Self-Discovery Trek Pt. 03byamyyum©
Summary of Part 2:
Candace's philandering husband Winthrop was caught cheating yet again, even after he signed a post-nup waiving his right to contest a divorce and re-affirming the pre-nup if he was caught again. He also forged Candace's signature on two checks, one for his precious classic Bugatti, the other likely for his fuck buddy. Tragedy befell poor Winthrop when an illegal immigrant in an unregistered 4,400 pound old Cadillac"inadvertently" rammed the side of the Bugatti, rendering it undriveable, and he was arrested for forgery.
Candace changed her name to Amber as she set out on her trek along Los Caminos del Norte in Spain. After finding out her divorce was final she found sexual bliss with a twenty-one year old American who reminded her of her best friend Joyce's husband David. Amber then met up with an uncle and his two nieces. Amber brought the nieces out of their shells, and saved them from two predatory banditos by sacrificing herself before she turned the tables on the banditos and shot each in a leg and shoulder. He trek concluded with her euphoria that she had met all of her goals of self-confidence, self-reliance, and positive self-image.
When I got back to the States from Madrid my jet lag was worse than on the flight to France, so I acted like a zombie two days and did almost nothing except exercise, sleep, and eat. I was very pleased that Sonja and Jose had kept the house and gardens up nicely – I had asked them both to stay in the house during my almost four month absence. Both of them, and the security company that I had hired, assured me that my ex, Winthrop, had never gained access.
Speaking of Winthrop, one of the first things that I did after my jet lag malaise subsided was to go to see the DA personally and find out what happened about the forgery charges.
I was kind of surprised by the DA's wide-eyed look when I walked into his office. "Maybe I should have dressed a little more conservatively," I said to myself, then immediately dismissed it, answering myself "If you've got it there's no reason to hide it."
The DA's name is Charles Manson (yes, he does get asked or ribbed about it all the time, and takes it in good humor). He is about seven or eight years older than I am, and I have known him – through my parents – for at least ten years.
"You look different, Candace," he blurted out.
"That's because I'm unofficially 'Amber' now – and will legally be shortly – and I've gone through a significant metamorphosis, Charles," I replied with a smile.
"Amber suits you – yes, it really does," he mumbled.
"So, Charles, what's the deal with my asshole ex?" I asked, cutting to the chase.
"Well I'll give you the short version – but if you want the long version I can elaborate," he replied, his eyes still wide.
"The short will do," I snickered.
"Well, Winthrop was smart enough to plead guilty to a misdemeanor. He received only four days actual jail time but got an eighteen month suspended sentence and probation, and was required to make restitution with interest," Charles replied.
That was an acceptable solution to me, especially considering that his precious Bugatti had much of its value destroyed by the "careless" illegal immigrant. "Where's my $11,238.00 plus interest restitution?" I asked Charles with a lilt in my voice.
"Supposedly he has already paid it to your financial adviser," he replied.
"I'll check – thanks for your efficient and effective handling of this case. I'm pleased with the resolution," I responded.
"I live only to serve," he said with a smile. Then, as a harbinger of my new reality, said, "Say – would you like to have dinner with me sometime this weekend?"
I called Simon, my financial guru, and found that in fact I had been made whole although not by Winthrop, but by Winthrop's father. I guess that my supposition was correct that Winthrop had run through his trust fund and would not be living such a good life in the future. This was confirmed when I saw an ad in the most recent issue of a classic car magazine that Winthrop subscribed to that was still being sent to my house.
"For sale to the right discriminating buyer. Restored 1931 Bugatti Type 41 Royale Kellner, $2,000,000; call xxx-xxx-xxxx," which was Winthrop's cell phone number. The ad was above a photo of a vehicle that looked much less sparkly than before the "accident." According to Winthrop's previous estimate of it's worth his Bugatti had lost $7,000,000 in value.
"Wow, his last fuck with that bimbo was really expensive," I chuckled, not even a smidgen of remorse in my bones.
After a meeting with Simon reviewing my finances, meeting with my divorce attorney to get her to file my name change papers, and cleaning up a few loose ends, it was time for what I had been excitedly anticipating since the last few days of my trek – a call to Joyce and David.
