tagBDSMNot a Beautiful Woman Ch. 10

Not a Beautiful Woman Ch. 10


He'd been an associate attorney with the biggest firm in Jackson now for the past three years. His career had progressed exactly as he'd desired. Because he'd graduated near the top of his class in law school, he'd obtained a clerkship with a Federal District Court judge. That was the kind of accomplishment that all but guaranteed an offer from any law firm. After his clerkship, he could have gone out of state. He'd scored highly enough on the general part of the bar exam that he'd been automatically admitted to the bar of 5 states. However, he'd chosen to stay home. He was born a son of the south and would live and die so. The heat of the summers might be fierce, but no where else could one hear the lilting liquid tones of southern speech. The clipped, staccato rhythm of northerners seemed harsh by comparison and the sterilized West Coast speech overly bland. And so, in the south he remained.

Unlike other associates, he had his own secretary. However, Nancy wasn't a status symbol. His workload was such that being forced to share her time with another lawyer would have seriously impaired his efficiency. The partners were smart enough to not be stingy about costs that enhanced profitability. So, Nancy worked for him alone.

While most associates worked 70 to 80 hours a week, they could only justify billing about 40 or so to their clients. He always worked no more than 60 hours, but at least 50 of those hours were billed and no client ever complained. Thus, he was the most efficient associate in the office. Even so, he had few clients of his own. As with nearly every associate at any law firm, 90% of his work was assigned to him by one of the partners. Unlike most associates, he didn't have a specific partner mentor. Rather, all the partners assigned him work. He could never decide whether this practice was a result of his known capabilities or merely a way to stress test him. So, he didn't know if the partners were fighting over him or trying to break him, but he didn't let the uncertainty worry him. His only concern was to acquire more knowledge and skill in his chosen field.

That field was FDA regulations. Nobody in the firm knew more about the labyrinthine minefield of FDA directives, pitfalls, penalties, and the avoidance thereof. And so, along with being the most efficient associate at the firm, he was also the most valuable. Because of him, the firm's client list included nearly every large food manufacturer in Mississippi and the states immediately surrounding it. Many of the existing clients made appointments with him directly instead of working through the partner who had recruited them. Thus, he wasn't surprised to see that he had an 11 a.m. meeting with Ms. Victoria Broussard to discuss an expansion of her agricultural business into manufacturing. However, when he inquired, he found that Ms. Broussard was not an existing client, but rather a potential new account. This would be a first for him.

The name Broussard evoked many memories for him, most pleasant, some not so. That had been the name of his college girl friend. They had been together for nearly three years and it had been the hottest love affair of his life. He'd ended the relationship abruptly when he'd discovered that she'd been secretly making pornographic movies. While, in retrospect, the idea of living with a porn queen was quite sexy, the fact that she'd lied by omission was galling, not to mention that a budding lawyer could ill afford the stigma of such a thing becoming widely known.

He'd eschewed serious relationships with women ever since, but his reasons were not complex. First, he'd developed trust issues, and most women can smell that a long way off. Second, even though he'd had sex with several women over the years, none were as skillful or as wanton as his Slut had been. So, in addition to deceiving him, his Slut had spoiled him as regarded any other woman. However, Broussard was a name as common in south Mississippi as Smith was in Ohio. Ms. Victoria Broussard would not turn out to be Jan Broussard, his Slut and long lost love.

At 11 sharp, Nancy opened the door and let Ms. Broussard in, saying, "Mr. Birch, Ms. Broussard, your 11 o'clock. Would you like some water, coffee, or tea, Ms. Broussard?"

"Thank you, no," was the polite and quiet response. Nancy left the room and closed the door behind her.

Tom Birch, Attorney at Law, stood staring at Ms. Broussard with opened mouth surprise. She was still tall and large breasted. Her legs were still long and shapely, and she still preferred sexy strappy high heeled sandals. However, she was dressed in a very conservative manner; skirt, blouse, short matching business jacket, all in various but matching shades of brown. Her hands and feet were still immaculately kept and beautiful and her large eyes were still blue. Her neck was still short and her lips still thin. However, like him, she had lost the extra weight of their college years, so her short neck didn't mar her overall looks so much. Her once blond hair was now a deep rich chestnut, which made her eyes stand out even more, but she still wore it long and wavy. Removing all doubt, she said in a low and quiet voice, "Hello Daddy. It's been a long time. You look better than ever. I'll bet in that three-piece suit and expensive haircut you break the heart of every woman who sees you." She then sat down rather primly, looked up at him and waited.

