A Wicked Stepfather Pt. 01byEgmont0409©
Recovering, Jenna asked, "Who were those people?"
Eliot looked around again and almost whispered. "There were five of them and I have instant recall of the names of the two principals -- the company chairman Eloise Cruickshank and editor Brigit Wiseman. Do you know them?"
Jenna stiffened and fingered her neck scarf. "Yes. Eloise is my mother."
Eliot's face remained impassive and he showed no surprise, leaving Jenna thinking the guy was good.
He picked up his wine glass and looking at Jenna over its rim said, "So, your mother remarried?"
Jenna found herself admitting to that fact without restraint. "Yes, my father died in a small aircraft crash almost six years ago and mother quietly married their old friend Peter Cruickshank eighteen months later. My stepfather was executive editor at that time and soon after was appointed managing director, a position he still holds. Is he suspected of cheating the company?"
"I wouldn't know. The situation is from Monday I'll receive from your mother's group a monthly incentive payment of sufficient size to bring me here to look for evidence of misappropriation of money, goods and services. The contract is for six months with a review to be conducted at the end of three months with the Committee of Five having the right to abandon the arrangement at that point."
"You mean a written contract?"
Eliot grinned and asked did she think her mother was that stupid.
Jenna flushed and said of course she didn't think that. Eliot held out his left hand and she took it briefly and squeezed it and then withdrew her hand, giving him a shy smile. "So the criminal investigation branch of the police is not being called in to avoid harming my mother's excellent reputation in this community?"
"I guess that's part of it. What she did tell me was your stepfather is a very clever man with a ruthless streak. She can't imagine him leaving easy tracks to follow, so she's opted for a covert operation, hence me as whistle-blower being installed in a key position."
"But how can that be, the position of news editor is confined to the newsgathering and process operation? I know because I worked for the company during breaks while studying for my business administration degree."
That interested Eliot. "I too worked at a newspaper while completing a masters in financial management and on graduating became the deputy-editor of the newspaper's financial and business news department. I was found to be effective on investigations and was promoted to the general newsroom as chief investigation journalist. For the past two years I served as news editor on that newspaper and then was approached by a private investigator engaged by your mother's committee. The plan is for me to emerge as something of a financial genius and there will be a push for a review of the company's operational activities. I'll be editor Brigit Wiseman's appointee to the five-person review committee chaired by your stepfather and that will provide me with unrestricted assess to all departments including of course corporate administration files."
"My God, I knew my mother was bright but not quite that bright or should I say manipulative? Did she dream up that modus operandi?"
"Er, your mother and I spent an evening at a hotel discussing strategies."
"It was purely a business meeting; a very friendly encounter but purely business."
"Oh I see," Jenna said dryly, looking at him carefully.
Eliot said calmly, "She'd old enough to be my mother Jenna. I am about to turn thirty-one."
Her gaze wavered and she mumbled yes of course.
"Does she have a bit of a reputation?"
Jenna looked Eliot, her cheeks a little pink. "We both tend to rather like men."
She braced as if expecting an embarrassing retort but instead was astonished when Eliot smiled and said their relationship was assured because he and her mother needed a trustworthy go-between rather than having to rely on risky phone calls or clandestine meetings.
He grinned. "I take it you are on your mother's side?"
"Absolutely. Why don't you arrange a clandestine meeting with her and ask mom if she trusts me?"
Eliot showed no sign of discomfort said that was a great idea but rather inefficient. Jenna could brief her mother.
She flared, "My mother told you she had a daughter named Jenna Wynn and even gave you the name of my store, didn't she. Go on, admit it."
Eliot sampled the red wine offered by the waiter and nodded approval. "Either that or the alternative Jenna."
"By sheer fluke my slightly aggressive method to quickly set myself up with a dateable woman has led me to link with you. I know it must seem highly improbable but if you trust your mother why don't you ask if she told me anything about you?"
Gritting her teeth Jenna said the chances of a fluke linkage were one hundred million to one. "How did you find out?"
"If I tell you will you promise to take no reprisals?"
"On my loud-mouth friend? Oh, very well."
