“Be careful Mary,” Whitney said. “Don’t get that curling iron to hot.”
“I won’t, Miss.”
Isaias paced the room like crazy with one shoe on his foot. The other, missing. “Isaac where is my other black loafer?”
“You have it in your hand sir.”
Isaias looked at his right hand and found his shoe. “Oh.”
5: 20 PM
“Oh I hate that lipstick. Mary, where is the other red?”
Mary searched Whitney’s makeup bag in search of her favorite red tube. “You’re out miss.”
“Damn. I guess this will have to do.”
5: 25 PM
Isaias looked at himself in the mirror. “Isaac, I think I’m going to want to shave.”
“Are you certain sir?”
“Yes. I think mother will like it.”
Isaac obliged. “As you wish sir.”
5: 30 PM
Whitney was getting into the short black dress she picked out. “Watch my skin Mary.”
No sooner than she said it, Mary zipped up a part of Whitney’s back. Not pleased, and in a little pain, Whitney yelled, “Ow! Damn it!”
Mary cringed. “Sorry Miss.”
5: 40 PM
Isaias walked down the hall where his wife was getting ready in one of the guest rooms, and knocked on the door. “You ready baby?”
Isaias waited for a moment, and Mary opened the door. There she stood, a true vision, Isaias couldn’t believe his eyes.
Knowing she looked fantastic, she smiled at her mate and asked, “I don’t know. What do you think?”
His mouth fell open remembering their wedding day, and thinking the same thing now as he did then. “Whitney Reynolds, you are absolutely without a doubt the most beautiful woman in the world,” he said, kissing her on the cheek.
Whitney grinned. “Thank you honey.”
Isaias then showed off his new face. He rubbed his smooth skin and said. “I shaved, what do you think?”
Whitney stroked his cheek and smirked. “I like you scruffy.”
“Figures,” Isaias said clicking his teeth.
5: 45 PM
Isaias and Whitney walked into the library and Charlotte although stunning herself could hardly believe her eyes.
“Oh my goodness. The both of you look absolutely fantastic. Are you sure you don’t want pictures Whitney?”
“Are you ready?”
“I’m a little nervous,” Whitney replied.
Charlotte tilted her head to one side. “But you know these people dear. No need to be nervous. Just remember to be polite and charming.”
Those words calmed her a bit. “Okay.”
“Oh yes. I almost forgot. Even though you know everyone, you will greet them as if you never met them. You will have an opportunity to engage them in conversation once all of your guests arrive. When the doorbell rings, Frederick will wait until you are ready before he opens the door. Ben will greet the both of you and introduce Margaux. No worries daughter. You worked hard, and you will be fine.”
Whitney grinned wider and said, “Thank you mother.”
At exactly six o’clock, the doorbell rang. Whitney was still nervous, and she looked every bit of it. Isaias noticed it.
“Relax honey. You command the night remember that,” he said softly, kissing her on the cheek.
Frederick opened the door, and politely bowed to the couple that came in. Ben and Margaux Dixon had arrived. Ben Dixon was a tall handsome blond man in his late forties with a beautiful smile. He however was no match for his wife. Margaux Dixon was a gorgeous, thin, shapely brunette that wore her hair up to accent her smile. Charlotte was waiting in the library to greet her friends. Ben walked up to Whitney, took her hand, and kissed it.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Reynolds. My name is Ben Dixon, and this is my wife Margaux.
Margaux lowered her eyes, and Whitney did the same. Ben then shook Isaias’ hand.
Isaias took Margaux’s hand and kissed it. The two of them disappeared into the library.
Happy to see her long time friend, “Charlotte, darling!” She said loudly walking across the room with her arms wide waiting on her hug.
Charlotte turned with a glass of wine in her hand and held out her cheek. She didn’t want Margaux to hug her and perhaps ruin both their dresses.
“Margaux, Ben! Welcome.”
The smile on her face was genuine, even though the evening planned could be thought of as, sinister.
“Happy to be here dear. I can’t wait until dinner. I’m starving.”
“Dinner is at seven, dear. You’re in for a treat. Ester cooked her heart out for you.”
