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Chapter 16

Sandy was coming home early, going to surprise her man. The sunlight was shining through the massive old oak trees, creating light rays shooting across the shadowed lane, Sandy loved her life and she was devoted to her mate. He had been through a rough time of it. Losing his job and the resulting financial strain, but never a word of reproach from Sandy that’s not what good partners do, no, be supportive and Sandy had supported her mate emotionally and financially for quite a while. He would get back on his feet and they had plans, as soon as his ship came in they were to be married and start the family Sandy dreamed of.

Sandy stopped at the store down the road from her home. She bought everything for his favorite meal, spaghetti and meatballs. The secret that made Sandy’s the best was in her sauce and it had to cook all afternoon, so Sandy didn’t make it too often, but her hard work had paid off…Sandy had gotten a raise in salary, now she was going to celebrate with her best friend and lover.

Sandy pulled up to the stop sign, a half a block from her house. Some children were crossing in front of her, beautiful, little girls with their mamas, probably coming from the park just down the road. One little girl smiles at Sandy, through the windshield, a rosy cheeked smile showing lots of white teeth and a wave like she had seen in parades on television. Sandy smiled and waved back thinking about her future, the children she would have, that they would have, one day.

Thinking of this she looks toward home, just down the road on the right, the beautiful hedges, the well-kept lawns, the sidewalk, the driveway, suddenly Sandy realizes there’s a strange car in her spot in her driveway. Sandy pulls up and parks in the street in front of her home. This car must belong to a salesman, she thought.

Sandy walks to the door feeling a little strange; she opens the door with her key. The living room she worked so hard to decorate was empty, empty and messy with clothing laying on the couch, coffee table, and floor. Sandy walks to the middle of the room and stoops to pick up a brassiere. She drops it like it was hot, when she realized that it wasn’t hers. Sandy hears laughter from the rear of the house, from the bedroom, her bedroom. As she walks slowly down the hall she sees the pictures on the wall of her and her mate, her future, her life, which she now knows—can never be.

Sandy stands in the bedroom door watching her man as he makes love to another, his butt gyrating in rhythm, his mouth on hers in a passionate kiss, a kiss Sandy thought was only hers. His hand was fondling her breast as the kiss ends and they both moan quietly, in their love making fever…Sandy turns and walks away…forever.

Sandy stirs her drink as she remembers that moment…years ago. She vowed then she would never, ever, let a man do that to her again. Her life had ended and she had picked up the pieces…but she was a different person now, less trusting—less giving. Her dreams of family replaced with a drive for success in business. She had always been a good business woman after that day she was exceptional and no man had ever gotten close to her again…oh, there was sexual encounters…but no love, no dreams…until she had met Jake, but that was over…not that they had ever really had anything real…just that feeling she would get when Jake was around. They never even made love or hardly kissed for that matter…so why was she so jealous of that…that slut!



Sandy looked up from her drink toward her partner, getting another drink at the bar. The door opened and there was Steele…he looked even more handsome with that eye-patch. Steele was wearing a black suit. The pockets were angled at the tops with slats. The lapels were larger at the lower area than at the collar, leaving an uneven jutting out affect that Sandy loved. As Steele turned to say something to a waiter, his coat opened to reveal a tan satin lining. Steele was wearing an off white silk shirt with a black tie and he looked gorgeous…Sandy loved that suit…she thought, well I should, I designed it.

Steele had called the week before and asked that she and Suzanne come out a day early and meet with him and Jake to discuss the racing team sponsorship. They were racing that weekend at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut. Sandy and Suzanne would usually arrive at the races on Thursday, but Steele had asked so here they were at the Interlaken Inn, a resort and conference center, just three miles from the Lime Rock Park racing facility.

This resort was located on the banks of Lake Wononskopmic in the beautiful Litchfield Hills of Connecticut. This weekend was Memorial Day holiday weekend. Sandy had been to the Interlaken Inn before, but in the fall when the orange and yellow leaves of the fall foliage were so beautiful it would take your breath away, now here in May, it was different, with luscious multi green forest, but it was just as beautiful, everything felt so alive, bursting forth after a long winter. What was it that writer had written about the end of spring and lovers? Well, it didn’t matter; she wasn’t in love…not again…after seeing Jake with that…Hussy!

Sandy realized Steele was talking to her, “Sandy? You looked like you were miles away,” Steele smiles down at her, then bends and gives her a hug and a kiss on the cheek, “Anything I can do to help you?” Steele was a nice, sincere man.

