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 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: September 20, 2020      Views: 30
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Chapter 20 of the book Par Angusta Ad Augusta
Jefferson makes a decicion about Career Day.
"Chapter 20" by teols2016
Background
A law professor gets a new 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. Meanwhile, bookstore owner Monique Vasquez continues to run her family's business while recovering from a recent robbery.


Monique entered the Starbucks on 6th Avenue and was recognized and greeted by a barista while she was still more than ten feet from the counter.

"The usual? Ms. Vasquez," the young woman queried, her fingers already hovering over the register's keyboard.

"No," Monique replied. "Thank you."

She spotted Jefferson, who'd secured a small table with Presley lying underneath, and moved over towards him.

"So, no coffee yet?" she queried after they'd exchanged greetings.

"I'm blind, remember?" Jefferson asked with a smirk. "How am I supposed to order anything if I don't know what's on the menu?"

"Well, you do realize we're in a Starbucks coffee shop, right?" Monique asked. "I hear they generally serve coffee."

She proceeded to read from the nearby menu board.

"You're going up there and getting the coffee," she insisted when she'd finished. "I'll have a small cappuccino in my tumbler and one of those lemon cake slices."

"What tumbler?" Jefferson asked.

Monique told him where it was and how to get it off her wheelchair before sending him on his way. Unfortunately, her day turned out to be busier than she had anticipated, so they weren't able to meet up for lunch as planned, so they settled for coffee. Thankfully, the fact Jefferson only had to go into work on Monday mornings made his schedule considerably more flexible than hers, so they still found a time which worked for them both.

"There you are," Jefferson said when he came back, reattaching the tumbler as she instructed and then setting the lemon cake down in front of her. "So, how was your weekend?"

"Is that what this friendship will amount to?" Monique asked. "A talk-about-the-weather question like that? I thought you were deeper."

"Okay? "what should I ask?"

"Why I switched out our lunch for coffee would be a nice start."

Jefferson raised an eyebrow.

"You said you had to work," he countered.

"Yeah, but I might want to elaborate," Monique pointed out. "Don't assume, Jefferson Thomas."

"All right. Why did you have to change our lunch to coffee?"

"I have a lot of work I need to get done."

Jefferson looked dumbfounded.

"I never said I would elaborate," Monique pointed out. "I thought you were a lawyer."

"Very funny," Jefferson said. "So, how's your life outside the store? How's Mr. Wonderful?"

He'd heard about Brad Myers through their recent telephone conversations.

"I wouldn't brand him that just yet," Monique admitted. "He's still got some work to do."

"So you don't think there's a future there?" Jefferson queried.

"I don't know. I would like to think there could be."

Jefferson nodded.

"In all honesty, I believe in true love," Monique said. "I think it's possible. What I don't believe in is love at first sight. I think that concept is ridiculous. I mean, if you love someone when you first meet them, what is there to work up to?"

"I guess that makes sense," Jefferson said. "So you think this guy you're seeing now could maybe be someone you could fall in love with?"

"I don't know. I think he first has to work past the fact I'm strapped into this chair."

"Ah. I had that in college and law school. Supposedly people grow up, but I haven't always seen proof of that."

"So," Monique said, pouncing on the opportunity with a mischievous grin, "how many were there in college?"

"Three," Jefferson replied. "Then there were two more in law school and two after that before I met my then-girlfriend Nancy."

"Really? Are you still seeing her?"

"We broke up last March," Jefferson said.

Monique was surprised.

"Oh," she said. "That's ... recent. After what ... five years? Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," Jefferson replied.

"But five years ... you invested so much in it ..."

"I did, but then I saw her for what she really was and I broke away clean."

"It took you five years?"

Now, Monique was astonished.

"I was blind for a long time," Jefferson said and she decided to ignore his choice of words for the time being. "For a while, I thought she was perfect because I had unwittingly molded myself to be perfect for her."

"And now you're the real you again?" Monique asked.

"I think so."

"Well, I don't think I'd wanna meet that other you. You're fine."

"Thanks."

"Are you seeing anyone now?" Monique asked, expecting him to say "no."

"This woman I know through the girls' school. We've gone out a couple of times."

"That's getting back on the horse pretty quickly."

"Well, my only regret about being with Nancy so long is not getting out sooner," Jefferson said, working to push the memory of Amy out of his head. "Otherwise, I've got nothing about it holding me back."

"Five years though," Monique contemplated. "That's not bad. The longest I had was three years with a guy in college. He was pretty much my only one in college."

"What happened there?"

"He went off to graduate school in Houston."

"Houston, Texas?"

"Yeah. What else would I mean?"

"There's a Houston, Idaho."

"That's Huston, Idaho, not Houston."

"Oh."

Jefferson was momentarily sheepish. Monique waved it off.

"He sort of expected me to follow him," she explained, "but I had my heart set on coming back here and eventually taking over the family business. Last I heard, he's married with a little boy."

Jefferson nodded.

"See," Monique said. "This is a real conversation. None of this how-was-your-weekend junk."