“I should hope so.”
Ben joined his wife and Charlotte. “I just wish I was able to bring my equipment.”
“Ben,” Charlotte said, “you know I can’t stand pictures during a formal dinner. It’s so intrusive.”
“Whitney is beautiful. I don’t remember her looking so lovely at the wedding.”
Taking credit for something she had nothing to do with, Charlotte smiled widely. “She’s my daughter in law Ben, did you expect any less?”
Five minutes later, the doorbell rang again. This time it was Michael. He kissed the back of Whitney’s hand.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Miss Whitney. My name is Michael Reher.”
“The pleasure is mine, Mr. Reher.”
Michael shook Isaias’ hand. “I look forward to working with you.”
“And I you.”
Michael moved to the library to join the others. Charlotte looked up to see him walking in her direction. “It’s nice to see you, Michael.”
“Charlotte,” he said with a gentle smile kissing her on the cheek.
Charlotte took his arm and turned to her other guests. “I’m not sure if you have actually met Ben and Margaux Dixon in person.”
“I haven’t. Although I’ve seen their work. It’s nice to meet you,” Michael said, extending his hand to Ben, shaking it firmly.
The doorbell rang again, and the last six guests arrived all at once. First in line were Heath and Victoria, followed by Owen and Desiree. Last but not least, James and Odile. Victoria pretended as if all was normal. She entered the Reynolds household with her Heath on her arm confident and in control. Heath had learned his lessons as well as the rest, and he was a gentleman. He was out to impress everyone so he kissed Whitney’s hand and smiled at her.
“Thank you for having us, Miss Whitney.”
Heath shook Isaias’ hand and had no words for him. Victoria was a lady and did as trained. She lowered her eyes to Whitney. Whitney hated her on sight, but she remembered why Victoria was close to Isaias in the first place, went on with the plan, and acknowledged her presence.
Owen found it hard not to give Whitney a kiss on the cheek and hug his friend. He decided a few hours were worth being there when everything went down. So he went with protocol. Desiree was concentrating on what she learned, so she like Whitney was all about the lesson they learned.
The time was six thirty, and everyone was there. Margaux was all about her story, Charlotte, Whitney, and Isaias were committed to getting Victoria to confess. Michael was curious about his new boss, and the rest were there to eat a good meal and hopefully have some fun. They stayed in the library until it was time to eat. Frederick announced dinner, and they went to the dinning room.
Margaux knew exactly why she was there, and this was the kind of thing that she was the most passionate about, so she couldn’t wait. She led the conversation with a very intrusive question.
“Victoria dear, I understand that you and Isaias dated before. Is that true?”
Fully aware that Margaux was the shining star of the society pages, Victoria answered. “Yes, it is.”
“So how did he get away from you? I mean he’s young, handsome, and rich.”
All eyes were on her as she began to explain her actions as she did so many times before. “I wanted him to explore his goals and ideas. I would have only held him back.”
Margaux asked the next question. This time, her target, Heath.
“I see. So Heath, when exactly did you meet this beauty?”
Not wanting anyone to know how low she’d stooped, Victoria answered for him. “We met about a year and a half ago.”
Slowly turning his head to his left, he quickly shut her down. “Vicki, I think I can speak for myself.”
“As you wish dear,” she replied, hating that he had control over her in their closed environment.
“I used to manage a record store,” Heath said. “Vicki loves music. She came into my store, and from the moment I said two words, it was pure chemistry.”
Knowing what was going to escape his lips, Victoria was immediately mortified. All at the table were shocked. Not one of them knew Heath’s background.
“Did I misunderstand you?” Margaux asked. “You said manage and not own?”
Not ashamed of his background, Heath replied, “That’s correct.”
“So, socialite meets average man. I like that. I suppose you had lots to teach each other?”
“Of course,” Heath said confidently. “I don’t generally like stuffy society babes. Vicki has a wild side to her that was attractive to me. I loved it.”
