I Thought She Made You Up Ch. 06byqhml1©
This is it, the final chapter. To those of you who stayed with me, thanks. The gap between chapter three and four was my fault, I kind of messed up the submission on chapter four. Don't blame the site, it was all me.
Part one: Crash and burn.
We went back home. CeCe was contrite. She blamed her actions on a combination of alcohol and jealousy. She said Amy and I looked so natural dancing together it was painful, and in comparison she felt like a clumsy elephant.
We talked until we were exhausted. We all agreed to be better at communicating our feelings. We kissed. We made up, and when we finally turned in, we all slept together, but nobody wanted to play.
Things were subdued around the house for a few weeks. Spring came and we all perked up. We went to parks, on hikes, we all joined a mixed softball team. CeCe and Amy made a killer pitcher catcher combination. I was a so so center fielder, but we were league champions that year.
I have a picture of me and CeCe holding Amy on our shoulders, with the trophy held over her head.
Our next big argument was over spring break.
Amy was hired as a tutor. She taught remedial English for the freshmen. They were mostly from wealthy families and this was their last chance before flunking out. There were also a few jocks that were about to lose their scholarship. Pressure was on them to perform. Despite pressure Amy gave them no slack.
There was some grumbling and a few tried to intimidate her with wealth and hints of accidents, so I decided to become a tutor also.
We were held in high regard by the English department. I had become something of a favorite of the dean. He remembered me from the New Years
party. Running across him on the quad two weeks later, we exchanged greetings. I could tell he wanted to ask me something. Finally he got around to it.
"James[in all the years I knew him he never once called me Jimmy] those two beauties at the party with you, one of them was Warren Morgans' daughter, right? Is it true you share an apartment?"
"And the stunning little blond, I understand she lives there also. How well do you know these young ladies?"
"Carnally, sir, carnally. Good morning, sir".
I wished many times I had a picture of the expression on his face.
CeCe didn't like it when we tutored at home, she said it cut into our time. I tried to explain why it was important to Amy.
"CeCe when you need money, where do you go?"
"I go to the bank".
"How does the money get into the bank?"
"Silly, Daddy puts it in for me."
"What would happen if you didn't have a Dad to put it in. How would you get money?"
"Get a job I guess."
Exactly. Amy doesn't have a Dad worth millions. She doesn't have a Dad at all, so any money she gets she has to earn. That's why she tutors, to earn money. Give her some slack."
"But if she needs money, why doesn't she just ask us? She knows we'll give it to her."
"Pride. She's already sensitive because we won't let her pay on the rent or groceries, she just wants some money of her own."
She was sensitive about it. Thanks to Joanne she had enough to cover necessities for the term, but anything extra she had to earn. Her Mom wanted to help but she was just getting by, and Amy told her she had earned enough over the summer to cover anything she needed.
One thing, she had earned a lot of points with her Christmas present to Barb, especially when she put 'Aunt Barb' on the tags. She hadn't been expecting gifts, and it moved her. It kind of embarrassed her, because she hadn't gotten her anything. What Amy got was a warm phone call. They talked almost an hour.
It became a regular thing . Once every couple of weeks she would call for a chat. They bonded, because of her knowledge of our lifestyle Amy could confide in her. Amy even went down in late March to visit. When she came back she showed me a card Barb had given her. She had made a deal with the local Ford dealership, anytime her car needed service work, tires, etc, all she had to do was show the card and the bill automatically went to Barb.
I called to tell her what a loving gesture I thought it was. She chastised me for not coming along, and gave me a firm lecture about my treatment of Amy.
"Stop treating her like a child. You treat her like a woman in the bedroom, do it in public."
Looking back, I can see how right she was. She was the child in our relationship, and we tended to treat her accordingly.
Spring break was coming up and we all agreed to go to Jekyll Island on the coast of Georgia. We planned it for months. It was a beautiful place, and back then the prices were quite reasonable.
Amy was saving all her tutoring money for the trip. She was so excited, come to find out she had never seen the ocean. Then, two weeks before we were to leave, CeCe said she couldn't go.
