our boarding passes at a kiosk. “You have to do this, sir.”
I hate having to do their work for them just as I hate getting no service at Walmart or any other store. When someone comes to my company they get the service they deserve as a valued customer. Unfortunately, I understand too well that the airlines in the United States treat their customers like trash. I gave this asshole my steely glare—something I had perfected when I was wrestling. “Do I look like I work for Delta? Isn’t it your job to print out boarding passes? If not, what the hell are you being paid for?”
“Get out of my way. Go and take care of one of the customers for a change.” I turned and led Scarlett to the first class line. Airlines never make first class passengers do the menial tasks that they make coach passengers do, but I’d refuse even if we were in coach. As I had said—I don’t work for Delta or American or any other airline.
I passed our driver’s licenses across the counter as I lifted Scarlett’s suitcase onto the scale. It only weighed 24.3 pounds. The agent looked at me in amazement until I told her, “She’s going to do a lot of shopping.” One of my bags weighed 43.6 pounds. The other was almost empty.
“Let me guess—shopping.” Scarlett laughed as I nodded. “I saw you with Robert, the agent out there. He tends to get a little overbearing. We don’t mind doing everything for the passengers even if company policy tells us not to. What’s the easier way to print boarding passes—having someone who does this once a year or having someone who does it hundreds of times a day? Some company policies just make no sense.”
“I have to agree. I own a company and I always try to give top notch service and all of our policies serve a positive purpose. Most of them deal with safety.” I took our boarding passes and claim checks and we walked to security. This was a company expense so I had purchased TSA Pre-Check status for the two of us. Isn’t it amazing that a few dollars can demonstrate how silly some of the so-called safety regulations can be? I led Scarlett to the Delta lounge where we enjoyed a cup of coffee and some cherry Danish while we waited in comfortable chairs.
Like almost all Delta flights we flew first to Atlanta and then to Houston. Our driver was waiting for us just outside security and he handled all of our baggage on a cart then drove us to the Four Seasons. I was assured that all of my requests had been met when I checked in. A bellman saw to our luggage and up the elevator we went to our Executive Suite. I tipped the bellman once he had placed our bags on the floor. Scarlett was obviously amazed at the huge bouquet on the living room table. Her attention was totally on the flowers so she never saw me slip to one knee until she turned around. “Oh…,” she said as her hands flew to her face.
“Scarlett, I felt as though my life had ended when we first met. You’ve been my rock ever since, first physically as you helped me mend and then emotionally with the love you’ve given me. I’d be lost without you. I….”
“Yes, Sean—I will marry you.”
“You know, I practiced my speech for weeks. Don’t I even get to ask you first?”
“We’ll just tell everyone that you did. Now, come up here and kiss me.” I did and, if I had thought that our previous kisses were great, they paled in comparison to this one. I broke it reluctantly after more than five minutes.
“I think we should clean up a bit then we can go to Harry Winston for our rings.” That’s pretty much what we did, but there were a few dozen kisses thrown in just because we were totally in love with each other. I led Scarlett out into the hot and humid Houston afternoon about fifteen minutes later, telling the doorman that we wanted a cab. We walked into the famous jewelry store almost thirty minutes later.
I asked to see some engagement and wedding rings. Scarlett was led to a counter in the rear of the store where she sat as the sales person brought out several trays of rings. “How much did the gentleman wish to spend?”
“Just show us some rings. We’ll worry about the price later…after she’s picked the one she wants.” First, Scarlett’s finger was measured and several trays were removed. Some rings she rejected because the stones were too big for her long slender fingers or not to her liking. Eventually, she had the decision down to three. That when my questions began. “What’s the color and the clarity of each diamond and I want to know about the gold—how many carats?”
“Perhaps you’d like to use my loupe.”
“That’s a great idea, but I brought my own.” Scarlett looked at me, surprised at my comments. “I took a course in gemology as part of my Masters.” I picked up the first ring, a Marquise cut diamond, and after almost a minute I told the sales person, “We’re not taking this one unless you give us a better stone. This one is loaded with occlusions.” She gave me a wry smile as she took it from me and produced an almost identical ring. This one was better. The other two were fine—good quality blue-white diamonds.
“Before you decide, Scarlett, maybe we should look at some options for wedding rings. They might have an impact on which ring you choose.” That proved to be sage advice as she picked an engagement ring with a round diamond and a wedding band that encircled the solitaire with a ring of smaller stones. My ring was a simple gold band with a single diamond. I didn’t care much what mine was like—only that my wife-to-be was satisfied.
