Disclaimers: See Part 1
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Part 15 – Growing
As they were leaving Paris , Addy had an idea. “What if we opened another inn here in France ? In the Côte d'Azur ? Karen looked at Addy in complete disbelief.
“What!!! Is this one of those moments we talked about once, about you having crazy ideas?”
“You mean crazy ideas that turned out to be gold mines?”
Karen looked at her in deep thought and wonderment.
“We could have JP and James over here to manage the place. They would love it. I mean JP would love the climate, and the Mediterranean Sea . I can see him flipping over the idea.”
Karen rolled her eyes as she continued to walk, still unbelieving what she was hearing. Here was another ‘wise' business decision based solely on the fact that JP would love the climate? Karen didn't know whether to just laugh or simply yell and run. She wasn't running, so she started to raise questions in an attempt to put some sense into Addy's head. There was no way. There was an answer for every question and a solution to every problem. All in the spur of the moment. This train was fast approaching and there was no way to stop it. One could only hope that it would not derail or that if it did, the losses would be minor.
Within the next six months, the Côte d'Azur welcomed the second of what later became known as a chain of luxury inns throughout Europe . Unbelievable as it was to Karen, they would be known as the Inns of Europe. That very common name Karen had laughed about a couple of years back. Each inn took the name of its location. The Inn of Scotland, the Inn at the Côte d'Azur , the Inn of Barcelona etc. “A name common enough to remember, a stay never to be forgotten.” This was Addy's motto for the Inns. The idea and the slogan took. The Inn at the Côte d'Azur became booked to capacity for the next year, even before it open. It was promoted, from preopening, as affiliated with the now called ‘Royal' Inn of Scotland. Within six months from opening they were opening inns in Murcia , Barcelona and Ibiza, all in Spain , as friends and other investors poured in from everywhere to support the projects. They all wanted a piece of the pie, of Addy's delicious pie. Then came the Inn in Venice , and Naples in Italy
JP and James were having the time of their lives flying from one place to the other and overseeing everything. Karen and Addy did all the managing from Scotland because they still could not leave their location. They hired and trained local people who knew their respective areas, but they were all trained in Scotland under Addy's specific tutelage.
The whole organization was amazingly successful. All had been done using the same designers and decorators they had used in Scotland . Sandy's and Cindy's design business was booming, and Andre and Margo had done the recruiting of local chefs based on their knowledge of the business.
Exactly, two years after it opened its doors, the Inn of Scotland hosted a private celebration. The celebration was a tribute to each and every one who had anything to do with its creation. Many of the town's people came for the evening get together.
Everyone was gathered in the restaurant area. It was after the meal that Addy got up to say a few words. “I'd like to thank everyone for their hard work and for contributing their talents to this project. It has been an amazing ride and for most of us, a dream come true.” Everyone clapped and cheered.
“It was certainly fun building something from nothing. Granted that we had many ups and downs, but we did it and here we are!” Again, another round of applauses and cheers. “Most importantly of all, I'd like to thank everyone for their faith. Sometimes we went along barely scraping by and it was everyone's faith and hard work that got us through. A lot of you worked for little or nothing, just hoping for the best. Well, our faith paid off and we made it!” More applauses and cheers. No one could work a crowd like Addy. “I hope that all of us have taken a lesson from this journey -- sometimes we have to risk in order to win. I also would like to remind each one of you whose businesses are now booming to remember your starting days and to give opportunities and be a mentor to someone like you two years ago. We all need to get that experience somewhere. So, pass it on!” More cheers and applauses. I also have a special thanks. This entire project would have never been possible, without the complete support, encouragement, financial brain and complete and total love from the person who brought me here in the first place, my beautiful life-partner, Karen Larsen.”
Karen blushed. She couldn't believe that Addy had proclaimed in front of the whole crowd their partnership. Granted that most people knew, but to openly state it like that, it was just unbelievable. But then, again, the woman was unbelievable most of the time.
Karen now got up to speak, amidst cheers and applauses. “Thank you everyone, at the request of many of you, we have created a consortium of businesses as we have expanded ours through Europe . The purpose of it all is to promote your own businesses in Europe and to promote mentorship programs. We would like to think that what we started here will perpetuate itself and provide opportunities for new talent to flourish.” Cheers and applauses were heard again.
She paused for a while. People began to wonder if she would continue to speak or if she was done. She was not done. She was gathering her thoughts. “So many times in life greatness is confused with craziness. This is exactly what happened here. The idea for the original Inn and all the others was Addy's. At first, I confess thinking that she was crazy. I also thought I was crazier for going along with the whole thing. But it was not crazy. I was proven wrong. Sometimes we have dreams and visions we would like to make true, only some have the courage to make them come true. This is what Addy did. She had a vision and she had the courage to make it happen. The fact that she convinced all of us to follow her vision, is only a testament of her genius. I'd like to propose a toast to Ms. Adriana Marcos and her visions, may she have many more!” Clapping, cheers and whistling was heard all around.
As Karen finished her speech, Mr. Kimbell approached the front of the room. “As you all know, Ms. Larsen was under a three year period of time to gain full ownership of the property. The three year term has more than passed already, therefore I hereby hand over the title of the property, as it was Charlotte 's last wish. She would be glad to see what you have done with the property and the many benefits it's brought to our town. The property is yours, as it is you birthright. You may do with it what you wish.”
