Sex stories

Erotic fiction and short sex stories




"Little" Sister Pt. 05

Author's note: No sex this chapter. Nothing but politics, business and real estate.

Chapter 21 -- Deja Vu, but Not

What I intended to do had many difficulties. For starters, I was dressed to meet with high priced lawyers. For another, I was not about to expose Shadow to the south side. Most important, I was not about to expose Elspeth to Veronica, or vice versa.

To solve two problems at once, I told Elspeth to take Shadow to the garage and return with the Toyota. She did not want to go and I was not prepared to be frank with her. Rather than fight it, I decided to buy a car. I had been wanting another work car for some time. This seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Before we did that, Elspeth and I refitted me in an off-the-rack suit. I kept the silk top. It would look like an indulgence. A cheap briefcase and resale shop heels completed the step down. Looking in the mirror, I could see that Dr. Richards was still there. That said, a level was missing. It looked fairly good, but I could tell why it was second rate. I had learned a thing or two.

Next we went to the neighborhood used car lots. This was where an in-house mechanic was handy. He could listen to an engine and tell me the sticker price was bogus. It took about three cars before I could convince the salesman to give me a real price. In this, the term "cash sale" was magic. Even then it took some looking. To make a long afternoon short, I bought a 10 year old Infiniti with 110,000 miles for $7,200, including TT&L.

Since I could not convince Elspeth to leave me, I gave her a job. I asked her to go set up a face to face meeting with Adele Cabot. Elspeth understood I was getting her out of the way, but she allowed it. I think the idea of Boston's South Side scared her more than she would admit. Regardless, she and I parted at six PM, with plans to meet at ten. I hoped I could make it.

As soon as Elspeth was out of sight, I headed to a resale shop two blocks away. This was not my old neighborhood, but it was close enough I knew the major points. There, I bought an outfit—men's khaki slacks, golf shirt and, most importantly, a worn leather jacket. It was not quite my old ratty jeans and torn T-shirt, but there was a kissing relationship. The biggest differences were the heels and the posture.

To accessorize, I bought rings and hoops, to make my piercings more obvious, a bandanna for my hair and a dump-it-all-in purse. There would be no safety pins, but they would not have looked much out of place. This time, the mirror told me that I was crazy, but marginally prepared.

The meeting was at McCreedy's. This was exactly what the name implies, an Irish oriented Southie bar. I mentioned before that Veronica came across as Irish. I am Irish. It seemed a reasonable way to get her out of the old dives. Sure enough, when I came through the door, she had three guys draped all over her. I sang the line, "You can call me anything you like, but my name is Veronica."

Roni's head jerked around. At first she could not spot me, but my height gave me away. She said, "Oh my God. Jo, I heard you looked different, but I had no idea. Guys, this is Jo Richards."

This was an Irish bar, so I said, "It's Siobhan, if you can say it correctly. Roni, I have an actual car outside. Who do I talk to about keeping an eye on it?" We took a few minutes to get my new ride settled. Veronica noted the dealer plates. I told her about the Toyota and the Honda before it.

She asked about student loans. I told her not to worry. My time at Yale was covered by family money and scholarships, while my time at Dartmouth was on fellowship. I don't think Veronica ever appreciated how good I was at school, but no student loans got her attention. Interesting.

Eventually we settled in a booth, with drinks. I ordered Irish, with water back. I was drinking the water, but Roni was killing vodka martinis. She had slipped during my three years away. Still, I could use an edge, so I kept paying for more rounds.

My target was named Ariana Conor. She was leading a group of tenants in a lease renewal protest. I completely understood her point. The landlord wanted them to vacate so that he could raze the whole building. There was an episode of Cheers which was almost on point. Cliff tried to stay in his apartment, because he was there with his mother for so long. In the end, he recognizes it was a dump.

As with many other things, much of the protest ran through Veronica's hands, because she had experience dealing with the city and state authorities. One of my old associates at legal aide was backing up their lead attorney. My briefing from Morgan -- Brown -- Campo & Lynch had omitted that detail.

What I told Veronica was that MBC&L were hoping to settle quickly. This was not the sort of case they wanted to burn time pursuing. While that would mean fewer billing hours in the short term, it was worth a fair amount of goodwill with the client. There is a reason that some lawsuits are referred to as nuisance cases. Once she made up her mind to help, Roni had Ms. Conor on the phone in five minutes.

Thirty minutes later, three of us pulled in front of a much seedier bar on Boylston street. Veronica and I went inside. The third in our party was an aspiring hockey player, who would make fifty bucks looking after my "new" car. I had only had the car about four hours, but I was already attached. The heated seats and steering wheel would be perfect for New Hampshire.

We were barely in the door when someone called to Veronica. It was not Ariana Conor, but it made her easy to spot. I stayed by the door, while Roni talked to her. I could only read half the conversation.

Veronica said something. Ariana Conor snapped, "I don't give a fuck. Who's that with you and when is the rich bitch coming?

"Bullshit. That girl has bull dyke written all over her. She paid more for the shoes than the whole outfit she's wearing. I wonder if the nipples are pierced.

"No shit. She's wearing a bra now. And a stick up her ass. Did she walk around with a book on her head as a little girl. Seriously, who the fuck is she?

"Yeah, fine. She wants to pay for a round, her money spends. It ain't buyin' nothin' else. I ain't that easy and I sure the fuck ain't that cheap." I was beginning to like this girl.

Roni signaled me to come over. Instead of going straight, I went to the bar and laid a hundred down. I told the barkeep I wanted Irish with water back and a couple rounds for the table. We exchanged a look, then he shrugged and took the money. I took my drink to the table. Show time.

To open things up, I asked, "What kind of lies has Veronica been spreading?"

Ariana Conor was not the sort to let someone else speak for her. She glanced at Roni and her two friends, then said, "She claims you're some hotshot Ivy League megabrain, who's going to solve all our problems."

I laughed, "No wonder you thought she was full of shit. I'm not that smart. The rest is more or less true. A lot depends on you."

The barkeep came up with the first round of drinks. I could not read his lips, but he tilted his head toward me. It did not take a rocket scientist to figure it out. Ariana Conor gave him an irritated look, as if I were too small to worry about. Cocky thing.

Going on, "I had lunch today with representatives of Morgan -- Brown -- Campo & Lynch." Everyone at the table became much more serious. I went on, "I had to dress up, silk top and everything. It was at a place called le Bastille. Anyway, there was a message from David Campo himself. He wants to end this." I had their undivided attention.

"Now, let me tell you about myself. I have been living up in New Hampshire. I negotiated a quick settlement to a long running case in Manchester." I gave them enough details to look things up. Why lie when the truth helps? It was time to invoke scores of bad movies.

"Just to be clear, I am strictly a money conduit. If we can come up with an amount, that you will take and he will pay, this all goes away. For other alternatives, Mr. Campo would refer to other people." Never use the carrot, without showing the stick. Sheila would say, make the client handle the restraints.

I let them argue about it. Before long, Ariana shut things off. I had to give Mr. Campo credit. He had given me the name of the real decision maker. She shut everyone else up, then looked at me suspiciously.

She said, "Why should we believe anything you say?" I could not have scripted it better.