I pulled my Sean Sloan Fabrications, Inc. credit card out of my wallet. “This is a corporate card. Are you authorized to make a personal purchase with this?”
I was calm as I reached again for my wallet. “I would think so in as much as I own the company.” I passed my driver’s license across the counter.
“You’re awfully young to own a company. What do you do?”
“We make things from metal. Know anything about stamping or casting?”
“Not a thing; is it a good field?”
“It must be. I’m more than doubling production because I have more work than I can handle.” He ran the card and seemed to be surprised when the $66,000 purchase was immediately approved. I took the card back and signed the store’s copy, asking them to phone for a cab back to the Four Seasons.
We were barely in the cab when Scarlett pulled me into one of her special kisses then she reached for her phone. “Hi, Mom—it’s your soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Scarlett. Yeah, exactly as you predicted. It was so romantic. I was looking at a huge vase of flowers in our suite and when I turned around Sean was on one knee. He told me that he practiced his speech for weeks and then he took me to Harry Winston for my ring and our wedding bands. Oh…thanks so much. I’ll tell him. Okay.”
“You phoned my mom before Sandra?”
“Yeah, but don’t tell her. I’ll explain later.” Then, to my surprise, she phoned my sister Gail and after a ten minute conversation she finally phoned Sandra. We were back at the hotel by the time she phoned Judy. That conversation was marked by shouting and from what I could hear a lot of jumping up and down. I even heard a few barks so I guessed that the approval was unanimous. We were in the suite when I asked why she had called my mother first.
“I promised her I would, Sean. Remember when I started to call her ‘Mom?’ She had asked me if you felt the same way and when I told her you did she told me it was just a matter of time—that you would find the right time and place. Then she asked me to phone her first when it happened. Gail asked me to call her second and I promised both. Oh…your mom said it was about time.”
She was laughing when I pulled her into my arms and kissed her. “I’m glad you’re a person who keeps her promises. That’s important in any relationship.”
“I promise that I will love you forever. Sean, can we talk about our wedding?” She continued once I had nodded my approval. “You know I’m not religious. I don’t want a big church wedding and I don’t want a fancy expensive gown and I don’t want a long engagement. I want to be married soon. One other thing I want—a big family. I want to be a mother and I don’t want to wait.”
I had a sly grin on my face when I replied. “Want to start now?”
“You silly goose; you know it takes at least a month to get off birth control and for most women it takes even longer, but, I agree. I’ll stop the pills today if we can get married within the next month. There’s one other thing we need to talk about.” I’ve been around women long enough to know that means nothing but trouble.
“Sandra told me you had a pre-nup with Lori. I want a pre-nup, too.”
“I don’t think that’s necessary, Scarlett.”
“I know that or you would have brought it up by now, but I insist. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m marrying you for your money or to get my hooks into your company. Please, Sean, if you love me you’ll do this for me.”
Like I said—nothing but trouble. “Okay, but only for five years and that’s the last word on the subject.” Scarlett must have agreed because she moved up to kiss me. When she broke it we opened our suitcases and carefully placed our clothes into the closet and dresser. By then it was almost time for dinner so I suggested we walk down the block to Mia Bella Trattoria. I had eaten there with my boss when I worked out in Pittsburgh and had found the food to be outstanding.
We were dressed in what I would describe as smart casual attire so I thought we would fit in well at the restaurant. I led Scarlett to the elevator and out the front door, turning left on Caroline Street and walking two blocks to the restaurant. Even without a reservation we waited only a few minutes for a table. I ordered a good bottle of Chianti Classico to enjoy with our meal, toasting my new bride-to-be. In typical Italian fashion there were lots of courses—more than we were accustomed to and more than we really wanted. However, we had not eaten since breakfast and it had been a busy and exciting day. I knew that Scarlett was as hungry as I was. We began with a selection from the antipasto course—steamed mussels for me and wild mushroom strudel for Scarlett. Both were excellent. Next Scarlett selected Tomato Basil Bisque while I had Potato Leek soup. We agreed to split a large house salad on our waiter’s recommendation.
For an entrée I ordered the Lamb Ossobucco—the same thing I had ordered the first time I was here-- while Scarlett selected the Seafood Lasagna. We finished with Hennessy VSOP Brandy and a flourless chocolate cake and staggered out the door and up the street to the hotel once we had finished. I hadn’t eaten so much in ages, but we were celebrating so I thought it was okay to overeat. Apparently, Scarlett agreed.
