Sorting Out The Smiths Ch. 03byandy_charles©
Tales From Sechs City -- welcome to Sechs City, a wealthy, middle-class costal area of Western America in the state of California. A gorgeous, quiet largely uneventful place, people move to the city to follow their dreams, to live their day-to-day lives. It's almost too perfect to be true...
The next morning Elizabeth woke early to find her curtains already drawn and a fresh pot of coffee on a tray resting on the bedside table. Wanda had obviously crept in beforehand. From the looks of it she hadn't been able to resist tidying up a bit too. The bulky history book was neatly placed by the tray at a perfect right angle, and Elizabeth's old clothes, underwear and all, were now neatly folded on the large comfy chair resting by the wide window, from where glorious sunshine flooded into the room. Even her suitcase had been shut and placed neatly upon the large dressing table opposite the bed.
Elizabeth grinned. At least there had been no way Wanda could have changed the sheets while she was tangled up asleep in them. She reached under the pillow and pulled out the large exercise book and pen. Opening it at the last page she had written on, Elizabeth studies her neat joined up writing carefully, hoping to memorise as many of the bullet point step by step plan as possible so that she wouldn't need to carry the book around with her all the time and compromise her work. Still, she knew what she had to do today would be easy to remember.
As she reached out for the tray of tea the light duvet resting on top of her grazed the nipples of her small 36B breasts. She felt a familiar exciting jolt of pleasure run through her body, the goose pimples popping up onto her skin, the warm feeling beginning to quietly grow below. It caught her off guard slightly, and she laughed once out loud in surprise before covering her mouth with her left hand whilst shifting the duvet with her right. It felt a little embarrassing that something like a light brush of a sheet could turn her on, though she was well aware of the benefits a little softness could bring.
Pouring herself a cup of the hot, strong tea, Elizabeth scolded herself. Now was not the time to become excited. Now was the time to work.
After drinking two cups of tea and doing a few push ups to wake herself up, Elizabeth took a simple t-shirt and pyjama bottoms combination from her suitcase, along with a thin pink night robe and stylish looking house shoes. It was almost eight thirty, and she wanted to start her work as soon as possible.
Leaving her bedroom and making her way down the grand stairs, she briefly glanced into the living area, where the sight of a few sheets and a couple of crumpled pillows awaited her. Someone had obviously been made to spend the night on the sofa.
Lewis was in the kitchen, finishing hi cup of coffee and half a piece of buttered toast, while Wanda, with marigold rubber gloves, carefully scrubbed out the oven. She glanced over to the doorway as Elizabeth entered before rolling her eyes and continuing, unimpressed, with her cleaning.
"Good morning," said Elizabeth, clearing her throat which felt a little dry. Why was she always so nervous when she started a job like this? She was sure none of the other employees felt this way when starting the therapy, though she'd never asked. In a way it was useful; it was a rush of adrenaline. Here she was, helping another family, destined to see good results. That warm feeling briefly returned; she let it linger for a moment, like an old friend.
"Good morning, Elizabeth," greeted Lewis, starting to get off his chair.
"Lewis, please sit back down," Elizabeth said a little sternly. "You don't have to get up every time I walk into the room. Unless you do this for everybody else in your house? Do you?"
Lewis slowly sat back down. "No, I don't. Though I used to for Lianne, back when we were courting."
Elizabeth smiled. "Now there's a word I haven't heard in a very long time: courting."
Lewis laughed shortly. "Showing my age, am I?"
"No," replied Elizabeth seriously, "not in the slightest. It's a sweet word; it's a very romantic word. Unfortunately it seems to stop being so when a couple get married – I'm speaking generally here, you understand? It's a shame."
"Yes, it is," said Lewis thoughtfully, then looked up as a strange sound, almost like a "tut", came from inside the oven. "Did you say something, Wanda?"
"No, Mr Smith," replied the maid, who seemed to be scrubbing a little more vigorously than usual. "There's just a lot of mess in here, is all."
"Of course," said Lewis, an eyebrow raised. He looked at his watch and said, "Well, I guess I'd best be heading off. I'm sorry I can't stick around today, Elizabeth. Will this affect your work at all, me being at my…er…work?"
"It's not exactly helpful , I'm afraid, but I've dealt with this kind of situation before a few times. You're a busy man, you've got a beautiful house; you need to work. I can't stop you going. It has to be up to you. Just like every other normal day."