Eliot said before accepting her mother's proposal he'd investigated her mother and stepfather to check on authenticity of what he'd been told. He concluded what her mother had told him seemed highly likely. Through discreet enquiries he'd found Peter Raymond Cruickshank had no arrests record but he'd twice been questioned by the police over allegations of being involved in fraudulent activities and twice had been examined by tax investigators after they received allegations he possessed considerable undeclared income that would be subject to assessment for payment of tax.
"So where there's smoke there's fire?"
Eliot nodded and asked, "Has anything about your stepfather concerned you?"
"You could ask why don't I live at home."
"Why don't you live at home?"
"Because of his harassment. I'd found him looking through my diary and know my laptop has been interfered with but I encrypt my very personal files. He also molested me twice and on the second time I told my mother and she urged me to move out and when she saw my choice of apartment she upgraded me and pays half of my monthly rent."
"I see, in using that term molestation did you mean he attempted to bully you into sex?"
"No, the scumbag was too cunning for that. On both occasions he did not advance beyond the usually accepted bounds of passionate groping."
"I see, and on both occasions you two were drunk?"
"Less than drunk; shall we say stimulated by alcohol? I warned him off but he persisted and I finally had to hit him before he backed off. It was partly my fault because I allowed him to grope a little before realizing it was going beyond mild flirtation. On the second occasion he had exposed his erection but please, that is not to be repeated. I did not tell mom about that aspect of his misbehavior."
"Okay and remember never to be alone with him again. What led me to you was a photograph I opened on a social web page when searching for graphics including the name Eloise Cruickshank. I only looked at her briefly before sensing she was likely to be straight because I'd already uncovered enough of her husband to be suspicious of him. Obviously that was a mistake because had I gone farther I would have uncovered the fact she'd been previously married. The caption of the photo I turned up named Kate Mitchell and your mother. You were not identified, being almost out of the frame. It was only when you walked in here this evening I recognized you were the unnamed woman in that photograph. You will understand I failed to make any connection because to me you were Jenna Wynn and not Jenna Cruickshank?"
"Yes, I do now," Jenna smiled, reaching for his hand and holding it. "It all fits perfectly into place and explains why you would approach Kate Mitchell and purely by chance the loudmouth dropped my name on your lap. You thought Kate was unlikely to offer useful information and so decided to try me?"
"Exactly. Will you be my go-between?"
"Yes, but more than that. I wish to be dated by you and if that means being taken to bed, so be it."
That caught Eliot by surprise and his face reddened. "Um, that is very daring of you."
Jenna waited, twitching in her desire for a seductive proposal but he sat silent and their mains arrived.
Jenna stood in her unlit apartment lightly stroking her left breast looking out to the city lights and thinking it should have been Eliot stroking her breast. What was wrong with him? Was he gay?
She walked to another window of her corner apartment and saw the skyline sign of the 'Marriott' and thought of the poor guy going to bed with only his hand for company instead of being in bed with her bringing her to the first of several climatic cries.
Life was so unfair. She'd bit the bullet and indicated he was welcome to take her to bed and boy, did that switch him off. He looked like a mouse confronted by a cat. He must by gay? "Oh no," she cried but then an alternative flashed into her mind. His concept of ethics in this unusual situation meant he thought it necessary to ask her mother if it was okay for him to bed her adult daughter. Er to date her adult daughter.
"Oh no, oh no," Jenna cried, pulling off her bra, aware her nipples were stiff, pulling off her panties and then sitting to carefully remove her hold-up stockings. Her face was crimson in embarrassment as she visualized Eliot saying to her mother, "Is it okay by you if I fuck your daughter?"
Jenna knew he'd not express himself like that but whatever he said to her mom it was likely to be interpreted more or less like that. Eloise might even think she should be the one to enjoy that privilege because she'd previously sampled one of her daughter's boyfriends... well, as least one but Jenna only knew about the treacherous Philip Brown.
Standing in the bathroom nude, cleaning her teeth in front of the huge mirror set in a wall of white mosaic tiles and looking at her gym-toned body, Jenna wondered what was wrong with her. Why weren't men lining up to lick, suck and squeeze her beautiful body, that is excluding her wicked stepfather. Had she become unapproachable? Why hadn't she ever found complete satisfaction with any of her seducers? Was she inclining towards becoming gay? Why wasn't Eliot Nephew in her bed, waiting for her to emerge from the bathroom, stroking his erection to impale her like a sword?
