That's all she wrote....for now....Please remember, you can purchase Camden Corners, The Village of Camden Corners and Camden Corners The Merryweather through createspace.com or amazon.com. All three books are available in print or eBook. Hope you enjoyed the stories and will keep this blog in mind. Jane O'Brien
Friday, January 11, 2013
Chapter Forty Seven
The Fate of The Merryweather
“Mr. Douglas, you know very well Tracy and I never indicated we were interested in your offer. We had not spoken to the staff or the town about the possibility of selling The Merryweather. You have put us in a very awkward position.”
Explaining the newest development to Tracy, Holly said “Someone apparently reported the sale of our hotel. It is on the news. The staff is understandably upset.”
“Mr. Douglas, what on earth were you thinking?” said Tracy as she read her computer screen.
“Ladies, I have no idea how this happened. My boss ordered me to meet with you again. I know he is anxious to buy your property, but I find it hard to believe he would prematurely announce the purchase.”
Ashley Douglas unpacked the couple's suitcase, putting everything in the dresser drawers. She couldn't wait for Scott to return before she investigated the gallery further. She grabbed her room key and walked down the stairs to the first floor. The lobby was filled with people milling around. Some were in tears. She noticed the television was on and was afraid another, all too frequent, tragedy may have occurred somewhere in the country.
“What's going on?” she asked a man who looked like he worked at the hotel.
“The Merryweather has been sold. We were never told about the sale. Tracy and Holly have betrayed us. They sold out to Pierce Enterprises.”
Ashley couldn't believe her ears. Was that the reason for the trip here? Why was Scott keeping secrets from her? Who was this man she married? She had known he was ambitious, but hoped he would realize happiness wasn't measured in how much money he made.
Just then, she saw him walk out of the executive offices. His face had lost all its color. “Scott,” she called out.
“Ashley, I have to make some calls. I'm sorry our anniversary has been ruined. Please repack our suitcases, I am sure we will be asked to leave. Wait for me in the suite.”
“Scott!” she called out. He kept walking away without so much as a glance toward her.
She stayed where she was when she saw Tracy and Holly walk into the lobby. Everyone gathered around demanding to know why this was happening.
“How could you do this to the town?”
“I met my husband here at The Merryweather, you can't let them destroy it along with our memories.”
“The Merryweather is a landmark, the town will never be the same.”
Everyone was talking at once.
“Please, everyone. Please quiet down,” said Tracy.
The crowd was silent, waiting for an explanation.
“It's true, Pierce Enterprises has offered to purchase The Merryweather. However, we have not made a decision to sell. Mr. Pierce's representative, Mr. Douglas, assures us he and Pierce Enterprises had nothing to do with notifying the press prematurely.
“Two days ago, Mr. Douglas met with us. He indicated Arthur Pierce was interested in purchasing The Merryweather. This offer came as a complete surprise to Holly and me. We told Mr. Douglas we had no intention of selling, now or in the future.
“Mr. Douglas left with our promise we would give the offer some consideration. We both had a restless night thinking about the people we have met since the day we opened the doors of our resort. The people right here in Camden Corners who married their sweethearts here, those who sang carols around the Christmas tree each year, welcomed in the New Year or just simply had dinner with friends in our restaurant. We have been through the trauma of a kidnapping, a near drowning, the fear a suicidal, lonely old gentleman would follow through with his plan. Plus the happier times, Both Holly and I were married here and I met Jack here so many years ago. So many of the children of Camden Corners had their first swimming lessons in the pool, celebrated their birthday on the lawn, danced at their prom, celebrated graduations and were married themselves, beginning the pattern all over again.
“Holly and I never dreamed we would step away from The Merryweather. We hoped one day, our daughters, Jenna and Katie would take our places, but we didn't think that would happen for a number of years.
“We hadn't told anyone of the offer, including our own children. We wanted to let the information sink in. If it were up to Holly and me, we would turn down the offer. However, there are many others to think of. The benefits of having a hotel of the caliber Mr. Pierce would build on the premises may outweigh the sentimental value of The Merryweather.
“Along the many businesses throughout town, The Merryweather has been a success. However, we are small potatoes. Think about how much business would be brought in if a five star hotel was built here.
“No matter what you hear, there will be no decision made without careful consideration. Please go back to what you were doing.”
Ashley walked slowly up the stairs to the suite where she had planned to let Scott know he was about to become a father. She walked to the closet to get the suitcase that she had unpacked less than thirty minutes ago. As she was walking by the table, the book she purchased earlier fell to the floor. It opened to an entry by Nettie Crowley dated August 31, 1906.
The young couple is facing some difficult times ahead if she doesn't
confront him with her concerns. Her husband did what he thought
was best for their future. She is finding it difficult to understand why
he wouldn't be honest with her. Maybe he just needs her reassurance
that she is on his side, no matter what. I do believe, in time, he will
realize he has all the riches he needs because he has a wife who
loves him and a child on the way.
Ashley's jaw dropped, she read a little further only to discover the writer was talking about a couple who lived over one hundred years ago. Her heart skipped a beat as the door opened.
“Scott, please don't try to protect me. I need to know what is happening and what you have done. No matter what, I love you and I want to understand why you are keeping things from me.”
“I'm sorry, Ashley. I never told you the real reason we came to The Merryweather, I guess I was thinking the owners would take the offer Mr. Pierce made without question. I didn't realize how cynical I have become. Tracy Crowley and Holly Burke have taught me the lesson that money isn't the only route to happiness. I was blinded by my fellow students at the university who grew up wealthy. I thought I didn't fit in with them because I was there through scholarships. I never felt I quite measured up and I was determined my children would never feel inferior to anyone.
