Fast! Three Questions.
Already a member?
| Category: || General Fiction |
Posted:|| September 17, 2020 Views: 52|
Chapter 15 of the book Par Angusta Ad Augusta
Jefferson goes on his first date (in a while.)
A law professor gets a family and a bookstore owner offers advice.
Previously in "Par Angusta Ad Augusta":
After his brother and sister-in-law are killed in a car accident overseas, NYU law professor Jefferson Thomas brings his young nieces and nephew to live with him in Manhattan.
The bookstore was as busy as it always was on a Saturday. Monique was near the register, mingling with customers, mainly children. She looked and smiled as Jefferson came in with Presley, Abigail, Taylor, and Matthew. The group was accompanied by a blonde woman Monique did not recognize. She was young and very pretty. Samuel, who was behind the register, definitely looked and Monique feared he'd need a long bathroom break later.
"Hey you guys," she said, focusing on the kids.
"Hi Monique," Taylor said, beaming. She then looked up at her uncle.
"Can we go look around?" she asked.
"Sure," Jefferson permitted. "Just don't make a mess. And we're not buying anything today."
The kids hurried off and Jefferson looked at Monique.
"They look good," Monique commented.
"Thanks," Jefferson said. "Tell me something ... this is our fifth time coming here since those three came to live with me a few weeks ago. From day one, Taylor, who is normally reserved around people she doesn't know, even family members, is bright and sunny with you. Can you explain that?"
Monique shrugged her shoulders as best she could.
"I just have that effect, I guess," she said. "Reach kids who don't want to be reached. I really can't explain it. It just sort of happens."
"Well," Jefferson said, "whatever it is, thanks. It's doing wonders for her."
"No problem. Now let's go find them before you all rob me blind."
She, Jefferson, and the unidentified woman headed off in the direction the kids had run off in.
"Can you show me your secret?" the woman requested as they moved down one aisle. "With the children, I mean? I am still learning."
She spoke with an accent, suggesting she was from Eastern Europe.
"Em, sure," Monique said, uncertain of who this woman even was.
Her answer seemed to trigger something within Jefferson.
"Monique," he said, "this is my new nanny, Anya Motkova. Anya, this is Monique Vasquez, the store's owner and manager."
Having watched Monique operating her wheelchair, Anya extended her hand, which Monique promptly shook. The attractive blonde was observant and intelligent.
"Jefferson has told me a lot about this store," Anya said. "I was wondering if you have any works by Andrey Dementyev?"
Monique had never heard the name. She promised to help Anya look to see if, on the off chance, he was in her inventory.
"Thank you," Anya said as they found Matthew.
* * *
Monique was actually shocked when they came across Andrey Dementyev's work in the miniscule poetry section. She supposed she'd purchased the volume as part of some package deal with one of the publishers or distributers she regularly dealt with.
As she plucked the book off the shelf, Anya explained the author was a well-known poet in her native Russia who'd died a couple years ago.
"He was a patriot," she explained, "but he stood against what Russia has become today in the world's eyes. You will find great compassion within his words. He enjoyed the simple things and could be very funny."
Monique had to agree on some level. She got her amusement watching Anya pay for the book while Samuel seemed to be trying not to faint as he completed the transaction. Thank you, Mr. Dementyev. Monique glanced at Jefferson, wondering how he had found this woman.
* * *
Jefferson's quandary about what tie to wear was interrupted by the doorbell. He went downstairs and let in Ellen O'Ryan, the kids' baby-sitter for the evening. He and Anya had agreed her workday ended at 5:30. That evening, she had zipped out the door around 6:00.
It wasn't the first night she'd gone out. She usually left shortly after quitting time about three or four evenings a week. She never said where she went and he frankly didn't care. She was reliable and if anything did require her assistance, her cell phone number was in his phone.
"Hey," he said to the babysitter. "The kids are playing in their rooms. Go on up and introduce yourself and I'll be back in a second."
He hurried back upstairs to his own room. It didn't take him much longer to decide to abandon the idea of a tie altogether. He instead grabbed his jacket and went to find Ellen in the girls' room, where she was introducing herself to the three kids. Abigail was being her usual friendly self while Taylor and Matthew were reacting more shyly towards this new person.
"You guys gonna be okay?" Jefferson asked.
