a Sultry Land

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Miss Enid Rae

Nineteen-

The newlyweds had a nice long trip from India, and it was different to see Miss Enid out of her bag, humorous, and enjoying the afternoon in the tearoom with Beryl. The weather was great still, and the honeymooners arrived happy. Everyone was surprised to see them, when Dane had carried Meridian through the front door. They were amazed how well, and immaculate, the cleaning crews returned the manor after their wedding and reception, and they were beautifully tanned. The red light on the censored security cameras rolled, and no one was in their way, and not even Beryl, shown on film.

Dane liked to see the mansion with such activity, and while they gathered happily around the couple who were looking chic in their perfumed attires, they kissed each other hello.

“Welcome home,” Dane said to his newly wed wife.

“It is good to be here with you, my husband of handsomeness,” Meridian answered. The happy couple could hardly take their eyes off one another, and not to change the subject, but everyone could see they were so good in love. In the sultry lands, outside of a few months, everyone wore an all around tan, but Enid’s mentioning how beautifully even-toned the newly weds tanned, they came back, and were a different kind of deep.

Dane and Meridian returned with gifts, and asked Cook if he would bring his car around the back, so that they could get unloaded. Everyone was happy to see each other, and as if to have always abided by rules, Beryl excused herself. Meridian couldn’t stop talking about their trip, and Enid missed the couple excitingly, and was eager, and interested in all they had to say until Dane smiled at Enid, who saw him about face, he wanted to freshen up from the long flight, and smelled dinner. Gordon playfully rolled his eyes at Dane, who shook his hand anyway, as they playfully smirked at one another; no love lost, and Vernon said hello, and saw them razz each other for many years.

Dane grabbed Gordon and headed to the carport instead, and just in time. Good old Cook could have used help.

“Thanks man,” Dane thanked Gordon for coming, and tired upon his return, the food in the kitchen smelled great, and spoke to his appetite. Dinner was in twenty minutes. After he, and Gordon loaded things just past the mud room, Dane took the elevator up to his suites to freshen up, happily relieved from any thought’s of Gordon, and Beryl, while on his honeymoon.

All he could do was shake his head about the situation, and until he saw Gordon again, everyone busied themselves before dinner as well, scattering off into different directions, before Meridian went out of her main floor room, and took the elevator up, and found her husband deep into their suite. She hugged Dane from behind in their domain, they’re married, and Dane grabbed his new wife, and spun her around in the huge master bedroom that was furnished expensively.

“You will move up here with me,” Dane half asked, or demanded.”

“I insist,” Meridian said to her doting husband.

Their retreat room had an exercise equipment room too, so their suite was large enough for five people, had skylights, heating lamps in the bath rooms, and the view from any part of the mansion top floor was great. Music piped through the entire suite, and although they would visit India again, and again, being home was great. Meridian, and Dane had so much love for each other, that everyone had love for them, and as the sun streamed all through their lives, they glowed in happiness, and affection, and Dane to his wife, initiated a kiss, and so they shared one.

With all the rumbling throughout the manor, the happy couple wished they had a moment to rumble and tumble on their huge marital bed, teasing, giggling, coming up for air, and having a quiet moment, and silently said things. Later, Dane, and Meridian will get along very nicely until dawn, and will probably stay together forever, but have guest’s awaiting them downstairs. All in due time. Meridian had a wardrobe in one of Dane’s closets. Ruben was at the manor when Dane returned down the elevator, and heard Gordon’s voice too, and followed it, passing Cook attending to his order of business, and Gordon already knew what Ruben came to say.

Dane passed ordinance, and in business, is getting everything he hoped for. They’ve gotten the okay to build onto their existing property, so Meridian, and Dane’s return proved fruitful, and as long as Millicent was there, Beryl was nowhere found, and clear their return was a reason to celebrate. Opening the shopping plaza, and moreover, the art gallery, was a go! Cook prepared a duck for the newlyweds’ return. Meridian walked down the staircase in the chicest sarong she could find, flooring Millicent, Nicole, and Enid, and wise to bring similar clothing for them. Meridian pulled out catalogs back from India, and brought them essential oils, accessories, and art from her trip as gifts.