“I'm sure I am no longer employed by Pierce Enterprises. I just got off the phone with the great Arthur Pierce. I told him how I felt about his underhanded tricks and I would not be a party to the coercion being used against two very kind ladies.
“I love you Ashley. I wanted to provide you with the best of everything.”
“I love you too and I do have the best of everything because I have your love. Now, help me pack so we can go home to celebrate our anniversary properly.”
The telephone in the suite rang.
“Scott, this is Tracy.”
“Hello Tracy, don't worry, Ashley and I will be out of the room in less than ten minutes.”
“Why are you leaving? Is there something wrong with the accommodations?”
“After what occurred today, I assumed we wouldn't be welcome.”
“Scott, in its almost forty years of existence, no one has ever been asked to leave The Merryweather and we aren't about to start now. I just wanted to thank you. I know you spoke with Arthur Pierce. He called to say he is issuing a retraction about the sale of the hotel. He said he had spoken to you and you made him realize there were some things worth preserving. He reiterated his offer, but said there would be no hard feelings if we turned him down. Not only that, he made a reservation for two for next weekend for his wife and himself. He said some wise young fellow told him he needed to chill out.”
“Thank you for letting me know, Tracy. I'm sure Ashley and I will enjoy our stay very much.”
The next call was on his cell phone.
“Douglas, Pierce here. I just had my assistant call and extend your stay in Camden Corners for a few more days. Take the week off, son. You deserve it. I hope you will decide to stay with Pierce Enterprises. You are right, I can be a tyrant. I'm going to take your words to heart. I hope you will give me an opportunity to change. You are a good man and I don't want to lose you to another company.”
“I can't believe it,” Scott said as the call ended. “I still have my job and we are staying here through the week thanks to Arthur Pierce.”
“This has turned out to be a good day after all,” said Ashley as she glanced at the last line on the page of the book.
I think this is just the beginning of happily ever after.
“Thank you, Nettie, I think you may be right.”
“Who are you talking to, Ashley?” said Scott.
“No one. Sit down Scott, I have a secret of my own to tell you.”
“Holly, sit down and put your feet up,” said Steve. “You and Tracy have had a rough day. Would you like me to fix you a hot fudge sundae?”
“Thanks, dear,” she replied. “I don't feel the need for sweets tonight. Tracy and I feel the same way and have made our wishes clear. We don't want The Merryweather to be sold. The rest is up to the town and the city council. Whatever decision they make, we will comply with. I feel nothing but relief that the decision is out of our hands.”
“Good for you. I've made a decision too. I'm not going to fight progress anymore. I hired a young man today that will revolutionize the Camden Corners Chronicle. We will function as a print newspaper and an on-line newspaper until further notice. This fellow convinced me there is a market for both. I feel good about that decision too.”
The phone rang. “Holly, I just heard from the mayor. The town council has called an emergency meeting regarding the sale of The Merryweather. Do you want to meet there?”
“I'd rather relax with my husband, but I guess we need to be there.”
The council meeting was called to order with standing room only. Some folks were outside with their placards. Most were in favor of preserving The Merryweather. The mayor was one of those opposed. He was anxious to have the revenue a Pierce Hotel would bring to the town. Enhancing his stature among the mayors of the surrounding towns was also a consideration.
The mayor asked for input from the residents. One by one the townsfolk stood before the members.
Sally Cummings walked to the microphone. “I'm speaking in favor of preserving The Merryweather. Just before Christmas several years ago, our family home was destroyed by fire and my husband, Ted, was seriously injured. Thanks to the generosity of Tracy, Holly and the whole town, we were given a place to stay and the children were able to celebrate Christmas that year. Somehow I can't imagine such a thing would happen in a large high rise hotel.”
Next, Nick Jordan stood. “The Merryweather is where I met my daughter, Molly for the first time. I will never forget the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I discovered I had a child. The reason I would like to see The Merryweather saved is strictly personal and sentimental, but I also feel it is an asset to the community.”
Richard Butler talked about how his niece and his wife, Bonnie's niece concocted a plan to get the two of them together. “Bonnie and I and our five children owe our happiness to those two girls and the cooperation of Tracy and Holly who agreed to their matchmaking plan.”
People stood in line waiting to talk. One lady commented that her grandmother was one of the original nurses who was given a room in Millicent Merryweather Stout Harvey's home. That room is now named the Robinson suite. Another was the great granddaughter of Callie Wilson who, along with her brothers and sisters, lived at the mansion while their adoptive parents' house was being built. People from all walks of life who had been guests of the hotel or simply had memories of happy times stood up and told their story.
After so many happy stories, even the mayor changed his mind. “Ladies and Gentlemen, are we ready to vote?”
Tracy and Holly have agreed to comply with the decision of the council in regard to sale of the property now known as The Merryweather.
“All those in favor of the sale.” The room was totally silent.
“All those opposed.” The room echoed with “Nay.”
“I'm sorry, audience, only the council may vote in this matter.”
“All those opposed.”
The walls were vibrating with the sound of applause. The crowd outside was cheering. Firecrackers were being exploded on The Merryweather front lawn.
Tracy and Holly hugged each other and everyone else around.
One week later, things were back to normal at The Merryweather.
“Well, my friend, we could be sailing on a cruise ship to Bermuda, but instead we are sitting in this office chatting about the day ahead. Are you sorry at all about not selling this old place, Holly?”
