Disclaimers : See Part 1

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Part 4 of Loose Change Series - The Addy and Karen series.
(01) Turning on a Dime
(02) New Quarters
(03) One Little Bit
(04) Joint Venture

 

Joint Venture

By

K-Morgan

kmorgan.5674@yahoo.com

(Feedback is appreciated)


Part 10

After the snow stopped, it continued to rain for days. The rivers and locks flooded the valleys in central Scotland and the farms and many towns suffered great losses. Altee was one of the towns suffering innumerable losses.

The MgGill estate sat high on the rolling hills and was not affected by the flooding. The town however, was in a low lying area and surrounded by two rivers and a couple of locks. The whole area became a disaster zone. The rivers had swollen well over their banks, flooding the valley. The same thing happened with the locks and the dam near Altee. The dam was not sufficiently high, and the water found its way around it. A lot of roofs collapsed in older houses under the weight of the snow, and lots of people lost their homes and had to flee to high ground or relative's homes. The roads were flooded and impassible and when the waters finally subsided, the roads were damaged to such extent that travel was nearly impossible.

When the waters finally receded, people began the clean-up effort. The task was monumental and people began to feel helpless. Shelters were improvised at the local schools and churches. The Mayor of Altee scheduled a town hall meeting, and all citizens went to voice their concerns and complaints.

The entire town showed up at the meeting, including Karen, Addy and Alex. There they met JP and James. Mel and Vic did not attend because Vic was overwhelmed with all the calls she had received concerning emergency livestock situations, and Mel was helping with the phone calls while at the same time providing psychological comfort to the desperate callers.

At the meeting, the complaints, the yelling and the animosity of the crowd were such that they were overpowering Mayor Hutton who was trying very hard to listen to everyone's situation. Consistently, the mayors of Altee had been retired men with very little to do but socialize and represent the town during various ceremonies and functions. The usual tasks of the mayor were basically having to deal with the trash pickup contract, park renovations and landscaping, negotiating minor neighborly disputes, and other such matters to maintain the peaceful life of the community.

Altee had always been a small, quiet town. There had never been a situation such as the one they were facing now, at least in this century. Altee had never been faced with a natural disaster or the need to rebuild until now. Needless to say, Mr. Hutton, who was a retired school teacher in his late 70s was not prepared for the avalanche of trouble that the storm threw at him. He was a mild manner man who never dreamed that he would ever have to face the many troubles ahead of him now.

As things were now, even the town hall meeting turned out to be a challenge for him. The meeting had turned chaotic with everybody trying to talk at once. Everyone was yelling at each other and at the mayor and demanding action. Everyone wanted to speak at once, a couple of women had nasty words for each other, and a couple of men had to be separated by the constable, when they grabbed each other by the throat.

JP, as usual, voiced his opinion. “Oh my! I think we should all leave immediately.”  JP paused.  “It doesn't look good when people begin to grab each other by the neck. I think fist fights are about to begin. I see blood being spilled! We could have a riot here any minute. Look at those women! They don't have a friendly look.”

Then he addressed Karen.  ”Karen, this is not looking like a very safe place for a child to be. I don't think Alex should be here at all. ”

Alex looked at him furrowing her brow.  She had been very excited with the turn of events. “Oh come on, Uncle JP, this is fun.  This is very democratic. The people are speaking up.” She grinned.

Addy and Karen smiled. They were very proud of their little one. Alex's remarks were very grown-up. “You are not going to have that democratic spirit when the fist fights begin little girl!  You'll see democracy running out those doors, and me leading the way!”

They laughed, but just in case, Karen looked for the exits just in case it was true that they had to make a run for it.  Then things got really ugly when several men started accusing mayor Hutton of inaction and incompetence.  Hutton was a quiet, good man who always tried to help everyone. He was completely out of his element and didn't know what to say, or do.

Alex spoke. “Oh boy!  Mayor Hutton is going to lose the next election for sure!”

“That's if he can make it out of here in one piece.” This time it was James speaking.

“Oh God! I say we leave now. I already smell the testosterone in the air.” JP proclaimed.

Karen looked at Addy for an indication of what to do.  Addy had a worried look on her face. She also looked outraged, sad and in total disbelief of what was happening before her eyes.

Karen continued to look at her with worry. She had seen that look before. It was the look of Volcano Addy when it was about to erupt. Karen knew that if that happened, all eyes would be on them. Oh, no!

