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A Mogul in the Making

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#121 isabellachanning

    Simmer


  • 53 posts

Posted 20 November 2013 - 05:11 AM

Hmm..  why did Lani turn green?  Could she really be an alien?  :o



#122 DianeHanna

    Junior Member


  • 503 posts
  • LocationDesert Southwest USA

Posted 20 November 2013 - 01:46 PM

HI Isabella!  That Smart Milk is really scary.  It makes them learn real fast, but I don't think it has any lasting effects.  I'd be cool if they sometimes turned alien or mutant or something as a side affect.   

 

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.  It encourages me a lot.


“They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever .” ~ Oscar Wilde


#123 DianeHanna

    Junior Member


  • 503 posts
  • LocationDesert Southwest USA

Posted 25 November 2013 - 03:07 AM

Chapter 71

 

Cathy was working on yet another reconfiguration of the 1-2-3+ Gym.  She pushed out the exercise floor area, separated it from the treadmills with a half wall, and started teaching classes.  Her first Yoga class was a bomb.  She felt like a dork doing yoga all by herself, leaving Robbie to wait on customers alone.  After a while though, both the exercise and the Yoga classes started to catch on and she’d have several students.  They even started practicing yoga on their own, using what she’d taught them.

 

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In just a couple of days, the Gym’s popularity soared.  The city website was deluged with calls from customers reporting their satisfaction.  She even got a Best of the Best Award.

 

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She only needed a few more stars to be Rank 10.  Four businesses down and one to go!  The salon was an easy business to run, she wasn’t too worried about spending time there.  She might see some of Lani’s toddlerhood after all.

 

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They still had not resolved the problem of the missing inventory at Kit-chen Caboodles.   Weeks passed and Cathy and Norah were doing constant checks at Kit-chen Caboodles.  Even though Cathy had commitments at the other stores, each evening she stopped by Kit-chen Caboodles to oversee the reconciliations. Night after night the numbers came out perfectly. 

 

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Cathy was getting frustrated.  She was tired of working late and tired of looking at tapes showing a lot of ordinary commerce. She was beginning to think they had been hit by a burglar.  Why else would inventory be short just the one time?  That really didn’t make sense either.  There had been no sign of a break in.  She felt in her gut that an employee was involved.  But just one time?  That wasn’t the usual pattern for employee theft. 

 

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It was February and the ground was still covered in snow.  Cathy hoped spring would be early this year.  It had been a very busy winter.  So busy that she had managed to skate out of most of their social obligations.  The gym customers had kept her hopping today.  Cathy took her usual break to come home before the nightly routine at Kit-chen Caboodles.

 

It was still light when Cathy reached the house.  She couldn’t wait to tell Malcolm that the latest gym improvements had done the trick. In fact was bursting with her good news.  Her enthusiasm evaporated as she walked up to the front door.  Something was terribly wrong with Watters. The old man was pacing around the front yard, making small circles in the snow and shaking.  He was wearing a bathing suit.  Surely he hadn’t been in the pool in this weather. 

 

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He must have had a breakdown of some kind.  She spoke to him gently. 

 

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“Watters, it’s too cold out here to be in your swimsuit.  Come inside with me.”

 

Watters shook his head and continued to shake.

 

If she could get him to come in the house, she’d call a doctor. He probably had only a few more minutes before he froze to death. She tried again. “Please Watters, it’s time for you to make dinner.”

 

Again he refused.  Finally, in desperation, Cathy told him to take the rest of the day off.  It was the only thing she could think of to do to get him out of the cold.  He walked off down the sidewalk and Cathy went inside.  She’d send Malcolm after him to make sure he got home safely. 

 

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“Malcolm!” she yelled.  “I need you right now!”

 

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Malcom heard the panic in her voice.  He unfolded himself from the floor where he had been singing nursery rhymes with Lani and rushed to her side.

 

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“Malcolm, does Watters have any family?”

 

“I think so, but his children are all grown.  Why?”

 

“Something is really wrong with him. I think taking care of Lani is too much.”

 

“What?” Malcolm asked. “He’s been here all day, doing his usual routine.”

 

“Well, I found him outdoors just now.  He was in a swimsuit. He was circling and circling, and just getting colder and colder.  I couldn’t get him in the house.”

 

“Where is he now?” Malcolm was growing concerned.

 

“The only thing I could think to do was to give him the rest of the day off. He walked off towards town.  I think you should go try to find him.  You may be able to get him into the car before he freezes to death or gets pneumonia.  Even if he makes it home, he’ll need someone to look after him.”

 

Malcolm rushed out the door calling back.  “I might be able to get him to the hospital.”

 

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“Call me when you know something!”  Cathy called out.

 

She never paid much attention to Watters as a person, but she really did appreciate everything he did for them.  She might take him for granted, but Malcolm loved him.  Watters had been taking care of Malcolm his whole life. She calculated backwards.  Watters must be in his late 70s or early 80s.  Was he ready to retire?  She lay down on the sofa to wait. Lani clambered up beside her, dragging the Wobbly Wabbit toy with her.  Despite the noise and the worry, Cathy fell asleep.

 

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It was several hours before Malcolm came home.

 

“I don’t know if he’ll be ok.  I caught up with him a couple blocks from here.  He let me drive him to the ER.  They couldn’t find anything obvious so he’s scheduled for some tests.  Dr. Rogers is keeping him for a few days.”

 

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“Good luck with that. Has he even taken one day off in the years?” Cathy wished all her employees were that dedicated. 

 

“We’ll just have to make sure he takes care of himself.  I don’t want to lose the old fellow.  Today was really scary!”

 

“Does he have anyone to take care of him at home?”

 

“Still don’t know.  He was pretty confused at the hospital, and stubborn. He didn’t want us to call anyone.  You know Cathy, we might be his only family.”

 

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Cathy nodded, agreeing that he was their responsibility.


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“They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever .” ~ Oscar Wilde


#124 isabellachanning

    Simmer


  • 53 posts

Posted 02 December 2013 - 06:12 AM

Poor Watters.... I hope he gets better... 



#125 DianeHanna

    Junior Member


  • 503 posts
  • LocationDesert Southwest USA

Posted 09 December 2013 - 06:34 AM

Chapter 72

The long winter drew to an end in Riverblossom Hills.  Spring slowly poked her head out and the sun melted all the snow.  The flowers at their house came up with all their usual brilliance.  What was not usual was that the Laandgrabbs did not welcome the season or the flowers.  Theirs was a huge property to care for.  It had only been a few days but it seemed like weeks that Watters had been in the hospital. All the yard work fell to Cathy and Malcolm. Along with all the cleaning and caring for a toddler. Even Lani seemed to miss her Watters, although she called him “WaaWaa.”

 

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Malcolm had the most flexible schedule, so he picked up most of the outdoor work.  They split the cleaning, bill paying, taking out the trash and baby care. 