Beryl appeared, and asked if she could help the newly weds unpack. Meridian replied, “Oh no thanks Beryl. I can task that myself.” Something told Meridian she would do well with the deed herself. That strange feeling came from Gordon. He gave a glance, encouraged them to decline the offer, and so figured the new housekeeper was shady. Beryl wa still living, and working at the mansion, because she stayed out the cooks way, otherwise, on Gordon’s note, she was weird-minded, and he no longer cared for her company with Enid. Four hours into her six hour shift that day, Beryl was jealous of Gordon basically ignoring her, as he should.

He was taking time out with Millicent, but Beryl's feelings weren’t that obvious until they surfaced, when she had too much to drink, and no one monitored Beryl, or her alcoholism. When she left the room, Dane, and Meridian, noticed her demeanor, as their guest’s crowded around their gifts, eating the delicious duck dinner Cook prepared. The newlyweds said how wonderful the country of India was with culture, and the fact they did business with many merchants from India, buying as much as possible. Meridian’s choices of merchants will keep her in business with clothing, jewelry, and impressive artwork, and asked where she could find furniture merchants, and was well directed.

They left business cards, and collected catalogs from all over, so that no one would be forgotten. Personally, they wanted to support as many merchants, and artists they could throughout India, and the Caribbean. Meridian had a need to exploit wonderful artworks into sales. Meridian, and Dane enjoyed their lively dinner party, and laughed at the stories of their wedding reception. In their month away, the happy couple had no idea their wedding reception would be so comical. The digital movie Meridian, and Dane showed that their honeymoon trip was a plus to their guest’s over cocktails, but Dane noticed that Beryl seemed put out in soughts.

Although Enid Rae gracious for the company, the housekeeper didn’t seem in the mood for guest’s, even though she too seemed to have a great time at the mansion, and its grounds at the wedding, and reception. Hm. Funny. It seemed that their wedding guests had a great time, and some stayed until noon. Although having all those guests for dinner on their return, Meridian and Dane needed rest. Beryl would’ve liked it if their guest’s left before her shift ended at six pm. Beryl had no plans to leave the mansion that night, but the chatter of happiness disturbed her, and since she knew her drinking with guest’s was inappropriate, and resented serving Vernon again.

She wanted to be something more than merely the housekeeper, and apparently thought she was, but what? At the dinner party, they talked for some time about business, and of solidifying their thoughts. Ruben said, “Since we don’t have those other four accounts, why not consider filling the spaces with a laundry mat, and pizza place. People like to have their hair done, eat pizza, and even do laundry at the same time.” Ruben’s thoughts were already Dane’s, but they heard him out, just the same.

“Do you think that space in the back corner is good for that?”

“Yes. It’ll work. Those were my sentiments exactly, and with a hair salon over there too.

They began to toss ideas around, that Gordon loved, and extended the ideas already in play. In a small matter of time, the plaza will fill with all the merchants they needed, and Gordon’s mention of a game room parlor definitely was a plus for that side of the plaza. Millicent looked at Gordon definitely through her ravenous chestnut hazel eyes, and thought, what a great idea.

“Those places I remembered going to, over the weekend with friends,” Millicent said. The thought sounded like fun, and Dane was secure knowing everyone is more than willing to participate with exciting works in motion.

Now, he seemed to have little problems thinking of how to protect his interest in case he could not produce an heir. Meridian, Dane, Gordon, and Ruben were optimistic about the plaza opening, and Ruben liked the variety of stores, and shops the plaza will have to offer on all sides. Meridian heard Millicent was a great artist, and was hanging out with Gordon almost everyday since the wedding. She was glad to hear how talented she was, and more happy she was still around. For Cook, Meridian pulled out spices, and mixtures from very intricately woven, Indian print bags, filled in elaborate bottles of blended flavors.