The table was silent. Two things resonated in everyone’s ears, including Whitney’s. Stuffy and wild side. Isaias knew the wild side of Victoria. That didn’t come to a surprise to him. Stuffy, made him think about his own life. Is this what people actually think of the rich? He wondered.
He didn’t say anything, but the expression on his face said lots. Margaux being the expert on people that she was, noticed it, and egged the conversation on a bit further. “Oh I see. Whitney I understand that you don’t come from money either. Where did you meet Isaias?”
“It was at school.”
Acting as though she were surprised, Margaux already knew this. “You went to Eastern-Clark?”
Proud to say so, “Yes ma’am.”
“I hear that you practically have to be a genius to get in that school.”
Isaias nodded. “She is a genius Mrs. Dixon. Whitney has an I.Q. of one hundred sixty eight.”
Heath being the average human didn’t understand. “Is that good? I’ve never taken an I.Q. test before.”
Owen couldn’t help himself. He’d been silent and let the others chat. Now it was his turn. “Just listening to you speak, I would say that you’re close to average.”
“And what would you say my score would be?”
Heath had no idea what IQ scores meant in his present company. Owen had no problem pointing out that he was not in Isaias’ league.
“Somewhere between ninety and one hundred and nine.”
Victoria was then curious herself. “What is your score, Owen?”
Owen smiled and boasted, “The last time I was tested, it was one seventy two.”
Again impressed, Margaux asked, “So that makes you a genius as well?”
“Yes ma’am. Isaias and I scored the same.”
“That is very impressive,” Ben said putting a bite of food in his mouth.
“I think that’s why Whitney and Isaias make such a good couple,” Charlotte said, rubbing Victoria’s nose in what she could’ve had.
“A match made in heaven I would think. The both of you look fantastic together,” Margaux added.
Whitney smiled knowing what this was doing to Victoria’s ego. “Thank you.”
Michael tired of Victoria and Isaias being the center of attention, changed the subject. “So James how’s the wine business?”
“It’s doing wonderful. Thanks to Owen, we’ve hired a wonderful new VP.”
“Might I ask his name?”
Owen smiled and put a fork of food in his mouth. He chewed momentarily and then said, “Surprisingly enough it’s a woman.”
Shocked. “You’re kidding.”
James allowed his brother to eat. “No. Her name is Stephanie Banks. She is very well versed in our company. Perhaps when she’s back in the states, I’ll bring her by your office so you can meet her.”
“I’d like that.” Michael replied.
The reporter in her couldn’t resist. “I’d love to do a story on her. There aren’t many women so high up in the wine business.”
“What about that Delilah woman? Oh Michael what is her name?” Charlotte asked.
“Yes her,” Charlotte said. “What does she do?”
James was happy to provide the details. “She was once the President of Operations at the Windenberg Vineyard. But there was a terrible scandal, and she was dismissed.”
Michael nodded. “Yes I do believe I heard something about that. Sleeping with the boss or something.”
“Yes she was.” James agreed. “I hear that she got pregnant, and that is why she was dismissed.”
Not really caring, Charlotte gasped. “Oh that is terrible. A woman at her age? She should have known better.”
No one said a word for at least a minute. Margaux had things going on in her head since she witnessed Michael enter the library.
“Charlotte dear, is there anything going on between Michael and yourself?”
“Of course not. Why do you ask?”
Margaux put a bite of food in her mouth and took her time chewing. “Charles has been gone a long time dear. You’re still a young woman. You have to be dating someone.”
Charlotte smiled courtly. “No one. I live only for my business and my children.”
Knowing Charlotte only had one child, Victoria asked, “Children?”
“Isaias and Whitney.”
Odile also tired of the game changed the subject once again.
“Whitney, we didn’t get a chance to hear much about you while you were in Paris. James and Owen stole the whole evening. Where are you from?” Her delightful, thick French accent filled the room and everyone listened to her.
“I love Philadelphia,” Odile said, overjoyed. “It’s such an old and historic place.”
James sipped the drink in his hand and said, “I agree.”
“Whitney’s brother happens to work at one of our mills out there,” Isaias casually said.
Michael interested. “Which one would that be?”
