Friday, November 30, 2012
Not in the Plan
“Hello Ben, I'm glad you are here. I have something for you,” Holly said as she handed Sheriff Benjamin Murphy the revolver Herbert Bradley decided not to make use of. “If possible, can we just dispose of it without calling attention to a loaded gun being found at The Merryweather?”
Ben examined the gun. “This hasn't been fired and I'm assuming no crime has been committed.”
“No, Ben, trust me. I'm sure it has not been fired.”
“I do trust you Holly. You know I shouldn't ignore this, but I don't want to cause anyone to be suspicious of any of your guests, especially today. I'll add it to the lost and found collection. Whoever belonged to this was serious, it's loaded. I'm glad you talked the owner out of doing something very foolish.”
“Believe it or not, Ben, it wasn't me, it was a voice from beyond.” Holly smiled, glad to be rid of the heavy firearm.
Ben Murphy was a relative newcomer to Camden Corners. He had lived his entire life in New York City. He never dreamed of living anywhere else. His father and grandfather had been members of the NYPD and Ben always thought he would follow in their footsteps.
Through a football scholarship, Ben was able to attend college. While there he roomed with Jim Farrell. Ben and Jim became instant friends.
“Ben, why not take the summer off? You deserve it after four grueling years here with football and your studies. I'm sure the NYPD can wait another couple of months while you take some time for yourself. Camden Corners is a great place in the summer. My parents' old farmhouse has loads of bedrooms and they always welcome visitors.”
Ben was afraid it was too much of an intrusion for Mr. & Mrs. Farrell. Besides, his own parents were anxious to have him back home again. After talking with the Farrells and his parents, everyone was in agreement that Ben did need some R&R to help him recover from four years of playing college football.
Pamela and Ray Farrell always liked Ben. They were happy their son had such a level headed friend. Jim had a bit of a wild streak and Ben seemed to help him curb it. Jim would be starting law school in the fall and his folks were afraid he would move away from Camden Corners for good when he completed his studies. They were anxious for him to be home with them for what could be the last summer the family had together before all their children went off in different directions.
“Mrs. Farrell, Jim said you folks live in a farmhouse. I never expected anything like this. I've never lived in a house this big with so much land,” Ben said with his mouth open.
“Ben, this house has been in my family for years. If you hang around Camden Corners for any length of time, you will hear about the Mackenzies and the Burkes. I'm from the Mackenzie clan. There are so many of us in town they even named the land surrounding the library Mackenzie Park. Please Ben, call us Pamela and Ray.”
“Thank you Pamela. Now, what can I do to earn my keep? I noticed the hinge on the front door was loose. Do you think Ray would mind if I fixed it?”
“Mind? I'm sure he wouldn't but I don't want you to feel you have to work for your room and board. You are a guest in this house and we want you to relax and enjoy your leisure time. Soon enough you will be on the streets of New York City saving the good citizens from crime and corruption.”
Ben laughed. He liked Pamela Farrell. He could see where Jim got his positive attitude.
“Make yourself comfortable, Ben. If there is anything you need just let me know. I think I'll help Maxine with the sandwiches. She has been with our family since Jim was a baby. She's slowing down somewhat these days and sometimes needs a little help. I know Jim is anxious to get to Camden Lake this afternoon. It's such a warm day, I'm sure the beach will be a nice treat.”
Maxine was busy in the kitchen as Pamela expected she would be. “I could use some help with these sandwiches, Missy. You keep bringing extra people into this house as though I don't have enough to do around here. I don't know why those ungrateful young people can't make their own sandwiches.”
“Now, Maxine, you know you love waiting on the children. Here, let me help you with these.” Pamela knew Maxine enjoyed being cantankerous and didn't mean anything by it.
“Maxine, my darling. How is my best girl?” Jim said as he came charging through the door.
Maxine blushed as she told him what a foolish young man he was.
“Where's Ben? You haven't put him to work already have you, Ma?”
“Of course not, he's getting settled in his room. Where have you been, Jim? You just left your friend to fend for himself.”
“I've been checking on the boat. Looks like Dad has kept it in good working order. I thought we'd do a little water skiing this afternoon. Ben should be hilarious on skis since he's never been on them before.”
“Trying to humiliate me on my first day here, buddy?”
Pamela introduced Ben to Maxine. She took an instant liking to him when she discovered he was a fellow Irishman. “Let me get you a pint, young man. Mr. Farrell always keeps cold Guinness in the refrigerator.”
“Oh no, Maxine. I'd better keep my wits about me if I'm going to be water skiing this afternoon. You remind me of my granny. She always made sure there was a cold one ready for my pop and grandad as soon as they walked into the house after a hard day,” Ben said with a twinkle in his eye.
Maxine blushed again, obviously flattered by the comparison.
Ben wanted to help clean up the kitchen after lunch but Maxine shooed him out the door. “A young man needs time to be with his friends. Now you go and while you are with Jim, teach him some manners too.”
Jim laughed and gave Maxine a hug. Everyone loved the old lady in spite of herself.
“I like him, Miss Pamela, I hope he will meet a nice young woman and settle down in these parts, don't you?”
“I don't think there is much chance of that Maxine, he is a New York boy and has his future mapped out already. I hate to think of him on the streets of the city. It is so dangerous.”
Ben was amazed at the number of Jim's friends that had gathered at the lake. They had boarded the boat on the dock behind the Farrell house. Jim dropped anchor a short way from the shore. He introduced Ben to everyone there. Ben found himself looking into the prettiest blue eyes he ever saw. Her name was Vanessa Mackenzie. Pamela said he would run into that name often and the first Mackenzie he did see was very much to his liking.
Several of the group piled into the boat. Jim drove it out into the deep water and insisted Ben be the first to try skiing. Although Ben had never skied before, he was determined to make Jim eat his words. Being athletic, he was able to catch on rather quickly.
Ben sat next to Vanessa although they didn't speak. The motor was too loud to carry on a conversation and everyone was busy watching the skiers.
Vanessa jumped overboard when it was her turn. She had skied often and it showed. Ben was admiring this beautiful girl with her dark hair flowing behind her and a bright yellow two piece bathing suit showing off her slim figure. Before anyone else saw it, Ben noticed a large tree stump that appeared in the water out of nowhere. He was the first to see the ski hit the stump and fly off of Vanessa's foot hitting her directly on the head. Without thinking, he jumped into the water, grabbed the unconscious girl and swam to shore with her under his arm. On shore, he breathed into her mouth until she began to choke up the water in her lungs. Someone brought a towel and held it to the gash in her head applying pressure.