With everyone interested in new cuisine, Meridian, and Dane shared all they’ve learned on their trip, and passed photos around, which explained a lot. The cookbooks they brought back for Cook, everyone had a hand thumbing through, that brought back memories from places they visited. Cook thought it good to make at least two Indian dishes a week. He said that the food would be aromatic, tasty, therapeutic, and it was. He prepared salad, and dressed vegetables with the flavors he was familiar with, and his dishes tasted as perfect as the duck dinner he served at that big dinner party, and in a month, at least some of the Marsala’s would be ripened.

Anything made with coconut milk, in Mughal preparation would be for dipping. The preparation if spiced, is rubbed, or added to many sorts of dishes, and traditionally takes less preparation. After the guests had gone, Meridian, and Enid settled in the tearoom for the last time that evening. Enid was pensive, but asked Meridian what she thought about, adding their own posh boutique clothing store, and offered what location would bring charm to everything else they were developing. She, and Meridian talked of trendy clothes, scarves, handbags, cashiers, glass cases, cosmetics, fragrances, shoes, and accessories. They could carry upscale merchandise, and attract a wide range of women.

Meridian loved the idea of Miss Enid, who called it, la Boutique. It was a simple name for the shop, and a good idea Meridian would gladly run by Dane. That evening after their guests left, Dane, and Meridian were tired from traveling, and dinner, and agreed earlier, (all in due time). Meridian discussed Enid’s fresh business ideas, worthy to present to Dane, after she was bathed, put on a negligee, and joined her husband in their bedroom, but that evening about business, was the only thing she, and Dane did not do. They woke to a leaving cleaning crew who arrived at six am as planned, to detail the manor again.

Ruben phoned Dane that late afternoon, and mentioned that their old foe, Victor Cache’ was eager to speak with him concerning business, and that changed things for the moment. Dane ignored the invitation until Victor got in touch with Ruben again, said he’d heard Dane bought abandoned property, and the lands surrounding it, and he wanted to become a partner. Little did he know, the land already belonged to Dane, so he purchased nothing, and the thought of Victor left a sour taste. That morning, and two phone calls from Ruben later, Dane was wrapped up in a sheet from his waist down, and returned to his wife in bed.

She stroked his massive chest, which was a turn-on for them, and they made love until they showered. Dane took a call while modest Meridian robed before she entered their dressing rooms, and while Dane was on the telephone, Meridian towel dried her hair, which since they met, had grown considerably, and had only a trim before their wedding, in that braided updo. Dane robed, she dressed, he opened a window, and they relaxed in the library while Dane took another call. He blew a kiss at his wife, she was thumbing through his travel magazines, and they were thrilled they could dwell in the same chambers, given the first time Meridian crossed Dane’s threshold.

In their adjoining suites, once Meridian moved in most of her things, truly the couple had all they could need. Up there, Dane’s wet bar is a focal point, and their kitchen is immaculate. An electric grill is outside on the veranda, from the French doors onto the deck, and in essence, they could tuck away an entire week with no one to have a peep. In a minute, Meridian would go downstairs, and their meeting back in the bedroom is a promise. Unconsciously, they hadn’t taken eyes off each other, and ached for the time to fly. The d’Anise Plaza, and Town Square, are all a part of the d’Anise estate, yet Nicholas and Victor knew Dane would be up to something great, and they wanted a piece of it.

Nicholas Benjamin got the heads up on the deals made by Dane, Ruben, and associate’s solidified, which meant money. Victor wanted to weasel his way in, but Nicholas was a business man too, and knew better. Victor wanted Ruben to give him Dane’s home address, but Ruben was insulted. Victor played him stupidly, and he told Victor he would have to discuss his request with Dane, insulted at Victor’s blatant suggestion he’s stupid, and Ruben said he would give his partner a call. In turn, Victor was insulted Ruben would not give him any information of Dane’s whereabouts, and should’ve gotten a pass, since they attended the same high school, and college.