“Yes, tell me your first name for starters.”

Steele laughed at what had become a private joke as all anyone knew him by was Steele…even his legal name on contracts was just Steele, “Just call me Steele.” Steele stood up as Suzanne came up and he gave her the same hug and kiss on the cheek. “I am glad you ladies could come out a day early, Jake had some things delaying him at the track, but said he would be here as soon as possible.”

Suzanne smiled and nodded. Sandy said, “Yeah, I bet,” with a tinge of sarcasm that caught both their attention.

“Well, I’ll just get right to it…as you know Jake has designed and built an all new car and we also are building a spare, identical in every way for a backup car. That gives us four cars and with the personnel we have and the fact our hauler can carry all four to the track…we have been considering entering two cars in the remaining events.” Then Steele watched them for an effect, but the ladies remained mute, waiting. Suzanne sipped on her colorful frozen daiquiri, while Sandy fiddled with the collar on her red silk blouse.

“So, rather than coming to you for more money, we had the idea of getting another marketing partner that wouldn’t conflict with our current program.”

Sandy glanced at Suzanne, and then cast a very intense gaze on Steele’s one eye.

“We can approach this, one of three ways,” Steele grinned that rugged smile that never failed to put people at ease and it worked again, “First we can forget the expansion altogether, which is what we will do if you ladies don’t approve, as Jake and I will do nothing that in anyway will harm our relationship with Madison Avenue, which we believe, to date, has been a tremendous, mutually beneficial success story.”

Sandy adjusted in her seat, now feeling somewhat relieved.

“Second, we could keep two completely separate efforts, each car’s coating and graphics reflecting the two separate sponsorships or thirdly,” Steele reached for his drawing case setting by the table. “We can let each car reflect both sponsors equally…and giving both sponsors twice as much exposure and twice the chance of winning.” Steele pulled an artist concept of the new competition automobile, coated very differently from their current car. The car was divided diagonally. A second drawing was set next to the first; each drawing had three views, a side, an angled front view, and an angled rear view.

The second drawing was identically coated, but opposite hand. The effect being the cars side view was each completely different, so in effect each car had two paint schemes on opposite sides, giving Madison Avenue two cars for the cost of one.

Sandy loved the idea immediately, she looked over at Suzanne and saw that she approved also. Steele saw their faces and then said, “With the additional sponsor our expenses will actually be less per car, so there will be more value, more exposure, and less cost.”

“The idea sounds very attractive,” Sandy still practicing, caution, “Who is the other sponsor?”

Steele pulled two booklets from his case, “One possible other sponsor is Stoudenmire Investments Limited, an energy company that is expanding in green energy, you know, wind and solar power generation.”

Sandy looked bewildered, “Would they want to be involved with a petrol fueled racing car?”

Steele smiled, he loved this woman, always thinking, “No, Sandy, they probably wouldn’t, however, our latest effort, the car you drove so well, was designed to have the power train changed out to electric motor drive with an on-board petrol fueled generation system, recharging a lithium ion battery pack. This generation system eventually being replaced with a mechanical battery which is a very high speed dynamo spinning in a virtually friction free vacuum, generating the needed electricity, so therefore our racing car will be a research tool helping mankind become greener, cleaner, and more energy self reliant. So, we are a perfect match for a green energy company and should enhance the reputation for being cutting edge, state of the art technology and quality which is what Rhoad/Steele and Madison Avenue both stand for.”

“Suzanne and I will talk it over and, of course, we would like to meet your other potential sponsors before making a decision one way or another.”

Steele smiled, “Of course, and I knew you would feel that way so I took the liberty of inviting the Stoudenmires here for drinks,” Steele looked at his watch, “They should be here anytime now and if nothing else comes from it, we should have some new acquaintances with mutual interest, alright with you?”

“Yes, Steele and this idea sounds exciting,” Suzanne looked towards Sandy, then continued, “have a look at our summer brochure Steele,” Suzanne handed Steele the pamphlet with the race team photos in their Madison Avenue finest. It was very high quality and the guys all looked handsome and successful.

“We’ve had a tremendous year so far, when most other companies are having a hard time, our sales are over twice what we projected. Sandy and I both feel that our relationship with Rhoad/Steele is very important, so we are hesitant to make any changes, marketing is such a delicate balance.”

Steele thought how fortunate it was to be involved with these wonderful, smart women, and this terrific company.

“I certainly understand and we will not make any changes unless you feel it will benefit Madison Avenue.” Steele looked around and then stood up, “Here are the Stoudenmires now,” Steele said as he looked back to Suzanne and Sandy.

