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| Category: || General Fiction |
Posted:|| September 23, 2020 Views: 31|
Chapter 24 of the book Par Angusta Ad Augusta
Jefferson and Linda return from Vermont
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. Meanwhile, local bookstore owner Monique Vasquez continues running her family's business while rebounding from a recent break-up.
Jefferson entered his house to find Amy ready to leave, her overnight bag packed and standing by her feet. He could hear the kids playing upstairs.
"How was your trip?" Amy asked.
"It was good," Jefferson told her. "How were things here?"
"A little rocky at first, but we fell into a rhythm. We got along pretty well."
"That's good. Thanks for doing this."
"It's no problem. I left the blanket and pillow folded up on the couch. I'll just say 'bye' to the kids and ..."
Amy's voice trailed off and Jefferson could tell she really wanted to leave.
"Hey guys!" he called up the stairs. "Guess who's back!"
The sounds of playing stopped in an instant and all three kids charged downstairs to greet their long lost uncle.
"Okay you guys," Jefferson said, interrupting their cheerful, incomprehensible chatter. "Say thanks to Mrs. Nelson first. She has to get going."
All three kids immediately thanked Amy and added a message of farewell at Jefferson's urging.
"Bye you guys," Amy said. "I had fun."
Jefferson sent the three kids away again and turned to Amy. He could tell something was up.
"Everything okay?" he asked.
"Yeah," Amy lied. "Everything's fine."
"Are we okay?" Jefferson asked, not buying her act.
"I don't know," she admitted.
"I never meant for it to happen," Jefferson told her.
"Can we just put it behind us? Forget about it? Like we planned?"
"I don't know," Amy said and hurried out.
Jefferson was about to shut the front door behind her when he heard a car pull up. He then heard Anya talking to someone, but some construction on the next block successfully muffled her voice. He only understood Anya calling out a farewell to someone as they drove away. She walked towards the house and was surprised to see Jefferson.
"You are back already?" she asked. She then checked her watch and realized she was late.
"I am sorry," she added quickly. "I lost track of the time."
"No problem," Jefferson assured her. "I just got back myself. Who's your friend?"
"She is just a friend," Anya said but she was noticeably defensive when she said it.
She came into the house and greeted the three kids, giving them each a small knick-knack she had bought while she had apparently gone to Philadelphia.
"It is a fascinating city," she told them. "A lot of interesting history, just like here in New York."
The kids thanked her and ran back upstairs to play. Anya turned back to Jefferson.
"The lady left already?" she asked.
"Oh, Amy?" Jefferson replied. "Yeah, you just missed her. She was leaving when your friend dropped you off."
He thought he could actually hear Anya stiffen. She was obviously not going to talk about this friend.
"I will go put my things in my room," she said instead and turned to head off towards the den.
As he locked the front door, Jefferson let out a long sigh.
"Women," he muttered.
* * *
"Okay," Mr. Wallace said. "Now we're going to have Show-and-Tell. Today, Andrew, Vince, Leslie, and Taylor are going to share what they brought to show us."
Rather than just encourage the kids to bring something to show the class, he had long ago decided to make it an assignment, picking a few kids for each occasion, in order to get those who normally wouldn't do such a thing as speak to others in the class to do so. Taylor was a prime example for why this system was needed. She was way too quiet all day.
Vince was up first, showing the class his prized eraser collection. Mr. Wallace let him talk for about five minutes, during which he described how he had acquired all these different erasers from the same Staples store near his apartment building, before telling him to wrap it up and let someone else have a turn.
Leslie was up next. She had brought a photo of herself with her family's two terriers, both of whom were busy licking her face. The photo was passed around as she proudly described how she had gone with her mom the year before to pick the dogs up from a breeder out on Long Island.
"Taylor," Mr. Wallace prompted when Leslie was done.
To his surprise, Taylor did not look too nervous as she walked to the front of the room, carrying a cloth bundle.
"What did you bring to show us?" the teacher queried, genuinely curious.
"I brought a flag," Taylor explained as she began unfolding the bundle.
Mr. Wallace came over to help and it was revealed to be an American flag.
"This is very nice," Mr. Wallace commented. "Where did you get it?"