Vanessa came to, not knowing what had happened and why she was on the shore with everyone looking down at her. She notice Ben right away. She had been immediately attracted to him and now she realized he had probably saved her life.
“Thank you Ben,” she whispered.
“Don't try to talk. That's a mean looking gash you have on your head. We'd better get you to the hospital so they can check you over. You may have a concussion too.”
“I'll drive,” said Vanessa's friend, Candy. Ben, why don't you come along? They may have questions for you about how long Vanessa was unconscious.”
“I'll be fine, I just have a little headache. I really don't want to go to the hospital,” Vanessa said as she tried to sit up but dizziness overcame her.
At the hospital, the ER doctor said she was a lucky girl. The cold water of the lake helped to stop the bleeding before she lost too much blood and the quick action of her friend probably did save her life. He stitched up the gash while Ben held her hand. She was trying to be brave but the sight of that needle and thread made her want to cringe. She had a slight concussion and would need to rest for a few days.
Candy called Vanessa's mother and she was pacing in the waiting room when Vanessa came out guided by Ben.
“Are you all right, darling?” Mrs. Mackenzie cried.
“I'm fine, Mother. Ben here saved my life. He is a hero,” Vanessa introduced the two.
“I just happened to be looking in the right direction at the right time. I'm no hero, Mrs. Mackenzie.” What Ben didn't say was he couldn't take his eyes off Mrs. Mackenzie's beautiful daughter.
The summer went quickly. Vanessa recovered from her head injury with a barely visible scar just above the hairline. People were still talking about Ben's lifesaving actions when a toddler ran in front of a swing at the playground. The swinger's feet caught him just under his rib cage throwing him in the air. Ben and Vanessa were walking near the swings when Ben caught sight of the child, he reached out and caught him mid air saving him from possible injury.
Ben's quick actions caught the attention of Sheriff Timothy Roland. He knew Ben had studied law enforcement and was planning to return to New York City in the fall to apply to the NYPD. “Sally,” he said to his wife one morning, “I wonder if Ben Murphy would consider joining the department. He seems to have a good head on his shoulders and he is well liked in town, especially for a newcomer.”
“Tim, it would be wonderful if you had some help at the office. Someone who would be able to take over for you in a few years. I'm not sure Ben would be willing to stay in Camden Corners. You know he and Vanessa Mackenzie are an item. Vanessa has talked about moving to New York City for as long as I can remember. Candy Taylor said she thinks the two of them are talking about moving there together. You know his family is from Brooklyn. It would be wonderful, but I doubt he would accept.”
“You are probably right, my dear. I think I'll talk to him about it just in case. Who knows, maybe he will be able to suggest someone from his class who would be interested in a job here.”
Later that day, Ben walked into the Sheriff Roland's office. “Hello, Sheriff. You wanted to see me? I hope I haven't violated any laws,” Ben said with a questioning smile.
“Nothing like that, son. I wanted to talk to you about the possibility of joining our department here in Camden Corners. Professor Short and I are old friends and I was talking to him about you earlier today. He tells me you were an excellent student and a fine young man. I know your ties are in New York City, but I wonder if you would consider a position here? I'll be retiring within a few years and as much as I respect George Rigby, he is perfectly content to be a deputy and has no desire to take over my job.”
“Sheriff, I am truly honored by your offer. I never thought about being anything but a New York City cop. I must admit, the idea of living in Camden Corners permanently is very appealing. I feel very much at home here. I'd like to discuss this with my folks and a few people in town. How soon do you need my answer?”
“Take your time, son. Just the fact that you are willing to think about it gives me hope. Feel free to ask any questions about the job. You do know it is an appointed position and not subject to reelection. I have spoken with the mayor and he agrees you would be an asset to our fair town.”
“Thank you, Sheriff. I'll be in touch very soon.”
If Ben had been three years old he would have skipped out of the sheriff's office he was that excited. He was dreading the day he would be leaving Camden Corners. He knew he was going to accept the offer. He'd even spotted a house near the lake that was for rent. The real estate office was on his way to Vanessa's house. He stopped in and before he knew it, he had given the agent a check for the deposit plus one month's rent. He knew Vanessa talked about living in the city but if he had a house for them and a job, maybe she would be happy to stay in Camden Corners after all.
“Hi sweetie,” she greeted him at the front door. “You look like the cat that swallowed the canary. Maybe you'd better come in and tell me what that look is all about.”
“Van, I know you talked about moving to New York and I think you would enjoy visiting there but I'm not too sure you would like it as a permanent home. Sheriff Roland offered me a job.”
“Ben, you're scaring me, you wouldn't even consider taking it, would you?”
“Yes, I will be accepting the offer. Not only that, I rented that cottage down by the lake that we saw yesterday. The one you said belonged to a family named Blackburn. I was hoping you and I could live there together. I haven't bought a ring yet, but I want to marry you as soon as possible and start our life right here in Camden Corners.”
“Ben! I can't believe you would do this. We talked about living in New York. You know how important it is to me to try my wings in the city. How could you take it upon yourself to change our future? Ben, we have no future together if you insist on being sheriff of this jerkwater town. Now, tell me you will not accept that job.”
“Vanessa, I love you and you know it but I will be taking the job and I will be living here with you or without you.”
“Then it will be without me. Now, leave my house and have a nice life Benjamin Murphy.”
Ben's face was as red as a beet. She'll come around, he thought to himself. Vanessa will see that the city is not for her. She is just a small town girl at heart. I suppose I could tell the real estate agent I've made a mistake. It would probably be worth forfeiting the deposit and forgetting about living here just to keep Vanessa in my life. No, she is just being stubborn. I can be stubborn too.
Ben accepted Tim Roland's offer and Vanessa kept her word and moved to New York. The last Ben heard she was working for some big shot television producer. It had been almost four years since he had seen her. If she ever visited Camden Corners, he never knew about it. Tim retired three years ago and, as promised, Ben took over his job. He still lived in the little house on the lake. He bought it from the owners two years ago and spent most of his spare time remodeling it. He was one of the most eligible bachelors in town. He never lacked for female companionship, but never felt about anyone the way he had about Vanessa.
Ben spotted an elderly gentleman looking out over the water. He wondered if this was the owner of the revolver Holly had turned over to him. The man had a satisfied look on his face. Holly didn't want to take credit for averting disaster by talking the old guy out of using the gun on himself but he suspected her gentleness had a lot to do with his change of mind. Holly was Vanessa's younger cousin. He was tempted to ask about her but didn't want anyone to know how much he missed her.