She spat and rinsed her mouth and put away the electric toothbrush. She'd had quite an amazing evening, perhaps ten times better than expected. Eliot had turned out to be a really gorgeous guy and the conversation around his mission had made him so interesting.
As they were leaving the restaurant he'd wanted to call her a cab but she'd said she would walk home because it was nearby. Jenna has quivered when Eliot had said gallantly that he'd walk her home because he felt responsible for her safety. That had sounded so heroic. The thought of having sex with him had started to make her body prepare for the event.
He'd appeared very surprised that she was a resident of Twin Towers and said he would call her tomorrow if she would be kind enough to give him her card. She'd done that, hands shaking, wondering how could she lure him into her apartment without physically pulling him inside. She'd blurted would he like to come up for a night cap but he said he'd had enough to drink, kissed her cheek, and darted off to flag down a cab before in her confusion she'd had time to go for gold and invite him to seduce her.
That had left her almost feeling he'd slapped her face. How could he be so cruel! It was unlikely she'd go out with him again.
* * *
Peter Cruickshank, home in bed, grunted and his wife Eloise's best friend Margo Fields sighed and asked him to hand her a towel quickly.
Peter went to tell the lazy woman to get it herself but the thought of her leaving a dripping trail to the bathroom convinced him it would be safer if he fetched the towel, as he'd not want Eloise to be suspicious that sex not involving her had taken place in her bedroom.
Eloise and Margo's husband David had gone with twenty-two other pairs by bus to an all-day Bridge tournament and were not due back in the city until around 2:00 am. He pulled a clean towel from the bottom of the pile in the store cupboard to avoid Eloise noticing one was missing from the towel rack or from the top of the pile.
"Here, it's after midnight. Do you think you should be going?"
"Peter, don't be so mean. You can go one more time can't you? You are a multiple shot guy, unlike my spineless husband."
After Margo had driven off Peter opened the bedroom doors to air the room and turned on a fan. The cheating husband went through the kitchen, dinning room and lounge looking to remove any evidence that he had been entertaining a visitor,
He closed the bedroom windows and turned off the fan and had switched off the lights when he heard Eloise's car turn into the driveway. Peter suddenly groaned, louder than when over the heaving body of Margo and rushed to the bathroom to empty the bathroom trash bin into one of Eloise's saved fancy shopping bags and hid that on his side of the dressing room. He returned the bin to the bathroom when he had to dash back and grab three of Eloise's used tissues from the stashed away cache to leave in the bin to ensure she didn't query why had the bin being emptied.
Before switching off the light Peter looked into the bathroom mirror as if to read the guilt on the reflected image of a less than handsome face with a thickening jowl when his heart almost stopped beating. Right in the middle of the glass shelf under the mirror was a tube of Margo's distinctive Christian Dior lipstick.
Eloise entered the bedroom quietly not wanting to waken her husband because he'd be interested in sex rather than hearing about her trials and tribulations. David Fields was such a bore to travel with. Coming home he'd sulked because several times she'd muffed their chances of scoring well and, unusual for them, they failed to end the tournament highly placed. He was such a great player but socially he was a bottom-of-the-barrel guy.
Little wonder David's wife Margo played around a bit and probably would have snaffled some fortunate guy last night. She sighed and felt a little excited, thinking that her investigator would arrive later that day ready to start working like a worm attempting to uncover wrong-doings at her publishing and commercial printing company. If it were found Peter had been cheating her substantially she'd have him prosecuted for his crimes. When he was rightfully imprisoned she'd tidy up by divorcing him and have him stripped of his illegally gained assets.
Mid-morning Eloise was in the bath when Peter entered with a cup of coffee. She had earlier draped a flannel over her breasts so that left him staring at his main point of interest. She was slowly closing her legs, hoping he wouldn't notice, when they heard her phone.
"Fetch it for me darling."
"You've trimmed you bush. I like it."