The real celebration began as soon as we had entered the suite. Scarlett efficiently stripped the clothes from my body while I struggled with the tiny buttons on her blouse. Whoever invented these things must have been a man-hating monster of a bitch. After a few minutes frustration Scarlett took pity on me. She was laughing when she asked why I hadn’t covered tiny buttons when I studied bra removal. She had the blouse off in seconds. I took care of the rest—her Capri’s peeled off her body and her lacy panties slid down her long shapely legs even though they were obviously wet with her anticipation.
Scarlett pulled the bedspread down, casting it onto the floor. She folded the blanket and sheet down neatly then returned to me so she could push me onto the bed. “I hope you don’t mind, but I want to be on top for most of the next month. Then I plan to inspect the ceiling in our bedroom on a regular basis. I’ll keep my feet in the air at least twenty minutes after you flood me with your seed. I can’t wait to be pregnant with your child. Damn, but I love you so much, Sean.”
My response was to lie on the far side of the bed and pull Scarlett to me for a long tongue-laden kiss.”Why are we way over here, Sean?”
“I hate to tell you this, but you have a tendency to leak and I thought we might want a clean dry place to sleep.”
“Sean! You know very well that I leak all over your thigh. Anything that gets onto the bed is your fault.” Then to emphasize her point, she stuck her tongue out at me. A second later she pushed it into my mouth as she ground her pussy into my swelling cock. She mounted me, sliding ever so slowly down my shaft, a minute later. She remained perfectly still--her face clearly showing her ecstasy--for several minutes before she looked down at me, smiled, and began to slowly rock as she gently rubbed her clit into my abdomen.
I remained still for a few minutes, prolonging our union, until I could resist the urge to drive into Scarlett no longer. I lifted her bodily with every thrust as our pace increased exponentially until we were rutting like wild animals. Scarlett always brought out the beast in me. No living being could long continue at the pace we eventually set. One second Scarlett was thrashing wildly and the next she was frozen in time and space. It was only temporary; I knew that because I’d seen it before—many, many times. Scarlett’s body seemed to explode a few seconds later as her powerful orgasm claimed reign over her body. I counted four massive spasms course through her body. Just watching her was more than enough to send me over the edge as I blew into her six times before we came to rest, Scarlett lying inert on my chest. Somehow, she managed to pull the blanket over our bodies just before we fell into a deep sleep.
Scarlett woke around three in the morning to pee and, of course, she woke me, too. It was physically impossible to extricate herself from my body and my arms without rousing me from even the soundest sleep. My thigh was exactly the way she had predicted—covered in pussy juice and dried semen that had dripped slowly, but steadily from her puss.
She was halfway to the bathroom when I spoke. “I might as well join you,” I said as my legs swung to the floor.
“Okay, why don’t you use the shower stall while I use the toilet? We could save some time that maybe we could use to play around again.”
I kissed Scarlett quickly then explained why I really needed to sleep. I had a day-long series of meetings that could potentially mean millions for my company and jobs for our neighbors and friends. Once we were done she washed my thigh with a few chuckles then led me back to bed, telling me she loved me several times between kisses before we finally fell back asleep.
We woke again to the sound of our wake-up call at 7:30. Scarlett peed while I set out my clothes for the day—dark gray Hart Schaffner Marx suit, white oxford shirt and maroon paisley tie with dark gray socks and my cordovan loafers. Scarlett had started the shower so the water was hot by the time I walked into the bathroom. We showered as we always did—touching and kissing and loving each other until we thought we were clean enough. I dried Scarlett while she dried me then I shaved and brushed my teeth while she brushed and blew her hair dry. It was roughly 8:30 when we walked together into the restaurant for our breakfast.
Ignoring the ridiculous prices, we ordered the American Breakfast, getting cheese omelets in addition to juice, coffee, and English muffins with butter and jam. We also ordered sides of bacon and sausage that we shared.
We left about an hour later after I had explained what I wanted her to do while I was in my meetings. Holding hands I led her to the concierge where we walked directly to the desk. “Sergio,” I asked.
“Yes, and you must be Mr. Sloan and Ms. Davies.” He turned toward the front of the building and waved. I saw a tall, thin and well dressed woman of about forty stand and walk toward us. “Ms. Davies, Mr. Sloan, this is Juanita Gomez. She is the professional shopper I told you about.” She shook hands with us and I passed the envelope with her fee. Resting my briefcase on the counter top I removed a corporate credit card for Scarlett’s use.