"We'll be fine, Mr. Thomas," Ellen said. "Have a good time."
Jefferson gave her the last minute instructions, including where to find the emergency numbers and dinner for herself and the kids. He promised to be back by eleven and left, successfully avoiding Abigail's recitation of all the foods she would not eat.
* * *
Jefferson and Linda had agreed to meet at Wildair, a French/American Restaurant in the East Village. In texts sent back and forth, they called it their "safe choice".
Jefferson was seated at the restaurant's bar when Linda arrived. The host told them it would be about another ten minutes before their table was ready, so she perched herself on the stool next to him and ordered a Vodka Tonic.
"You clean up pretty good," she commented, surveying Jefferson for at least half a minute.
"Thank you," Jefferson returned. "That's a nice perfume you're wearing."
"Thanks. You haven't done this in a while, have you?"
"Dating someone new. This conversation gives away the fact that it's been a lot longer than when your nieces and nephew moved in."
Jefferson managed a chuckle.
"Am I that transparent?" he queried. "Yeah, I actually just got out of a five-year relationship."
"You weren't married, were you?" Linda asked.
"No, nothing like that. It was just something I thought I was committed to. Recent events have shown me otherwise."
Linda nodded, understanding.
"I've pretty much lacked any type of social life since my divorce," she said. "Everything revolved around my kids, even when I didn't have them with me. I've had a few coffee and lunch dates, but this is my first dinner date in a while."
"How's it going?" Jefferson asked.
"So far, so good. I'm not sure if the fact we're drinking already is the best thing, but who am I to talk."
They both chuckled as a waiter came over to let them know their table was ready. They finished off their drinks and followed him into the restaurant, Jefferson leaving a twenty on the bar.
"You want me to read you the items in the menu?" Linda asked once they were seated, noticing no one gave Jefferson a Braille menu.
"Would you?" Jefferson asked.
"Sure, no problem," Linda said and began to read.
They soon received fresh drinks and gave the waiter their orders. Jefferson picked up his drink and looked at Linda.
"So what do we talk about now?" he asked.
"We can definitely skip that awkward moment where we have to confess we have kids waiting for us back home," Linda replied.
* * *
"Hey Taylor," Ellen said, coming into the bedroom. "Abigail and I are gonna play Old Maid. You wanna join us?"
Taylor, who had been busy drawing with crayons at her desk, glanced up. This lasted for a second or two before she resumed what she was doing. She didn't seem interested.
"Come on," Ellen encouraged. "Everyone else is downstairs. You really wanna be alone up here all night?"
Taylor didn't answer.
"Your uncle's coming back," Ellen promised. "He just went out for a few hours. You've got no reason to worry."
Taylor still didn't say anything, instead continuing to draw.
"All right," Ellen conceded. "I'll make you a deal. One game. If you have no fun with us, you can come right back up here and I'll leave you alone until your uncle comes back."
Taylor seemed to consider the offer. She finally set down her crayons and headed out the door. Ellen followed her with a smile. This game would be fun.
* * *
"So wait," Linda said, laughing as she tried to maintain a normal tone. "You mean to tell me that when your brother and his family came to visit you, you stuffed everyone into this tiny apartment you were living in at the time?"
"Yeah," Jefferson said, also laughing. "They shared my old sofa bed while I stayed in my bedroom, which was about the size of a shoebox. The twins slept in this portable crib thing they had back then and I guess I should be thankful that Matthew wasn't around then."
The visit happened nearly five years ago. Jefferson wasn't sure why he was sharing it now. It'd been the last time he saw Stan and Maggie alive.
"And they spent the entire long weekend there?" Linda asked, still laughing. Jefferson nodded, finding this story very amusing to tell ... at least, this part of it.
"Stan had to go back down to Washington D.C. for business for one night," he clarified. "Some emergency ... I don't remember the details. But otherwise, they were all there with me. All in all, we had fun."
He paused, hoping he wouldn't be prompted to continue. Now, he wasn't sure why he'd told this story to begin with.
"And that was the last time you saw them?" Linda asked, getting serious again.
"Yeah," Jefferson said. "Stan got sent out to his new post in Tokyo just a week later. They lived in Japan for a few years and he then got sent to Germany."