When Ruben relayed the message to Dane, who told him, he would meet with Victor on Wednesday at “What an Egg,” for brunch, Dane knew he wanted no part of what Victor had in mind, and wanted to say, he couldn’t imagine that man’s intentions were good. As far as Dane was concerned, Victor was a schist. Victor’s character was unwanted, and Ruben knew how he, and Dane felt about him, who hoped for bygones. Ruben knew Dane was inundated with his businesses, and did not want to press the issue. Dane sensed Victor was desperate, and personally, didn’t want any part of him.

Either way, Dane was not too quick to judge others, and wanted to see for himself if Victor could for once be on the up and up so, they will go meet their nemesis and discuss business anyway. The meeting with Victor will be what it will be, but Dane did not believe in wasting time. He could start to clear that abandoned land that week to start building if he wanted to, while Victor wanted to get in as a partner to the ideas Nicholas’ firm concluded as good real estate, and would cut him in on acquiring business, if he would come up with part of the funding, but how? Victor figured Dane would just hand him money, and no one knew, but Victor saw himself victorious.

So far, all the deals of Dane, Gordon, Enid, Meridian, other vendors, and Ruben’s ideas were a go, and starting Monday, the company they hired will clear ground to land for a huge parking lot around the plaza square, Dane started having structures built right away. He liked the laundry mat on the east end where the pizza shop, a beauty salon, and other novelty stores positioned, and thought the area family friendly. With Gordon’s plans realized, the revenue could be greatly considered. Two major bank corporation’s, offered their banking kiosk for Dane to consider, and on the same Wednesday, meeting with Victor, the bank will meet with them to sign lease agreements.

Dane appreciated the dedication of Gordon, and all those involved, and on Wednesday, Dane, Gordon, and Ruben met Victor. They arrived early, and ordered coffee, eggs, potatoes, toast, meat, and orange juice, finishing eating when Victor arrived late, and noticed he had not lost his skinny physique. Victor’s hair sprigged gray around the edges, was too lengthy that era, and was very brittle. Victor already lost most of his vitality, and although he wore a jacket, he’d been poorly dressed, his skin was badly weather-beaten, his complexion ruddy, and because he was pushy, Ruben sat, and said nothing at the order of business conversation, and observed, with Gordon’s silence.

They did not want to interfere in Dane’s strategy of business, as Victor was unwise, not and not business-like. He came without a business plan, or folder to boot, and was nothing like Dane, Ruben, or Gordon, who did right financially. Ruben, and Dane could not trust Victor in high school, or college, and knew to believe he could manage to screw things up. Victor did not know Gordon, and Dane, and Ruben noticed how he tried not to look at him. Victor had low regard for life, and no regard for the future. Victor was looking to make a fast deal for money, to continue his folly, and mess it up.

Victor’s deal would sour, if he thought he could swindle Dane, and then he’d become a humiliated laugh if they couldn’t stifle it. Victor lived in the fast lane, and with every nervous blink he possessed, Dane was apprehensively skeptical. Victor played dirty in the past, and lived on the edge ever since junior high school. Dane declined Victor’s proposal to open a clothing store on Dane’s lot. Was Victor kidding? Dane explained he had a few marketers for clothing already, and saw no use for another. When Dane refused Victor, his stomach cut him like a double edged sword, but the rejection crushed him.

They agreed with Dane, and explained Victor without being too dismissive, the plaza is already full. Victor pursed his lips, and tried to seem calm, but Gordon saw his thick untrimmed mustache twitching, to avoid argument. There were little pieces of mustache hairs hanging too long on the left side too thick. Gordon couldn’t keep looking at Victor’s nose hairs, dangling, sparsely gray. Victor’s nose hair was as brittle as his balding hair, for fear he’d make Ruben, or Dane lose their cool, and laugh.

“Even la Boutique’s clothing, shoes, and accessories is already back ordered,” Ruben said, and explained, “The store has made its year through catalog orders, and has yet to open.”