“Freeman Steel,” Whitney said, wiping her mouth.
“Oh yes. That’s one of our newest acquisitions. It’s doing quite well. Whitney, what is your brother’s name? The next time I’m there, I’ll make sure to stop in and say hello.”
“Bishop Matthews…Bishop. I do believe I’ve heard that name before. He’s the supervising foreman if I’m not mistaken.”
Happy that her brother was so successful, “That’s right.”
“I know I have to say hello now. That man is one of the reasons the production has been so high year after year.”
“I didn’t know,” Isaias said, surprised.
Charlotte nodded. “Next week you will, Isaias dear.”
Still looking for her story, Margaux asked her next question. “Owen, how is your mother?”
“As well as expected.”
“And your father?”
James being more familiar with his father answered, “Father is doing well.”
Margaux asked her next question, “So does Richard have plans on marrying Grace?” The room was both tense and silent as James searched for the right answer.
“I’m not at liberty to say.”
Being the born antagonist, Owen asked, “Why not?”
Irked at his younger brother, “I would rather not discuss father’s business while he’s not here. So Margaux if you want to know, you will have to ask him yourself.”
Owen wouldn’t let it die. “I do believe he intends to marry her.”
James cut his eyes at his younger brother and considered going back on the agreement they had if he persisted.
“Owen, please. Father can speak for himself.”
The room went silent again, until Odile saved the day. “So Owen, since I am here in town, when do I get to hear your band?”
“As soon as James would like.”
Gathering as much information as she could, Margaux asked, “How’s your album doing Owen?”
“Pretty good actually.” Owen glared at his older brother, bound to force him to make good on his previous promise. “So James, when would you like to hear us play? I need at least a day’s notice.”
James sipped his wine. “Not sure, Owen.”
In a fit of sarcasm, Owen couldn’t help himself. “You can invite father, Grace and Margaux. Then she can ask father about his business. Right?”
Rolling his eyes, and cutting into his meal, “Little brother, you are stepping a little out of line. Pace yourself. The evening has just begun.” James said, putting his meat in his mouth.
No one could make him behave more than Desiree could. “Yes honey, leave him alone.”
“I’m sorry darling.”
Desiree hadn’t said a word all evening. When she spoke, it opened the door for Margaux to ask more nosy questions.
“Desiree, we know nothing about you at all. I might also add that you are absolutely gorgeous. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself? What’s your family’s name?”
Margaux racked her brain to think of any other Martinez family in Napa besides the one she already knew. Margaux knew Desiree was not related to them at all.
Owen knew of the family Margaux was thinking about and cleared her head with one statement.
“Desiree is Puerto Rican.”
A Hispanic woman right in our neighborhood. Who would have known? Margaux thought. This will make a great story. I must know more about her. “Quite impressive Owen, Does your mother know?”
Owen chuckled aloud at Margaux’s words. “Of course, she knows. Desiree and my mother are very close in fact.”
Desiree held her head back and smiled proudly as she uttered her next words. “Nadia likes me because I’m honest, and I like her for the very same reason.”
“I hear a slight east coast accent. Where are you from?” Heath asked.
“I was born and raised in New Jersey. Our family didn’t have a lot of money.” Desiree told the story of how she came to be.
“And what is your I.Q.?” Margaux asked, taking mental notes.
“The same as Whitney’s.”
“Well this is a treat. Four genius’s at one table. I hope we’re not boring you,” Ben said.
“Not at all Mr. Dixon. I’m enjoying every minute of this. What about you Whitney?”
Whitney finished her sip of wine and winked at her friend. “I’m having a wonderful time.”
By the time the last course arrived at the table, Heath had more than his fair share of wine. When he finished his sorbet, he was borderline drunk. Charlotte nodded, giving Margaux the clue to lower the boom on Victoria. Both Whitney and Isaias knew what was coming.
“Well I must say Whitney that meal was perfect. I enjoyed every single bite,” Margaux said giving compliments where they were due.
“Thank you, Mrs. Dixon.”
“Oh come now. I’ve already written about you in my column. You aren’t required to call me Mrs. Dixon.”
