Swans Ch. 1by*Eve*©
Note to reader: This story is a sequel to two previous stories of mine. If you ever wondered what happened to the characters in The Temp and Della's Turn, or why they were the way they were, here's the answer.
We all classify people as good, bad, nice, mean, stupid, or however we chose to label others. We do it sometimes without even realizing that we're doing it, but things usually aren't so black and white. There are shades of gray that we tend to look past before making our judgment of other people. Everyone has a story: the mean people, the nice people, the really weird people. They all have stories too. Sometimes we wonder why a person is the way they are. This is a story about two friends, their heartaches, and pains as ugly ducklings, and how they finally found love and acceptance in the most unexpected places. This is the story of how they became Swans.
Several heads turned as the two women entered the restaurant. They were a stunning pair. One was black, tall, and aloof, the other was blonde, petite, and smiling, but they were equally attractive. Men paused in their actions to get a glimpse at the two beauties. One waiter who had been carrying a tray of food, tripped over his own feet, spilling the contents of his tray when he spied the two of them. Many of the women in the restaurant glared at the newcomers and looked away with jealousy clearly written on their faces. One woman went as far as to make a comment to her dining companion, "Look at those two. They probably think that they're something else. I'm sure I would have all the men in here acting like idiots over me too if I were as full of silicone as those two." She said spitefully with a sneer. Her companion turned to face her realizing that she was talking to him, he too had been staring at the women.
"Huh? Did you say something?" he asked, earning himself a dirty look. The objects of everyone's scrutiny were unconcerned or unaware of the stir that they had caused.
Yvette and Cassidy took their seats as the host made a big show of pulling out a chair for each of them. The host made sure to let then know that if they had the slightest need, they were to call on him. They thanked him politely but he still seemed reluctant to leave their table. Cassidy giggled but Yvette shot him a cold stare that made the host turn bright red before he scurried off. "Cass, I think we should consider finding another place to do Sunday Brunch," drawled Yvette, scanning the menu although she already knew what she wanted to order. 'Lighten up Yvette. We've been coming to this establishment for Sunday Brunch for the past two years. It's the only time we get to talk sometimes because of our hectic schedules. You're the one that chose this restaurant in the first place because of the "atmosphere," besides, it's your fault the men are acting like little boys." Cassidy pointed out." Yvette raised a perfectly arched brow, "And how is that?"
"Because you're such a sex goddess." Cassidy teased. A smile touched Yvette's full lips. Cassidy could always bring a smile to her face She had been doing so since they were in grade school together.
After their meals had been ordered, they began their girl talk. "So what's been going of with you lately? We've had to cancel brunch for the last three weeks now, so what's up?" Yvette asked.
"Well, the work load lately has been keeping me over. I've actually had to work a couple Sundays. I have a new boss as, I told you the last time we talked. I've been so tired lately. Maybe I should start looking for another job. This new guy is nothing like Peter."
Cassidy sighed, twirling a lock of her platinum hair. "You never did tell me how all this came about. I mean, how did Peter Bell get ousted from the company?"
"Well, I think I told you a lot of this before but, the company was Mr. Carlton's, and Peter married Mr. Carlton's daughter Della, to give himself a push in the company. He use to laugh about it with me. He even went as far as to tell me that he didn't love her," Cassidy explained.
"You mean he made it all the way to the top by marrying the boss's daughter? If you ask me that sounds pretty crummy." Yvette shook her head in disapproval.
"Well, I suppose that being a little ambitious never hurt anyone, besides, according to him, she's the one that pursued him in the first place. He simply took that bait that she dangled in front of him. He also said that it was at her insistence that he was promoted, although I'm sure he probably suggested it in the first place. I would say that she got what was coming to her, spoiled society bitch." Cassidy's last few words were muttered under her breath, although Yvette heard every word.
"Now, now. There's no need for name calling, and isn't that what you always wanted to be yourself? A rich society dame? And weren't you screwing Peter so that that he would leave his wife for you in the first place?" Yvette pointed out bluntly.