As Karen feared, all of a sudden, Addy got up and yelled at everyone to shut up. Alex eyes were huge. She was in total disbelief of what her mom had just done. She was even more surprised, though, when the entire room quieted down.  Karen reached for Addy to try and calm her down, but when she saw Alex's face of admiration for her mom, and later Addy's face, she knew that the force called Addy had no stopping and should not be stopped. Now more than ever, she needed to continue, because there was someone watching attentively every one of her moves. Karen thought that Alex was about to get one of the best civic lessons of her life. For the first time she was going to see her sweet, home, loving mom in full blown action.

Since Alex was born, Addy had not had any other vision or wild impulse to start anything new other than the quiet and simple idea of raising horses, which of course, had its repercussions when Alejandro unexpectedly became a winning horse. However, outside of that bit of excitement, Addy had settled into a quiet home life and she had dedicated herself to raising Alex.

Karen remained working at the law firm and enjoyed the pleasant life they had been leading. She loved everything Addy did and lived contently. Karen's life revolved around Addy and Alex and she was always happy with them. The truth was that raising Alex had been quite a challenge, so it was understandable that Addy had not undertaken any new project other than Alejandro, of course. Alex had never seen the entrepreneurial Addy that Karen knew. In other words, Alex had never experienced the full blown Addy, until this moment.

Karen remembered that years ago, when she had gone back to work, Addy had mentioned that her going back to work would be a good example for Alex. Her reasoning was simple, how else would Alex know to be a professional woman if she had no example to follow? So, at this particular moment, Karen thought that it was important for Alex to see the force behind the woman who had totally captured her heart, and who was also her mom. So Karen sat back and did what she always did, she smiled and held on tight for the ride, and thought to herself, “Lord have mercy!”

Alex looked at Karen and wondered. “Mom?”

Karen didn't answer. She was smiling expectantly and proudly. When Alex saw the look on her mom's face, it was all she needed to feel okay about Addy's sudden action. Alex then became fixated, looking and listening to Addy in the same proud way. She did cast a glance every now and then towards Karen for some sort of confirmation that things were well and that they didn't have to run out the door as JP had suggested a few minutes earlier.

“All of you!  Take a look at yourselves! We are in a moment of crisis here.  The moment calls for all of us to be united and not tearing each other apart.” She had been standing when she spoke and now she was walking to the front of the room.

“Oh my God! What is the woman doing?” JP remarked.

When she heard JP's comment, Alex looked at Karen for reassurance. Karen raised her brows and smiled at her and then looked to the front, fixing her gaze on Addy. Alex smiled back, and as the green eyes refocused on the front of the room, the smaller green eyes followed her M'Addy all the way to the front.

Karen was proud that Addy had taken a stand.  She was looking at her, but even she had trouble believing what Addy was doing. She was in awe of this person again.  Alex's eyes were on Addy. She was preoccupied that her mom might be putting herself in harm's way, considering what JP said earlier about fist fights and blood being spilled. However, when Alex looked at Karen she didn't see fear, but rather love, pride, and support. Karen was so focused on Addy that she didn't even noticed Alex looking at her. She just felt a smaller hand intertwine with hers, tight and firm. Karen looked down at the green eyes that were searching hers, and Alex smiled. “That's your mom, Alex. Isn't she great?” Alex smiled with her beautiful darling smile and turned to look and listen to Addy who was now in front of the room.

“Is M'Addy going to be safe up there, Mommy?”

“Yes, baby. She will. I don't know about the rest of the people here, though.”

Alex chuckled and looked eagerly back to the front. She had to stand on a chair in order to see what was going on up front.

Addy continued her lecture.  ”Mayor Hutton is a good man.  He has been our mayor for endless years and he is due appropriate respect. I'm sure he is doing, and will do, all he can to tackle the challenges we are facing.  I propose that everyone report their losses and needs, and that we make an appropriate list of damages and claims. I also propose that we create a committee to sort through and deal with all the problems.”

There were cheers and clapping. Someone yelled from the back. “Addy, are you going to start drafting the list tonight?” Someone else yelled. “And are you going to lead this committee?”

“Everyone is going to go home and make their own list. Tomorrow everyone can begin filing their list of claims with city hall. I will personally offer my help to collect them. I would like to help and this is what I'm volunteering to do. Also, I'd like people to volunteer tonight for the committee to evaluate the claims.  I will also help Mayor Hutton make the necessary calls to have the shire declared a disaster zone. Once that is done, we should be able to receive funding to repair the roads, fix the town's infrastructure, and determine structural damages. We can also look at submitting personal disaster related claims.  I think we can ask Mrs. McKenzie here to start taking names of those volunteering to help out.  In the meantime, everyone needs to help their neighbor.  Go home now and make your list.”