“Mother says that is what a proper young woman is supposed to do.”
Victoria shot a look at Whitney. “You mean Mrs. Reynolds?”
“No, I mean mother.” Whitney coyly smiled, sipping her wine.
Victoria’s jealousy blinded her to the fact that she was being set up. She hated Whitney only because she’d managed to worm her way onto Charlotte’s good side despite all they tried to do to keep Whitney away from Isaias. Even still, she remained a lady.
With Charlotte’s gentle nod, Margaux went in for the kill. “Isaias, your mother tells me that she has a grandson. Would that be the darling little boy I saw her with at your wedding?”
“Yes. His name is Jason.”
“I know it’s not Whitney’s child, since the two of you have only known each other for how long?”
“A little over two years.”
“How old is he?”
“He just turned four.”
“So who is his mother?”
The room got quiet, and all eyes were on Isaias. Victoria and Heath sat there not knowing what was going to happen next. A light came on and Victoria realized she’d been set up.
“Victoria is actually,” Isaias said, quietly.
“I had no idea. Victoria is that true?”
Anger was brewing in her toes. “Yes.”
“Well Isaias, you should have married the mother of your child. Why didn’t you? No offense Whitney.”
“In truth,” Isaias said sipping his wine, “I didn’t know he even existed until a few months ago.”
The entire table gasped in shock.
“It’s true,” Isaias continued. “But I love him anyway. I’m spending time with him when time allows me to. I’m getting to know him pretty well.”
Margaux turned to Victoria. “Victoria, why didn’t you tell Isaias about his son? After all, the child is his heir.”
“It’s complicated,” Victoria said softly.
Seeing Victoria somewhat ashamed of her past actions, Charlotte spoke up. “Margaux dear, that’s enough. We don’t want this to be public knowledge.”
Putting her hand over her mouth. “Oh! Where are my manners? Whitney I do apologize.”
“Apology accepted, Mrs. Dixon,” Whitney said with a gentle smile. With dinner finished, their plan moved on. “Well dear guests, I do believe it’s time for the ladies to adjourn to the library, and join me for coffee. Gentlemen, please join Isaias in the smoking room for drinks whatever you prefer. But we do ask that you do not smoke in the smoking room. Mother does not allow smoking of any kind in her home. If you must smoke, please do so outside on the patio.”
“Before we go, I’d like to propose a toast,” Isaias said, standing up with his glass in his hand. “To my beautiful wife. Thank you for bringing this group of people together for a fantastic evening. I love you.”
“To Whitney!” Everyone said.
Heath had plenty to drink throughout the very large meal. It was the sip after the toast that put him over the edge. He was not happy with Isaias taking credit for Jason. He decided he was going to confront him about it.
The gentlemen escorted the ladies to the library and went to the smoking room. While in the library, the ladies pared off and began their own private conversations. Odile sat and talked to Victoria, since she was now extremely curious about her past relationship with Isaias. Everything was pleasant, and relaxing. While in the smoking room, men were being men. Heath was keeping to himself.
James walked up to Isaias and slapped him on the arm. “Isaias you dog! So you found a way to hold on to Vicki.”
Owen smirked. “James shut up. Didn’t you just hear him say that he didn’t know about Jason?”
“Oh come on, he had to know.”
Isaias shook his head. “Nope. She didn’t tell me until the day I graduated. And by then, he was already three.
“Aw damn. I’m sorry. I bet that pissed you off.”
“Yes it did. And James, I’d rather not talk about my ex-girl and my son. It’s still private.”
“Again I apologize.”
Michael changed the subject. “So Isaias, you ready for the corporate world?” Michael asked sipping on his cognac.
“I am somewhat excited about it actually.”
“Good. Taking over for your father has had a bizarre effect on your mother.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, as you know, I’ve known your mother for a long time. When Charles was alive, she was almost introverted. We could hardly get her to say two words. Then when she took over, we were shocked. She did a complete one eighty.”