Mr. Kimbell passed the envelope to Karen, who opened it and smiled. Addy was sitting next to her and saw the document inside the envelope. She rolled her eyes, nodded and narrowing her eyes gave Karen a menacing look. Karen knew exactly what the look was about. The title was in both their names. The brat had gotten her way.
That night at the cottage, Addy was quiet. Karen had been expecting a fiery blast on account of the title matter, but as nothing was heard from Addy, Karen decided to preempt.
She tapped the title on the table with her fingers. “It's my wedding present.” Addy tried to conceal her smile by biting her lip, but still said nothing. Karen had that mischievous look that Addy adored. “Why the silence?”
“I just don't know what to say to you anymore, Ker. It seems that arguing with you is not worth it. I'm just not doing it. We are partners, Ms. Larsen, so I'm accepting your present for the 8 million Euros it's worth. You do realize that you are giving me half of all of this right?” Addy was making her point and rubbing it in.
Karen laughed sarcastically. “Oh, My God, I don't know how to deal with this ‘no fight' attitude!”
“No point fighting. I give it up.”
Karen pulled her towards her and kissed her. “I thought you gave it up a long time ago, Ms. Marcos!”
Addy grinned. “Hum! But, not tonight.” She looked at her raising an eyebrow. “Tonight, it is you who is giving it up!”
Karen was beaming. “Ms. Adriana, there is a problem…”
“Oh yeah? What might that problem be?”
“The problem is that I am extremely turned on and I don't think I'm going to be able to roll over just yet, and as a matter of fact, I may have a request and all.”
Addy smiled. “Is this one of those kinky marital right things you've mentioned?”
Karen grinned. “Yes. Now, if you would, please, go upstairs and wait for me….”
Addy grinned, this was too cute, and she couldn't wait to see what Karen was planning.
“Where are you going?”
Karen replied with a mischievous look on her face. “To the kitchen, to get chocolate syrup.”
Addy and Isabella Ludwig had gotten into an arrangement about the land and the vineyards. The deal was simple. Addy reasoned that as the vines belonged to Isabella and the land to the estate. There was going to be an immediate partnership the minute the grapes were planted. Isabella could not refute that simple fact. So, Addy proposed, that they become partners in whatever was planted there. Fifty, fifty. Karen didn't say a word. Addy had a great business mind and Karen was glad to take the back seat when it came to business decisions.
Isabella was shocked. “Addy, I cannot accept those terms! Why… the land is worth so much more than the vines! Besides, we don't know how well they will grow and it might be years before we can get anything worthwhile from those vines…why I may not even be around!”
“Well in that case, we will ask Mr. Kimbell to draft the necessary papers. That land is not being used and I don't think we'll ever do anything so far out there, so here's the deal, we get 50/50 of the profit of whatever wine come from the grapes planted there. This arrangement will remain in effect as long as you are alive. If and when you are not around, the vines become the property of the MgGuill Estate.”
“Are you two okay with this?” Isabella was looking at Karen for approval. “You do realize that you are getting the short end of the stick here, don't you?” Karen just opened her eyes, nodded and pointed to Addy with her hand. “You heard her, that's what she wants!”
Addy continued. “It's an investment, Isabella. You have a small winery of boutique wines. The wine from the new vines may not be good, but it could be a great wine.” Yeah, right! Karen continued to listen, not uttering a word. “That land has been resting for a long time. It has a southern exposure, gets the sun year round and is protected from the wind by the hills. Who knows? Maybe that will be your best wine then the stick wouldn't be so short!” All Addy had said made sense. Even Karen was beginning to believe the story. Geez, she can sell milk to a cow!
“Oh! Addy, I love you, my dear, you are such a dreamer! I was just like you when I started all of this. And you, Karen, you are the most nurturing person I've ever known. I mean the way you let her get away with murder! It's just too adorable! If you are both okay with those terms, we'll sign the deal and let the dice fall where they may!”
Karen was amused at the way the two women conducted business. She particularly loved the contract clause of ‘when you are no longer around the vines become the property of the estate.' Did either one of them realized how crazy this agreement was? This was an atrocity in Karen's financial mind. There was no business plan, no research, nothing! They were going on sun exposure, gut feeling, a hand shake and good wishes. Yes, Isabella was right. Addy got away with whatever she wanted. There was no way to stop the woman! Who would? She had an impeccable track record! Addy smiled lovingly when she saw Karen rolling her eyes and smiling. Good Lord, here we go again!
It was fortunate that the land on those hills was not particularly good for anything. The hills were steep and there were rocks everywhere. This project was doomed to fail in Karen's mind, but since it appeared that Isabella was the one to lose the most since the planting and harvesting was on her tab, Karen didn't care at all. As her life had become a constant flow of wonderful unexpected events, she had already resigned to her fate and would dance to whatever tune was playing.
In light of their business association, Addy and Isabella became very good friends. They would visit often and talk endlessly, Isabella was like a history book. She had lived there for a long time and knew just about everyone and everything. Isabella adored Addy, and Karen adored anyone who adored Addy, so the three of them had many good times. They met countless times under the trees in the vineyard, sipping wines and eating all the treats that both Isabella and Addy prepared for the different occasions. The conversation was always enriching and the three women had wonderful times.
