Any Chance We Could Ch. 32byReindeer58©
This chapter is not meant to stand alone. Please begin at the first chapter to appreciate this tale. I apologize for the length of time between this chapter and the last one.
* Thursday afternoon and evening, October 26
Cheryl Babcock walked out of my office as I approached it from the elevator. She turned and looked at me, "I just left the coffee carafe and the cups on your table. Emerson and the attorney want to see you right away. Should I tell them you're here?"
"Sure, how'd you know I just gotten here?"
"Denise in reception called me."
Covering for Grace for the few days, Cheryl, our office manager was a year or so younger than Emerson and I, and had worked for us for about 16 years, or maybe it was 17 years now. About five-eight in two inch heels, with light brown wavy hair to her shoulders she was a lovely mature woman. She almost always wore dresses or a skirt and blouse with hose and heels. Unlike Grace, I don't remember seeing her in pants. Usually effervescent, her pretty face highlighted by her brown eyes and usually a radiant smile. Not now, though, she looked quite unhappy.
"Not a happy camper today?" I asked.
"No, sorry, I've a personal problem."
"Wanna talk?" I asked. Our daughters were two years apart and had known each other since pre-school. Her son, Max, I remembered was younger than Katrina. Cheryl and Marty had been good friends. Though they often shared concerns and celebrations, Cheryl was sincerely stunned by Marty's affair.
"If you'd be able to take some time today? I'd really appreciate it," she replied.
"Certainly, I'll let you know when I've finished this meeting and made a few calls. Would early this afternoon be okay?"
"Yes, thanks. I'll get Emerson and the attorney and send them in."
Emerson had a frown on his face as he walked into my office three minutes later. "Is there a problem?" I asked as he sat down on one end of the couch.
"A minor one. They don't want us to pay the bonuses to Jim, Frank, Gordon and Grace out of pre-closing funds. They're expecting you and I to cover them with a post-closing reimbursement."
I took a deep breath as I settled into my chair, looked at Irwin before looking at Emerson. "Nonsense, it's our company until we close, we'll pay the bonuses pre-closing with a 50% gross-up for a total cost of six mill, four net and two for taxes." Emerson nodded his head in agreement. I suspected that this was the buyer's strategy to gain a concession thinking we'd blink with so much on the table. I suspected that if we conceded this issue that Citi may ask for another concession.
"Is this a deal-breaker?" asked Irwin, the attorney from New York we hired to help us in the negotiations. Bruce, our regular corporate attorney had been wise in bringing Irwin onboard.
"Perhaps," replied Emerson. "They haven't proposed changing the 85/15 cash/stock purchase and the 60 day stock hold period have they?"
"No, but they've always wanted a 60/40 split with a 90 day hold. You cleared that up early on but they could use this to push to change the split at the last moment to a 70/30 split. Why don't I go back to them and propose that you'll accept the bonus change in exchange for a 30 day hold and that they sweeten the pot with six month stock options that if exercised could yield much of what you're giving in bonuses," proposed Irwin.
"Should we mention that Bank America had expressed interest three weeks ago?" asked Bruce.
"They moved on the split when I mentioned BofA's interest. It wouldn't hurt to remind Citi that if they equivocate now that we're prepared to open talks with BofA within hours. I believe they want to have an agreement quickly. They're testing our resolve to see if they can change the terms to be more in their favor. With our accepting their request with our conditions attached and a few judicious statements that we're prepared to walk if they don't accept our conditions, I think that we'll have an agreement."
"What happens to the 31st closing?" I asked.
"I guess it could be pushed back depending on their response and inserting new language in the contract," responded Irwin. "If they agree today or tomorrow, and the changes are made by late tomorrow, and Mike and my team in New York give it a positive review within 12 hours, the closing could still happen on the 31st, the 2nd at the latest."
Emerson said, "Call their counsel and we'll talk again based on their response."
After chatting about other issues for another half hour, Emerson, Bruce and Irwin left and I called Veronica's cell. "Hi lover, did I awaken you. You sound a bit groggy, late night?"
"Mmm, hi handsome. Yes and no, Grace is in the shower and I've been dozing waiting for her to finish. She fell asleep while I was getting ready for bed late last night, so no, nothing intimate last night."
