It Takes a Village
It Takes a Village
As soon as Mrs. Frederic told Eileen to make the travel arrangements for Helena, the young woman snapped into action.
"Will Ms. Wells take her private jet?" Eileen asked ready to get them on standby.
"No, that will be too fast," Irene said thinking. "We need some time, and so does Ms. Wells. Book her on a late commercial flight – we'll make an excuse. We don't want her arriving on Ms. Bering's heels. Book her a room in a hotel as far away from the location of Bering & Sons bookstore. My sense is that Helena will go there to find Ms. Bering," Irene said.
"Kind of romantic isn't it?" Eileen said dreamily.
"What is?" Irene asked texting the only people who could help Helena through this.
"Ms. Wells – dropping everything to go after the person she's infatuated with?" the executive assistant said looking up at the ceiling.
"What makes you say that?" Irene asked, smiling at how perceptive this twenty something was already.
"Love makes you do crazy things, Mrs. Frederic. And she's been acting crazy since Ms. Bering barged through that door," Eileen said and went about making the reservation.
"Talk to me people, whata we got?" Claudia said as she sat with the others at the impromptu meeting Mrs. Frederic called.
"Late flight to Colorado Springs, room at the Four Seasons forty miles away from Bering & Sons," Artie read from Eileen's message.
"Forty miles? Won't she notice hotels a little closer than that?" Pete asked.
"She will, but we'll tell her none of them have a tea barista," Irene said.
"You just made that up, didn't you?" Pete said trying to give her a high five, but was met with a dead stare.
"How much damage are we assuming?" Claudia asked as she looked at the map.
"You know who we're talking about right?" Pete asked.
"Maximum damage," Claudia decided. "Maybe Pete should go with her; you know to slow her down if we need to."
"Not a bad idea, Ms. Donovan," the senior member of the group said.
"The things I do for this job," Pete said. "Well if I have to go, I think Claud should go for tech purposes. We might need a traffic light changed," he pointed out and Mrs. Frederic agreed.
"Yeah, but suppose Ms. Bering won't see her?" Artie asked.
"I got that taken care of, Arthur. Ms. Donovan got the inventory of the bookstore on line and Helena is going to make a purchase and pick it up," Irene explained.
"And when she sees the person's name is Helena Wells who is picking up a package, she won't leave?" Pete said poking a hole in the plan.
"Good point, Mr. Lattimer. I'll use her other name," Irene said because every person who has celebrity status needs an alias.
"What else?" Artie asked.
"Well, I have her phone locked in so I can change any information that she tries to access, even change incoming and outgoing texts," Claudia said smiling at how devious that plan was. The she felt everyone's eyes on her. "No, not that I would do that," she tried to convince them.
"The objective is to help Helena not screw this up again," Irene pointed out.
"How will we know where Ms. Bering is?" Artie asked because that seemed to be a point no one brought up.
Irene smiled because she had no doubt someone had that figured out. "I may have locked onto her phone this morning after Pete got the phone call," Claudia said.
"Mrs. F, you got the florists on standby in case we need flowers, candy and anything else that says "I'm terribly sorry, but I'm British and I tend to do things my way'?" the youth asked in a British accent and made them all laugh.
"Yes and the theater tickets for Mr. and Mrs. Bering will be delivered tomorrow as well. That way, no one will be in the store except Myka," Irene said.
"We're forgetting one thing," Pete said seriously.
"What could we have forgotten?" Artie asked looking down the list of things. Everything seemed covered.
"Who's going to coach her on how to ….uhm…. play nice? Cause so far, she's messed it up every time on her own," Pete pointed out.
"He's got a point," Irene said.
"Oh I know! I could put little transmitters in her jewelry and when she's giving the wrong answer or saying the wrong thing, we could send a shock through to her," Claudia said and everyone just stared at her.
"You definitely have a freaky dark side, Claud," Pete said never wanting to get on the wrong side of her.
"I think we need something a little more subtle, Ms. Donovan," Irene said and gave this some thought.
"I can coach her," Pete said and Claudia burst out laughing.
"Hey!" Pete said insulted. "I get around okay with the ladies. I can give her a couple of pointers."
"Well give the suddenness of this event and the fact that you will be with her, I say we have no other choice but to allow Mr. Lattimer to ….coach …Ms. Wells," Irene said.
"Operation Bering & Wells is underway then," Artie said.
"I really think it should be Wells & Bering," Pete said. "Remember when they did that Father of Science Fiction thing at the New York Public Library and Verne's name was first? She lost it," he reminded them.
"Operation Wells and Bering it is then," Claudia said.
"I want code names," Pete called out as the meeting broke.
"We don't have time for code names," Artie snapped at him.
"You could be 'Grumpy cause I ain't getting any since my girlfriend's working nights," Pete said and ran.
Helena paced her office as she waited for Eileen to make the arrangements. "Where is my jet again?" Helena asked because there should be a helicopter on the roof now taking her to the airport.
"Oh, it's in…..," Eileen stuttered. Irene really should have given her the script. "…. For repairs. That part that was missing – is still missing," she said and breathed a sigh of relief when Helena seemed to buy it.
Helena was thinking about something else entirely. She thought back to the previous night and the time machine. She was in such a haste to set things straight, she hadn't done a complete check. Now that she thought back about it, something seemed to be missing. The bang on the door interrupted Helena's reexamination.
"The earliest I could get you on was the 6 PM flight out of JFK," Eileen said.
"How long a flight?" Helena asked.