Isabella told them the story of her life and how the vineyards had come to be her dream and how her husband had helped her, even going against the odds. Up north, grapes were hard to grow. It was too cold. So the appropriate combinations of land, sun, and rain were hard to come by. They had many fowled attempts and lost a lot of money at first. This was one of the reasons why the winery was small. Quality required a lot of attention. As Isabella was getting older, she mentioned to Addy that she would eventually have to sell the vineyards and the winery. Her son and daughter lived in London and did not care for the business. She even asked them, if they would want to buy it.
Addy would have liked to, but she didn't think they should branch into other areas. This decision was one that had made the inns profitable. She had concentrated and focused on one thing and had made it work. She could not lose her focus and risk what they already had for a mere possibility. In that regard, Karen always gave her credit. She was committed and focused and not all that crazy once the business had moved along.
On a Thursday morning, there was a call from JP from the Inn at the Côte d'Azur . “Addy, I just got a call from International Hotels they want to talk to the owners of the Inns of Europe. I gave them your number. They didn't say what it was about, but I thought you guys better handle them.”
“Uum, that's weird! What does International want with us?” Addy commented.
Karen replied. “Maybe the Inns have sparked their interest. Maybe the Inns are giving them some tough competition. We'll wait for their call.”
“Good Lord, Ker, do you think they'd want to buy us out?”
“Maybe, the Inns are very profitable. Let me ask you this, are we? Are we going to sell if they make us an offer?”
“Hum! We better think about it before they call. If they offer a ton of money, I think we should consider it seriously. We have a life to live and I can think of many more pleasurable things than figuring out how much toilet paper to buy for the Inns! What do you think?”
“I agree. Let's not jump the gun, though. They may just want information or God knows what? We also should be calm about any offer if they do make us a buy offer. We don't know the real value of the Inns. If that were to happen, we would need to hire someone to appraise the business and its potential earnings.”
Addy smiled. “You are impressive Ms. Larsen.” Addy got up and kissed her. Leaving a very pleased Karen sitting at the table.
The next day, International Hotels called. “We have a business interest in your hotel operation and would like to make you a business proposition. We would either fly you to our headquarters in Zurich or come to visit you.”
They had agreed that they would talk to the International people and hear their business proposition. Addy took the call. “When were you thinking of doing this?”
“At your earliest convenience.”
“Can I get back to you on that? I need to talk to my partner and check our schedules.
“Sure, you can call me back at this number, my name is Steven Kirck.”
Two weeks later, they met with the International people in Zurich . They were flown there in a private jet for a three day stay at one of their best properties. The meeting took place in the legal offices of Sparrow and Finch in Zurich . Karen had already spoken with the Sparrow and Finch people to advise them of the possible scenario they would be facing.
“Good morning, International Hotels has a business proposal for your consideration. We would like to buy the Inns of Europe, not just the Inns but the concept also. This means that you would be selling the idea and you would sign off to starting any business of the same type to compete with the Inns. This is our proposal. You can take it with you and peruse it at your convenience. We would like an answer as soon as possible.” Another one of the International people spoke. “We are making an offer for 180 million Euros.”
Neither woman looked at each other. They suspected this was all about a possible buyout. They had agreed on staying cool under any buyout offer. They had no idea that this kind of money was on the table.
“This would be for all the Inns, correct?”
Addy spoke immediately. “We had never considered selling. We are going to need some time to think about it. Just for the sake of knowing, what would be your offer, if we took off the table the property in Scotland ?” Karen looked at her in total surprise. She tried to control her shock. It was totally unlike Karen, who could hold a fantastic poker face in any business transaction. This time it was Addy who was leading the game.
“I don't know. We didn't consider that possibility. Any particular reason for your wanting to keep that property?”
“Yes, it's a family estate. It is also tied to very old English law requirements. In fact, we don't even know if it can be sold. But most importantly because it's our home also and it has sentimental value to us.”
“Very well, give us a few minutes to caucus with our business team.”
“Sure. We would like some time ourselves.” Before they could even get off their chairs, some of the International people were coming back in.
“150 millions with the same caveat of not starting a competitive business.”
“Can I keep the Inn operational locally with another name?”
“No. It cannot be advertised as an inn, hotel, bed and breakfast, motel, guest house, or any other name in reference to any place offering sleeping accommodations of any sort.
“Very well. We are going to need some time. In the mean time, I would ask you to put this new proposal in writing. The property in Scotland is not part of the deal. Addy made this determination without even looking at Karen. This was odd because they had never made a decision without consulting with the other, especially not one of this magnitude. Karen, however, didn't say a word. This was good.
“Very well, we will be submitting that proposal to you by the end of the day.”
Karen spoke to the financial team at Sparrow and Finch and asked them to do some research for her. They agreed to call her back as soon as they had everything she had requested. The women left. They had not talked to each other at all while the business deal was taking place. Out on the street they took a cab to their hotel. In the cab, silence still prevailed. They held hands. It was a very tight grip. Both their hands were as cold as ice. Addy's hand was shaking. Karen brought it to her mouth and kissed it.