That was now the second reason he didn't like to tell this story. Who wanted to share the moment they last saw a now-deceased loved one?
"Okay," Jefferson said, changing the subject. "Your turn. Tell me about Detroit."
* * *
Ellen sat cross-legged on the couch, watching TV. The kids were all asleep, their requests for water, stories, and everything else satisfied. Now it was just a matter of waiting for their uncle to come home.
Ellen was thankful she managed to convince Taylor to come and play Old Maid. Despite losing to her sister quite frequently, she stuck around until bedtime, though Ellen had noticed her constantly looking towards the front door. In her unprofessional opinion, that girl had some serious attachment issues. But, unless she was asked to give such an opinion, she'd keep it to herself. She did wonder how these kids had wound up suddenly living with their uncle, but that again would stay in her head. Jefferson Thomas was giving her and her friends his business, and she wanted to keep it.
* * *
Jefferson and Linda walked out of the restaurant, having shared one final drink before paying the check, splitting it at Linda's insistence.
"Having the man pay is so old-fashioned," she chided. "We're living in the 21st century."
"Well," Jefferson said. "I'm paying next time."
Linda smirked at him.
"You're that sure that there will be a second date?" she asked.
"Who said anything about a second date?" Jefferson asked. "I'm talking about right now. It's only 10:30. We could stop at a bar for a nightcap."
"I really think I've had enough. I'd like to be somewhat sober when I slip in and kiss my kids good night when I get home. Can't have them showing up to school, hung over because I breathed on them after consuming liberal amounts of alcohol."
Jefferson nodded, supposing she was right.
"Fair enough," he conceded. "So, about that second date?"
"We'll talk," Linda promised. "For now, live with the fact that this went pretty well."
"I can definitely live with that," Jefferson said, though he wasn't quite sure.
They each pulled out their phones to summon Ubers. They weren't planning to let their respective kids in on their possible relationship yet, so they figured it was best to part ways at the restaurant. Linda's ride arrived first
"Good night Jefferson," Linda said and then got into the back of the Toyota.
* * *
Jefferson arrived home around 10:50. He paid Ellen and had her take his Uber to get home rather than walk this late at night, no matter how safe their neighborhood was. He checked on the kids and heard nothing, so he let them sleep and headed up to bed himself, hearing Anya coming home around 11:30.
* * *
The phone rang and Samuel answered it. Frank, Monique, and Kathy figured the call was just business. Samuel would summon one of them over if he needed them, so they paid him no mind. Their attention was peaked when he called for Monique to come over.
"It's someone named Brad Myers," Samuel reported. "He's looking for you."
Monique was surprised as she had Samuel plug in her headset and put it on.
"Hello?" she asked, speaking into the mouthpiece.
"Hi," the voice said. "It's Brad, the guy from outside the rehab clinic."
Monique was surprised to hear from him. Sure, he'd been friendly, but she hadn't counted on him following through.
"Sorry for calling you at this number," Brad said. "I looked it up and thought it'd be easier to reach you here."
"That's okay," Monique assured him. "What's up?"
Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Frank and Kathy moving closer.
"I was wondering if you wanted to set a time for that lunch," Brad explained. "At the Sweet Life Cafe?"
"Sure," Monique replied. "I have a physical therapy session on Tuesday and I get out at 11:30. We could meet up at the diner right after that."
She'd seen the Sweet Life Cafe several times when riding away from her physical therapy clinic in the West Village, but she'd never been there. It sounded better than what Brad's initial mention of the word "diner" had suggested.
"Great," Brad said. "I'll see you then."
Monique ended the call and turned to see Frank, Kathy, and Samuel watching her.
"What?" she asked.
"That sounded like a personal call," Frank said. "You never let us use that phone for personal calls."
"Well, that's the benefit of paying the phone bill and signing your paycheck. I get to do whatever I want. You don't."
"So?" Kathy asked. "who was that?"
"Just someone I'm having lunch with."
"Hey Samuel," Frank said, turning to the young man. "Did that sound like a male voice to you?"
"Yeah," Samuel said nervously.
Monique recalled the young man had said Brad's name earlier, so the issue of the caller's gender ought to be obvious without requiring verification. Frank was having fun.
"Sounds like more than just 'someone'," Frank said. "You're abandoning us for lunch with him."
Monique rolled her eyes.