Lewis shifted a little uncomfortably. "I'm sorry, but there's just not that much I can do about it. I've got a busy day just full of meetings – it's not even anything really very practical."
Elizabeth sat herself down next to him. He looked good in a clean cut suit and tie, smelling of a light aftershave and shampoo. She expected that nobody he met that day would suspect he'd spent the night on the sofa.
"Still, your job must be very interesting. You spend so much of your time at it you must enjoy it a lot."
Lewis wondered if there had been any hint of sarcasm in what she had just said, but she looked as serious as ever. "I used to," he admitted. "But…I don't know…not any more. Not like a few years ago, before all this shit started."
He got up and stretched a little, rubbing his back with a quick grimace as he did so.
"Should have bought a more comfortable couch," said Elizabeth lightly.
Lewis coughed, embarrassed. "This…well, it's not going the way I'd hoped, the way I thought it would when I called your company in that bar. I'm wondering if I've given you a major set-back."
"No, don't worry. I enjoy a challenge. What time will you be back today?"
Lewis chuckled, removing his jacket from the back of his chair. "If I'm lucky, half four. If I'm unlucky, you won't see me until seven at the earliest."
"You should get yourself an assistant, you know. Someone to lighten the work load for you. Otherwise you could end up having way too much pressure on your own shoulders."
Lewis shook his head. "Thanks for the advice, but it's not going to happen. No way can I find someone who'd be willing to share my job. See you later, then. I hope you have a good day, and…er…look, obviously Lianne…"
"…obviously Lianne is going to have to get used to the fact that I'm here for her own good," Elizabeth finished for him, "for her family's good. Don't worry, I'll handle it."
Lewis nodded and left the room, a little struck by how those green eyes of hers looked so awake when his own felt so tired.
Elizabeth continued to sit in the kitchen, staring out of the large windows onto the beautiful lush lawn of the Smith's back garden, casually running through the to do list that was now successfully transferred into her head. Jack would no doubt have left earlier for college or wherever it was he went to. So that just left Lianne, Wanda and her in the house. Lianne would have to be the first person to start observing, there was no other choice.
"Excuse me, Wanda," she said to the maid who was pulling off the rubber gloves with gusto, "but what time does Mrs Smith usually come down for breakfast?"
Wanda smiled shortly, not looking at her as she replied, "Mrs Smith was feeling a little under the weather this morning and asked if she could have her breakfast in bed. She then asked me that she did not wish to be disturbed for the rest of the morning, as she has a headache."
Wanda expected this to dampen Elizabeth's enthusiasm and looked very surprised when Elizabeth replied, "Yes, I thought she would have said that."
"What do you mean?"
"Exactly what I said. You know, nine times out of ten I meet this type of reaction on my first day of working with a family. Not just with the women either but sometimes even the men have tried it too." She leaned forward a little, her green eyes staring at Wanda hard and purposeful. "Wanda, you must believe me when I tell you that I am not a threat to this family or to you or your work. I'm simply here to help them through this rough patch."
She flinched slightly as Wanda brought a hand down onto the table with sudden violence. "I've worked for this family for so many years, so many! I've washed their bibs and their dresses and their suits with baby sick on them; I've cleaned their toilets with my own hands that have been covered in the most disgusting filth; I've cooked for them, I've tidied for them, I've looked after them for so long. You think I don't know this family? You think I can't see they're in trouble?"
Elizabeth shook her head. "I didn't say that at all, Wanda," she said quietly.
Wanda looked at her with eyes that were beginning to fill with tears. "They're falling apart," she said brokenly. "I love them all so much, like they were my own, but I can't do anything to help them."
Elizabeth, filled with pity, took Wanda's hand in hers and squeezed it tightly. "Yes you can," she said strongly. "You can help them if you help me. I won't ask you to do much, I promise."
Wanda looked doubtful. "Mrs Smith wont like it one bit. It'll be like I had betrayed her."
"No, she won't see it that way. I'll take the fall, that's if there even is one. I'm not going to force her into anything she doesn't want to say or do. She has to choose. But you know that sooner or later she will have to cooperate or else the family will never start to heal, and I'll have failed."
Wanda took a deep breath. "Okay," she said quickly. "For the Smiths I'll do it. Now what do you want me to do?"