Sarah Foster spoke. “Addy, what if we can't get government funding?”

“Then we are going to have to figure out how we can help ourselves using our own resources.  But we should not cross that bridge until we get there.”

Another person spoke. “Would you put your own money into helping the town?” Everyone in town knew them and they knew they were wealthy.

“I think there are times in our lives when we have to think about all our blessings and wonder if this is the appropriate time to give back. All of you, as well as I, are part of this community. We have, through the years, received much from this town. Yes, I believe I am ready to give back to my community. Are you?” There was silence followed by applauses and cheers.

She turned to talk to the Mayor's entourage. The small group included the Mayor, Mrs. McKenzie, who was his secretary, Dr. Naylor who was the treasurer, the justice of the peace and the constable. All of which were in their late 70s.

“I'll be at city hall first thing tomorrow morning. Mayor Hutton you need to move on this because if you don't, these people are going to fry your ass, pardon my language.” They all laughed.

Hutton spoke. “Thank you for your help, Addy. I'll see you tomorrow.  Make sure and be there, dear. We need your spirit to get things going. You need to tell me about your ideas.”

“I'll be there, Mayor Hutton.”

A bunch of people gathered around Mrs. McKenzie to give their names and join the committee. Several people stopped to talk to Addy and make suggestions.

After a while, when all was said and done, Addy was walking back to her family, who sat patiently waiting for her. All she could see we're four smiling green eyes showing pride and approval.

“Mom, you were awesome!” Alex hugged her around her waist. “You told everyone to shut up and they listened to you. I think you saved Mayor Hutton. If it hadn't been for you they would have kicked his butt!”

The other two green eyes just looked at her full of love and pride. Addy just stared at Karen and smiled as she hugged her daughter.

“Wasn't she great Mommy Karen?”

“Yes, she was, Alex.” Karen held her gaze. She always is, always!

Addy's face was apologetic.  ”Sorry!  I couldn't help myself!”

Karen placed her arm around her waist to lead her out.  ”I know.  You did the right thing. You were awesome.” Karen caressed her lower back as they walked to their car.

“Mom, I think you should be the next Mayor.”

Karen laughed.

“I totally agree with Alex. I think this move tonight has earned your candidacy for the next election. You already have my vote.” JP tapped her on the arm.

James smiled as well. “Good job, Addy. You already have a few votes from what I can see.”

“Oh! Shut up! You are all partial.”

“Mom, I'm serious, I think you have the job in the bag.”

“Hush kid, you can't even vote yet!”

Alex laughed and Karen grinned.  

Addy kept glancing at Karen wondering if there would be further talk at home about this spontaneous, but sincere display of emotion.

Alex talked and talked about the town hall meeting and about how Addy had done this or that and how people listened to her. She was also joking about Addy becoming the next mayor and how she would be the daughter of the mayor with all the perks, how famous they would be, and all her childish musings.

Karen, however, continued to smile but remained quiet. Karen's silence worried Addy. She thought that maybe Karen was not a happy about her reaction and was just pretending to be happy, just to be a trooper.

The minute they got home, Alex ran to her room because there was a music awards show she wanted to watch on the TV.

Addy followed Karen into the family room.

“Okay, shoot!  What's wrong?”

Karen turned. “What? Nothing's wrong.”

“Why are you so quiet then?”

“I'm just thinking about the possible ramifications of tonight's events.”

“Are you mad at me because I opened my big mouth with Alex there?  It's been a while since I've rocked the boat, hasn't it?”

Karen chuckled. “Yes, it has. And no I'm not mad.  As a matter of fact, I'm very proud of you for taking a stand.  And about Alex, well you should have seen her face. She was beaming with pride. I think she was a little frightened at first when you walked up to the front. She held my hand.” Karen chuckled. “I felt that she wanted to make sure that the two of us would come to your rescue if the fists fights JP had talked about really began.” She laughed again, and so did Addy, who was very relieved by now.
“I think you gave her the best civic lesson she ever will have in her life.  I think she also saw me holding my breath and felt the pride I felt, Ms. Marcos. But—.”

“Oh, oh! Here comes the ‘but'.”

