tagRomanceIn Dreams

In Dreams

byTexasFarmBoy©

Hannah Bell entered the house in the woods as she normally did except that she tried to make less noise than she might otherwise create. Her boss, Jefferson McDaniel, got home late but she didn't know how late. Even though he was one of the most mild-mannered people she had ever met, the mere concept of disturbing a genius when he needed his rest was beyond her comprehension. That was the way she had been brought up.

Genius; that was the only word she knew how to describe her boss. She had never met anyone like him and yet she knew so little about him. He could easily be described as four or five different and recognizable people; yet these images bore little similarity to the almost shy and reclusive man she worked for. Perhaps her biggest surprise was that she worked for him at all.

She had worked her way through college and then through law school. During her last year, she began a frustrating search for a job in a law firm. Jobs were scarce for young people who hadn't passed the bar exams or hadn't made a name for themselves in law school. Her need to work had kept her from the recognition earned by participating in many highly visible activities. With only her credential being her degree and a couple of recommendations from her professors, she found the world offered few places for her to shine.

She remembered the day her advisor at law school, Professor Miller, had asked her to meet him and a friend for lunch. Uncertain what the reason was, she agreed although it would have to be a short lunch since she had to go to her job by three. When asked the reason for the lunch, her mentor had simply said, "If the connection is right, this might be your future."

"A job! Is it with a law firm?"

"Yes and no. He is rather unique as you will find out. He needs a lot of legal work and advice but mostly he needs a mother hen. He lives a complex life with lots of details which more often than not, he ignores. He needs someone like you who can do the legal stuff but then keep the rest of the details in order."

"So, this is an administrative assistant thing." She couldn't keep the disappointment out of her voice.

Her mentor stopped and took her arm for a moment. "Hannah, you don't really understand yourself or the life you have chosen to pursue. You are one of the hardest working students I have ever had. You don't give up and you take care of the details that most students ignore. If you get into a high-profile law firm, you will have to become a smiling face that attracts new clients and pay just enough attention to details to insure a continuous flow of billable hours. Frankly, I think that you would burn out in that world. There is a whole other world out there for really good legal minds that never involves court houses and clients, many of which you would find to be repulsive. Law school has taught you how to resolve issues and recognize important details. That is what you do best. An opportunity like this won't come along very often but it is the world you are best suited for. For now, at least consider what Jeff has to offer. You might be surprised."

His words stung her deeply. Inside she knew that he was right but the image of big paychecks and recognition had become deeply ingrained. Both of those qualities seemed to be the ultimate reward for her sacrifices and working hard. It took a moment before she said, "You have always treated me well and I respect your judgement. I will listen and consider whatever is available."

He simply smiled and replied, "That was the right answer. I am going to introduce you to Jeff but then leave. Don't be surprised at how much he knows about you already."

"What should I know about him?"

"I could tell you a lot but you probably wouldn't believe me. Go in cold and figure out for yourself what you need to know." Without adding anything else, he led her inside an exclusive restaurant that she had only heard of but could never afford to try.

To say that her first sight of Jeff McDaniel was a surprise would be an understatement. As they approached a table it the back, a tall man broke into a shy smile and stood up to greet them. At 6'4", he was a tall and handsome man who reminded her of the one guy she had a crush on in high school but who had totally ignored her. The fact that he wore worn jeans and a plaid shirt added to that memory.

"Hannah Bell, this is Jefferson McDaniel. Jeff, this is Hannah. I am going to run now. Enjoy your lunch and talk."

Jeff reached out his hand and held her eyes with his to greet her with a warmth that belied the shyness showing on his face. "Hi, Hannah. I have been looking forward to meeting you. Please have a seat."

"Um...Thank you." He pulled out a chair for her and helped her settle comfortably in her seat.

"If you haven't eaten here before, I recommend either the salmon or the Steak Diane. I am kind of addicted to Steak Diane, so that is my go-to meal when I am here."

"Thanks for the recommendation. I haven't been here before but salmon is my favorite seafood."