I said, "You don't. I hope you're smarter than that. Contact whomever you know at MBC&L. They will vouch that I am on retainer. Check my firms involvement in New Hampshire." I scribbled search terms on a napkin. "If I'm not an open book, I'm not doing my job. The only reason I'm here is that I know people like Veronica and Mimi Gonzalez. Call her up. She'll tell you I was half a step from Danvers and a lobotomy." Everyone thought that was funny. "That was because Veronica, here, dumped me one morning."

Yes, I know it was unfair. Yes, I bitch slapped Roni on purpose. Yes, I was serving my own point. All that said, I overdid things. No wonder Roni was sucking down vodka. Her guilt must have ridden heavy on her. She didn't crumble so much as shatter. I was out of the booth, to hold her, before anyone else realized how bad things were.

Somewhere in the three years, I had passed Veronica. When I was serving my time as an intern, she was the definition of control. She controlled everyone and everything else, just as much as she controlled me. Seeing her out of control was nothing like a day dream. It was scary as hell. Fortunately for my sensibilities, she melted into my embrace. I stroked her hair and told her all was forgiven.

After several moments, I became aware of all the eyes staring at us. I sat Roni down, then turned back to Ariana Conor. Her eyebrows were tented. I shrugged.

I said, "I have been told I don't know my own strength. If this was an example, I need to be more careful. Five years ago, Roni was leading me around like a puppy on a leash." I touched the ring in my nose. "She had me pierce this, so she could have her ring in my nose." That got a laugh from one of the guys nearby. I stood up, well inside his personal space.

"Don't laugh asshole. I'll break you in little pieces if you even think about messing with her. Try me. Right here, right now." He backed down, apologizing. No one fucks with my people, least of all a half-wit ass-kisser, like this dick wad. Ariana, and all her friends, looked amused.

I said to Ms. Conor, "My apologies. I doubt we can do anything else tonight. Have some people check me out. Roni can get a hold of me. She may be a heartless bitch, but she's my heartless bitch. Better yet, call Mimi. She has a meeting room we can use." How did I fuck a promising situation up so fast?

I took Veronica out of the bar and drove half a mile before I pulled over. We were in the heart of our old stomping grounds. I knew of three clubs within walking distance of where I parked, not that we would be going to any of them. Veronica needed help, not alcohol. Still, familiar ground is familiar ground.

I said, "Hey, you. I need some directions here. There's a church a couple of blocks up. Do you want to go to confession?" Veronica was almost as anti-Catholic as Madonna. It may not have rattled her, but I did get a reaction.

She mumbled something that might have been "Take me home."

I said, "Fine. Home it is. Do you still live in the same place, with your bitchy roommate?"

Her response was incoherent. The only thing I caught was a denial of my question. The last thing might have been a name. The next thing was more clear, though it took a lifetime of deciphering Sean to make it out. She wanted to know why I was being nice. I guess she felt guilty, because Roni did not used to be a maudlin drunk. I would have been willing to sort things out, but I needed to meet Elspeth. Stronger action was needed.

I said, "Veronica Lynne VanKampen, where is your apartment?" She reacted like I slapped her. A few minutes later we pulled up at her building. I was worried that I might have to carry her up five flights, but she pulled herself together, at least enough to climb the stoop unassisted. Her hands shook as she worked the keys, but she managed to get inside. In those last few seconds, I saw a trace of the feisty bitch that was my first love. You go girl.

Learning hurts, because some of your innocence has died. Veronica was no longer one of the monsters under my bed. She was my first love, my first real lover, my mentor and many other things. She was no longer a threat to my equilibrium.

Maturity sucks.

Chapter 22 -- Tea and Conversation

There was no time to dwell on it. I had my own follower to worry about. As soon as I thought of that, thoughts about myself vanished. I had sent Elspeth off, both of us knowing that I would be meeting an old lover. How could I have been so callous? Rather than risk Boston traffic, I phoned. Elspeth picked up on the first ring. Doh!

I had no idea where Elspeth wanted me to go. The GPS in my phone led me to a large house with an iron fence. Someone opened the gate as I drove up. In another context, it might have made a good horror movie scene. I parked the car in the drive and walked to the front door, past caring how I looked. The door opened before I knocked. A man, presumably the majordomo, held the door. I marched in to face the music.

Looking back, at no point did I think of Dr. Richards. In hindsight, that strikes me as unusual. It was rather like my meeting with the senior faculty, just before orals. I entered as Siobhan Richards. Whomever I met would not stoop to mispronouncing it.

She was a small woman, who reminded me a bit of Diana Rigg. There was the shrewdness you see in Game of Thrones, not to mention the wrinkles. I was expecting Elspeth's mother, but this could only be Adele Cabot. Fortunately she had Sean's habit of talking to herself.

She said, "I suppose I cannot complain about you wasting time." You might have chanced a bath.

I said, "My apologies. I felt that things were urgent. If you wish to lay out tea, I could change."

Mrs. Cabot pursed her lips. Not bad. Thinks on her feet. "An excellent idea. John will show you to your room." We will see what she considers presentable.

I said, "Thank you. I am afraid I have nothing appropriate, but I can improve on this. I was down south." I sniffed. "You can probably tell." That scored. Mrs. Cabot fought a laugh, though it looked rather like a frown.

She said, "Indeed. Such as you may. I shall await you." This is proving more interesting than I hoped.

I went to the car and retrieved my earlier outfit. John offered to carry the pile of clothing, which surprised me. I declined, with thanks. He led me to a room, with a half bath across the hallway. I did some perfunctory washing, concentrating on removing the make up. None was better than too much. I redid some eye liner and a slight touch of lip color.

The room, my room it seemed, was frilly in a preteen style. The drapery was blue gingham. The four post bed had a lace skirt, though the bed cover was hand embroidered and probably hand quilted. It would bring a small fortune in a knowledgeable auction. Once I noticed that detail, the room came alive. Everything in it was valuable, both by age and by quality. Sheila could die happy here.

My first thought had been that Mrs. Cabot wanted me off balance, hence the young girl motif. On further thought, I decided this was her regular guest room. She was "Grandmother" to all the well bred girls in Boston. This room told me she liked to have them sleep over, when they were ten to twelve years old. If time were not pressing, I could spend a day cataloging and analyzing the furnishings and brick-a-brac.

Instead, I changed back into my suit from lunch. It was wrinkled and not hour appropriate, but needs must make do. I removed most of the rings and replaced them with studs. One exception was the one in my nostril. We might discuss Veronica. If you have ever had to borrow a pen, when you should have had one, I felt like that. Reminding myself that perfection would not be good enough, I went back out.

She was sitting at a tea cart, with a lovely sterling tea set. Judging from everything else, it was potentially made by Paul Revere. That would make a nice teaching moment for the young girls, which made it a good place to start.

I said, "Thank you for waiting. That's a lovely tea set. Is it Paul Revere?"

I could read the gears turning in her head. Well. That was unexpected. "It is. Made in 1773. The china is a family heirloom, brought from England, though it is of German manufacture. Dresden." I nodded. She knows something of fine porcelain.

I said, "My sister-in-law would love this. The Residence was constructed in 1742 and enlarged in 1795, 1849 and 1967. Mother and Father essentially abandoned the old house when the new wing was complete. Sheila had the house refurbished for the wedding. We put it, 'Well made and enduring.'" That brought no reply, spoken or otherwise.