“Not at all. Before long we will have to start planning our fortieth anniversary party. Wouldn't it be fun to invite the same people who came to our opening gala? Unfortunately, not all of them are still around. I wonder how many celebrities we should invite, how about politicians, maybe even heads of state,” she laughed?
“Remember the gala, we invited everyone we could think of with the idea that maybe, just maybe, one would show up,” laughed Tracy. “We were so nervous when they accepted our invitations. We were both star struck when Melanie Fairchild arrived. It's hard to believe she has been one of our dearest friends all these years.”
“Don't you wonder what the next forty years will bring? Who will be passing through the front door. How many more people will share their first kiss or fall in love within these walls. How many more times, those photos hanging on the wall will come to life and guide us through our troubles.”
“Yes, dear friend, shall we take a walk through the lobby? Maybe our next guest will be as memorable as so many of the others have been through the years.
Thank you for visiting Camden Corners. We hope your stay at The Merryweather was a pleasant one.
Holly and I have enjoyed sharing the stories of the people of our town.
You may be interested in spending some time in Bristol Falls with our young friends, Jennifer Mitchell and Angie Carlson. The two are living in the nation's capitol when their careers take a sudden turn and they both find themselves unemployed. They have memories of summer vacations spent in the mountains of their home town in a place called Camp Bristol. The abandoned camp is listed for sale and the friends decide to take a chance on renovating it and restoring it to the way they remembered it.
I think you will like these two young women. Although they are much younger than Holly and me, the bond between them is just as strong.
In the meantime, we will be greeting new folks and welcoming old friends back to The Merryweather.
We hope to see you again, when we have more stories and happy endings to share.
Until we meet again,
That's all she wrote....for now....Please remember, you can purchase Camden Corners, The Village of Camden Corners and Camden Corners The Merryweather through createspace.com or amazon.com. All three books are available in print or eBook. Hope you enjoyed the stories and will keep this blog in mind. Jane O'Brien
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Chapter Forty Six
A Restless Night
“Did you get any sleep at all, Holly?” Tracy said the morning after Scott Douglas made them an offer on The Merryweather authorized by his boss, Arthur Pierce. Arthur Pierce was well known in the hotel industry. He sought out successful hotels in prime locations, bought out the owners, tore down the existing structures and built high rises on the property. The fact that he was interested in building in Camden Corners was a surprise to Tracy and Holly. Mr. Pierce didn't normally waste his time and money on small town locations.
“I slept, but I had dreams all night about our lives here at the hotel and so many of the people we have met here. The dreams weren't unpleasant, just thought-provoking.”
“I did the same thing. Aggie and Hap were in my dreams and so many of the people who are no longer here. It was a strange night. I know it was because of Arthur Pierce's offer that I had such a restless night.”
“You sure the ice cream and cookies didn't have anything to do with it?” laughed Tracy.
“How did you know I indulged my sweet tooth?”
“Because I know you, whenever you are worried about something, you eat. I, on the other hand, drink. Jack's martinis were extra tasty last night.”
“Did you come to any conclusions?” said Holly.
“No, did you?
Holly shook her head. “It's something we need to talk about. I think we should weigh the pros and cons together. I'd also like to bring the staff in on our decision, especially the management people. I'm sure the housekeepers and desk clerks will be eligible for hire if a highrise takes the place of our hotel. I'm also sure they would hire within the company for most other positions.”
“We will try to keep it quiet for a day or two. No sense upsetting the staff if we decide to turn Scott Douglas down flat,” said Tracy.
“My first inclination is to do just that,” said Holly. “I love The Merryweather, it isn't only the building that would be destroyed, but the family feeling we have built here with all the staff and even the guests.”
“We always dreamed Jenna and Katie would take over for us eventually. They have done such a wonderful job with the ski resort,” replied Tracy. “I wonder if it is more than they want to take on now. We should let them in on this decision too.”
“I know we should be thinking about retirement, but I don't feel old. What would we do all day if we didn't have this place and the people in it to worry about.”
“It's not only The Merryweather I am concerned with,” said Holly, “Steve is worried the Chronicle might be in trouble. Print newspapers are being phased out and replaced with on line editions. Steve is losing advertisers regularly and subscriptions are falling as well. He mentioned last night that maybe we should just retire to the Florida Keys. I know he didn't mean it, but I know it will break his heart if the paper folds.”
“Oh! How could I have forgotten the good news? Kelli and Jeff are expecting. She took a home pregnancy test and it came out positive.”
“You mentioned yesterday that you suspected she might be pregnant. That is wonderful news. Another baby in the family.”
“How is Jenna feeling? Is her morning sickness any better?” Asked Holly. “I remember how bad it was when she was expecting Maddie.”
“I think it's subsiding a little,” said Tracy. “She told me yesterday that nothing could spoil her joy at having another baby. When I think back to how she fought her feelings for Danny and now they are expecting their second child. That is another reason our daughters shouldn't be overburdened with taking on this place. They both have young children and responsibilities at home too. Maybe the smartest thing to do is just let Arthur Pierce have the place.”
“You don't really mean that do you, Tracy?”
“No, I don't. The truth of the matter is I picture myself sitting at this desk when I'm 80, talking to you every morning and meeting new people. It isn't only the two of us, though. We have to think of what is good for everyone. Having an Arthur Pierce hotel on the lake would benefit our town's treasury.”
“I feel the same way,” said Holly. “We would also have enough money to do whatever we wanted, we could travel to Europe like we always talk about. Go on an African safari, like Steve and Jack would like to do. We would have enough money to send everyone one of our grandchildren to the college of their choice. Even so, I can't imagine not having the Merryweather to come to every morning. I wonder what old Millie Merryweather would think about having her home demolished?”