I called Joyce's new law firm. "Mrs. Burns' office," her male secretary answered.
"Is Joyce there? Tell her that this is her old friend Amber Wells," I chuckled.
"I'll see if she's in, Ms. Wells," was his professional reply.
"Who the fuck is Amber Wells?" was Joyce's opening salvo; not "how are you," "good to hear from you," "are you still alive," or any other personal inquiry.
"How do you know that I'm not a new client with a million dollars' worth of business and a very sensitive disposition who now won't retain you?" I giggled.
We laughed at each other's' barbs for the next five minutes. Finally Joyce said, "All right, we need a long chat, and if I talk to you about your trek without David on the line he'll divorce me, so let me call you from home about ten your time tonight. Will you still be awake?"
"Are you sure that David isn't going to divorce you because of your cute, young male secretary instead?" I chortled.
"You mean my cute, young, GAY male, secretary," she laughed. "Well is your old ass going to be up at ten o'clock or not."
"Don't call a second later or I'll probably be asleep," I chuckled then signed off.
The three of us talked on the phone for an hour about our respective lives during our four month separation, and it was like it was like only a day had gone by we were so in tune with each other. Then Joyce got to the question I'm sure that she was dying to ask all along: "So, did you get any nookie on your journey?"
"Sorry, I'm not willing to talk about it with David on the phone. A girl has to have some secrets from the men in her life," I snorted.
"Hey, why can't I hear the good stuff?" David moaned.
"Because then you'll get to horny and won't leave me alone the entire night," Joyce shot back with feigned irritation.
"You guys are no fun," he sighed, and then there was a hang-up click.
"All right, he's off," Joyce excitedly said, "so let me have all the gory details."
Of course I would never tell another living soul about my sex life except for Joyce, but with her I laid out the entire experience with Dave 2. Not only did I describe virtually everything, but I admitted that what got me most excited was that he was almost David's doppelganger, and "next to my night with David it was the best sex of my life."
As soon as I made that comment "How much better was I than he was?" came David's snickering voice on the phone.
"You bastard!" Joyce and I yelled in unison.
"You stayed on the phone, you asshole," I screamed, equal parts angered, embarrassed, and humored.
David just chuckled then really did hang up after he pretended to be hurt and said "Well, I guess that I never will get the answer to that, so there is no reason to hang on any longer."
After Joyce and I recovered we chatted some more about when I would visit them – in a week or ten days. Joyce ended the conversation with "I have some other news for you, but it will have to wait until you get here, Candace – I mean Amber."
"You can't leave me hanging like that," I pleaded.
"Oh, but I can – call when your plans are finalized and one of us will pick you up at the airport," she said with a chuckle as she hung up the phone.
While I was planning my trip to the West Coast to see David and Joyce, Bret called me. His ostensible reason was to thank me for how I had helped out his nieces Alisha and Cybil. "Their parents were shocked by the change in them. They morphed from shy and retiring to effusive and self-confident. Their first few weeks at college have been great, and every time that I talk to them they ask if I've called you."
His comments warmed my heart – and I really hope that they were true.
He invited me to visit him. I told him that I was too busy planning my trip, but I invited him to visit me for a three day weekend, and he jumped at the chance.
Brett was actually fairly reserved for someone his age (35), life experience (a divorce, two advanced degrees, and the star of a major consulting firm), and appearance (slim and handsome). I quickly set him at ease, however, and he was forward enough so that we ended up in my bed the second night that he visited. After all, I had gotten to know him quite well in the three weeks he and his nieces traveled with me on the Camino de Santiago trail in Spain, plus it would have been impolite to ask him to visit me and not fuck him, especially since I could tell that he had feelings for me.
Two nights of sex with Bret was quite enjoyable, but the aftermath was not. He really seemed to be smitten by me but I could not help but compare him to David, and unfortunately he came up short – regrettably by a significant amount.
"Shit," I said to myself as I left Bret at the airport with a kiss, but with no promise to meet up again. "That one night with David was fantastic for me at the time, but did it ruin my potential for happiness the rest of my life? There isn't going to be another David – or even a Dave 2 for that matter – so I better lower my expectations," I chastised myself. That did not leave me in a good mood as I prepared further for my trip to the West Coast.