When they got to their bedroom, they broke lose. “I cannot believe what just happened!” Karen exclaimed. Addy sat on the bed still in shock.
“I'm still shaking, baby!” Karen rushed to her side kneeling in front of her and holding her hands. They both grinned like two idiots and began to kiss.
Karen then exploded. “This is your doing, baby, you did all this! You turned 8 million into 150! Oh my God! My business whiz! Addy, you know what I find more unbelievable on top of the already unbelievable that they want to pay all that money?”
“That you are willing to take a 30 mil cut for the place in Scotland .”
“Baby, I wouldn't sell that place for all the money in the world, assuming that we could, and I don't think we can, anyways. I never thought about selling it or abandoning it after the three years passed! It's your family's legacy. It's the place where we have been most happy! It's our place, our home!” Karen smiled lovingly. Karen was touched. She couldn't believe that Addy felt so strongly about their property. Yes, Addy turned her vision into a reality and it had indeed become their home.
“What do you think JP is going to do when he finds out he is a rich man? We have to give them a cut. I mean they've both lived for all of these!”
Karen started to laugh. They both did as the laid back on the bed.
“Ker, there's one thing we didn't do.”
“Yes. If they are willing to pay so much, it's because they know it's worth more.”
“That's why I asked the financial team to do research.”
Addy smiled. “I may be a business whiz, but I know who is the financial whiz!”
The next day when they met with the International Hotel people they were more than prepared.
Karen had decided that Addy was going to be the spokesperson since she had done so well the day before.
“Our legal team has run some numbers for us. We would like to make a counter offer. We have put it down in this proposal.” She handed it over the spokesperson of the International group. “Basically, our offer is the following: 200 million Euros for all the inns and rights, except the Inn of Scotland with the same caveats.”
There was a bit of a commotion on the other side of the table. They got up and talked among themselves. There was some hesitation from a couple of members of the team, but some papers were passed around and that seemed to have made everyone agree.
“Ms. Marcos, Ms. Larsen you have yourselves a deal.”
They came over to their side of the table, shook hands and talked about some paper work that would be sent over to the Sparrow and Finch group for their examination.
When they left the building, neither could believe it, again.
They hugged in the lobby of the building. “Addy, let's go back to the hotel, I need to wind down. I feel like I might collapse if I don't lay down somewhere!”
“Come on, I need a very dry Martini, I'll get you one too. That ought to relax us!”
Once in the privacy of their hotel room, Addy shared her thoughts. “Sometimes, it frightens me to be so happy. It doesn't seem possible, or even real!”
Karen extended her arms. “Welcome to my life in this alternate universe of ours!” She came over to Addy and lifted her off her feet as she kissed her and twirled her around. “Have I told you lately that I love you?”
Addy looked at her watch and smiled. “Not in the last few hours! Actually, I think that I'm in imminent and great need of being reminded….” Karen kissed her as she began to undress her.
“Ker, wait!! There's something I need to run by you. I need to act on something real quick. I know you hate it when I do this, but this is very important. This is crucial, and it has to be done right now.”
Karen wondered what was so imminent that couldn't wait, but then again, this was Addy. God only knew what the next move would be!
“I want to call Isabella Ludwig and tell her that we are buying the vineyards and the winery from her.”
Karen's jaw dropped. She couldn't say a word. Karen didn't know what surprised her most the wanting to buy the winery part, or the fact that it meant that they were staying in Scotland for good. There was no way that she would oppose any proposal from Addy in view of her successful track record.
Nevertheless, the rational part of Karen spoke. “Addy, I will only say this…hasn't Isabella been complaining about the winery not doing too well?”
“Ker, I don't want the winery for wine. There is another reason. Trust me on this one?”
“Addypooh, I may be the financial whiz, but you are the business genius. Take us to wherever we must go!” Karen again was rolling her eyes, as she handed the phone over to Addy. “Trust me!! It's a bright idea.” She said smiling. The smile was topped with a wink.
“That's what I was afraid of!” Oh, dear! Karen leaned against the bed headboard and pillows and listened.
She watched as Addy again dealt the next hand in the adventure-filled game that had become their lives. Karen listened as Addy committed 20 million Euros to buy Isabella's winery in Scotland .
When Addy hung up, Karen smiled to the point that her face almost hurt. “So, we are staying in Scotland ?”
Addy smiled. “Yes, green eyes. I love green, it's my favorite color.”
Karen was overjoyed, grinning and breathing rather fast. She put a hand on her heart trying to figure out if it was beating erratically. “Are you sure about this? I think my heart has just skipped a beat, Addy. What about the family?”
Addy smile, while placing her hand on Karen's heart. “We'll work on that…you know what they say ‘build it and they will come,' and about your heart, I think it's good for it to skip a beat every now and then, if mine does all the time when I look at you.”
Lord, have mercy! Karen could hardly put words together. “So, what are you up to now? What's the vision now, Ms. Marcos.”
“I have many visions, Ms. Larsen, but right now the most vibrant and imminent vision has to do with a certain blonde and what I want to do to her….”