"I love you and I miss you. There's a glitch, probably minor, but the closing could be pushed back and I suggest that perhaps you and Grace should cool it until the closing date is certain again. Will that cause a problem?"
"I'm disappointed, yes, but it's not a problem. Life'll go on and perhaps on Sunday when she comes over we'll have a better idea about the 'glitch'. I understand what you're saying from an employer/employee standpoint and I won't quibble. By the way, how was ... Corinne, is it? ... last night?"
"No comparison to you or even to her daughter, but she was enjoyable. I think our fuck-session opened her eyes to a few issues that she's been in denial about. She seemed happy enough when I left this morning," I replied.
"We have to come back out here, the four of us, sometime soon. This is a romantic city and I know the girls'd love being here with us. I miss you handsome. I miss your touches, your mouth and your cock. I miss your presence. I love you so much, so very, very much. My heart aches for you."
"I love you too, Veronica. Enjoy your gala tonight and I'm sorry about delaying your plans with Grace. Oh, have Grace announce that we'll, you and I, pledge the same gift for the next three years."
"Wow, we're really generous aren't we? You can tell her yourself, here she comes. I love you handsome."
I heard her say as she handed the phone to Grace, "It's Scott, good news, bad news."
"Hi, Scott," bubbled Grace evidently more awake than Veronica. "Good news, bad news, eh?"
I told her about the closing glitch and what I thought it meant, and then about announcing the pledge for the next three years. Grace was palpably disappointed but philosophical as well. "It won't be instant gratification, but nonetheless certainly worth waiting for. The bad news isn't all that bad, we can still enjoy ourselves and I'm sure the good news will be well received this evening. Thanks for calling, and I hope the problem's quickly resolved. See you Sunday perhaps without any clothes." mused Grace as she hung up.
Mary Claire despite a few detours due to road construction arrived at the campus a bit before ten but only found rare visitor parking spot mid-campus when another car pulled out just as she was twenty yards from the spot. As she walked to the heart of the campus she became confused about direction and knelt on a bench looking at a mounted map of the campus. Unfortunately, Bixby Hall wasn't evident on the map. A tall young woman was walking past, sensed Mary Claire's confusion, stopped, and turned back four steps.
As she walked up to Mary Claire she extended her hand and said, "Hi, I'm Gloria Graham, you look lost, may I help?"
Mary Claire returned the firm grasp with "I'm Mary Claire Peters, I am and I hope you can. I'm looking for Bixby Hall, the art department and I don't see it on the map. I was told it was at one end of the campus."
"Oh, that's part of the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts and it's that way," pointing to her right. "I'll be glad to walk you through the Quadrangle and point it out to you," said Gloria warmly. "It's somewhat in the direction I'm headed."
They walked towards Sam Fox talking about the campus and college life. Mary Claire glanced up at the clock in the quadrangle and noticed that she was forty-five minutes early. "Anywhere nearby to grab a cup of coffee, or do you need to leave right away?" asked Mary Claire.
"No. And there's a coffee shop right over there." As they returned from the shop carrying paper cups they sat on a bench in the morning sun and enjoyed each other's company and began to get acquainted.
"You're a student here?" Mary Claire asked as she put her notebooks on the bench.
"No, not here. I'm a senior in Nursing at SLU and I'm here to have lunch with my Mom."
"Your Mom works here?"
"Yes, Dr Evelyn Graham, she teaches comparative religion and counsels. Who're you looking for down at Sam Fox?"
"The father of a good friend of mine set up a meeting with the Dean Emeritus and I'm here to show him my portfolio. I kinda screwed up in high school and let my grades go into the toilet. Scott, my friend's father, seems to think that I've some artistic talent and I guess he's giving me a chance to get a second opinion."
"I know the Dean through my mother. He's a wonderful and wise man, an excellent choice on your friend's part. Be frank and honest with him, if he agrees on your potential, you could with an academic recommendation, be accepted on probation."
They continued to talk for another twenty minutes before Gloria noticed the time. She patted Mary Claire's hand and smiled, "I like that you're easy to talk to. I hope your presentation goes well and that perhaps we could see each other for lunch or dinner sometime. Do you have a cell?
"Yes," replied Mary Claire saying the number.
