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| Category: || General Fiction |
Posted:|| September 25, 2020 Views: 20|
Chapter 27 of the book Par Angusta Ad Augusta
Jefferson and Monique's first real date.
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 pursuing a relationship with Jefferson.
"Uncle Jeff!" Taylor called. "Abigail tied my shoes together!"
Jefferson sighed and went to see what was going on. He didn't doubt that Abigail had tied Taylor's shoes together, but he wondered why. He was sure it had something to do with the fact she recently started learning how to tie shoes and seemed to like practicing. Taylor was learning this skill as well but she wasn't as obsessed with it.
Jefferson found the girls in their room, where Taylor was already trying to undo the knot Abigail had created. After making Abigail sit in a corner of the room for a while as punishment for what she did, he set to work on helping her.
As he untangled the shoelaces, Jefferson soon had to put Taylor in another corner after the girls began squabbling in a mixture of English and what he guessed to be very sloppy Russian. He was finally able to separate the shoes but kept the girls in their corners for another few minutes. He eventually released them and then headed back up to his office.
"Sure hope Matthew doesn't pick up this stuff," he said to himself, his even bigger fear being what the twins could be like as teenagers. They were definitely very comfortable around him by now. And what if they got better at speaking Russian. He'd have to get lessons from Anya to keep up.
* * *
"No," Monique said in the firmest tone she could muster. "No little black dress. There's a very good reason why I don't own one."
If she had to wear a dress, she preferred something that went past her knees as that presented less of a chance of giving someone a show.
"Come on," Joan said. "You wanna look good. You really seem to like this guy."
"That doesn't mean I wanna wear something that suggests I'm ready to hop in the sack tonight," Monique defended.
"All right then. How about a dress you actually own?"
* * *
Jefferson bid the kids a good night, leaving them in Anya's care, and headed out to meet his Uber. Sure, it cost him more, but Anya was happy to work overtime, adding Virginia was also working late.
They'd chosen AmÃ©lie, a French restaurant in SOHO. When Jefferson arrived, the hostess reported his table was ready and that the woman he was there to meet had already been seated.
Sure enough, Monique was there, wearing a navy blue dress, the matching jacket and purse draped over the back of her wheelchair.
Jefferson wasn't that surprised none of the staff had commented on Monique's appearance. She was in a wheelchair and, rather than risk getting themselves in trouble by saying something offensive, they simply didn't make any comment about her. They had told Jefferson a few positive things about Linda when he went to meet her at restaurants, but Linda wasn't disabled, so they saw no risks with her.
But all this quickly left Jefferson's mind as he sat down and greeted Monique while settling Presley down. Since the restaurant couldn't find their Braille menu, it fell on Monique to read the items out loud. Given she spoke some French, she was fine with this. They soon gave their orders to a waitress and handed over the menus.
"So," Monique said, "what happens next on a date with you?"
* * *
"All right children," Anya said. "Time for bed."
"Already?" Abigail whined. She had been trying to sing along to some songs on a CD of Jefferson's she had found. Anya had barely gotten a chance to study the case to make sure the music was age-appropriate. She deemed the list of Phil Collins songs to be okay.
"Yes, it is already time," Anya told her, stopping the music. "The Same time as always. Come on now."
The kids all grudgingly obeyed and headed upstairs to wash up and put on their pajamas. Anya proceeded to straighten up a few things in the den before following them.
Neither of the twins were interested in a story, but Matthew was. Anya studied the books on the shelf in his room and selected a Curious George volume. When all three kids were asleep, she went back downstairs, where romance novel was waiting for her.
* * *
After dinner, Jefferson took Monique to the Spot Dessert Bar back in Greenwich Village. They bought ice cream and sat kitty-corner at a small outdoor table where Presley could curl up underneath as she liked to do.
"I cannot believe I've lived in this city my entire life and never heard of this place," Monique commented, using a small plastic spoon to eat her chocolate chip cookie dough. "How'd you find it?"