"Mine too; except here." His smile had warmed as did her heart. Their order was taken and Hannah began to relax in the presence of this man.

As they waited, Jeff simply asked, "Tell me about yourself." It wasn't a demand or an order; it was a simple request.

"I am twenty-five and just finishing my law degree..."

"Not what your resume can tell me; I already read that. Tell me about you and your dreams and aspirations."

That set her back because no one had ever just jumped right into her being like that before. "Well..." She took a deep breath and began slowly. "I grew up in a small town about 150 miles south of here. All my life, my parents told me that getting a good education was the key to my future. They set up a college fund for me. They both worked at a factory near my home. In my junior year in high school, the plant closed and they were out of work. That meant that my college fund went to pay bills and such. That was when I realized that I was either going to be just another small-town girl with unfulfilled dreams or work my as...butt off and get a degree. So, I worked my way through a small college near there while living at home. I got my degree in Business with a major in Accounting. When I finished, one of my advisors suggested that I might like going to law school since I liked to work with details. I took the exam and was accepted here. To support myself, I have been working in the back office of a bank. Now that I am finishing my degree, I...I just assumed that I would get a job with a law firm as an intern or something until I passed the bar. Then...I would be a lawyer."

"That doesn't sound like a personal dream as much as a self-fulfilling prophecy. You neglected a couple of dozen details like your social life, what you really enjoy doing, you know, the things that make you real and alive."

Hannah turned bright red and stuttered, "I...I..."

"If you start with 'I'm sorry,' I will make you pay for lunch." He grinned. "I am not trying to put you on the spot; I just want to know the person behind the credentials. Take a deep breath and just talk to me about you."

Her eyes flared and he could see that he had stepped squarely on a very sore spot. Then she just blurted out without thinking, "I haven't had a life! Every time I began to have a dream, I put it away. It has taken every ounce of energy I have to survive and get to this point. I don't even know if I will like being a lawyer. I haven't had a date since high school. I have three good girl friends who are also in school. When we get together, all we do is drink wine, bitch about things at school, and wonder if the life we thought was out there really exists." She paused as she realized what she had just said. "Oh, crap! Maybe I better go; I am sure that I have convinced you that you need someone else." She started to get up.

"Actually, you just convinced me that you are exactly what I need. You are hired. Now sit down, drink your wine and relax. Lunch will be here in a moment."

She stared at him, trying to see if he had any malice in his eyes or demeanor. All she saw was a kind and patient face looking at her with curiosity but also the look of a man whose mind was busy in faraway places. That lasted for only a few moments and then he was back. "Yes; you are exactly what I need. Let's get the details out of the way before we eat. How much will it take to hire you?"

"I don't even know what you want me to do! How can I answer that?"

"Ok, how much are you worth?"

Her dander was up again and she shot back, "A hundred grand a year plus benefits!"

"No, no, no. One fifty plus benefits and a bonus. Take it or leave it." She just stared at him in shock. "Come on; the waitress just left the kitchen with our lunch. Say yes or no, so we can eat in peace."

With the waitress standing next to her with her plate in hand, she blurted out, "Yes."

"Excellent. Now, enjoy lunch and collect your thoughts again. We will talk about more of the details when we finish." He then cut into his steak and took his first bite. "Damn, I love their Steak Diane." She could not think of anything to say and therefore, brought the first forkful of salmon to her mouth and discovered that all of the previous salmon she had eaten might as well have been fried catfish.

Neither of them ate quickly nor said anything as they devoured their meal but her mind was going at fifty miles per hour in a dozen different directions. By the time, she finished, some semblance of calm had returned to her. Jefferson's demeanor had not changed but he was once again wandering through another dimension. She idly wondered where this place was. It would take her almost three years to find out and when she did, both of their lives would be changed forever.

With lunch over, he ordered coffee for two. Then he sat back and started. "Do you prefer a desktop or a laptop to work with?"

