Part 5 CHAPTER 13 I called down to the bell desk once we had finished breakfast. David was there with our limo and the bags were in the trunk as I tipped the bellmen and followed Jennie and Lady into the rear seat.
I sat back, completely relaxed, as David drove away. We had a relatively easy trip to LaGuardia although there's never a really easy trip in the city.
I had just tipped and thanked David when our bags were carried to the plane. We boarded and got Lady secured, relaxing in the well-upholstered seats. Ninety minutes later we landed at Wilmington. Rather than stop for lunch Jennie wanted to go home. I did stop at the post office for our mail and I noticed something I'd share with Jennie later today. She was happy when I drove through the gate to our home, but probably not as happy as Lady.
She raced around the property as Jennie and I laughed. Finally, tongue hanging from her mouth, she walked slowly to us. A minute later I had her bowl filled with water and she drank thirstily while I carried the bags to the bedroom. Jennie had the washing machine running a few minutes later, but we were a long way from being done. Later that afternoon I applied myself to the potential problems Jennie might face when she returned home.
My eyes were closed and I was almost asleep when I bolted upright. "Damn! It's so simple!" I had practically shouted so Jennie came running, thinking something was wrong.
I was smiling when she appeared. "It's so simple. I should have realized immediately." "What, Doug?" "You have to go back to being Jessie when we go to Iowa. I don't think we should share my surname so they'll have trouble finding you.
I have another card I can play, but let's wait until we see how things go." "What do you mean…another card?" "I wrote my first "Idiots" program for my doctoral thesis.
It was and still is an excellent program, but that doesn't make people want to buy it. I had to advertise, especially because I couldn't convince Walmart or any other vendor to stock their shelves with it.
That meant that I needed other work and some of my early clients were…let's say 'unsavory.' I still have some of those contacts and I may use them if I think you might be in danger. That's all I want to say now. The less you know the better. Get used to being called Jessie for a few weeks." I had sorted the mail and found what I was looking for.
Jennie was in the living room reading when I dropped the magazine in her lap. "What's this, Doug?" "Consumer Reports—the annual car issue. They rank all the cars by category like sedan or SUV.
Take a look. Maybe it will help you." She put her book aside and opened the magazine. She was still reviewing it when I asked about dinner. "Why don't you just bring in a pizza and maybe a salad? We overate in New York--at least I know I did." She rose to kiss me as I pulled my phone from my pocket. I kissed Jennie and rubbed Lady's ears as I gathered my keys and walked out to the garage. Christopher's was about ten minutes from my house so I walked in, paid the bill, and waited about five minutes for my order.
I walked in to the kitchen to find that Jennie had paper plates and cold Cokes on the table. We sat and ate quietly until the pie was almost gone when Jennie spoke. "That Consumer Reports is interesting, but I'm more confused now than ever. Will you take me car shopping tomorrow? Please?" I knew I was a goner when she batted her eyelashes at me. She had me wrapped around her little finger and she knew it.
Jennie…oops, Jessie—I'd better get used to calling her that until we return from Iowa—went out of her way to show her appreciation that night, moving me into a "69" and sucking me deep into her throat. We'd done oral on each other, of course, once her bout of Chlamydia had cleared up, but there was nothing to compare to that wonderful night. I felt like a lamb to her wolf.
She attacked my body with a vengeance as though we hadn't been together for months or years. I fell asleep in seconds once she was finished with me. Jennie was smiling down at me when I woke the following morning.
After a quick kiss she whispered, "Better get up old man—we have a lot to do today. I think I need to get an appointment with Dr.
Cullen, my OB/GYN, first. Then I think you need to take me car shopping. Where should we go—Wilmington or Myrtle Beach?" I looked up into those clear blue eyes and asked, "Why are you whispering? Practicing for when we have the baby or are you afraid Lady will hear us?" She gave me an expression of exasperation then grabbed her pillow and began to beat me with it.
"I give up! I give up! Let's get a shower and I'll take you out for breakfast. We don't have a doggone thing here in the house. Oh yeah, I love you like no one has ever loved before." She leaned down to kiss me before telling me, "I know. Aren't I lucky?" She pulled my naked body with her to the shower. I don't know how much actual washing we did, but we sure as Hell had a great time doing it.
I was barely able to keep the bandages on my arm dry. I was still dripping wet when I let Lady out. Jennie handed me a towel before walking back to dress. She couldn't avoid shaking her shapely ass all the way down the hall.
I laughed. I could afford to—that spectacular body was all mine. I drove to Calabash to the pancake house there. After ordering I asked Jennie what she was thinking about in terms of a car.
"Let's start with the type then we can talk about brands, okay?" "Believe it or not I'm thinking about an SUV. I think it makes the most sense. We'll have room for the kids and room for groceries or whatever else we need to carry. Does that make sense to you?" "Actually, it does. I read a few weeks ago that the SUV has replaced the sedan as the number one choice of car. Given any thought to how many passengers? Some can seat as many as eight." "That's too big." "Okay, then if you want a high-end vehicle you're looking at Audi, BMW, Mercedes, maybe Lincoln, Acura, and Lexus.
We could add Porsche, but there's no dealership nearby. That could be a problem when you need service." "We're closer to Myrtle Beach, aren't we?" "Yes, so that's where we should start. We can start with Mercedes and BMW is right next door—part of the same dealership, actually." Jennie just nodded and we were quiet eating our French toast and omelet until we were in the car again.
Then I couldn't get Jennie to stop. She was obviously excited, but I had no idea how the next two hours were going to be. I drove into the Mercedes lot first, thinking that Jennie would be enamored of the marquee name. She wasn't. In fact, she told me as we left that she thought the models were "ugly." We walked next door to the BMW side of the dealership. Jennie walked straight to one of the SUV's on the floor as a salesman approached me.
"May I help you, sir?" "No, but you can help my wife." I pointed to Jennie seated contentedly in an X5 that looked to have every possible package and option imaginable. Jennie had the salesman demonstrate how to attach a child's seat as well as almost all the options. Finally, she said she wanted a test drive in the exact same car, if possible. We went out to the lot to check on their stock. Jennie passed by several, but stopped at one that was a dark metallic blue with white leather seats.
The list price was more than $70,000. I sat totally relaxed in the back seat, amazed by my wife's control as she cruised down the back streets of Myrtle Beach. Jennie was pretty quiet as she listened to the salesman's patter, mostly comments about how wonderful the car was—how quick it was, how it accelerated, the smooth ride, and all the other bullshit salesmen learn.
We were back in the parking lot when the guy asked if we wanted to talk price. "Not yet--I want to see something for my husband." I choked, feeling as though I had just swallowed a cat.
"We never discussed a new car for me." "I know that, silly, but I'm buying you a present—a convertible, I think. Wouldn't you love to drive a Beemer soft top?" "Well, yeah—but…" "Doug, how much have you done for me since we met and since we've been married. I even tried to give your two million back and you wouldn't take it." The salesman looked as though he had swallowed a canary when Jennie said, "two million," but my wife never missed a beat, leading the confused man back into the lot.
The first two models were "too small" or "not enough" according to Jennie. However, she did stop at a row of 6-series cars.
I learned by listening carefully that this series of BMW's were only coupes or convertibles. I had to admit they looked a lot better than my Honda, but—of course—they also cost more than twice as much. Jennie picked a model in a dark red metallic with the same white/black leather interior her car had.
"Okay, now we can talk price." "I think I could do it for 130 plus your husband's car." "Oh you poor man; you need to get out of the sun. You're delusional. Let me tell you something, Jack. I spent five years on the road surviving by my wits so don't think I'm an idiot.
Why the hell should I pay you almost list plus my husband's Honda? There's no way that's going to happen. I'm thinking 100 plus the Honda and, before you say you can't do it, here's a question. How often do you sell two cars in a single morning? Never—that's how often. So get me a manager or we're going to Wilmington or Florence or somewhere else where they really want to sell a car." Jennie sat back in her chair while the sales guy looked to me for help.
"Don't look at me. I have to live with her. If I was you I'd get a manager before she gets up and walks away." The manager was there five minutes later and after a half hour of dickering the price was set at $110,000 plus my Honda Accord.