Gloria stopped talking for a moment and called the number. "Now save that as Gloria Graham Almost Nurse and I've got you in my phone. Is Mary Claire what you go by, not Mary or Claire?"
"It's always been Mary Claire Peters. It's the name my mother and family always used. She named me after Sister Mary Claire, a Nun she admired and influenced her greatly as a teen."
From the top of the stairs at the east end of the Quadrangle Gloria pointed out the Sam Fox School and reminded Mary Claire that she had found her at the corner of Graham Chapel. Mary Claire extended her hand and thanked Gloria for her company, time and interest. The handshake was lingering as the two young ladies looked each other in the eye. "I'd like to spend some more time with you," said Mary Claire as their hands lingered together.
"I'd like that too," replied Gloria as she gave a light squeeze to Mary Claire's hand. "Now go impress the man as you impressed me. Don't sell yourself short. Just be yourself."
After being met in the office reception area the Dean Emeritus ushered her into his office and after a few pleasantries he asked to see her sketch books. After turning a few pages he began to examine each one a bit closer. His comments were few but were positive. After looking at the book of building drawings he stepped out of his office and shortly after brought the Dean of Architecture into his office to look at the books as well. After about forty-five minutes of both professors browsing and asking her opinions on various buildings she drew, the Art School Dean came in with a sheaf of papers and asked Mary Claire if she would like to take the Mensa exam.
With a secretary proctoring Mary Claire stayed in the Dean Emeritus's office to taking the exam while all three men went to the Art School Dean's office. Upon completion of the exam, the Dean scored it and was blown away by the result.
"What did you do in high school?" he asked.
"Got bored mostly, and neglected my studies which earned me mostly Cs, the odd B and a few Ds," was Mary Claire's reply.
"Hmm, I can see why, you should have been in Advanced Placement classes. I'll call admissions now and tell them to expect you."
"Does that mean I'll be able to start classes in the Winter?" she excitedly asked.
"Not really, you'll have to go through all the admission rigamarole and take an SAT test, but I hope they'll admit you on probation based on letters of recommendation from me and the Deans of both the Art and Architecture schools. I think you'll have a nice future in the Art and design field. Tell Scott hello for me and it's been a real pleasure meeting you Mary Claire," said the Dean Emeritus as Mary Claire gathered her sketchbooks.
Mary Claire assembled a pile of forms in the Admissions office and was walking back to her car when she spotted Gloria walking with another woman coming towards her. "Hey Mary Claire, how'd it go?" greeted Gloria.
"I think I might get in on probation for the Spring semester or possibly even the Winter semester after jumping over a few hurdles, tuition being one of them," responded Mary Claire with sparkling eyes.
"You blew 'em away huh? I thought you might," said Gloria as she awkwardly hugged Mary Clair who had her arms full. "Meet my Mom, Dr Evelyn Graham. Mom, Mary Claire Peters, Mary Claire, my Mom."
"Pleased to meet you," said Mary Claire reaching out a hand while balancing her papers and books.
"You're as pretty as Gloria described you at lunch. She felt the two of you made a connection. My pleasure as well," grinned Evelyn returning the firm handclasp.
"Don't forget I found you at the corner of Graham Chapel and let's talk soon," said Gloria.
"Yes, I'll call you soon, bye." As she walked up the campus she thought, What a gorgeous woman her mother is, I can see where Gloria gets her good looks. I'm going to have to get to know Gloria a bit better, could be fun.
After I'd finished my calls I buzzed Cheryl and asked her to come to my office. "I have time now. Do you still want to talk to me?" I asked.
"Of course," she responded with a more cheerful tone than earlier. Moments later Cheryl sat on the couch and I walked to one of the guest chairs in front of my desk and sat across the coffee table from her. As she crossed her legs I thought I noticed a stocking top, but maybe not.
Taking a deep breath she began, "My sister Mandy lives in Boston and saw my husband a month or so ago in the company of a thirtyish, attractive woman entering a Concord hotel mid-afternoon. She was curious and unobtrusively followed them expecting to greet John and be introduced to his companion, whom she assumed at first sight was a business colleague. Seeing them holding hands as they walked through the doors changed her opinion. Mandy watched him go to the reception desk and give a credit card to the desk clerk and after a few minutes rejoined the young woman. She was about my height, blonde, but she could tell little else because she was wearing a light raincoat. They walked into the bar off the lobby and my sister followed and sat at a far corner of the bar. She did notice that when she took off the coat to sit that her top was a nicely fitted satin blouse and her skirt was mid-thigh length over dark hose. My two-timing husband had eyes only for the blonde and my sister went unnoticed. After an hour or so they went back to the lobby and entered an elevator which Mandy noted stopped at the fifth floor. Returning to the bar she called the hotel from her cell and asked for John Babcock and was connected to his phone. She let it ring twice and disconnected.