The imminent vision materialized immediately, mostly because there was a lot the blonde wanted to do to her also. Karen grinned from ear to ear as her heart skipped a couple of more beats before it began to pump very hard, to the point that she felt faint. She loved it when Addy came on to her so aggressively.
Addy pushed her down on the bed, put her knee between her legs and straddled her other leg. Leaning forward over her, she said the magic words, “You are mine, blondie!!” Karen's heart was ready to pop out of her chest. All other visions had to wait….a long time.
From Zurich , they flew to Paris and then to the Inn at Côte d'Azur . They were meeting with JP and James.
“Lovely ones, what brings you here? Is everything okay? What ever happened with international Hotels? What did they want?”
Karen wanting to be subtle about the whole thing spoke first. “Yeah, JP everything is okay. Let's get some lunch I'm starving, plus we have something to tell you guys. ”
The next thing heard was from Addy. “Guys, we have good news and bad news to tell you.”
Karen rolled her eyes. Addy couldn't possibly wait. Karen should have known. Whenever Addy communicated anything, there was going to be that extra input of drama. Karen was always amazed at the ease of expression. Somehow she had already developed a way to prepare for whatever Addy would throw at people. The truth was that Karen was more than okay with any pronouncement Addy made. She just stood back and smiled.
“Guys, the bad news is that we sold the Inns.” JP's face dropped. James was stunt and deadly serious. JP was about to open his mouth when he immediately closed it after hearing the good news part of Addy's pronouncement. “The good news is that we are all millionaires!” She started to laugh. The men were both speechless. Karen was chuckling and grinning from ear to ear.
Karen had already resigned herself to someday having to go through plastic surgery to fix wrinkles from so much smiling. She would always of course, blame Addy since she would say that she had never smiled so much in her entire life until the day she met her. According to Karen, ever since that moment, her wrinkles began to show.
Whenever Karen mentioned her wrinkles Addy complained. “What wrinkles? I don't see any wrinkles! Besides, you will never have plastic surgery!” Addy would tell her. “You don't need it, and I will not allow any butchering doctor to touch that gorgeous face.”
“What about when I'm really old and all wrinkly?”
“You will be a beautiful old wrinkly woman and so will I! And….I will love you just the same.”
James spoke. “We are what?”
Karen explained the latest happenings without giving any details as to how much they got out of the whole deal. The men were happy but in shock. Karen and Addy, had agreed to share on their fortune with JP and James. JP and James had worked the inns as if they were owners always working shoulder to shoulder with them for the past two years and acting and defending their interests above and beyond the call of duty. They were family.
“We cannot possibly accept!” JP proclaimed. You were the creators of all these…” He signaled to the surroundings. “It was your money all the time being invested!”
“Yes, JP, but you guys helped us to make it happen.”
“Well, we couldn't possibly accept more than small percentage. If, we did!”
“Name your percentage.”
“Ten percent, no more than twenty for sure.”
“Twenty percent. Are you okay with that James?”
James was curious. “Karen, Addy, you said millions? How many millions are we talking about? How much is 20% of those millions?”
“You are sitting down, so I need to ask you both, how is your heart health?”
Karen chuckled as she heard Addy's input of drama.
“We have strong hearts, Addy…but this suspense is going to kill me, though. What is it?”
“Forty million …….Euros!”
“WHAT!!!!!” Both men opened their eyes. James was stuck to the chair. JP in his usual flamboyancy jumped knocking the chair down and tripping a waiter behind him. There was food everywhere. They helped the waiter to gather things up. When JP sat back claiming that he was about to faint. Salts had to be brought to help him overcome the dizzy spell.
“Oh my God, Oh my God, I'm getting hot flashes!”
Karen continued explaining. “So, we told International about your role managing the Inns, they agreed to keep you on, if that's what you want. If you don't want that, then you can do whatever you want, or there is a third option. I will let Addy explained that one since this is again another one of her visions and I still don't know the details myself.” She wiggled her hands in the air as she raised her eyebrows looking at the two of them.
JP immediately recuperated. “Oh, no! Woman! What are you cooking up now? What could you possibly be plotting in that head! I don't know what it is, but I'm in!! Adriana Marcos, you are wonder woman! I'm in and I don't care what it is unless it's in Antarctica or the Congo . I will not give up certain comforts, not even for best friends. I'm getting to old. I need take better care of my skin in my golden years.” Another one for drama! No wonder they get along so well! Karen and James looked at each other and smiled. They both had the same thought, apparently.
“JP nothing of this would have been possible without the blonde's financial brain. She may be blonde, but she's no ditzy blonde!”
“Oh, PLZ! We all know the blonde makes you drool, but you, my dear, have her upside down! Why look at her! The woman barely speaks anymore…..all she does is smile!”
Karen was quiet and chuckling now. Addy came closer and kissed her full on the lips in front of everyone.
“JP, without that smile, and those eyes looking at me, I'm nothing!”
JP rolled his eyes now. “Okay, woman, we know she's all yours….so what are you up to now?”
“Right before we came here, we bought Isabella's winery.”
It was James now who stood up in pure excitement. “We are in!”
Karen spoke. “James, wine is not the reason for acquiring the winery.”
James sat down again to hear the rest of the vision. “Then what is?”