 

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Cathy cut her store rotation back to the minimum.  She hardly ever went in for a full day anywhere, and the only thing she did faithfully every day was check the receipts at Kit-chen Caboodles. She still wasn’t satisfied that the inventory shortage had been an accident. Malcolm’s cameras were working but hadn’t shown anything out of the ordinary.

 

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She wanted to hire some more household help in Watters absence, but Malcolm was having none of that idea.  He visited Watters in the hospital daily and was absolutely certain that he would get better and come back.  Most days he found Watters sleeping.

 

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Cathy had a feeling that when they did find out what was wrong with Watters, he might have to retire. Malcolm absolutely refused to discuss this possibility. He felt that replacing Watters, even temporarily would be a jinx.

 

As Cathy vacuumed the living room, with Lani following on her heels, she thought back to her own childhood.  It wasn’t that she hated housework per se; it just came with so many bad memories.  She pictured her mother lying on a ratty sofa, surrounded by empty beer cans, dropping cigarette ashes on the floor and complaining loudly about her terrible life.  No wonder I’m having trouble being a mother, Cathy realized.  My mother never cared a bit for me, and she certainly didn’t set an example for me to follow.

 

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Since she had so little time to go to her businesses, progress at the salon came to a complete halt.  Thank heavens they had plenty of money, the businesses weren’t making a dime without supervision.

 

There was some good news, the day finally came when the 1-2-3+ Gym got its Rank 10. Although Cathy hadn’t much time to spare, she had decided she could spare a few hours at the gym. She passed a few minutes relaxing with a little yoga practice and noticed that the gym had filled up nicely.

 

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When she checked the city website, as she did daily, the Chamber of Commerce announcement was posted. She pulled a bottle of champagne out of the mini-fridge and took a glass outside where Robbie was doing yard work.  They toasted the business and themselves. 

 

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“Sorry Robbie, I’m going home to celebrate.  You’re stuck here ‘til closing.”

 

“No problem.” Robbie’s whole face was covered with his grin. “I’m the manager of a Rank 10 business!”

 

Cathy was betting he did a happy dance as soon as she was out of sight. Cathy left the gym in his care and sprinted home to tell Malcolm the news. 

 

She caught up with Malcolm watering flowers. “We got Rank 10 today at the gym!” Cathy announced.

 

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“Well,” he said. “finally some good news.” They went inside for another bottle of champagne and more toasting.  If the flowers died, they’d plant more. 

 

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Cathy was bending over scrubbing out the toilet when she was interrupted by the ring of the telephone.

 

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“Hello, Mrs. Landgraab.  This is Nancy from Riverblossom People Magazine.  I understand congratulations are in order.”

 

“You mean my business ranking for the 1-2-3+ Gym?”

 

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“Well, yes.  That and the fact that you have 4 top level businesses.  You’ve been flying under the radar.  No one noticed until today that you and Mr. Landgraab have 6 operations and have received countless ‘Best of the Best’ reviews.”

 

“I see,” said Cathy. But she really didn’t.

 

“I’d like to set up an interview with the two of you,” Nancy rushed on. “Riverblossom readers are going to be very interested in our latest “Power Couple.”

 

Cathy could hear the capital letters.  “I’ll talk to Malcolm.  I’m sure we can agree to an interview. Call me back tomorrow to finalize the details.”

 

“Malcolm,” she called. “Guess what.  We’re the new Riverblossom Hills ‘Power Couple’. Is that hilarious?” She explained about the interview.

 

“It amazes me what people want to read about.”  Malcolm was shaking with laughter.

 

 “Especially if they knew I was scrubbing toilets.”


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“They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever .” ~ Oscar Wilde


#126 DianeHanna

    Junior Member


  • 503 posts
  • LocationDesert Southwest USA

Posted 09 December 2013 - 06:53 AM

Malcolm noticed that Watters was not eating well at the hospital.  He brought a fruit basket to see if anything would tempt his appetite.

 

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Watters had never been much for conversation but today there was no sign of confusion in Watters’ speech.  In fact, he seemed to have a little crush on his nurse Sharon.

 

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Malcolm looked at the monitors by Watters bed, but didn’t really know what he was supposed to see. Malcolm could tell Watters was getting tired, so he said goodnight and took the elevator down to the first floor.

 

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Sharon asked Malcolm to stop by Dr. Roger’s office before going home. Dr. Rogers was waiting for him, with Watters’ file on his desk.

 

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“Mr. Landgraab, have a seat.  Mr. Watters has given us permission to talk to you about his condition.”

 

“Have you figured out what’s wrong?” Malcolm asked.

 

“Yes, turns out to be pretty simple,” Dr. Rogers answered. “Sometimes as people get older they start having problems with medications. Mr. Watters was taking some over the counter allergy medicine.  Mixed with his heart medication, it had a very adverse effect on him.  Medication reactions are more common in older people than in younger adults.  What seemed like dementia was just a bad reaction to his medicine.”

 

“Watters has heart problems?  He never mentioned it.”

 

“He does.  I think he should slow down a bit.  What do you know about his living arrangements?”

 

“Next to nothing,” said Malcolm.

 

“Well, he lives alone. We can release him, but we’re worried that there is no one to keep an eye on him.  We don’t want any more self-medicating, and he probably shouldn’t be working so hard.” Dr. Rogers went on. “Our social worker tried to speak to him about retiring.  He refused to even consider it. He became very upset when she mentioned a retirement home. Says you and Cathy can’t do without him.”

 

“We obviously could do without him, but we certainly don’t want to.  He’s a huge part my life.  Let me talk to Cathy tonight and see what we can come up with.”

 

“Mr. Watters is more than ready to leave the hospital.  He’s been running the legs off Nurse Meyers.  She keeps finding him out of bed, fixing and cleaning things.  He’s repaired a faucet, two computers and the elevator so far.  And he seems fascinated by the surgery training station. If he wasn’t already working for you, I’d be tempted to keep him.” Dr. Rogers gave a little chuckle.  “The trick is going to be getting him to slow down.”

 

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Malcolm walked home, determined to find a solution for all of them.  He knew what he wanted to suggest, but was worried that Cathy wouldn’t agree.

 

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He made a turkey for dinner, and hoped for the best. Tired from all the extra exertion, he got ready for bed. They put Lani to bed early and sat down together to eat and talk about the problem.

 

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He needed have worried.  Cathy had come to the same conclusion that he had.

 

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“We have a spare bedroom, Malcolm,” she said.  “Why don’t we ask Watters to move in?”

 

 Malcolm gave silent thanks.  “It’s what I’d hoped you’d say. It sounds like a good idea, but won’t he just work all the time if we do that?”

 

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“We’ll have to make him rest.  We could ease him into a sort of retirement.  If we got a gardener for the outside stuff, the housework wouldn’t seem so hard.  If it was still too much we could hire a housekeeper or maid.  He can be in charge of all the staff.  Let him do the hiring and firing. It’ll be a kind of promotion. That shouldn’t hurt his feelings.”