I cleaned out my car while Jennie proved that she had sufficient funds in her account. I walked into the dealership just as Jennie was writing the check and turning down their efforts to get more money out of her with some extended warranty to cover all the cars' computers.
"If your cars are so bad, maybe I should be shopping elsewhere. What do you think, Doug?" "I think you're right. One other thing—neither of us is signing an agreement to use arbitration if there's a problem. We're not giving up our constitutional rights and don't try to tell us that these people are impartial because they're not.
They rely on cases from dealers for a living. They could deal with a single dealership dozens of times, but a consumer only once. Too many rulings against dealerships and they're out of business and their kids become carpenters instead of dentists. Forget it!" They took the check and we took the cars. I can't say that we raced home, but we were there in bed less than an hour later. It was time for a celebration. I lay next to Jennie kissing and touching her when I asked, "When did you come up with this idea?" "When you told me you wouldn't take the money back; that's when I knew I had to give you a big present." I just shook my head.
I'd been absolutely clueless. "Remember Doug, that I love you so much…certainly more than I can find words to tell you. You've been totally unselfish with me. You've given me more than I could have ever hoped to have and, most importantly, you've given me a child to love and help grow to be the kind of person you are. Do you understand a little better now?" I did and I showed Jennie that I did by making the most beautiful love to her all afternoon.
I began by kissing my way down her body until my tongue found her slit. Jennie still kept it clean shaven and I loved kissing and tonguing her, rubbing her G-spot and causing her entire body to shudder in ecstasy. I had given her two orgasms by the time she screamed for me to fuck her. I did, ramming my organ into her in a single massive thrust. Jennie moved her legs over my shoulders and I bent her in two as I pounded her relentlessly until we came together—Jennie convulsing wildly and me pumping her full of my seed until we collapsed together into a heap on the bed.
I could barely move when we were done and I could see that my wife was nearly asleep from her exhaustion beneath me. I tried to move off, but she held me tightly. "I love my new car," I whispered, "but I love you more." The last thing I remembered before closing my eyes was Jennie's lips lightly on mine.
It was the following morning when I asked Jennie about where she had lived in Iowa. "We lived just outside Waterloo in Black Hawk County. The county courthouse is in Waterloo so we should probably try to stay somewhere near there." "What about an airport?
Is there one nearby?" "Yeah, right outside the city, but I have no idea what airlines fly there." "I think we'll charter again. It's a lot easier than flying commercial, but we have a lot to do before we go." I explained that we needed our marriage certificate in order to legally change her name. She laughed at that. It was kind of funny in as much as we'd changed her name illegally only a few months ago. We agreed to fly to Waterloo on the tenth and leave on the fourteenth after her stepfather had been sentenced.
We saw no need to stick around any longer than that. Other than her friend Amber there was not a single soul she wanted to see. Our marriage certificate arrived in the mail the following day so we went up to the local DMV in Shallotte. From there we went to my insurance agent to change my individual health insurance to a family plan. Thanks to Obama Care her pregnancy would be covered. The following day we drove to Conway, to the nearest Social Security office for a name change there. When that was done I took Jennie to see my lawyer, changing my will so she would get enough in a trust to provide for her forever.
Much of my estate would go to Harvard and MIT to thank them for the opportunities they'd given me. We had a few days before our trip to Iowa so we went fishing and to the beach one day and played golf together on the others. I also had my stitches removed. The scar was ugly, but hopefully it would be covered eventually by the hair on my arm. Of course, we also made love every single day and a lot of nights and some mornings, too.
We flew as scheduled on the morning of the tenth and arrived in Waterloo mid-afternoon, driving a rental Toyota to the Isle Casino Hotel. We had what they called a junior suite, but it was really just a big room with a sitting area and a king bed, quite a come down from the Plaza, but this was Iowa, and a small city in Iowa, after all.
Using my laptop and their free wi-fi, we called her friend Amber, making reservations for dinner—Olive Garden. I may be rich, but I still appreciate moderately priced food, especially with unlimited salad and bread sticks.
Jennie (now Jessie again for our stay in Iowa) and I were already seated when Amber walked in. She and Jessie hugged and Jessie introduced us. I hugged Amber and, as I did, I told her how much I appreciated everything she had done for Jessie. "You're a true friend. They're hard to find—almost impossible, in fact. I'm sure there was some risk involved, too." "Unfortunately, there was.
Jess's stepfather is obsessed with her. Jess, you're taking a huge risk coming here. I think he'll come after you as soon as he's released from prison. That's how bad it is with him.
He must have asked me at least once a month if I'd heard from you. Of course, I told him I never had." "Thank you for telling us. I think I'll have to go to Plan B. That's all I can tell you now, but I can just about guarantee Jessie's safety. Why don't we eat? Want a drink first?" Apparently not—we all had iced tea, Jessie because she was pregnant, me because I wasn't that keen on drinking to begin with.
I mostly sat back, listening to Jessie catch up with Amber. I enjoyed listening, but I had little to contribute until Jessie explained to Amber how we had met. Then the conversation was punctuated by Amber's gasps.
We finished our dinner and walked together into the night, promising Amber that we'd get together again the following afternoon. We had breakfast in one of the casino restaurants and I had to admit it was pretty good. I suggested to Jennie that we might try the buffet tomorrow. After breakfast I asked Jennie to show me around. I wanted to see where she had lived and gone to school. She slowed as she passed her mother's house and I had my first glimpse of the ogre who had been her stepfather.
He was tall, well over six feet in my estimation, but grossly obese. His belly was so big I doubted he could mate with even the most willing woman. His hair was cut in a military-style buzz cut that only served to make his gut appear even bigger. Jennie was shaking when I covered her hand with mine. "You need to leave him to me. I have contacts who owe me favors and they'll gladly deal with him. You have nothing to fear.
He's not the sheriff now and he never will be again. Trust me, darling; you have nothing to fear, but I want you to keep Lady near you while we're here." We skipped lunch and joined Amber at the casino around two that afternoon.
I gave each of them $200, telling them to have fun. Jessie took Lady with her. She and Amber played the slots while I tried my luck at blackjack. They returned three hours later laughing, but broke. I was down, too. I'd lost $50 which wasn't bad considering how much I was betting--$100 a hand.
Blackjack is a game of probabilities and as long as everyone played according to the book, the odds were only slightly in the house's favor. You might have a run and win, but over the long haul those odds would wear you down. I joined my love and her one true friend for a dinner on the house at Otis and Henry's—my reward for having gambled more than ten thousand dollars this afternoon.
Apparently they thought I was a wealthy high roller; if they only knew. With an attractive woman on each arm I strode into the hotel's high end steak house. This time Amber did have a drink and I joined her.
Poor Jennie was still restricted to iced tea. Both women had what looked to be an excellent 10-ounce filet while I had the cowboy cut ribeye, saving much of the fat for Lady to enjoy with her dinner later. After dinner we walked to the bakery where I had two cream puffs while Jessie and Amber had crème brulee. I thought the prices were very reasonable—one of the benefits of being in Iowa where the cost of living was much lower than on the east coast.
We retired to our suite to feed Lady then returned to the casino for more action. This time I did hit a lucky streak, walking out with just over $900 which was enough to cover the day's earlier loses. We said good-bye to Amber and walked up to our room where Jennie thanked me repeatedly into the wee hours of the morning when we fell asleep from sheer exhaustion.
We drove the following day up to Cedar Falls, spending several hours at the Museum of Art. The displays were interesting, but after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City it was hard to be too impressed.
All the same, we had a very enjoyable day before returning to Waterloo for dinner, again with Amber. Tonight we dined in the casino hotel's buffet, overeating as always at a buffet. We returned to the casino after feeding Lady, spending an enjoyable three hours just about breaking even. It would be our final evening in Iowa. Jonathan Harper's sentencing was scheduled for tomorrow morning at ten. Our rental Toyota was packed, bags securely in the trunk, when we walked into the court room at 9:25.
I sent Jennie into the row first, followed by Lady, with me on the aisle. Jennie wanted to be seen by her stepfather and mother, but I insisted that Lady and I act as a buffer between them.