By the time that I was on the plane to see Joyce and David my mood had brightened significantly. I had several medium-length conversations with both of them, individually and together, and was really anxious to see them again.
When Joyce picked me up at the airport her "surprise" was instantly revealed. She was in maternity clothes.
I'm sure that I sounded like a teenager as all that I could get out was "Oh My God!" as I hugged her, trying not to pressure her noticeable baby bump. Rather than go straight to her car (there was no reason to pick up my extensive luggage – I was done with only travelling with a twenty pound backpack – since I had expressed it to her condo and it had arrived the day before), we found a fairly secluded alcove in the airport and excitedly chatted away.
"Wow, you look great Joyce – you definitely have that pregnancy glow," I gushed.
"I feel good too," she grinned. "And I only had morning sickness for three days – being pregnant definitely agrees with me."
"So when did you find out – how far along are you?"
"I was pregnant even before we moved; I just didn't know it yet. Right now I'm about twenty three weeks along," she smiled.
"Do you know what sex it is yet?" I inquired.
"It's a little girl – but don't tell anyone. David and I are keeping that a secret; you're the only one who knows."
We were both giddy. I was going to be an unofficial Aunt, and from the gleam in my eye Joyce knew that I would be trouble.
"I know that look, you bitch," Joyce fake snarled. "You are NOT going to spoil her rotten, do you understand?"
"Maybe," I deadpanned, "we'll see."
"I swear there is no way that I'll even let you hold her unless you promise," Joyce snarled once again.
"Don't get so melodramatic," I laughed, "what fun is it to be an Aunt unless you can spoil your niece?"
Obviously, Joyce didn't go back to work that day. We ate lunch and then went all around looking at baby furniture and accessories. "Shouldn't David be doing this with us?" I asked.
"He will be – it's just that I want you and me to scout everything out so that when we find what we want we'll know how to trick or pressure David into getting exactly what we desire," Joyce laughed.
"You're so devious," I chuckled.
We had a very successful afternoon, and had, between the two of us, entered a shitload of data into our iPhones for retrieval when he went looking for baby accessories again with the unsuspecting David.
When David got home that night we hugged for a good two minutes then exchanged a chaste kiss on the lips.
After dinner David and I shared a bottle of wine while Joyce enviously looked on with her pomegranate juice. Once both of us were feeling no pain David squeezed Joyce's shoulder and with an evil glint in his eye said "I'll bet that Joyce didn't tell you one effect of her pregnancy. Her sexual..."
He didn't get any further, at least initially, as Joyce leapt on him and playfully tried to cover his mouth. Without hurting her he held her hands together and covered her mouth with one of his large hands and continued. "As I was saying, before being so rudely interrupted, her sexual aggressiveness is now at an all-time high. She wants to fuck non-stop; I mean I barely can get a moment's rest from her hourly attacks. Maybe now that you're here she'll have the decorum to control her libido a little."
"Poor baby," I laughed, "I feel so, so sorry for you."
When he released Joyce she fixed a fake cold stare on him, folded her arms over her chest, and said "You don't have to worry about that any more, asshole. My legs are clamped together until the baby pops out," which got a big laugh out of both David and me.
Apparently David wasn't lying. The walls in David and Joyce's condo weren't the most sound-proof in the world. I was kept awake by some banging and moaning when I first tried to get to sleep, and was awakened in the middle of the night by some more.
I felt happy, jealous, amused, and horny all at the same time. I needed a couple of sessions with my fingers giving me release otherwise I wouldn't have been able to sleep at all.
The next week was one of the happiest of my life. Joyce only worked about half-time and we were like a couple of excited teen bffs as we went through the days doing everything together, including planning every single detail of her poor future-daughter's life. We also took great pleasure in both pampering and teasing David when he was around, but he held his own, including by turning me upside-down twice when I made what I thought were particularly clever comments that he, for some reason, took offense to (ha, ha).
Then came the worst day of my life.
