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This chapter is not meant to stand alone. Please begin at the beginning to appreciate this tale.
Monday, October 22
Veronica picked up the phone as Ashley and Katrina hurried out the door and Mary Claire was busying herself cleaning up the kitchen.
“Veronica Bryce please.”
“This is she,” Veronica almost snapped. Just what I need ,another off the wall sales scheme.
“This is Evie Graham, Reverend Evie Graham. Carol McDonough asked that I give you a call. She said you needed a minister for your wedding and another ceremony. How can I help?”
Feeling more than a little embarrassed for how she’d answered the phone with a minister on the other end Veronica responded in a conciliatory tone, “Oh, I’m sorry for the exasperated tone, I thought I was going to get solicited from a stockbroker calling long distance from Baltimore. Thanks for calling. Yes, Scott and I are getting married on November 16th, we don’t have a church home, and my daughter and his daughter would like a ‘commitment’ or ‘civil union’ type ceremony on the same day.”
“Both ceremonies are available from me. I’m a counselor at Washington University as well as an ordained minister. Currently I’m the interim minister of a small open and affirming congregation in West County whose minister is on a study sabbatical until Advent. I’d like you to come to my office and discuss some things. I’m at the church now and I could see you at 11:00 today if you can work that in. I’ll also need to meet your fiancé, is he available today?” asked Evie.
“I’ll have to juggle things a bit, but yes, I’ll meet you at eleven. Scott’s tied up in business meeting for the next three days and I’ll try to have his schedule when I meet with you. Thank you for seeing me on such short notice,” Veronica responded.
“The church is on the corner of Baxter and Ferndale, and I look forward to meeting you. Bye.”
Less than five minutes after the call from Reverend Graham, the phone again interrupted her, “Hello.”
“Hi Veronica this is Marty, is this a good time?” she asked.
“Yes and no. I’d like very much to see you and visit with you but for a variety of reasons this day is rapidly filling up. How about Thursday?” apologized Veronica.
“I’m going to Kansas City Wednesday and won’t be back until Sunday afternoon. Could I come by next Monday?” asked Marty.
“Sure, Monday next it is. How are you doing?”
“Much better, you gave me a lot of things to think about. I had a good weekend. I look forward to seeing you next week,” said Marty.
Veronica was about to ask her about ‘Cathleen’ but the doorbell rang and Mary Claire wasn’t in sight, so Veronica told Marty that she had to answer the door and ended the conversation.
The UPS lady had two boxes, neither very sizeable. One had the return address of NC, and the other of Dubio. She finally puzzled the NC to NippleCharms and the Dubio box must have been the bikini store.
“Scott, good morning. You and Emerson each got a large FedEx package from CitiGroup and you got this smaller one from the charity you made the contribution to last May,” said Grace entering my office wearing a crisp white blouse, open at the neck, a knee length skirt, hose and black patent three inch heels.
“Wow, Grace, I really like the new look,” I responded.
“Well, maybe sooner than later you won’t have to wonder what I’m wearing under this skirt and blouse, you can undress me and more,” Grace said winking at me.
“Let’s look at the larger one first, but call the attorneys and the three of us can sit down with them as soon as they can get here. In case they didn’t get a similar package make copies for them please,” I directed.
After opening one of the Citi packages and looking at the cover letter Grace noted, “The attorneys were copied on the letter. Before making the copies I’ll check with Sandra to confirm that they got their package.”
Scott smiled at her, saying, “Grace, thank you for thinking about that, we do need to keep the number of copies to a minimum.”
Grace called from my phone and ascertained that they had yet to receive their package and that they would be in our office within the hour. She then called internally and asked for the only clerk she trusted implicitly for confidential matters to come to my office. “Here Angie, please make three copies of the contents please. One is for here and two go to Sandra at the attorney’s office.” directed Grace.
She then sat across from me and opened the smaller envelope. It was an invitation for diamond and platinum level donors to attend a gala in San Francisco this coming Thursday. “Hmm, I’d hate to miss it, but let’s see what the Citi offer is first.”
“Emerson, can you come in with Grace and me?” I asked over his intercom line.
Within a minute Emerson was standing in my office openly admiring Grace and asking, “Who is this beautiful woman? Grace, what a pleasant new look, I hope you’re keeping it,” Emerson smiled.
Emerson came around and stood next to my chair reading the cover letter over my shoulder. “Hmm, I see some problems in the first two casino oyna paragraphs. Have you called our lawyers?” he asked.