I decided to press my luck. "May I show you something?" My smartphone was already in my hand, but manners are important. I would have stopped if she said so. She did not, though her lips pursed.

"This is a scene from their honeymoon. It takes place on Guam, in a small tea house." I played the tea ceremony, between the young girl and Sheila.

Mrs. Cabot looked annoyed at first, but she was soon lost in the ceremony. The girl was about ten, the age Mrs. Cabot seemed to prefer. Sheila was Sheila, grace personified. Before the ceremony was complete, tears were running down Mrs. Cabot's face. When it was finished, I wanted to give her a moment to collect her thoughts. To that end, I busied myself pouring. Mrs. Cabot recovered with a smile.

"Thank you, my dear. Just a little lemon, these days. Dr. Jones thinks sugar is of the devil."

We drank in silence. Eventually, she realized I would not speak first. Full of herself, but she's rather earned it. Good sense of drama. Knows when not to speak, but not shy. Not dressed badly, but also not well. Knows it. Could do better. Could probably do much better. Appreciates fine things, but does not live for them. We saw she could get dirty when necessary. Poised. She's listening to me.

I winked at her. She slapped at me. Oh, you... "Miss Gracie, my nanny, said it was a bad habit many years ago. I told her Dr. Franklin used to speak to himself. It might have even been true."

We both laughed. She had John show me to a drawn tub. I bathed and washed my hair. There was a terrycloth robe with the towels and slippers on the floor. I put them on. On the bed was a nightshirt. I was out before my head hit the pillow. Morning came early. Elspeth was shaking me. Christine's wake up is much nicer.

Elspeth asked, "What did you do to Grandmother? She is never like this."

"Don't worry about it. I showed Sheila doing Japanese tea ceremony. She was impressed." That took time to unravel. It was one thing for Elspeth to be impressed with Sheila. It was something very different when the Arbiter of Style was also impressed.

I kissed her on the forehead. "Elspeth, you are at the grownup table now. Mrs. Cabot may have once been an unreachable star, but she's human. She is also a very good teacher. Look at this room. Anything you touch can be the point of a lesson. Students like you are why she does it."

From the door, "I might say that was presumptuous, but it also happens to be true. Siobhan, my dear, you must call me Adele. All my friends do." I thought Elspeth would faint.

The meal was not a traditional Irish breakfast (eggs, bacon and/or sausage, pudding (white and/or black), fried tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans and toast), but the cook had tried to incorporate some of that. We had poached eggs, bacon and broxty (something like hash browns), with a side of tomatoes and mushrooms, sautéed with rosemary. Coffee was strong and served with heavy cream. I would not be eating lunch.
During coffee, I pulled out my phone again. "Adele, have you ever seen this set of jewelry? It was made by Tiffany in 1898. My great-gran Sparks commissioned it." This was also the first that Elspeth had seen it, an oversight on my part. She and Adele scrolled through all the pictures in the album, including the portrait of Sheila and I wearing both sets. That brought a gasp from Elspeth. Once again, distant things came close.

Adele read my mind. "She did this for you, your graceful sister-in-law. You are much blessed. I am not familiar with such jewelry. As you have said, we believe in well made and enduring, but also functional. Such decoration is for others. I can say that the set is well given.

"I feel the same about Elspeth. She was a sweet child, but different in many ways. We tried to adjust to her desires, but it was not always easy. You are a gift to her, thus a gift to us. I would say, 'Guard her well', but that seems to be your nature.

"You are welcome here at any time. Indeed, I would be pleased to meet your sister-in-law, Sheila. She may also bring her daughter. I have a fondness for children."

Even my cum laude degrees did not carry this level of honor. I was genuinely touched.

Chapter 23 -- Working in the Sun

Before I went back to Roxbury, I needed a change of clothes. We drove up to Hooksett, gathered wardrobe and drove back. On the way south, we stopped for gas in Nashua. The station had the usual real estate books. Standing in line, waiting for the attendant, I was struck by the thought that I might be spending a lot of time in, or commuting to, Boston. Nashua was about thirty minutes closer than Hooksett, and it skipped all the Manchester traffic. On the other hand, it was over half an hour from Concord, should I need to visit the Capital. I shelved the idea for the moment, but it would return.

My new meeting was in the same bar, but almost everything else had changed. Ms. Conor was less combative, but her forces were much larger. Veronica was sober and showing it. They may have tried to keep tabs on me, because one of them asked where I had been. I told them one of the Cabots, on Beacon Hill, asked me to sleep over. They thought that was funny. When I told them I went to New Hampshire for some clothes, that was more acceptable.

I was wearing the same men's slacks and worn leather jacket, but the top was Michael Kors and the shoes were Naturalizer. My outfit was comfortable. I think one of the women picked up on it, but fuck looking poor to make a point. After a late evening with Adele Cabot, these people were not scary.

Everyone wanted to know about Elspeth. I said she was my assistant. No one pressed the issue. Elspeth looked the part by taking notes. There was a lot of discussion to make notes from. Ms. Conor, or one of her people, had done the digging I had suggested.

It took some time to get everyone up to speed, which let me browse what they were not saying aloud. The short version was that they did not believe my story, quite. However they could not figure out any other reason to explain why I was there. It was a place to start. When I had the chance, I jumped in.

"You probably have trouble believing I am here to do what I say I am here to do. First point, why bother lying? Lawyers are quite capable of threatening in other ways. Second point. This is not the kind of case that makes law firms look good to their clients. They will do what they are paid to do, but there is a nuisance value. Making this situation go away will make them look good. Hence me. I am here to see if this", waving of hands, "can all be reduced to a number on a check."

You would think I suggested four legged animals in their family tree. Insults and offers of violence were the least of the blow back. I did not care. I was watching the queen bee. Ms. Conor understood that I was being frank. It would be her job to keep everyone in line. I did not envy her that. We exchanged glances. She knew. She also knew that I understood what she had to do. There was a tiny hint of a nod. Good enough for the day.

Elspeth and I left. As we left, I pointed Veronica out to her. She and Veronica exchanged looks. When we were outside I called Sidney Rice, my contact at MBC&L. I told him that I had made contact and that they would discuss it. He wanted more detail. I told him that he could wait until I actually knew something. Elspeth asked for the phone. She told him that I was on a first name basis with Adele. That shut him up. There is nothing like friends in high places.

Four days later, I made the drive south from Hooksett, alone this time. Because of the bridge under construction, traffic in Manchester was down to a one lane crawl. Nashua was starting to look better and better. In south Boston, we met in the now familiar bar. For once I had food. The sandwich was exactly why I do not eat at bars.

Ms. Conor told me that she needed a ball park figure. Uh uh. I needed to know what she could do, before we worked on how much. We argued a bit. When I picked up my briefcase, she looked at me sideways. She asked me if I had really gone to Beacon Hill. I told her I didn't know. It was just an address on the GPS. She was frowning as I left.

Going north, I got off the main road to take a look at Nashua. It was not unlike New Jersey, rolling hills full of trees. The small-city-next-to-the-Big-City vibe was almost identical. There was history here, as with most of New England. However, most was further north, along the rivers. Recently it was a bedroom region for greater Boston. You should take a look at the street maps. The state line cuts off the sub-divisions like a knife.