"We're out of what?"
Wanda tried to look Lianne in the eyes and keep a serious face as she repeated, "I'm sorry, Mrs Smith, but I said we're out of toilet paper."
Standing in her bedroom doorway in her dressing gown and bare feet, Lianne tapped her fingers along the wood of the doorframe impatiently. "You're joking, right? Wanda, you can't be serious. How the hell could we run out of toilet paper? I've got three fresh rolls in our cabinet in the en suite for god's sake."
Wanda shrugged hopelessly. "They must be the only three left in the whole house then."
Lianne stared at her in disbelief. Of all the things, of all the stupid things to run out of at the most inconvenient times. The guestrooms were always fully stocked in case of emergency. Walking quickly past her still stuttering maid, she marched towards the upstairs guestroom and barged in, not bothering to knock. Luckily that woman wasn't in there, but Lianne's mind was on proving Wanda wrong. She swore irritably when she found a bare cardboard tube on the holder and nothing else in the guest en suite. Running out of the room and hurrying down the thick carpeted stairs two and a time in her bare feet she swiftly strode towards the downstairs bathroom. Nothing in there either.
Lianne went back to the main hallway where she found a sheepish looking Wanda waiting at the foot of the stairs. She studied the round woman closely then began to laugh shortly.
"Oh, I see," she said a little scornfully. "I see! This is just one big trick isn't it? Just to get me on my own so she can start analysing me and scrutinising me, is that it? I can't believe you'd help her, Wanda."
"Mrs Smith," Wanda replied, trying to sound as calm as she could, "I have no idea what you're talking about, I swear. Would you like to come with me if you are not happy about staying here? I can wait for you to dress."
Lianne put a hand over her eyes and breathed as slowly as she could. This was stupid, she thought now. Already this woman had made her paranoid and she hadn't even been here a full day. If she thought that Lianne would just give up then she had a fight on her hands. The shame of having a family therapist hired was still raw and painful.
"All right, Wanda," she said finally. "I believe you. I'm sorry; I guess you were right. We do need more toilet paper. That sounds so absurd! Oh god!"
"Would you still like to come with me?" Wanda asked helpfully.
"No, it's okay. I'm still feeling a little nauseous anyway. Go and buy as much as you can. Try and buy so much that we don't have to worry about buying any new stuff for a year, okay?"
"Okay," laughed Wanda. "I won't be long."
As the maid left through the front door Lianne started to slowly climb back up the stairs to her room. As they bended round she noticed down below in the living room doorway Elizabeth standing with her arms folded across her chest in a very pink version of what looked like Lianne's own dressing gown. For a moment, Lianne felt enviously at the young woman and how good she looked still in her night wear.
"You can stand there all day," she said, continuing to walk up the stairs, "but I'm not going to tell you anything…Elizabeth."
You don't need to, Elizabeth thought. Having watched the older woman for the last few minutes, seen once again how well she kept her body, the smooth shaven legs, the exquisite silk night gown that she looked stunning in…how could she not be happy in her marriage? How could Lewis not see what he was leaving at home everyday when he went to work? Lianne kept herself so beautiful for her husband – did he appreciate it?
Or maybe, thought Elizabeth now, just maybe things had gotten so bad in this house, in this family, that Lianne wasn't interested in looking good for Lewis. Maybe there was someone else. Was she the type of woman to have an affair? Possibly. But it was this type of stuff that Elizabeth could definitely not tell by ogling her subject. That type of information would have to come from Lianne herself, in a trusting conversation. But there was certainly an obstacle now, she was sure of it. The obstacle needed to be taken out of the equation.
Lianne spent the rest of her morning in a foul mood, curled up in her double bed and flicking through the boring daytime programmes on the big plasma screen television on the wall opposite her.
She began to make a plan: she would only come downstairs when Lewis and Jack were home and completely blank Elizabeth. During the daytime she would go out to friends or to the mall or Sechs City Centre – anywhere just to get away from the blonde's prying green eyes.
Right now, to Lianne, Elizabeth was just another reason to place blame at the feet of Lewis. Instead of talking to her about the way their relationship was going he had to take matters into his own hands, without even consulting her, his wife, and hire a nobody, a stranger, come and nose around their private affairs. Idiot! What the hell had he been thinking?