Ben said he would be as inconspicuous as possible but would watch the arriving guests for the grand opening of The Merryweather. Politicians and celebrities of sorts were expected and it was better to be safe than sorry.
He was standing off to the side when he spotted her. She was just as beautiful as ever and was dressed elegantly with her arm linked to an actor he recognized as Cameron Swank who played a detective in one of the most popular shows on television. She was beaming as she walked into the hotel still clinging to the arm of the handsome Mr. Swank. Vanessa didn't even glance in his direction.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
The First Guest
It was a beautiful day in June when The Merryweather opened for business. The grand opening had been held the previous evening and was a successful introduction of the remodeled facility now known simply as The Merryweather.
Holly Mackenzie and Tracy Robinson were going over every detail of their reservation list as they awaited the arrival of some of the most prominent people in the state. They had invited a number of political figures as well as television personalities. The girls were amazed that many of them accepted their invitation. Almost every guest room would be filled for the weekend. They didn't expect their guests to be arriving until later in the day and closer to the time of the evening newscast. Tracy and Holly knew most of the invitees were more anxious to promote themselves than promote The Merryweather, but they didn't mind. They would enjoy the publicity too.
The entire staff was circled around them. Every one from the head chef to the bell boys and housekeepers were hired because of the enthusiasm they showed for The Merryweather and working with people.
“We may not be a five star hotel and we may never be, but we will always strive to fulfill that goal. Every guest and visitor to The Merryweather will be greeted with a smile and a friendly inquiry as to their well being.” Tracy said when a new employee was being considered for a position in the hotel.
Herbert Bradley held the article his wife had cut out of the newspaper just a few weeks ago. He remembered her exact words. “Herbert, I know we have never been extravagant in all of our fifty seven years together but wouldn't it be nice to see this place in Camden Corners called The Merryweather? The pictures look so inviting. Look at this, they have named the suites after former residents of the town. I have counted the money in the cookie jar and we have enough for a weekend at The Merryweather. Herbert, do you suppose we could be frivolous just this once?”
“Bessie, my dear, you know I am not a wealthy man. That money you have saved in the cookie jar is for emergencies, not silly trips to fancy hotels.”
That very night, his beloved Bessie died in her sleep.
Herbert stared at the shiny revolver he had purchased on his way to Camden Corners. In his grief, he thought Bessie would approve of him ending his life in the place she had asked to visit. He tucked the packaged revolver in his duffel bag and pulled his gray 1951 Studebaker coupe under a shade tree in the Merryweather parking lot. He attempted to smooth the wrinkles out of his well worn Robert Hall double breasted brown suit as he walked slowly to the front door of the hotel holding Bessie's cookie jar money tightly in his fist.
“Good morning sir, allow me to carry your satchel for you,” said the cheerful doorman as he reached for Herbert's traveling bag.”
“I am able to manage myself, young man,” Herbert snapped heading toward the registration desk. He glanced back and felt a pang of guilt at his rudeness. “Thank you for asking, young man. I am a man who is accustomed to carrying my own personal belongings and mean no offense.”
“No offense taken, sir, enjoy your stay at The Merryweather,” replied the doorman as he wondered what could be of such importance in that old, worn duffel bag.
Holly noticed the older man as he made his way across the lobby floor. She stepped from behind the counter to greet him. “Good morning sir, how may I help you today?”
“I'd like to rent one of the suites in this establishment. My dear wife read you would be opening today.”
“Yes sir, today is our opening day and you are our first guest. Will your wife be joining you?”
“No, I'll be joining her.” said this strange little man. My name is Herbert Bradley and I will be paying cash for the room. I would like to settle my account. I will not be making any phone calls or ordering room service so I will not be incurring any further expenses.”
“That will be fine, Mr. Bradley. We are expecting additional guests later in the day, however, the Duesenberry Suite is available and I'm sure you will find it comfortable.”
Holly introduced Herbert to Tracy and the other staff members who were gathered around the front desk awaiting further instructions. Herbert didn't remember ever being treated like royalty before. He was just sorry his beloved wasn't there to enjoy all this attention with him. In his mind, he could see Bessie's face beaming as he was escorted to his suite.
“I'm worried, Tracy, Mr. Bradley seems to be hiding something,” said Holly as she looked at his registration information. “He lists Pembroke as his home address. I'm going to call Steve. He know the editor at the Pembroke News. I'll see if he can dig up anything nefarious Mr. Bradley has done.”
Steve answered on the first ring. “Steve Burke.”
“Hi Steve, would you do me a favor and check with the Pembroke News. We have a strange little man who just checked in. He listed Pembroke as his home. I just have a weird feeling about him. Something is not quite right. His name is Herbert Bradley.”
“Anything for you darlin'. I trust your instincts. After all, you picked me didn't you?”
“Steven Burke! You flatter yourself. If anyone picked well in this relationship, it was you who picked me,” Holly laughed.
“I'll get right on it Holly. How are things going there? The crew will be over in a few hours to set up the cameras. Have any of the television stations been there yet?”
“Not yet, that's why I'd like to check out Mr. Bradley. We want publicity but only the kind that will make people anxious to visit our hotel, not drive them away.”
Less than ten minutes later, Steve called back. “Holly, I have some information for you on Herbert Bradley. His wife, Bessie, passed away just about two weeks ago. Seems she was very popular in town while Herbert was known as a skinflint. I spoke to Adele Quinn who knows almost everyone in Pembroke. She said Bessie and Herbert had been married for years. They have no children of their own. Herbert worked as an accountant for the plastics company there. He retired two years ago. The talk in town is that he has money stashed away and holds on tight to the purse strings. Bessie volunteered at the local boys and girls club and was loved by many. Her death came as a shock to everyone in town. It seems the talk of the town was that Herbert refused to spend a dime he didn't have to and when Bessie began complaining of heart pains, he refused to let her see a doctor. Adele had the feeling that last bit was the result of someone's over active imagination. It seems Herbert was still in shock when he closed up his house and left town this morning. Does that help at all?”
“Oh dear, Steve. It answers the question of what Mr. Bradley is intending to do. When I asked if his wife would be joining him, he said no, he would be joining her. The poor man. I can't let him do harm to himself and especially on the day The Merryweather opens for business.
“Thanks Steve, that is a big help. I'm going to see what I can do to get Mr. Bradley the help he needs before he does something foolish. Wish me luck.”
