General Fiction posted September 20, 2020 Chapters:  ...17 18 -19- 20... 

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Monique has a difficult date.

A chapter in the book Par Angusta Ad Augusta

Chapter 19

by teols2016

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 runs her family's business while recovering from a recent robbery.

As Monique ate breakfast, the phone in the kitchen rang. Joan answered it. After briefly speaking with the caller, she looked over at Monique.

"It's for you," she reported. "A Mr. Brad Myers."

Monique nodded and Joan held the phone to her ear so she could speak.

"Hey," Brad said. "How are you doing?"

"I'm good," Monique replied.

"That's good. Listen, I was just wondering if you'd maybe like to get some dinner this Thursday night. There's this great seafood restaurant that's completely wheelchair accessible. Osteria 57 ... it's on West 57th. Would you be interested?"

"Sure," Monique said, deciding to give him another chance despite the fact he seemed to be a little too focused on her disability. After all, he called her, which put him far ahead of many men she'd encountered.

They took a minute to finalize the arrangements before Monique signaled for Joan to hang up.

"Anything I should know?" the nurse asked.

"Yeah," Monique said. "I need you to come see me twice this Thursday evening."

* * *

Jefferson entered his office and found a message from Paula Franks on his voice mail. Hearing it made him be thankful that, unlike some of his colleagues, he did not give his cell phone number to his students. With such information, Paula Franks would probably never leave him alone.

Paula Franks' message was straight-forward. Since he only had office hours that morning and no classes, she wanted to have a long lunch with him. Jefferson deleted the message and leaned back in his chair.

Jefferson did not think of himself as the poster boy for scruples, but he liked to think he had some. So, apart from the fact he'd definitely be fired if he were caught, he did not date his students, past or present, seeing such an action as inappropriate. Paula Franks was unwilling to accept that, so it had come to the point where she continued to persist and he continued to blow off her advances. True, she was an intelligent and attractive woman, if Eric's description of her was accurate, and if she weren't a student and he didn't know how absolutely persnickety she was, he would definitely consider dating her. Jefferson chuckled at this thought. It was like needing to prove all of a law's elements in order to apply it in a case.

Jefferson was sure the woman would stop by later to see if he got her message. Thankfully, he actually had other plans for later that day, so he could easily play that card if his usual refusals didn't work. If he was really lucky, he wouldn't be there when she came around.

* * *

"Hey orphans!" a boy called.

Abigail and Taylor, both having heard this line before, ignored it and continued with their game. A few of the girls they were playing with looked up, but seeing no reaction from the twins, didn't do any more. The boy, seeing his best attempt wasn't working, gave up and walked away as recess continued.

* * *

Monique was on her computer, reviewing an order she was making with a publisher. She double-checked the store's inventory records and then finalized the purchase.

As she was reading the publisher's confirmation e-mail, someone knocked on her door. She called for the person to enter, thinking it was either Kathy, Frank, or Samuel. She was not expecting to see Jefferson Thomas walking in with Presley by his side.

"Can I help you?" she asked suspiciously. "The books are out there."

"Can we talk?" Jefferson asked.

"About what?"


He seemed genuine, so Monique gave in.

"Pull up a chair," she instructed. "It's right in front of you. And shut the door."

Jefferson did so.

"What's up?" Monique queried, not in the mood for a drawn-out conversation.

"I want to apologize," Jefferson said. "The other night ... I was out of line. I shouldn't have been so rough with Taylor ... and I shouldn't have rejected your attempts to help. I'm sorry."

Monique had definitely not seen this coming. For a few moments, she was speechless.

"Okay," she finally said. "I guess I have to apologize as well."

"For what?" Jefferson queried.

"I just wanted to help. I don't know ... when I first met you and then learned your story, I thought you were doing so well ... and I didn't want to see it fall apart. I butted in too much. I'm sorry."

"That's okay."

"How's Taylor doing?"

"She's good. She understands what she did was wrong and she's sorry. Grounding her for a few days did help."

Monique said nothing, waiting to see if there was more.

"She told me about Career Day," Jefferson added. "She said she wasn't sure if she wanted me to come. So you were right about me needing to listen."

"What are you gonna do?" Monique asked.

"I figure I'll wait to see if she makes up her mind. I'll sign myself up with her teacher and I can simply take myself off if she doesn't want me there. I'm going to Abigail's class that day anyway, so I'll be in the neighborhood regardless."

"That's good. Are you okay?"

"I guess," Jefferson said, taking a deep breath. "I guess I'm still getting used to playing the parent role as much as they're getting used to having me in it."

"The other two seem to be okay."

"I figure they just adjust faster."

Monique nodded.

"I hope you guys all come back soon," she said.

"Thanks," Jefferson said. "I'd better get going."

Monique nodded as he got up and headed to the door. He stopped with his hand on the handle and looked back at her.

"Hey," he said, "you would say we're friends, would you?