* * *

Jefferson left the coffee shop about thirty minutes later and headed home. As he walked, his cell phone rang.

"Hello?" he asked.

"Hey," Linda said. "Listen, I've got a bit of a situation here at my house."

"What's that?" Jefferson asked, concerned.

"Well," Linda said, her tone of voice suddenly changing to a more mischievous nature, "there is a naked woman in my bed and she's lonely."

Jefferson smiled.

"And what can I do about that?" he asked, playing along to see what else she might say. The implication seemed pretty obvious, but he'd made so many mistakes with the opposite gender, he wanted it to be more than obvious.

"You know where I keep my spare key and you've got a few hours before you have to pick up your kids from school and day care," Linda replied. "I'm sure you can figure something out."

Jefferson supposed he could.

* * *

"How was your date?" Frank asked as Monique came into the store. A customer who had been paying for some books looked over with interest.

"It was coffee," Monique said. "It wasn't a date."

Frank waited for the customer to pay and leave before pouncing on Monique again.

"Well, the crumb on your lower lip suggests it was more than coffee," he said with a smirk.

Monique found and picked the crumb off her lip. She flicked it in his direction, but her aim wound up being wildly off.

"I had some lemon cake," she said. "I didn't make out with the guy."

"Right," Frank said, still smirking. He really enjoyed tormenting her like this.

"I've got work to do," Monique said. "If there are any more stupid comments anyone would like to submit, here's your last chance."

Frank couldn't think of anything else. Nor could Kathy or Samuel, though the latter had never made a snarky remark to Monique since being hired.

Monique headed back to her office.

* * *

"You are an interesting man," Linda commented, turning her head to look at Jefferson, who was lying next to her on the bed. "It takes me until our third date to get you to kiss me and, just two days later, you're more than willing to accept my booty call."

"I like to work in mysterious ways," Jefferson told her.

Linda smiled.

"Well, they bring excellent results," Linda commented.

Jefferson leaned forward and kissed her.

"We've got about an hour and a half before school lets out," Linda said, pulling the covers up over her nude body. "I'm going to take a nap. You're more than welcome to stay. Otherwise, lock up on the way out."

* * *

Jefferson did stay and also took a nap in Linda's bed. They then showered, got dressed, and took an Uber over to the Tate Sunshine Day Care Center together. Linda waited outside while Jefferson picked up Matthew. when questioned, they explained to the boy they had met up and decided to walk together. Both were thankful he was too young to make other, more accurate conclusions.

* * *

As Monique worked in her office, Brad Myers called. He explained that a client of his firm had given them a bundle of tickets to a gala at the Natural History Museum that was set for the coming Friday. He had snagged two and wanted to know if she would like to go.

"Sure," Monique agreed. "that sounds like fun. I've always liked that museum."

"Great," Brad said. "I'll see you at eight."

Monique ended the call and leaned her head back against her chair. I'm giving him a chance, she thought. Maybe it would work out.

* * *

"And that's what a veterinarian does," the father at the front of the class said, finishing his speech.

At Ms. Turner's prompting, the class gave him a round of applause.

"Now, we have one more guest who's going to speak to us before we go to lunch," Ms. Turner said. "Abigail's uncle, Mr. Jefferson Thomas, is here to tell us what he does. Let's all give him a big hand."

Everyone clapped and Jefferson, despite being blind, was sure Abigail was absolutely giddy about this whole thing. She had never had a problem with Career Day, which probably could have come along much sooner in her mind. But, it was scheduled for the second Wednesday after Easter, and now that it was here, so was he.

"Hi everyone," he said. "I'm Abigail's uncle and I am a law professor. Basically, it's my job to teach people how to tell the difference between right and wrong. If you think about it, I'm a bit like your teacher, except my students are all a lot older than you guys and they have to work while they go to school."

"Why?" one boy asked.

"Well, many of them don't live at home anymore," Jefferson said. "They have to take care of themselves when they're that old."

The students all seemed dumbstruck by this possibility, certain it would never happen to them.

"Any other questions?" Jefferson asked.

"You're Abigail's uncle, right?" the same boy asked.

"I am," Jefferson said, not sure if he liked where this was going.

"Where's her mom and dad?"

Jefferson saw this coming and he had no clue what to say without causing some form of a disturbance. Luckily, Ms. Turner stepped in right then.

"Class," she admonished. "Mr. Thomas is here to talk about his job. So if there are any questions about that, feel free to ask them. Otherwise, keep it to yourself."

Jefferson answered a few more questions before the class aide, Ms. Harris, came to take the students to lunch. As the class lined up, a few students went to greet their parents and Abigail came over to Jefferson.

"Hey," Jefferson said. "you liked that?"

"Yeah," Abigail said. "Thanks for coming, Uncle Jeff."

"No problem. Enjoy your lunch."

As Abigail left the classroom, Jefferson approached Ms. Turner.

"I'm sorry that almost got ugly," the teacher said.

"Don't worry about it," Jefferson assured her. "Thanks for the backup."

"Not at all. It's part of my job description."

"Which is why I'll stick to teaching at a university. How's Abigail doing?"