Holly rushed into the kitchen. She grabbed a tray, put a freshly baked raspberry Danish on a plate with a hot cup of coffee. “Put this on my bill, Tony and charge me for the vase of flowers on table number three.”
Holly took the small vase of flowers off the table and climbed the stairs to the second floor not wanting to waste any time waiting for the elevator. She met Tracy just before she entered the stairwell. “Something is not right with Mr. Bradley. I'm going to see if I can talk to him and dissuade him from doing anything rash.”
“Good luck Holly, I think we have everything under control down here. I'd hate to think our first guest is an unhappy one.”
Holly quietly knocked on the door to the Duesenberry suite. She was thinking how appropriate it was that Mr. Bradley was in this room. The first time she saw him she thought of Professor Melvin Tanner. She had read the Camden Corners' journals so many times she felt as though she knew every resident of town from so long ago. Professor Tanner was married to Kate Duesenberry's grandmother. The couple had met and married in their later years.
Herbert Bradley was lost in thought and didn't hear the knock on the door. He had been having a conversation with his Bessie.
“Herbert Bradley, what a lovely surprise. You brought me to this grand hotel for the weekend.”
“Yes, my dear, I hope you are enjoying it.” Herbert whispered to the urn he held tightly in his arms.
“Oh yes, Herbert. I love the room we are in. The beautiful mahogany four poster bed is so elegant with these fine quilts and luxurious comforters. The fireplace is like nothing I have ever seen before. I'm sorry it is so warm out today, I would like to see a roaring fire in it.
“Why are you crying, Herbert? I asked if we could visit The Merryweather for the weekend and here we are.”
Herbert snapped out of his reverie when he heard Holly's voice calling him. “Mr. Bradley, are you in there? Is everything alright? Holly was beginning to wonder if she was too late when she heard Mr. Bradley weakly call out.
“I'm quite alright, ma'am. I would like to be left alone, if you don't mind.”
“I won't disturb you for long Mr. Bradley. You are the very first guest of The Merryweather and I wanted to make sure everything was satisfactory.”
“Everything is fine. Thank you for asking, now if you don't mind, I really do wish to be by myself today.”
“Please open the door and let me put this tray down. It is getting terribly heavy and I'm afraid the coffee is cooling off quickly.”
Herbert grumbled as he set the urn with Bessie's ashes on the mantle. “I'm sorry Bessie, dear. This pesky girl won't give up. If I don't open the door to her she will just continue to disturb us. I promise to get rid of her once and for all.”
Herbert opened the door. “Miss, I don't want any coffee or Danish. The flowers are very pretty. I'm sure Bessie will enjoy them. Please put the tray down. I don't wish to take up any more of your time.”
Holly ignored his request and looked around the room wondering how Bessie could enjoy a bouquet of flowers when she was dead. She then spotted the urn on the mantel.
“Tell me about Bessie, Mr. Bradley. I'm sure you miss her terribly.”
With the mention of Bessie's name out loud, he realized he hadn't spoken to anyone about her since the day she died. The people who knew and loved her were grieving together and left him out. Maybe it was his fault because he wasn't able to show any emotion at her brief funeral.
“Ah, miss, My Bessie was the love of my life. Her heart was so big, maybe that's why it gave out on her. Everyone loved Bessie. She had the brightest smile and the heartiest laugh you have ever heard. I often wondered why she married an old curmudgeon like me.”
“I'd guess your Bessie saw that twinkle in your eye. Did you know your eyes sparkle when you mention her name?” Holly said as she glanced toward the nightstand. She noticed a paper bag with something shiny inside of it. If that's a gun, she thought to herself, I'm going to have to find some way to get it away from this poor man.
“Do they really sparkle? I miss her so. It feels good to say the words. Bessie was always so strong. I don't remember her having so much as a cold in all the years we were married. She never asked me for anything except her desire to visit this hotel for a weekend. I told her we shouldn't spend our money so frivolously. She accepted my answer with a smile. I did feel guilty about saying no to something she really wanted. As I lay in bed that night, I thought better about it but when I turned to her to tell her, she was sound asleep. The next morning, I discovered she was not breathing. I called the doctor right away, but it was too late, my Bessie was gone.”
“What a tragic loss for you Mr. Bradley. I'm certain your wife is with you in spirit. I think she would have liked this room, don't you?”
“Oh yes, she does. I have her with me,” Herbert said as he pointed to the urn resting on the mantle. “She will be with me until the time comes when I join her.”
“Mr. Bradley, don't you think Miss Bessie would want you to enjoy a long life? I'll bet she was a good friend to many people back in your hometown.”
“Yes, she was. Bessie volunteered at the boys and girls club in the city. She had such a way with children. She would invite them to our home for supper many nights. I'm afraid I wasn't as gracious about strangers in our home as she was. Bessie would just put her arm on my shoulder and tell me the children needed us. Whenever she did that, my heart melted and I couldn't deny her.”
“I'm sure those children miss her almost as much as you do.”
“You know, I hadn't thought of that, you may be right.”
“I'll bet it would make Miss Bessie happy if you visited the boys and girls club yourself. What do you think Mr. Bradley?”
“Do you think they would be happy to see me? I know I'm a poor substitute for Bessie, but I might be able to teach them the game of chess. Bessie tried playing but she was never very good at the game. I was an accountant before I retired. Maybe I would be able to help them with their mathematics. I always enjoyed algebra, I'm sure I can remember a few problems I would be able to help them solve.”
Herbert Bradley smiled at Holly. “Ma'am, I can't thank you enough for talking to me. I was about to do something very foolish and now you have made me realize what Bessie would want me to do for how many years I have left on this earth. I think I'll leave Bessie here while I go downstairs to see what all the fuss is about. Would you mind giving this to the sheriff when you see him? I don't have any need for it anymore.” Herbert handed the brown package to Holly.
Holly stayed in contact with Mr. Bradley for several years. He sold the home he and Bessie had shared for fifty seven years to move closer to the city and to a rooming house where meals were provided for him and the other residents. Herbert enjoyed his dinner companions and became friends with them all. His room had a fireplace with a mantle for Bessie's urn. Herbert opened his heart to the boys and girls at the club and they all thought Mr. Bradley was the best. Some of the children began calling him Gramps and it stuck. Ten years after Bessie's death, Gramps Bradley joined his beloved wife. There wasn't a dry eye at the funeral parlor as the casket closed on Herbert Bradley with Bessie's urn placed securely in his arms.