"He's such an asshole, Doug. He always insists on shaking hands with the people in court or in church and I'm sure he'll do it this morning in spite of the circumstances." Jennie was right. He strode in like the cock of the walk instead of the felon he was about to become. He took one look at me and his eyes shifted down the row, stopping when they reached Jennie.
His voice was low, but threatening both in his tone and his words. "You managed to elude me for the past five years, but I'll find you and get you as soon as I'm out.
That's a guarantee." He was about to continue his walk up the aisle when I interrupted him. "Wanna bet," I whispered with a sly grin on my face. "You don't know me, but I'm Jessie's husband.
You won't get within five hundred miles of her unless you're dead." He looked me up and down before smirking and walking away. He was joined by his attorneys on the other side of the railing. Ten minutes later we rose to the entrance of the judge, the Honorable Edwin Pepper. After some preliminary statements from the attorneys, Judge Pepper told the accused to stand. "Your attorney has requested leniency because of your years of dedicated public service.
Apparently, I have a higher view of elected office than either of you do. Elected office is a sacred trust between the elected official and the public. You violated that trust not by accident, but repeatedly through a concerted effort by using your employees as workers for your campaign and extorting them into contributing to insuring your reelection through your ongoing threats.
Even worse, you extorted a bribe from someone captured in a drug raid. Unfortunately for you he turned out to be an undercover operative for the state police. There is and can be no excuse for your conduct as an official of this county. "You have reached a plea bargain with the district attorney in which you are pleading to a single charge of bribery of a public official, a violation of Section 201 (1) (b) (2) of the State Penal Code.
Violation of this section of the penal code carries a maximum penalty of fifteen years and that is my sentence. I only wish I could add "at hard labor" for your traitorous and criminal behavior." He banged the gavel and strode from the room as those present reacted to the sentence.
Many, including Jennie and me, applauded loudly. Jonathan Harper scowled and screamed at his attorney. Jennie's mother only cried. We waited for the court room to clear so Jennie could confront her mother. Lady and I were standing in the aisle when she approached. "Oh, Jessica, thank God you're back." "You've got to be kidding, Mother—me ever come back here?
Not a chance. I came back so I could finally get one over on that asshole you married and I did. Did you hear our wild applause at the sentence? I would have whistled, but I doubted it would be acceptable in the court.
"This is my husband, Doug. Unlike you, he really does care about my welfare. This is our dog, Lady. She's a service dog as you can see, but she's also a guard dog. She'll rip anyone who attacks us into shreds. She did it once when we were in New York, breaking a man's arm with her bite. "Not only am I married to a successful and wealthy man, Mother, but I am also expecting. You'll be a grandmother before the end of the year, not that you'll ever see your grandchild.
I'd never expose any child of mine to someone like you—someone who would allow her own daughter to be raped repeatedly by her husband. I can't prove anything now, but I also can't forgive or forget. Goodbye. With luck I'll next see you at shithead's funeral." I took Jennie's hand and we walked out the door, down the steps, and into our future.
CHAPTER 14 I had one more thing to do to ensure Jennie's safety and I took the first step on our drive home from the Wilmington airport, stopping at Walmart in Leland for a cheap burner phone.
I'd use this phone for one and only one call that I made from the parking lot. One of my early clients was a famous and notorious motorcycle club. Most people would consider it a gang, especially since almost all of their activities were strictly illegal.
They needed a firewall for their website so they could conduct clandestine operations without the authorities knowing or hacking into the site. Somehow they got my name—I suspected at the time from one of my MIT classmates—at a time when I was desperate for money to launch my first "Idiot" program.
They paid me $100,000 all in well-used tens and twenties. They were still using my firewall and I hadn't read anything about the government hacking into their site. I had a small device in one hand to alter my voice and the phone in the other when I dialed the first number.
This one would bounce the signal all around the globe, making tracing the call absolutely impossible. Both parties knew their phones were tapped. Next I dialed their number.
(Yeah?) "How's your firewall doing?" (Good. How can I help you?) "I need a meeting." "Okay…same day, same time, same place. Okay?) "Yes." (Click) The call ended, I took a socket wrench from my trunk and smashed the phone after first removing the SIM card.
I'd throw that into the waterway as soon as we were home. A minute later I was back in the car with Jennie. "What was that all about, Doug?" "Just keeping my promise to ensure your safety; I have to take a short trip Thursday, but I should be home by Friday afternoon." "You won't be in any danger will you?" "No…I've dealt with these people before.
I'll be fine." Jennie was quiet all the way home, but I could tell she was worried. I made a reservation to fly to Chattanooga, Tennessee on Thursday afternoon the next day. Once I had arrived I rented a car at Rent-A-Wreck, paying cash, and drove south on I-59 toward Lafayette, a small city in the northwest corner of Georgia where I stayed overnight, again paying cash.
At ten on Friday morning I was sitting on a picnic bench under a beautiful cherry tree in a park just in front of the Parks and Recreation office. I had a small portable radio playing on the table behind me while I fed the birds with some bread scraps left over from breakfast.
I heard my contact's bike long before I saw him. He was certainly dressed for the part—high leather boots, leather jacket with patches on the back identifying his chapter of the infamous national organization. He spoke even before sitting. "What's with the radio?" "Besides the music it's also broadcasting white noise which will make it almost impossible to eavesdrop on our conversation." I was looking straight ahead, still feeding the birds, when I slid a small sheet of paper along the bench toward him.
"Know anybody in the Iowa State Penitentiary?" He just nodded in response. "I'd like for this guy to have a hard time, like an occasional beating—not enough to kill him, but enough to cause a world of hurt, maybe even enough to put him into a wheelchair." "What's he to you?" "My wife's stepfather; he raped her for years when she was a kid. He was the county sheriff so she couldn't even go to the cops.
Her mother was no better." "You must know we hate child rapists…almost as much as we hate cops. Okay, what's in it for us?" "I have a new firewall, actually three that work together. One of the biggest brokerage houses in New York uses it. You can have it for nothing. Just don't try to make any adjustments. I'll send an email with instructions on how to get in—you know, the password.
It'll be a new one, but it will only work once. Whoever goes to the site first will set a new one. Just make sure it's different from your old one. I'll have it in place by Monday." The discussion was over. He got up and walked away.
I knew he was way down in the hierarchy just as I knew we were thousands of miles away from their national headquarters in California. I'd met other underlings in this park eight times almost ten years ago. These guys were scum—trading in drugs hijacking, white slavery, and illegal importing of cigarettes and booze, but they served my purpose. Harper would be beaten on a regular basis and hopefully crippled.
It probably would have happened anyway, but why take chances? I was back home with my beloved Jennie six hours later.
She kissed me like I had been gone for weeks instead of just overnight. We began our planning for Charlie and Toni's visit. Jennie had spoken on the phone with Toni and her daughters, Andrea and Allison, at least once a week. I'd sent a set of detailed directions to our house.
I'd also told Charlie to leave his wallet at home. We stocked up on beer and wine and Coke, Sprite, and ginger ale, mostly for our bonus room fridg. Jennie also bought two twin size air beds as well as sheets, pillows, and blankets. Our plan was for the girls to stay in our bonus room, a large room over our three-car garage.
Jennie and I used it as our video room. We had a 65-inch OLED curved screen TV up there along with a Hi-Res DVD player, DVR, and ten speaker surround sound.
The walls rose up five feet before taking the slant of the roof above. There were three skylights with internal venetian blinds that were activated by remote control. A small bathroom off to one side near the stairs and a refrigerator for snacks meant we could stay there for hours if need be. My favorite, though, was the off-white leather sectional that curved slightly—just enough to facilitate conversation and to enable everyone to see the screen clearly.
Even better; four of the seats reclined. It was just a few days before we expected them that I received a phone call from my mother. As planned, she'd had her husband served at the faculty senate meeting. Her lover, Paul, had told her that dear old Dad was livid and had disrupted the meeting with his ranting until the dean—God bless him—told him to "either shut up or get out." I loved it!
The Blasi family rolled into the driveway just after 4:30 on Saturday afternoon, last week in June, in their Toyota minivan. Toni had phoned as requested when they reached NC-179, the road our house was on about four miles away so the gate and garage door were open for them.