Karen chuckled. “Alex is right. This display of civic duty and commanding posture will turn into more.  The town is now looking to you for direction. Even the Mayor wants your help.”

“All I wanted to do was put some order to the assembly, and all of a sudden, I'm making lists and recruiting volunteers and offering my help and maybe having to put some money where my mouth is! How did I ever manage to get myself into all of that?”

Karen grinned. “Addy, Addy, my Addy! You are a natural. Leading comes naturally to you. You just didn't realize that you'd be getting yourself into a whole new ball game. Admit it Addypooh, this time you didn't think.  Tomorrow you'll do what you think is right and what you think needs to be done. You'll be going to city hall to take people's claims, organize a committee and advise our elderly mayor what he needs to do to tackle the disaster claim. You will be doing what you do best. You will try to make it right for everyone.”

Addy sat down feeling a bit sorry for herself.

“If you are able to obtain funding for those people, you will be their hero and maybe even the next Mayor, just like Alex predicts.”

“Oh come on, Ker! Like that can happen! The first woman mayor of Altee, and a lesbian!  I'm sure hell will freeze over before that happens! It would be something wouldn't it? Wait!  I'm not even a citizen! I can't be!” She opened her eyes wide implying, that it couldn't possibly happen.

“Don't know that you need to, and second, who would oppose you? You are pretty popular around these parts, and you are too cute. Nope, I don't see opposition, or anyone else winning.”

Addy grimaced. “Ker, you know what I always say about being on the horse and having to ride it, but if you don't want me doing this, if I don't have your support, I won't do it. I know Alex will be disappointed, but I'll talk to her. She'll understand.”

Karen smiled and placed her arms around her.  Neither woman noticed that Alex was about to enter the room, but wanting to give her moms some privacy, she stayed outside. Karen chuckled before she began to speak. “Addypooh, I love you. You have rocked my world more than once, and I've loved every minute of it every time. I'm not getting off the bus now or ever. I will take any ride with you, wherever it takes us.  Whether that is to hell and back, to the end of the universe, or even into another life if there is such a thing.  You don't only have my complete support, but also my love, as always, baby. Always and forever, like the song says.”

Addy's eyes were all teary. “I love you too, baby. Thank you.” She came closer to Karen and gave her a full blown kiss.

Neither one noticed that Alex overheard the entire conversation. The lesson in civics was superseded only by the lesson in love. Alex waited and smiled. She loved how her moms loved each other and the love she always felt at home. She thought that they were adorable. She coughed to make her presence known.

“I forgot to give you some school papers you guys need to sign. I'm going to try out for the basketball team.”

“Sure, baby, let me have those papers.” Alex handed the papers over to Karen. Alex smiled to Addy who was wondering what the smile was all about. Karen walked towards the living room with Alex following her. “Tell me about this basketball team.” Addy stayed behind watching, and as always, taking full pleasure in the mother/ daughter interaction.

**

The next day, Addy went to City Hall, while Karen and Alex remained in the cottage trying to fix what they could. There was no point contacting contractors right away because people were practically coming out of their houses to begin to assess the damages.

When Addy arrived at City Hall, the place was packed with people complaining. She spent the entire day there trying to help out. When she came home in the evening she was exhausted. Karen and Alex were waiting for her.

“Hi family!”

“Hi Mommy, how was your day?”

“Hell! It was a living hell!”

Karen said nothing, but smiled as she saw Addy take off her shoes and drop on the sofa placing her feet on the coffee table. The coffee table had always served more as an ottoman than as a coffee table.

Karen came over with a glass of wine in hand. “Here, have a drink.”

“Thank you, baby. This is so nice.” Addy was smiling.

“Dinner is ready.” Karen said proudly.

Addy looked up, her smile gone. “You cooked? What did you cook?”

“Macaroni and cheese and you know those meatballs you had in the freezer? I put them in that Italian sauce and it turned out pretty good. Alex helped.”

Alex came over smiling and sat on the sofa next to Addy. She and Addy always commented on Karen's food not tasting like anything edible. But the truth was that Alex had proven to be very capable in the kitchen and whenever she helped, things turned out better. She'd always advise Karen about how M'Addy prepared things or what she put in it or not. Whenever Alex helped, the food always turned out to be much better. Karen knew it, and that's why she mentioned Alex's help. The only things Karen could successfully make were omelets and quiche. She was also pretty good serving appetizers and selecting wine.