As the morning melted into the afternoon, as the sunlight that shone through the bedroom window became considerably warmer, however, Lianne found herself beginning to mellow slightly. Tomorrow was Friday and the last day of the working week for both husband and son; she would have them to help protect her from the inquisitive snooping of this so-called family therapist.
And tomorrow she could also look forward to a return visit from Oliver. The thought of the well built masseuse made her feel slightly giddy now. It would mean having to be more restrained than ever around him, making sure he was well clear of their ‘guest'.
Thinking carefully, she reached for the bedside phone and dialled the number she embarrassingly admitted to herself she knew by heart. After several tones it was answered by that familiar drawl: "Good afternoon, Oliver speaking."
"Oliver," Lianne said, trying to sound as normal as possible and not like a simpering high-school girl, "its Lianne Smith. How are you?"
"Well, hi there, Mrs Smith. I'm very well; thank you for asking, and I'm all the better for having a phone call from your good self."
"I'm calling about tomorrow actually."
"Aw, now don't tell me you're thinking about cancelling? I was looking forward to seeing you again?"
Lianne's heart skipped a beat. "You…you were?" she said hesitantly.
"Why sure, Mrs Smith, you're one of my favourite customers. Plus I love that conservatory of yours. I wish I could do all my clients there."
Steamy thoughts flooded Lianne's brain at Oliver's simple slip of the tongue but she pushed them as far to one side as possible. "No, I don't want to cancel tomorrow. I just need to you do me a little favour…"
Unbeknownst to Lianne, bent once more down at the keyhole on the other side of the bedroom door, Elizabeth heard everything. With just one eye pressed up close to the cold metal hole, she could see everything too: Lianne's nervousness, her excitement at dialling this Oliver person's number, the way her hands were beginning to gently stroke her soft tanned legs as she spoke, as she plotted.
Elizabeth slowly licked the bottom of her lip as she watched the beautiful woman teasing herself while at the same time trying so hard not to give away the lust that was so obviously pulsing through her blood.
Elizabeth quietly got back up and walked away from the door. She was getting excited herself now, but this was not the time professionally or personally to worry about herself. She made her way back downstairs, where Wanda had just arrived back from her ‘shopping trip'. Elizabeth wondered where the maid had gone, but the faint musk of wine on Wanda's breath gave that away pretty easily.
"Wanda, I need to ask you something about Mrs Smith."
Wanda eyed her suspiciously. "What about, miss?"
"Please, Wanda, call me Elizabeth like everyone else. None of this miss nonsense, okay? I just wanted to ask you how you much you knew about someone named Oliver."
Wanda began to blush furiously. "How do you know about Oliver?" she asked.
"Who is he?"
"Mrs Smith's masseuse. He pays us a visit twice a week, and has done so for almost three months now. Many of Mrs Smith's friends are clients of his."
Elizabeth scratched gently at her upper lip, thinking of all the times this had cropped up in her work – a masseuse, a gardener, a pool boy, sometimes even the maid though (no disrespect to Wanda) this was hardly a likely problem here.
"You don't suppose there's anything going on between Oliver and Mrs Smith, do you, Wanda?" she asked a little quieter.
Wanda's eyes widened in horror. "There would never be anything like that, miss…Elizabeth. Never! Oliver is such a nice young man; handsome, yes, very handsome, but he would never take advantage of a customer who pays him as well as Mrs Smith."
"Not even if she asked him to?"
Wanda turned beetroot. "Never!" she hissed.
Elizabeth looked at her, an odd smile creeping across her pretty features. Maybe there was nothing going on with Lianne and Oliver, but she was willing to bet there was something going on among the staff. "Okay, Wanda," she said, placing an encouraging hand on the maid's shoulder, "I'm sorry for upsetting you. I'll try harder not to next time, all right?"
Wanda, seemingly satisfied, nodded and walked as dignified as she could towards the back of the house and the kitchen. Elizabeth watched her, shaking her head slowly and smiling as she did so before glancing down at the gold watch strapped to her wrist, a gift from a previously satisfied family. She had just enough time to prepare for the next step of the therapy.
The last two days of college had been almost like a social nightmare for Jack. Ashley had been avoiding him like mad, and this therefore meant that all the other people in her group had been doing the same. This included several of his own friends and some of the hottest girls in his year – it was like double death to him.