Isaias thought about his parent’s relationship before his father got sick. His father was by far the nicest man in the world, but not always towards his mother. This would make Isaias angry. His mother would later explain to him that his father was stressed about the business, and that is why he sometimes yelled at her. She knew her place and never said anything against her husband. But when he got sick, it was her turn to be the not so nice one. Isaias once believed that it was his own mother that pushed his father to the grave, but no one would ever believe it if he said anything.
“She’s always been the woman that she is today,” Isaias said. “It’s just when father was alive, he didn’t allow her to become too involved with the business. She was there to make him look good and that was all.”
“So what about Whitney? Is she going to get involved with the business?”
“If she gets bored with throwing parties and attending charity events, she is allowed to do whatever she wants. In fact, she may be helpful in some parts of the business. She is a scientist remember?”
“In what is her degree?”
“She might come in handy indeed.”
The journalist in Ben would not sleep even in small company. “So Heath, what do you do now? You used to manage a record store, what do you do now?”
Heath sipped his brandy. “Nothing.”
All in the room glared at him. James asked, “Nothing?”
“Nothing. Vicki takes care of me.”
Isaias was confused. “When I was at your house a few weeks ago, she said you were at work.”
Finishing off his brandy, Heath shook his head. “Nope. Not working. Haven’t worked in months.”
Isaias’ short fuse began to burn. Though he didn’t love Victoria anymore, he didn’t want anyone to treat her badly or use her. Especially the man she was about to marry.
“So how are you supporting her?’
Heath glared at Isaias ready for a fight. “I could’ve sworn I just said I wasn’t working.”
Owen’s slightly longer fuse also lit at this point. “Are you planning to get a job?”
“For what? I can just lie around the house and enjoy myself. She takes me to swanky parties like this one, and I can have all the food and drink I want for free.”
James shook his head in disagreement. “That’s not setting a good example for Jason.”
Suddenly Heath remembered that he didn’t care for Isaias. “Oh yeah, I almost forgot. There’s something I’ve wanted to do all evening.”
Heath stood up, and moved across the room towards Isaias where he sat in his favorite chair. Heath stopped in front of him and paused for only a second before punching Isaias in the face.
“That was for claiming my son,” Heath said quietly, then yelled. “He is not your child, he is mine!”
The short fuse that was lit earlier, hit the gunpowder. Isaias was initially shocked, but his reaction was almost instantaneous. Isaias stood and tackled Heath to the floor. He began punching him in the face immediately, and did some good damage before Ben and Michael pulled him off Heath.
No sooner than they were out of the way, Owen jumped on him. As the two older men in the room were trying to regain order, Frederick informed Charlotte about what was going on.
“Excuse me for interrupting Mrs. Reynolds, but Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Thomas, and Mr. Sutton are fighting.”
The ladies put their coffee down on the nearest table and rushed to the smoking room with Charlotte leading the way.
“Stop it! Stop it! Owen, get off him!” Charlotte yelled.
Owen allowed Ben and Michael to hold him back.
“What’s going on in here?” Charlotte yelled.
Face and clothes bloody, Heath yelled, “I’m tired of your pompous ass son taking all of the credit for my little boy!”
“Jason is my son!” Isaias yelled.
Heath smiled snidely. “No, he is not your son. He’s mine and has always been.”
Still trying to cover up her four-year lie, Victoria spoke up. “Heath, you’ve had too much to drink. You don’t know what you’re saying.”
Not quite finished with his violence for the night, Heath walked up to Victoria and slapped her. Ben and Michael then grabbed Heath.
“Bitch!” Heath yelled. “I told you I didn’t want to go through with this. I don’t care how much money they have! You can’t just give away my son!”
Heath’s words surprised everyone in the room. Charlotte expected to hear that Jason wasn’t her grandson, but Heath’s words still cut her to the core.
“Victoria, is this true? Jason isn’t my grandson?”
Victoria hung her head and her silence lead to tears.
“I suppose its true then,” Charlotte said. “How could you do this? Why did you lie to me?”
Victoria fought her tears in order to speak. “I wanted Isaias back so bad. I was willing to do anything.”
Charlotte now realized that she helped create the monster that stood before her. “Including lying to me. Do your parents know?”