Ruben looked at Victor earnestly, without transferring his disgust in Victor’s appearance, and said, “We can’t afford to take on any more financial risk, and so, I agree with Dane.” He turned to Gordon, and asked, “Sir?” Gordon looked at Ruben, and Victor, huffed, rolled his eyes, and didn’t waste his breath. Ruben lied about them being in danger of taking a risk, but looked convincingly at Victor, and Dane did not know what either man had up his sleeve, but knew he could trust Gordon, and Ruben. Gordon’s business sense told him what Ruben was up to, so he just followed along patronizing Victor, and then Ruben said, “Vick? Do you think you can handle that?”

Dane couldn’t contain himself, and almost spit water out his mouth. Gordon did try all he could to contain his already crooked smile, by straightening his suit, not to laugh. Victor hadn’t understood a word Ruben said, and stopped listening, just stewing in anger. Holding a semi-straight face, Dane saw Ruben glare a stare at the man, as if in demand of a hypothetical answer, what struck Dane funny, that Ruben was serious. Could Victor handle that? Finally, Victor’s reply saved the day. He did not know how hard it was for Dane, and Gordon to keep a straight face.

“Besides, it’s too late to see how we’d figure you in,” Ruben concluded, and then asked, “How did you know about our proper-ties?” Victor sat back, crossed his hands across his huge belly, and replied, “I have a hunch,” the only feat of confidence Victor exerted. The three of them added in defense, “A hunch?” Gordon thought he would give him a hunch up the back of his pants. Dane leaned back with his hands folded across his wide chest, and looked Victor square in the eyes.

“You see Vick, we already have plans. Submit your ideas though,” Dane mentioned, as humbly spoken as he could be. Victor knew Ruben still did not like him, and would never be in his corner.

He’d already taken an apartment on the other side of town, but after Dane turned him down flat, Victor thought, no reason to stay. He had no family or reliable friends, no one. He thought his trip would be some kind of success, and had taken an apartment just outside of town, and after Dane turned Victor down flat, he thought of no reason to stay, so he didn’t pay his bill, and left. Unmarried, and in any town, Victor is quite a gambling loser, and if he wins that day, he could take a smaller place in a smaller town. Small towns made Victor feel big, and like a hot shot, but under no circumstances did Ruben give Victor the impression he was to become a partner.

Ruben led Victor to come clean his crooked ways, to see what good he could possibly become, but he had no capital to substantiate business, and thought because he could talk a good game, he was a shoe-in. Dane was done with the meeting, and Gordon stood, told Ruben, “It’s over,” handed Victor a business card, and Ruben took in Victor’s reaction when Dane stood to button his jacket. Victor finally stood, and then Ruben, and then Dane proposed Victor took his idea to some other place interested. The look on Victor’s face was classic! Not one of them cared about Victor’s feelings, especially since he still played people for fools.

“Get a fresh start,” Dane said. “See who will work with you, and your new ideas. It’s worth a try to you right?” Victor, irrational at the meeting, argued Dane had room for another clothing store, and he did, but he did not want to deal with Victor, who pressed the issue, but holding out his hand for shaking, Dane simply thanked Victor again, for the offer. They knew Victor wasn’t thinking straight when he came to a formal meeting with no business plan, in hand, or anything else to show. He would have been better just applying for a job, but went away despondently, and seemed as if he wanted revenge. What a baby.

The man had not changed, and Dane was glad to see him for his true self, the same idiot from college. Ruben was very glad for Dane, and Gordon caught Victor unraveled., and knew something was seriously wrong about Victor from the start. Victor left the restaurant as if a child told, no, and Ruben made fun of how he looked, walking out pissed off, squawking. Gordon, and Dane smirked, as if they cared less, and Victor turned, and caught Ruben making fun of him, but the look on his face, and the grimace on his lips, caused them to laugh aloud. Victor looked over at Gordon whom he never met, and saw the look on Victor’s face, priceless!

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