Delaney Robinson emerged childless from five years of marriage, rather wealthy and no longer lived a trapped victim of drunken and bad-tempered verbal abuse. She felt no worse than when she'd flunked college.
Checking that the money had been released into her account, she transferred it to her new bank. Well that was only sensible because her old bank had also been Jerry's bank. She had thought several times about putting a bullet into his head but backed off each time, thinking of the complications and really it was up to the next woman he decided to marry to have read the signs that he hid obnoxious traits behind his perfect smile.
The 30-year old great-looking brunette gave up her rented apartment next day as arranged and went to New York to settle. Jerry hated big cities and she believed that would make her feel safe from the fat-ass property developer in Venice Beach, Florida.
Two days later she settled into a furnished apartment and began buying things to give the two-bedroom unit with views of the Hudson some personalized touches. She'd purchased a serene oil painting of a stream running through woods and a black bear attempting to fish. She'd paid four thousand bucks when the price tag stated $5900 and wondered if she'd still been ripped off.
Delaney, who'd worked as an office manager for eight years, soon felt she'd regained her life. She loved the shopping and was beginning to get the feel of the big city and did the touristy things. When the excitement of shopping and sightseeing retreated, she decided to register at a recruitment agency and was quite shocked when the interviewer said she had no chance of being recruited in office management because she had no formal qualifications.
"Doesn't experience count?" she asked the frosty-faced woman.
"Of course it does, along with academic qualifications. You may leave now."
The bitch at the second agency was even ruder woman offered to find Delaney clerical work.
The furious Delaney stalked out and went to a bar and after slowly downing two Martinis, headed home with slightly flushed cheeks and thinking no academic qualifications eh? Well she'd show those snooty women.
Er yes, she'd have to think about that, Delaney sighed and concentrated on window shopping instead.
She reached her apartment and found a note taped to her door.
'Hi I'm Cheryl. Please call.'
Who the hell was Cheryl? Delaney ripped the note off the door and inside her apartment she sat with a brandy and sulked.
An hour later she went to the door when the buzzer sounded.
Omigod she had a caller, in New York, where she knew no one!
An attractive, older woman smiled and said, "Hi, I'm Cheryl Cassidy who lives in the apartment beside you to your right. Joe and I have never heard or seen you and thought we ought to be neighborly. I taped a message to your door but silly me I remembered I'd not added my phone number to the message."
"That's all right, come in and be neighborly Mrs Cassidy."
"Thanks and please call me Cheryl."
"I'm Delaney Dee," Delaney said, using her maiden name for the first time. "I'm a recent divorcee."
"Well aren't we all darling? I married Joe on the rebound for both of us eighteen months ago."
Cheryl walked in and looked around and said Delaney had the room looking very nice. She looked at the painting. "Omigod, is that a Catherine J. Taylor?"
"Yes," Delaney said in surprise.
"I'm an art dealer darling and am aware of our best emerging artists. May I ask how much you paid for it?"
The reply was four grand.
"Omigod, did you steal it?" she said, walking right up to it and checking the signature before looking at the painting. "Market price here in New York would be around $6000. Are you sure this is not hot property?"
"I have no idea. I purchased it late last week and they had it delivered."
"Well that sounds reputable because they were leaving a footprint by doing that. Is the gallery still there?"
"I have no idea."
"Well darling will you come to apartment 3106 at 6:00 this evening and later dine out with us as our guests, dressing semi-formal?"
"I'd love that, God I wasn't expecting people in New York to be so hospitable. Scarcely anyone talks to me."
"Well tart up your clothing a bit darling and wear more make-up and you'll have men wanting to do more that converse with you. Delaney you are enormously attractive."
Delaney let Cheryl to the door, not knowing what to say, other than she appreciated the hand of friendship.
Joe was a bit younger than Cheryl, probably in his mid-forties. His manner was friendly and open and he appealed to Delaney.
"What do you do Delaney?" Joe asked.
"I'm here from Florida to resettle after my very recent divorce. I had worked as an office manager for eight years prior to the divorce."
He said she ought to have no trouble finding good employment providing she had good references and the required qualifications.
But it didn't turn out like that.
A week later when one of Joe's friends told Delaney when they were attending a cocktail party at the gallery that his great-aunt was looking for a chauffeuse, Delaney must have looked blank because Ted said, "A female chauffeur. My great-aunt is blind in one eye and anyway can't drive."