“No,” Victoria said, tears streaming down her face.
“So they also think Isaias is Jason’s father.”
“I couldn’t tell them. They would have disinherited me. Then Jason really wouldn’t have anything.”
“I understand you want to ensure your son is well taken care of, but you will not use my family to do so. Your parents will know about this as soon as I can get to them to tell them the truth.”
Whitney felt a little sorry for Victoria. She softly put her hand on Charlotte’s shoulder. “Mother, we’ve gotten what we wanted. We set out to get the truth, and now we have it. There is no need for you to inform her parents. I’m sure they will know soon enough.”
Charlotte closed her eyes and sighed. “You’re right, Whitney.” Charlotte turned back to Victoria. “I want the two of you out of my house right now before I call the police. Ben, Michael, could you see them out for me?”
Michael nodded. “Certainly.”
Hair and tuxedo in disarray, Isaias said, “Wait. I have one more thing to say.” Isaias slowly walked towards Victoria. She put her head down in shame and didn’t look at him. Isaias continued. “I hope you have learned your lesson. If you hadn’t broken up with me all those years ago, you might be here instead of Whitney. Not that I would ever give her up for any reason. I hope you take care of Jason. I would hate to see that sweet little boy suffer because his mother was greedy. I want you to know that this is the last time I ever want to see you.
“If you see any one of us on the street, don’t even look our way. If you do, I’ll consider it assault and will call the police. Understand?”
“Isaias, you can’t do this to me.”
“You did it to yourself, Vic.”
Isaias turned his back and went back to his chair, sat and continued to sip his brandy. Ben and Michael walked them to the door. When the door closed, and Micheal and Ben returned to the smoking room, Charlotte was concerned about her guests’ welfare.
“Is everyone okay?”
Micheal took her around the waist and said, “We’re fine.”
“Are you sure? You have blood on your shirt.”
“What about you Isaias?”
“I’m fine mother.”
Whitney shook her head. “No you’re not. We have to get you to the hospital. Your hand hasn’t completely healed, and here you are punching someone in the face.”
Isaias rubbed his cast. “I’m okay honey.”
Whitney didn’t believe it for a minute, but she left him alone.
“Owen?” Desiree asked, looking at the blood on the front of his shirt.
“I’m okay baby. It’s not my blood.”
“Let me apologize to all of you,” Whitney said after a long silence and a heavy sigh. “I have a confession to make. Mother, Isaias, and I staged this dinner to expose the truth. We didn’t expect there to be any fighting going on.”
James smirked. “I suppose that’s what happens when you invite gutter trash.”
Ashamed that James would stoop so low, Odile was offended. “James Thomas, that was uncalled for.”
“I’m sorry Odile. That is just what Heath is. Uncivilized, uncultured gutter trash. He received his gentlemen’s license from the internet. He got my brother involved in something that was not his business.”
“James, I didn’t know you cared,” Owen said sarcastically.
“It will not look good for father if the world knows that the President of Operations at Red Rouge was involved in a brawl.”
Ready to go to bed after all the excitement, Whitney excused herself. “Well, it has been an interesting evening. Thank you all for coming.”
“Thank you for having us,” Margaux said with a huge grin.
Charlotte noticed the smile and knew exactly what was going on in Margaux’s head. “Margaux, can I see you in the hallway for a moment?”
The two women left the room.
“No worries, dear,” Margaux began. “I will print two stories. One will praise Whitney, and possibly three to four days later, I will print one about Victoria.”
“Not a problem. After all, I can’t stand her parents. I’ve been waiting for some dirt so I could put it in the paper anyway.”
“You’re such a great friend.”
“I know, I know. So when are you and Michael getting together?” Margaux asked, unexpectedly. “The two of you are so cute.”
Charlotte tilted her head to the side and gave Margaux, in her mind, a well-deserved smirk. “I’m his boss, Margaux.”
Knowing Charlotte Reynolds for a very long time, she could see things Charlotte tried to hide. “Not for long sweetie.”