There was a knock on the door. “Ladies, I don't want to disturb you,” said Donna Hammond. “I think the ghosts are haunting The Merryweather again. They must know about the offer you received on this place. Eddie told me the gallery pictures were all askew this morning when he walked into the lobby. He questioned everyone who worked the night shift and none of them saw anyone moving them. Also, we are down to only three copies of the Camden Corners' Journals. Those books had fallen off the shelf and were open to entries all having to do with folks who stayed here in the early 1900s. The gift shop is locked up at night. Cecilia Carter is the only person on the night shift who has a key to the shop. She would never do such a thing.”
“I agree, Donna. Cecilia is completely trustworthy,” said Tracy. “Strange things happen often with those photographs. Wouldn't you agree, Holly?”
“Definitely,” she said thinking of the time Millie Merryweather appeared before her as she was about to make her debut as an actress. Holly had a severe case of stage fright until Millie talked her through her jitters.
“That reminds me. I have a note from Hank Towers, he wanted to speak with one of you about the order for the journal books.”
“We'll call him, Donna. Thank you. I guess I'd better do that now if there are only three left. We ordered twenty more, if I recall. They do sell quickly,” said Tracy. “By the way, Donna, would you set up a meeting with the managers for tomorrow afternoon, please?”
“I'll send out a memo right away. It's about the offer, isn't it? I have done nothing but think about that since I overheard you yesterday. I didn't even mention it to Eddie although he would never breathe a word to anyone. I know it isn't my decision to make, but if it were, I would vote against it. I can't imagine Camden Corners without The Merryweather in it. I don't care how much money they offer.”
“We are in agreement, Donna, but we can't let sentimental feelings interfere. We will try to base our decision on what is best for the future of the town and its residents.”
Tracy made the call to Hank Towers. “Hi Hank, this is Tracy. Holly is here with me, we had a message you called.”
“Good morning, ladies, I hope your day is going better than mine. I don't understand how it happened but when we attempted to run your twenty copies of Camden Corners' Journals, we ended up with two hundred copies. Your order plainly stated twenty and from what I can tell, twenty is what the operator inputted. Since we have them, I thought I'd send them over. We can't do anything with them here and thought you might like to give them away to your guests. I didn't want you to be surprised when two hundred books were delivered.”
“Hank, we don't want you to eat the cost. Let's see what happens after the first twenty are sold. The guests seem to enjoy purchasing them at the end of their stay. We may be able to sell a few of the two hundred anyway. Just send us an invoice for them and we will take care of the added cost. You have always done a good job for us. At least we won't have to order them for quite some time.”
“Thanks, that is more than generous of you. I'll give you a discount on them. That way neither one of us will be out too much money.”
“I wonder how much call there will be for the books once there is a thirty story building standing here?” Holly said with sadness.
Meanwhile in a New York City High Rise. “Scott Douglas here.”
“Douglas, why aren't you in that hick town finalizing the deal with those women?” It was the unmistakeably gruff voice of Arthur Pierce.
“Mr. Pierce, I'm working on it. They didn't take the bait with my offer. I thought I'd let them mull it over for a couple of days,” Scott tried to keep his voice from rising an octave or two. Arthur Pierce frightened him to death, although he would never admit that to anyone.
“Douglas, get back there and talk them into it. If I have to go there myself, I will. If you value your job, you will be on the next flight out of New York.”
Scott Douglas leaned back in his chair wondering how he ever got into this pickle. He had been a small town kid raised in a small town much like Camden Corners. He was on the high school football team. He dated the head cheerleader. The team won the state championships the two years Scott was their quarterback. He was spotted by a scout and offered a full scholarship to an Ivy league school. His friends tried to discourage him from going to the prestigious school telling him he would never fit in. The truth was, he never did fit in. He studied hard and graduated with honors. He played football, but his team never could compete with the most of the teams the school played. He had given up on his dream of being a professional football player before the end of his freshman year.
He concentrated, instead on any profession that would make him rich. He had friends in school, but they were mostly there on scholarships too. Scott didn't want to be on the outside looking in for the rest of his life.
When he graduated, he applied for a position at Pierce Enterprises and was accepted. He was working his way up the ranks when he met Ashley Banks. She was working for a temporary employment service and had been assigned to his department.
She was waiting for the elevator when he saw her for the first time. She smiled at him as he walked up next to her.
“Hello, Mr. Douglas,” she said.
“Do I know you?” he asked. “I'm sure I would remember you if we met before.”
“No, you don't know me, I'm filling in for Janice while she is on maternity leave. You were in a meeting when I was being introduced around the department. I saw you go into your office a short while ago. I'm Ashley Banks.”
“It's nice to meet you, Ashley. You must be on your lunch break. Do you know the area? There are some good restaurants here.”
“I thought I'd just get a hot dog from the cart. It's such a beautiful day and I love to walk in the park whenever I get the chance.”
“You may not believe this, but that was just what I was going to do.” It wasn't exactly true, but Scott thought he might like to get to know Ashley better.
They walked in the park. Ashley told him she signed on for the temporary job because she had come to visit her cousin for the summer and found living in New York was more expensive than she had planned. She was astonished at how much it cost to do almost anything. She figured if she worked through the week, she would be able to save up enough to see a show on the weekends before it was time for her to go back home.
“How long will you be staying in the city?” asked Scott, hoping he would have enough time to change her mind.
“I'll be here until Janice comes back from maternity leave. The plan is three months from now.”