 

“I really think we should try to get him more privacy than that little corner bedroom.  It’ll do for now, but I’m thinking I should take out my workshop and make a little apartment for him.” The corner bedroom had not been touched since they moved in and it was decorated for a little girl.  Watters would absolutely hate it.

 

“Oh Malcolm, that’s a great idea. In the meantime, I’ll get an order in for some more masculine furniture.”

 

“I can move my tools and stuff into the garage. I haven’t had much time for tinkering anyway since Lani was born.  It’s really wasted space.”

 


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“They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever .” ~ Oscar Wilde


#127 isabellachanning

    Simmer


  • 53 posts

Posted 16 December 2013 - 04:46 AM

I am so happy Watters isn't as seriously ill as appeared to be.  I thought to myself, for crying out loud with all the money they have just hire so temp help.  Just as I was thinking that, I read Macolm doesn't want to because it might jinx him coming back.  Its heartwarming how they want to take care of Watters.  With all that Malcolm does...  Hmm...  Malcolm is almost seeming too good to be true...  :unsure:



#128 DianeHanna

    Junior Member


  • 503 posts
  • LocationDesert Southwest USA

Posted 23 December 2013 - 01:43 AM

Chapter 73

Malcolm picked Watters up from the hospital and the two stopped by the grocery.

 

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They had just pulled into the driveway when Norah called Cathy.

 

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The inventory at Kit-chen Caboodles came up short again.  Cathy and Norah were in for a very late night. They carefully counted each piece of merchandise in the storeroom and on the shelves.  They counted the register and compared the bank deposit with the sales receipts.  They went over each wholesale purchase for the week.  There was quite a large discrepancy.

 

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Cathy checked the positioning of the cameras, satisfied that if there was anything to see, they would find it. Since Cathy’s office was so small, Malcolm had set up a desk with two computers in the break room so the two could watch the tapes side by side.  Cathy was watching the cameras that covered the front door and street.  Norah was watching the interior.

 

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Both women had consumed enormous quantities of coffee.  After a full day at work Norah was exhausted. They finally had to take a break.

 

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While Norah ran for the bathroom, Cathy sat on the sofa, sipping a cup, thinking about the problem, trying to stay awake. There was nothing more boring than watching an ordinary business day on video.  They’d been looking at tapes for hours, trying to spot something out of the ordinary.

 

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Cathy moved to the table in the break room, grabbing a bottle of diet soda from the mini-fridge.  She needed caffeine in the worst way if she was going to make it through the next few hours, but her stomach wouldn’t stand any more coffee.  Cathy laid her head on her arms for a few minutes, her eyes burning.

 

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Norah lay on the sofa and was asleep in seconds.

 

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Cathy had called home hours ago: Malcolm had helped Watters get settled into the spare room. Not that she’d been worried, she was too engrossed in this problem to spare much thought to the home front.  She let Norah nap a bit longer, but returned to the computer screen and continued reviewing the downloaded feeds from the cameras.  Even with fast forward, there were eight cameras. It was all Cathy could do to keep her eyes focused.  So far all she’d seen were a lot of ordinary transactions.  Not one suspicious customer stuffing a single object into a pocket or purse.

 

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Norah opened her eyes.  “Any more of that soda left?  I’m completely coffeed out.”  Cathy nodded to the mini-fridge.  Norah grabbed a drink and headed back to the monitors.

 

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 “Norah, check this out.”  Cathy paused the replay and ran it backwards for a few seconds. Norah stood behind Cathy munching on a few chips and watching over her shoulder. The tape was from earlier in the day, Cathy had been stuck at home and Norah was running the business on her own.

 

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They watched in silence as a delivery truck pulled up from Kitchens Fantastic, one of their major suppliers.  They watched as Shima left the store and rounded the back of the truck, clipboard in hand.  She glanced at the list and signed off on it. 

 

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Everything looked normal, the driver opened the doors of the truck and grabbed the dolly.  He unloaded several boxes, rolling them around to the back door to the storeroom.  Cathy counted 6 trips with 3 boxes each time.  She turned to Norah. 

 

“Aren’t you the one to accept deliveries?”

 

Norah looked stricken. “Yes, it is my job.  But I remember what happened yesterday.  I was right in the middle of a big sale.  Mrs. Seymour was picking out all new appliances for a major kitchen remodel.  The sale was worth thousands.   Sooo Shima said she’d take the delivery for me. She’s such a great restocker, I knew she’d have no trouble with the order.”

 

Cathy sighed.  “Let's see that packing slip again.  We need to see if that driver unloaded everything on the list.  Has Shima or Jill accepted deliveries for you before?”

 

“Only Shima, and only a few times when I was real busy,” Norah confessed. She looked through the file cabinet and found the paperwork from yesterday’s delivery.  With the list on the table in front of them they started counting the items.  It was obvious that there was a lot more there than 18 boxes worth.  They spun back the video and looked again.  There were two dishwashers listed and not one of the boxes was large enough to hold even one.

 

“This is our answer.” Cathy said.

 

“Do you think she was just careless about signing?” Norah wanted to know. The two women studied the image carefully.  There was nothing in Shima’s body language to indicate any guilty knowledge.  In fact it seemed she barely glanced at the unloaded parcels, quickly signed off and returned to work.

 

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“Maybe.  She certainly doesn’t give any sign that she even knows the driver.  But again maybe she is a good actress.  It would take a lot of nerve on the part of the driver to assume that only she would be careless checking the shipments.  He never tried it with you?”

 

Norah shook her head.  “But I always wait until everything is unloaded to sign the bill of lading.”

 

“I think they’re conspiring. That would explain why so much time went by between incidents. It’s a rare occurrence that Shima takes a delivery.  I’ll bet they’re selling the stuff on internet. A nice little salary bump for both of them.  I’d sure like to know where that truck went next. I’m making a police report. Officer Quinn will get it sorted out.”

 

“I should call Kitchens Fantastic tomorrow. I won’t say what the problem is; Quinn can take care of that. But I’m going to insist that they schedule deliveries before or after we close.  That way you won’t have to walk away from sales to check in new stock.”

 

“Cathy, I’m so sorry I let you down.” Norah was in tears. “I’m a terrible manager.”

 

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Cathy reassured her, “Not a terrible manager, just too trusting. We’ve both learned a lot from this, and it won’t happen again, right?  Go ahead and call it a night.”

 

Cathy locked the door behind them and watched until Norah disappeared into the night.  She had plenty of time on her own walk home to get depressed.  She liked Shima and had trusted her.  Now she’d be hiring again.

 

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Malcolm had left a light on for her in the kitchen, but the rest of the house was dark.  She’d missed Lani’s bedtime again.  Feeling like the most inadequate mother ever, she slid into bed beside Malcolm. It was a long time before her mind blanked out.