"It used to hang in my dad's office," Taylor said. "He worked for the government. He took it with him every time we moved to another country."
"Very interesting," Mr. Wallace commented, happy to have her talking.
"It normally hangs on the wall in my sister's and my room. But my uncle let me bring it into school today. My nanny helped me fold it so I could carry it in my backpack."
* * *
"So she took the flag to school today?" Monique asked.
"Yeah," Jefferson replied. "She took it for show-and-tell."
"Good for her."
They were having lunch at La Bonbonniere, a diner on 8th Avenue. Monique was on the verge of peppering Jefferson with questions about his weekend, something he had managed to avoid for the past few days since his return.
"So is this going somewhere serious?" Monique asked with a sly grin. "With Linda, I mean."
"Yeah," Jefferson admitted. "I think it is."
"I'm glad. How good was the sex?"
"There's no way you're getting that out of me."
Despite his firm tone, Jefferson's smile gave him away.
"Then I guess I'll just have to sleep with you sometime to know how good you are," Monique remarked.
Surprised, Jefferson raised an eyebrow.
"I'm not that curious," Monique added.
* * *
Linda was loading some plates into the dishwasher as she hummed along to the radio. She knew she would have to pick up the kids from school soon, giving her a chance to see Jefferson, even if she couldn't act on her desires right then. She hoped they could share their secret with all their kids soon so they wouldn't have to keep on sneaking around.
The doorbell rang. Linda put the last plate in the dishwasher and started up the machine before going to answer it. She was somewhat surprised to see Grant Hawkins standing on her front steps.
"Hey Grant," she said, giving him a smile. "What's up?"
She noticed he looked distressed about something.
"Is everything okay?" she asked.
"Yes ... no ..." Grant said. "Can we talk?"
His eyes seemed to be pleading with her and Linda could tell this was serious.
"Sure," she said, stepping aside. "Come on in."
* * *
Jefferson was in his office, updating some grades, when Paula Franks came in without knocking.
"I heard your nieces were here not too long ago," the woman remarked.
"They were," Jefferson admitted.
"I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to meet them. I've been so busy lately with preparing for my last final exams."
"Good for you," Jefferson said. In truth, he was relieved when Abigail's and Taylor's visit to the law school had ended without them running into Paula Franks.
"Well let me know if they're ever here again," Paula Franks said. "I would love to meet them."
She was already on her way out again.
"Will do," Jefferson muttered under his breath, happy to see her leave.
* * *
The phone rang and Jefferson wearily opened his eyes to answer it. He had no clue about what time it was.
"Hello?" he asked in a groggy voice.
"Jefferson," Linda said. "Can we talk?"
"It's two in the morning," Jefferson said, finally checking the clock on his nightstand. "Is everything all right?"
Linda didn't say anything.
"This better not be some booty call," Jefferson said, half-joking.
Linda didn't laugh.
"I'm downstairs at your door," she said. "Could you let me in please."
Jefferson realized she did not sound tired.
"Sure," he said. "I'll be right down."
He hung up and went downstairs to find Linda was indeed standing at his front door, her cell phone still pressed to her ear.
"Sorry," she said. "I thought about ringing the doorbell but I didn't want to wake your nanny or the kids ..."
Her voice trailed off as she finally put the phone away.
"And me?" Jefferson asked, half-joking again. But he could tell Linda was not in the mood. He led her over to the couch and encouraged her to sit down. She did so, looking at him with tear-filled eyes.
"Please sit down," she said. "If it can be, it might be easier for me."
At this point, Jefferson hoped Anya was still asleep and wouldn't hear. She had never said anything about noise during the night before, but then again, Linda was never in his den this late at night before.
"Sure," he said, deciding to just risk it, and sat next to her on the couch. "What's up?"
Shifting away from him, Linda hesitated and swallowed.
"Grant came by today," she said.
"Your ex?" Jefferson asked.
"Yeah. He came over while the kids were still in school. He wanted to talk. He was very distraught."
"And what did he want to talk about?" Jefferson asked, not sure if he wanted to know.
"He just began blubbering. He was saying that ending our marriage had been a mistake, how he still loved me, how he missed us all being a family, and how he wanted us to move out to Saint Louis with him."
Jefferson hadn't been sure what part of her narrative to process first. Somehow, St. Louis won.