Lady stood between us as they poured out of the vehicle's doors. Charlie and Toni came right to us for hugs and handshakes, but their daughters were a bit tentative until Jennie stepped forward. "You're obviously Andrea and you must be Allison. Welcome to our home. Come up and meet Lady. She won't bite you—I promise." They held their hands out for Lady to sniff as Jennie gave the command to protect. A minute later they were petting Lady's head and chest. Lady responded by wagging her tail wildly.
I don't pretend to understand, but her trainer John had told us that dogs could remember thousands of individual scents. Lady had obviously remembered Charlie and Toni. We carried their bags into the house and when I opened the door to the bonus room Lady bolted up in anticipation.
"Go ahead," I told the girls. "You'll be up there. Jennie or I will come up later and show you how to operate the shades and everything else." Fifteen seconds later we were greeted by their screaming and we could hear them jumping, too. Allison came running down the stairs seconds later. "Daddy…Daddy…you have got to see this room. There's the biggest TV I've ever seen and this neat couch and a refrigerator full of soda.
It's the greatest." Charlie and I followed her up the stairs. She ran; we walked. I reviewed everything, amazed at the attention they gave me. I finished by sitting in one of the seats and reclining until I was virtually horizontal. Andrea followed my example and a few seconds later asked, "Would it be okay if I slept here? This is so comfortable!" I'd never realized that teenage daughters could be so funny. I was preparing three thick ribeyes for the grill when the girls ran down the stairs with Lady.
"Can we go outside and play with her," Allison asked. I agreed, but only for about thirty minutes and only if she had a bowl of water. It gets hot and humid in coastal North Carolina in June and it stays that way until the last week of August at the earliest. They were good girls, playing with Lady and having a great time, but stopping every ten minutes or so to allow her to drink and cool down. Jennie, Toni, Charlie, and I sat on the deck with soft drinks, relaxing and chatting until Jennie commented, "What are you and Charlie doing tomorrow?
I'm taking the women shopping." I laughed.
"One thing we're not doing is shopping. How about fishing, Charlie? We might be able to get a couple of flounder…what we call fluke up north." Charlie agreed and I started the grill. Tonight's dinner would be simple—Thick prime ribeye from the area's only butcher cooked medium rare, baked potato, and a tossed salad made with fresh veggies from a local farm.
It sounded good to me and I guess everyone agreed. We had no leftovers other than trimmed fat that Lady ate with her usual gusto. We began Sunday morning by joining Charlie, Toni, and the girls at Mass. Jennie and I had both been raised as Protestants and we rarely attended any kind of church services.
Personally, I viewed organized religion as just another big business aimed at separating people from their money, but this morning I said "Amen" and sang all the hymns, shook hands and hugged my beautiful wife when appropriate. I even placed a ten dollar bill in the collection plate. Once we had returned home Jennie gathered all the women and Lady into her SUV for their shopping excursion while Charlie and I made sandwiches and carried several six-packs of Coke out to the boat.
No alcohol during this trip; boating on the waterway and in the marsh could be dangerous. I already had rods and tackle in the eight-foot locker that was bolted to the dock. Charlie joined me at the helm as I drove the boat north to Ocean Isle Beach where I knew I could get live mud minnows and Charlie's fishing license. Getting caught without one would be expensive.
"I'm taking you to my secret spot, Charlie. I can only get in there when the tide is high. There's barely eight inches of water under the hull in spots." "Won't the engine hit bottom?" "Yeah, but we'll be using an electric motor.
It runs alongside the hull, not under it. Believe it or not, I've taken some big fish out of this area.
The marshes are breeding grounds for small fish and crustaceans. The tidal currents move them in and out of the marsh so the big fish just lie there in ambush." We were on the water again fifteen minutes after docking at the fishing center and headed for the northern end of Sunset Beach.
There were extensive marshes all along the waterway, but drainage ditches had been dug behind many of the island chain in the Carolinas. I stopped the boat in the waterway and we baited our hooks, running them through the minnows' lips before dropping them into the water. I positioned the boat so we would be able to ride all the way up the channel on the incoming tide before using the small electric motor to get us back out again.
Later, when the tide had turned the motor would carry us into the inlets and the current would bring us out. I showed Charlie the best approach to dealing with these fish and we settled in to fish.
"I wonder what the women are up to." "No good, I suspect," Charlie responded with a laugh. I was about to join him when I felt weight on my line.
I dropped the rod, lifting again about five seconds later and repeating once again. Certain that the fish had the opportunity to swallow the hook, I lifted my rod and began to reel in line with my Shimano Stella reel. The Stella is one of the best spinning reels made and it was severely tested that day.
This was a big fish; it pulled line six times as I held the rod high to keep my prey from swimming under a submerged branch or running the line over some sharp oyster shells.
I spent almost ten minutes subduing the fish and when I reached for the net I could see it was a monster. It was well over two feet long and its body was thick. I slipped the net under its head and pulled the nine pound six ounce fish into the boat. It was the biggest flounder I'd ever caught. "You must be good luck, Charlie. This is my biggest ever. Wait until Jennie sees this." I backed the hook out of its jaw and carefully lifted the fish into the live well.
It flopped wildly, but there was no escaping the deep well. I moved the boat out to the waterway to repeat the drift and we continued fishing. This time Charlie picked up a fish, another big one—roughly two-thirds as big as mine, but still a very respectable fish. I took a photo with my phone and we tried another drift. We had four keepers by the time we decided to call it a day. We were home on the dock relaxing with some cold beer when Andrea and Allison ran out the dock to join us.
Lady overtook them about halfway, almost knocking them into the marsh. "Did you catch anything, Daddy?" Charlie grinned as I removed the fish from the live well to the cleaning table I'd installed. Charlie actually caught three of the four keepers. That's the way it is sometimes. The fish have no idea who's on the end of the rod. Amateur or pro, it makes no difference. The girls ran back to the house, Lady on their heels to fetch their mother.
Toni and Jennie joined us, Toni ecstatic at her husband's fishing prowess. I sharpened my knife while they took pictures then I filleted the four fish in about ten minutes, dumping the skin and skeletons into the swiftly moving water where crabs and small fish would make short work of them. I sometimes thought of this as the baitfish's revenge on the big predators.
Jennie and I baked the fish for dinner and after we were treated to a fashion show. Andrea and Allison modeled Myrtle Beach hoodies, tee shirts and shorts as well as some fashionable outfits. Toni and Jennie also modeled what they had bought. Then came the swimsuits and I thought Charlie would flip. They had all bought skimpy bikinis and, while they did look great, I wouldn't want my daughters showing so much skin either.
"Doug, pray for sons. It'll be a lot easier—believe me." I laughed. I understood exactly what he was telling me. We had a wonderful time that week, taking the boat to the beach, going to the driving range to laugh at Charlie's feeble attempts to hit the ball, eating in restaurants and going to live theater like the Carolina Opry and the Alabama Theater. It was after one of those evenings when the girls were in bed that Charlie told us that he and Toni felt guilty that we were spending so much money on them.
"Please, don't," I replied. "Did you ever hear about a guy who invented a super efficient gasoline engine and the oil companies paid him millions not to develop and market it?" They nodded in response. "That's an urban myth," I continued. "However, something similar happened to me. I get my best ideas when I'm asleep.
One morning about five years ago I woke up with an idea to write a program unlike anything ever done before. I can't tell you exactly what it is, but I was able to use it for about two years of testing and I made millions because of it. I made so much that the federal government investigated. The investigation was supposed to be confidential, but someone tipped a major company. I'm talking Fortune 50 or bigger. They wanted to buy it for their own use and their initial offer was $500 million." They gasped.
"I turned that down, but I did accept their ultimate offer of 1.5 billion. Of course, I had to pay taxes so I wound up with somewhat less.
The company wanted to expand their use of the program and I met with them while we were in New York. They paid me fifty million for roughly two week's work so—please--don't worry about our spending money. We have it and it gives us a great deal of pleasure to spend it on our friends." We asked Andrea about her plans after graduating high school. She was going to be a senior in the coming school year.
"I want to go to Villanova, but it's so expensive." "I was able to get financial aid at Harvard and MIT and I think you'll be able to get some from Villanova, too. I hope you apply and ask for assistance. I think you'll do well." Jennie and I waved as they left early Saturday morning a week later.
