A History Lesson Ch. 02byJakeRivers©
(Again, a note of thanks to techsan for his excellent job of editing and his positive comments.)
Leaving the meeting with Mr. Reed, Beverly was mortified. First was the way she had acted: she had talked to James like she was some kind of slut. Reflecting on what she had said, she blushed furiously. Then when he abruptly stopped the discussion at the end and sent her off to do the research, Beverly felt rejected, that she wasn't appealing to James.
This hurt her vanity even though she knew she was being foolish. She had become more attracted to him, really a schoolgirl crush, with each class she took. He treated her with respect and encouragement; he gave her faith in herself, that she could overcome her background and become someone. Now she had blown it.
"I just wish I knew how to act around men!"
Telling herself "I feel like I'm wasting my time, I had my chance, and darn it..." she went to the school to pull the data together for her meeting with Mark Braxton. The cost information was easy to get from the school's web sites. She also did a comparison of their history programs hoping this might impress James.
In looking over the results of her research, it became clear to her that her goals were too fuzzy – getting out of Baldwin and having pride in her accomplishments should be byproducts of what she wanted to do. She realized that she really loved history; the stories of people and places fascinated her. She felt compelled by the thought of giving to others what she had received from James.
As she started to put down these thoughts into the goals James had asked her for, she drifted off thinking about how hard her life had been.
Her dad had worked for a small logging company that went to pockets of hardwood left over from the huge forests decimated in the 1800's. Occasionally he would have to travel further north to harvest white pines.
He was out of work a lot, and when he did work he was away for several weeks at a time. She remembered her mom as being slight and very pretty. As she grew older she realized her mom was drinking all the time and when she was about ten her mom started bringing men home. This terrified Beverly and she locked herself in her room whenever her dad wasn't home.
One morning her dad came home unexpectedly. He found his wife passed out on the floor with a man asleep in his bed. He exploded in anger and started savagely beating on the stranger. Beverly heard her dad shouting and left her room... when she saw her dad beating on the man she started screaming. Her dad turned in horror and grabbed his daughter and led her back to her room. When he returned the man was gone.
He called the police and his wife was arrested for child endangerment. She was given 90 days in jail and given a court order not to see her husband or child. Beverly never saw her again. The man was a transient her mom had picked up – she never even knew his name. Being a relatively small town there was a lot of talk about it for several years. From that time on Beverly was somewhat afraid of men and their passions.
Her dad got a low paying job at a local lumberyard to be home more for his Bev. She turned very shy, and when she started high school she tried to stay away from boys. The two times she dated, the boys became fresh as soon as they had her alone. Both times she jumped out of their car and ran home.
She never dated after that. Part of the reason was her clothes. They didn't have much money and she had to make most of her dresses. They were nice, but plain compared to what the others girls wore. She did keep herself neat and clean at all times. The one man who was kind to her was her history teacher, Mr. Reed. He was the only man that seemed to respect her.
As she sent in her scholarship papers, she realized that she would have to have a job. The only place that seemed to have jobs available was Sam Bly's bar, The Swan. When she met with Sam he showed her around, had her watch some the girls dancing, and how they dressed (more accurately, undressed!).
Back in his office he asked her "are you interested in dancing for me?
Since this was the only job available, she hesitantly said "yes".
Sam told her "Take off your blouse so I can evaluate your 'charms'".
Knowing that he went into the women's dressing room all the time and would see her anyway, she slowly unbuttoned her blouse with hands shaking.
Filled with sudden lust Sam asked "how badly do you need this job?"
She replied "I don't have any other choices!"
He replied "good! Then there is just one more step in the interview and the job is yours!"
She started putting her blouse back on with relief, when Sam said "wait! Go ahead and take off the rest of your clothes and the job is yours".
Beverly turned white and ran from the room with Sam laughingly shouting after her "come back when you are ready, bitch!"
This took her to her interview with Mr. Reed. She resolved that she would do whatever she had to do to get him to help her find a job. She was scared, but rationalized that at least he was attractive, he had always been nice to her, and that she "kinda" liked him. As much as it terrified her, by this time she felt she had no choice. Though he was nicer than other men she had known, he was a man and she knew what all men expected: what she had to give to Mr. Reed.
She shook her head and realized she had been sitting there for an hour. She focused and shortly finished her task.
Later that night she called Braxton to meet with him for lunch the next day. A little after that, James called and told her about Western Michigan and the trip to meet with the professor and his family. He told her about their history program, and some about the professor and his family.
Beverly was overwhelmed... and worried. What was this going to cost her? Remembering James' reaction earlier, she hesitantly asked "James, what do you expect from me, sex?"
He replied "Beverly" and was quiet for a moment. "Beverly, sex is something that should come from love. You don't love me and I don't love you. If this changes, we can talk about it, but for now I respect you and want that respect back. I only ask two things: you really commit to your studies and that at the end of each semester you and I will meet for lunch to review your progress and discuss your on-going goals."
"Mark called and said that you have lunch set up – he will give you all the information and funds you need. Work with him through the year letting him know if there is anything you need. Okay?"