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Holly and Steve
Some people thought the Mackenzies and Burkes were the founders of Camden Corners. The families had lived in the small town for decades, but they weren't the first to call Camden Corners home.
Duncan Mackenzie was barely twenty years old when he left Scotland for America. The day after his twenty first birthday, Alexander Burke boarded the boat leaving Ireland. He watched with sadness as his family waved goodbye from the shore. Duncan and Alexander met in New York City and became roommates in Mrs. Geraldine O'Sullivan's boarding house.
Mrs. O'Sullivan told them of a small village she'd visited with her family when she was a young girl. “Ah, yes, I have wonderful memories of Camden Corners. The hills are lush with green, the lake is as clear as can be, the only sound you hear from morning til night are the birds chirping in the trees.”
Although the friends were grateful to be living and working in America, they longed for the lush green hills of their childhood. With the money they saved while working at whatever jobs they could find, they bid farewell to Mrs. O'Sullivan and rode the train as far west as they were able, buying horses to take them into the hills and their new home in Camden Corners.
The town had already begun to grow. The railroad was in the process of being expanded through the heart of town. The two young men felt at home immediately. They eventually married local young women and opened a pub they called O'Sullivan's after their friend and landlady who shared memories of her childhood.
The two families grew as did the town. It seemed as though half the people in town were named Burke while the other half were Mackenzies.
Holly Mackenzie and Steve Burke had been inseparable since the day they were born just minutes apart in Shane Howard Memorial Hospital. Their mothers, who were best friends themselves, shared a room in the hospital while their babies slept side by side in bassinets.
Holly was standing staring at the ice cream case in the grocery store trying to decide between butter crunch and rocky road. She shrugged and picked one of each placing them in her shopping cart along with the chocolate chips she'd grabbed from the shelf in the baking aisle. As she was checking out, she spotted candy bars and two of them ended up on the conveyor belt.
“Hi Holly, are you doing alright?” said Mitzi Clark as she checked out Holly's order. “I see you are making cookies and eating ice cream and candy this evening. You don't usually do that unless you have something on your mind.”
“I'm just fine, Mitzi, must be my sweet tooth and hormones acting up,” replied Holly. She wondered what it would be like to live in a place where nobody knew you or cared what was in your shopping cart. Holly loved her town and her life in Camden Corners though. If she didn't love it so much, the offer today wouldn't be weighing on her shoulders. She instinctively knew her friend and business partner was suffering through the same thing. She imagined Tracy was in her favorite spot right now overlooking the lake. Soon she would be sipping a martini. Holly laughed as she thought of the difference between the two of them and how they handled stress. Holly couldn't get enough of sweets and Tracy looked at water and indulged in Jack's martinis. It's a good thing the two of them didn't often have stress in their lives, Holly would weigh two hundred pounds and Tracy would be a drunkard.
Steve was working late tonight of all nights. After all these years, the newspaper was struggling to keep advertisers. The subscription numbers were down and continuing to fall as more and more people were relying on the internet for their news. Small town newspapers were suffering less than their big city counterparts because people in small towns were more involved in what was going on in their neighborhoods. Still, Holly knew it was a worry to Steve. His great grandfather was there when the very first Camden Chronicle was published and Burkes had been involved with the newspaper ever since.
Holly was beating the cookie dough as she munched on her candy bar. She thought back to when she first realized what she felt for Steve was more than the good buddies they had always been. She had just turned fifteen. She and Steve had a joint birthday party as they had for every one of them. They both thought they were too old to share their birthday but they went along with it because it made their mothers happy.
“Hi, honey, I'm home,” Steve said the same thing every time he opened the back door. Holly thought it was silly at first but through the years she came to expect it and if he didn't say the words, she knew the day hadn't gone well for him.
“What's wrong, you are eating a candy bar and baking cookies,” he said as he dipped his finger into the dough catching a chocolate chip on his tongue.
Holly told him about the offer she and Tracy had received. “We are thinking it over tonight. I don't know what we will do, Steve. I know we will eventually have to turn The Merryweather over to someone else but it has been part of all our lives for so long.
“Arthur Pierce didn't make his millions by being sentimental. I'm sure he will bulldoze the old place in favor of a high rise.”
“That's just it, do we really want The Merryweather to be demolished? Let's talk about your day. My brain is numb trying to decide what to do.”
“I'm afraid I don't have much to report. We lost another advertiser today. I'm not sure how long we will be able to continue with the Chronicle if this trend continues. Maybe we should both call it a day and retire to the Florida Keys.”
“Steve, you know you will never leave Camden Corners. What would you do without our grandchildren to fuss over? Speaking of our grandchildren, did you notice how round Kelli's face was yesterday when she was here?”
“What does that mean? Is she alright?” Steve asked forgetting about the newspaper and the hotel for the moment. His concern was for his daughter.
“Of course, she's alright. Don't you remember when she was expecting Jason and Ryan, both times her face looked like a moon pie?”
“I'd forgotten about that. You mean we are going to be grandparents again?”
“I'm not sure but I suspect that is why she was so tired yesterday. She mentioned she had a busy week at the hospital. I know she took on an extra shift for her friend Daisy while she is on her honeymoon. Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part. It's been a few years since we have had a newborn around here.”
“Daisy is on a honeymoon again? How many honeymoons is one person entitled to. This must be her fourth marriage.”
“Fifth, but who's counting?”
The phone rang. Holly answered it. “Hi Kelli, dear. What's up?”
“Mom, remember yesterday when you asked if Jeff and I had an announcement to make? Well it got me to thinking and I bought a home pregnancy test. It's positive! We are going to have another baby!”
“Kelli, that's wonderful. What do Jeff and the boys think of it?”
“Everyone is thrilled. Ryan is looking forward to having a little brother to tease, just like Jason has been teasing him for years. I can't believe I never even considered the possibility. What kind of a nurse am I?”
“You are a wonderful nurse and you know it. We are very happy for you dear.”
“I knew you would be Mom. Jeff and I thought our baby days were behind us. I guess we shouldn't have gotten rid of the crib.”
“Maybe you will be able to buy a new one in pink,” said Holly crossing her fingers.
“That would be nice. I love you, Mom. Tell Grampa we love him too.”
“I will and you congratulate Jeff for us. We love you too, Kelli and we couldn't be happier.” Holly set the phone down and wrapped her arms around her husband. “Do you still want to move to the Keys, Gramps?
“Not on your life but I wouldn't mind making a move to the bedroom with the sexiest grandma in town.”
“I thought you'd never ask,” said Holly. “I don't know why I bought all that junk food to alleviate my stress when all I needed was you.”
