MORE OF SOMETHING MORE,
a story about a salesman trying to establish himself,
a CEO scheming to buy out his father's influenceand the woman important to each
Helen Roy sat gazing at dusk through the panoramic windows while waiting on Stephen. He stopped off at home and was someplace in the city whose lights were flickering on, a view she had appreciated when starting work there. Then when she moved in --and tried to hide the fact-- she stayed mostly in the bedroom. Now that he knew and seemed all right with it, she spent lots of time looking out. No longer did she go to auditions, the gym, or meet friends. The condo had become her refuge, Stephen her benefactor, investor parties her society and window gazing an occupation.
The condo was hers in a way, for having planned the redecoration and she was content amid her creation: stark black-and-white color scheme; leather armchairs of opposing colors with corresponding banquettes and stools; aquarium angelfish her allies now, and the painting of a peaceful beach under threat of a wave.
Hearing Stephen at the door, she scrambled to meet him and display her tight yellow dress with V-neckline and silky white hose. Her auburn hair was tugged back into a squirrel tail exposing golden oval earrings. A lightly powdered face, carmine red lipstick, and seductive jasmine scent completed her presentation.
Though his jaw remained set within an angular face, his eyes softened which was encouragement enough. Eyebrows arching with delight, she reached up to peck his cheek then pull him into the front and the black leather armchair. She rushed to bring his drink, ice cubes chiming in the glass a contrast to his silence. Attired in gray suit and red tie, he stared straight ahead at everything and at nothing.
She sat by his knees, and he stroked her cheek with his right hand. “That damn woman. She doesn’t even want to go, I can tell, but he puts her up to it. I can hear him saying, ‘When I was CEO my wife was beside me.’ She’ll be at the wedding, but I want you at my side.” He lifted her face and looked her in the eyes. “You represent the company: fresh, sleek, agile.”
She rocked back on her heels. “She’ll know, and hate me.”
“She knows what I want her to know. This is business and you’re my assistant.”
“Your father will hate me, and your mother, and everybody else. What won’t they think?” Her voice trailed away, and then she jumped up. “Let’s have a reception here! I can stay and prepare like I always do.”
He shook his head. “The mansion’s huge and overlooks a lawn that goes down to the ocean. It has two wings: one designated for investors, the other for everyone else. The ceremony takes place outside and the reception’s split, outside and in. Before the priest conducts the wedding, I’ll approve the union with a speech. They’ll see I command on a grand scale and that he’s irrelevant. You’ll be near me for the ceremony, and then spend the rest of the time with the investors. Don’t worry about anyone else.”
She paced to the window, then spun around, head lowered and hands at her sides. “I won’t damage something whole.”
He approached and took her hands. “We’re building something. Slade is on the verge of greatness and soon, very soon, we’re going to make the investors very happy.”
“You set a date!”
A grin etched his lips. “Soon. No one else needs to know. My advisers are getting ready.”
“After the launch, our work is done.”
“Only just beginning. Value shouldn’t vanish. We need to build on this and grow.”
She pulled away to sit on the banquette beneath the painting and spoke slowly, as if trying to maintain her balance. “I’m afraid of going out, and afraid that if I don’t… I’ll fade away. I always thought that afterwards I could restore meaning to my life.”
“You’re meaningful here.”
“You want me here, even after?”
“Even after.”The next chapter will be posted by October 25..
He pointed to the painting. “I accept that because I see myself as that rising wave ready to slam onshore and wash the old out to sea. Then the new can thrive. You represent the new.”
“Outside, maybe I can feel again.”
His eyes flashed. “What’s this then?” He gestured, indicating the condo, them and all. “It’s that salesman, isn’t it?”
“Admit it! No? I forbid you to have anything to do with him.”
His anger rebuked her and, as if resetting a slipped mask, Helen endeavored to please. She stroked his arms to calm him, reinforced his thoughts by nodding assent, shielded his emotions with hugs and agreed that the course he charted was best; the while, her shadow mind contrived how to proceed, knowledge of the impending IPO having demarked an end to a stage of her life when she could leave guilt-free and confront or outdistance whatever threat was out there.
The characters and events in this story are fictitious and do not represent any living person or real event.