"Anything to please you darling. The phone?"
He darted off and returned, talking to the caller in a reasonably friendly manner. Peter said, "Your mother is luxuriating in the bath. Have a nice day." He then handed Eloise the phone and departed, closing the door behind him.
"Hi mom. How did your Bridge tournament go?"
"I disgraced myself playing poorly, infuriating David Fields."
"Oh, he can exhibit emotion? I've often wondered how his sexy wife puts up with him."
"Are you sure sexy is the right word for Margo dear. She's only eighteen months younger than me?"
"You can be sexy when you try mom. And you do often try, according to what I've heard and I know your choice of intimate garments intimately, being your chief supplier."
"I really don't know what you are talking about dear."
"I've met him mom."
Eloise had heard that hopeful comment from her daughter more than once only to hear the disappointment later. Jenna was not a particularly good judge of men. Thinking the name Peter Cruickshank Eloise sighed. "I guess this one comes with the usual impressive bulge?"
"I wouldn't know mom. His name is Eliot Nephew. "
Eloise sat up as if stung by a bee, phone clamped hard against her ear.
"What?" she swallowed hoarsely.
"I didn't find him, he found me."
"Darling, that's enough. I'll meet you at Katrina's for coffee in thirty minutes. Is that convenient?"
"Yes, but unless he's in the room with you he won't hear this conversation."
"Thirty minutes," Eloise snapped and slammed her phone shut. Ohmigod! She 'screamed' soundlessly.
* * *
Twenty-five minutes later Eloise sat at the rear of the coffee shop located at street level under Twin Towers Apartments. Two minutes later her daughter arrived, wearing a beautiful blue and white sundress with spaghetti straps and hem far too high but it did exhibit a wonderful body that Eloise thought as being marred only by rather over-sized breasts. Men, however, might have a contrary view that the breast size was a plus, not a minus.
Waving brightly to her mother Jenna went to the counter and ordered her coffee, a pot of Earl Grey tea and two oat and date slices. Jenna noticed her mother was dressed in one of her shapeless white suits and once again wondered futilely why didn't her mother wear clothes that showed off her breasts and legs that were astonishing good for her age.
They kissed and hugged fondly.
"You gave me a big shock using that name."
Her daughter smiled and said, "You loved being teased."
"You must know..."
Jenna said yes mother, she was aware of nature of the investigation and she applauded her mother's attempt to nail the scumbag.
Eloise did not every flutter an eyebrow at hearing her husband being slandered like that, knowing her daughter's distaste of Peter. "So he told you everything?"
"I have no idea but it certainly grabbed my attention. He found me via Kate Mitchell who was named along with you in a photograph he found on the Web. I was unnamed."
"Ah yes, I recall that photograph and being critical of the lazy photographer for not securing your name. But why would he want to talk to the unnamed person in the photograph when he'd located Kate who knows me quite well?"
"My understanding is he didn't find Kate a mine of information or being in the right position to know about you and your second husband.
"Your stepfather's name is Peter."
Finding herself ignored Eloise poured her tea and said so Kate identified who the other person was in the photograph, hopefully without giving any reason of his interest, and he went scuttling off to find mystery woman Jenna?
Frowning, Eloise asked, "But why?"
"Interpreting what I was asked, I am quite sure it was to find how trustworthy you are and how untrustworthy is your Peter."
"The scumbag, checking up on me, his employer!"
Jenna said patiently that she understood her mother had engaged Eliot to do a thorough investigation.
"Yes, of course, but..."
"Be satisfied mom. That convinced me he is being very thorough. He was probably attempting to find whether you are the complete innocent or are someone with an axe to grind and exactly why you don't trust your second husband."
"Darling, it irritates me the way you emphasis my second husband. Currently I am married to only one man."
"My impression is Mr Nephew aims to be very thorough. He now wishes to know if you approve of me acting as the go-between you two."
"A go-between is..."
"I know what it means. What I want to know is why you?"
The reply astonished Eloise. "Because he trusts me mom."
Ohmigod, Eloise thought, she'd only known him for five minutes and she'd already fallen for him. That wasn't meant to happen, far from it. Such a liaison could blow the investigation asunder.