Joyce went in to work in the morning, and was supposed to come by and get me for lunch, and then more baby shopping. When she was a half hour late – unusual for the normally prompt Joyce – I called her office to see if some emergency had come up. Her secretary thought that she had left almost an hour ago. I asked to be put in touch with David. He opined that she must just have gotten gas, and made a quick stop for groceries – "And to void her increasingly shrinking bladder," he laughed.
Not more than five minutes after I hung up with David, Joyce and David's home phone rang.
"Hello, Burns residence," I answered.
"Who is this," was the hesitant voice on the other end.
Since Joyce and I had told everyone who inquired that we were sisters I saw no reason to deviate from that. "This is her sister, Amber Wells – who's calling?"
"Uh, this is Dr. Bork. I have some bad news, Ms. Wells. Mrs. Burns has been in an auto accident and she is at the County General Emergency Room right now. Someone with authority needs to get over here promptly since some medical decisions need to be made," rang out the solemn voice at the other end of the line.
"Her husband and I will be right there," I exhaled.
I immediately called David, got him out of a meeting, and told him to meet me at County General. I had him put his secretary on the line when he hung up and got directions from her, then immediately got in my rental car and took off. On my way to the hospital I resolved that I would be strong. I wiped the tears from my eyes and said "No more tears; I'm confident and strong, and I have to be for David."
David had gotten to the hospital a few minutes before I had; he looked ashen. I just gave him a hug, sat him down, and then approached the nurse in charge.
"I'm Joyce Burns' sister. Where is she and what's the status?"
"She's in surgery right now, Operating Suite 4. She's in critical condition."
"The doctors obviously know that she's pregnant, right?" I barked.
"Certainly, and they are taking ever caution with the baby, I assure you."
"Where can her husband and I wait for news so that the doctors will know where we are and can tell us the prognosis?"
"The waiting room on the second floor is just outside of Operating Suites 1-4. I'll have an orderly escort you up there and notify the surgeon where you are."
I swear that if I wasn't holding him up David would have collapsed on his way to the waiting room. I was keeping the worst case scenarios for Joyce and the baby out of my mind and was thinking only about seeing David through this. Watching this big, strong, wonderful man look and act like a meek automaton was almost too much to take. Candace would have been worthless, but Amber was going to be strong.
There's no reason to relay all of the gory details. Joyce was not going to make it because of a severe head injury; she was brain dead. Fortunately she had a preggo seat belt on and the baby was traumatized but maybe could survive. I learned from Joyce's OB/GYN that a baby's chances for survival increases about 2-3% per day between 24 and 26 weeks of gestation, and that more than 90 percent born at 26 to 27 weeks survive. The OB/GYN estimated that Joyce was a few days over twenty four weeks pregnant.
I flew Joyce's parents to the area the day after the accident and put them up at the hotel closest to the hospital, while I stayed with David at the condo. He was confused and directionless so I had no choice but to take charge of the entire situation.
I talked to David and Joyce's parents and told them what had to be done. We had to keep Joyce alive until the baby's gestation period was over twenty six weeks, deliver her, and then pull the plug on Joyce. David was incapable of making a decision, but I had retrieved Joyce's Advance Directive from their safe deposit box and knew that Joyce did not want to be kept alive artificially. David and Joyce's parents could never make the decision to pull the plug so I had the three of them sign a medical power of attorney over to me.
I made all of the arrangements for the event to celebrate Joyce's life and for her cremation, according to her will and Advance Directive. With David's and her parents' permission I arranged for Joyce's ashes to be made into four diamonds, one for David, one for her parents, one for little Melissa Joyce Burns, and – selfishly – one for me.
Little Melissa was delivered as healthy and happy as a baby after twenty seven weeks gestation could be. Of course she had to remain in the ICU for a few weeks, but she was going to make it. David, David's parents (who I had also flown up to the area), Joyce's parents, and I all cried when we saw Melissa. Then we all, individually, said our goodbyes to Joyce before I signed the papers disconnecting her artificial life support.
Candace could never have delivered her best friend's – her sister's – eulogy. Amber had everyone both crying and laughing.
When everything had settled down I had a heart-to-heart with David.
"David, you know that I will do anything that I can to help you and Melissa; but I don't want to be butting in, so if you want me to beat it just tell me – I will understand."