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Tracy and Jack
Tracy hopped in her car. She could almost see her house from The Merryweather property but with the winding roads and bridges to cross it was a two mile ride. Today she was in no hurry to get home. She pulled off the main road where she could park the car and walk to the edge of a hill. From there she could see the lake on one side and the town on the other. She enjoyed this view of her town. Even as a young girl she had a special affinity with Camden Corners.
Tracy's grandparents were James and Ella Robinson. Neither one of them had been born in Camden Corners but found happiness and each other in the small town. Grandpa James was the son of Helene Robinson. His father was Neville Merryweather. Neville was unaware of James' existence until 20 years after his birth. Chester Robinson married Helene shortly after she discovered she was in the family way and raised James as his own. On his deathbed, Chester confessed to James his birth father's name thinking it was important James knew his true identity. Much to Helene's dismay, James sought out his father and was accepted into the family without reservation, with the exception of Neville's alcoholic wife, Prudence, the mother of his two daughters.
Ella Pritchard arrived in Camden Corners looking for her baby brother who was abandoned at an orphanage in Pennsylvania twelve years before. Ella found her brother, Billy, and became a beloved member of the Duesenberry family. Billy, along with his friend, Butch, had been adopted by Vicar Will and Kate Duesenberry.
James and Ella never left Camden Corners. They married and had three natural children and adopted three more. Their oldest son, Jim is Tracy's father. James' natural parents, Helene and Neville married six months after the untimely death of Neville's wife. The older couple built a home on the lake where they lived with James, Neville's daughters and their two adopted daughters.
The house changed hands several times through the years. It became available once again in 1979 and was purchased by Tracy and Jack Crowley where they raised their three children.
Tracy loved that old house with the creaky floors and troublesome plumbing. Jack complained about the old place but the truth be known, he loved it too. More importantly, he loved Tracy and he knew living in the house made her happy. Jack was a Crowley and the Crowleys had been in Camden Corners for as long as anyone could remember. Jack's great great grandfather was Oscar Crowley. The Crowley Law Firm had been in the family since Oscar opened the doors almost 100 years ago. Oscar's sons, Robert and Richard took over the firm and passed it down to each generation after that. Jack had earned a reputation in his field and had received several offers to join larger and more prestigious law firms throughout the state. He always said he came from a long line of country lawyers and why would he want to break that pattern now. He was proud the day his son joined the firm and two years later, his daughter.
Tracy was lost in thought as she stared at the lake. It seemed like only yesterday when Holly and Steve were married under a canopy on the grounds of The Merryweather. It had been a lovely day for an outside wedding in the middle of September. The leaves were just beginning to turn in the hills and it made a lovely backdrop to the ceremony taking place. Holly was truly a beautiful bride and Steve was handsome in his cutaway. Jack Crowley was Steve's best man and Tracy was Holly's maid of honor. Jack had arrived in town very late the previous day. He had driven from Massachusetts after his last class of the day. His ancient car had given out about halfway to Camden Corners. He was able to rent a car for the remainder of the trip but it had delayed him for several hours.
Tracy was just a few years younger than Jack Crowley. She remembered him as being arrogant. He was the captain of the football team, class president and voted the most attractive senior of the class of 1965. She wouldn't admit this to anyone, but she had a big crush on him when she was a lowly freshman. Tracy was friends with two of Jack's sisters but he was home so seldom in the years following high school graduation, she hadn't seen him in a number of years.
“It's just too bad Steve chose Jack Crowley as his best man. He has some nerve skipping the rehearsal for the most important day of his friend's life.” spouted Tracy.
“The guy had car trouble, Tracy. It's not like he planned to miss the rehearsal and he did rent a car. He will be here for the wedding and that's the important thing. Why are you so irritated with Jack? Do you still have that silly crush on him?” Holly asked with a grin on her face.
“A crush on him? Holly, are we still in high school? I haven't seen Jack Crowley in years but I imagine he is still the same self-important jerk he was back then.
“Tracy, what has gotten into you? Jack always struck me as being very down to earth. From what Steve says, he is planning to come back to Camden Corners to join his family's law firm after he passes the bar. He has had offers to join other firms but he wants to live in Camden Corners. If he were as self-important as you seem to think he is, I can't imagine why he would come back here to this little town.”
“I guess I am over-reacting Holly. Maybe you are right. Maybe I never did get over my ninth grade crush. Maybe it's because he never noticed me. He always had a cheerleader or two hanging all over him.”
“You were a cheerleader too. Not in ninth grade but for the next three years. That whole freshman year was torture. Do you remember we were the only two girls in the class who still stuffed our bras with Kleenex? Maybe that's why we are such good friends. We shared our misery back then.”
They both laughed but the memories of that awkward time still made them cringe.
The next morning, Tracy and the rest of her bridesmaids stood back and admired the bride. Holly was the calmest one of the group. She had known she and Steve were meant to be together. They weren't the first of the generations of Burkes and Mackenzies to be joined in marriage.
The wedding march began as one by one, Holly's good friends walked down the aisle. Tracy was smiling as she glanced from side to side. She knew everyone sitting in the chairs that had been set up on the lawn earlier. As she neared the gazebo, she notice the tall handsome young man standing next to Steve. She recognized him as Jack Crowley. If possible, he was even more good looking than he had been in high school. Tracy couldn't believe he was staring directly at her. Oh what she wouldn't have given if he had even glanced her way when she was a skinny little thing back in ninth grade.
The wedding went off without a hitch and Mr. and Mrs. Steven Burke were introduced to the beaming guests. They walked hand in hand down the aisle and into the ballroom of The Merryweather where waiters and waitresses were carrying trays laden with champagne followed by those carrying hors d'oeuvers.
The guests were mingling and chatting with their friends and neighbors until the bridal party began lining up before a beautiful buffet spread. The bride and bridesmaids were on one side of the serving table while the groom and groomsmen were on the other. Jack looked up and smiled at Tracy. She smiled back and her knees went weak.
“Jack has improved with age, don't you think, Tracy?” Holly whispered to her friend.
“Holly, I'm not sure I ever got over that crush from years ago. Jack is gorgeous. I'm finding myself looking forward to being in those strong arms during the bridal dance. I hope I can control myself. I'll just have to remember there are children watching.”
“He keeps looking at you too. Are the two of you going to just stare at each other all evening?”
“Are you two talking about my brother?” Heather Crowley asked as the buffet line moved forward. “I think he likes you, Tracy. He hasn't taken his eyes off you since you walked down the aisle earlier.”