 


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“They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever .” ~ Oscar Wilde


#129 isabellachanning

    Simmer


  • 53 posts

Posted 27 December 2013 - 04:32 AM

Poor Cathy... but the plot thickens with the missing inventory and the possible conspiracy. :o



#130 DianeHanna

    Junior Member


  • 503 posts
  • LocationDesert Southwest USA

Posted 30 December 2013 - 02:00 AM

Chapter 74

Cathy called the police the next morning.  It wasn’t her friend Quinn; one of his officers came to take the report.  He seemed excited when she gave him the tapes and her theory about the crimes.  He promised that they would keep her informed of any actions they were taking.  In the meantime, Shima was to be allowed to continue working.

 

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With Watters back in the picture things began to settle down again.  Construction on his little guest house was coming along. Malcolm had removed all his tools to the garage as promised and they were expanding the little space for a bathroom and bedroom with a small sitting area for reading.

 

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Cathy found it amusing that Watters continued to wear the same suits he wore to work in the past. 

 

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In fact, she was quite surprised to find that he actually slept in regular pajamas. She wondered what he did to relax when he lived alone.  He really didn’t seem to be slowing down all that much.

 

She and Malcolm had tried several times over the last few days to impress upon him that he lived here.  He wasn’t supposed to be working 24/7.  If he wanted to do some housework or childcare during the day, that was fine.  But his main job was to be resting and recuperating.  Cathy wondered how long it would take for him to become accustomed to being part of the family instead of an employee.

 

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He really wasn’t up to running the household again like he had been.  The worst was when he walked away from the kitchen to answer one of Lani’s frequent calls.  He completely forgot he had something in the oven.  There wasn’t much damage; the smoke detectors did their job.  But still, it upset him greatly to see himself slipping. 

 

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The toughest battle was getting him to take meals with them. Cathy started with a small skirmish, insisting that he eat with her when Malcolm was not at home. It was an uphill battle, won only when she told him she hated eating alone. They were not the most relaxing of meals, but Cathy thought she noticed him loosening up a little bit.

 

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She was even able to coax him into playing some chess with her when Malcolm was off to one of his frequent business meetings.  Of course, he beat her hands down. Every time.

 

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He was most comfortable with Lani, and she worshiped him.  He never seemed to tire of playing, talking or reading to her.

 

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The next hurdle was hiring a gardener.  Cathy could tell they’d be going through gardeners at a pretty good clip until he found one that met his exacting standards.  Every single flower and shrub was inspected each night and he didn’t hesitate to express his opinion of their work.

 

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It was nearly a week before Cathy heard back from the police about her inventory problem.  Officer Quinn stopped by the store.  He was happy to tell her that her suspicions were correct.  Shima and the delivery man were conspiring.  He was not so happy to tell her that they had absolutely no ties to the criminal organization that had been making his job miserable for so long.  He had hoped that her minnows would lead to bigger fish.  They were sitting in jail now, in their separate cells having been interviewed six ways from Sunday.  Unfortunately, they were acting completely on their own. 

 

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“I wish you’d cracked our burglary ring, Cathy,” he said. “This is definitely penny-ante stuff. Not related at all to the larger thefts we’ve had.”

 

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“Are you sure?” asked Cathy.  “Seems to me that delivery guy has access to a lot of places.”

 

“I’m sure,” he said.  “It was just a little thing they cooked up themselves.”

 

Cathy made a note to start interviewing again in the morning.  Another little setback in her progress, but Kit-chen Caboodles had lost only money, not ranking.  So now she was able to concentrate her attention on the Lakeside Spa, the last business she needed to make her five.


  • isabellachanning likes this

“They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever .” ~ Oscar Wilde


#131 isabellachanning

    Simmer


  • 53 posts

Posted 06 January 2014 - 04:31 AM

It's cute how Watters and Lani are best buds.  :)  



#132 wordlesswriter

    House Party Crasher


  • 404 posts
  • Locationsome place only slightly intresting

Posted 04 February 2014 - 01:15 AM

I've been slowly reading to get caught up.  only on page 2...but I like it so far.  I only recently started experimenting with OFB, so I like seeing how it works.  haven't tried for a second buisness yet with any of my sims, but there are some in the planning.  



#133 DianeHanna

    Junior Member


  • 503 posts
  • LocationDesert Southwest USA

Posted 26 December 2014 - 06:07 PM

It's been forever since I updated,  so sorry!

 

 

Chapter 75

 

Weeks, then months passed. The Lakeside Salon and Spa slowly, steadily grew in popularity.  To Cathy, it was the easiest business she had ever started. 

 

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Couple of massages a day, then just hang out, chatting with her customers. She used the spa services herself as much as her customers did.

 

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Still did an occasional free haircut, not so many as she had at first.  Most clients were now repeats. Andrew was becoming celebrated in his own right, making a big name for himself among the fashionable. 

 

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Watters settled into his apartment.  He was still providing valuable help, albeit a bit slower than before.  Malcolm, especially, was glad that Lani didn’t have to spend her days in preschool. Cathy was a little curious about how Lani would handle school when she was old enough. As an only child, with what was essentially her own retainer, was she going to be shocked that the world did not actually revolve around her? 

 

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Malcolm had gone out for the evening but promised to return in time for dinner.  Cathy sat down at the table, settled a glass of wine in front of her and picked up the newspaper that had been waiting for her since early that morning. A strange sound escaped from her lips, something between a hiss and a groan. She’d turned the page and a full page ad smacked her in the face.

 

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‘Grand Opening’, screamed the ad.  ‘The Manly Man Gym’ for the Serious Bodybuilder.

 

Just great! she thought. A new wrinkle in my business plan.  She was taken totally by surprise.  So much for friends on the city council, she frowned.  Not even a hint that someone had applied for a business license in one of her areas.

 

Would she lose customers at the 1-2-3+ Gym? For years now, her only competition had been the Maple Springs Spa.  It had a large pool, and a boutique, so attracted a slightly different crowd than her Gym.  She thought for a while about her customer base.  Would any of them be considered serious bodybuilders, or wannabe bodybuilders?  No one immediately came to mind, so she decided against freaking out.  Still, it needed some analysis.

 

I can’t check out a place called ‘The Manly Man’ Gym.  This was a job for Malcolm.

 

Malcolm came in a little later and Watters served dinner. At the table, Cathy and Malcolm spoke about the new competition.  Malcolm assured her that he would scope the new gym out the next morning.

 

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With Malcolm on the job, Cathy relaxed and enjoyed the lobster Watters had prepared.  As they finished the last bites, Watters brought a freshly bathed Lani in to say goodnight. Cathy’s heart melted as she watched Malcolm cuddle and tease the little girl.  Lani always went to sleep better if Malcolm tucked her in.