He practically fell into his chair and could only say, "Victoria?"

She continued to smile, "My middle name. I go by it, now. I never really liked "Jan." I only used it because I liked it better than "Vickie" or "Tory." But now that I'm a businesswoman nobody tries to shorten it."

Attempting to maintain his reserve, he asked, "Why are you here?"

She answered, "You mean why am I here now? As in, why haven't I come before?"

He merely nodded. He didn't dare try to speak further. His mouth was so dry that he was afraid his words would come out as a croak.

She increased the sincerity of her smile and said, "I've wanted to come to you for years. You know I never stopped loving you. I cried for a solid week. Then I couldn't get out of bed for a month. I tried to starve myself to death. If a friend hadn't been watching me, I'm sure I would have found a way to kill myself. It was a long time before I could be trusted to contact you calmly and without drama. I've been keeping up as closely as I could. I'll admit if you'd gotten married, I might have gone back off the deep end. But you haven't and I didn't, so I'm here."

He just kept staring, so she continued, "I actually do have a legitimate business reason to be here. If you have nothing else to say, we can discuss that." She looked a little disappointed.

He could only manage, "Business reason?" It sounded quite lame, but it was all he could manage. His emotions were in complete turmoil.

After a brief pause, she said, "I am the part owner of a farm. We raise peaches and produce honey. Everything is organic, so it's expensive and a big hit with the yuppies. I mean no offense, if you consider yourself one."

That brought a ghost of a smile to his lips. Though he was young, and, at least for Mississippi, urban, and certainly a professional, he thought people who espoused the beliefs and behaviors of what were named "yuppies" were pretentious fools. Getting a grip on his nerves, he simply said, "No offense." And added, "I've never seen you looking better, not even in my dreams. The chestnut hair really makes your eyes stand out." As he said this, he sat back and relaxed further.

Her nerves now began to jangle, but out of hope, not fear or shock. "Could it be that he doesn't really hate me? Is it possible that he'll go for my proposal?" She asked herself.

With the warmest smile she had ever given anyone, she said, "Thank you. It means a lot to me that you approve. Well, so far, we only fall under agricultural rules and those are a lot easier to understand and follow than the FDA. But we intend to start manufacturing food products, such as peach syrup, so, we need an FDA expert and you're the best in the state, maybe even in the South. We want you to come down to the farm and stay for a long weekend. We need you to look our operation over and examine our plans and discuss our ideas."

His smile faded and he frowned slightly. "My workload is very heavy. I doubt if the partners would agree to my taking time off right now, even for a potential new client."

She reached into her purse, pulled out a checkbook, made out a check, tore if off and passed it over to him. It was made out to his firm in the amount of $10,000. The notation was "Consulting fee." She said, "Shouldn't that buy you a long weekend of freedom?"

Eyes wide and brows up, he said, "I suppose it will, but why do I have to go there? Surely I'm just supposed to examine documentation? That's how these matters usually work."

She responded, "Not in this case. There are things that it is important for you see, things that will be critical in your decision making. Please?"

He said, "Well ok. When?"

"Today is Wednesday. So, Friday at noon? We'll send a car for you."

"I can drive myself," he protested.

She answered, "The farm is remote, and you might have trouble finding it. We prefer this way. We'll have you back in town by 1 on Monday. Ok?"

Shrugging his shoulders he said, "If you wish."

She arose and he did likewise. "Then I'll see you Friday afternoon," and extended her hand, which he took. They didn't shake. They just held each other's hand and looked into each other's eyes. Finally, he felt it necessary to break their clasp, come around the desk, and walk her out to the lobby. With a final "Bye, now," she stepped into the elevator and left. He returned to his office, informed Nancy of the arrangements, and tried his best to get back to work.

The time between her visit and his leaving at noon on Friday were the least productive hours he had spent in years. He couldn't get the picture of her out of his mind, nor the question that kept swirling around in his head. He could smell ulterior motives a mile away and this situation was rife with them.