Addy smiled. “I will not reveal my plan until tomorrow. I need to do something first.”
“Yet she has already committed 20 million Euros to this very secret project.” Karen couldn't believe her own words.
“Woman you are crazy! Thank God that now you do have money to throw around!”
James kept looking at Addy very seriously. “We are in, Addy, whatever this is, we are in! I'm not missing out on any of your stuff!” James had thoroughly enjoyed establishing and managing the Inns to the point that he had abandoned his web design business to dedicate all his time to the Inns. He had also proven to be very business savvy, and Jean Paul, well Jean Paul was charming and delighted everyone, so he was the perfect host.
“Oh my God! She's got you too! I cannot believe this!” Karen was speaking sarcastically and laughing at the same time. Karen couldn't believe the dynamics here. It was very obvious that all the people surrounding Addy were willing to jump into whatever pool she jumped in, even without knowing if the pool had any water! Instead of business ventures, Karen referred to them as ‘business adventures' all based on gut feelings!
Karen sat back giving up the total crazy circumstances of her life. And for this she had spent years in Oxford , Harvard and Columbia . Spending endless hours drawing business plans and mergers, when she could have just pointed in any direction and said, “That's the business I'm going to start because I like the color of the building!” And voila! Addy had explained to her that her business decisions were not just based on gut feelings or the colors of the buildings. She explained that her decisions were based on observations and research.
“I feel faint! All these news are too much for me. I need iced water. Hot flashes, hot flashes….Waiter! Can you bring me iced water? The coldest one you may have!” He recovered immediately when no one paid attention to him and waived him off.
Everyone was laughing. “So, back to Scotland we go!”
James suggested a celebration. “Let's order something nice to drink.”
Addy spoke. “How about some Scotch?” She looked at Karen. Karen was astonished by the look. It was as if she had been hit in the head.
“What's wrong with the blonde here? She looks like she has just seen an apparition!”
Addy smiled and picked up the conversation. “Maybe she has!” Addy proclaimed.
“Once we get the plans on their way, Ker and I are planning to do some extended traveling. We have a long overdue honeymoon in many warm places.”
“Wow!” James was really happy.
“Finally! After all these years, I say, it's about time!”
Karen was all smiles now.
JP saw the look on Karen's face. He pointed at her with his the palm of his hand. “See what I mean? All the blonde does is smile!”
“JP, is there a better sign of happiness?” James asked him.
JP smiled back. “No, there isn't.”
Addy, continued. “We are going to go everywhere and do everything we ever dreamed of doing!”
“Girls, I think I'm going to have to definitely go upstairs to rest. All this has been too much for my tender heart. I really need to relax some. James, I need you to come with me and help me. We can talk more later.”
James opened his eyes, as he looked at Karen who had the biggest grin on her face. “We'll see you later or tomorrow, guys. We'll be around. James was smiling as he waved Karen goodbye.
“What was that all about?”
“Judging by James' reaction, I think JP's tender heart needs some attention, or relaxation, as he calls it.”
“Oh! I could use some relaxation too, you know.”
Karen looked at her up and down. “I think I can help in that department. Aren't you going to finish your Scotch, though?”
Addy grinned. They barely needed to talk to communicate. They had each other all figure out.
Addy kissed her tenderly on the cheek. “Come on, babe, I'd rather go upstairs with my Scottish woman. We have a lot of planning to do and I need to be relaxed.” Oh heaven!
The next morning when they met for breakfast, it was James who started the conversation. “Addy, I think we would like to know what you have in mind for our future in Scotland . We promise…” and he looked at JP very sternly “that we will keep the secret.” JP was doing the hand signal for boy scouts honor.
Addy chuckled. “I think it's a fair question. After all you are committing yourselves to the project. I haven't even told Ker yet. Anyways, here it goes. The manor house will be leased for corporate retreats and private parties at a very high price, of course. You guys can live there if you want to and can manage that aspect of the business. Rene and Margo can keep his restaurant there, as their private business, as payment for the rent they can take care of the grounds, one less thing for us to worry about. He can also cater all events at the manor. We will keep the stables and raise horses. The winery, ah! The winery. We will pull out all the vines…”
“Oh God! Addy!” JP wailed.
“Grapes don't grow well up there, JP. Isabella was having financial trouble.” Karen smiled. She does do her research! “Wineries are cute, but not for that part of the world. We are going to produce what grows great and what Scotland is famous for -- Scotch.”
“In, I'm in, Oh my God, I am so in!” James was doing a happy dace around the table, waiving his arms in the air! Everybody was amazed because he was normally a quiet subdued person.
Addy asked. “What's with him?”
JP answered. “He likes Scotch. I don't know, Addy, but don't you think wine has more class?”
“I love Scotch!” James kept chanting as he danced around the table.
Karen was just listening in amazement at the news and display of emotions.
“Well, JP, but it's all a matter of how you market something that makes it special.”
Karen continued to smile and listen to her little business whiz. There was absolutely nothing wrong here. Everything made sense in the most absolute craziest of ways.
“You see, we are in the right place, Scotland , we have the land and the facilities. Some alterations will need to be made to the winery, but a lot of it is already there. We also have the history of the estate and if Karen would allow it and, honey, don't feel like you have to answer right away, and it's totally okay if you don't want to. I can totally understand.”