"Okay... thank you, James" she almost whispered as she placed the phone down.
The next day she met Mark Braxton and he immediately made her nervous. He was very handsome and impeccably dressed. He didn't do anything outright, just a lot of touches, sitting/standing close, accidental touches. Beverly blushed each time and moved away a little. It seemed like Mark was always right up against her, slightly brushing up against her legs or her breasts. She thought about what James had said: "call me if he gives you any problems..." but was scared to make an issue out of it.
Mark for his part was enchanted with her and started thinking how he could get her in his bed. To hell with James and his dammed orders. Who he slept with was none of James' business.
The lunch was at a very nice French restaurant and Mark covered all that she needed to know. He gave her $500 for clothes and another $500 for expenses: bus, dinners out on her visit to Kalamazoo, etc. Beverly thought it was too much but Mark insisted he was just following his orders. Mark gave her general info on the plan: for her to talk to Al about the intern program letting her know she had to minor in a foreign language, and giving her a credit card with a $5,000 limit in a credit line to use as a reserve fund. She was to mail the credit card receipts to Mark for filing.
Beverly did make the trip and it went wonderfully. The professor and his wife treated her very nice and his daughters (two living at home and two married, but living close by) took her out shopping for clothes and to several informal get-togethers, including a pool party.
She had to buy a swimsuit and of course chose a conservative one piece. It didn't make any difference, the boys still flocked around and she was constantly blushing. Sara walked her though filling out paper work and was able to get her enrolled for an intensive summer French program.
She moved to Kalamazoo a week later. Bev (everyone in Al's family immediately started calling her that) had difficulty with the French but Sara with her fluent French helped her considerably. She went home for a couple weeks to visit with her dad and then returned to WMU and started her new life.
Beverly became good friends with Al's girls, they sort of adopted her. She did some dating, always with a group. Once, the boy she was with caught her in the hallway at a restaurant and gave her a kiss. She was startled at first, then pushed the boy away and ran back into the ladies room.
That night as she drifted off to sleep she wondered what it would be like to kiss James. She felt her face grow hot and felt all tingly so she pulled the pillow over her face and went to sleep.
The summer French class was very intensive for her, but it helped her realize how different college was than high school and really applied herself. Her first year she started somewhat slowly but gradually worked up to an A- GPA.
She had several electives and took a class on History of Renaissance Art and several music appreciation classes. These electives really opened her eyes, helped her grow more confident in herself, and she became more aware of the complex, yet rewarding possibilities life has to offer.
MARK AND ERIKA
Mark walked away from the phone thinking, "what an asshole James is! Just because he has so damned much money... that shouldn't keep me from having a little fun, as long as the girl was willing."
Mark started thinking about his last talk with Erika Johannson. She worked for a local law firm and he had been seriously banging her for a year now. He had told her several times about his client James Reed, about his money and how he wasn't using it to have fun, just wasting it! God forbid! At their last meeting he had told her about James' plan for Beverly.
Erika had said "god, I'd like to get some of that money! I didn't realize how much hard work it is to be a lawyer – the hours are killing me."
They talked it over and started coming up with a plan.
Mark was tired of working with other people's money. He was 35 and a confirmed bachelor. He was skimming pretty well from some of the investments (and certainly padding expenses like crazy!), but nothing to give him the lifestyle he knew he deserved. He liked fast cars and women, lots of women. Thinking about it he realized he was probably lucky to have escaped jail; some of the episodes in college were pretty close to rape.
"Yeah," he thought, "I will get James Reed and then get as much of his money as I can." He would have to carefully orchestrate a fool proof plan with Erika.
Over several months they talked it over, gradually refining a plan. Mark would set it up for James to meet Erika and she would use her "feminine wiles" to snare James. Meanwhile Mark would find a way to "take care" of James.
One of Mark's concerns was making sure she stuck to the plan. He wrote out a script and after one of their intense bedroom romps, handed it to her.
"Erika, let's make sure we have the plan worked out. Here's a script for you, and one for me. I'll read mine first and then you read yours, okay?"
With her nod, Mark went through his part of it. After discussing it and answering a few questions, he waved for her to read her part.
She picked up the script and started reading "After I meet James, I will make sure we dance quite a bit. I'll make sure to move in close to him so he can feel my breasts pushing against him. I will try to get him out on the balcony at the clubhouse, holding his arm tight and make sure he kisses me."
"I'll ask him to take me home and I will find a way to seduce him. I'll give him such great sex he won't know whether he is coming or going. I'll have him in such a fog he will want to marry me as quickly as possible."
"After we get married I will act the loving, faithful wife until the car accident happens. Then it's money, money, money!"
Mark said "Great!" and they kicked it around for a while, refining the plan, figuring how to get the most money out of it.
Unbeknownst to Erika, Mark had taped the session and was going to edit it to have insurance that she didn't do something stupid, like actually falling in love with James.