 

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Cathy thought about the little toddler and counted to herself.  It wouldn’t be long before she was going to school.  Where had the time gone? Cathy was acutely aware that she’d missed something.  Something irretrievable. Obsession was like that, she supposed. She could only truly focus on one thing at a time; her focus had been firmly on success. 


“They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever .” ~ Oscar Wilde


#134 DianeHanna

    Junior Member


  • 503 posts
  • LocationDesert Southwest USA

Posted 26 December 2014 - 06:16 PM

Malcolm smiled, as he passed through the doors of the new business Cathy perceived as competition.  Not a business Cathy would want to own, he decided instantly.  It was completely hardcore, with a heavy-duty weight training area and lots of punching bags. He did more than glance around as he passed though the portal, taking careful note of the features and décor. Cathy would want a lot of details.

 

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The centerpiece of the gym was an octagon cage for mixed martial arts.  It was surrounded by some seats and encircled by a row of punching bags.   Definitely not Cathy’s style. In fact, there was no women’s locker room or restroom.

 

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He immediately signed up for a membership, a fact he didn’t plan to share with Cathy.

 

Judging by the men he saw currently working on the bags and the machines, it appealed to a very different clientele from Cathy’s yoga and aerobics crowd.  He had a feeling there would be a new breed of resident moving into Downtown.  If the new owners handled the business correctly, staging tournaments both on a national level and for the newly trained here in town, he could see a population influx.  No wonder the city council approved the business application so quickly.

 

 

Malcolm sat down on the leg press. He began at a slow pace, wanting to blend in, but wanting to observe as well.  Of course, he really didn’t blend in.  He had considered himself pretty buff, but these guys made him look scrawny. 

 

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Looking at the other patrons, he wondered what kind of work they would find in Riverblossom Hills.  It seemed a pity to waste all that sheer muscle.  His fertile mind started churning, pumping out ideas to use them in his business ventures.

 

As they cycled around the various machines, he introduced himself to a couple of guys who turned out to be brothers. 

 

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When the brothers finished their workouts, he made his way into the locker room aiming to find out more about the bodybuilders. Brian and Daryl Henchman had come to town to take advantage of the new training venue. They were serious bodybuilders. Daryl particularly was training for competition.

 

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As Malcolm suspected, neither man had found satisfactory employment.  Brian was working in a fast food restaurant and Daryl hadn’t found work at all. Malcolm slipped a business card to Daryl.

 

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Malcolm left the gym feeling he had done himself some good, as well as gathering the information Cathy wanted.

 

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“They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever .” ~ Oscar Wilde


#135 DianeHanna

    Junior Member


  • 503 posts
  • LocationDesert Southwest USA

Posted 30 March 2015 - 11:43 PM

Chapter 76

 

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The phone rang very early.  Cathy answered quickly and spoke quietly, not wanting to wake the rest of the household.  Watters had not come in yet for breakfast and Malcolm and Lani were sleeping soundly. It had been another late night for Malcolm: Cathy had been asleep when he came home. She hadn’t stirred enough to check the clock, much less ask him what he’d been working on so late.

 

The voice on the phone was familiar, a shock from the past.

 

“Cathy? It’s Suzanne!”

 

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Suzanne? Her sister? It had been nearly eight years since Cathy left home and it was at least five years earlier that Suzanne had jumped ship.

 

“Suzanne, this is a shock!  How are you?”  Cathy was actually stuttering.

 

“Never mind all that!” the voice was strident and sounded upset. “Do you realize what you’ve done?”

 

“What are you talking about?” Cathy was either too sleepy to follow the conversation or Suzanne was being deliberately cryptic.

 

“What were you thinking, talking to that reporter?”

 

Cathy stared at the handset, trying to pick up the thread of Suzanne’s thought. Then she remembered the interview she and Malcolm had done a few months ago.  “That puff piece for the local paper? We did it as a joke.  What harm could that do?”

 

Cathy could hear Suzanne take a deep breath.  “Well, it sure didn’t stay local,” she slowed down and began to explain. “Your ‘rags to riches’ story got picked up by a bunch of regional papers. Of course, someone clipped it and sent it to Mom.”

 

Cathy was stunned.  “She saw the picture of my family and our house?”

 

“And it took her about a minute to find you. She called me yesterday to crow about her good daughter,” Suzanne finished her sentence.

 

“How did she know where you were?” Cathy asked. “I thought you got away clean.”

 

“Social Services tracked me down.  They needed someone to sign her into Rehab. It was that, or jail.”

 

“And the Rehab didn’t take?”

 

“Are you kidding?  She doesn’t want to quit drinking, just wants someone to take care of her, keep her supplied. You and your husband just moved up to the top slot. I think she got on a bus this morning.”

 

No, no, no, thought Cathy.  I can’t do this.

 

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“You couldn’t have stopped her?”

 

“Not a chance.”

 

“Can you come, too?” Cathy’s voice had taken on a plaintive note.  “I could sure use some support.”

 

“I doubt it,” Cathy could almost hear her shaking her head. “I’d have to ask off work and it pretty busy right now.”

 

“Would it help if I sent travel money?  Sorry, to be so blunt, but I don’t know anything about your situation.”

 

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Suzanne did not seem offended.  “No, I have a good job.  I’m a nurse. But like most hospitals, we’re short-staffed.”

 

“Suzanne… I’m sorry I didn’t look for you. Too caught up in my own situation, I guess.”  Cathy realized that in hiding from their Mom, the kids also hid from each other.  “Are you married? What about the others, are they OK?”

 

Suzanne laughed. Cathy had missed her robust laugh.  “One question at a time, please.  Not married, but I am with a really good guy.  No kids.  I haven’t had much contact with the rest of the clan; I do know that Joe has had problems.  He’s in prison.”

 

Cathy was washed with guilt. “I could have helped you guys.  I’ve been so selfish.”

 

“Don’t worry about that now, I’m still feeling bad about abandoning you with the witch. You were still just a kid.  Call me again, after you deal with Mom.  Maybe we can get together.”

 

Cathy hung up the phone.  Suddenly her legs seemed to go out from under her.  She sank down in the hallway, back to the wall, to keep from falling.

 

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It must have been several minutes before she was able to get up. Downstairs in the kitchen, she fired up the espresso machine. 

 

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It was going to take a raft of caffeine to deal with this one. Since she had no idea when her mother would get there, she called in to all her businesses and took the day off.

 

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This is just too much, she thought.

 

Malcolm found her at the table with tears flowing. She told him about the problem in as few words as possible, trying to control her ‘out of control’ emotions.

 

Malcolm spoke calmly and confidently.  “Don’t worry Cathy, we’ll take care of it.  It may be as easy as giving her some money.”

 

“Sure, and she’ll come back every few months for more.”

 

They moved out to the living room.  Malcolm played the piano, some of the ragtime tunes he was so fond of, hoping to cheer her up. 