Scott worked long hours and most weekend mornings. Arthur Pierce expected total devotion of his employees. Rich Landers, Scott's colleague, told him Arthur Pierce had his eye on him. Rich thought Scott had a good chance of climbing to the top of that ladder.
“It's too late for me,” said Rich. “I have a wife and three children. I made the mistake of telling Arthur I couldn't work on the weekends after my oldest was born. He didn't agree with my priorities and let it be known I had progressed as far as I was going to with the company.”
“Why do you stay here? You shouldn't have any trouble finding another job, this is New York, after all.”
“I don't believe there is an employer out there that doesn't know Arthur Pierce. If I so much as inquired about another job, he would hear about it and it would be the ultimate betrayal. With a family to support, I can't take the chance.”
Scott enjoyed being with Ashley. The women he met since he graduated were either competitive business women or wealthy heiresses looking for someone to amuse them. Ashley reminded him of home. She was beautiful, but down to earth. She loved walking through Central Park eating a lunch she had gotten off a cart. Whenever he could break away, Scott joined her. On weekends they would meet at the museum or stroll down Fifth Avenue and window shop. They also saw some Broadway shows.
The three months past by quickly. Janice was due back to work the following week. “I will be leaving on Friday, Scott. I will miss you, but it's time for me to go home.”
“Ashley, don't go. I love you. I don't have much to give you now, but I hope to advance in the company and be able to give you everything money can buy. Will you marry me?”
“I don't want to go, Scott. I love you too and yes, I will marry you. I don't require much, I like to live simply. Having a lot of money isn't important to me.”
Ashley and Scott were married in city hall. Rich Landers and his wife, Shelly, were their witnesses. Ashley moved into Scott's one bedroom apartment in a brownstone. Ashley worked part time at the movie theater around the corner. Scott was promoted not once, but twice. He was finally beginning to see the top rung of that ladder.
“We'll move out of this dump. I have my eye on an apartment in one of the exclusive buildings near the office. It may take six months or so to save enough money for the down payment, but I think we will be able to swing it.”
“Scott, I love our apartment. I know all the neighbors and I enjoy working at the movie theater. I can see any movie I want on the nights you are working late. I don't want to leave here.” Ashley didn't want to tell him she would be lonely without her friends in the building. Scott left for work at seven in the morning and rarely got back home before eight. He worked most weekends, at least in the morning. She knew he was doing it for her but she didn't care about life in a high rise or fancy clothes and jewelry. She wanted her husband home with her. They didn't walk in the park anymore. Scott was always too tired when he got home from work.
Earlier in the week, Mr. Pierce's assistant called Scott.
“Mr. Pierce would like to see you in his office immediately,” said his assistant in a no nonsense voice. Scott wondered if the woman ever laughed.
He was never sure what to expect when he was summoned to the boss' office.
“You may go in, Mr. Douglas,” said the receptionist.
“Douglas,” Mr. Pierce said in his usual gruff manner. “I want you to go to a place called Camden Corners. There is a resort hotel on the lake. It's an old mansion that two young women saved from demolition close to forty years ago. Offer them an amount they can't refuse. I want that property and I want to start building as soon as the deal closes. Arrangements have been made for you to fly to Greensboro first thing in the morning. From there you will rent a car for your trip to Camden Corners.”
“I won't let you down, sir,” said Scott.
“You'd better not.”
Scott got up from his chair. He knew he had been dismissed.
When he got home that evening, he told Ashley he would be leaving town but expected to be returning that same day. Ashley had a sense of foreboding. She brushed it off and poured them each a glass of wine as they sat down to dinner.
Scott thought his trip would be a piece of cake. He would walk in, offer them a small fortune and walk away with a signed contract to buy the property. It didn't work out that way. The owners seemed astonished anyone would be interested in buying their place and weren't receptive to the idea of selling.
They seemed like nice enough ladies, but Scott was all business. Maybe I shouldn't have been so forceful, he thought to himself on the way back to New York. I'll give them a call in a couple of days after they have had a chance to think about the offer. They'll come around, I'm sure. Everyone is out for money and those two sweet ladies won't be an exception.
Scott hung up the phone after Arthur Piece ended the phone call abruptly. Tomorrow was his and Ashley's one year wedding anniversary. Ashley had been planning a special evening for them for weeks. How was he going to tell her he was leaving town and would probably be staying in Camden Corners for a few days.
He called his home. “Ashley, I have some good news and some bad news.”
“Oh, Scott, don't tell me you have to work tomorrow night.”
“Yes and no, I have to go to a place called Camden Corners as soon as I can catch a plane out of here. I thought maybe you could go with me. They have a nice hotel in town. I think you would like it there. They have a large pool and it's on the lake. You would be able to sit by the water and read while I'm busy with my meeting.”
“That sounds like fun. We can always postpone our anniversary celebration until the weekend. I'll hurry and pack a bag for us. I'll call a cab and meet you at the airport.”
“Thanks for being so understanding Ash.”
The couple arrived at the resort. Scott called ahead for a reservation and was happy they had a suite available. While he was checking them in, Ashley strolled to the gift shop. As she was walking by the books, one dropped to her feet.
“I'm sorry,” said the clerk. “I don't know why those books keep falling. There seems to be enough room on the shelf, but they won't stay put.”
“That's alright, my husband will be tied up in business meetings and I left the book I was reading at home. This looks interesting, I'll just buy it and it won't fall off the shelf anymore,” she laughed.
“Are you ready, sweetheart?” said Scott. “We are in the Burke suite on the second floor.”
“Scott, I love this place. I can hardly wait to explore it. Do you have to take care of business right away?”