"Be nice and I might tell you someday," she said.
* * *
"When's Ellen coming back?" Matthew asked as he, Jefferson, Presley, Abigail, and Taylor headed towards the girls' school.
"Not sure yet," Jefferson said honestly.
"She was nice," Matthew remarked. His statement was a simplification of the kids' feelings. All three of them admitted to having fun with their baby-sitter.
"Glad to hear it," Jefferson said as they immersed themselves in the crowd of students and parents by the front doors. He bid the twins farewell and headed off to the day care center with Matthew.
* * *
"Hey Monique?" Frank asked as he restocked some books. "Isn't your big date today?"
"No, it's tomorrow," Monique replied. "And it ..."
"I know, I know. It's not a date. You're just having lunch with this guy who seems to be interested in you."
"And don't you forget it."
* * *
"Show me a rough draft by Thursday," Jefferson instructed. "Then we'll see where to go from there."
"Thank you, Professor," the student said. She rose and left his office.
Jefferson leaned back in his chair and sighed as he pinched the bridge of his nose. He was glad Eric hadn't been around to witness this meeting. He would have been roaring with laughter if he had heard how this student was trying to flirt with him. True, she wasn't as insistent as Paula Franks, but it was nonetheless annoying.
Jefferson knew the student well and did not believe for a minute that she was having trouble with one of his assignments. No, he had seen her act so often before. Ever since he had started teaching at the university three years ago, the female students had been making any excuse to come see him during his office hours. They had then tried every method of seduction in the book, quickly abandoning the appearance angle after they came to understand more about his blindness. Undeterred, verbal flirting and the occasional so-called casual touching became the most popular venues. So far, Jefferson had turned them all down cold, but every year brought a new set of ambitious women willing to give it a shot. He was thankful he now had his responsibility for Abigail, Taylor, and Matthew to use as an excuse, though this only drew sympathy from some students.
Thankful to now be alone, Jefferson went on his computer and pulled up an outline for a new book he was starting on. The project had first been brainstormed with a few of his colleagues shortly before Stanley and Margret's deaths. He had made some progress on his part ever since returning to the United States, but now it was time to really get to work on it once again.
Fate apparently had other plans as Jefferson's cell phone then rang. He answered it while trying to keep some focus on the outline.
"Hey," Linda said. "Am I bothering you?"
"Not really," Jefferson said, the outline now forgotten. "What's up?"
"I was just wondering why you never called me. We had such a good time last Saturday, but I haven't heard from you since then. You didn't even stop to chat this morning."
"Sorry. I was in a hurry. And in regards to the calling, I've never been good at figuring out when to do that after a first date."
"Well, that's reasonable, I guess. I had a good time that night."
"Me too," he agreed.
"You wanna talk about that second date yet?" Linda asked mischievously.
"I don't know," Jefferson said. "Easter's around the corner. What are you doing then?"
|The book continues with Chapter 16. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.|
I have rearranged this story a bit. It is now thirty-eight chapters (instead of the original forty-two.)
Cast of characters:
Jefferson Thomas: a blind NYU law professor.
Presley: Jefferson's guide dog.
Monique Vasquez: a bookstore owner in Manhattan
Abigail and Taylor Thomas: seven-year-old twin daughters of Stanley and Margaret Thomas. Nieces of Jefferson Thomas.
Matthew: four-year-old son of Stanley and Margaret Thomas. Nephew of Jefferson Thomas.
Anya Motkova: Jefferson's new live-in nanny.
Brad Myers: accountant whom Monique meets
Linda Carrows: mother of children at Abigail and Taylor's school.
Joan: Monique's nurse.
Kathy Quigley: a long-time employee of Monique's bookstore
Frank Norris: a long-time employee of Mnique's bookstore
Samuel Bridges: a new employee in Monique's bookstore
Stanley "Stan" Thomas: Jefferson's brother. Killed in a car accident in Berlin.
Margaret "Maggie" Thomas: Stan's wife. Killed in a car accident in Berlin.
Feedback is always welcome. Enjoy.
and 2 member cents.
© Copyright 2016.
All rights reserved.
has granted FanStory.com, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.
|You need to login or register to write reviews.|
It's quick! We only ask four questions to new members.
Interested in posting your own writing online? Click here to find out more.