 

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Cathy barely heard the music.  She remembered coming home from school every day, pausing at the door.  It was a toss-up as to what she’d find.  If she was lucky her mom was passed out in bed or on the sofa, assuming she’d managed to get up that day.  On bad days, she was greeting by her mother’s verbal barrage.  How come she was so late getting home?  The house was a mess.  Didn’t she know her mother was sick?  She needed Cathy to take better care of her.  If she couldn’t do a better job, she’d have to quit school. How selfish Cathy was to linger at school when her mother needed dinner.  On and on it went…..

 

And the house.  No matter how much Cathy picked up before school, the coffee table and floor were covered with empty and half empty bottles and cans, many serving as impromptu ash trays.  The stench of beer and smoke was disgusting.

 

On really good days, her mother was ‘entertaining’ and Cathy was kicked out of the house. She waited until late to come back home and let herself in quietly.  She was usually hungry because she didn’t want to spend any of her meager savings on food.  At least the library offered her a warm spot and her homework was finished.

 

Cathy was so upset she almost choked on her coffee.  The smell of eggs coming from the kitchen turned her stomach.  She went upstairs hoping a shower would help her relax.   She stretched out on the bed staring at the ceiling.  Malcolm came in to talk to her.

 

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Cathy said, “I just don’t want her around.  Especially around Lani.  And I hate to say it, but the embarrassment factor in this is huge. Your old society friends are going to have another good laugh on me.  I’ll bet the Salon explodes with customers, all looking at me with fake sympathy.”

 

“Cathy,” Malcolm soothed. “How many times have I told you, we don’t care what people think? I thought having friends in high places would be helpful.  It’s really not. I don’t embarrass easily and I’m proud of everything you’ve accomplished. You are so far removed from your mother it’s hard to believe you’re related.”

 

His words helped a little.

 

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Cathy was still anxious and edgy and the day passed almost as slowly as the day they’d waited for Lani to be born.  It was no less frightening.


“They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever .” ~ Oscar Wilde


#136 DianeHanna

    Junior Member


  • 503 posts
  • LocationDesert Southwest USA

Posted 30 March 2015 - 11:58 PM

The doorbell finally rang around dinnertime.  Cathy asked Watters to take Lani to his apartment to play. 

 

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He pulled dinner off the stove and carried a giggling Lani out the back.  She had been told never to bother Watters when he was in his apartment, so she felt like she was doing something special.

 

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Cathy took a deep breath.  Not helping.  She tried another.  Still not helping.  Her yoga breathing had escaped her completely.  Her heart was pounding, and Cathy realized that she was afraid, not just angry.

 

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It took a few more rings of the bell before she forced herself to open the door.  It was even worse than she imagined. The woman standing before her was no longer the moderately attractive woman she remembered. Years of drinking had marked her face with deep wrinkles and her skin had a florid cast. It looked like she had some enhancements, but the enhancements looked to have sagged. Much lower than a surgeon would have originally placed them.  Cathy wondered who paid for those.

 

Her hair, which had been through a number of color changes in her youth had now been dyed a ridiculous dark red.  Her taste in clothes had not changed in the least. 

 

They’d had an early frost. It was only a little ways into fall, but it was freezing cold outside. Her mother was dressed in an impossibly low cut, cheap leopard skin print dress. Totally inappropriate for a woman her age, Cathy thought. Actually for a woman of any age. Too short, too low cut, and made of shiny, cheap polyester. The only warm thing she had on was a pair of boots.

 

“Baby!” she cried. “I’ve been so worried. Why did you disappear like that? She reached out to grab Cathy in an embrace.

 

Cathy sidestepped the hug. “For the same reason all the kids left.”

 

“But you were my baby! My favorite. You don’t know what I went through when I found you gone.  I tried to file a missing persons report but the police wouldn’t pay any attention. In fact, they refused to look for you. Had the nerve to tell me you were an adult and had the right to go anywhere you wanted. No matter how much I told them something bad had happened to you, they wouldn’t listen.”

 

 “Nothing bad happened.  I’m sure you would have heard about it if it had.” Cathy thought it was very likely that she had gone to the police.  Her last meal ticket had just slithered away.

 

“All is forgiven,” her mother rushed ahead.  “I’ve found you again in better circumstances.”

 

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“I don’t want to see you!” Cathy was blunt.  One thing about running the businesses, she had developed a thicker skin.   

 

“Please, baby. Let me in. It’s freezing out here.  I fell asleep on the bus and someone stole my coat.” 

 

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Oh great, thought Cathy.  She hasn’t lost any of her guilt-inducing tricks.  She’d have to let her in now.

Cathy stepped aside and felt, rather than heard Malcolm move beside her. 

 

“Problem?” he asked innocently.

 

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 “Not a bit! I’m Delores, Cathy’s mother.” She almost shoved Cathy out of the way.  

 

Delores planted herself in front of Malcolm.  She looked up and down the length of his body and gave him one of her patented leers.  Delores stuck out her chest and ran her finger down Malcolm’s arm.

 

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 “Oh, aren’t you just the handsome one!” Cathy remembered that simper.  It almost made her gag.

 

“How about some coffee to take the chill off?  Delores settled herself on the sofa, not waiting for an invitation.

 

Cathy went to the kitchen and started the coffee maker.  At least she hadn’t asked for a drink. Cathy’s teeth were clenched so tightly, her jaw was starting to ache.  And she felt like her shoulders had contracted up to her ears.  All these years she’d been dealing with business stress and today was the first day she’d really, really wanted a valium. 

 

She set the coffee in front of Delores, who was really settling in on the couch.  Malcolm had positioned himself at the farthest end and Cathy stood behind him.

 

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Might as well get it over with, Cathy thought.  “What do you want, Mother?” 

 

“Don’t be that way, Cathy.” Delores whined. “I missed you.  And now I find out you have a baby daughter.  I want to see my granddaughter.”

 

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Cathy had been anticipating this.  “She’s not here right now. She’s with the babysitter.”  Watters deserved better than to be called that, but Cathy knew he’d forgive the deception.  Last thing she wanted was for Delores to know they had someone living in with them.

 

“Well,” said Delores. “I’m going to be around.  I can meet her later.  I’ll be staying here with you, of course.”

 

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Not in this lifetime.  Cathy didn’t say anything for a few seconds.  Malcolm came to the rescue. 

 

“Delores, I’ll check you into a nice hotel downtown,” he said.  “Cathy is too busy with her businesses to have houseguests.”

 

“I’m not a houseguest, I’m family!  I could help you.  If I were here, you wouldn’t need a babysitter.”

 

It would have been funny if it weren’t so scary. 

 

“Our daughter is very settled now.” Malcolm used his most soothing tone of voice. “No need to change her routine. Finish your coffee, and I’ll take you to the hotel.”

 

Delores seemed firmly planted, so Malcolm took her arm firmly and tugged her up. 

 

“I’ll call you in the morning, Cathy.”

 

“I’ll be working, Mother.”