Delaney had never heard of an American-born adult who couldn't drive although she didn't know too much about the poor, and said she could be interested.
Ted called his great-aunt and gave Delaney the address for an appointment next day at 3:00.
"Um my great-aunt is a bit eccentric and untrusting. You'll need to have good references including one from a bank and from your attorney."
The address led Delaney to a grand old three-level brick residence in the heart of West Village. She would find later the property was 24 ft. wide and 100 ft. deep with a small garden with a larger flowering cherry tree. It had nine rooms (five of them bedrooms) with an elevator installed ten years ago linking the first floor to the ground floor and basement garage/workshop. Rooms on the third level had been closed for years).
She pushed the brass doorbell and heard chimes within.
"Stand a little bit back dear so I can see you on the TV monitor," said a woman's shaky voice.
Delaney did that and a buzzer sounded and the door opened. She went in and closed the door and found the living room where Mrs Clyde-Young was seated.
"Good afternoon ma'am."
"Good afternoon Delaney, call me Kitty. Please sit. Ah here's coffee."
Coffee was delivered by a plump and pretty maid dressed in black and white who smiled discreetly at Delaney. Very professional, Delaney thought.
"How many motor accidents have you been involved in Delaney?"
"Can you prove that?"
"You may call my insurance company. I have been with the same company since my parents bought me my first car twelve years ago for my eighteenth birthday."
"So you are thirty?"
Delaney just smiled.
Kitty asked to hand across her CV.
"I only have personal references and my work record for the past eight years and references from my previous employer."
"Hmmm. Edward would have told you I'd want a reference from your bank and your attorney."
"Yes he did."
"I've never asked a bank or an attorney for a reference and am not about to start now."
Kitty read only the reference from the CEO of Delaney's last employee.
"Hmmm. Do you know you way around Manhattan?"
"Don't you see that as a problem in seeking a job as a chauffeur?"
"Not with global positioning technology installed in the vehicle, no."
"Well Delaney, you dress well, look healthy and attractive and appear to be very intelligent and you say you are an accident-free driver. I would have hired you but you failed to bring those references I required."
"Well thank you for the opportunity to interview Kitty. While I finish my coffee could you tell me about this house? It just screams of history and appears from this room and the entrance to have immense character."
The chatted for another twenty minutes and Kitty found Delaney had been married until recently.
Delaney stood. "Well I was lovely meeting you Kitty. Thank you for the opportunity. I'll find my own way out."
Kitty allowed Delaney to begin walking away before calling, "Oh dear please take this money to cover the inconvenience I've caused you."
"Oh no thank you Kitty, I failed to win the job because I didn't measure up to your requirements. You are not culpable."
"But you walked here and came with hopeful expectations."
"Yes but I loved coming into this house. I enjoyed talking with you and I had nothing else to do today. Bye Kitty."
"Come and sit down Delaney. You are hired. I now feel I can trust you and believe you are not greedy."
"My marriage settlement left me with almost $3 million cash Kitty," she smiled. "I have no reason to be greedy."
They talked job conditions and Delaney was told there was a choice of two cars "a wide one and one not so wide".
She was told to take the elevator and make her choice. Kitty would prefer the choice to be permanent because she'd then instruct the man who came regularly to service the vehicle being used.
Delany came back eyes shining and before she could speak Kitty said, "I thought you would pick that one. It's my pet. The last few chauffeurs chose the much newer Mercedes.
Delaney had chosen, perhaps unwisely, the much wider and longer vehicle, a real American luxury limo from yesteryear, a black 1970 Cadillac Eldorado. Beside it was parked a VW Beetle used presumable by the cook or maid for the household shopping trips.
"I'll get the auto technician in to instruct you on that classic vehicle that was the joy of my late husband's life until his death in 1980.
God he died before she was born, Delaney thought and while she was thinking Kitty said she was eighty-three and had been much younger than her husband.
* * *
The sight of the classic black 1970 limo driven by a young female chauffeur who always dressed in white and wore a black red-banded chauffeur's cap became a familiar sight around Manhattan over the next eighteen months, taking Kitty to afternoon teas and occasionally to night functions and it was also seen on Long Island on a journey to visit Kitty's second youngest sister who lived in East Hampton. Delaney would take Kitty to Boston every other month on reciprocal visits to her youngest sister.