Mark continued to meet with Beverly periodically, even though a phone call would work. He didn't know why, but it seemed the most important thing in the world for him to seduce this girl. It wasn't that she was that pretty or had the body that Erika had, it was just that she was unattainable and definitely not interested. Mark did love a challenge!
Each time he met with her he made sure to touch her as much as he could; mostly seemingly innocent, but sometimes brushing her breast or what he thought was her one great asset, a lovingly rounded, firm ass.
Mark spent a great deal of time thinking of having all the money he could spend. He remembered his first job, after his second year of college. The only job he could find was as a meter reader for a gas company in Battle Creek. After being chased by more dogs that he could count all summer, he swore he would get rich and never work that hard again.
Even though Mark was making large sums, mostly from managing James' investments, he wanted more. He never submitted expenses without padding them. He worked out kickbacks on investments. Hell, the reason he wanted James to build a new house was because of "good friends" that would give him a "finder's fee" for the design and construction work.
At the next monthly meeting with Braxton, James asked how it went with Beverly. Mark told him everything was set up and she had already moved. James was impressed that Beverly was taking the summer intensive French course – it wasn't a requirement, but would give her a good head start learning French. He knew that she had taken four years of Spanish in high school.
Beverly had first caught his eye in the junior year American History class. James liked to try to get the kids to actually think; sometimes a real challenge. One of the approaches he used was to posit alternative histories and ask the students to write a paper on how a changed event might cause a change in future history.
The event for the paper Beverly wrote was the sailing of the Mayflower. James would set the context: how the settlers from the Mayflower put in place ways of government that set the stage for the later forming of American government.
He then talked about, and got the kids to brainstorm some circumstances that might have caused the Mayflower not to sail, or worse, not to arrive safely. The assignment was to speculate on how having no Mayflower and no pilgrims would have played out in the forming of the new country.
Beverly's paper was easily the most imaginative, not the best written, but a paper that showed the ability to think and reason. The paper really showed her innate, strong curiosity, and her hunger for learning. From that time forward, James paid more attention to her, meeting one on one to keep probing her mind.
The whole episode with Beverly coming to him for help, and the talks he had with his old prof, Al, got James to rethinking his life. He enjoyed teaching, but was there more he could do? He thought about it for a few weeks and then called Al and asked if he could come down for dinner. That weekend he made the trip. He met with Al early in the day for a couple of hours and then took him to lunch.
They kicked possibilities around and Al asked a number of probing questions. Over coffee, James said "let me see if I can tie all this together. I think it's clear I'm going to give up the teaching. I really enjoy it but I think it's time to move on."
"I'll focus on two things. The first is enabling more history teachers and making them more effective. The second is to try to make an impact on the quality of teaching materials available. "
"The first I can do by continuing what I have started, but adding several other Michigan Universities. I can set up some sabbatical programs, so more research and publishing can be done. And I can set up programs to encourage more History classes in the high schools and make it more interesting. One thought I had would be to have grad students go to the high schools and share some of what they are working on – it would be fun both for them and the high school students."
"All this I see focusing primarily on the Western Michigan area. I don't want to take on the world; I just want to make a difference where I can. The second idea would focus on the publishing part."
James continued, "Through a friend I know of a small publishing company in Detroit that mostly does history textbooks and specialty history publishing and it is for sale. I want to buy this company and have my friend run it.
Lately, I haven't been satisfied with either my investment company or the efforts of my account manager. A few months ago I started looking around for investment opportunities that I can do on my own. I've gradually been finding situations where I personally know the key players in the company. I also look for these situations in an industry that I think would be fun for me. I've found several, including one in a security company that looks like a winner.
"How does this sound, Al?"
"It sounds great! I would suggest you go ahead with the publishing company. Also start a foundation to coordinate donations, scholarships, etc. You should run this yourself. I would be happy to recommend some names for an oversight panel to provide general direction and make recommendations. This board would include teachers from all levels, students, and a couple of key legislators."
"Great, Al, let's do it!"
With that James set out to change his life! It seemed like he was rushing into philanthropy in a big way, but he had been having some thoughts about trying to do something for the last year. In a way, it would be somewhat selfish of him to keep teaching when he could do so much more! He just wasn't the type to put all his money into lazing around on a big yacht off Cannes chasing bleached blondes.
That night he ate with Al's family. Beverly sat across from him. At first she was quiet, almost embarrassed. But everybody was laughing, teasing each other so much that she came out of her shell and joined in. After dinner, James asked her to take a walk with him. Not much was said until they sat at a bench in a nearby park.
"Beverly, I think we got off on the wrong foot. I like and respect you – I will never ask you to do anything you don't want to do. I just want you to have a good life. I do know what happened with your family years ago – I needed to know more about you before I could sponsor you. I'm sorry I had to look into your background. I want you to take this history education as far as you want; I know you can do it." With that James stood up, kissed her on the cheek and walked her home.
At the end of Beverly's first full semester, James met with her again. This was the first time he would take her to dinner. He chose a quiet Italian café that had great food (and some equally great Chianti). Because he was coming in from out of town, he was a little late and Beverly was waiting in the bar, having some tea.