Two days later, Charlotte was in the library reading the paper, and she found the article about Whitney. Margaux held up her end of the bargain. There was not one slanderous word in the entire article. She buzzed for Frederick.
“What can I do for you Charlotte?”
“Come here. Read this.”
Charlotte handed Frederick the paper, and he read the top story in the society page for the day.
“That’s pretty good considering what happened.”
“I know. Have Isaac wake them up.”
“You’re gonna run them away again if you keep waking them up every time you want something.”
Charlotte shrugged. “I know, but this is important. I want them to see this. Besides, it’s ten in the morning. Isaias had better get used to waking up at dawn if he’s going to be president of the company.”
Frederick smiled. “All right, I’ll get them up. I’ll do it myself.”
Minutes later, Isaias and Whitney appeared in the library.
“You wanted to see us mother?”
Charlotte held out the paper. “Here, Whitney, read this aloud.”
She took the paper, and read the headline of the society page. “Who is Whitney Reynolds?” She was a bit excited. “Oh my, it’s about me. I can’t believe I’m in the paper.”
“Go on, read it so Isaias can hear it.” Charlotte said.
“Hello loyal readers,” Whitney started reading Margaux’s words. “I have some new news for you. Who is Whitney Reynolds you ask? I attended her intro to society dinner with my darling Benjamin on Friday night. Well, I will be the first to say that the evening started of beautifully. Steel mogul Charles Reynolds would have been proud if he were still alive. The lady of the house Charlotte Reynolds was beautiful as always. The surprise of the evening was her daughter in law, Whitney Reynolds. She was the epitome of beauty and grace. An extremely smart young black woman who did not come from money, however, you would never know it. I loved her. Calm, poised, polite, and charming. Not to mention the obvious love and respect for her husband, the up and coming steel mogul Isaias Reynolds himself.
“We were served a fabulous ten-course meal, and treated with star status. If you want a little extra at your next event, please invite Whitney. Charles Reynolds would be proud of her.”
Isaias stood and smiled without words. Charlotte grinned and asked, “What do you think of that?”
“It’s great,” Whitney said. “But did she have to say I was black?”
Charlotte rolled her eyes. “Whitney, get over it. Margaux said you were black as a favor to you.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Margaux Dixon is an important woman in this town,” Isaias explained. “When she talks, everyone listens. She ensured that you would not be alienated at all. Because of what she said, everyone will accept you.”
“And that’s what you wanted right?” Charlotte asked.
“I guess. I just thought I would kind of do it my own way.”
“Whitney, Margaux just made everyone look past your skin color. Now no one will talk about you behind your back as long as you are always what she said you are. Understand?”
“Oh I like the sound of that,” Charlotte grinned. “So children, are you hungry? If so we can have some lunch.”
“Count me out,” Isaias said. “I have a doctor’s appointment I have to get to. If I’m ever going to drum again, I have to make sure my hand is okay.”
“Fine. Whitney, we’re going shopping.”
“Mother, I don’t want you spending unnecessary money on me.”
“Oh, it’s not unnecessary. I expect the phone to start ringing in a couple of hours. You are about to be Napa’s newest star. Therefore, you will need to get your wardrobe together.”
“I’m not sure I want this.”
“No whining young lady. You say you love my sense of style. So if you like, we can turn you into me.”
“Mother, please don’t do that. I’ll never be able to lie next to my wife again if she’s you.” Isaias said jokingly.
“Fashion wise smart-ass. Don’t you have to get ready for your appointment?”
Isaias chuckled. “Yes ma’am.”
Isaias kissed both his mother and his wife and left the room.
“Oh he’s such a clown. What do you say Whitney, would you like to update your wardrobe?”
“Okay then. I’m going to show you how the ladies of Napa go shopping. I’m going to make a phone call. Go get ready, and I’ll see you back down here shortly. Put on something simple. Something that you can put on and take off easily. You’re going to be trying on lots of clothes.
Charlotte smiled, and patted Whitney on the cheek. “See you in a bit.”
The two of them went shopping, and Isaias went to his doctor’s appointment. Now with the Victoria issue behind them, their lives would get back to normal.