“Don't worry, M'Addy. I helped.” She whispered in Addy's ear.

Karen grinned. “Do I detect a conspiracy? Let me go check those meatballs.”

They sat to eat. “This meal is excellent. I commend the chefs!”

Both Alex and Karen smiled proudly. I may have to promote the two of you to head cooks.”

“Especially if someone goes into public office! We may need to take on some of the cooking duty.” Karen commented.

Addy came over and kissed her.

“However, the problem is that, as you know my dear, the menu may be very limited. But never mind that, do tell, baby, what happened at City Hall today?”

“Were there any fist fights, M'Addy?”

Addy laughed. “No. At least not yet! First, let me just say that I really think Mayor Hutton is overwhelmed and doesn't have a clue of what needs to be done in an emergency situation. I got there today and he was talking to people as if nothing had happened.”

Alex laughed. “I think he's too old. I think that all he does. He loves talking to people, but nothing he ever talks about has to do with him being Mayor. I've heard him. He's just too happy about everything.”

Karen listened attentively and grinned. She agreed with Alex but didn't want to come right out and say it. Alex took over the inquiry. “So, what did you do mom?”

“Well, help was necessary. So, the first thing I did was organize the volunteers to start taking in the claims. Then, there are a couple of college girls who know how to do spreadsheets and they are going to tabulate everything on spreadsheets. Then I called the shire's government office to find out what is the procedure to declare the shire a disaster zone. Public works is coming tomorrow to assess the damage to the roads and the public buildings. Once we have a full report of all personal and public property damages, we file the documentation with the shire. I expect to do that the day after tomorrow.”

Karen chuckled. “You?”

“Ker, I think the Mayor is afraid to talk to the shire's government people. I don't think he would have done anything, if I hadn't said anything about declaring the town a disaster zone. To be honest, I don't even think that he knew that such a thing was possible! He is really clueless. His idea of being Mayor is being nice and shaking hands with everyone.”

Karen continued to chuckle.

“Mom, I think you are doing his job. I think you are taking over the town. You are good at his stuff. I say you run for office and become the new Mayor and that's that!” Having made her statement, Alex cleared her plate to the kitchen and excused herself so she could go upstairs to her homework.

**

Addy went everyday to city hall and she finally got through to the shire's government authority. She got them to come and survey the town and as she went about with them, she pointed to all the areas that needed attention. The town was declared a disaster area and it received government money. Bids for projects went out and individual justified claims were covered.

Contractors were hired for the repairs, the town and properties were fixed and everyone was happy.  A few months later, as Mayor Hutton was doing the typical commemorative ribbon cutting ceremony for the new town square, he joyfully thanked Addy and gave her full credit for all the miracles she worked.

**

After all was settled Mayor Hutton and Mrs. McKenzie spoke to Addy.

Mayor Hutton began. “Addy, I am not planning to run for Mayor again.  I think I've had my time at it and its time for some new blood.   I would like you to consider running for office. You did a fabulous job getting us out of that mess after the storm. I doubt we will ever have any other catastrophic event bigger than that any time soon. In any event you are naturally suited to take the lead in critical moments. I think this town would benefit greatly from someone like you. ”

Addy opened her mouth to speak, but he wouldn't let her.

“You are young and full of energy and have great ideas. You are good at organizing people and at getting things done. You ran all those inns when you had them and now you run the stables. You are also good with people and you know who to call and what to say. You also have a good heart and care for this town. By George! I think you are our best candidate.  You'd certainly have my vote and my endorsement.”

“Addy, I think you would be great at it.” Mrs. McKenzie affirmed.

“Well, I'm really honored by your vote of confidence, but I never thought about it, and I'm definitely caught off guard.  I will consider the proposal, I promise.” She thought of Alex's prediction and inwardly laughed.

The idea was frightening but at the same time appealing.  She'd have to talk to Karen and get her opinion.

**

“Are you sure, Ker? You know, I've just realized that you've never told me not to do something....since the balloon thing.”  Addy was pensive. “You know you can, right?”

Karen smiled.

“Yes, I know. And I have stopped you from doing things. The difference is that we've talked about them.”

“So, do you want to talk now?”

“About you running for mayor?”

“Um huh.”

“Do you want me to stop you? Because I don't think you do.”

Addy just looked at her.

“I think this town could only be so lucky to have you as mayor. You will be the sexiest one it'll ever have, for sure. ”

“Ha, ha. Come on, Ker, be serious.”