What was not the same was house pricing. Compared to northern New Jersey, one could buy a lot of house for one's money. During my time in school, I was used to working six and a half day weeks. By that standard, I had a lot of down time. Poking around in the Nashua real estate market could be a nice distraction. I quickly ruled ot the lower third of Hillsborough county. That was elbow to elbow sub-divisions. I was looking for an interesting property, not glorified cookie cutter houses.

I spent the next week in the Capital, looking for business. Friday, I arranged a weekend meeting in south Boston. Since there was time, I decided to test Nashua. Before I did that, I took some time to check with my investment adviser. Setting up a business had been harsh enough already. For real estate, even an earnest payment would be outside my usual spending limits. Adele Cabot would have told me to live on the income of my income. I resolved to look for the kind of house she might visit.

Most people look for a house by starting with the school, shopping and job locations. Hence the phrase, "Location, location, location." I resolved to take a different approach. I started by looking for history. Like most riverside cities in New England, Nashua had important textile factories. They would have been the town royalty. Several of the old textile families' town homes were historical sites. Many of the factories had been torn down. Others were converted to pricey loft apartments. There was not much down that road.

Another business name came up—Gregg Lumber, Gregg & Son Planing Mill, Gregg & Son, Door, Sash & Blind Mfy, Gregg & Son, Inc. The Gregg name was still prominent in the Nashua area. One was an accountant with a downtown office. He was too busy to talk, but referred me to his widowed aunt, Edna Gregg.

We had tea and talked of the family history. She was a Dearbourn from Cambridge, MA. Her husband attended Harvard Law, while she was in secretarial school. Mrs. Gregg's next door neighbor was Nashua born and raised, so Edna invited her over. It chanced that she was also in the historical society. Before I begged off for my appointment, there were six middle aged, or older, ladies in the parlor. All with an interest in local history. Down the road it would mean something.

In the nearer term, I was starting to juggle a lot of balls. Governments move slowly, so I could take on several things at once. Unfortunately, that meant that I sometimes needed to be in three cities the same day. The road project in Manchester was the largest project, but most of the decisions were already decided. I was constantly called to hold someone's hand, but nothing of substance. Concord continued to generate requests for analysis/intervention/mediation, particularly in Pardons and Paroles. The situation in south Boston slowly evolved from getting the ducks in a row, to pricing the row of ducks.

Sometimes a message, or phone call, would do the job. Sometimes not. I kept running around, snuffing small fires. Whenever I had an hour or two to spare, I spent it with my ladies, pursuing the social history of Nashua. This networked the ladies of various societies. I had an academic interest in all of it, but it became very personal. Indeed, I was almost talked into learning bridge. Only a tight schedule saved me.

Spring turned to summer. The Manchester traffic situation was almost resolved. In Concord I sat in on four Parole and Pardon hearings. The Governor asked if I wished a position on the Parole and Pardon's board. Why would I? I was generating most of the firm's cash flow as a consultant. I sent a graciously worded refusal, which she probably expected. The forms of political dance are not unlike the forms of musical dance.

South Boston was another story. What had looked like a promising quick job, turned into a sticky morass. The first major blow came when Ariana Conor's sister tested pregnant. The pregnancy did not develop smoothly. Suddenly, Ariana had more important things to do. Given Sheila's problems with her first child, I was not about to tell her no.

Unfortunately, Ariana had done everything. Her semi-official retirement left a massive hole in the organization. Reluctantly, Veronica tried to pick up the pieces. Roni was another issue. I had not appreciated the degree to which she had gone to seed. Experts say that an alcoholic is someone who drinks enough to cause problems, but continues to drink. I thought it was a symptom. Veronica once lived on the edge, but she no longer felt comfortable there. Instead, she drank and lived on past glory. I was a reminder that she had collateral damage.

However, Veronica also had skills. I was not going to waste her on a bar stool, while my project was flushed down the sewer. The other tenants did not want to accept Veronica as spokesperson. I dragged Ariana Conor away from her sister long enough to squelch that. The records office had an old grudge against Veronica. Elspeth pulled the wrath of Beacon Hill down on that. Two of the tenants decided to break ranks and screw everyone else. I got them in a room and played the old Cheers episode. It seemed like every week I had to come in for something. The fee I would be getting was not enough for all the grief.

Summer turned to fall. October marked a lot of things. The Manchester bridge project was finally, fully complete. The South Boston Coalition finally made a formal offer to MBC&L. I would later need to defend the figure with my life. In Concord, I represented my tenth convict to the Pardons and Paroles committee. Demand was growing faster than I could handle the load. I did not want to make my fee oppressive, but something had to be done.

In my hobby life, something unexpected happened. The husband of a friend, of a cousin, of one of the ladies, in one of my circle of regulars, wanted to make an offer. Hillsborough County owned a property, which the County would prefer paying taxes. They might forgive a portion of the debts owing, if I would get the property off the deadbeat rolls.

I looked into it. The problem was money, as usual. There was a large, very old house. A sizable plot of wooded land had to be sold with the house. The block of land was covenanted as a single unit, so it was all or nothing. On top of that, it was quite difficult to get to. County roads did not reach the property boundaries. The house itself was a lengthy hike through the woods. My aching back.

Under new business, I was retained by a Nashua Alderman, Allan Morton, to run his re-election campaign. That was almost too easy. He was the husband of one of my ladies. I had already declined two similar requests in Manchester. This one I took as a favor. No good dead goes unpunished. More on that later.

Boston was looking up. MBC&L referred me to the City of Boston, for a fact finding commission. It had to do with demographic shift in south Boston, i.e. the same neighborhoods where I had interned, about a hundred years earlier. I brought Vivian (BS Statistics from MIT, PhD Sociology from Dartmouth, one of my nine wedding assistants) on staff and gave the job to her.

In spite of that, I turned my first profit. Who'd a thunk it? We had a party at my Concord office. Being in the black put everyone in a good mood. Unfortunately, the phone was still working. I took a call in my personal office. When I returned, "So, Frau Doktor, we meet again." Lars can never sneak up on anyone but me, which pisses me off.

Like so much else about the month, Lars' story had two edges. He was in country for a large scale Siemens meeting. Unfortunately, the occasion was Georg Karl's failing health. This meeting would be the first official act of Herr Karl's successor. Lars was hoping for a new assignment, which was likely.

However, the next logical step was back to Berlin, to wrap the training cycle. So it proved. Lars and I had a single night in his hotel room, before he flew back to Japan.

I wished I had a chance to show him the property.

Chapter 24 -- Cloudrest

One of the things about being born rich is that your analysis is different from other people's thinking. For example, I never considered the cost; I considered the value. Every buying decision was a "Should I?" question, not a "Can I?" question. That attitude took a hit when I considered buying the house. I was a millionaire. I had been since my trusts vested at age twenty one. A mid six figure check would put a bruise on my balance sheet. Worse, purchase would be only the first of the costs. Look up an old Tom Hanks movie, The Money Pit. Better yet, Cary Grant's Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House .