She took one look at the card and began to laugh. “Executive Vice President?” I only raised my eyebrows as I handed her the pen for her signature on the card.
“I’d appreciate if you could get her a few outfits suitable for a cocktail party and dinner with corporate associates. She’ll need shoes and probably a purse, too.”
“I know just the places to go. Do I understand that you’ve hired a car for the day?”
“Yes, he should be here by 9:45. He told me that he would park and come into the lobby for you.”
“What is the limit on Scarlett’s card?”
Scarlett had a wry smile on her face when I answered. “I’d like to say no limit, but I can’t. Please stay under fifty.”
“Fifty thousand?” Scarlett was shocked when she asked.
“Yes, my love…even though you’re worth a lot more than that to me.” Just then I saw a black-suited man enter the main door with a sign that said “Davies” on it. I walked to the door with Scarlett and Juanita, but only after tipping Sergio with a hundred for his help. He was also responsible for the huge floral bouquet in our suite. After kissing Scarlett good-bye and watching her enter the limo I told the doorman that I wanted a cab to the Administration Building at the Johnson Space Center. I was on my way once I had given the driver the street address I had received from my contact at NASA, Dr. Charles Evans.
I stopped at the information desk, passing my card to her as I said, “Sean Sloan to see Dr. Charles Evans. He’s expecting me.” I waited for almost fifteen minutes until short grandfatherly Chuck Evans stepped off the elevator. “Sean, great to see you again. Let me get you a visitor’s badge and we’ll be all set.”
We were walking to the elevator when Chuck told me that Omni’s people were already here. “They sent a vice president named Paul Weber and two guys who must have been football players. They don’t talk much. In fact, neither one of them has said a single syllable since they got here around eight this morning. Weber, however….”
“Now don’t hold back, Chuck. Tell it exactly like it is.” He laughed then raised his eyebrows and there was more said through that simple gesture than anything he had spoken. Apparently, Chuck didn’t think too highly of Mr. Weber. We were in the elevator when I asked, “What is it exactly that they want from me? Do you know, Chuck?”
“All I know is that they tried to get it from another manufacturer and it didn’t work out. For some reason they seem to think that you’ll be more successful, but I don’t know why.”
“Do you know where this other manufacturer is located?”
“Someplace in Kansas, I think.” That told me a lot. I had sold licenses to manufacture a patented alloy to two competitors—one in Georgia and another in Kansas. I knew from personal experience that this alloy was difficult to work with, but the benefits made the difficulty worthwhile. Chuck’s simple statement had told me a lot, probably more than he had intended.
We got off at the fourth floor and walked into a small conference room. Mr. Weber introduced himself, but ignored introductions to his “assistants” so I introduced myself to them, forgetting their names a minute later. I helped myself to a cup of coffee and a donut before taking a seat opposite Weber.
I thought that Weber must have been paid by the hour because he talked and talked while saying next to nothing. Some of the things he covered had been part of my most elementary classes in mechanical engineering. By eleven I was falling asleep as Weber droned on and on. Even his two charges looked like they were nodding off. Thankfully, we broke for lunch at 11:50, walking down the hall to a private dining room. I pulled Chuck into a men’s room on the way.
“I can’t believe that this is one of the favorite parts of your job, Chuck. What the hell is up with this guy? Everything he’s discussed this morning was covered in the first month of Mechanical Engineering 101 at Penn State. If he doesn’t get down to business soon I’m taking off. I can spend my time in the hotel pool or at the gym so at least I can say the day wasn’t a total waste.”
“I don’t understand it either, Sean. The people I’ve spoken to at Omni sounded like they had billions riding on these meetings.”
“Maybe that’s his motivation.”
“Suppose that he wants to control the negotiations and he’s going to by drawing the process out until I surrender.”
“It that going to work?” My response was to laugh and a few seconds later Chuck joined me. “I didn’t think so, but I had to ask. Let’s go eat.” I finished washing my hands and followed Chuck down the hall to the dining room where a buffet had been set out. I would normally have seated myself at the same table as Weber, but between him and his two apes there was no room so I found an empty table. There was a sparkling white linen tablecloth and matching napkins on the table and real stainless utensils instead of the plastic found at many buffets.