“I have a few minutes, the desk clerk said to be sure we looked through the gallery. Shall we do that before we go to the suite?”
The couple walked through the gallery looking at the photos. “Look, here are Randy and Polly Burke and a little girl. Her name is Faith. Here is their story just below the photo. I'll come back and read that later. This one says Millicent Merryweather Stout Harvey. This place was built by her father. Is it my imagination, Scott or is she scowling at you?”
“You are right. I just got a chill up my spine. Let's go to our room. That picture is getting to me.”
“Mr. Douglas, you are back,” Tracy said as she walked by the gallery. “Is this your business partner?” she asked pleasantly.
“Hello, Mrs. Robinson, this is my wife, Ashley. Ashley, Mrs. Robinson is one of the owners of The Merryweather.”
“Hello Ashley, please call me Tracy. We are so happy to have you visit us. Are you staying at the hotel?” she asked.
“Yes, we are. I didn't realize Scott had been here before,” she said looking quizzically at her husband. “The hotel is so beautiful. I am anxious to see every part of it. I can tell you have put a lot of thought into the decor. The gallery here seems to come alive.”
“Sometimes our minds play tricks on us. We are never sure if they are trying to tell us something or we just imagine they are. I see you have the book of journals. I hope you find it interesting. There is a lot of history on those pages. As you can see, we have the original journals in the glass display shelves here. Through the years, our staff transcribed every one of the journals for the book.”
“Mr. Douglas, are you here for business or pleasure?”
“A little of both, Tracy. I wish you would call me Scott. If you and Holly have some time this afternoon, I would like to meet with you.”
“Whenever you are ready. I can tell you we have not made any decisions yet. If you would like to come to my office after you settle in, I'll tell Donna to expect you.
“Ashley, I do hope you enjoy the book. If you have any questions, most of the staff knows everything there is to know about Camden Corners in the early 1900s.”
After Tracy left, Ashley turned to Scott. “Why didn't you tell me you had been here before? Scott, I don't know what is going on here, but I don't like you being so secretive. Tracy was very polite, but I sensed she wasn't terribly happy to see you.”
“It's business, Ashley. I'm sure it isn't personal. Let's go see what our suite looks like. I'll take care of business and then we can have a nice quiet dinner. There is a restaurant called Hemingway's that looks very nice.”
“I'm not sure I trust Douglas to talk those ladies into giving up their hotel. I think I'd better move things along,” Arthur Pierce said to his assistant. “Get someone from the Associated Press on the line. I have some news for them.”
Donna Hammond was walking through the lobby, she glanced at the television there and the cable news station was announcing Pierce Enterprises is buying out a resort called The Merryweather in the small town of Camden Corners, New York. Donna's mouth flew open. Before she knew it, ten people were standing behind her watching the television.
“What's going on out here?” Holly said as she walked by.
“They are announcing The Merryweather is being sold to Pierce Enterprises.”
The phones started ringing. Cars were pulling up to the front door. People in the coffee shop were leaving their lunches to see what was going on in the lobby.
Scott Douglas walked down the stairs and into the crowd. He couldn't help but notice both Holly and Donna were glaring at him.
“Mr. Douglas, please follow us to Tracy's office, we need to talk.”
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Chapter Forty Five
Welcome to Camden Hills
Renovating the ski lodge was a full time job for the new owners. Katie and Jenna hadn't anticipated how much work would have to be done if they wanted it to resemble the drawings made by Alex Kelly. Alex donated his time and persuaded his crew to give up part of their weekends to help with the renovation. Most of them were local men and were as anxious as the rest of the town to have a new and improved place for winter sports.
The expanded runs for skiing and snowboarding were certain to be popular. The plans called for sledding hills for all ages and skill levels. An ice rink with fire pits and benches. Walkways into the woods where lovers could rest in cozy shelters along the way.
Although Eddie Hammond worked all week at The Merryweather as a handyman, he couldn't wait to drive up the mountain with Donna Grant to put in several more hours each weekend. He and Donna were becoming quite an item. They spent most evenings together as well as the weekend days in the mountains. It was obvious to everyone that the two seniors were well suited to each other and were a perfect match. Donna was afraid to make a commitment until she was sure Eddie had put his life with Emmaline in the past. She didn't expect him to forget about his wife of many years, she just needed assurance that he was ready to move on.
Eddie understood it was difficult for Donna to trust him. Her heart had been broken years ago by her beau who eloped with her best friend. That betrayal made a lasting impact on her. Eddie was willing to wait for awhile, but he had plans to ask Donna to marry him before the first snowfall of the season. He hoped she would say yes. Their cats, Mr. Penelope and Audrey Hepburn, had become the best of friends. Eddie didn't think Donna would have the heart to turn him down causing her beloved cat to be separated from his true love.
Katie and Max had become inseparable too. Katie and Jenna were sharing expenses in an apartment above the music store. There was barely enough room for the two friends, let alone Max, who was a frequent visitor. Jenna thought three was a crowd and moved back to her parent's home until the renovations on the lodge were completed. Tracy and Jack were happy to have their daughter back home even though they seldom saw her.
“I do like Max,” said Holly one afternoon. “I hope he and Katie are planning a wedding soon. I know I'm being old fashioned, but I would prefer she was married to the man she is living with.”
“Yes, Holly, you are being old fashioned,” said Tracy. “I don't blame you though. The longer our children wait to get married, the longer we have to wait for grandchildren. At least Katie is on the right track. I don't think marriage is in the foreseeable future, if ever, for Jenna.”
“It seems to me, she and Danny make a nice couple. Are you sure there isn't anything going on between them?”