I consciously put Dr. Richards in charge of the decision. Any way I looked at it, it was an outright gift, attached to a very reasonable land purchase. When you boiled out the excess, the offer was for a large, hand built house, almost a mansion, outbuildings and water rights. All of this was under $300,000. The land itself would be $4000 per acre. Some of the land was once harvested for timber and could be again. Centuries old maple trees grew wild. I had visions of Amish tenants growing apples and berries, with syrup in the winter.

What tipped my hand was the river frontage. The offer included a 'cable' (220 meters, 720 feet) of almost unrestricted access to the Merrimack River. There had to be some use for that. The irony was that the land was once owned by the Gregg family. They held it during their lumber days, though the main house was older. Some parts, chimneys, foundation and front facade, were from native stone, likely quarried from the property.

The rest was hand cut and hand shaped wood. The more utilitarian rooms, such as the kitchen and storage, used wide board pine flooring. The entrance, great room, parlors and main staircase used hand cut maple. No one did that. Still, the detail was not isolated. Throughout the house, better than the usual quality of wood was used. Often, more than the usual quantity was used as well. I suspected one of the Greggs was involved early on, since that whole family went into wood and finished wood products.

Regardless, it was an empty shell. There was not even glass in the windows. Forget electricity. This house predated wood stoves. Wherever a shutter had fallen off a hinge, weather damage, sometimes severe, was the result. At some point, the whole house had been cleaned and swept. Not even the usual trash was around. I would have preferred the trash. Something interesting might have been tossed.

The worst thing was that you could not get to the house. The closest road was almost half a mile away. The hiking trail meandered through dense hardwood thicket for three times that far. One fair autumn weekend, I walked that trail. In the fading light I took a ream of pictures. After dusk I laser mapped all the rooms of the house and outbuilding (workshop? wood shed? cabin?). It had a large fireplace. I gathered fallen wood and built a fire. I was never in Scouts. This seemed an appropriate place for my first experience with s'mores. Lord Almighty they were good.

In the morning, the house was obscured by dense fog. Since it looked like a cloud was sitting on it, I christened the house 'Cloudrest' (I must have been in a strange mood). It was a turning point. From that day on, I identified with the house. It was rough, and uncultured, by even contemporary standards, but there was strength. The hill on which it stood was solid granite. The foundation was stone on stone. After three hundred years, the foundation would be the least of my worries.

Close to the house, the soil was so shallow trees would not grow. This eliminated one potential problem. Yet, there was water. A spring boiled from a fissure, barely a hundred feet from the house. There were a pair of spring houses downstream. Further down, there was evidence of former beaver dams. Nearby was a thicket of apple trees, likely a family orchard gone wild. Sugar maple was everywhere. It was early for the best fall color, but the leaves were already spectacular.

The list of necessary repairs was daunting. One of the nice things about being a favored scion of an Ivy League school is access to some of best architectural programs in the world. I sent everything to Sheila, for cleanup, then on to the Universities. While I sent all the pictures to Dartmouth, Yale was my first hope. While Yale was not the preeminent program in the nation, it was very high up. I never intended to start a bidding war.

My first return call was from Dr. Hanson at Dartmouth, thanking me for the file of pictures. In quick succession I received calls from Dr. Singh, Yale's Dean of Architecture and Design and Dr. Lang, Archivist for Dartmouth's library system. Both were frothing at the mouth. With what must have been an evil grin, I referred Dr. Lang to Dr. Singh, commenting on early birds and worms.

The third call was unexpected. Harlan Lipton called to warn me of possible blow back. No kidding. I told him I would be balancing Dartmouth's Library against Yale's Architectural school. Harlan laughed so hard he dropped the phone. He then reminded me that I also ran a non-profit organization. Donations for a restoration could be solicited. He also mentioned that a video record would likely be marketable. I had not thought of that.

With all this churning in the background, I made a deal. Harlan and a local attorney worked out a number of waivers and tax advantages. Hillsborough County would clear, de-stump and gravel cover a drive to the house. I would cover the labor costs. A furniture firm was buying the cut trees. They had a side deal with the County to trim and transport the logs. At least three families were making some nice coin on the deal, but I was assured the County was breaking even, excepting wear and tear on the equipment. That's government.

On my end, I posted some of the pictures on the Beacon Light website, providing links to the Dartmouth Library page and my new Cloudrest website. In turn, Cloudrest linked to everyone and their sister's dog. Linking from Cloudrest to Beacon Light soon outpaced linkings in the other direction. Links to the Hillsborough County Historical Society outpaced the reverse link from day one. Sean was very pleased with the number of hits Digital Arts was getting.
Having a family company, with a Digital Arts division, came in handy. Sean and Sheila were doing all the webwork pro bono, because it was good advertising. Christine was the one that suggested a design contest. As soon as she text it, everyone knew it would happen. Yale was particularly happy, since a Yale student had won another famous contest—to design the Vietnam Memorial.

By spring, the project would become a monster. Sheila's Hollywood contacts were competing for the chance to document the renovations. Funds started to trickle, then pour in. Amounts started small, e.g. each of the Nashua primary schools did a collection. However, other non-profit companies wanted to get in on the action.

Through FD Consulting, I hired an experienced fund raising manager to control it all. FDC billed Beacon Light at his listed rates, but clerical time was written off. Tax compliance was a more urgent issue. The Richards Foundation underwrote our first year of tax preparation, through their usual firm. FDC and Beacon Light hired Mr. Gregg to do the accounts for the soon to end year, with one of his cousins on retainer for legal counsel.

Some hobby.

Chapter 24 - Politicking

As the holidays rolled around, so did the political season. Mid-term elections were a year away, so candidates were getting serious about the primaries. Since I, in my FDC cap, was a campaign manager, this became time consuming. It was well I had Cloudrest issues to give me another topic of conversation. City politics is tea party gossip gone wild. Elspeth made a chart of the various family trees, so that I could sort out some of the nepotism.

South Boston was doing better. Once I dried Veronica out, she started to enjoy her job. Since her regular job was only a step above turning burgers, I offered her a position and threw in an office. It was exactly the right thing.

Mark Twain said that the difference between the right word and almost the right word, is like the difference between a lightning bug and a lightning bolt. In this case, I was lucky. I needed a permanent address in Boston and someone to man it. Veronica was the obvious person. It did not occur to me that running an office was a lifelong dream of Roni's.

It was a lesson that stood me well through the years. The term "Manager" has mystic powers. It was a tiny one room office, but there was a desk, a phone and a filing cabinet. More importantly, the door read, "Veronica VanKampen, FD Consulting." It did not hurt that the address was a block north of Boylston Street. I suppose that put her uptown. In any event, Veronica cried when I showed her the office and handed her a box of business cards.

Naturally, within a week she was telling me she needed a bigger office and a secretary. By New Year, I agreed with her. Mimi provided a list of names for the assistant. Veronica chose a mousy thirty year old Iraqi immigrant, Ibraim Wardani, who happened to be a bit of a tech whiz. Since Roni was heavily to the lesbian side of bisexual, I was not worried about romantic entanglements. I never thought to worry about Elspeth, but that was later.