Karen stood in front of her and put her arms around her. “I am very serious.  I think you would make a great mayor.  You are a great manager, and frankly, even if you turned out to be a lousy one, which I greatly doubt, you'd be better that Hutton. Even Alex can up Mayor Hutton!”

Addy bit the inside of her cheek trying not to laugh and slapped Karen's shoulder.

“Are you going to help me campaign?”

“Of course! I want to be in good terms with the Mayor. I may need a few favors!” She grinned. “It's going to be fun to see how I can influence the Mayor.” She wiggled her eyebrows, smiled and planted a kiss on Addy's cheek.

“Also, I don't want the wrath of Khan Addy on me! I have only to look at Peanut Crunchy to realize what is like to live on the dark side!”

Addy chuckled.  ”He doesn't have it all that bad with me. I've put water and food in his bowls occasionally.”

“Yes, but he doesn't get any petting.”

Addy said nothing. She just smiled.  ”I save all my petting for—.”

Alex came in at that moment and Addy couldn't finish her statement. She just smiled. “So, I will only do this if I have everyone's support and cooperation.”

“What?” Alex asked.

“Run for Mayor.”

Alex's eyes were huge. “Are you serious M'Addy? Count me in! Oh my God! M'Addy! I can't believe you are doing it! You are going to be awesome!” Alex was so excited, she was jumping all around.

“Count me in too. I'm all yours, babe. Always have, always will.”

Alex looked at Karen adoringly when she heard her words.

“In that case, I will talk to Hutton tomorrow. The elections are not until November, so that gives us plenty of time to redo and move into the Manor house. We should also have time to fix the cottage. Alejandro will be back here in March for training and then the first two races are in May and June and then the last one is in September.”

“M'Addy is Alejandro going to continue to race after September?”

Karen was listening attentively to Addy's response.

“Alex your mom and I discussed this already. We reached a decision, and we were going to talk to you about it. Since you brought it up now, we might as well talk now. Alejandro has won a lot of races, but racing is very expensive and time consuming. Win or lose, Alejandro will retire from professional racing. After September, he comes home and I am sure we will be receiving requests for his stud services. I think by then he would have already had the racing opportunities he deserves. It takes a lot out of him. I think he is entitled to a pleasant life with lady friends.”

Alex smiled. “I think so too, M'Addy. I think one time around is enough for all. I think it's best to retire him when he is at his very best. That way he will keep all his glory. But, I have to warn you. I've continued to check the stats, and I predict that he will win the Triple Crown.”

“Amen to that!!” Karen replied effusively. “If that happens, he will be in high demand for stud service and that means a lot of money for the stables and a lot of lady friends for him!”

Addy rolled her eyes and Alex laughed.

**

At the same time that things were getting fixed in town, things were also being repaired at the cottage and the Manor house, starting with the roofs. They were replaced with the best type of roofing available. The walls were reconstructed in the cottage and the Manor house was totally redesigned, again.

Addy called Sandy and Cindy, the two young entrepreneurs that had originally transformed the Manor into the Inn of Scotland. They were delighted to take on the project of making a home of the former inn.

Sandy came over and hugged Addy. Cindy and Sandy had best friends in high school. Now they were each married and had kids of their own. Their business partnership and their friendship continued to boom on their fame for the Inns of Europe and the Inn of Scotland. Their work was really good and they continued to do very well to date.

“It's like deja'vu.” Sandy laughed. “Just think Cindy, this is where it all began, I love this house. I think it's the most beautiful house in all of Scotland .” Alex was watching the women's enthusiasm. “Yes, it will be fun to redo it.”

“At least this time, we are not cutting corners or counting pennies!”

“Addy you are going to love it. The rooms will be huge and will have sitting areas. The bathrooms will be state of the art and the kitchen will be a modern marvel. You'll see, this will be our pet project. Thanks, Addy, for letting us do this.”

“I can see you guys are all pumped up about our project here. Make it happen, ladies. Knock yourselves out.” The women laughed and began their planning.

The right wing of the house had already been separated from the main part of the house to become the law offices. The law offices had an upstairs and a downstairs and it had offices for six lawyers, three downstairs and three upstairs. The offices upstairs were never occupied by lawyers. Karen hired law clerks in the summer and they did their research and work upstairs. Downstairs was her office, Phil's and Mr. Kimbell's. There was a full time receptionist and a reception area, a conference room and a bathroom. Upstairs, there was also a copy room and a file room.

