KERRI'S WAR (Volume 3 of The King Trilogy)

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Chapter 33

Christmas Eve, 2001.

Kerri’s progress in the restoration of the New York headquarters of Iacardi & Sons to its former glory exceeded her most optimistic expectations, both in terms of the time it had taken and the quality of employees hired to replace those who had perished. The cost, both in money and in effort had been high, but very successful. Thanks to the efforts and connections of Tavaris, Deaks, and Dukes, some of the best commodity traders in the game had been enticed to defect from their former employers. While she had taken the time to thank the three amigos, she knew their primary motivation had been to revive Iacardi for Enerco, their future owner.

Armed with a freshly hired back office and research staff, the new traders had stepped into the breach and been responsible for bringing the New York division back to profitability. Kerri was amazed at what good employees could accomplish when allowed to work autonomously and without supervision. The rapid progress was a vindication of her decision to rebuild the company. Now she was confident that by the end of the following year, the company’s profitability would approach or exceed its previous record. In spite of the spectacular corporate progress she had made, she struggled with the tsunami of personal problems plaguing her mind.

Before boarding Air Canada 767, Flight 802, Toronto to Vancouver, she noticed people staring at her, some even pointing to her. She realized that the moment she appeared on national television, she gave up her anonymity. No longer a private citizen, she was now Kerri King, the president of Iacardi & Sons, the company that was devastated in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Her plane touched down on the rain soaked tarmac at Vancouver International Airport at 2:30 P.M, Pacific Time and discharged its passengers. Having cleared customs in Toronto, she picked up her luggage and hurried outside the terminal to be greeted by a cold driving rain. Wearing faded jeans, white sneakers, a brown leather jacket, and her beloved Yankees hat, she blew on her hands while waiting for a taxi. Minutes later, she climbed into a Yellow Cab and asked the driver to take her to the Ferry Terminal on False Creek.

After a lengthy, rough and rain splattered voyage, Kerri disembarked at the Salt Spring Island Ferry Dock, where she was met by her very happy mother and David Harmon, her second husband. Kerri’s mother, Barbara, a tall, lithe blue eyed blond beauty when she met Kerri’s father in 1963, had aged gracefully. “I missed you so much,” she said, clinging tightly to her daughter.

“I missed you too, mom,” Kerri replied, then gave David a hug. “Good to see you again, David, and thanks for looking after my mother.

“The pleasure has been all mine,” David said with a warm smile, then pointed to his black Jaguar. “Let’s get in the car. We’re getting soaked.”

The three hurried to David’s car and he drove them to Kerriglen, a beautiful new home he and Barbara had built on Sunset Drive on the north west shore of the island. A modern three bedroom back split, architecturally designed and constructed of native wood, concrete, glass and steel, it had a spectacular view of The Straight of Georgia and tiny Trent Island, two kilometers to the west.

Christmas Eve featured a turkey dinner, lovingly prepared by Barbara, and enjoyed by all. The conversation centered around Kerri’s experiences related to the terrorist attacks on The World Trade Center and her struggle to rebuild a devastated Iacardi. Kerri avoided any mention of the Iacardi shareholders‘ lawsuit and the Enerco blackmail. She wanted to spare her mother the anxiety she knew that knowledge would cause.

The skies had cleared by the time dinner was finished, revealing, in spectacular fashion, why so many people chose to live on the west coast.

“Let’s take a walk to the beach,” David suggested. He smiled at Kerri. “I promise you’ll enjoy it,” he said.

The three left the house and walked down a gentle but rock strewn slope to a sandy beach. They were treated to a sensational sunset, one that reminded Kerri of her youth in Vancouver. It was a simpler time, she thought, uncomplicated by the insane pursuit of happiness, so often attributed the life in The Big Apple. A tiny part of her, present, but buried deep in her soul, longed for a simpler life, one so obviously enjoyed by her mother and David. She was delighted that her mother had at last found happiness, for so long missing in her marriage to her father.

While David paused to light his cigar du jour, Barbara grasped Kerri’s hand and led her toward the water. “I have something exciting to tell you, something that’s made me one of the happiest women alive.”

“Wow!” Kerri said. “I can’t wait.”

“I’ve been reunited with my other daughter,” Barbara said with a smile that radiated pride and incalculable joy.

Momentarily stunned, Kerri paused to gather herself. “That’s wonderful. I’m so happy for you. How did you find her?”

“I didn’t. She found me. It was the craziest thing. She phoned here about a month ago. David answered and she asked if she could speak to me. She told me her name and apologized for calling, then she asked me if I used to live in Toronto. I told her I did, then she asked me if I knew a man named Scott Merritt. That’s when my heart started to pound. Scott was the father of the girl I gave up for adoption. I don’t know why I did this, but I asked her why she wanted to know...She said she asked because she had checked her birth records and discovered that Scott and I were listed as her parents...I was speechless. My heart was beating so fast and I didn’t know what to say. I knew I was talking to my daughter, but I was afraid to tell her.”

“Why?” Kerri asked.

“Because I’ve been hiding it for so long,” Barbara said, tears flowing. “It was like someone had discovered my dirty little secret. I fought it for the longest time, but then I just let it all go. I told her that I’m her mother.”

Kerri hugged her mother. “Have you seen her?” she asked.

Barbara nodded, wiping her tears. “Her name is Cathy Towers. She’s a dental hygienist living in Ottawa. I flew there last week and she met me at the airport.” Barbara reached into her jacket pocket and removed a photograph. “This is Cathy and her family,” she said, handing it to Kerri.

Kerri stared at the photograph, one of her daughter, a tall dark haired man in his late thirties, and two very good looking boys. She guessed the boys ages at eight and ten. She focused on Cathy, a tall and attractive blonde, recognizing only a faint resemblance to her mother. “Nice looking family. Did you meet them?”

“I did. I had dinner with them at their house in Rockcliffe. Cathy’s husband is a radiologist,” Barbara replied, then proceeded to prattle on and on about her long lost daughter, her husband, her children, and her history with her adoptive parents.

While Kerri was interested and fascinated by her mother’s story, and happy that she had at last rid herself of the guilt and torment of giving up a child for adoption, she privately scolded herself for feeling a sense of jealousy. For so long she had enjoyed being the only child of a doting mother. Petty jealousy seemed infantile and microscopic compared to the problems she faced: the Iacardi shareholders’ lawsuit, Jeffery Wheeler’s threatened blackmail, and the continued rebuilding of Iacardi.

David and Barbara drove Kerri to Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle the following morning, and after tear filled hugs and kisses, she boarded a United 767 for a direct flight to LaGuardia. Again she noticed people staring and pointing at her. She took her seat in first class, fastened her seat belt, then closed her eyes and relaxed.

“Excuse me. Are you Kerri King?” asked an attractive grey haired man in the seat beside her.

Kerri opened her eyes, turned and smiled at the man. She nodded.

The man returned her smile and extended his hand. “I’m Jimmy Herman. I’m honored to meet you. I just want you to know that I saw you on television in September. You inspired me like nobody has ever done. What you’re doing makes me proud to be an American.”

“Thank you,” Kerri said, the compliment igniting in her a welcome surge of pride.

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