"A law school buddy of mine lived in this neighborhood," Jefferson replied. "He let me in on the secret."
"So now you bring all your dates to it, right?"
Monique gave her ice cream a thoughtful stare.
"I had a good time tonight," she said.
"Me too," Jefferson agreed. "And it doesn't look like any lines were crossed."
"I guess not."
Jefferson reached over, found and brushed her cheek with his fingers, and then leaned over and kissed her. Though startled at first, Monique soon found herself reciprocating.
"How about now?" Jefferson asked when he pulled away again.
"I'm not sure," Monique teased. "I might have to try one more time."
She leaned towards him as best she could, her ice cream now forgotten.
* * *
"this is my stop," Monique said as they approached the bookstore's entrance.
"That's too bad," Jefferson said. "We'll have to pick this up another time."
"Yeah," Monique agreed with a smile.
Jefferson leaned down and kissed her for the third time that night. In the back of her mind, Monique was wondering if Joan was watching from an upstairs window. She couldn't remember the last time someone walked her home.
"Good night Jefferson," she said when he pulled away.
"I'll call you," He promised. "Good night."
he walked away with Presley as Monique entered the bookstore and locked the door.
Not surprisingly, she found Joan waiting for her up in her apartment. The nurse was giving her an amused look.
"How was your date?" she asked.
"Fine," Monique said, shrugging as best as she could.
"Your smeared lipstick and ruffled hair suggests it was more than fine."
Joan's amused expression grew.
"Believe what you want," Monique retorted.
* * *
"So you went through with it?" Eric asked, trying to make the water cooler work. "You went out with Monique?"
He and Jefferson were standing in the corridor of the law school.
"Yeah," Jefferson said as Eric pounded on the cooler's plastic jug. "Is that so weird?"
"No way," Eric said, now kicking the base of the cooler. "I'm happy for you. She seems like a great catch. Why is it not coming out? I mean, I can see the water in the jug. It's definitely there."
He released a groan of frustration and smacked the jug.
Deciding to leave his friend to his quest, Jefferson headed down the corridor to his office. With final exams over, he had to finish preparing for the summer class he would be teaching, which was due to begin a couple days after the graduation ceremony. Thankfully, it was now only a matter of days before Paula Franks was out of his life.
His phone was ringing when he got into his office and he reached out to answer it. The caller turned out to be his mother, Beth Thomas.
"How is everyone?" she inquired.
"We're fine, Mom," Jefferson insisted. "The kids are all still in one piece."
"I'm sure they are. Nevertheless, your father and I want to come up to visit you and our grandchildren."
"Well, could you wait another couple of weeks? I've gotta get my summer class up and running. Then I'd have the time to see you guys."
Knowing full well his mother would now demand a date, he pulled Outlook up on his computer.
"When can you make time in your busy schedule to see your parents?" Beth asked, being as predictable as always.
"How about you guys come down on the week of June 11th," Jefferson suggested. "Things should be running smoothly by then."
He secretly hoped he could recruit them as baby-sitters so he could go out with Monique.
"All right," Beth said, giving in, "but you've got to stick to that. Your father and I can't go changing our plans at the last minute just because something came up for you."
"I won't, I promise," Jefferson said. He never did such a thing anyway, but his mother still insisted on reminding him of these kinds of manners.
* * *
"Your parents are coming down to visit, huh?" Monique commented. "Great. Maybe I could get to meet them."
"I am not sure if I'm ready to drop that bomb on myself or you," Jefferson replied.
Though they were admittedly involved in a relationship, which now consisted of three dates, they didn't give up meeting up for lunch whenever they got the chance. It was simply another excuse to see each other.
"My mother will interrogate you to no end, and my father was the police detective in the family," Jefferson continued. "He will just go on and on about his days on the force to any adult who hasn't heard them a hundred times before. And he will then go on and on about IronDog. I guarantee you that your ears will bleed."