Tracy could feel the color rising in her cheeks as she asked Heather. “Does Jack have a girlfriend?”
“There was someone he was interested in a while back. I don't think they are still together. Mother keeps trying to get information about his love life out of him but he doesn't talk much. I can see her over there smiling as she is looking this way. I think she is seeing the sparks fly between you two and I know she would be very happy about that.”
Tracy sat down with the rest of the bridal party. Reverend Blake offered a prayer and Jack made a humorous toast to the newlyweds. Tracy knew the food was good but didn't taste a morsel of it as she cleaned her plate. Her partner for the bridal dance was all she could think of. The plates were being cleared and the time was almost here. The bandleader finally announced the bridal dance. Holly and Steve danced to their special song. The parents of the bride and groom were asked to join their children on the dance floor. At long last, the bridal party was invited to join in.
Jack smiled at her and said. “It's been a long time, Tracy. It's nice to see you again. You and Holly have done wonders with this old house. After we fulfill our wedding duties, I'd like to see what you've done with the rest of the place.”
“I'd be delighted to show you the second floor bedroom suites,” Tracy said and realizing how that sounded her face turned scarlet.
“That sounds like a wonderful idea,” Jack laughed.
“Maybe we'd better start on the lower level. How would you like to tour the kitchen?”
They both laughed and continued dancing through the next song and the one after that.
Jack stayed in Camden Corners for as long as he could before returning to school and his classes. Tracy and Jack spent every moment possible together. Since Holly and Steve were on a short honeymoon, Tracy was in charge of the operation of The Merryweather. Jack worked right along beside her. He helped with reservations, checking in and even inspecting rooms after they were cleaned and readied for the next guest.
At the end of the day the couple would sit on the veranda overlooking the lake and relax with a glass of wine or walk on the beach in the moonlight. Tracy had never been happier. She couldn't imagine why she ever thought Jack was stuck on himself. He was warm and funny and completely down to earth.
“Tracy, I don't want to go back to school and leave you. Do you think it's possible to fall in love with someone in less than a week? Come to think of it, I don't care if it's possible or not. I have fallen in love with you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?”
“Jack, you don't know how tempted I am to say yes. Maybe we had better think this through. You have school to finish and I have The Merryweather to run. We are just getting established with the place. It has been a wonderful week but we both have to get back to reality.”
“I'm through with law school in December. I'll be returning to Camden Corners and clerking at the family firm until I pass the bar. Will three months be long enough to get to know each other better?”
“I've thought how nice it would be to have a Christmas wedding at The Merryweather. I had no idea it would be my own. Yes, Jack, I will marry you.”
Both Jack and Tracy were busy the next three months which helped the time go by quickly for both of them. They saw each other whenever they could break away from Jack's studies or Tracy's duties at the resort.
Eileen Robinson and Barbara Crowley were delighted their children were planning to be married. Tracy didn't want a big fancy wedding but her mother and Jack's had different ideas.
“Mom, I don't want any fuss. I just want to marry Jack and start our lives together. If we do anything formal it will take months of planning and I am not waiting a minute longer than I have to.”
“Tracy, I don't understand what the rush is all about. Oh dear, you aren't in the family way, are you?”
“Of course not. Mother, it's 1973, we take precautions these days.”
“Don't tell me about it, Tracy, I don't want to know.”
Tracy laughed at her mother's old fashioned ideas as she gave her a hug.
“Mom, you and Mrs. Crowley can plan the whole wedding. Just make sure I'm wearing a simple dress. I don't want to look like Cinderella at the ball.”
That was all Eileen needed to know. She picked up the phone to call her friend Barbara and the two of them were in their glory.
It was a simple wedding and a beautiful one. Tracy had final approval of her wedding dress. It was just exactly what she would have picked for herself. She had the feeling her new mother-in-law influenced the selection. After two sons, Eileen dressed her only daughter in all sorts of frilly outfits until Tracy was old enough to voice her opinion on what she was willing to wear.
Tracy couldn't help but smile as she thought back through the years. She never doubted Jack was the one for her. They both had busy careers but always found time to be together at the end of the day. They both had a fondness for Camden Corners and were never sorry they built a life in the small town for themselves and their children.
Lost in her reverie, Tracy was oblivious to the sound of a car engine as Jack parked next to her. He walked to the spot she was standing and placed his hand gently on her shoulder startling her. She looked into the still handsome face of her husband.
“Tracy, are you alright? I saw your car parked here. You never come to this spot unless you have some thinking to do.”
“I'm fine, Jack. I still have a lot of thinking to do but I'll do it later. I think I'd much rather sip a cold martini with my husband.”
“Sounds good to me, I'll go mix a couple for us. Olive or a twist?”
“Olives sound good. I'll meet you at home in a couple of minutes.”
He kissed her on the forehead. Jack was concerned. Something serious was on Tracy's mind. He knew his wife well and he didn't like the worry he saw in her eyes.
As promised, Jack greeted Tracy with an extra dry martini with a large pimento stuffed olive. “Straight up?” she said. “I must look like I need a stiff drink.”
Tracy handed Jack a copy of the contract Scott Douglas presented to Holly and her that afternoon. Jack read it over and his eyes opened with a look of surprise when he came to the amount that was being offered.
“Now I understand why you were looking so serious. What does Holly think about this?”
“We decided to sleep on it. It never entered our minds to give up The Mayflower. Holly and I thought Jenna and Katie would take our places some day. Taking this offer would mean The Mayflower will be demolished and much of the history of Camden Corners with it.”
“I'll look at this later. At first glance, it seems to be a viable contract. Let's go sit on the porch, looking at the water always has a calming effect on you.”
“You have a calming effect on me too, my love,” Tracy said as took a sip of her drink.
Monday, November 26, 2012
Tracy Robinson Crowley and Holly Mackenzie Burke were enjoying a few minutes of quiet in Tracy's office on the first floor of The Merryweather.
“Can you believe it was forty years ago that we made the decision to buy this place and turn it into a resort?” said Tracy.
“Everyone in town thought we were crazy and looking back I can understand how they felt.” Holly said.
“It really was a mess, wasn't it? So many years of neglect. I think we were just young and romantic. Through the years I heard many stories about Aunt Millie. It was always preached to me that money couldn't buy happiness. My grandmother would say, 'look at Aunt Millie, she wasn't happy a day in her life until her fortune was gone and she began to care for others.' Grandma used to tell me stories from the old days that she heard after she arrived in town. I never knew if they were true or just Grandma's active imagination, but those journals verified every word. I wish Grandma had been around to read each and every one of those journals. She would have loved it.”
