Tuesday, October 28, 2008

excerpt from 'Living It Up'

John Marchbanks was ten minutes late meeting Polly and Lainie for lunch to discuss making Sophie’s Place a business partnership. Polly spent the time convincing Lainie what a brilliant attorney he was. He rushed in, out of breath, and made no excuses. He kissed Polly’s cheek and she introduced Lainie. John smiled engagingly. He was blond, blue eyed, and had a deep dimple in his left cheek. His dark blue suit with a subtle plaid was exquisitely tailored, and his tie was silk. Lainie caught on to his sense of humor right away and enjoyed the conversation. As they ate, she noticed, too, that he was left handed.

After the meal, John ordered a piece of apple pie, and when the server went away, he asked, “Why do you want to do this? Why do you want to complicate your lives with owning and operating a business?”

“Didn’t Winston tell you about the great Single Adult party we organized?” Polly asked.

“Yes, and it sounded fun,” he admitted. “Almost made me wish I’d broken my own rule and come to it.”

“What’s your rule?” Lainie scowled.

“I don’t get involved in dating services,” he said condescendingly.

“I don’t want to hear this,” Polly groaned, leaning her head in one hand.

“What do you mean, dating services?” Lainie demanded.

“Isn’t that what Single Adults is all about? Matching people up?”

Lainie stared at him in disbelief.

“Forgive me, John,” Polly interrupted reassuringly, “but I’m only saying this because you’re an idiot – you’re a colossal idiot.”

Just then the server put John’s pie in front of him, and he frowned as he picked up the fork.

Lainie calmed herself while Polly was talking, then answered John’s question. “No, it isn’t a dating service. You should have done your homework.”

“I stand corrected,” he shrugged. “Now I’ve got two sassy dames on my case.”

“I’m not sassy,” Lainie retorted. “You have no reason to call me sassy.”

John frowned at Polly as he started on the pie. “Looks like I got her Irish up.”

“Our point is,” Polly said, “if you had come to the party, you would have seen what a spectacular, fabulous bash we put together. That’s not bragging. I’m only stating the facts.”

“We developed a great working relationship,” Lainie added, “and it was so much fun, we didn’t want to stop.”

John looked at each of them, bewildered. “You’re really determined to do this.”

“We’re not wasting your time here, John,” Polly said.

He laughed. “You didn’t think this wasn’t a billable hour, did you?”

“Did you think this was the only billable hour you were going to spend with us?” Polly retorted.

“We have the funding,” Lainie added. “It’s all here in the prospectus I put together.” John’s eyebrows went up. He took the portfolio Lainie handed him and stared at her. She sat back in her chair with a “so there” look on her face. “I told you. I have a strong business background.”

“Aunt Sophie’s selling her house for a very reasonable price,” Polly said. “Her daughters knocked off a considerable chunk just to thank me for being there when Sophie got sick.”

John was still astonished. “So this isn’t just some Relief Society whim.”

Polly leaned toward him and said, “John, it’s going to be hard to finish that pie with both feet in your mouth.”

Lainie put her hands on the table, restraining herself from springing across it and choking him. She spoke slowly and deliberately as if he were six years old. “Just put my name on the papers, Mr. Marchbanks, and I’ll sign them. Or would you rather we find another attorney?”

John smiled his most charming smile, the dimple deepening as his eyes flashed. He took a sip from his water glass. “Okay,” he said, “now I’m sure you’re serious. I have to be certain. As your legal advisor, I don’t want you getting involved in something that could overwhelm you. Do you understand what I’m saying? The puppy may be cute and cuddly, but it has to be fed, and it might grow up to be a Saint Bernard. Are you ready for that?”

“Wouldn’t that mean we’re successful?” Polly asked. “What’s wrong with that?”

“Surely you’ve been listening to what we’ve been saying for the last fifteen minutes,” Lainie said. “This isn’t a difficult concept.”

“John, we’re not doing this on a capricious impulse,” Polly added. “There’s a passage of scripture that describes perfectly what we want to do at Sophie’s Place. I called Lainie right away when I read it and we decided this is our mission statement. The earth was created for the use of mankind, and all the beautiful and pleasant things were put here to please the eye and gladden the heart.”

Lainie watched his eyes as he listened to Polly. He focused completely on her. His were the kind of eyes a person wouldn’t be afraid to wander around in for a while. Lainie waited for an opening. “That’s what people want when they celebrate important moments in their lives,” she said, holding his eyes now with hers, “and we have the creativity and imagination and business sense, and a fabulous place, to make it all happen.”

“John, we’ve explored every possible scenario,” Polly said. “Lainie and I are both at a place in our lives where we can settle into the thing we love and go on doing it till we’re too feeble to walk in the front door.”

Lainie leaned forward on the table, smiling, focused on him. “John, don’t you love the law? Isn’t that why you spent three years devoted to learning it in law school? Doesn’t it satisfy your passion? What are we here for if not to make life better for somebody else?”

Startled by her insight, he caught his breath. It was as if she had opened his heart and mind and read verbatim. “Yes,” he said, putting down his fork, “I do love it that much.”

“Then you understand,” Lainie smiled.

He held her gaze across the table. This woman was dazzling. “I have a question for you.”

Leaning a little further forward, she asked, “What’s that?”

John leaned toward Lainie. “What’s your legal name?”

“Now we’re getting somewhere,” Polly said.

“Elaine Thomas McGuire.”

“Thomas?” Polly repeated.

“My parents thought I was going to be a boy,” Lainie explained, “and I was born on my grandfather’s birthday, so they named me after him anyway because he was a redhead, too. My dad calls me Tommy sometimes. But it’s okay. My grandmother’s name was Elaine.”

John chuckled. “That’s really something.”

“It’s not as interesting as some other Southern Utah names I could mention. I grew up with twin girls named Relvadeen and Revaleen.”

“That’s a good one,” he said. “I once had a client named Chance Daykin.” Lainie and Polly laughed. “He was a stockbroker. True story,” he said, taking another bite of pie.

“Are you two going to spend the afternoon one-upping each other,” Polly asked, “or are we going on to the next step?”

He put his fork down, pushed the plate away and wiped his mouth with a napkin. “I couldn’t have known it until we talked, but this prospectus might alter the partnership agreement in some way, and I want to read it before we finalize things. If necessary I’ll amend what might need to be amended.” He took a drink of water.

“Another billable hour?”

He grinned at Polly. “Not only are you sassy, you’re also relentless.”

“I’m in business now,” she said. “I have to be. It’s called protecting your interests.”

He reached over and put his hand on hers. “Are you interested in telling Winston about this, or do you want me to?”

“No. I’ll tell him myself. He doesn't know it yet, but we're having dinner tomorrow night.”

He raised his eyebrows. “That’s promising.”

“First things first,” she said. “I’ll tell him he can read the prospectus.”

“I’ll send a review copy of the partnership agreement by courier tomorrow afternoon,” he said. “Call me by noon Thursday if you’re unhappy with anything in the document. Then Friday, you can sign the papers when we look at the house together with the real estate agent.”

“I’ll call him and arrange to meet at three,” Polly said, looking at John and Lainie. Both nodded. “Well, I’ll see you then.”

(This excerpt is the property of the author and may not be copied or otherwise published.)

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

just as good the second time :)