Amy, pleaded, then begged, but she said it was a family issue and she just couldn't make it. I was beyond angry. I sat CeCe down and had 'the' talk.
"CeCe, you know this is all Amy has talked about for months. What's so important that you can't honor your commitment to her? I'm laying it on the table. We're going. We're not waiting on you, not changing plans for you, not letting what you want come first this time. And Ce, if you let us learn to live without you, we'll learn to live without you, understand?"
She was angry.
"Why can't you understand? I have to do this. I have commitments to my family. We can always go later."
"Ce, I thought we were your family. Face it, whatever your father wants you to do will come first, always. Now, I'm going to help Amy with some tutoring. Then, Amy and I will sit down and finish our vacation plans."
Things were cold between CeCe and I, and poor Amy was caught in the middle again. Amy even suggested we postpone. I blew up.
"Go or not, it's up to you. But I'm going, if I have to go by myself. Make your choice."
Ce watched us pack our luggage into Amy's car. She didn't have to go home for two more days.
"Please don't go. I'll make it up to you."
Amy kissed her cheek and turned to me.
I followed her example and gave the same kiss to CeCe.
I gave it one more shot.
"You know where we'll be. Enjoy your vacation."
She didn't say a word as we drove away.
For the first hour or so Amy was quiet, but the farther South we got the livelier she became. She even let me drive her car for the first time, making me promise to tell no one.
It was a twelve hour trip to the island. After we settled in Amy insisted we walk on the beach. The moon was full, and she waded out into the surf. I could tell she was crying but said nothing, I knew they were tears of happiness.
"So beautiful" I heard her whisper.
We snuggled down that night and went right to sleep. Amy surprised me by waking first and bringing me awake with oral stimulation. It was one of the most memorial lovemaking sessions I ever had. When we finally collapsed she said "thank you".
"For making me come."
She could see the happy grin on my face.
"I meant for making me take this trip, you pervert. Now let's eat and hit the beach."
We lay on the beach, played in the ocean, saw dolphins, and once, way out, a whale surfaced.
We went to a water park where she lost her bikini top on a giant slide. One of the attendants said it happened all the time, but it embarrassed the heck out of her. She even talked me into going out on a half day fishing trip.
I was afraid we would get seasick, but after a few minutes our stomachs settled down. Amy caught way more fish, a fact she shared with everyone when we got home. She showed them the pictures to prove it. She carried a little camera with her everywhere, that's why I have so many pictures of that time in our lives.
I was napping, and Amy was restless. She went to get some beer and snacks. I was sitting on the veranda when she returned. She had on her bikini top and a pair of cutoffs.
"What's that smile about? Thinking dirty thoughts again?"
"A hot blonde in a bikini driving a convertible. It's every mans dream. Why wouldn't I be thinking dirty thoughts?"
She kissed me, opened a couple beers and snuggled. I was just thinking how much fun we were having when a black Mercedes pulled up.
"CE!" cried Amy, flying to the car.
It was CeCe. Amy was hugging and babbling and kissing, nonstop.
She kissed her back, firmly. The rest of the guests were getting quite a show. With Amy tucked under her arm she came to me.
"Hi, Jimmy. Glad to see me?"
The pleading in her eyes moved me.
"You know I am. If you can get that little bundle of energy to let you go I'll show you how much."
The next few days were joyous. Of course they had to go shopping and came back with two sets of matching bikinis. I noticed as long as I was with them on the beach people left us alone, but if I didn't go out with them or walked off for a little, there would be a crowd of guys around when I showed up. I displayed the proper amount of jealousy, which they loved. And the sex, wow. If I stepped out of the room, they were at it when I came back. If one of them stepped out, I was at it with the other. We almost invariably joined in. We really didn't want to leave.
On the way home I would ride a while with Amy, then switch. I even got to take a turn driving each car.
I had a serious talk with CeCe on the way home. Graduation was coming up, and I asked her what her plans were.
She hesitated, then plunged in.
"Dad wants me to take an entry level position at one of his plants. It'll be good experience and look good on my resume."
"What resume? You're going to be working for your dad the rest of your life, why would you need one? "
"I'm not! I want to go out on my own, our own."