Handing him the second copy of the main document that was in the package Grace replied, “Yes. They’ll be here shortly.”
“We have a Friday noon deadline to respond. I hope your calendar is clear, we’ll need to discuss the stock offer, and details on the salary and pension offers. On the surface it seems generous, but we need to dig through all the attachments to find the ‘gotchas’,” remarked Emerson.
As Emerson was sitting in my guest chair making a second pass through the cover letter and flagging areas of concern, Angie returned with the other original, our mark-up copy and the two additional copies she was about to courier to Sandra. Grace took the mark-up copy from her, gave it to me to start marking and commented, “I guess this means you won’t be going to San Francisco,” she asked.
“What’s happening in San Francisco?” Emerson asked as Angie headed off.
“Remember the quarter of a mil we gave to that international charity last May?” I responded.
“Vaguely, it was your idea, so?”
“I got an invitation to a gala for donors of that level in San Francisco this Thursday evening. Now I’d rather not leave while this is still on the table.” I paused, looked at Grace and smiled, “Why don’t you go Grace? I’ll buy you a gown if need be and will you call Veronica to see if she ‘might’ want to go with you. Charter a jet, leave late Wednesday morning, come back home Friday. Stay until Saturday if you and Veronica wish. Enjoy yourself, be tourists, both of you.” I winked at her.
With a shiver running up her spine and a touch of dampness between her legs, Grace replied, “I’ll call your fiancée now, thank you, that’s quite an offer.” With a large smile she turned and left.
As she was carrying the boxes to the kitchen counter, the phone rang. “Hi Veronica, Grace. Without a doubt you are marrying the most wonderful man in the world.”
“I know, but why did you call to tell me that?” Veronica asked, a little more tersely than intended.
“Scott got an invitation to attend a charity gala in San Francisco this Thursday. The Citi offer also came this morning with a noon Friday deadline. So, Scott proposed that I go and represent the firm and to see if you’d like to go as well. I need a gown which he said he would pay for and for us to charter a jet for the trip out and back. We could leave around noon Wednesday and return Friday, or Saturday morning if we want to stay the extra day.”
As Grace ran out of breath, Veronica responded with a resounding, “Yes!”
Grace then asked, “Can we go shopping tonight?”
“Yes, of course. Say seven at Saks. I guess this means that Scott doesn’t have any daytime holes in his calendar to meet with a minister this week?”
“I’m afraid that’s right. Does he need to?” asked Grace.
“I’m going this morning, I’ll find out, but probably not,” Veronica replied. After a pause, “If we charter a jet, I guess our departure time is flexible which is good. I have a meeting earlier that morning. If the title rep doesn’t take too long or if I can move that meeting up I could be ready to go by eleven-fifteen or eleven-thirty at the latest. It would be nice if we could get to the coast by early afternoon so we would do more sightseeing.”
“Let’s talk about that while we shop,” Grace said with positive tone.
Shortly after ending that conversation, again the phone rang. “Veronica?”
“Yes. Who’s this!” spoken more tersely than when she had answered Grace’s call.
“Dave Hawks. Had a rough morning? You sound a tad tight.” Dave remarked.
“Oh, sorry. It’s one of those mornings where I can’t seem to get off the phone.” Veronica replied.
“I understand those days. Even with Joy covering the phones for me I get caught. I’d like to bring a designer/decorator over to meet with you and Scott for some general guidance. Would Wednesday, mid-morning be okay?”
“It’ll have to be early Wednesday, say eight, or better still seven-thirty. The title company rep is due at ten and I’m leaving town before noon. If that doesn’t work can we make it for sometime next week?”
“I’ll call Alyssa now and get right back to you,” Dave advised.
When the phone next rang, Veronica recognized Dave’s cell number and answered with a friendly “Hello, Dave.”
“Veronica, I got in touch with Alyssa and seven-thirty is an issue but eight o’clock Wednesday is good, possibly earlier if traffic goes well for her. We’ll see you then.”
“Thanks, you’re quite wonderful. Scott and I appreciate the initiative you’ve taken on this job,” replied Veronica.
“I hope I’m not out of line but this is the most scenic job site I’ve ever had. So scenic I hope I don’t become a pest stopping in from time to time,” said Dave.
“I’ll take that as a compliment and tell the girls as well. You’re always welcome here,” Veronica almost purred.