"Yes," Linda continued. "He was practically crying. I comforted him and we just began talking about what went wrong between us. It got to the point where I had to stop and call a neighbor to ask them to go and pick up Jessica and David from school and watch them for the afternoon. Grant and I just kept talking. He promised to cut back on his work and be there for us more. All these old feelings we had for each other started spilling out again and we wound up making love in my bedroom."
Jefferson definitely did not want to hear about this.
"Does Grant know about me?" he asked.
Linda nodded as she began to cry.
"I ... told him ... all ... about us," she said.
"And?" Jefferson queried. "What are you going to do?"
Linda took a deep, shuddering breath.
"Jefferson," she said, "these past six weeks have been great. Honestly, I believed you and I had something. But I'm gonna go back to Grant. I wanna give our marriage another try. I'm sorry."
Jefferson was stunned. He had most certainly not wanted to hear this.
"So that's it?" he asked. "You're just throwing us away?
"I'm sorry," Linda said. "I still love Grant."
"You left him," Jefferson said incredulously. "What's to stop history from repeating itself?"
"I don't know. But it might just work this time. I have to try."
"Linda, I'm not going to hang around and wait to see if it does or doesn't."
Linda nodded, making a noise which suggested affirmation.
"You have to choose ..." Jefferson insisted. "Him or me?"
Linda hung her head.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I believed that we had something but ... he's my husband."
* * *
"Morning," Eric said happily, though his mood faltered when he saw how haggard Jefferson looked as he was making his way down the hallway to his office, Presley taking cautious steps as her handler's body swayed left and right.
"What happened to you?" he asked, concerned. Jefferson looked both upset and hung over.
"Linda came over last night," Jefferson explained.
"And ..." Eric inquired, but he was unable to come up with a sarcastic remark.
"She left me. She's going back to her ex-husband."
"Oh man," Eric said, all attempts at humor gone now. "I'm sorry. You okay?"
"I'll be all right," Jefferson said, having trouble convincing even himself.
"You seem more upset about this break-up than the one with Nancy."
Jefferson would not disagree with this observation.
"I probably loved Linda more than I ever loved Nancy," he admitted.
"That's saying something," Eric said. "You gonna be okay to teach today?"
"That's the least of my worries."
Eric's eyes widened.
"What else could be on your mind?" he asked, bewildered.
"Gloria Lawson came by early this morning," Jefferson explained. "She wanted to observe how I got the kids ready for school and day care."
"And with you being half-drunk, half-hung over, and completely exhausted, that could not have gone well," he remarked.
"Let's just say we all survived," Jefferson said with a tone of relief. "I think she was glad to see me get rid of them. I managed to get rid of her near the day care center. Thank God Anya was there."
"Tell me the kids are wearing clothes."
"They are. Like I said ... we survived ... and we had Anya."
As it turned out, Anya had heard nothing the night before and was as surprised to find Jefferson in a similar state as Eric's discovery. She heard him out and was sympathetic, helping him get the kids ready for school and even offering to take them herself. Jefferson declined that part, saying he needed to get out of the house anyway. Plus, Gloria Lawson arrived before they could settle that matter.
"So what are you going to do now?" Eric asked.
"I'm gonna go catch a few minutes' sleep in my office," Jefferson said. "Then I'll grab some coffee, teach, and just wait for today to end."
"That's as good a plan as any," Eric said. "Take a few more minutes and I'll have the coffee waiting outside your door."
Jefferson continued down the hallway to his office.
"And don't worry about Linda," Eric said as he walked with his friend. "I figure she's not the one for you. You'll find someone else. You've bounced back before."
"Yeah," Jefferson said.
"There's always your nanny. I mean, you know how people think of her. 'Bombshell' is an understatement. You could have a beautiful Russian lady on your arm."
Jefferson smiled slightly at this, but only to humor his friend.
"And I could loan you Amy if you ever need pity sex," Eric cracked.
Jefferson didn't smile at this.
|The book continues with Chapter 25. 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.
Linda Carrows: mother of children at Abigail and Taylor's school.
Joan: Monique's nurse.
Eric Nelson: Jefferson's colleague and best friend
Amy Nelson: Eric's wife and Jefferson's friend
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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