"So I was," Cassidy smiled at her own hypocrisy. "OK, how does this all fit in with him getting the boot?"
"Well, I think that his wife was on to us. She would call often to make sure that Peter was still in the office. Once, she even came into Peter's office when we were kissing. I think she may have seen us but she pretended like she didn't. She just smiled sweetly at Peter and looked at me like I was dirt or something... just like when..." her voice trailed off. A gleam came into Cassidy's eyes. Yvette was tactfully silent waiting for her friend to gather her composure once more, understanding why her friend had become sad. Cassidy smiled once more when she felt better and continued the story. "Well, I guess his wife finally got fed up with him, so she left him. Peter had a laugh about that as well, and seemed really unconcerned about it all. He said that she would come back to him of course. Well, when his wife didn't come back, he began to panic. I didn't understand why at first. I even went as far as to tell him that now he could marry me. You know what that bastard told me?" she asked indignantly.
"What did he say sweetie?" Yvette asked.
"He laughed in my face and said that I was just a pillow friend to him. He said that I am not a suitable wife for a man of his status."
Cassidy almost broke into tears then at the thought of Peter's cruelty. "Honey, I know that it must have hurt but this will teach you that in your pursuit of a wealthy husband, you have to be careful of the types of men that you go after, married men especially."
"Oh, and you haven't screwed your share of married men?" Cassidy asked.
Yvette's lips tightened at the reminder. "Touche, but I know better then to get the idea of marriage in my mind. Besides, I don't plan to ever get married. No man is going to control every aspect of my life."
"Well, we both know that you have issues, Yvette, and bitterness does not become you." Cassidy countered, and then realized what they were doing. "Look, let's not argue over something as trivial as this."
"You're right, I guess, I've just had a lot on my mind lately, so go on and finish the rest of the story."
"Well, Peter did give me a pretty raw deal in the end, but I did get wined and dined in the best restaurants, and I did get those diamond earrings and matching pendant. Oh yes, and this lovely platinum watch," she held up her wrist showing off the expensive piece of jewelry.
Yvette smiled to herself, sometimes Cassidy was like a little kid with a toy, when she acquired stuff from a new suitor. "That's nice and all sweetie, but get to the point."
"Well, of course as I said, Peter began to panic, and that's when he revealed to me that he only owned ten percent of the shares, and his wife owned thirty, Mr. Carlton owned forty percent." Yvette gave her a blank stare. "That means that Mr. Carlton, and Mrs. Carlton-Bell, controls the board of directors. The board voted Peter out of the company on the same day that his wife handed him the divorce papers."
"Can they do that? I know that nepotism got him to the top in the first place but can they just get rid of him because his wife left him?"
"The truth of the matter was that Peter was not as hard working once he made it to CEO. The company was losing accounts, and money, and Peter wasn't doing anything to turn that around. They were perfectly justified. The board was good enough to keep me on, and said that it would be up to the new CEO to decide whether he wanted to keep me or not."
"Is that the last you saw of Peter?"
"No. Would you believe that he came to my apartment one night about a couple weeks ago. He was kind of drunk, and he said that all he had left was the money he had left over from selling his shares in the company and his house, but he planned on starting a company of his own and making it to the top again. I asked him if there was no chance of him getting back with his wife, and he said that there wasn't because she was getting married to some crippled guy. I said good for her, and that it was too bad for him that she wouldn't take him back because I certainly didn't want him now, especially when he would not be able to keep me in the style that I've grown accustomed to. You should have seen the look on his face. I thought he was going to hit me or something but he just called me a greedy little bitch and left. I haven't heard from him since. Maybe he's found another woman to latch on to. I don't know," she shrugged.
"Good for you." Yvette congratulated. They were silent as the waiter put their meals in front of them, and resumed talking when he left. "So tell me about this new boss of yours."
"Well this guy is single but he's married to his job. He's worked with the company since he got out of Grad school fifteen years ago and he's done good things for the company."
"But tell me what he's like."