What was left of the house was to become the residence. Once with 23 rooms, the house was to be downgraded to ten huge rooms upstairs, in addition to the Master suite and Alex's suite. The center of the house and the left wing would house their private living area. Alex's suite would have a library, a sitting room, a huge bathroom and a huge bedroom with walk in closets for all her sporting equipment. The Master bedroom was out of a décor magazine. It had the sleeping area to the far side away from the rest of the house. When Karen saw it she smiled and whispered very close to her ear. “I guess we can throw away the little biting pillow. Nobody is going to hear you moan, Adriana.” She had purposely used Addy's full name. She only called Addy by her full name when she was mad or in the height of passion. Obviously, she was not mad now, so her full name was intended to arouse Addy's libido. Addy smiled and turned. “Or your heavenly praises!”

“Or my heavenly praises, yes.” She pulled Addy to her and kissed her with passion, expressing the desire that always burned within her. “Can't wait to inaugurate the shrine. Do we have a mirror?”

Addy grinned, but said nothing. Karen's eyes were about to come out of her sockets. “We have a mirror?!”

Addy laughed. “I thought about it, but was too embarrassed to ask Sandy . And what about Alex? What if she ever saw it? I couldn't do it, baby. Sorry, we'll have to go back to Sweden to re-live that fantasy.”

“Promise?”

Addy chuckled. “Promise. Come on let's see the rest of the house.”

The Master suite had a sitting room and library and a bathroom with a jet shower and a Jacuzzi tub. The bathroom floor was tile and the rest was carpeted with thick deep carpet. The remaining ten rooms were done in exquisite colors all having their own bathrooms with shower and jet tubs.

In addition to the main staircase, there was a secondary staircase which descended to the family room and kitchen area. The private residence area was set aside from the main house by oak double doors. It was like having a separate apartment within the house. Karen wanted it that way. She said that the house was too big and that she needed to confine their space to an area that although big was still within reach. Sandy thought that blocking part of the house like that was kind of crazy, but Addy explained Karen's security concerns and Sandy understood.

Sandy designed the whole thing with such taste that it looked beautiful and you could hardly tell. The oak doors were sliding pocket doors, done in such a way that unless they were locked at night, no one would know they were there.

Even with the right wing as offices, the house was enormous. The downstairs had the huge kitchen, a fabulous dining room, a rec room, family room, a formal living room, and library. The formal living room was an open area and it housed the beautiful Steinway white piano. There was an office in the left wing for Addy's administrative papers along with a gym. The back of the manor had a huge patio where the pool and hot tub were located. The pool area had an outdoor kitchen area, pizza oven and bathroom.

A door on the right side, led straight into Karen's office in the law firm. So Karen's commute was the most convenient in the world, as Alex would describe it, “only a door away.”

Leading to the house was a beautiful tree-shaded road opening to a magnificent circular driveway and beautifully landscaped gardens. The house had all the modern conveniences, but from the outside, the house kept all the charm and glory of the place it was: the Manor house of the MgGuill estate restored to its prime. A true example of Scottish architecture from a period long gone.

When it was done, Sandy had a crew taking pictures left and right. She was hoping that Addy would let her submit the pictures to a designer magazine. Off to the right of the house was a four car garage. And on the office side of the house, they had added additional parking for clients. The extended grounds were tastefully landscaped as it always was when the Inn existed. There were innumerable types of gardens and gazebos in the outlaying area which were visible from the patio. The fence surrounding the patio was a high black iron fence with trees and shrubbery parallel to it, but never blocking the view of the distant ocean towards the left side of the house.

A paved internal road led to the cottage, and beyond there, it continued to the stable and all the way to the distillery. There were gates at every location operated with remote door openers. And due to the always vigilant Karen, the whole perimeter of the property was protected with motion sensors and cameras which alerted the security company of any visitors, or intruders.

Shortly after the house was finished, they moved in. Alex was incredibly excited. “Mom, I think I might get lost in my own room! I think my bathroom is bigger than my old room! What Am I saying? I think it's bigger than the whole top floor of the cottage!”

Addy smiled seeing how happy Alex was. However, there was a degree of sadness on her face which Karen recognized.

“Gorgeous, you will love it here too.” Karen turned her around. “I will make sure to give you the royal treatment.”

“I know, Ker. It's just that the cottage was our special place for so long.”

“We can always go there and make out.” Karen wiggled her eyebrows.

“We might have too.” Addy remained sort of sad.