As 'Mac the Mechanic' had said when originally assisting Delaney to drive the big car, most drivers and especially the young guys in car gave the limo extra distance to keep clear because of their respect for classic American autos.
That suited Delaney fine.
Alas, eighteen months after Delaney began working as the chauffeur, Kitty died in her sleep. Delaney and other staff were paid off by an attorney. To Delaney's delight the estate sold the car to an auto museum.
Delaney regularly ate out with the Cassidy's from the apartment next to her and when she told them her job had ended, Joe asked over dinner, "What now?"
"I have no idea but I intend staying on here. I have enough money from my marriage settlement to never have to work again but I like working."
"Go on Joe," Cheryl said.
Joe sipped his red wine and then said importantly, "My sister is Cassandra Cassidy who anchors the 9:00 to noon very popular TV show."
"Oh right, I watch that sometimes. She presents a real potpourri.
Cheryl said, "A real miscellany of items Joe."
"Oh yeah. We'll she'd looking for a compatible assistant and is trouble finding one. Her present assistant is very pregnant."
"Um not by..."
Delaney managed to clamp her mouth shut in time before saying Cassandra as a joke but Cheryl cackled away until Joe asked her what had sent her off.
"Oh nothing Joe. It must be the wine," Cheryl said, saving Delaney's butt.
"Well do you wish to be interviewed or not?"
"Yeah why not?"
Joe frowned. "You might be a little more appreciative. When I said you weren't a graduate she lost interest until I said she better interview you because she might be very surprised."
"Oh Joe darling, how sweet of you," Delaney said, moving in and kissing him and he pushed her away and said, "Get out of here."
"In that context that means leave him alone you sexy witch," Cheryl said dryly but obviously very amused by their antics.
Resuming her seat, Delaney said, "You two have become more than neighbors to me."
"Oooh then shall we have a baby," Cheryl said.
The women cackled and Joe asked what on earth were they talking about and alleged they were drunk.
"Half drunk for me," Delaney declared.
"And only slightly more for me," Cheryl said and Joe said just as well for him he wasn't driving.
"But we don't have a car."
"Oh yes Cheryl, quite right."
Joe's sister, Cassandra Cassidy, presenter of the TV after 9:00 morning show, 'Cassidy Today' looked up approvingly as the smartly dressed Delaney was brought to her table in the restaurant.
"Hi Delaney. So nice to meet you. Please sit."
"You may stand and kiss me if you wish?"
Cassandra wasn't flustered. She rose and kissed Delaney's cheek sweetly. The maître d' was waiting patiently to push the chair in under Delaney.
"I have watched your show occasionally and always enjoy it. You keep it going at an amazing pace."
"Why thank you."
"Joe told me to say that. He's so anxious for me to impress you."
"Why would that be dear?"
"I'd think he knows I'm likely to be right for you."
"Well it appears that prep has ruined my chances of assessing you uncontaminated."
"No, you are too astute to not have your way around this. I revealed that Joe had attempted to coach me to get across his opinion of me."
"Now who's astute? Would you care for a wine?"
"Yes please, a light alcohol red if possible."
"A very wise choice to impress the interviewer."
"Actually I was thinking it's only early afternoon."
One and a half hours later Cassandra looked at her watch and said she had to go.
"When can you start?"
"Oooh, as soon as you'd like me to start Cassandra."
"At 7:00 in the morning. We spend two hours on preparation. My research and other support people work through the day, auditioning people, double checking people due to appear are heading here on time and so on."
"Fine 7:00 is quite okay."
"I suggest you observe closely. Lucy will leave on Wednesday. She'd already two weeks over her requested job termination date but has stayed on out of loyalty."
"Well that's great and you'll get loyalty from me if I see it's a two-way street."
"My brother is right about you darling. You're no bunny."
Although a little uncertain, Delaney took that as a compliment.
There were no foul-ups, Delaney couldn't believe how many people were performing so many tasks taking the show to air and how the director and stage manager were teaming together and also taking instructions in their earphones from the producer.
The very pregnant Lucy Johnson couldn't believe Delaney had been hired when she wasn't a media graduate with emphasis on television.
"Oh then you are an Arts graduate with a major in theater?"