However, we knew we'd see them again in just three weeks. They'd asked if we were going to take a vacation. I'd kept my plans a secret to surprise Jennie, but between her pressure and questions from Andrea and Allison I gave in. "Four nights in London followed by five nights in Paris then we'll take the train to Amsterdam for a river cruise down the Rhine, Main, and Danube to Budapest. All told it will take us just under a month." I was about to ask Jennie if that was okay with her, but the expression on her face told me everything I needed to know.
Her eyes were as big as saucers. "Are you taking Lady," Allison asked. "No…we can't. Countries have rules that require quarantine for animals to prevent the spread of disease so I think we'll have to board her with her trainer." I had barely gotten the words out of my mouth when Andrea and Allison were all over their parents, begging to be allowed to take care of Lady while we were gone.
"I can't ask you to do that. It'll be a lot of work and time." "You're not asking us, Doug. We're asking you." I had no answer so I looked to Charlie for help. "Actually, that sounds like a good idea. I think we should do it." That's when I decided I could kill two birds with one stone. The Monday after they left I telephoned the President of Villanova University asking for an appointment.
"It's about a sizable gift for the university," I told the secretary. Not surprisingly I got an appointment with no difficulty. We drove to Philadelphia two days before we were scheduled to fly to Europe, staying overnight just outside Philly.
I had an appointment at 9:30 the following morning and we were shown into the president's office almost immediately.
I got right down to business after introductions. "We're willing to donate twenty million dollars to the university, but I'll tell you up front that there are some conditions. However, I doubt that you'll find them much of a problem.
First, we expect a receipt, but other than that you'll record and publicize it as an anonymous gift. Second, you will receive an application from an Andrea Blasi who will be a senior at St. Anthony in Jersey City this coming year.
She's a straight 'A' student and a wonderful young woman. We want her to be accepted and given a full scholarship. We'll give you an additional $300,000 to cover that expense. I've had our attorney prepare a simple agreement stating exactly what I've told you. Jennie and I have already signed and the signatures have been notarized. I have a certified check in my pocket that we'll sign over once you've agreed." I pulled the two copies from my briefcase and showed them to him.
"What's your interest in this?" I explained how we had met Charlie and Toni and how we became friends. Mostly, we talked about what a wonderful person Andrea was and how we wanted her to have the best educational experience possible. I pulled out the check made payable to Jennie and me.
He seemed to be amazed. "You're obviously a good friend. I agree." He signed both copies, his secretary notarized, and Jennie and I endorsed the check payable to Villanova University. We were back on the highway to New Jersey fifteen minutes later. Toni and the girls greeted us eagerly when we pulled into the driveway.
Lady jumped from the car, running to the girls as they knelt to hug and pet her. We spent a few minutes getting Lady's bed, food, and bowls into their house.
David drove up with our limo a few minutes later. We hugged and kissed Toni, Andrea, and Allison before leaving, but I took a minute to talk about Lady.
"Lady will come, sit, shake, roll over, and heel. Don't try to give her any nonsense syllables because you just might give her an attack command.
She will protect you if necessary. You're both intelligent and responsible girls so have fun with her, but don't do anything you might regret. Having a dog like Lady is a real responsibility. You don't have her Service Dog vest so you can't take her into restaurants or the movie theater. Do we understand each other?" "Yes, Doug," Allison answered. "You can trust us…honest." I hugged her again, petted Lady and told her to obey then I joined my wonderful wife in the limo.
CHAPTER 15 We were traveling first class on Air France—one of the better airlines in my opinion--so we were able to use their lounge at JFK for almost four hours until it was time to board. I could tell that Jennie was excited. She had my hand in a death grip and she wouldn't let go. She sat by the window so she'd have a view of the city after takeoff. She was still holding my hand as she leaned over to whisper, "I can't believe we're really doing this. I'm so excited—London…Paris…Amsterdam and a long cruise down the rivers through Europe.
Did I bring my camera?" "Yes, sweetheart—it's in your carry-on. Remember?" She sighed in relief then turned down the attendant's query about wanting Champagne. I accepted; Jennie took orange juice. We relaxed as the plane was filled with travelers.
It had been a long, but satisfying day so I suggested that Jennie rest and perhaps catch a nap. Not a chance—she was wired. The plane had taken off and the pilot had switched off the seatbelt sign when the attendant began our dinner service.
I had my choice of several decent wines as well as mixed drinks. Jennie laughed when I looked at her with a toast.
"Go ahead…rub it in. I'll still love you." And to prove it she leaned over to kiss me. I enjoyed my filet and roasted potatoes and after the crème brulee I had one of those tiny bottles of Hennessey brandy.
Now I was as ready as I could be for sleep. My seat was reclined almost fully horizontal and my eyes were closed when I felt the seatbelt open. Looking up I could see Jennie joining me in the seat, placing her head on my shoulder and her leg over my thigh, the same position we used for sleeping every night. It was a tight squeeze, but she just managed to get the seatbelt closed and locked over us. I could see the flight attendant approaching to complain, but I stopped her by signaling with my hand.
"My wife is pregnant and this is the only way she'll be able to sleep. We'll be fine." I wrapped my arm around Jennie, took a deep breath and closed my eyes. When I next opened them it was morning and time for breakfast. Two hours later we were on the ground and walking quickly toward Immigration and Customs.
I was always amazed at how easy it was to pass through both in most foreign countries. Even Communist China was much quicker and easier than Immigration at LAX. Our limo driver was waiting for us and gladly took Jennie's baggage cart. We each had two bags and a carry-on—more than a handful for the two of us. Traffic was as heavy as always so we spent close to an hour to reach the Guoman Tower Hotel where I had reserved a suite with a view of the Thames and the Tower Bridge. I had no expectation that the room would be ready and I wasn't disappointed.
We left our bags with the bellmen and walked up the hill to the Tower of London. We had our cameras and took plenty of photos outside, but put them away when we went to view the Crown Jewels. Jennie laughed when she saw them. "I like mine better," she whispered. We bought a few souvenirs—umbrellas we had forgotten to pack, tee shirts for us and for Andrea and Allison, and a photo book of London. After the Tower we walked across the street to what is commonly known as a "shopping street" where we window shopped.
We'd have much better opportunities tomorrow when I'd take her to the British Museum and Harrods just down the block. We strolled along the Thames hand in hand until Jennie stopped me, then moving close, she hugged me fiercely. "Doug, this is a dream come true for me. I can't tell you how many nights I lay awake next to some sweaty, hairy stranger dreaming of my knight saving me and whisking me off to wonderful places like London and Paris. Now you've made it all come true for me.
You'll always be my knight." "That's me all right—Sir Douglas, Nerd of the Computer," I said as I put my left foot forward and bowed with a sweeping gesture of my right hand. Jennie laughed, exactly as I had intended then added, "You may be a nerd, but you're my nerd and I'd take you over anyone else." She took my hand and we walked back to the hotel. Our suite was ready so we went up to unpack. Jennie and I had two sets of clothes—one for London and Paris and another for the cruise.
Our suitcases were marked accordingly. I was almost done with my bag when Jennie removed her jewelry from the carry-on.
"I'd think these were real if I didn't know better." I walked over to take yet another look. "Yeah, Harry Winston did a great job, didn't they?" When I had bought our rings and Jennie's other jewelry I had asked if duplicates could be made.
I wanted Jennie to look good, but taking jewelry worth $100,000 or more on a trip was just stupid. These were identical necklaces, pendants, earrings, and bracelets except that the "diamonds" were actually white sapphires. The gold settings were real 14 Karat, but were only plated. Everything Jennie had with her, other than her engagement and wedding rings, cost less than $10,000. Once we were done we caught a cab. "Monument," was all I said to the driver.
Ten minutes later he dropped us off on Monument Street just a few feet from our destination, the Walrus and Carpenter Pub, and a short block to the monument to the Great Fire of London in 1666. "I've eaten here before.several times, in fact. The beer is great and the food is good, too. I don't think it will hurt for you to have a sip. I'm sure our mothers drank all through their pregnancies and we managed to survive." "I know, Doug, but I'm taking no chances and my mother is hardly a role model I'd want to emulate." We were shown to a table by the window where I ordered Belgian beer and Jennie, lemonade on the waiter's recommendation.