As I mentioned, I was lucky when I set Veronica up in an office. The reason I agreed to the new office and the assistant was Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. John Dorne. This was an assault case, of a man against his former employer. Mr. Dorne was laid off, a year before his pension vested and days before scheduled surgery. The Union was fighting the layoff, with what they considered a solid case. Following the assault, the company management doubled down.

Mr. Dorne walked into our new office, literally while Veronica was unpacking. He had heard through the grapevine (most likely over beers at a bar) about FDC's work in South Boston. Attached was some vague rumor that FDC was representing parole people in New Hampshire. That might not have gone anywhere, except he also knew of Veronica. To give her due credit, Roni did cut a swath.

The Massachusetts Federation of Commonwealth Employees (MFCE) was considering a class action suit against the employer. Several other employees had been discharged with suspicious timing. What their case needed was statistical analysis showing a pattern and a person with letters after the name to defend them.

Since MBC&L was not the attorney for the Commonwealth entity, we took it on. More practically, I gave it to Veronica and Vivian. I had street knowledge of the area, but Veronica knew it in her bones. Vivian was turning into one of FDC's star talents. In due course I would make her a partner. Between them they would grow the Boston office to twenty full time people in five years.

While my footprint in Boston was expanding, my presence in Manchester was vanishing. The road project was done. Rather than strongly pursue new business, I pulled back to the steady work I had developed in the Capital. Consulting in criminal cases was not lucrative, but it was quick and reliable. Consulting in civil cases was much more involved, but the payout was comparatively large.

As I mentioned, Vivian was becoming a major asset. Years later, I found out that one of Boston's leading law firms had offered her a partnership to jump ship. It was years later, because Vivian never considered the job, or even told anyone about it. As far as she was concerned, it was DOA. What did I do to deserve loyalty like that?

Between court appearances in Concord and executive time in Boston, I spent a lot of time on the road. When the Looksett lease was up, I had moved down to Nashua. It put me closer to Cloudrest and cut the drive to Boston by a third. On December 21, that became important. Allan Morton discovered he had lung cancer. He wanted me to take over his bid for Nashua Alderman. I had barely a week before the year end filing deadline.

You should understand that I remained plugged into the Nashua wife's network, even though I was no longer looking for a house. Indeed, there was an informal club meeting every first Thursday at Edna Gregg's house. We would sit for tea. I would share the progress on Cloudrest. The others in attendance would vary, but there were rarely fewer than six. Thus, I had people I could call to discuss the possibilities.

The results shocked me. If they did not already have a family member running, every one of the ladies urged me to run. Quietly, a couple of the wives or daughters of candidates also urged me to get in. I was reluctant, but I fit the legal requirements, so I paid the $50 filing fee and turned everything over to Elspeth. By this point, she was as familiar to the ladies as I was.

I drove to New Jersey for Christmas with family. Cindy was a cheerful toddler. She thought her big aunt was great fun to ride. While I was home I picked the brains of some of Sean's best consultants. In two cases, I picked his people. My Concord office needed a face lift. I installed one of my two pirated people to supervise the move to the new work space. This time Beacon Light had its own office and a full time staffer. I was hoping to spend a lot less time there.

New Year I spent in Boston with Elspeth and Ro. I enjoyed it. The band played a lot of Latin dance numbers, so I spent some time on the floor. Elspeth was much better than I, but Richard had two left feet. Sheila might have done something with him, but I could not. New Year's Day we went to visit Adele. She and I had a long talk about families and how the generations link. I believe she was genuinely fond of me.

The new year entered with vile weather. Every third day seemed to be a new storm. I spent much of the time either driving at half speed or stuck in one place. One of the times I was stuck in Boston, I decided I had had enough. Sean employed drivers that doubled as bodyguards. I could do the same. Besides, it would give me an excuse to drop in on Mimi.

One of the downsides of military reduction is a supply of unemployed soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen. Inevitably, some of them fall through the cracks. My old haunts would be an excellent place to meet a few. When I told Sheila I would try to make Cindy's second birthday, I also gave Sean a heads up that I would be recruiting. If Gerald did not find out, Sean was paying him too much.

I debated dropping in on Mimi unannounced vs. giving her time to get some people organized. One would be fun, but the other more useful. I decided to do both. It was a messy, slushy day. I wore the lightest weight of my coats, which I think of as the raincoat. Unlike the naturally gray sealskin coat, this one was dyed black. Evidently my reputation preceded me, because people were muttering about the Dark Queen.

Mimi's reaction was, "Oh my God. Oh my fucking God. Is that you Siobhan?"

We hugged. From what everyone was whispering, it seemed that I was remembered after five years. Interesting. I told Mimi that I did not have time to stay, but that I wanted to make an announcement. I turned to those in the room. They fell quiet without request. Very interesting.

"Good afternoon. My name is Jo Richards. I want to hire a bodyguard slash driver." A week later, we had a cattle call in a nearby basketball gym. Four hundred showed up. I narrowed it down to ten. Three passed the blood test. We piled in the Infiniti and drove to the Residence.

I also acquired the contact information on a number of mechanics, military police, and a handful of former officers. That information was how I planned to pay Sean, for vetting and training my driver. Johnson Lee (his Chinese father picked the most common name in the phone book) was my new driver. On the list of others was an MP First Sergeant, Richard Harold. Without intending to, I had already begun FDC Security Services. Richard would come to Boston a month later.

Cindy's birthday was a big event. Like her mother, Cindy loved to be onstage, but was shy off of it. I could also see the influence of Christine, because Cindy was already a gifted observer. It showed in her body mimicry. When someone talked to her, she would mirror their mannerisms. It was uncanny.

Walking was a frustration for her. While she moved around well enough, Cindy could not copy Sheila to her own satisfaction. Christine was another story. Cindy had Christine's concentration frown down cold. She even talked to herself when she was around Sean. Cindy was a very bright girl.

I took her aside and talked to her. By that I mean that I spoke to her as an equal. I told her that she had good examples. Her mother would teach her how to move. Christine would teach her how to watch. Sean would teach her how to lead. Cindy was cute, so an easy path would be available. I warned her there would be girls like me, i.e. unattractive, who everyone wanted to pick on.

I told her that the harder path made for strength. Impossible examples are the ones to use. Fourteen years later I heard those words in an interview, after Cindy won her fourth Olympic Gold Medal. Somehow I was one of the impossible examples. Who knew? Regardless, brushing up against my own examples always centers me. It's another way to read, "Home is where the heart is."

I went back to politicking with a clearer mind. Johnson drove the car. One of the other candidates rode back with me. The third, Yassar Mayer, landed a position at the Residence. After a stop in Boston, to drop our third and pick up Elspeth, we went to Nashua.

Time was short. The general Alderman elections are on odd years. November stirred things up. I was running in a special election for the ward seven position. Voting day was 7 March, less than three weeks away. Elspeth and her volunteer staff had put out signs. The ladies had worked the gossip line. What was lacking was me.

I was lucky in one way. My three opponents were also newcomers. One had proposed a debate. I agreed with three conditions—1) The debate would be video recorded and posted online, 2) The order of questions would be preset, but the order of answer would be random, 3) High school government classes would serve as a live audience. This format was acceptable to everyone.