"Well, I doubt he's a millionaire, but he does make a six figure salary and I'm sure he had some money saved up somewhere because he drives a Mercedes, but he's such a geek. He kind of looks like Bill Gate, nondescript with big glasses. There's even levels I won't stoop in my pursuit of a rich husband." They both laughed out loud at that comment, earning them another wave of stares.
"Good for you. Don't lower your standards for anyone girl."
"So now it's your turn to tell me the latest goings on with you? How's the new job?" Cassidy asked taking a nibble of her salad.
"Oh, it's great! This is my dream job. I love the art gallery. I've never been in a managerial position like this before and I was surprised that the owner had offered me the job at all. She's a really sweet old lady by the way. She said that she saw my potential, and I also told her that I use to paint when I was younger. She said that maybe if I took up painting again she would like to see some of my stuff sometimes."
"That is super Yvette, you deserve it. I think you were wasting your time as a secretary anyway."
"I know. All this responsibility is so thrilling. I really did hate working for Mr. Messersmith, and I hated temping even more. My boss, Mrs. Jansen is really sweet and she lets me do my own thing." Yvette sighed.
"How are things with your love life?" '
"You know my luck with men, they either want to just fuck me or they're too scared to approach me. What's love anyway? I don't need a man except to provide a little dick between the sheets every now and then. It's not like I plan on getting married ever."
Cassidy shook her head at Yvette's cynicism. "You're not still seeing that artist are you? There's something a little sadistic about him," Cassidy said with some concern for her friend.
"I see him occasionally." Yvette shrugged.
"But he seems like the violent type. Doesn't he get a little rough sometimes?"
"You know I like it rough darling." Yvette laughed.
Cassidy didn't join in the laughter this time. Cassidy sincerely hoped that her friend would realize that she was playing with fire, and stop, and soon.
Yvette went straight home to her apartment to change her clothes after brunch. She took a quick look in the mirror when she finished changing to check her appearance. sometimes when she looked at her face in the mirror it was like a stranger looking back at her. She studied the smooth dark face that most people would consider beautiful and remembered a time when this very same face was not so beautiful. It always made her cringe to think about those days. When she was satisfied with her appearance she headed back out the door.
Sundays were normally her days to kick back and spend some time with her friend Cassidy, but she was needed at the gallery in an hour. She worked more hours at the gallery than she had worked at any job before but she loved every minute of it and wouldn't trade it for the world. She had gotten the job by sheer luck. Art was her only love. It had been her favorite subject in class when she went to school and she was always the best artist in school. All the spare money she could get when she was younger, would go towards art supplies so that she could paint, draw, or make things out of clay, although she liked painting the most. Her paintings were quite good and her art teacher in junior high school had said that she could probably make a name for herself if she kept applying herself and studied different techniques.
That was what she had planned to do, until her single mother got remarried. Not ever knowing, her father, since he had abandoned her mother and her when she was a baby, having to adjust to a father figure in her life at thirteen was a bit difficult, but she had been ready to accept him. What she didn't expect was how her stepfather completely regulated their lives, with an iron fist. He controlled everything in the house from the finances down to the smallest detail and Yvette witnessed her mother wilt from a strong woman, to a pushover. Her mother let Tyrone talk to her and treat her any kind of way and it distressed Yvette. She and her mom had always been so close, and her mother did nothing to stop Tyrone's abuse on her either. Yvette's art had become a casualty of Tyrone's tirade as well. He told her that her stuff was garbage and that perhaps she should concentrate on something that would be a little more lucrative, because she wouldn't get by on her looks, as he liked to tell her. That was what had hurt the most.
Yvette, was always very tall for her age, and to make matters worse, she was at least fifty pounds overweight, and her skin was ridden with acne and Tyrone who was had light toned skin, always liked to point out how dark and unattractive Yvette was. All the mental abuse was no where near as terrible as the other abuse, but she pushed the thought away as soon as it would pop into her head. With her confidence crushed, she gave up her art, but she still appreciated other people's works and she loved to frequent museums. Cassidy who had been her only friend in school, since they were both pretty unpopular for their own reasons, encouraged her to take up her art again, but Yvette wouldn't hear of it. It was only about a month ago when Yvette was visiting an art gallery downtown to look at some works that she was interested in that she met Mrs. Jansen. They had got to talking about art and somehow they had gotten on the subject of her work.