"If that's what you want why don't you look for something local. With his connections, you could get a job anywhere."
"I promised him my first job would be with him."
"Ah. Which plant will you be working at?"
Stanton. About as far away from where we were as you could get and still stay in the same state.
"So graduation is goodbye then?"
"No! We'll still see each other. It will be like our summer schedule. We will be together every couple of weekends. Or you could come with me. I'm sure I could get you summer jobs."
She knew we had already committed to summer classes. Knew we wouldn't go.
"When do you plan on telling Amy?"
"See you do. I want as much time as I can get to prepare her. It will destroy her, you know."
"It's not the end, I promise."
"Why? Are we a fall back plan? I notice you haven't talked marriage lately. Ready to try out the guys your Dad has lined up for you?"
She went quiet.
"Please, don't talk any more for a while."
I changed cars and Amy noticed how quiet I was.
She held my hand for a bit, then reclined her seat and slept.
Things got more tense as graduation neared.
CeCe finally told Amy about her job. She cried on and off until graduation.
Graduation came. We cheered when she walked the stage. Hugs and kisses everywhere. Mom and Dad kept a close eye on her, telling her to be careful at the parties. Her Mom hugged Amy, Her Dad didn't speak.
We did all party down, but the next week she had to leave. I knew in my heart it would be the last time we saw her as a loving partner. Amy cried for two days before she left.
She called every three days for about three weeks. We were going down to see her at her new apartment, but she wanted to meet in our old home town. Said it would be more convenient for us all.
We did meet, but it seemed different somehow. Amy and I did manage to see Barb while CeCe attended to family business. She took us out to lunch.
I hardly got a word in.
She had married her lover. She seemed content, happy with where she was in her life. When she showed Amy a picture of a nine year old girl they were trying to adopt, they cried.
"When you visit next time you can meet your cousin June. She should be home by then."
The crying started again, tears for a woman who deserved happiness. They teased me when my eyes misted.
She got really quiet when Amy mentioned CeCe. She started to say something but stopped.
When Amy showed her the ring I gave her, Barb looked straight at me.
"It would make a very interesting engagement ring, don't you think so, Jimmy?"
Something changed between my family and CeCe. The fan base was apparently gone. They still loved Amy, though. Several times my Mom and older sisters looked like they wanted to say something, but they didn't.
CeCe was restrained. The lovemaking seemed forced, just going through the motions. Amy picked up on it right away.
"What's wrong honey? You don't seem that happy to see us."
"I'm just tired. Working for a living gives me a whole new perspective on how the world actually operates."
I could tell she was evasive.
"So, Ce, made any new friends yet? Everybody kissing up because your father owns the place?"
She paled a little.
"Just people from work, and yes, a lot of them suck up to me."
I knew. Right then, I knew.
Amy was quiet on the way back.
I had to tell her, to prepare her.
"She's left us. Look inside, you know it's true."
She didn't protest as much as usual.
"She's just tired, she'll be all right in a week or so."
She called once in three weeks, then once more in two. Her conversations were always brief. She was so tired. It was hard, she didn't like it.
Two more weeks went by. Amy was getting more and more nervous. The fall term was about to start, and suddenly I wanted to talk to CeCe really badly.
I called her job and they said she had left early. I called her house twice. The second time I got an answer.
"Hello." It was a mans voice.
"Sorry, I must have the wrong number."
I hung up and dialed again, the same voice answered.
"Sorry, I must have written the number down wrong. Is this 535-5353?"
"You have the right number, who are you trying to get in touch with?"
"Yes, this is the right number. You must have been the one who called earlier. She let it go to the machine, she was going to call you back. We were kind of busy just then. She's in the shower, want me to have her call you back?"
It was the happy voice of a guy who just got laid, every man could recognize it.
"No, thanks. Just have her call Amy and tell her the truth. And that Jimmy said goodbye."
I went out for a ride on my bike. A long ride.
She didn't have the decency to call Amy, and two days later, when we got back from class, all of CeCes' stuff was gone.
The ring I had gotten her was on the kitchen table, on top of a one word note.
Part two: Reconnecting.