That was another jolt; she was expecting a discussion on the requirements for the job but he was addressing specific details. "Uh...before we talk about that, perhaps you should tell me what you do and what you need done. I would kind of like to know what you expect of me."

He nodded. "That's a reasonable question. I will tell you in broad terms right now. The specifics get complicated and we would be better off looking at them directly. First, I am independent, it is just me. I am involved in a variety of things but they all involve contracts, schedules, and terms and conditions along with all of the accounting stuff that goes along with them. I have gotten to the point where I can spend all of my time taking care of these things or doing the work that I do best. Doc Miller said that you are the best contracts and detail person he has ever taught. What I need is someone to keep track of all of this stuff so I can do what I do. When you get comfortable with this stuff, I will probably want you to negotiate some of the contracts and see that the details are followed through."

"Seriously?"

"Yes; but as I said all that, it sounds like I am just dumping a bunch of garbage on you. Maybe we ought to bump this up to 200 grand."

"Let's leave it where it is. You have blown me away so far; I don't want to rattle things yet. Is there any travel? If so, a laptop would be good. If not, I am comfortable with a desktop."

"Ok. Then we will get both. I will let you choose the software that you prefer. Now about an office...I assume that you are free to travel some, if needed?"

"Yes, of course. I haven't been many places before but I would love to travel some."

"Good. We will need to get you a passport. Now..."

"A passport! Like to travel to Mexico and places?"

"More like Europe. There may be a couple of things developing there but they are still preliminary. Now about your office."

"I will work where you tell me to work. Where is that?"

"It isn't quite that simple. You see I work out of my house and it is sort of out in the country about 60 miles from here. You might not feel comfortable working where I live since I live alone. There is a small town about fifteen miles from my house. We can set up an office for you there if you want to relocate or we can set you up here in the city if you prefer to stay here."

"At one time, I thought that the city was the place to be but I have lost that desire since I have lived here. A small town feels much more like home to me now. But I am more concerned about working in your living space. I could get a place in the town and work out of there. How does that sound?"

"We can do that except that I would prefer that you have a somewhat formal office somewhere. There will be people coming to see you. Lawyers and folks like that."

"I see. But that would be the same for your house too, wouldn't it?"

"Yes and no. It would except that I have a separate building that I intended to be my office but I never moved my stuff there. It just sits empty with some junk stored in there now. The other thing is that I travel a lot; probably about two thirds of the time. So, I will not be under foot very often."

"I guess that perhaps I ought to take a look at the town and what is available and also at the office you have before we decide. How is that?"

"That would be fine with me." He frowned for the first time. "There is one more thing that we haven't talked about but it is very important to me." He was obviously struggling with himself as she wondered what might come next.

He looked into her eyes, which immediately told her that he was about to tell her something very important. "The thing is... the thing is that I am a very private person. What I do and all of the stuff you will find out about, I prefer that it not be shared or discussed with anyone else. I am a private person; my neighbors and most of the people I come in contact locally just know me as Jeff, a local guy who travels a lot. They don't know what I do and I want to keep it that way. Is that a problem?"

"I don't know why it should be. I am kind of private myself and we took a whole semester discussing lawyer/client confidentiality. I guess since I don't know what you do, it is hard to say much else."

"Thank you. To reassure you; there is nothing illegal or dishonest or anything like that. There are a few exceptions but basically, I seldom work around here. I do most of my work elsewhere. When I am home, I want to be home; if that makes sense."

"It does. Now I guess we should discuss when you want me to start."

"As far as I am concerned, you started when you walked in the door with Doc Miller."

"But I feel like I need to give the bank two weeks' notice. In fact, I need to leave or I will be late for work."

He handed her a cell phone. "Call your boss. That has been taken care of."

She took the phone while staring at him. "Hello, Mr. Williams. This is Hannah...Yes. Yes. Are you sure? I don't want to leave you short-handed. Yes, sir. Yes sir. Thank you, sir." She hung up with her jaw still hanging open. "What just happened. I mean, what did you do?"