Just as she hung up the phone Mary Claire walked into the kitchen having been in the yard. “Hi, sweetheart,” welcomed Veronica, “I have to leave in a few minutes for canlı casino a meeting and should be back about two. The phone has been ringing all morning. Would you answer it and take messages. The answering machine has gotten unreliable.”
“I’d be more than happy to. All you need to do is kiss me and caress my ass and I’ll do whatever you want. Whatever,” She added for emphasis. Veronica embraced the nicely endowed reddish-brown haired young woman, kissing her with an open mouth and caressed her playful ass. “I’m yours,” responded Mary Claire.
Veronica gathered her purse, phone and keys to one of the rented Mazdas and left with a smile wondering what Mary Claire meant by “whatever” and “I’m yours.”
Grace called the Four Seasons Hotel and booked a Premiere Suite for Wednesday and Thursday nights. They had only one available and she asked for the Romance Package. The Gala was at the Westin St. Francis and the hotel provided local car service and would also pick them up at the airport. She then called Aero Charter at Spirit Airport and scheduled a eleven to noon departure window for Wednesday and a ten to eleven AM departure window from San Francisco on Friday. Flight time was about four hours, so they ‘d arrive back in St Louis at about four on Friday.
After booking and putting charges on the company AMEX card, she called Veronica to give her the schedule and to explain that in checking her schedule she saw a volunteer commitment on Saturday morning to help Irene, a long time friend, tutor eleven high school students ahead of taking the SATs. These students were from low income families so Grace really wanted to keep her commitment. When Mary Claire answered, Grace was surprised. Neither Veronica nor I had told her about Mary Claire. She gave Mary Claire the flight information and asked that Veronica call her back in the afternoon when she returned.
Arriving at the church, Veronica found the sign pointing to the office and saw a woman standing in the office doorway talking to a custodian and correctly assumed that it was Evie. Veronica appraised her as she waited for the conversation to end. She visually took in that the female minister was a tall blonde with glasses perched on the end of her nose above her full lips and wide mouth. As the conversation ended she smiled as the visitor awaited her with a wide and warm grin. Evie turned and took a few steps toward Veronica. With a beaming face Evie greeted her with an outstretched hand. “Hi, are you Veronica? I’m Evie Graham.”
“Yes, I’m Veronica Bryce, and I’m please to meet you Reverend Graham.”
“Please, just call me Evie. Is your fiancé arriving shortly?”
“My fiancé couldn’t be here today, or tomorrow either. I have to leave town Wednesday through Friday, perhaps next week?”
“That’ll work, your wedding is the sixteenth of November as I recall,” commented Evie.
As Veronica followed her into the office she noticed that Evie had pleasantly full hips and long shapely hose covered legs under her knee length brown skirt. When they had shaken hands, they looked each other in the eye, so Evie was probably the same height as Veronica and both were wearing three inch heels.
Just before they entered the office Veronica raised her eyes from looking over the minister’s swaying hips to a long but thin decorative mirror to the left of the pastor’s study. Her eyes noticed the minister’s were looking at hers in the mirror. Ohh my, if she noticed me admiring her, this could be interesting.”
“Please sit,” said Evie indicating a chair on front of the desk. She then sat in the other guest chair crossed her legs, and said “Tell me about you and Scott.”
“Well,” Veronica began after a pause while realizing that either the minister didn’t see her or did see her looking but it didn’t bother Evie. “We’re both divorced and each have a daughter the same age. Scott and I are also the same age. I’m nearly six months older. We met on September 27th at a softball game our daughters were playing against each other. He asked me to drinks and dinner, I fell in love with him that night and he with me. We haven’t looked back.”
“Are your ex-spouses still around or in the picture?” asked Evie.
“My ex was killed on a construction site a couple of years after our divorce and Scott’s ex, Marty, just reentered our life in the last week. I like her. I’m not threatened if that’s your concern. I’m looking forward to Marty taking more of an interest in Katrina’s life.” Veronica replied.
“I usually talk about four topics with couples in pre-marital counseling. Money, expectations, sex and communication. What can you tell me about those?” asked Evie.
“Money,” Veronica began. “I’ve been modestly successful in my real estate profession, and Scott and his partner have been very successful in their investment banking firm. In fact, he’s not available to meet with you this week because they’ll respond positively by the end of the week to an offer to be bought out if they can agree on acceptable terms on a few minor issues. If they sell, Scott will be independently wealthy. He plans on retiring and pursuing his hobby of kaçak casino portrait and artistic photography and loving me.”