The actual debate was anti-climactic. The real event was backstage. Two of my opponents were already cowed by the third, Roger Payne, a local veterinarian. In a comic replay of my meeting Robert Swenson, Mr. Payne tried physical intimidation on someone taller. One of the others snickered. Nothing unsettles a bully more than mockery.

The timing was perfect. When we went out on stage, Mr. Layne was still red faced. More titters. Later in the debate, he demanded to be called Doctor Layne. I mentioned that I could claim Doctor as well, but did not need a crutch. Things did not go well for him. In my closing, I spoke of Cloudrest, my plans for the house and the land, and broader plans for Nashua and Southern New Hampshire.

In the morning, the Nashua Telegraph ran a front page article on the debate, essentially saying I dominated. Two days later, Dr. Layne withdrew, citing lack of time. Neither of the other two put up much of a campaign. I won with almost 57%.

As Gerald would say, "Too easy."

Chapter 25 -- Functions and Transforms

Some people think that Jesse "The Body" Ventura, former wrestling entertainer, never expected to win the Governorship of Minnesota. The day after the special election, that was the way I felt. Like turning twenty one, I seemed no different, but my world had changed. For me, trust fund baby, that meant more than for most. Likewise, the day the election was certified, I received a number of things I had no immediate use for, including an office and a shared clerical person.

I went to inspect the office space. It was exactly what you would expect for a city with significant recent growth—tiny and otherwise inadequate. As usual, I turned things over to Elspeth. My only instruction was to set up virtual meeting capacity, so I could keep office hours from elsewhere. Nashua was the second largest city in New Hampshire, but that was still well under 100,000. In New Jersey it would rank twelfth. Alderman was a part time job.

That said, I intended to do the job. I took the tour of the records office, learned the scope of my access, noted the schedule of meetings and introduced myself to Claire Jones, the assistant I shared with three other Aldermen. I introduced Elspeth as my personal assistant. We spent a week getting up to speed for the first meeting. Like Manchester, Alderman sessions were recorded (literally taped).

That was OK. I found the old tapess of the sessions very illuminating. The elections of the previous November had been a change of power structures. Donna Lee, the current Mayor was largely stripped of her support. Paul Dean and James Dowd either convinced other Aldermen not to run for re-election, or to step down. Following the election, they controlled about two thirds of the votes.

I was replacing Jane Karon, Dowd supporter, who resigned Ward Seven after winning an at-large position (four years, instead of two). Allan Morton was to be her replacement. I was beginning to wonder how real his medical issues were. In any event, I may have done Dr. Layne a favor. He was in neither camp, which might not have been healthy for his business. I am naturally combative. A good fight might be just the thing to improve my humor.

The Board met twice a month. My first meeting was Tuesday, the week after the election was certified. I attended and abstained from every vote. None were close, so my vote did not matter. During the meeting, I watched the other Aldermen and the reporters. It turned our Luck was with me.

James Dowd took audio notes on his smartphone. I could read about half of what he said. The reporters were even better. They talked among themselves constantly. The Telegraph reporter mumbled along as he keyed his reports. Donna Lee was not attending, but her representative spent most of the meeting on the phone. I could not tell all the issues, but it was easy to pick out the teams. Both sides thought I was on theirs. Hilarious.

I could see the reason for the recent political struggle. The city and county had voter approval for up to $11,000,000 in bond issues and/or federal loans. This was for a clean water system of some kind. The primary contract was spelled out prior to the vote. However, many of the side and sub-contracts had yet to be awarded. Someone had to win the contracts. Dean and Dowd had friend and family interests they wanted to promote, so they had sandbagged Donna Lee. It made me tired, but the political landscape made perfect sense.

The question, as always, was what I wanted to do about it. I could have used my position for leverage in the Beacon Light project, but that was firmly established near Manchester. Cloudrest was still a ways down the road and was outside city limits. Once I examined my motives, the biggest reason to do something was that I dislike bullies. I started by figuring what I could do, because there was no sense in attempting the impossible.

With that ball rolling, I took an extended trip to the Capital. The 18 March legislative session was days away. My presence was urgently requested on several issues. I pressed flesh, drank dreadful coffee, gave scripted answers, asked scripted questions and generally did my trained seal act.

In the process, I scouted which reporters, aides or lobbyists were easiest to eavesdrop. Every night I returned with a load of fresh feedback on the day's events. Since lip reading is not a common skill, my staff was stunned at the level of information I could glean just walking around. The evening before the session, I made the rounds of cocktail parties and such. Into a handful of selected ears, I dropped a few carefully vetted hints. Call them introductory offers.

I should mention my Concord staff. It began with myself and Elspeth, doing parole consultations. We still did a respectable number of those. In the year and a half since we started, my staff had grown to ten people, led by Howard Cockerham, whom I poached from Sean. At that, we were using temp service clerical help.

Through luck or skill, I had a very competent team in Concord. I was doing my best to see that their reputation grew. Judging from the reactions, it worked. All but one of my selected Senators and Representatives returned my contact in the morning. Out of those contacts we received a commission to investigate a wrinkle in Affordable Care Act compliance. I went back out with ACA as my target subject.

Not surprisingly, it was an information rich environment. Whether you call it Obamacare or ACA, its proper name, the law is a patchwork, with no defining plan. Significant compliance areas needed to be clarified. Everyone had an opinion on how. Shortly after lunch I tagged the group that seamed to be leading the charge. I let my people know and they let our clients know. We made nothing but goodwill, in most cases, but goodwill is fertile soil.

After the session wrapped, I had catered a lunch for the office. They had earned it. Their contacts and my few hints were distilled into six new clients, at that point. Privately, I was relieved. I may have been a millionaire, but Concord's overhead was stiff. These clients could get us to the break even stage before the September session. Once the wheel is turning, it takes much less effort to keep it going.

My next stop was Nashua for the bi-monthly Board of Aldermen meeting. Again I said very little, but kept my eyes open. By the time I went home, I had a glimmering of a plan. Several of Dean and Dowd's pet companies had locked up bids. However, the big prize was against a company from Manchester, who also had local resources to draw on. If I could spoke the wheels of that wagon, I would.

Nashua took only a couple of days. Boston took a couple of weeks. Unlike Concord, I set up the Boston office on the cheap. By the time I arrived, they needed a hundred feet of rope to replace my original shoestring. I rented an actual office and turned the storefront over to the new investigative division. All they needed was someone to answer the phones. The working people would come to you.
We wrapped things up, appropriately enough, on April Fool's Day. I was exhausted. I talked to Sean. He told me I had delegation problems and suggested a Red Sox game. Not having a better idea, I collected everyone that was not nailed down and went to Fenway Park. It was a day game, cold and drizzly, but could have been worse. The Red Sox beat the Tigers, so the small crowd was in a good mood. I cannot say the same about the ballpark food.

After the game I took everyone to an Irish bar. St. Patrick's green was still up (it might never come down), but otherwise it was an ordinary bar. At least the sandwiches were better. We laughed and talked til about ten PM. Without thinking about it, I noted who drank too much, who talked too loudly, who stayed back and watched everyone else, and who kept order. I did a last call and headed home.

As I did my daily notes, I was reminded of the hundreds of times I did notes while in college and grad school. Like my research notes, these involved what people said, what they merely mouthed and my personal observations. Yet, these were much more personal. Sean was right. I could tell who was the leader from who was the water carrier. What was interesting was pecking order.

