Chapter 1 Welcome Home
In a small suburb nestled in the hills James Hartford along with his Wife Sheila and their 4 year old Daughter Emily are finally settling into their new home. James is happy that Sheila has agreed to move to this quaint yet somewhat secluded town. With his recent promotion to Senior Partner in one of the most prestigious Law Firms in the tri State area, he felt that making this move was a solid investment toward a brighter future. The fact that he got the house at well below market value, is what sealed the deal.
Sheila, who had decided to put her own career as a Marketing Executive on hold to raise a family, was eager to get back into the swing of things. She had devoted the last 4 years to being a stay-at-home mother, and while she loved the time she spent bonding with their little girl, she never lost her passion for the boardroom. She didn’t care for the fact that this new area was about a forty minute drive from where they last lived, but appreciated the fact that this new location offered them a chance at the “American Dream”. It was to be her last year as a house wife and she was beginning to take on small projects and conduct conference calls and meetings via live video feeds. This new house with its extra bedrooms gave her a room that she could use as a temporary home office, while having the extra rooms that could serve as guest rooms for visiting family and friends.
Their daughter Emily was the typical little girl. Being an only child she was never starved for attention, especially when it came to her dad. The quintessential “Daddy’s Girl” she absolutely adored her father and like most children, especially little girls, she knew how to wrap him around her little finger. Having survived the Terrible Two’s Sheila was able to focus a little more on her gradual re-entry into the work force while being able to give Emily some freedom to explore the world around her. With a large back yard and newly erected fence she could quite easily keep a watchful eye on Emily from the Deck while she tinkered away on her Laptop or cooked dinner. Their neighbors were fairly decent. The houses weren’t too close together which afforded some level of privacy yet allowed people to be able to wave hello or hold a decent conversation while doing yard work or enjoying a lazy afternoon stroll. In Sheila’s eyes, it was the best of both worlds so the small sacrifice of commute and time was worth it.
Like most married couples, Sheila and James fell into a comfortable routine. Even though he was now a Senior Partner, James at times still worked long days going over briefs, consulting with high profile clients and mentoring the junior attorneys that not only worked for him, but also looked to him for guidance. During the week it was pretty much the daily grind for James & Sheila. Their weekends were typically spent as a family, spending time with Emily, catching up on any leftover household chores and the occasional family outing to do some shopping or dinners. On occasion they would drop Emily off with either his or her parents and enjoy some much needed spontaneous yet planned romance. Every so often they would take advantage of their neighbor’s yard sales or shop for antique furniture, one of Sheila’s passions; one such weekend they visited an antique store that was about an hour’s drive north of their town based on a recommendation of their neighbor Anne. Anne was a widow who lost her husband some years ago and enjoyed being able to assist Sheila with taking care little Emily. She even offered to take care of Emily if the ever needed a baby sitter on a moment’s notice.
When they arrived at the Antique store Sheila felt as if she has struck gold. The furniture was exactly what she was searching for, Victorian aged items that were meticulously cared for and mostly hand carved. Emily was instantly was drawn to a miniature rocking chair; though it somehow didn’t fit with the period that Sheila wanted, James, forever the doting father decided to buy it as a gift for his Emily. It was white with hand painted angels on the corners. Oddly enough and as if by sheer coincidence there was a child’s name engraved on the back. Written in pink letters was the name “Emily”.
James – Well talk about being lucky! Hun, you gotta see this. Whoever owned this chair had a little girl with the same name as Emily. (He chuckled to himself) Now that’s something you don’t see every day. Hey uh, sir. Excuse me sir. How much for the rocking chair?
Mr. Taylor – Sorry it’s not for sale. Display item only. Actually I don’t even remember how it ended up out here. That darn kid, I swear you just can’t hire reliable help now days; everyone’s in a rush and no one follows directions.
James – Hey look. Let me make you an offer. Say I give you fifty bucks for it?
Mr. Taylor – It’s not for sale buddy.
James – (forever the negotiator) Every thing’s for sale pal. You know consumer law states if it’s not marked as a display item then it’s considered to be for sale.
Mr. Taylor – I don’t see a price tag on it! Not for sale.
James – You ever heard of bait & switch?
Mr. Taylor – You ever heard of “My store My Rules?”
James – Consumer rights mean anything to you?
Mr. Taylor – Not since my wife introduced me to the joys of shopping on Amazon! Still not for sale, now stop asking!
Sheila stood and watched the comical exchange between her husband and Mr. Taylor. Not wanting to interrupt her husband as he attempted to persuade Mr. Taylor to sell him the rocking chair, she quietly interjected a simple comment.
Sheila – How about if we purchased this entire living room set and the dining room set as well?
James – (releasing his grip on the chair) come again?
Sheila – Forget about the chair honey, it doesn’t even match the décor. Just get Emily another chair ok? Besides she’s tired I just want to go home and you’re obviously not going to convince him to sell you that thing. Thank Heavens.
Mr. Taylor – I can get it delivered to you for a small fee.
James – You’re gonna charge me to have it delivered?
Sheila – Honey!
Mr. Taylor – (a sarcastic grin on his face) just leave your info with Richard and we’ll have it to you by Saturday.
As Mr. Taylor takes the chair and puts it in the back room Richard comes out and gets the information and processes the payment for the items. Sensing his chance to surprise his little girl, James makes a quick offer to Rich.
James – Hey look. I’ll give you $200 if you throw that white rocking chair in the delivery.
Rich – What are you talking about?
James – That chair your boss is gonna throw away. Just add it to the rest of the stuff and I’ll throw you two hundred bucks. And that’s on top of the tip you’re gonna get for delivering everything.
Rich – I don’t know sir. I mean if Mr. Taylor’s gonna chuck it, then there’s probably-
James – Hey, man to man. It’s for my little girl. Come on, be a pal. He’s throwing it away. So technically you’re not really stealing. Look I’ll give you $300 and if he finds out and starts asking questions I’ll take care of it ok? What do you say, deal?
Rich – (reluctantly) yeah, ok. But hey, if he starts asking questions I’m gonna say you took it out the dumpster or something. I’m not trying to lose my job man.
James – Ok just make sure my wife doesn’t see it. I want it to be a surprise