"I suppose," Monique admitted. They'd chatted often enough when he and the kids came to the bookstore and the topics were sometimes about more than just books.

"Then how come we've never hung out outside of this place or our random meetings on the street?" Jefferson asked.

"I don't know," Monique replied with the best shrug she could manage. "I guess we should though."

"Yeah. How about we do lunch sometime?"

"Sure. We could work something out."

Jefferson nodded, bid her a good day, and left. He'd left the door open and Monique stared through the doorway long after he'd disappeared.

* * *

That Thursday evening, after making sure the front door was locked, Monique bid Joan farewell and moved her wheelchair up into the ramp in too the accessible taxi. The driver secured the chair and then rejoined the traffic, executing pretty smooth maneuvers.

The drive over to Osteria 57 took about fifteen minutes. Brad Myers was waiting by the front doors, which he immediately held open for Monique when she arrived.

"You look nice," he said as they waited for their table.

"Thank you," Monique said with a smile. It was nice to hear a complement from him that didn't involve her disability.

A waitress came by in just a couple of minutes to let them know their table was ready. Brad offered to push her wheelchair, an offer Monique politely declined. She also ignored the people staring at her as they were escorted through the dining area. Rather than try to hand Monique the menu, the waitress simply put it down on the table in front of her and left it at that.

"You want me to read you this?" Brad asked, picking up his own menu.

"No," Monique said. "I've got it."

Managing to keep control of her arms, she began scanning the menu. She knew it would not play in her favor if her arms suddenly decided to spasm and go off on their own accord now. Brad was already seeing her like a fragile china doll. He didn't seem to remember her successfully reading the menu and ordering her own lunch at the Sweet Life Cafe.

"That's pretty cool," he commented, watching her read the menu.

Monique ignored him as she tried to decide between the tilapia and the swordfish.

The waitress was soon back to take their drink orders, at which point Monique had her take the plastic tumbler off her wheelchair to fill with the wine she ordered. Thankfully, this woman took only a few seconds to get it and was soon gone again.

"So you said you were a quadriplegic, right?" Brad asked.

"I am," Monique said, not bothered by talking about it but nonetheless wondering how it had suddenly come up.

"But you can move your arms. I thought that wasn't possible."

"Quadriplegia is defined by the location on the spine that's effected, not by what you can still move," Monique clarified, seeing this misconception quite often. "I'm what's called a C6 quadriplegic and I'm blessed I still have the use of my arms."

"So what's the difference between you and a paraplegic?"

"The location on my spine where the injury effected it. If it was just a few vertebrae further down, I'd be considered a paraplegic,"

Brad nodded. Monique was sure he had done a little research to learn the very basics, but he had only done the basic research. But she wouldn't hold that against him. After all, it was more than some of the other guys she had gone out with. She supposed that, maybe, this was actually a second date.

Their drinks soon arrived with the waitress reattaching the tumbler and inserting the straw as Monique instructed. They then gave her their dinner orders and she was gone again.

"I'm guessing a toast is out of the question," Monique said, nodding to the tumbler now situated over her shoulder, secured to the wheelchair and immovable.

Brad hesitated and then laughed slightly, realizing she was joking.

* * *

The phone rang and Jefferson got up to answer it. The caller turned out to be Linda, who wanted to chat since all the kids were asleep.

"About what?" Jefferson queried.

"About where you wanna go for dinner this Saturday night," Linda said. "And if you want dessert at my house afterwards."

They had planned to go out again that coming Saturday night, so the first half of that statement came as no surprise to Jefferson. The second half surprised him and he dared to consider the possibilities.

"There's a good Thai place not far away," he said. "Galanga. As for dessert, I'd still have to be home by eleven to relieve the baby-sitter."

He figured he would not interfere with Anya's evenings yet. He still had no clue where she went so often every week.

"That sounds good," Linda said. "Though I must say I don't think I've ever gotten the baby-sitter excuse from a man when I've offered sex."

"Oh, was that what you were offering?" Jefferson retorted, relieved to hear his assumptions being affirmed. "Well, it's the truth."

"I know. But hear this ... one day soon, I'm going to fulfill that craving I know you have."

"I look forward to that."

* * *

Joan was already waiting in the apartment when Monique came out of the elevator. Since she had eaten, they proceeded straight to her bedroom, where Joan helped her get undressed.

"So how was it?" the nurse asked.

"All right," Monique said. "He is still having trouble looking past the fact I'm in this chair. He didn't even try to kiss me good-night ... he didn't try anything for that matter."

"Maybe he's a gentleman."

"No, there are gentlemen, and then there's guys like him. He practically wants to keep me sterile."

"Give it time."

Monique sighed.

"I guess so," she agreed. "I mean, he's stuck around this long. That's saying something."

But the reality was that she wanted someone who did more than just stick around. While she wasn't looking for the childish passion she had in college, she wanted some sort of intimacy. She was a woman after all. She wasn't sterile.

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.

Paula Franks: a NYU law student who is interested in Jefferson.

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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