I helped myself to some tossed salad and Italian dressing and to a roast beef sandwich on a roll along with a dab of mayo. I took a large glass of iced tea from a server and walked to the table. Chuck joined me a minute later and we ate in relative silence. That was good because I wanted to eavesdrop on whatever conversation was taking place at the other table. What I heard was more a brow beating than a discussion. I realized then that working for Paul Weber was probably like walking on hot coals. I doubted that any job was worth all the grief they were going through. As big as these two were that’s just how helpless they appeared to be. I dubbed them Tweedledee and Tweedledum then, even laughing at my joke. Chuck was about to ask me about that when I received a text from Scarlett.
“HW R UR MTGS GOING?”
I rarely text, preferring to actually speak and listen when I communicate so I was sure that what I was going to say could have been done is half the symbols. “TOTAL WASTE OF TIME, MORE LIKE ATTENDING AN ME101 LECTURE. OMNI REP STRIKES ME AS A REAL A-HOLE. HOPE YOU’RE DOING BETTER.”
“I AM! SPENDING LOTS OF UR $. MISS U! LOVE U TO PIECES!!!!”
“ME, TOO! SEE YOU SOON.” I put the phone away as Chuck and I rose. I wasn’t at all surprised to see Weber and his stooges remain seated.
Chuck and I were back in the conference room when I asked, “How long do you think he’ll make us wait? If we’re here more than twenty minutes I’m gone. What’s NASA’s interest in this?”
“I don’t really know other than my boss thinks it’s a really big deal although you’d never guess that from this morning’s session.” We waited sixteen minutes before Weber finally graced us with his presence. Unfortunately, he picked up right where he left off this morning. Actually, that would have been better because he repeated almost word for word the last thirty minutes of his lecture before even touching on a new subject. All I knew was that this bullshit was going to cost his company dearly when we finally got down to business. I’d see to that.
Chuck and I sat silently until we took a brief break at 2:30. Then I told Chuck I was only sticking this out for another hour and then I was going to leave—big deal or not. I could see that he was upset. Hopefully, he’d pass that along to his superiors. Maybe then we could get down to business.
Sure enough, Weber continued and at 3:25 I stood and put my materials back into my briefcase. “We’re obviously not getting anywhere today so I’m taking off so I can spend some time with my fiancée. I’ll see you tomorrow and maybe then we’ll actually accomplish something.”
“Where are you staying?”
“We’re at the Four Seasons.”
“So are we. Why don’t you come by suite 2107 at 6:30 for drinks? Ted, take care of getting a bartender and some snacks. Make sure we have some shrimp and cocktail sauce and some of those cheese things that women love. How about joining us for dinner later? Chad, make a reservation at Vic and Anthony’s. I hear it’s a really great steakhouse. Bring your fiancée and Dr. Evans, you’re invited, too.” I thanked him for the courtesy before excusing myself and walking out with Chuck only a few steps behind me.
“Thank God that’s over, Sean. Do you have to go through that often?”
“No, most of the people I deal with understand that time is money. This guy I just don’t understand.” He phoned for a cab in the lobby and half an hour later I was sitting in the lobby of the hotel.
I spent a few minutes speaking with Sandra and later with Angus. He wanted to know how the meeting went so I told him, “It didn’t. Nothing happened other than some jerk from Omni wasting the entire day. Maybe something will happen tomorrow. I’ve been told that Omni contracted with Kennedy in Wichita for some parts, but Kennedy wasn’t able to deliver.”
“I’ll bet it had to do with that new alloy.”
“Nobody ever said you were stupid, Angus. I thought the same thing. We’ll find out soon enough.” I rang off and found a newspaper. I had just opened the sports pages when I heard a hubbub at the entrance. I was hardly surprised to see my future wife walking in with three bellmen behind her, each with an armful of bags from one store or another. I stood and waved. Scarlett ran to me, hugging me tightly when we met just before pressing her lips into mine.
“I take it you had a good day.”
“I did. Wait until I tell you about it.” I made her wait while I tipped the bellmen, asking them to carry the bags up to the suite while we grabbed two glasses of Coke from the snack bar at the outdoor pool. We sat under an umbrella while she told me about Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom’s and then about the boutiques that Juanita had taken her to.
“I hope you got a good cocktail dress because we’re invited to drinks and dinner tonight.” Then I sat by silently while Scarlett went on and on about the dresses she’d bought and the underwear and the shoes. We’d finished the Coke long before she was done so I led her to the elevator. Once in the suite she found the dress she wanted and the shoes, sexy half bra and matching lacy panties, and purse. We showered together then relaxed for an hour before dressing and taking the elevator up the five floors to Omni’s suite. I could hear the music through the open door more than fifty feet away. I was glad we were five floors below where the hallways were quiet.