“Speaking of the journals, how is Ashley coming along on converting them? What a huge undertaking that is.”
“She loves it. Ashley is like me, she can't get enough of the old stories. I think she has finished three books now. My granddaughter thinks she would like to get into journalism some day. I think she would be good at it. I am amazed at how meticulous she is with those journals. She won't transcribe a word until she knows it is correct. It isn't always easy to read them with the fading ink. I sometimes wonder if we shouldn't have had them preserved professionally.”
“Are you kidding? We barely had enough money to cover the cost of the opening let alone preserving old books.” laughed Holly.
The intercom buzzed.
“Tracy, Mr. Scott Douglas is here for his appointment with you and Holly.”
“Thanks, Donna. Ask him to come in please.”
Tracy and Holly both walked to the door to greet the man. “I can't imagine what this is all about, Mr. Douglas was so mysterious on the phone yesterday.” said Tracy.
“Probably a salesman.” said Holly.
“Mr. Douglas, I'm Tracy Crowley and this is my partner, Holly Burke. What may we help you with today?”
“Ladies, it's a pleasure to meet you. You have a beautiful place here. I've often heard about The Merryweather. I know several of my friends have vacationed here and enjoyed their stay very much.”
“That's always good to hear, Mr. Douglas. We hope you will consider a visit yourself.”
Without answering, Mr. Douglas opened his briefcase. “Ladies, I represent a gentleman named Arthur Pierce. You may have heard of him. He is the builder of many fine hotels all over the country.”
Holly spoke up. “Yes, Mr. Douglas, Mr. Pierce is quite well known. He seems to prefer the major cities for his properties.”
“That is correct, Ms. Burke. Mr. Pierce has authorized me to make you and Ms. Crowley a substantial offer on your property even though it is in a less desirable location.”
“Mr. Douglas, I don't know where you got the idea The Merryweather is for sale, but I assure you it is not.” said Tracy while Holly nodded her head in agreement. Please tell Mr. Pierce we appreciate any offer he may make but we are not interested.”
“I wouldn't be so hasty, ladies. You haven't seen the offer.” Mr. Douglas showed them a prepared contract with the amount of the offer in bold print.
“Mr. Douglas, The Merryweather is very special to my partner and me but there is no way on earth it is worth this amount of money.” Tracy laughed.
“This is not a joke, Ms. Crowley. Mr. Pierce does not joke. This is a serious offer, one you most likely won't be receiving in another ten or fifteen years when you and your friend decide to take life a little easier.
“I'll leave this contract with you. My card is attached. I hope to hear from you soon.” Scott Douglas nodded his head and was out the door leaving two astonished women with their mouths open in shock.
“I don't believe it Holly. Do you think this guy is on the up and up?”
“Do you remember, there was an article in the Chronicle several months ago about Arthur Pierce. He is building high rise condominium resorts in many small towns through our state and several others. This would be a prime location for something like that. The reason we are so popular is because of our close proximity to the mountains, the lake being right here and, of course, the vineyards and wineries are a big draw. Not to mention all the shops on Main Street.
It would mean he would tear down The Merryweather and replace it with a thirty story building. This is an exorbitant amount of money, but I believe he would be making a profit in record time.”
“Are you seriously thinking of selling The Merryweather, Holly?”
“No, I hadn't given it a thought until now. This kind of money isn't something to scoff at though. Just think what we could do with it. We would be able to buy anything we wanted and still have money left over to give away. We could travel. Jack would be able to give up his law practice and Steve could turn the paper over to someone else. Our children and grandchildren would be set for life.”
“It sounds wonderful but I'm thinking of what Grandma used to say about money. We have a lot to think about. I'm not sure I want The Merryweather to be torn down. We worked so hard to restore it. Maybe its time has come. It's over two hundred years old now. We do have to replace the roof next year and that will take a big bite out of our profits. The new chef is threatening to quit if we don't replace two of the ovens in the kitchen. Hank caught a couple of the busboys chugging a bottle of top shelf scotch.”
“Are they at it again? Boys will be boys but why do they always choose the good stuff? What did Hank do?”
“He fired one boy and warned the other. It is a way to get rid of the teenage boys who take the job just to hook up with the teenage girls.”
“And drink our liquor!”
“We have a lot to think about, Holly. We both have so many memories of this place. You and Steve were married here three months after our grand opening. Jack came back to town for the wedding and we fell in love that very night.”
“It has been an adventure. We have almost forty years worth of guest registers. I enjoy looking at those and remembering the people who have spent time here. Visitors who fell in love on the dance floor just like you and Jack. The few who fell out of love. All the weddings that were held here and then seeing the couples return with their children. Our kids all spent most of their summer days at the pool or in the lake. They have all worked here and now the grandchildren are doing the same. So many wonderful memories, but so much money if we sign that contract.”
Donna knocked on the door. “Come in Donna.”
“I have to admit to you boss ladies, I was snooping and overheard the name Arthur Pierce. I read about him in Steve's paper. Did they offer to buy The Merryweather? Please tell me you aren't thinking of turning it over to that billionaire. Life in Camden Corners will never be the same.”
“Donna, remind me during your next evaluation to reprimand you for eavesdropping.” Tracy laughed. Mr. Douglas offered us quite a bit of money. Of course, we would share our profits with the entire staff. What would you say Donna's cut would be Holly?”
“Enough money to tide her over until she is able to collect her pension.”
Donna's mouth fell open. “You aren't serious.”
“We would have to have our accountant work up a plan, but yes, it would be a sizable amount. Would you like to rethink your objection to the sale.”
“Maybe I would.”
“We are far from making any decisions Donna so please don't mention this to the rest of the staff. No matter what we decide, you will be one of the first to know,” said Holly
“I won't tell anyone Holly, I promise. I think I'll take a little break and dream about a life of leisure.”
“Holly, I don't think we are going to be able to keep this to ourselves. I love Donna but she does like to chatter. At least we will find out what everyone in town thinks and maybe it will help our final decision.”
“The good thing about Donna spreading the word, we won't be losing any staff for awhile. I'm sure they will stick around just to find out if they will soon be coming into money.”
“Let's knock off for the day and go home to talk to our families. The Merryweather has always been a family project. We will make copies of the contract and lock the original in the safe. I'll have Jack take a look at it this evening.”
“See you tomorrow, my friend. I wonder if either one of us will get any sleep tonight.”