I did allow her a sip. She approved, but told me the lemonade was also outstanding. She ordered a bowl of tomato basil soup and we agreed on the chicken and mushroom pie. I loved pub food and we'd have it every night in London if I had anything to say about it.
We always found plenty to talk about and tonight--the first of our honeymoon--was no exception. Everything we saw out the window as well as everything that happened within the pub caught our interest. The food was as great as I had remembered and soon we were back on the street where we hailed a cab back to the hotel. Jennie spent almost twenty minutes looking out our window at the tower bridge and the far shore. I pointed out Shakespeare's Globe Theater and the Tate Gallery on the opposite shore as I reminded her that we needed to get some sleep.
We showered and went to bed, but not to sleep. Jennie was just as excited then as she had been all day. She wore me out, first orally and later by riding me as though I was a wild bronco. After that we slept like the dead until my watch alarm woke us at 7:30 the following morning. We enjoyed a full English breakfast in the dining room and Jennie had her first cup of English tea. I suggested she try the Earl Grey or the English Breakfast Tea. She enjoyed both and we resolved to buy some to bring back with us.
After breakfast we walked up to the nearest Metro station at Tower Hill. From there it was a short trip to Embankment and north on the black line to Goodge Street station. From there we walked the two blocks to the museum.
One could easily spend a month just at the British Museum so we picked those things Jennie found particularly interesting—ancient Egypt, the Rosetta Stone, and India.
We left around three and walked down Brompton Road into the huge store. Harrods is unlike anything we have in the States. We went first to Ladies Clothing where Jennie tried on and modeled several outfits before deciding she wasn't all that interested in anything for herself. She did buy some beautiful woolen sweaters and tops for Toni and her daughters and an off-white cardigan for Charlie. The golf shop, however, did grab and hold her.
Only after buying caps, towels, and ball marker sets from St. Andrews as well as a few shirts for us and for Charlie was she ready to move on.
From there we went to the tea shop where we bought several boxes of tea and jars of jam. By then it was almost time to eat. Harrods must have twenty small restaurants on its seven floors. We began at the bottom and walked our way up until we had covered them all then we went back down to Bentley's Sea Grill. The food was exquisite and so were the prices. After dinner we went upstairs to the Ice Cream Parlour for dessert.
We spent the following days on a "hop on-hop off" bus that took us through the entire city, stopping at Buckingham Palace, the Churchill War Rooms, and the Tate Gallery. We even rode the London Eye—the huge Ferris wheel with cars that can hold twenty people or more.
Jennie and I left the following morning by train to Paris through the Channel Tunnel, or "Chunnel" as it's usually called. The trip is about five and a half hours so I bought premium tickets that would give us more room and enable us to eat a real meal en route.
We checked in to the Hotel Da Vinci just across the Seine from the Louvre. The next four days were a dream. Paris at any time is a dream, but for two lovers like Jennie and me it was even better. We did everything we could squeeze in to those four glorious days.
The Louvre was first and we spent almost the entire day there. Leaving mid-afternoon, we walked across the bridge to Notre Dame Cathedral. I'd always found the architecture of European churches spectacular and apparently Jennie agreed completely. She raved about the cathedral—the marble columns, the huge pipe organs, the rose windows of centuries-old stained glass, and the size!
The cathedral was incredibly huge and overwhelming in every way. The following day we took the train to Versailles, touring the grounds and palace while Jennie took dozens of photos. We were on the return train at almost 9:00 when Jennie asked me why we still had bright daylight.
"I'm sure you know that the farther north one goes in summer the more daylight there is. At the North Pole you have twenty-four hours.
Well, most Americans think that Europe is just like the States, but it's not. Paris is farther north than any city in the continental U.S. Believe it or not, Rome is the same latitude as New York City." She looked at me in disbelief, but knew that I'd never lie to her. We spent the following two days touring the city—climbing to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, riding to the top of the Eiffel Tower, visiting the Museum of the Army at Invalides—a fascinating museum that had once been a hospital--and Napoleon's Tomb.
We were tired when we walked into our room that night to pack, but I knew we'd have time to rest tomorrow on the ship. There are twelve trains each day from Paris to Amsterdam and we had our tickets so there was no rush at the Paris Nord Station where a porter checked our bags and showed us where to board. The trip isn't long—only three hours—and the station in Amsterdam is close by the harbor.
We had no trouble getting a cab to take us directly to the ship. I had booked the largest suite, a corner of the upper deck at the stern with rooms surrounded by a long L-shaped balcony and a glass wall in the living room that gave us fantastic views. Today they were of the harbor—tomorrow the Rhine! Our bags were delivered and we unpacked our second suitcases—the ones with our "cruise" clothes, although, to be honest, they were just jeans, short-sleeved shirts, and sweaters.
There was no "formal night" and no expectation of fancy dress on this cruise. Once done we walked forward to the lounge. There were four couples there, grouped around a table chatting. Jennie is an extremely gregarious person—outgoing and likable. It's probably how she survived on the road. She walked right up to introduce us. "Hi, I'm Jennie and this is my husband, Doug." They invited us to sit as they continued their conversation which centered mostly on the travails of air travel.
"I can't believe how they had us crammed in like sardines," a woman named Marlene commented. "And these cabins aren't much better. The shower is tiny and the room isn't much bigger. Don't you agree, Jennie?" "Um…I guess I really can't. Doug and I flew over first class into London and we have one of the big suites at the rear of this deck. It's really nice." "Don't you mean you flew here…into Amsterdam?" "No, we stayed in London four nights and then took the train to Paris for five and we came here by another train.
The train is fast here and we had lots of room." "I hesitate to ask what the two of you do for a living. This trip must be costing you a fortune." "Well," Jennie responded, "I have no idea what Doug is spending, but I don't work and Doug is retired." Jennie continued. Eventually, the story of how we met, fell in love, and married became the topic of discussion as Jennie bragged about me.
"Doug's a computer nerd. He's really smart…really. Have you ever heard of those 'Idiot' programs? Like 'Spanish for Idiots?' Doug wrote all those programs and owned the company until he sold it last year. Lucky for me he did, because we'd never have met otherwise." I noticed that the bar had opened so I asked if anyone wanted a drink.
"You buying?" It was Steve, Marlene's husband. "Why not? It'll be a good way to start off the cruise, don't you think?" I stood and walked to the bar. A minute later the bartender followed me to the table. "Let's have a round and put it on my room bill.
Have anything like chips or nuts?" Of course they did. Two minutes later he had written down our orders and five minutes after that we held our first drink of the trip. I raised my glass for a toast, wishing for good fellowship and better weather much to the group's amusement. It was obvious they'd never been to the Netherlands where the weather is often cold and wet before. Jennie toasted with her ginger ale. Before long all the women were giving advice on how to handle her pregnancy.
I just sat back in my chair and laughed. We broke for dinner, but not until I offered a tour of the red light district. "Don't worry, we're not stopping and they don't give free samples. We're just going to look. I've been there before, but I was only looking then, too. It's not very far from our dock. I'll bet we can get some of the cruise directors to join us." "I don't think any of us speak Dutch," one of the husbands commented. "Doesn't matter, almost everyone in Europe speaks decent English and I speak German and French, both of which are in frequent use here.
Anyway, if you like we can meet after dinner. I see we have a meeting and muster drill before.
We'll have to bring our life preservers." I had prayed for an idyllic time on board, but it was not to be—not at first, anyway.
The meeting was interrupted by two couples who did nothing but complain. They went on non-stop and loud enough for everyone to hear. Personally, although I held my tongue, I'd had more than enough by the time we broke for dinner. Jennie and I walked in and looked around for some seats. Soon Jennie saw Marlene and Steve standing and waving—inviting us to join them. The food and wine were quite good in my opinion, but those four idiots almost ruined the experience for all of us.
Why did they even bother to come? As promised, we met our new friends and about twenty others at the gangway and were just about to leave when the "Nasty Four" as I had already dubbed them asked where we were going. "That's disgusting. I'd never&hellip." "Good," I replied, "then you won't be joining us, will you?" I rarely lose my temper, but not even six hours into our trip and I was fed up with their behavior.