 

“Which store?  I could come by for lunch.”

 

All the information Delores needed to make them miserable had been mentioned in that stupid article.


“They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever .” ~ Oscar Wilde


#137 DianeHanna

    Junior Member


  • 503 posts
  • LocationDesert Southwest USA

Posted 04 May 2015 - 07:08 PM

Chapter 77

 

Cathy simply had to spend some time at each store today. She forced herself to eat breakfast.  With five stores to visit who knew when she’d get another chance.

 

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Where she ordinarily looked forward to going to work, today she was filled with trepidation.  An hour or two at each business would have to do.  It wasn’t the way she liked to run her businesses, but better than nothing.  Her anxiety level was peaking near the top of the meter; she was glad she didn’t know what her blood pressure was reading.

 

She started off at Kit-chen Caboodles.  It was early when she got there. Her manager, Norah arrived shortly thereafter.  They worked companionably for an hour, helping the first few lines of customers.

 

As a replacement restocker for the incarcerated Shima, they had hired Amanda.  She and her husband wandered into Riverblossom Hills on a hiking trip, had spent a weekend snowed in at one of the cabins near the national park, and decided to stay.  Cathy was interested to see her work.  Norah, who had worked her way up from restocker to manager, had handled most of the training.  So far, so good, Cathy observed.

 

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No sign of her mother. I’m not surprised, thought Cathy.  She never used to get up this early.

 

Cathy pushed on to the gym.  If her mother was on her normal track, the gym would be the last place she would pop up. She didn’t have much time to spend here, so she slipped quietly into the back of a class.  A little yoga practice lowered the stress level a bit.

 

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No sign of her at Valentine’s Anytime.  Or at the Lakeside Spa.  The spa was one place Cathy would not have minded seeing her mother.  Maybe Andrew could do something about that hair! Of course, Delores might have even more outrageous ideas.

 

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As the hours went by, Cathy became convinced that Delores would time her arrival to cause the maximum disruption and embarrassment.  So she was not at all surprised to find Delores soaking up free drinks at the bar at Club Dante.

 

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She had changed from the leopard print dress into a denim miniskirt and slinky low cut sleeveless red top.  Cathy had to laugh in spite of herself. Strange costume for winter.

 

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Of course Delores had announced to Shannon that she was Cathy’s mother, He comped her.  Cathy wished she’d warned Shannon to keep her out.  Just as well I didn't, was her second thought.  When Delores is angry, her shriek’s like a tsunami.  The sound just keeps coming, sweeping away everything in its path.

 

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Now she was firmly entrenched in the bar. No one seemed to be paying attention to her. 

 

Cathy circled the club a few times, avoiding the bar as much as possible. Downstairs again she grimaced; Delores was putting on quite a show on the dance floor.

 

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Cathy kept her back to the floor and made her way to the door. She left the closing to Shannon and slipped out.

 

 

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The jumble in her brain unraveled a little as she breathed in the chilly night air.  Except for a few heavy snowstorms, the winter had been mild. She could see her breath, but she stayed warm by keeping a good pace.  Walking to and from her stores was a pleasure and a therapy for Cathy.

 

So far, Delores had only caused some minor embarrassment.  If this is a bad as it gets, I can probably stand it, she thought.  I will have to make it plain that she can’t snake her way through town dropping my name to get free services.  It worked with Shannon, and Cathy supposed she’d have to let her ‘shop’ at her five stores, and Malcolm’s Electronics Superstore. She made a mental note to talk to all her managers.  She’d ask them to give Delores whatever she asked, but they needed to keep an eye on her. 

 

Other merchants were another story.  Cathy worked hard to build up goodwill.  Delores could annihilate that in minutes.

 

Cathy decided she’d have to grin and bear it.  She hoped Malcolm would agree. They’d talk in the morning about damage control.  Cathy laughed a bit.  Damage Control?  Politicians and other famous people had to deal with inconvenient relatives all the time.  She was in good company.

 


“They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever .” ~ Oscar Wilde


#138 DianeHanna

    Junior Member


  • 503 posts
  • LocationDesert Southwest USA

Posted 09 May 2015 - 04:47 AM

Chapter 78

 

They had their discussion in the morning over breakfast.  Malcolm relaxed a little when he saw Cathy unwinding.

 

“I guess we can put up with her, Malcolm.”  Cathy reached across the table and took his hand.  “Of course it’s going to cost us.  My thinking …. she’ll try to embarrass the money out of me.”

 

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“She’s at the Blue Lake Lodge for now.  Do you want me to take some cash over?” 

 

“I’ll do it later today.  You paid for a few nights?” Cathy asked.

 

“A week,” he answered.  “She’s getting free drinks at Dante’s, so she shouldn’t need too much extra.”

 

“Just for clothes, cigs and food. Plus a bottle or two to tide her over until the club opens. Too bad we don’t have a clothing store. The stuff I sell at Valentine’s…..it’s mostly lingerie and I think my heart would stop if I had to see her wearing any of that.”

 

Malcolm stood and picked up his empty plate.  “Pretty well trained for a trust fund baby,” she again teased. It was one of their standing jokes.  Malcolm was naturally much neater than she was.

 

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Cathy looked at the clock.  It was time for her to be moving along. She gave Malcolm a quick kiss goodbye. She’d had so many distractions lately, the ranking at the Lakeside Spa wasn’t progressing at all.  “Still only rank 7,’ she muttered. “No use going out to the lodge yet.  Mother hasn’t see 8:00 am in years.”

 

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As she went out to the sidewalk, Watters followed. 

 

“Yes, Watters?”

 

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“What would you like me to do to assist with the preparations for Miss Lani’s birthday celebration next week?”

 

Cathy pressed her lips together, swallowing a groan. How could she have forgotten?  “Lani wouldn’t like a big party.” Cathy thought about the shy toddler. She only really felt comfortable with her family and Watters. She hid behind Watters when visitors approached her. “Just us, the Tinkers and the Ramirez family. Would you call the caterers for me?”

 

“Certainly.  Did you have a particular menu in mind?”

 

Cathy didn’t want to admit she hadn’t given the birthday a single thought.  “I don’t want a sit-down dinner, so just finger foods and of course a birthday cake and coffee.”  Cathy was winging it, but it sounded ok.

 

She’d been planning to start the day at Kit-chen Caboodles, but changed her mind.  It suddenly seemed urgent to get to the Lakeside Spa. She hopped in the car and pulled out of the driveway.  As she parked the car in front of the salon, she realized why she was hurrying.  She thought about her business progress and the goals she’d set so long ago.  Her deadlines had been pushed back time and time again. First she’d thought she’d have her five top level businesses before she got married.  Then she thought she’d get there before she had children.  The goal moved again after Lani was born.  She’d pushed the marker to before Lani was walking.  Then she’d had to move it again to before Lani started school.  It looked like she was going to miss this mark, too.