Yvette had told her how she was temping and wasn't really enjoying it at all, and Mrs. Jansen, then told her that she was looking for someone to manage the gallery for her, a curator of sorts. At first Yvette declined because she had no experience but Mrs. Jansen pointed out that Yvette was very knowledgeable about art and seemed to have an eye for what was good and what was pretentious junk. The older woman went on to tell Yvette that she was never wrong about her hunches and that she knew that Yvette was the person she had been looking for. Yvette then immediately agreed to take on the job. It wasn't as if she liked to temp, and the law firm that she was temping at was not her cup of tea, and she could really do without that eager puppy that she had to work with everyday. Now here she was doing something that she loved, and life was pretty good.
When she got to the gallery, the receptionist greeted her with a smile, which Yvette knew was fake. Sally didn't like her for some reason, and Yvette couldn't care less. Perhaps she was jealous of her, many women were. Yvette wasn't a conceited person, but she knew that she could turn head with little effort ever since she had lost weight and her skin cleared up. Sally was a little on the dumpy side, and looked a bit drab. Yvette being coolness itself gave her a smile equally as phony and went on her way to her office. There were several messages on her voice mail. One was from Cassidy wanting her to call when she got the chance, the other call was from Javier, the artist that she saw on and off.
Yvette gritted her teeth at his message. He was all sweetness over the machine. He was being a lot nicer to her since she had gotten this job, hoping for the chance to get some of his work displayed there since this was one of the nicest galleries in the city. It wasn't going to happen and maybe she should let him know that soon. The last message was from Mrs. Jansen saying that her son would be coming by the studio to pick up some papers that she wanted to look over and if she could get them ready by the time he arrives. Yvette frowned slightly, Mrs. Jansen had mentioned that she had one son, who was a bit of a jet setter. What was he doing here? No matter, it was nothing to her. She would return Cassidy's call later, and if it were really important Javier would call her back.
As if her thoughts had been read, the phone rang. Yvette answered in a cool professional voice. "Hey baby, I have been calling all morning. I was finally forced to use that annoying answering machine of yours. Where have you been? Why haven't you returned my call?" Javier asked petulantly. Yvette rolled her eyes up in her head in exasperation. 'I only just got in, what is it you, want?" She asked a little impatiently. "Why you of course sexy. When am I going to slip my cock in that tight pussy yours again?" He asked suggestively.
"Really, Javier, this is neither the right time or place to talk about this." Despite her words, she felt a little twinge between her legs at the thought of what he said. Damn this weakness in her. She wished that she didn't crave sex so much. She held all men in contempt, and if she didn't like to get fucked so much she would have no use for them.
"But, baby, it's been a week, and I know you're missing this, unless you've been getting it from somewhere else, and it would just break my heart to think of you cheating on me," he said. She could hear the pout in his voice.
"There's no way I could cheat on you because there's nothing between us. What is it that you want? I really wish you'd get to the point, so that I can get on to my work." She spoke firmly.
After a brief pause, he spoke again, "You really know how to cut a guy down Yvette. I wish you would give a fellow a chance every once in a while, but since you asked, I was wondering if you had shown some of my work to old lady Jansen yet," he said smoothly. Yvette gritted her teeth. Javier had no shame whatsoever. He was a user, but he had his uses.
"No, I haven't. She's a very busy lady and I would hate to think that that was the reason you were calling because I already told you that she isn't into your type of art."
"What would you know? You're no artist. I don't even know how you got this job. If it were a man who had hired you, I could understand because all you would have to do is spread those thighs right? Unless....Mrs. Jansen likes women." His words of abuse rolled right off of her. It was so typical of him. One minute he would be all sweetness and sunshine, the next he was the biggest asshole.