High on the list was someone that did not go to the baseball game. The organization in Boston revolved around Veronica. Every sign pointed to her as the center of activity. She once put a ring in my nose, so perhaps it was no wonder. I decided to make my appreciation more visible. If nothing else, it would reinforce her status as local boss.

The next day was Thursday. I told Veronica and Vivian to be available after 5 PM. Vivian was a Midwest girl, so she was out of place everywhere. Roni was from Connecticut, so seafood was a way of life. So were bars, but that was a different story. Neither was upper crust, so I chose Union St. Oyster Bar, next to the Capital. The Kennedy's used to hang out there, prior to the 1960 election. The bar was still known for their oysters-on-the-half-shell and steamed shellfish platters.

Four of us—myself, Elspeth, Veronica and Vivian—walked in about half past six. Even on a Thursday, with the Sox on an off day, there was a nice crowd. I hoped for that much. What I did not expect was every eye tracking our movements. At first I put it down to a potential group of females to pick up. My lip reading skills disabused that idea.

I was pegged as a political player, and the others as my aides. Veronica was selected as my Chief of Staff, but no one could place me. I thought it was funny, until the smart phones started turning up names. Elspeth was quickly pegged as local aristocracy, but that was counted in my tally. Veronica was next. She was pegged as an agitator that had come up in the world. Veronica led them to Vivian, since they had been working closely.

The confusion revolved around me. I was (evidently) the one in charge, but my face was not in the local media. Someone tracked FDC, through Veronica and Vivian, which led them to Concord New Hampshire. Still no luck. The first hit was the wedding, specifically the NY Times Magazine coverage. Once they had a name, everything fell out. While this was going on, our tray of two dozen oysters arrived.

As we ate the oysters, I told the table to be prepared for questions. Vivian looked confused, but Elspeth expected something and Veronica lived by the political pulse. I was still applying hot sauce to my next oyster when the first reporter/stringer/information peddler came up. I motioned him close.

"Tell everyone to play some pool while we eat. When we get done, I'll play the winners for some questions—but only winners. I'm warning you, you'll need some stick to get any answers. Shoo. Anyone that jumps the line, you can thump." I winked at the last. Nothing makes a game as interesting as a challenge. They would police each other for me.

Dinner was a bit strained, because everyone knew that we were being recorded. I would have, if I were a political wonk or a reporter. I just told the girls that everything would soon be clear. Half an hour later, it was time to make good my boasts and promises.

Bars breed dart, shuffleboard and pool players. I had some instruction in the game, and some native talent, but I did not expect to win my way out. I did not, but I made them sweat. To the winner, I promised fair answers to three questions, which he could prepare while I visited the toilet. When I returned a video press conference was set up. Things like this could go to my head.

Brighton Bartkowski: This is Brighton Bartkowski. I am speaking to Dr. She-o-vann Richards, Alderman of Nashua New Hampshire and owner of FD Consulting, which has offices on Boston's South side. Dr. Richards, what brings you to Boston today?

Siobhan Richards: Oysters. I let the single word stand long enough to get some titters.

Yesterday we did a team building event at the final game of the Red Sox home stand. I was hoping for a home run ball from Papi, but no joy. Tonight, I am announcing the new heads of my Boston team: Veronica VanKampen and Dr. Vivian Wright, MIT and Dartmouth. Vivian is our number cruncher. Veronica handles the brass knuckles. That brought some laughter, as intended, but it died, also as intended.

BB: You are an Alderman in Nashua New Hampshire. Much of your business is in Concord New Hampshire and Manchester New Hampshire. In Boston, you are best known for mediating a real estate deal in Roxbury. What brings you downtown?

SR: Same answer as the first time, oysters. Wink. This bar is almost two hundred years old. I grew up in a house that's older, but I'm unusual. I wanted my team to get a taste for history. It does not hurt that it's a political bar. FDC does political consulting, so we may wind up here on occasion. I wanted them to know that a bar is a bar, even if JFK used to have a regular booth.

BB: What are your plans after Boston?

SR: That's a question for which I have no definitive answer. I will go back to Nashua. I recently purchased some acreage there, with a very old house, which I call Cloudrest. A great deal of work must be done to make it livable. Fortunately, there is a lot of help available and interest in a well documented restoration.

This spring I hope to establish a river dock—it's on the Merrimack River—and a good path from the dock to the main house complex. There is an overgrown orchard to prune and many maple trees for next winter. The land was tree harvested about 1800, so there are a large number of two hundred year old trees. Some should be thinned. The house itself is going to be designed by contest. I'll give you the online information.

Other than that, I plan to watch my people do their jobs.

That was the end of the interview. I had no idea what would become of it. The first thing B Bart asked, off the record, was if I really grew up in a two hundred year old house. Vivian, who knew it well, laughed. Elspeth had pictures ready, plus the article in the architectural quarterly. When he asked if I had anything to do with the merry-go-round wedding, I felt like patting him on his pointy little head. Next time shooting pool would not be the standard to earn an interview—unless I wanted a softy.

Friday I was serious about upgrading the office space. I rented the 4th floor of a building. Sean supplied me with a construction foreman (New Jersey was between projects). Mimi supplied another couple of hundred prospects, which we boiled down to three or four good workers. I turned down so many, I was afraid that the well would dry up. Mimi told me that my reputation was gold, that people were begging for a heads up on my jobs. Strange. I turn down 99%, but the 1% gets all the attention.

I turned the floor into advertised space for my consulting/lobbying firm and unadvertised space for the security people. It was about 60/40, but security was growing faster. Mimi was referring all her ex-military officers, SP and MP to us.

I took out an option on another floor, just in case. Security was not just growing, it was a cash cow. It turns out business owners like ex-military personnel doing their security. They seem to think it implied a willingness to use deadly force. Whatever floated their check. We were not earning it.

In all, things were far beyond my ability to keep track. Sean was giving me a great deal of top drawer consulting time at bargain basement prices. Without it we would have been lost. I mentioned I pirated two of his consultants. One, Hank Johnson, was now FDC's Chief Financial Officer. He hired half a dozen ex-quartermaster types, plus a couple of non-Ivy League MBAs. We would be contracting out next tax season.

It was so confusing, I finally called a conference. I reorganized everything into divisions, patterning on Richards Enterprises. In Concord there was the lobbying division and the legal division. In Manchester, there was a civic consulting division. In Boston we had statistical consulting, a (new) lobbying division, a legal liaison division and security, under Richard Harold. In Nashua, we had a small division for my personal use.

I had a lawyer draw it all up as a Delaware company, FDC LLC, with myself as managing director. My two best Concord people, Doris Miller and Howard Cockerham, Elspeth, Vivian, Veronica, Hank Johnson and Richard Harold were my Board. They all received 5% shares, for 35% the company, while I retained 65%.

I thought it was small change, but 5% of anything was more than some had ever owned. They had the authority to run things, which is what I told them all to do. As a parting gift, I gave them all PDAs on an integrated platform George designed for Silicon Valley. I almost felt badly about going to Nashua, with no intention of answering for a month.

Almost, but not quite. I was tired.

"little"   sister  

Jul 16, 2018 in femdom

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