Lucy scratched her left arm and said, "Then did you drug Cassandra to get my position?"
"No. I suspect she believes I'm bright, charming and will be compatible... just like you I suppose."
"I can't believe this. Well come and grab a bite. This interview with the beekeeper talking about his job is schedule to run for twenty minutes because it includes film clips we got out on site. But you knew that of course, having read and memorized the schedule."
"No and what's a schedule... the stuff on today's program?"
"Oh Jesus," cried Lucy, wringing her hands.
Delaney said quietly, "Stay calm Lucy and listen to me. You don't have to tell me everything you know during the next three days. Just take it slowly and concentrate on telling me the things I need to know and do to perform credibly for Cassandra. She needs us to get this done competently and professionally."
"God you are a cool customer Delaney. Perhaps there is some hope for you."
"Is it a boy or girl?"
Lucy looked at Delaney blankly.
"The baby, do you know if it's a boy or girl?"
"Omigod you are interested in me and my baby. Um yes, it's a girl."
"Do you have a name for her yet?"
"Yes Annie after my great-grandmother. You being so calm will be a great help to Cassandra. She appears so smooth and so in control but oh boy, she panics when things begin to come unstuck."
"Thanks for that Lucy. I need to know things like that. How do you react when she loses it?"
Every chance she got over those three days Delaney pressed Lucy for more and more information. She also watched what Lucy did and asked for explanations.
"These complainants when they get abusive on the phone after a show. Are you indicating I can't tell them to fuck off and cut the call?"
"Heavens no," Lucy said, horrified, and responding to Delaney's sly provocation, began to recite the full procedures to follow.
After the show on Lucy's second day, she asked the show's stage manager Bill Hope to explain his role to her. He said could she come to his office at 3:00 when Cassandra would have left for home because he and Cassandra were about to go off to sit with the director to review the tape of the show looking for errors such as miscues and to suggest possible improvements and to run through the line-up of next day's show.
Bill Hope greeted Delaney will a big smile and pulled out a bottle of wine from his small fridge and poured two glasses. Somehow, almost an hour later, Bill was removing Delaney's panties.
"God Bill," she said, intending to tell him to move away from her but heard her voice asking was the door locked.
He didn't bother playing with her boobs. He went straight down on her and began slurping into her closely-cropped pussy. Delaney then knew why she wasn't complaining; she hadn't had sex for three months and that had been a random encounter like this. She hoped his pole wouldn't be too big.
Thankfully it was pee-wee size but big enough to give her the sensations she wanted and she finally came without requiring finger stimulation.
She had to giggle when he said he must get back to work and zipped up still wearing the condom.
"What's funny?" he demanded.
"Oh being fucked on the second day at my new job. That's a record for me. You are a pretty smooth operator Bill."
"Huh?" Bill said, looking pleased.
Delaney never had sex again with him but while she remained at the TV station they remained good friends
Lucy asked, "Where have you been?"
"I have been learning the basic of stage management from Bill Hope."
Lucy said to watch him, that Bill had a reputation for being overly friendly with his hands.
"If he tried anything on me he'd know all about it," Delaney said, sounding tough.
"Yeah I bet a knee in where it hurts from you Delaney would have Hope hopping."
After the review of the show on Wednesday, everyone gathered for a farewell party for Lucy who intend resuming work after the birth of her baby and it was settled. Delaney stuck close to Lucy during the party and three times took alcoholic drinks thrust by well-meaning people to assist Lucy who'd come close to breaking her resolve not to consume alcohol during pregnancy and until she weaned her baby.
When the hour-long event finished, Delaney accompanied Lucy to the front of the building where she said her older brother Pete would be waiting. He was and as Delaney handed Pete the canteen of cutlery he offered to drop Delaney off after taking Lucy home.
Delaney said no that was unnecessary but Lucy insisted Delaney get into the car. After a couple more drinks with Pete and Lucy's husband Leon to go with the three wines she'd had earlier, Delaney accepted Pete's offer to driver her to her apartment. Lucy had told Delaney that Pete had a girlfriend who was currently on business in Louisiana. She invited him up, thinking he'd say no, but his reply was where could he park. She directed him to her unused space in the basement and as they waited for the elevator he kissed her and in the elevator he had her dress up and his hand down the front of her pants and she was laughing. Fortunately no one got into the elevator before they left it on Delaney's floor.