The tour went exactly as I had anticipated. You can't really see anything you can't see on a beach—maybe even less. The women are all dressed in bras and panties or really short shorts and show their wares in a plate glass window surrounded by a red neon tube. You can see the actual bed where they work in the background, but you'd never see any real sex through the heavy drapes.
The first women we saw were mostly eastern European or Asian and not terribly attractive, but that changed as we walked farther down the street. My theory was that the rents were higher in the center so only the more attractive and higher priced workers were to be found there.
We returned laughing to the ship about an hour later. Jennie and I waved to our new friends as we walked up the stairs to our suite. We showered together—ours was actually big enough, but it would have been even if it was tiny. Jennie would have pulled me in to the tiniest space just as she did in our hotel outside Philly.
Was that really almost two weeks ago? We climbed into our bed naked as we'd done since our second night together, making love to the rhythm of the gentle waves as they slapped against the side of the ship. Jennie wore me out yet again. Her sweet pussy drained onto my thigh as it did every night. We fell asleep in each other's arms and woke up the same way. I was hoping that the Nasty Four would be in a better mood after a good night's sleep, but—no, not a chance.
We sat and ate with our new friends again with the same table and the same waitresses. They were from Slovenia, but spoke better English than some of my golf buddies in North Carolina. They glanced across the large room toward the disturbance, but said nothing. "What the hell…" Mike, one of the husbands, said it for all of us. "Why do people like that come on trips if they're so miserable." "I noticed they have purple tags. Thank God they're not in your group or ours." We had red; they had orange.
"You're right, Marlene, they're miserable people." Everyone giggled, Jennie especially, at my double entendre. I'd be damned if I'd allow these jerks to ruin our honeymoon—my wife's dream vacation.
Our first stop was Kinderdijk where more than a dozen windmills had been placed to pump the land dry. The area was close to the sea and below sea level so the pumping was constant, the wind vanes almost never stopping.
Jennie and I found the tour fascinating—from how the mills were constructed to catch the constant breezes off the North Sea to how families lived within the structure. We were back on board and laughing when the purple group followed us. Those poor people looked grim and I knew the reason why—the Nasty Four were still bitching.
I had an idea, something that actually came to me while awake, but I wondered if it was even possible. Instead of going up to our suite I asked at Reception for the Purser.
We spoke for almost thirty minutes and he agreed to check on my idea and meet Jennie and me in the lounge before dinner. We showered and changed our clothes—clean shirt and jeans with loafers for me, vibrant purple silk top and tight jeans for Jennie.
She also wore a "diamond and sapphire" pendant and matching bracelet. She looked gorgeous as we walked into the lounge. The Four were there as I had hoped. I waited for the purser and I walked up to their table. "Hi…you folks don't seem to be having a very good time." "Boy, aren't you the astute one. Our friend organized this trip and then fell and broke her ankle. She got her money back and we're stuck here. I hated the plane ride and this filthy ship isn't worth a dime let alone all the money we paid." If this was my wife I'd&hellip.On second thought I'd never dream of marrying anyone remotely as negative as this bitch was.
"Well, why stay? Why not go home? It's clear to everyone on board you're having a miserable time." "Sure…and lose all that money? No chance of that happening." "Is that the only thing that's holding you back? If it is, I'll make you a deal. This trip probably cost you twelve…thirteen thousand. How'd you like to get twenty?" "Twenty grand? Who do we have to kill?" "Nobody. All you have to do is leave this ship before dinner is served. Mr. Jacobsen, behind me, is the Ship's Purser.
He'll give you a draft for twenty thousand U.S. dollars at the gangway when you leave. We're not all that far from Amsterdam so I'll throw in cab fare—separate cabs so you'll have plenty of room. Mr. Jacobsen will phone the airline so you'll be able to use your existing e-ticket tonight instead of at the end of the cruise." "Where's this money coming from and why?" "It's my money you'll get and, as for why, this is my wife's dream vacation and your negativity is ruining it for her so I want you gone." "We want fifty grand…each." "For that kind of money I could easily arrange for you to have an accident—a bad one that could result in a long hospital stay.
Twenty grand and a cab—that's the offer; I'd get moving if I was you. You have about forty minutes before dinner." I was as happy as a pig in shit when they rushed from the lounge. Jacobsen told me he'd have the drafts ready in plenty of time and his assistant would handle the calls to the airline. I'd spent our time together earlier on the phone with my credit card company.
I had a high limit on the cards--$50,000—but I wanted a temporary increase that was granted almost immediately. The cruise line would charge my card tonight which was just fine with me. I was besieged with questions when I joined Jennie and the group. "They decided they really wanted to go home. All they needed was an incentive—twenty grand and a cab. It's worth every penny to be rid of them." "You spent $20,000 to get rid of them?" "No, I spent forty—twenty grand each—and it was still worth it.
Where's the waitress? I can use a beer." I got my beer only a few minutes before our port talk commenced. Every night before dinner we'd hear all about tomorrow's port. It was amazing how these small towns and villages had centuries of interesting history. We had a walking tour in the morning and the afternoon free to wander and shop. One look at Jennie told me which one she'd choose. I didn't mind—not at all. I peeked out the window as we walked down to the dining room, pleased to see the last of the Nasty Four.
News of what I'd done spread like wild fire. I thought the entire ship knew by the time Jennie and I walked into dinner. I must have been thanked twenty times, mostly by people with purple stickers on their name tags. The rest of the cruise was as idyllic as we'd dreamed—beautiful sunny days, elegant churches and monasteries, interesting shopping, and the most beautiful woman in the world on my arm and in my bed.
I always hate shopping, but this was different. There are souvenirs that are junk and then there are the other kind—the kind that cost plenty, but that was okay, too. Jennie was shopping for us and for our friends, the Blasi family. One of the trip's real highlights was the two-day stay in Vienna.
We had a bus tour the first morning and then we were able to explore on our own. I'd spent time here before when I was working on "German for Idiots." I was fairly fluent, but I still needed someone to check my work.
I could have used someone from one of the local universities at home, but I'd found an educated native speaker worthwhile in the past when I'd written the Spanish and French versions. I'd suggested Schonbrunn Palace to Jennie and her friends. It's an incredible place. We took the train after I helped everyone buy their tickets at the automated machines. The ride was fun. We were in the same car as a school class and the kids couldn't wait to try out their English on us, even asking for some local idioms.
I made them howl with laughter with, "Howdy, y'all." On the brief walk from the station I explained how Schloss Schonbrunn was commissioned to be a hunting lodge, but later became the summer residence of the Habsburg imperial family and was used that way until 1918 when the empire was abolished—one result of World War I.
Jennie stopped short when we turned the corner and she saw the palace for the first time. "That was a hunting lodge? I was expecting something small." I kissed her cheek and we walked on. I explained that Schonbrunn was small in comparison to some of the other palaces even though it had more than 1,400 rooms.
We spent the entire day and when it was done all agreed it had been wonderful. We traveled overnight to Budapest, the result of the merger of Buda, Pest, and Obuda in 1873 where we learned of the role the Romans had played in the area and the Huns in the fifth century A.D.
and, finally how the royal family had united the area into what is now known as Hungary. Vienna is a beautiful city, but it's nothing when compared to Budapest. That the city is equally on both sides of the Danube only makes the views even more spectacular. We had our farewell dinner that evening and those in our group swore that we'd keep in touch although we really knew that we wouldn't. Jennie and I said good-bye then retreated to our suite.
We'd already packed our suitcases, needing to only add the clothes we were wearing. We barely had room for everything we had bought. Even after jamming everything in, we still had three large shopping bags full of presents for Charlie, Toni, and the girls.
We were up early the following morning for breakfast and just had time to use the bathroom before catching a limo to the airport. Not a word was said about all of our extra bags although I guessed there would have been quite the stink—and quite the fees, too--had we been in coach.
We left at 10:12 a.m. en route directly to JFK in New York. I set my watch back six hours to 4:52 and reclined in my chair to enjoy my mimosa before our lunch was served about two hours later.