“How I wish,” sighed Tracy. “Jenna insists they are just friends. She even introduced him to Libby Holmes. Libby is determined to find herself a husband before her twenty fifth birthday. Jenna didn't have any qualms when I told her that and proceeded to set the two of them up. I saw them in the dining room just the other evening. Libby wasn't hiding her feelings from him. She wasn't hiding much of anything else from him either. I had to stop myself from grabbing a dinner napkin and covering her up a bit.”
“Nobody ever accused Libby of being modest,” laughed Holly.
Danny and Max were putting the finishing touches on one of the cabins when Max asked, “how was your date with Libby Holmes the other night? She was asking Katie where you were yesterday.”
“I was hiding from her,” Danny replied. “I'm going to have to talk to Jenna about putting me on the spot like she did. I had no intention of taking that girl to dinner, but Jenna put words in my mouth. Libby is just a little too obvious for my taste.”
“You never minded obvious girls before you met Jenna. Are you sure she isn't the reason you aren't interested in Libby, or any other girl for that matter?”
“A lot of good it does me. Jenna has no feelings for me except as her buddy. I thought that would be enough for me, but now I know it isn't. I'm going back to New York as soon as the project is over. I did a stupid thing and fell for the girl,” said Danny.
“I thought maybe that was the case. Does Jenna know how you feel about her?” asked Max.
“Not on your life, and don't say anything to Katie either. I committed to this project and I will see it through to the end but, after that, I'll be on my way. I can't sit around like a sap waiting for her to fall for me. It's obvious she never will.”
Max pitied Danny but didn't further the conversation. Max was lucky, it didn't take him long to fall in love with Katie and was happy when he learned she felt the same way. They'd talked about marriage. Maybe after the lodge was up and running. Max knew Holly wasn't comfortable with her daughter's living arrangements. He didn't think his folks were happy about it either. Their generation believed in cohabitation only after a wedding ceremony. He could understand their feelings, but he liked his lifestyle just the way it was.
Jenna was working inside the lodge when she heard someone call her name. “Hi, Libby,” she said. “What have you there?”
“If Danny Stevens won't return my calls, I'm just going to have to track him down. I've brought a picnic lunch for the two of us. Where can I find him, Jenna?”
“I think he's working on the cabins,” she told the girl who was wearing a revealing tank top and the shortest shorts Jenna had ever seen.
Jenna watched as Libby walked to the cabins. She wondered why she was feeling that twinge of jealousy again. Danny wanted only friendship from her, she had accepted that. She knew he had been working almost non stop. He needed to relax. Libby would be good for his ego, but not so good for hers.
If Libby hadn't been on the prowl for Danny, Jenna may have thought it was funny that all the men stopped in the middle of what they were doing to ogle Libby as she walked by.
“Danny,” she called in a high pitched voice. “Come out, come out, wherever you are.”
Danny's heart sank. “It can't be,” he said.
“I'm afraid it is, Buddy. You are stuck, there's no place to hide.”
“Hi Libby, what brings you up here?” Danny was trying not to grit his teeth.
“I thought you would like to have a picnic, silly. Let's go into the woods back there. You will protect me from the bears, won't you?” she laughed.
“It's nice of you, Libby, but I'm not hungry. I have a lot of work to do.”
He turned to Howie Lindstrom, one of the younger fellows who was staring at Libby. “Howie, are you hungry?Libby has a nice picnic lunch here. Wouldn't you like to share it with her?”
Howie's face turned a bright red. Libby looked up and decided she liked what she saw. “Danny, you had your chance.” She turned and walked toward Howie. “Aren't you the cutest thing I've ever seen. Are you hungry, Howie?”
“Yes ma'am. I'm very hungry.” He glanced in Danny's direction.
“Go ahead, Howie, take a break,” said Danny.
Howie didn't wait to be asked twice, he and Libby were on their way into the woods. “I should have warned him there is poison ivy in there,” said Danny.
“What happened to Libby?” Jenna asked innocently. She had seen Howie carrying the picnic basket Libby brought with her.
“Don't laugh, Jenna, and don't ever hook me up again,” Danny said with more anger than he meant to show.
“I'm sorry, Danny. Libby was always a shy young girl, she has changed since I left town.”
“Jenna, just leave me alone. I don't interfere in your love life and I don't want you interfering in mine.”
Max gave Jenna a sympathetic look. The girl had no idea that Danny was crazy about her. She must be blind, he thought. Everyone else can see it.
The summer and work on the ski resort were progressing with only a few delays. Howie Lindstrom had been in contact with poison ivy on his numerous escapades in the woods with Libby Holmes. His reaction had become so severe, he was unable to work for over a week. Libby was more than happy to nurse him back to health.
“The poor kid,” said Max, “I probably should have warned him to look out for that poison ivy. I guess we will have to get rid of those plants. You know the teenagers will find their way into the woods in the springtime. You may want to mention it to Jenna.”
“Nice try, Max. You know I don't speak to Jenna any more than I have to. She hasn't even noticed I am avoiding her. I'm thinking of moving out of the cabin at her mother's hotel. I can get a room in Greensboro. It will a longer drive from there, but it's better than running into her all the time.”
“Danny, why don't you just tell the girl how you feel about her?” asked Max.
“Another six weeks and we should be able to wrap up this project. I'm not going to kid myself. Jenna doesn't care about me. I will forget about her when I move back to New York.”
“I can't believe Danny is still upset with me,” said Jenna. “It's been weeks since I set him up with Libby. She has moved on with Howie Lindstrom and doesn't pay any attention to Danny anymore. You don't suppose he is upset because Libby stopped throwing her self at him? Maybe he did like her after all.”