"I didn't do anything. Doc and I have been talking about you for some time. Last week, something came up and I decided for sure that I needed you and told Doc to set up this lunch for today. He did and called the president of the bank and told him that I was going to hire you away from him. He started to balk until Doc told him who I was. I am a customer of the bank and they don't want to piss me off. So, you started when you agreed to meet me and walked through the door. So far, I am not disappointed at all."

She was still staring at him and unsure of what to ask. "Ok; what's next?"

"Next is that you have your last classes tomorrow to finish up your degree. I hate to ask this but I need to leave again on Monday; can you come to my place on Saturday and let me show you what is in front of you?"

"I can come tomorrow, if you want?"

"Actually, I am staying here in town tonight and won't be there until late tomorrow night. Saturday morning would be better. Here is a map and directions to my house. If you can, come around ten and we will have breakfast before I unload on you."

"That would be fine." Hannah still wasn't sure exactly what had just happened but she was beginning to eagerly look forward to Saturday.

"Do you like music and concerts?"

"Yes, very much. I haven't been able to go to many concerts but yes."

"There is a concert tomorrow night at the performance hall, here are four tickets. Take your girlfriends and have a good time."

She looked at the tickets and almost fainted. "These are for the Miles of Music concert. It has been sold out for months. I hear that they put on a fantastic show."

"Then enjoy yourselves. Now, I have to get going. Work never stops for the weary." He smiled his warm smile. "I look forward to seeing you Saturday morning. And thank you for being you. I can usually work with almost anyone but I was hoping that you were someone that I could also feel comfortable with. You make me feel very comfortable."

With that compliment ringing in her ears, Hannah walked back to her car to drive to her apartment. Before she left the parking garage, she had to stop and scream. All of her hard work had paid off in a job, a seemingly wonderful boss, and now a chance to see a great concert with her girlfriends to celebrate.

She left early Saturday morning with the sounds of the concert still ringing in her ears. Not only was the music wonderful, the seats were in the center of the fifth row with a perfect view of the various antics of the musicians. She and her friends had a great time and had each bought several of their cds when they left. The glow was still with her but she tried to stay focused on her driving and what was about to unfold for her. The more she thought about Jefferson McDaniel, the more excited she became. He was tall, handsome, and obviously successful. And she was going to become part of whatever he was involved with. She had wanted to blurt out about her meeting to her friends but restrained herself because of his serious desire to remain private. She simply told them that he was a successful businessman who needed a lot of legal help. She felt comfortable leaving it at that although they had warned her about lecherous rich guys and horror stories about young women being taken advantage of.

She had carefully reviewed everything that had happened and had been said but could find no hint of malice in him at all. In fact, she almost wished that he had shown more interest in her personally but then she just set that aside as being fanciful thinking.

The drive was pleasant and she looked around the small town with interest as she drove through it. It reminded her of a more prosperous version of her own hometown. That made her feel very comfortable. The drive to his house was on a typical two-lane, tarmac road that she was familiar with from her home. What wasn't familiar to her was the entrance to Jeff's property. It was a simple but elegant entrance with a cast iron gate. The drive was lined with crepe myrtles in bloom with each one surrounded by a well-maintained garden of red and gold flowers. The house wasn't visible from the road however, so she still didn't know what to expect as she pulled up to the call box in front of the entrance.

She pushed the button and immediately she heard, "You are early but come on through. The door is open; come in. I need to finish dressing." Then the gate swung open and she drove through.

The driveway went several hundred yards into a line of trees and then turned left another hundred yards along. When she made the turn, her heart almost stopped. It wasn't that the house was big although it was big enough. It was a classic log cabin with an A-frame front and large windows. Each side had a wing with a number of windows looking out over more well-tended gardens. The circular drive led to the front entrance which was reached with several steps up to a covered porch. She had seen many log cabins in her life but none seemed to fit the property and the environment as well as this one did.

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byTexasFarmBoy© 20 comments/ 11405 views/ 48 favorites

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