I was in my office the next morning, thinking about the mixer from the night before, when my office phone rang.
There was a few seconds of silence.
"Tho' it was always love divided, it was never love denied."
It was a line from a poem I had written, 'Song From The Purple Turtles'.
I didn't say anything. I knew who it was.
A few more seconds went by before she said, in a quiet voice, "You could have told me."
"Told you what Ce?"
"Everything. That you were Dean of the English Department, that you were married to Amy. That you were THE J G Wilson."
"My, do you know how pompous that sounds? When the book was published, there were four more writers out there named James Wilson. I was the only one with the middle initial g so they used my initials to differentiate me from the others."
Yes I was a writer. I didn't write novels. mostly essays, poems, and a few well received short stories. Over the years I had honed my craft, publishing first in the university magazine, then a few regional pieces. The local newspaper used a few of my essays, and a chain picked them up and I became syndicated. Ten years ago I reached an agreement with The New Yorker magazine, and did an essay for them every three months. They used a few of my poems, and one of my short stories.
Three years ago the university press wanted to put out a compilation of my work. I didn't think it was worth the effort. The university president talked me into it, saying if it was successful it would make a good recruiting tool. The editor was a genius. He waded through twenty odd years of junk and came up with twenty one poems, twenty nine essays, and three short stories. If I had been making an album, it would have been a 'best of' type thing.
The only new piece in the book was the poem she had quoted. Amy found it in an old journal of mine, and insisted I polish it up and include it in the book.
It sparked a mini controversy locally. Most everyone thought it was me confessing to an affair. Some thought it was about Amy having an affair. When I refused to talk about the poem in interviews, Amy stepped forward and told the local paper both theories was correct, but it was before we were married, and was about us finding each other. It was written in a way that only poets and clever songwriters could get away with.
Words Sing To Me, the title, was taken from the poem of the same name. Surprisingly it got good reviews, especially from my friends at the New Yorker. What put it into the national spotlight was Oprah Winfrey adding it to her book club, and giving it an endorsement on her show. Sales Times best sellers list for four weeks before sliding back into obscurity. I was amazed at the money I got.
I did some interviews, mostly PBS and morning shows. It was an experience I didn't care for. After eighteen months it was dying a natural death and I was safely back into my normal life.
CeCe brought me back to reality.
"It's about us, isn't it? The poem, I mean."
"Of course. Did you read the rest of the book?"
"It was on my night stand for months. This was when I knew my marriage was ending, and a friend gave it to me. Her daughter had destroyed the jacket, or I would have known it was you. She said it was a comfort book, and she was sure I could use it. I always felt like I knew you, that some parts were written with just me in mind. If my daughter hadn't told me who you were I would never have made the connection. Why didn't you tell me?"
"Why would I have told you? It would have been like bragging. Look, the redneck biker did good, aren't you proud? Besides, it's been almost thirty years, we don't know each other any more. Looking back, I don't think I knew you then."
"Besides, you nearly destroyed us. I still have mixed feelings about you. And Amy? When I showed her your picture last night, she got really quiet. And I woke up around three this morning and she wasn't in bed. She was on the sofa, sobbing. Thirty years, Ce, and she still mourns you."
I could hear sobs. A whispered "I'm sorry."
"It was cold the way you left us. Amy went into a deep depression. She should have gotten help, but back then we didn't know how to ask for it."
"We were shattered. It went from two thirds of a happy whole to halves of a broken nothing. Amy left, too, stayed gone for eight weeks before coming back to me. It took forever to be happy, but we worked through it."
"I need to call her, I need to make amends. Today, I'll do it today." She was crying hard, having trouble speaking.
"NO!" It was almost a scream. I took some deep breaths, calming down.
"Sorry, CeCe, I didn't mean to shout. But you don't know her anymore. She's much more fragile now. The last few years have been rough on her, she's just these last few months been acting normal again. I forbid you to upset her. Are you still in town? Good, I'll clear my schedule for the rest of the day. Meet me for lunch, you choose where, and I'll fill you in on our lives since we saw you last. Red Lobster? Yes, that's fine. Be there at one. Bye."