The car picked him up promptly at noon. They headed south on State Highway 49 towards Hattiesburg. They passed through Hattiesburg and turned east on Highway 98. They weren't on 98 much more than 30 minutes when the driver took an unmarked left onto a gravel road that wound on for an additional 15 minutes. At the end of the road was a driveway that came to a large house. As he exited the car, he could see two other, much smaller, houses on either side of the large one, each about 200 feet from the main house and each other, forming a sort of triangle. As the driver left, the door of the large house opened and Victoria stood in the doorway. She was dressed in a manner similar to what she had worn in his office. She smiled a welcome and asked if he'd had a pleasant trip. He said that he had and appreciated the car as he would have never found the place otherwise.

Instead of moving out of the door, she extended her hand. He took it and, instead of shaking, she pulled herself close and kissed his cheek lightly. She said, "I'm very glad you came. Please come in," and led him inside by the hand.

The entry way was large, more of a foyer really, and the floor there was tile. The floor plan was open, with a large dining room to the left and living area to the right. Both of these rooms had wooden floors and paneled walls. The kitchen was straight ahead. A long counter top ran the length of the kitchen and separated it from the living area, serving as either a counter or bar as the occasion required. Victoria led him to the bar and offered him a double Glenfiddich neat.

"You remember?" he asked, deeply gratified.

She smiled sincerely and answered, "Everything. You?"

To demonstrate that he did, he took a glass, put in two ice cubes, and poured her a double Stolichnaya on the rocks.

He handed the drink to her, touched her glass with his and offered, "To all our memories," as a toast.

Her gaze softened as she smiled and sipped. She took his hand and led him to a comfortable leather couch where they sat side by side. She half turned toward him, placed her arm on the back of the couch near his and said, "Can we just talk for a little while?"

He offered no objection, so she continued, "I don't blame you. I was afraid that something like that would happen all along, so, I don't blame you for the way you reacted, not at all. But, please tell me the truth, do you hate me?"

He frowned as if the suggestion were ridiculous. "No. How could I, after everything we were to each other? Besides, I never could hold a grudge. No. Of course I don't hate you. I've missed you. I can't tell you how many times I wished I'd handled things differently."

A deep and pleasant sigh revealed her relief. "That's a good start."

"Start to what?" he asked, a little suspiciously.

Seeing he had finished his drink, she put down her glass, rose up, extended her hand and said, "I'd like to show you something, please?"

He let her take his hand. They walked past the kitchen, through a large game room and down a hall with doors on either side. At the second one on the left, she opened the door and led him in. At a desk sat a boy about seven years old. He looked a question at Victoria, but quickly turned his eyes back to the boy. She said, "Tommy, I've brought a good friend to meet you. Say hello to Mr. Birch."

Tom now saw that the boy had been drawing something. When he turned around, Tom felt as if he were looking into a mirror. The boy's hair was thick, naturally wavy, and so dark brown that it nearly looked black. His dark brown eyes were a little close set, but not obnoxiously so. He had a medium build and was a little heavy. But the real tell was the strawberry mole beneath his right ear, exactly where Tom had always had one.

The boy smiled and extended his hand, and said "Hello, Mr. Birch. My name's Thomas, but mom calls me Tommy."

Straining hard to cover his shock, Tom shook hands with the boy and said, "My name's Thomas, too, but everybody calls me Tom. What would you like me to call you?"

The boy smiled at the idea of telling an adult what he wanted to be called and answered, "Thomas, please."

"Well, then, Thomas it shall be. What are you drawing?"

"It's my horse, Big Red. He's a quarter horse and Uncle Eli says he's as sure-footed as a cat. I don't really know what that means other than I should be able to ride soon."

"Well, I bet you're right. It sounds to me as if Big Red is not liable to slip and fall or step into a hole the way some horses do, so he'll be safer for somebody your size to ride."

"I knew it!" said the boy.

Tom looked around the room and saw a bookshelf filled with books, mainly adventure stories. He spotted many works by Robert Louis Stevenson and Jack London. He pointed to them and told the boy that those men had written some of his favorite books, especially "Treasure Island" and "The Call of the Wild."

The boys eyes lit up and he said, "I like to play like I'm Jim Hawkins when he climbs aboard the "Hispaniola" and cuts the anchor loose."