Then I set my seat to horizontal and closed my eyes, but before I did I opened my seat belt and my arms to welcome my wonderful wife. We slept for about two hours, awakening well before our arrival in New York at 1:05 in the afternoon. Immigration had recently been computerized and most people struggled with the system. Even I found it cumbersome and user unfriendly. Still, we muddled through and were welcomed back to the U.S. A. We grabbed two luggage carts in baggage claim and went to customs.
We found the line surprisingly short, not that it did any good. We had spent much more than we were allowed so there was duty to be paid. I had anticipated this so I had every receipt for every item bought. I paid the duty and the officer gave me a receipt and we were done. David was waiting with a porter to help with our bags and within ten minutes we were on our way. Just getting out of the airport can be a hassle and in the afternoon traffic is always heavy.
It was almost a half hour before we found our way to the Van Wyck Expressway northbound to the Long Island Parkway and into the Queens Midtown Tunnel.
We wove our way through Manhattan toward the Lincoln Tunnel. From there we were only minutes from Hoboken and the Blasi's. David had barely stopped the car when Andrea and Allison ran out to greet us. With them, tail wagging about two miles a minute was Lady. We hugged the girls first and then Jennie knelt to formally greet Lady, hugging her and rubbing her ears and chest. David moved our suitcases to the rear of Jennie's SUV where they loaded everything except for the three big shopping bags.
They went into the house with us. Jennie hugged Toni while I shook hands with Charlie then we switched. "Let's sit down, everyone.
We come bearing gifts," Jennie said with a grin. She sat on the couch with Andrea and Allison on either side. Toni was in a nearby chair; Charlie and I stood. Jennie began with the bag from Harrods. Reaching in, she pulled an off-white cardigan from the bag. "This is for you, Charlie. I remember you wear a 'Large' from your visit.
I was assured they run a little big so it should be fine. Okay…Toni, this one is for you." It was another cardigan—gray with a light floral pattern running through it. I watched as Toni rubbed the wool with a smile. "This is completely homemade, isn't it?
I do some knitting so I can tell. I wouldn't be surprised if the yarn was also homemade. This is a wonderful present. Thank you so much." Jennie smiled again and passed the next to Andrea and the final to Allison.
Theirs were also grey, but had several horizontal and diagonal stripes running across the chest and continued around the arms. Like their mother's these sweaters were also completely done by hand thanks to some highly talented woman in Scotland.
"These are also for you, Charlie." Jennie passed over two golf shirts emblazoned with the St. Andrews logo. "At least you'll look like a golfer." "Yeah, Daddy…until you actually try to hit the ball," Allison said with a laugh. Then we all laughed--nobody harder than Charlie. He thanked me as Jennie went to the bag from Paris. She pulled a deep purple blouse from the bag.
"I recall you telling me that purple is your favorite color, Allison, and I think I recall you telling me that pink was yours, Andrea." She passed the two tops to the girls. Sorry, Toni…yours is just pearl white." Toni took hers and spoke as soon as she touched it. "Silk, isn't it?
I can tell just from the touch. It's beautiful. Thank you again." The girls expressed their thanks, as well. Jennie reached down to the bottom of the bag, pulling a box roughly twelve inches on a side as she announced, "This is a family gift." She handed it to Allison who passed it along to her dad. He opened it carefully before holding up an ornate cuckoo clock.
"It plays two songs—one on the hour and the other half past. I'm sure you'll be able to figure it out, Charlie." "Yeah, my grandparents had one with the weights and all.
What's this little lever for?" "That's to help you to sleep at night. It shuts off the cuckoo and the songs." Charlie rolled his eyes and nodded as he said it was a good idea. There were more blouses—traditional Austrian peasant--from Vienna in the third bag then she pulled three small boxes, handing one to Toni and the others to the girls. "These are my favorites. We got them at a craft fair in Budapest. They began as silver spoons and, in your case, Toni, as gold spoons.
The artist pounded them flat on an anvil and then drew a design, drilling and cutting until he was satisfied. Finally, he polished each one." The boxes had been sealed with tape so they weren't opened until a knife was found in the kitchen.
Then they gasped as they saw the earrings. "My friends are going to be so jealous when they see these," Andrea said as she saw the tiny village, houses with windows and tiled roofs encircled by a silver hoop. Allison's was also a silver hoop, but the interior of hers held a tiny castle complete with a tower and a woman with long flowing hair in a window.
Toni's were 14 Karat gold and her hoops were oval in shape and inside each was a deep blue sapphire of about two carats. Allison looked at hers in amazement. "Is this supposed to be Rapunzel? It's incredible." She jumped from the couch when Jennie told her it was, running to the nearest mirror to check out her gift. Andrea was right behind her.
"You shouldn't have, Doug. These are too expensive," Charlie said softly so as not to upset his children and wife who were extolling over their gifts. "Money is only good if one derives pleasure from it, Charlie. I'd say it was money extremely well spent. You're a very lucky man to have such a family—people who obviously love you as much as they do. You've done a wonderful job with your girls. I hope that Jennie and I do as well." By the time Toni and her daughters had tried on their sweaters and tops—modeling them, of course—and earrings it was almost time for dinner.
"C'mon, Doug…Jennie, we're going out to eat—our treat." We agreed to follow Charlie in Jennie's SUV.
Andrea and Allison wanted to ride with us and with Lady. I had pulled her Service Dog vest from my carry-on so she'd be with us through the meal. Charlie pulled into a parking lot next to a small Italian restaurant. We were walking to the door when he told me, "This place doesn't look like much, but the food is great. Try the veal. It's usually good." He was right. The interior was dreary and worn, but the food was better than good.
The veal parm was superb and the angel hair pasta done just right with a gravy—I'd learned the hard way back when I had lived in Suffolk County never to call it sauce—that was light and tasty. We returned to their house around eight and I assumed that Jennie and I would take our leave, drive for a few hours and stop somewhere in south Jersey or Delaware for the night, but Charlie and Toni had other ideas. They invited us to stay downstairs in their rec room. Jennie agreed and I knew better than to argue.
I sent Lady upstairs with the girls when it was time for bed as Jennie and I walked down the stairs to the basement. We saw a queen-sized sleep sofa all made up with towels and wash cloth lying on the bed. There was a full bath off to the left with a shower stall that was right up Jennie's alley—just small enough to present a challenge.
It was a tight squeeze, but I knew Jennie would get me in there with her. We ran the soap over each other's bodies as we hugged and kissed and touched each other until we were trembling in our desire.
Then we couldn't get out and dry fast enough. We never bothered with pajamas although we probably would have to when our children were old enough to get around on their own. I lay Jennie on the bed then climbed in beside her.
I savored the sensation of her smooth skin against mine. I doubted I'd ever tire of feeling her rubbing against me. We did it every night and most mornings and I'd do it in the afternoons, too if I could. Jennie began to kiss me and then her hand found my cock. "Oooh--as hot as it is hard--no wonder I love it so much." "Do you think we should?
We get kind of noisy sometimes and I'd hate to stain their mattress." "I've got you covered on both counts. Stick with me, darling. We'll be as quiet as lambs if our mouths are full and that should take care of any potential mess—we'll swallow it!" "You are an incredible woman, Jennie…absolutely incredible." "Maybe, but it took you to bring it out of me—your love and your caring. You're the secret of my success. Do you mind if we start now?
I don't think I can wait even a second longer." She jumped up and turned around. In just a few seconds her bald fragrant pussy was inches from my mouth and my organ was halfway down her throat. Jennie worked me hard. Between her tongue and the roof of her mouth she drove me crazy. As for me, I began by kissing her thighs while using my nose to lightly tickle her labia. I was well along when I finally penetrated her with my tongue. I knew that even the gentlest touches of her G-spot would set her off.
It had always worked in the past and it worked tonight. Only my arms, tight around her legs kept her from kneeing me in the head as her body was wracked repeatedly with massive spasm after massive spasm. The sight of what I'd done to her threw me over the edge and, with five hard thrusts my balls emptied themselves into her stomach.
We lay there for many minutes unable to even move so destroyed were we from the intensity of our orgasms. Finally, Jennie stirred—barely—and I pulled her around to her usual position. Somehow I managed to pull the blanket over us and we fell immediately into a deep sleep.
NEXT: the conclusion of our story.