"She's adjusting well. A lot of the students like her, and she always has some exciting stories to share

."I guess it pays to be the daughter of someone who works for the State Department."

"I guess so."

* * *

Monique was about ready to kill herself. She had spent the last four days reviewing the store's inventory and placing orders based on her findings and it's financial standing. She had sometimes had to go through the store until her wheelchair battery threatened to die on her in order to check the shelves while others were moving through the storeroom upstairs. She hated this part of her job, but she had to get it done a few times every year, even if she wished to shoot herself every time.

Deciding to take a break, Monique reached for the headset by the phone and put it on, always preferring it over handling the receiver. She adjusted the microphone and voice-dialed a number.

* * *

Having brought Anya's egg salad sandwich for lunch, Jefferson was now sitting on a bench not far from the girls' school, eating it while Presley looked on with jealousy. Even the dog recognized Anaya's culinary skills, and she only had the scents to form her opinion.

Jefferson interrupted his meal when his phone rang.

"Hello?" he asked.

"Hey," Monique said. "how's Career Day going?"

"So far, so good. One down."

"And what about the other?"

"I don't think it's going to happen. I don't think Taylor wants it."

"Don't worry about it. Give her time. Maybe next year."

"Yeah. I just worry about when Matthew's in elementary school as well. Then I'll have to juggle all three of them."

"You'll manage. You've done good so far."

"Yeah, but I'm pretty sure all three of them would prefer my brother and sister-in-law."

Monique sighed.

"That's probably true," she admitted, "but this isn't a perfect world. You just remember that you stepped up when they needed someone. That's what'll count in the long run."

"Thanks," Jefferson said.

"And let me know if you ever need advice or help with something. Believe me, I am stripped naked and put in the shower by someone else every morning. I'm the last person who would look down on you for asking for help."

"Thanks," Jefferson repeated.

"Just putting it out there."

"I appreciate it. I've gotta see about this Career Day thing with Taylor. Consider it the 11th hour."

"Good luck."

Jefferson hung up, wrapped up the reminder of his sandwich, and packed everything away again.

* * *

"Hello?" Jefferson asked. "Mr. Wallace?"

Mr. Wallace looked up from his computer and immediately came over.

"Taylor's uncle I presume," he said. "The dog gave it away. I've heard plenty of stories about you two."

"Glad to know I have a fan," Jefferson said. "Listen, I'm here about Career Day ... I don't think it's going to happen ... Taylor just doesn't seem comfortable with the idea just yet."

Mr. Wallace nodded.

"I understand," he said.

"How's she doing in here otherwise?" Jefferson queried.

"She is a bright girl ... no argument about that. She will only answer questions every so often, but her assignments are all very well done."

"I can take no credit for that. How's she doing socially?"

"Well, except for me and two or three other students, she doesn't really talk to anyone. I try to get her to interact with others through group projects, but she will only participate as much as she has to."

The teacher thought for a moment.

"She does stick to her sister and her friends during recess," he added. "One of the aides mentioned it to me once. Maybe she has some friends there. There is one boy I've heard about who's been calling her an 'orphan', but as far as the aides have seen, both girls are ignoring him. One of them has spoken to him about it and it hasn't happened that often yet. The thing is, Taylor hasn't said anything to me about it and I don't want to push her and make her feel uncomfortable."

"She hasn't said anything to me either," Jefferson echoed.

"Then I think the best thing we can do is monitor the situation and step in if it persists or escalates."

Jefferson nodded.

"Thank you," he said. "I'd better get going."

"Sure," Mr. Wallace agreed. "I'm sorry it didn't work out today."

"Don't worry about it," Jefferson told him and left.

* * *

Not far from the classroom, Jefferson heard a group of students approaching. He stopped and stepped up against the wall to let them pass, trying to figure out how his changed his perspective of the directions he'd been given earlier and was now tracing back to the school's front door.

"Uncle Jeff?" someone asked.

He was surprised to hear Taylor addressing him but then figured this had to be her class.

"What are you doing here?" Taylor asked, coming over to him.

"I just went to speak to your teacher," Jefferson explained. "Listen. I'm not going to stick around for Career Day today. Is that cool with you?"

"Uh-huh," Taylor replied and he was sure he heard relief in her voice. "Is it okay with you?"

"Oh yeah. I'm fine. I'll pick you up this afternoon as usual."

"Okay."

She really did sound okay with this arrangement.

"All right," Jefferson said. "Go catch up with your class. Maybe I'll come speak to them next year."

"Uh-huh," Taylor said and she was then gone.

Jefferson kept walking and soon ran into Linda. She had been speaking to her daughter Jessica's class about working as a museum curator.

"You're not sticking around for the second class?" she asked.

"Not this year," Jefferson replied. "Taylor's not up for that. I just spoke with her."

"Oh," Linda said, understanding. "Maybe next year."

Jefferson nodded.

"So," Linda said, her voice taking on a mischievous tone, "we've got the afternoon off. What should we do?"

The book continues with Chapter 21. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
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.

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.
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