Tom responded, "Oh yeah, he really made fools of the pirates didn't he? Even old Long John himself."

Tommy agreed.

Just at that moment, they heard a door open toward the back of the house and somebody call, "Where is everybody? Ole Eli and his favorite nephew got an appointment with destiny. We got a long hike to the campsite and gotta git there befo' dark."

Victoria called out, "We're in Tommy's room, with an old friend of mine."

Tommy could not be restrained. He ran out of the room yelling, "Uncle Eli! Is everything ready?" and gave the tall black man a big hug.

Eli picked him up, hugged him back and said, "Sure enough is. Go git yo' hikin' boots on and we'll go out the back."

As Tommy ran back into his room, Victoria and Tom emerged. Victoria said, "Tom, this my business partner, Eli Green."

Tom and Eli exchanged handshakes and "Good to meet yous." Eli said, "Victoria done told me you the bes' there is fo' wha' we need. She know as much about everything as me, so whatever ya'll decide I'm down with. Ya feel me?"

"Yes," said Tom, translating Eli's jargon into standard English. Hearing that kind of talk was one of the things he loved about his home state. "Victoria and I have much to discuss. I'll leave it to her to tell you, if you're still in the woods when I leave. It was good to meet you Eli."

"Same here. Hey nephew, lez go!"

"Coming," Tommy said, breathlessly as he came running up. He had been tying his hiking boots and Eli's inspection failed to find a flaw. With a jerk of his head toward the back door, they were both out.

Tom looked at Victoria and asked, "When did you find out? Why didn't you tell me?"

Victoria could see that he wasn't angry, just sort of bewildered and confused. She took his arm and walked him back into the living area and sat him down. She made them another pair of drinks and sat beside him.

"As to your first question, not until a couple of months after I left. I was despondent and nearly suicidal. Eli was the friend that I mentioned earlier. He saved me, and, as it turned out, saved Tommy too. One of the things he did was get me to a doctor, but that was after the first month, when he thought I was over trying to kill myself. He didn't want that in my medical records. The doctor was a friend of his from the service and he gave me a thorough exam. That's when I found out. Eli was willing to go to you and try to get you to meet with me, but I wouldn't let him.

"Why not?" Tom asked.

"Because I still loved you. I didn't want to force you. I wanted you to love me the same way that I loved you. I didn't think enough time had passed. And then, when the baby came, I was so wrapped up in him. Even then he was the spitting image of you. I was able to channel at least some of my love for you to him."

"But why now? What has changed?"

"Last month, Tommy asked me where his daddy was. I was struck because he'd never asked before. I put him off and talked to Eli about it. He told me it was his opinion that you should know; that it wasn't a question of making you feel obligated; it was my obligation to tell you about your son. So we devised a way to do it. Eli's taken Tommy camping so we can talk this weekend. You were right, the legal work is mostly documentary, but Tommy isn't." After a brief pause, she added, "And neither am I."

Tom asked, "What do you mean?"

Somewhat despondently she cried, "Isn't it obvious? I still love you. I never stopped. After I found out about Tommy I couldn't let my loss of you affect him, so I've fought it these past 7 years. I've thrown myself into raising him, starting this farm, developing the business and all that, but not even Tommy can replace the emptiness inside me since I lost you. Tell me you feel nothing for me and you'll never hear from me again; but only say that if you really mean it."

He gazed into her tear-filled eyes as said, "You know that I can't truthfully say that, but what about the past?"

She calmed down a bit and responded, "Do you want to hear about it? Or would you rather just move on from here? I owe you any explanation that you think you want. But can we talk about it later? Aren't you hungry?"

He couldn't look anywhere but into her eyes. Finally he said, "Okay. Let's eat."

She got up and began reheating a meal she'd prepared earlier, grilled pork chops, sauteed potatoes with onions, and steamed green beans flavored with diced ham. After she served the plates she opened two bottles of imported beer and gave him one. She looked into his eyes and asked, "Did I forget anything?"

He said, "No. It's perfect."

They didn't talk much during dinner. Afterward, she turned on some light jazz, dimmed the lights, and sat next to him. As earlier, she half-turned her body toward him, threw her arm on the back of the couch and asked him to catch her up with his doings. She listened intently for the mention of any other woman, but apparently they were sparse and transitory.

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