Yesterday she saw John again at the same hotel entering with the same woman and going through the same routine as he had a month ago. After they went to their room she called me and I called the hotel. I let his room phone ring until he answered. Needless to say he was surprised but not at all apologetic. John said that we needed to talk and he would be home next Tuesday because he had a project he needed to follow up on in Connecticut over the rest of this week and the weekend."
Given his reaction to me calling, his tone and implied statements about our lives going in new directions, I can only assume our marriage is over. He's been strangely distant from both Beth and me for the last two or three years or so, and when I'd try to talk to him about it he'd wave me off and say nothing was wrong. He was no longer interested in Beth's activities or grades. He's spending more time with projects in the northeast than he is at home."
"Cheryl, I'm so sorry what can I do to help?" While she had been relating her tale her skirt had ridden up just enough so that when she would uncross and re-cross her legs it was obvious that she wasn't wearing pantyhose but either thigh highs or garter hose.
"Several things really, I need an attorney and an investigator I guess. I want to nail his ass! I don't want him to use the language of being fair only to screw me over financially. Since I won't be your employee much longer I'd love to have lunch with you, to catch up on each other and our daughters." She paused and my eyes couldn't help me watch her cross her legs again. "Have you been enjoying my legs?"
"Uh, busted on the leg stares, lovely legs, and you're a lovely woman Cheryl, and yes I'd enjoy that, perhaps tomorrow. Feel free to contact our legal firm. Tell Bruce I told you to call him. If I recall Bruce has a woman who's family law partner and she'll be able put you in touch with a private investigator if necessary. Bruce was in on our earlier meeting and I think he's still meeting with Emerson and Irwin. Why don't you try to catch him before he leaves?"
As Cheryl stood and smoothed her skirt she remarked, "I wear garter stockings, have for a long, long time. I like them a lot better than pantyhose which I never liked. John used to like them but that interest has waned as well. Beth even wears them instead of pantyhose if she's wearing hose. Even that wouldn't get John to turn his head. I guess we bore him. Well it's going to be his loss. I've noticed Max admiring both Beth's and my legs from time to time especially the last couple of years."
My initial reaction was an erection to her stocking description and I quickly turned and put the back of a guest chair between us.
The phone in Veronica's room rang and when she answered it the woman, Joceline Aubuchon, from the concierge desk said she was reminding them of their nine o'clock spa appointment. She also asked if she could help them in any way with plans for the rest of the day. Veronica told her that they'd probably go shopping but she'd talk to Grace about where and let her know when they got back from the spa. "I do have a suggestion, if I may" said Joceline.
"The couple in the suite across from yours, a mother and her daughter, is having our limo take them down the coast to Carmel to shop for antiques. They'll leave at nine-thirty and be back here by five-thirty. They're attending the same gala as you and your partner. Would you like to ride with them? Angie will be driving and will be sensitive to female wants and desires. Do you want me to arrange for you to go?"
"How old are the woman and her daughter?" asked Veronica.
"Her daughter looks to be around thirty and I'd rather not venture to guess her mother's age. She's, ... they're both quite attractive, like the two of you," said Joceline.
"Why thank you, that was quite kind of you to say that. Yes, if they wouldn't mind we'd like to go with them. Will you make the arrangements with the spa for a quick hair and nail appointment when we return? I think we'll have to leave for the event about seven-thirty," smiled Veronica.
"Consider it done. Can you be at my desk at nine-thirty?" asked Joceline.
"Yes, of course."
"Grace, love, more good news and bad news," grinned Veronica as she took both of Grace's hands in hers. "We're not going to spa just yet but we're being driven down to Carmel to antique shop! There's a couple across the hall who're also going. I need to hop in the shower, it's eight-thirty and we're leaving at nine-thirty."