“Expectations. I guess we’ll talk those through together with you. I can say that neither of us have an overly romantic view of marriage. Scott accepts me with all my flaws. He’s not trying to make me into someone different. I’m accepting of him in the same way. I know, and I believe Scott does too, that we’ll need to work at our marriage and allow each other to have their own personality. Having been in failed marriages I believe we’re both more grounded in the realities of marriage than if we were eighteen or twenty-one marrying for the first time.”
Evie nodded several times as Veronica spoke. Though Veronica would stop talking for seven or so seconds the minister didn’t say anything, letting Veronica fill the void.
Veronica smiled, “As for sex, I don’t know where to begin or what you expect me to say. Scott is a gentle, considerate lover, and we rarely have our hands off each other. We make love daily, at least once, usually more often. When we met he confessed a simple hose and high heel fetish that I have worked to fulfill for him.
Communication. Well there isn’t anything I won’t discuss with Scott, nor he with me. We have had no serious disagreements. Where we have disagreements it’s been on minor issues and we accept that there’ll be differences.”
“Thank you Veronica for the quick insight into yourself. We all have disagreements with our spouses, family members and others who are close to us. By the very nature of them being close to us, differences and frustrations can escalate and magnify arguments. Honest and open communication is critical, and we’ll return to that topic when I meet with both of you, but I’ll say this now and when we return to this topic, it’s important that a husband and wife agree that there will be disagreements regularly and that when disagreements arise they will disagree agreeably.”
“Agree to disagree agreeably….hmmm, I like that,” Veronica smiled. She was feeling increasingly comfortable with this person. She noticed no negative facial expression or body language from Evie when she admitted to having frequent sex with Scott prior to marriage.
“I noticed your ring. That’s your engagement ring? Can I see it?” Veronica held out her hand, and Evie leaned over to look at it. “It’s beautiful and stunning. He must love you a lot to give you something that special,” remarked Evie.
“I’m special, so is he, so are Ashley and Katrina, our daughters.” As the minister nodded her head Veronica continued enthusiastically, “I’ll give you an example. The day after we met and had dinner, Scott told his partner that he was through working 14 to 16 hour days, seven days a week. He had met me and was going to spend as much time as I would give him to romance me. Since that day he’s attended all the girls’ softball games, we have eaten lunch together almost every day and he’s been home for dinner every night since he moved in after his house was destroyed. And he stays home.”
“Tell me something about your daughters. Carol and you both mentioned that they wanted a commitment ceremony in the sense of a marriage. A ‘civil union’ if you will. You know that Missouri doesn’t recognize same sex marriage, don’t you?” asked Evie.
“Yes, I know that. Scott and I know from their behavior and comments that they want to be bound together by a formal ceremony of some sort. They have no idea what to do to initiate it or where to turn. So Scott and I would like to surprise them on our wedding day with this option.” Veronica replied.
“I would expect to do some premarital counseling with them too. Though some of it could be done after the ceremony, I still would want to talk to them to be satisfied of the depth of their love and commitment. I will do ceremonies, whether it is a marriage or civil union, only when I’m confident that both parties are serious about their relationship and the commitment they are making to each other and before God. Hmmm a surprise…I like surprises like you’re suggesting. Depending on how the conversations would go with them, the essence of premarital counseling could be done through general visits and conversations. I’m confident that I could satisfy myself on the depth of their commitment from two or three visits. Did they know each other prior to your meeting Scott and was it through them that you meet your fiancé?” asked Evie.
“First, neither Scott nor I would expect you to change your standards. No. The girls didn’t know each other before Scott and I met, but they are now truly in love and inseparable. They share a bedroom and a bed. They have unspoken communications with each other that screams that they are in love. Ashley, my daughter, and Scott love each other and Katrina, Scott’s daughter, and I love each other, we have become a melded, loving family. Ashley has asked if I would be upset if she changed her name to Appleton, as will I on our wedding day. I hope that we’ll be able to keep the ceremony a surprise event that I hope you’ll agree to officiate. They’re receiving celebratory rings at our ceremony and at their ceremony they will bestow gold wedding bands on each other which they don’t know we’ve bought. I plan on asking Katrina’s mother to give her away along with her father.” Veronica explained.
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