 

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She unlocked the doors and opened the business.  No customers were waiting, so she pushed open the office door and switched on the computer.  She quickly scanned the business listings.  Here it was, Lakeside Salon and Day Spa – Rank 7.  Just as she feared, there was no way was she going to reach Rank 10 in a week.  Again the goal shifted like a mirage.  At this rate she’d be lucky to finish by the time Lani started high school.  Why I’ll be an old lady by then!

 

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Plenty of customers had come in while she was in the office. Three calming breaths later and she decided to give it her best shot, anyway.  If I have to massage my fingers to the bone, she vowed, I’m going to be Rank 8 before the party. She changed into her work clothes and started working the room.

 

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The morning ended on a low note.  She got a call from Belle’s Boutique.  A woman claiming to be her mother had charged some clothes to Cathy’s account.  The cashier was going to be in big trouble if it wasn’t true. 

 

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“It’s fine,” Cathy assured her. “Let her have whatever she wants.  I’m good for it.”

 

As much as she dreaded it, she really had to talk to her mother and pass along what amounted to a bribe.  She pointed the car out to the highway.

 

Cathy saw trouble right away.  Delores was out on the sidewalk in front of the lodge.  She was yelling at poor Betty Goldstein and it looked like she was going to hit her.

 

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 “Mother, stop it!”  Cathy shouted.  Betty saw her chance and scampered off down the sidewalk.

 

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“What’s going on?”

 

Her mother turned on her with a murderous expression.  “She was telling me lies about your living arrangements, I can’t believe it.”

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

“That you have an old codger living at your house taking care of my granddaughter! You said she was with a babysitter.”  There was the familiar screech: it hadn’t changed in all these years.

 

Wow, though Cathy.  That didn’t take long.

 

“Watters is not an old ‘codger’.  He’s Malcolm’s butler and he’s been taking care of Lani since she was born.  And yes, he has an apartment on the property.”

 

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“Well, I think it’s a disgrace.  If you needed someone to take care of your child, you should have called me.  I’m family.  I should have been living with you all along.  Instead, you slink off in the night and never give me another thought. You and your fancy husband … thinking you need a butler.”

 

Cathy fought back her anger and her tears.  “I brought you some money.  I don’t want you going all over town charging stuff to Malcolm and me.”

 

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Delores snatched the money, but turned around and went into her room, slamming the door behind her. 

 


“They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever .” ~ Oscar Wilde


#139 DianeHanna

    Junior Member


  • 503 posts
  • LocationDesert Southwest USA

Posted 15 May 2015 - 01:57 PM

Chapter  79

 

For a winter’s day it was just beautiful.  The snow had disappeared and the sun was trying very hard to burn through the clouds. Lani was fussy; she seemed bored with her toys. 

 

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Watters played with her a few minutes, tossing her in the air.  Lani loved this game, but Watters was getting too old and Lani was getting too heavy to do it very long.  Even though he was busy with the party preparations, he wanted to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.  Lani certainly could use some fresh air.

 

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It was not the worst winter Riverblossom Hills had ever seen, it fact, it had been quite mild.  January temperatures had been hanging in the 40s.  Watters was itching to make sure all his plantings had survived.

 

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He settled her onto her toy car and sat back to enjoy the sun on his face.  He missed the gardening.  He always loved the way the shrubs and trees looked after they were trimmed. He liked the smell of grass as it was being cut.  But he didn’t miss the aches and pains from bending.  So it was probably for the best that someone else was doing that work now.  It was about time to call the service he’d hired last year and have them start getting ready for spring.

 

In his mind, he started going over the list of things to do before the birthday.  The cake had been ordered.  Lani liked chocolate, so that’s what they were having.  The rest of the menu had still not been decided.  He was expecting a call from Catalina Caterers with the price for the last choices he’d made.

 

He looked over at Lani, watching her rock back and forth on the small red car.  She was such a clever and energetic little one.  He worried a little about her.  She seemed to have inherited the worst of her parent’s features. Malcolm’s facial features did not translate well on a toddler.  Her brows were too heavy and her face looked harsh.  He hoped she would grow into her face.  At any rate, she was well loved, healthy and smart.

 

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The phone ringing in the house interrupted his musing. Must be the caterers, he thought.

 

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The call only lasted a few minutes. Watters, finally satisfied with the menu and the price, placed the phone back into the wall set.  He pushed open the large French door that looked out onto the pool and back yard.  The seat of Lani’s car was empty.  He started to get uneasy. She’d never tried to go in the pool before, but it was always a danger.  He checked.  The water was clear, and there was no sign of a little body anywhere at the bottom.  Same with the hot tub, it was completely empty. 

 

Watters knew that Lani liked to go into his apartment, so he headed across the yard.  He remembered locking the door. For once, his memory was correct.  The door was firmly locked.

 

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Hurrying as fast as he could, her ran back to check the side yard.  The gate was standing open, but Lani was nowhere in sight.   Panic set in.   He rushed back into the house and called to Cathy from the bottom of the stairs.  She didn’t answer; she must not be able to hear him over the television.  He’d climbed those stairs hundreds of times.  Today it seemed to take him forever.

 

He threw the master bedroom door open.  Cathy was just coming out of the bathroom.  She was startled to see Watters.  He always waited until they came downstairs before he cleaned their room and made their bed.

 

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“Watters, what is it?”  She was alarmed by the panic on his face.

 

“Lani…. She’s gone.”

 

“Gone? Gone where?”  Cathy didn’t understand what he was telling her.

 

“Gone! Missing! I answered the phone. She was in the yard playing, and now she’s not. I’ve checked everywhere.” Watters was spewing the words.

 

Cathy felt her breathing stop completely.  It was as if time had stretched. She couldn’t think. Everything felt completely unreal.  Then time snapped back and sped up.  Her heart beat so fast she could feel it in her ears.

 

Cathy sprinted down the stairs and out the front, grabbing her coat on the way out.  “Call Malcolm!” she shouted back up the stairs.

 

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She can’t have gone far, Cathy was telling herself.  She can walk, but she isn’t that steady on her feet.  She ‘toddles’, that why they call them toddlers.  Cathy knew she was panicking, but she couldn’t stop the chatter in her brain.  I’ll see her up ahead any second now!

 

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The sidewalk stretched ahead, completely empty. She turned around and looked the other way.  The street climbed a very steep hill. She couldn’t have gone that way. Cathy stood on the corner, she could see both directions, but didn’t see anyone at all.

 

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She’d have to go in and call for help.  She needed Malcolm and the police.  This was every wealthy parent’s nightmare.  Her child had been kidnapped.


“They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever .” ~ Oscar Wilde


#140 DanDanLandSims

    Newbie


  • 1 posts

Posted 29 November 2016 - 04:14 AM

I just started your story this morning and I just finished it. 
Bravo, I've been enjoying your story very much! 
Hope to see more  :)







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