"Three and a half hours," Eileen said.
"Where am I staying?" Helena asked.
"The Four Seasons," Eileen reported.
"How far would you day that is from Ms. Bering's parent's bookstore?" Helena asked.
"Thirty eight and three quarter miles," Eileen answered.
"How did you?" Helena started to wonder, but the assistant bolted out of the room.
The thought that the whole plan would fall apart if she slipped, made Eileen nauseous.
Myka spent the flight being polite and trying to sleep until she could no longer ignore the toddler to her right. Myka talked to the little girl who took an immediate liking to her. She landed and rented a car for the drive to her parents. She didn't have time to tell them she was coming and she was putting off all the questions that were sure to be asked.
Myka felt defeated – how could she have been so naïve as to not see what her boss was doing? It wasn't that she couldn't take the heat, but she wouldn't take the games. She kept thinking that she should have felt nothing but anger at Helena, and yet there was something else. Everything was mixed up, she thought. She should have felt relief after leaving Helena and sad when she walked away from Sam. Somehow, it was the opposite and Myka needed time to figure out why.
She was at her parents' store by noon and they were thrilled to see her. "What a nice surprise!" Jeanne yelled when her older daughter appeared in the shop.
"Where's Sam?" her father asked and Myka told him Sam couldn't make this trip.
Her mother sensed right away that something was wrong, but didn't press Myka for the detail.
They had a leisurely lunch together – mostly because there were no customers ringing the bell at the register for service.
"We're good though," her father assured her, but Myka knew that was a lie.
"People don't want to buy books anymore. Everything is e-lec-tron-ic," Jeanne said sarcastically.
"Except rare editions. Those are doing pretty well," her father said.
It had been Myka's idea to include a few of them in the store's inventory and told her parents to think of it as an investment. One that could have lost money in if it hadn't been for Myka's instincts and an upturn in the market for autographed copies of books.
Myka wasted no time in helping out in the bookstore after lunch and when people inquired why she was back, she told them she was on vacation.
"You left New York City to come back to Colorado?" more than one patron asked. "It's the center of the universe."
"Not everyone would agree with that," Myka said.
She wanted to appreciate the beauty and quiet of her hometown, but it would take some time to erase the excitement that came with being in New York.
"What are you doing back here?" her mother finally asked her as they were cleaning up books in the back.
"Need a break, Mom," Myka answered truthfully.
"Not from Sam, Myka? Don't tell me you broke up?" Jeanne said worried.
"I'm taking a break from everything, Mom. I need to find some answers before I decided what to do," Myka said unpacking some books.
"Answers. Ha – if you wait for answers Myka, life will pass you by. He's a good man, sweetie. It will be hard to find someone better than Sam," Jeanne said.
Myka looked down in her hand and there lie a copy of The Time Traveler by HG Wells. Isn't that ironic, Myka thought as she carried the books out to the science fiction section.
She was walking to the back of the store when she remembered her favorite item in the whole collection. It was a first edition of War of the Worlds. What made it so rare was that it was autographed by the author himself. Myka's father used to read a copy of that book to her when she was a child and so it held fond memories for her. It was one of the few things they did together.
The original book was priced at over one thousand dollars and as much as Myka wanted someone to buy it so her parents could get their profit, she secretly loved having it in the store. After the store would close, Myka would sneak down at night and read story from the rare artifact. To think HG Wells had held it in his hands while he signed it, Myka often thought. So brilliant!
Myka rounded the aisle and saw the special display case she had purchased second hand to hold the book. A smile came across her face as she walked up to it like an old friend, and found out - it was empty!
"MOM?" she yelled to Jeanne.
"What is it Myka?" her mother asked as she came running, certain her daughter had fallen from the pain in her voice.
"Mom?" Myka said pointing to the empty case, unable to speak.
"Oh gee, Myka, you gosh darn nearly gave me a heart attack. I thought something was wrong!" Jeanne said.
"Where is it?" Myka said annoyed that her mother didn't see the issue at hand.
"Where is what?" Warren asked now interrupting them.
"Dad! Where is the first edition signed copy of War of the Worlds?" Myka spelled out for them.
"Oh, for crying out loud, Myka. It's in the front of the store," her father said dismissing the urgency of the situation.
"Oh thank God," Myka said, unable to tolerate any more annoying things happening.
"Someone just phoned in before and bought it. They're picking it up tomorrow," Warren said leaving his wife to deal with the emotional Myka.
"Mom, I can buy that book now," Myka said sorry she hadn't made that the first thing she told them up on her return.
"Don't be silly, Myka. That book cost a lot of money," Jeanne said.
"Do you think she'll like it?" Pete asked Claudia after purchasing the book over the phone.
"She'll love it! The guy who answered said it was her favorite book. So Helena can buy it and then give it to her. Brilliant, eh?" Claudia said proud of her skills.
"Yeah now we just have to teach her how to be less abrasive,"Pete said thinking out loud.
Helena took clothes from her apartment next to her office and an overnight bag. She was ready by noontime even though her flight wasn't for hours.
Helena thought buying the book was a good idea. She thought back to how long ago it was that she would have signed it. Charles had wanted to be responsible for the signing of the book, but Helena wouldn't allow it. She knew the books might just make it into a time when the world would find it believable that a woman had thought up those ideas – and actually built them.
The time was now.
As Helena looked out her office window smiling at how happy Myka would be when she presented her with the book, Myka was more than a thousand miles away secretly hoping the person who bought it, would never make it to the bookstore to pick up with item.