"All right," Monique said, giving in. "I'll wait. When you're ready to let me meet them, that'll be it."
"Maybe I'll first do something about those steps in front of my house."
"One thing at a time then," Monique agreed, dipping a cracker into her soup.
* * *
The kids were more enthusiastic about having grandma and grandpa come to visit, though it was still three weeks away. Jefferson was sure they knew all about what it meant to be spoiled by now and expected nothing less from his parents.
Anya was somewhat interested but stated it was none of her business. Jefferson told her his parents could help out with the kids while they were there so she could take some extra time off. She said she would consider the offer and thanked him.
* * *
Amy took a deep breath and rang the doorbell. She waited as Jefferson came to answer it.
"Hey," she said. "Eric mentioned you had some movies you wanted to put Braille labels on. I was in the neighborhood and I've got some time, so I thought I'd come by and offer to help."
"Oh, yeah, sure," Jefferson said, having not expected her. "Come on in."
He'd been working on the syllabus for his summer class, but he could afford to take a break from that.
"The kids have been asking about them for a few weeks now," he explained. "I just wanna know what I'd be getting myself into."
He left out the fact he wasn't entirely comfortable about asking Anya for help with this matter. Though she knew the basics, the subject of his deceased family members didn't come up with her.
"I understand," Amy said.
"I keep them upstairs in my office," Jefferson told her, leading the way up the stairs.
Amy hesitated before following, passing Anya, who was carrying a laundry basket.
They reached the third floor and Amy stopped dead in her tracks.
"Everything okay?" Jefferson asked.
"Oh ... Oh, yeah," Amy said. "Just a second."
She took a deep breath and quickly walked past the door to his bedroom and into his office.
Jefferson pulled the dozen or so DVD cases out of the drawer and piled them on his desk. Amy sat in the chair while he went to retrieve his Braille label maker. He pulled over the spare chair for himself and they set to work.
"'Kids' First Steps'," Amy read, studying the cases. "'1st Birthdays'. Looks like they filmed the events for each of the kids and put them together on one disc."
"Guess so," Jefferson agreed as he began making a label for the first DVD. "My brother was always good at those things."
They discovered the same thing had been done for vacations and holidays.
"Who films Thanksgiving?" Amy queried.
"Only Stanley," Jefferson remarked, making another label.
The task was completed in twenty minutes.
"You miss them, don't you," Amy observed as Jefferson put the DVDs back into their drawer.
Jefferson looked at her for a long moment.
"Yeah," he admitted. "Yeah, I do."
"Look," Amy said. "the only experience I've got with this is when my grandfather passed away a couple years ago. It'll get easier with time. That's all I can really tell you."
"And watch some of these home movies," Amy advised, tapping the closed drawer with her foot. "It might help."
Jefferson nodded and they both rose from their seats.
"Hey?" he asked. "Are we okay?"
Amy seemed startled by this question and stayed silent for a moment.
"I'm not sure," she admitted. "What we did ... I'm ... it's complicated ..."
"Do you want to tell Eric?" Jefferson asked.
"I don't know. I mean, he's my husband. We have a family. But this would kill him ... I mean, this would literally kill him. I just don't know."
"He's my friend," he said. "My best friend. I feel like I've stabbed him in the back."
"I have to go," Amy said. "I've got some things I need to get done."
She darted out of the office before Jefferson could say anything else..
"Thanks for your help," Jefferson said anyway, listening to her bounding down the stairs as fast as she could.
|The book continues with Chapter 28. 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.
Joan: Monique's nurse.
Eric Nelson: Jefferson's colleague and best friend
Amy Nelson: Eric's wife and Jefferson's friend
Paula Franks: a NYU law student who is interested in Jefferson.
Beth and William Thomas: Jefferson and Stanley's parents. Abigail, Taylor, and Matthew's grandparents.
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.
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