“Fine with me.” She kissed Addy and wrapped her arms around her.

“Remember the first mattress, Ker?”

Karen sighed. “I do. We had many good times there, but Addy, we also had good times on the new mattress and in any we've ever slept on, haven't we?”

Addy smiled. “True.”

“It's never been about the mattress or about the place. It's always been about the company.” Karen looked for her lips and found them. They kissed tenderly. “It's not the robe that makes the monk!”

Alex came in the room. Karen and Addy were still in her bedroom. “M'Addy did you see the size of that kitchen? I think I can ride my bike inside the house on bad weather days!”

“Don't even think about it, Alexandra. Where's the Peanut dog? He is the one who could get lost here. Go find him and make sure he doesn't pee in the wrong place.”

“No, I'm taking him to the patio now. By the way, the pool looks better than ever. I think I'm going to go swimming every day. Maybe we can have the end of the school year party here.”

“Well, looks like your daughter is happy, Ms. Larsen.”

Karen swatted Addy on the butt, “Come on! Confess! You like it too. There's a lot to be said for space and luxury, baby. I love the sound proof music room, and the library is comfy. Hey, we could break in that shower today. It's big enough for two and it even has a seat.”

“We never had trouble fitting in the cottage's shower.” Addy replied.

Karen kissed her on the neck. “Nope. We've really never needed much space. I'll tell you what, I will get a special color grout and will make a mark around six tiles, that's just about the size of the old bathroom, and when we shower, we have to stay within the marked perimeter. What do you say to that?”

“I say that you are crazy and that you are trying too hard to please me. That's what I have to say!”

“Wait a minute! Isn't that what I always do?”

Addy left the room laughing.

Karen remained talking to herself. “I always do that.” She laughed.

**

Just after they moved to the Manor house, it was time for Alejandro to finish preparation for the upcoming races. He was already a three-year old and was ready for the big ones. The Guineas Stakes is one of the three major races of the English Triple Crown. It was also around this time that Addy announced her candidacy for mayor and she had been putting together what was to become her election campaign staff. A lot was going on in the women's life.

While Addy was busy preparing for her campaign and making sure Alejandro was ready for the race, the work at the law firm kept Karen busy. Karen needed her work to keep her focused and grounded from all the commotion around her. While Addy thrived on the novelties, Karen was more a creature of habit and needed her routine. She loved all of Addy's activities and she would help in whatever way she could, but she needed to get away from all that commotion and focus on her numbers and legal terms in order to keep her sanity.

Alex was always involved in something. She continued with her karate and since second grade she had begun to play soccer. The moms continued to pick up from school and drive her to whatever the activity of the day was. They either took turns or did it according to their schedules. Soon, in May, third grade would be over and it would be just in time for the race.

It was the end of April when Addy came home and found Karen sitting by herself on the sofa in the family room. It was early in the afternoon and not a time when Karen would normally be home. Karen was known to come home for lunch every day, since she was just literally a door away, but she kept strict work rules and always returned to the office immediately after. Of course occasionally, she and Addy planned a hookie-day for just the two of them. But today was not a planned hookie-day, so Addy was surprised to find her home when she arrived from her shopping.

“What's wrong, Ker? What are you doing here?”

“I got a call from Gerry. She's sick. She's got cancer, Addy.”

As Addy went around the sofa, she realized that Karen had been crying. “Oh, no!” Karen crashed into her arms and cried more. “Maybe when she goes through treatment she will be fine. Where is the cancer? How long has she known?”

“No Addy, it's advanced and it's not good.”

“Oh dear God!”

“I want to go see her and ask what we can do for her. Maybe bring her over. We have plenty of room.”

“Yeah, we can go this weekend.”

“I hope you don't mind if I go alone. I don't want Alex to see her, or me cry, and I don't know how I'm going to find her or how I'm going to handle it.”

“Okay. I understand. We'll stay, you can go.”

A few days later, Karen went to see Gerry and came back two days later. The prognosis was bad and Gerry refused to leave her home. She had enough resources for a live-in nurse and that is how she wanted to handle things. Karen respected her wish. The doctors had given her about six months, maximum. It was already May, that meant that by November she would most likely be gone. Karen came home devastated. Still, she left Gerry in good spirits, given the circumstances.

“We need to prepare Alex. She thinks of her as a grandmother. It will be tough, Addy, very tough.”

“Yes, sweetie. It will.”

 

To be continued in Part 11.

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