“Jenna, I don't think Libby is the problem. You can't see it, can you?” said her best friend, Katie.
“Jenna! Danny Stevens is crazy about you. I'm not suppose to tell you this, but he is planning to move back to the city when this project is done. He told Max he can't be around you anymore.”
“Why would he move back to New York? He said he loves it here. Danny is not crazy about me. We are just friends. We used to be very good friends, but he does his best to stay out of my way these days. I know he was miffed when I set him up with Libby, but he's the one who blew the relationship by playing hard to get. Libby is not a patient woman.”
“Jenna, for an otherwise intelligent person, you sure are dumb when it comes to love.” Katie walked away shaking her head.
“Max, the girl is going to drive me crazy,” said Katie when they were alone. “She can't see her problem with Danny is that he is in love with her. I think she loves him too, she just won't open up her heart to the relationship.”
“Danny is determined not to pine away for her,” replied Max. “If he goes back to New York, I think he will end up marrying the first girl to come along.” I dislike interfering, but if we don't, they will never get together.”
“I have an idea,” said Katie. “Remember last week when the elevator was acting up?”
“Sure, I was the one who was stuck in there for thirty minutes. I remember very well. They did work out the bugs though,” said Max.
“Is there a way to safely stop the elevator from the outside so the people inside are forced to talk to each other?” said Katie with a smile on her face.
“Woman, has anyone told you what a conniver you are? We just have to figure out a way to get them in the elevator at the same time.”
“I'll make sure she is on there if you can think of a reason to get him to use the elevator instead of the stairs. Let's synchronize our watches. At exactly 12:32 pm, the elevator will stop between floors. Can you make it between the third and fourth floor? The view is so lovely from that vantage point.”
Katie and Max both stood in the shadows on the first floor looking up at the glass enclosed elevator. They were equipped with walkie talkies with their watches set exactly the same.
“Jenna is on the second floor walking toward the elevator now,” said Katie
Max called Danny on his pager. “Danny, I'm having some trouble with this elevator call button on the fourth floor, will you meet me up here right away. Don't take the stairs, I want to make sure the other buttons are working correctly.”
“I'm on my way,” replied Danny.
He pushed the button on the first floor just seconds before Jenna pushed the button on the second floor. The elevator opened and he got on.
“No problem so far, Max. Looks like we are stopping on the second floor, guess that one is in working order too.”
The doors opened and there stood Jenna. She was tempted to turn around and walk away but thought better of it. After all, Danny was not the enemy.
Jenna pushed the button to the third floor wishing she had taken the service elevator instead, but had wanted to look at the view from the glass enclosure.
The elevator passed by the third floor and came abruptly to a stop in the middle of the third and fourth floors.
“What happened?” she asked.
“I don't know,” said Danny as he pushed the emergency button. He called into his phone. “Max, the elevator stopped. Get us some help, buddy.”
“I'll get right on it. Why don't you and Jenna sit back and relax.”
“Max, this isn't funny. Get us out of here.”
“All in good time, buddy. All in good time.”
Danny was fit to be tied. “I'm going to kill that guy,”
“Is it really that horrible being stuck on an elevator with me? We used to be good friends, Danny. What happened to us?”
“There is no us, Jenna. There never has been and there never will be.”
“What are you saying? Are you trying to tell me I'm falling in love with you and you want no part of it?” She put her hand over her mouth. “I don't know where that came from.”
“Would that be so bad? Falling in love with me, I mean,” said Danny.
“I don't know, I never thought of it. At least I don't think I ever thought of it. Is that why you have been ignoring me and why you are moving back to New York?”
“Jenna! How blind can you be? I'm in love with you. I have been since before we came to Camden Corners. I didn't want to admit it before and it's obvious you don't feel the same way I do.”
“I'm not so sure about that. Maybe I have been blind. I have had one thing on my mind for months now and it has been this place. In my imagination, you were always a part of it. When I heard you would be leaving, I felt my dreams shattering. Danny, I don't want you to go. I didn't know you felt anything more than friendship for me. You never kissed me or even tried to kiss me. Last Christmas, you avoided the mistletoe I purposely hung in the middle of the room. I saw you looking at it, but you never took the hint.”
“That was mistletoe? I wondered why you had some weeds with a ribbon tied around them hanging from the ceiling. The only mistletoe I've ever seen is plastic and it sure didn't look like that stuff.”
“You didn't know it was mistletoe?” she said feeling giddy all of a sudden.
“Heck, no. If I'd known, I would have made sure you were under it.”
“What would you have done then?”
“I'd have done this.” He took her in his arms and kissed her. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back.
They heard clapping, whistling and shouting. They looked down onto the pavement on the ground level. The crew was watching them and applauding.
“Danny, I thought you only wanted friendship from me. If that is all I could have, I was willing to settle for it. I do love you.”
“I love you too. We have wasted so much time. I don't mind an audience, if you don't,” he said as he kissed her again.
Jenna and Danny were married before the week was out. She didn't want a big wedding if it meant she and Danny would have to wait. Danny was in agreement.
“Being friends is a nice way to start a marriage, don't you think, Donna?” said Eddie. He had decided he didn't want to wait any longer. “I had planned to ask you this when we watched the first snow fall together but I think it is time. He held out a diamond ring and said the words Donna had been waiting to hear. “Will you marry me?”
“I thought you'd never ask,” answered Donna.
Donna and Eddie were married three weeks later. Just one week before Katie and Max said 'I do'.