“For God's sake Addy, just say it!” JP was growing desperate. Karen and James were at the edge of their seats like suspended in time listening.
“We have the most Scottish thing we can have…we have a Scottish name.”
Addy looked at Karen who was mesmerized. Karen kept wondering how a person who couldn't possibly put together a nail on the wall, could come up with the most brilliant business ideas ever! It was perfect.
Karen covered her mouth with her hand and chuckled. “Addy I'm delighted with the idea, but I think you are forgetting a small detail or maybe not. I just don't know what to think anymore… But, there is one very important fact missing here.” She then whispered. “We don't know how to make Scotch.” She circled with her hand indicating them. She thought this was very amusing. JP and James were all of a sudden surprised that great idea had actually deflated right in front of their eyes. Their mouths were open and JP's eyes were in state of near panic.
Addy laughed. “A minor detail, my dear Watson!”
Karen smiled. Of course! What now are we going to school to learn how to make the greatest Scotch in Scotland !
Addy continued. “We don't know how to make Scotch, but I know someone who does and is already working on a recipe I found.”
“That you found?” This time it was James asking.
Karen couldn't help herself. “Where? In a Martha Stewart home maker's book? Granny's Old Scotch recipe?”
Addy smirked at her. “No smartass!” She looked at Karen opening her eyes really big and making an ‘in your face' type of face. “It's your grandfather's very own recipe! A real Scottish recipe.”
Karen's jaw dropped. “What?!!!”
“I found it in the cottage's attic when we were cleaning it. I kept it. I thought it was old and interesting.”
Karen again chuckled unbelieving the whole nine yards being displayed in front of her.
“MgGuill Scotch, an old recipe from Scotland . I would surely buy it! No doubt about it!” James stated.
“Me too.” Karen agreed. “Amazing!”
“Thank you, ma'am! I take that as a very profound compliment, coming from a smartass like you.”
It was now Karen who grimaced.
“Oh God! What about the wine? Can't we keep a few vines?”
This time it was James who spoke. “JP, wake up….with all the money you have and you'll make, you can buy yourself a cellar!”
“Oh! That's true! What about the town? What's going to happen with Altee with all the changes to the Inn ?” JP asked all preoccupied. The Inn had put Altee on the map and had made it very prosperous.
Karen replied. “I think that Altee will continue to grow and benefit. If I were Sarah Foster, I would be looking to expand. The horses, the Scotch, and the manor's gatherings will still bring a lot of visitors and income to the area. People will need a place to stay, to eat and to entertain themselves. It will continue to do well.”
After returning to Scotland , and taking care of all the business deals and preparations. Karen and Addy closed down the cottage, left JP and James in charge of the property and took off traveling. For the first six months, they sailed the Mediterranean stopping just about everywhere. Laurie, Joey and Addy's brother joined them at different ports as they sailed east on the Mediterranean . At one point in time everyone was onboard the boat. Even Tania, Melanie and Gerry had joined them at different ports and times. They had rented a luxury liner boat, with crew and all, to accommodate everyone who came to visit them.
Everyone was told of the sale of the inns and of the opportunity available if anyone wanted to start their own business. Everyone jumped at the offer, and plans were made left and right. Everyone was going to benefit from their good fortune. Addy was a firm believer that, if you had good fortune in life, you had an obligation to those you loved and to yourself to bring them along with you. She reasoned that life at the top could be very lonely if you had to be there alone. Karen didn't care. They had so much money, they didn't know what to do with it! And Karen had already invested most of it, so their money was already making more money.
When they finished traveling through Europe, they visited several countries in Asia, then South America and later some places in Africa . They bought a beautiful house in the British Virgin Islands, and came back to the U.S. for some time before going back to Scotland . The idea was to spend winters in the Caribbean and springs and summers in Scotland .
Life was good, and was just beginning. What came next marked the beginning of yet another of life's adventures for the two women. A very defining moment was fast approaching. One that would, again, change their lives forever. This time in an even more monumental way. The new twist in their lives was one from which there would be no return.
Epilogue, as told by Karen. (Reader – This is the promised end!)
Anyone who has ever had a profound moment in their lives, a revelation if you will, would understand that this, here, is my moment. The one moment in life when you realize that God has blessed you with all his might, and that you have all you ever wished for and more.
As I sit in the patio of our beautiful cottage, and look at the beautiful rolling green hills of my homeland, and at the deep blue ocean in the distance, I see a woman and a child flying a kite. Both, running and laughing. The view is mesmerizing.
I reminisce on the past few years and I can't help but wonder what would have been of my life if I hadn't met Addy. Life sure turned on a dime for us, as Jean Paul said. Of course, Addy, would say that if it was meant to happen, we could have been on opposite sides of the world, and it would still have happened. Who knows! I sit here today and bear witness to the power of true love in overcoming all barriers.
Seven years have passed since Addy and I have been together, that's counting since we became ‘officially' partners, and that's not counting the time we were just ‘shacking it' as Addy would say. I still think I'm living a dream every morning when I wake up and look at the gorgeous naked woman next to me. (Yes she finally gave up wearing clothes to bed!) She tells me that I am her sunshine. I think it's the other way around.