Sandy looked towards the entrance and couldn’t believe her eyes…there was Jake’s girlfriend from the ball! What on earth goes on here? She’s married? Steele walked towards them shaking each of their hands. Now smiling and chatting, he then turns leading them towards Suzanne and Sandy.

“Suzanne Clark, Sandy Jones—I would like you to meet Dallas and Amelia Stoudenmire.”

Sandy sees recognition in Amelia’s eyes and a twinkling of what may be amusement, well she would teach that bitch to steal another woman’s man!

“Mr. Stoudenmire, your wife has been running around with my…my…with Jake Rhoad!” Sandy uncontrollably blurts this out to the shock of everyone.

Dallas looks towards his wife, who is trying to hide her laughter with her hand over her mouth.

Steele is speechless; Suzanne is looking at Sandy with a stunned expression.

The silence was broken by Dallas, who said, “Ms. Jones, is it? I have no doubt in the loyalty and faith of my wife, my dear Amelia. If you are referring to the night of dining and dancing with Jake…well, I’m perfectly aware of that evening…that’s how we became acquainted with Mr. Rhoad and team Rhoad/Steele.”

Sandy looked towards Amelia, hatred first, and then perplexity manifested itself on Sandy’s countenance.

Amelia’s mischievous smile was gone…now she could see the pain her little joke at the ball had brought, “Dallas, this is all my fault,” she hesitated a moment, looking first into Sandy’s face, then towards her husband. “You see, as I told you how I met Jake, him spilling his drink on my…uh, dress,” she smiled a nervous smile, remembering that moment. “Well, I wanted pay back and…well, I tried to give, this woman, Ms. Jones the impression that Jake and I were together…just to be mean, to Jake.”

Sandy looked outraged now, “But I saw you dancing…and eating together.”

“Yes, but that was later, I came back to apologize, once I dried my…dried off. Then Jake was so polite and he was alone and I was alone, so we just made the best of it…and I might add, I met a new friend and had a wonderful evening…my husband knew all about it.” Amelia hugged her husband and all eyes turned towards Sandy.

“I feel like such a fool…you must think hideous things of me,” Sandy was now very upset with herself.

“Nonsense we’ve all made mistakes,” always gracious Amelia responded, then added, “and as I said, I did cause the whole thing by pretending to know Jake, just to pay him back for…besides, he did tell you he didn’t know me at all, if you remember.”

Sandy looked down in remembrance of Jake’s face, that innocent, handsome face.

“Well that’s settled, let’s talk some business,” Steele is smiling as he pulls a chair for Amelia.

“But if Jake wasn’t there with you, why was he there?” Sandy blurts out with a puzzled expression on her face.

Steele looks over at Sandy with a now serious look, “Darling Sandy, Jake asked me to get him that invitation…he bought a tuxedo…and flew out in our new Learjet…all just to be with you.”

Sandy looked up into Steele’s eye, tears welling up in hers.

“For me?” The surprise was apparent on her face. Suzanne reaches for her friend, placing her hand on her shoulder.

“Yes, darling and I happen to know that Jake had something very important he had planned to ask you…but, then he saw you were dating another,” Steele realized now he had said too much.

“That wasn’t a real date…ask me?” Sandy now was thinking out loud.

“Enough about that…what can I get for you folks to drink?” Steele gives Sandy a squeeze on her hand, and then turns to business.

The meeting went splendid and everyone seemed to hit it off. Finally it was agreed to meet again in a few weeks, before the Watkins Glen event and work out the details. At this point the Stoudenmires had never even been to a professional road-racing event and they were looking forward to seeing their new business investment in action.

Just as everyone was leaving Amelia came up and gave Sandy a hug saying, “I am so sorry, somehow I will make it up to you.”

Sandy hugged back and smiled a warm expression on her face, feeling very close to her new partner.

“Son of a Bitch!” Jake had an uncharacteristic tirade, “Can’t you guys do anything right!” Jake stomped off into his hauler. Eddie had put a brake pad into a caliper backwards, ruining a rotor and a practice session. Eddie felt bad enough without Jake voicing his disapproval.

Irving looked after Jake and said to Eddie, “Hey stop screwing up and you won’t get yelled at.” Privately he had noticed Jake being a little testy lately and had put it all down to the strain of running a race team and a restaurant both, vowing to work harder to take some pressure off both him and Steele. Now he was wondering, this was not like Jake at all…what was eating him?

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