Joey and Laurie are both married and they each have two and three kids respectively. Both are happy, own their homes and have done very well in their careers. Joey lives in Virginia and has his own business. Laurie became a lawyer and lives in Italy with her husband and three daughters. Her husband is diplomatic attaché at the US embassy there. The entire family travels a lot and visits us quite often.
After we sold the Inns of Europe and trotted the world for about two years seeing and doing everything we ever wanted to see and do in a very lavish lifestyle, Addy and I came back to our little patch of green in Scotland , as Laurie had predicted a few years earlier. We still run the Manor house, the stables and produce the best Scotch in Scotland (sorry, I'm a bit prejudiced). I'm sure I would not surprise anyone if I said that it has done extremely well, as expected.
It was upon our return that Addy and I took on another enormous project, our biggest one yet, which is still under development. This project was also Addy's idea, of course, and I must once again say that the woman was right.
To continue the unbelievable saga of our lives, and to prove Jean Paul's theory of how life turns on a dime, the woman who by giving me her love brought love to my life, convinced me that a woman does not know true love until she has a child.
My reluctance to have a child was totally selfish. I simply did not want to share Addy's love with any little rascal. However, after assuring me that her love would be undivided, she convinced me to do it, if not for me, for her. Now, here is where the shocking news comes, be prepared for, as you know life with us is a rollercoaster ride!
By now you know, that Addy is everything in my life. So, as I love her blindly and absolutely, I threw caution to the wind and became artificially inseminated. A woman in love does crazy things! Yes, our lives are a continuous torrent of change!
My hate to being pregnant was overly compensated by the absolute love and exaggerated attention I received from my adorable partner, who thought that I had become even more beautiful during my pregnancy -- another testament that the woman adores me and that love is blind.
To this day, I cannot stop thinking that my loving partner is the most amazing woman in the world, her magic being such that she made the impossible possible, she got me pregnant!
Alex, our little one, and project under development, was born on a beautiful spring morning, here in Scotland , as Addy wished. Unequivocally she has got to be the most loved child in this world. She's adorable in every way. Needless to say, we are both crazy about our bundle of joy and I think it would be just another miracle if this child does not turn out to be a spoiled one. Addy is absolutely crazy about the little brat. The little monster adores her and follows her around like a little chick.
We picked a donor with the characteristics we both wanted. Addy wanted green eyes to make sure that she was genuinely mine. I never understood this concept since everyone knows where the little thing came from! But these were Addy's words and there's no point in trying to explain that which has no possible explanation. So, the little one has my green eyes. I wanted Addy's beautiful brown hair to contrast with the green of the eyes -- that we didn't get. The little rascal turned out to be my spitting image.
Addy claims that Alex, who is now two years old, is her wish come true and she takes pride in saying that she now has two of me to adore. I, on the other hand, feel like I have two of her to adore. Although, Alex looks nothing like Addy, the little one is the smaller version of her in attitude and character. Addy's response to this is that I am the luckiest woman in the world because I got double of what I wished for. Once again, I think she's right. I brace myself, and will most likely totally surrender to what the future holds for me with these two women in my life.
As Addy predicted, Alex is the heart within my heart and the two of us, most definitely, belong to Addy in heart, body and soul. The truth is that my initial reluctance to share Addy's love with any child was proven wrong. The woman has so much love in her heart that there's always been plenty and more to go around.
To this day, Addy never ceases to amaze me. She is an extraordinary woman. She insists that there's nothing extraordinary about her and that it all comes down to the fact that she loves me to the bone and that I absolutely bring out the best in her. Whatever it is, I don't really care, the truth of the matter is that she's fabulous and that she's, in her own words “all mine.”
I don't know what good deed I must have done in this life or in any other life to deserve her love, but every night, as I lay in bed next to the love of my life, I thank God for his gift.
Needless to say, our sex life has been amazing -- out of this world! Pre and post child. Just to make everyone jealous as I end the story, and as you all know Addy by now, you will not be surprised to know that in all the time we've been together the only time when we've had a ‘dry spell' was briefly after her accident and towards the end of my pregnancy, during the time it took me to recover. Addy has always kept her promise and has made me very, very, very happy! J
PS- Not bad, for an ex-straight woman, huh? – Addy J
The end (for now!)
Note to the Reader -
Special thanks to KH, for coming up with the label “Loose Change Series” for the stories. It was a fantastic idea! Also, special thanks to my dearest Tigirl for proofing, for her contributions and for her constant support . J
Finally, I have a request for anyone reading my stories that have children. In writing my next story, with Addy and Karen as parents, I would like to accurately portrait what is like to raise a child by same sex parents. Unfortunately, a story is limited by the writers own experience, therefore, I would like to ask any of you parents out there if you would like to share any particular anecdote that you've had raising your children and how you dealt with it.
I would like to write a compelling story on how same sex couples are loving, wonderful parents. I find this task challenging. I hope that your contributions would help me write a better story. If you would like to share your experience, or if you know of any particular situation that you have seen others go through, please, write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
If nothing else, just let me know how you liked the story. Also, if you would like to know when I start posting the next story, send me and email and I will let you know.
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