General Fiction posted June 14, 2014 Chapters:  ...16 17 -18- 19... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
A week away passes with telephones busy

A chapter in the book Enough to Miss Christmas

More Frequent Flyer Miles

by Fridayauthor

Sarah agrees to marry Paul in spite of their different life styles. He is willing to adapt to the change Sarah and the children want, at least in theory.
            A drive by the real Estate office confirmed it was closed. Karen wanted to call her father and have him enlist fix-anything Thatcher to run the realtor down but I vetoed the idea. I thought for a moment my decision might win me another surly mood from Karen but she accepted my verdict. After writing down the pertinent information we reluctantly left Summerside and our dream home behind. Time was short before my plane flight back to reality was due to leave.
            “We should have brought a camera,” Karen said as we began our homeward journey.
            “We were going to go to the movies,” I said, “not buy a house! I have a picture in my mind, do you?”
            “Yes! I can’t wait until Dad comes up here tomorrow and buys it for us! You are going to make him, aren’t you?”
               I had to be careful. This constant stress of doing the right thing versus what my heart demanded was beginning to wear on me.
            “From what I saw and what you told me you could see inside the house, it looks like a wonderful home. It’s not just our decision. Honesty isn’t only not telling a lie, it’s admitting the whole truth and not trying to color it your way.”
            “But the house is perfect!” she protested.
            “I agree it looks great but I don’t want to force anyone to do anything, especially your dad. This would be a major life change for all of you; all of us, especially him; after all he’s older so he’s more set in his ways. There’s still the matter of you and me. We haven’t resolved that business to my satisfaction.”
            There was a hint of panic. “I said I wanted you to marry him didn’t I?”
            “You said a lot of things, Karen. Things like you don’t like me; I’m not your mother and never will be. We seem to get along very well most of the time, but I wonder how our relationship would work when a situation comes up that’s not to your liking. Would you obey me if I told you to do something or would you undermine me by running to your father or even lying to him?”
            “You think I’d do that?”
            “You tell me. I couldn’t tolerate it if you did. I care for you too much to abide by that kind of behavior. I’ll need trust from you and honest promises if I agree to marry your father and live with all of you as a family. You say you don’t like me, and I guess I can live with that.”
            “Sometimes I’m not sure what I like.”

            “You say I will never replace your deceased mother; that’s true too, but I would demand you treat me with the same obedience and respect a mother deserves. There, I said it. It’s your turn.”
          I could see Karen was crying, in spite of her attempt to hide her emotion. I made no move to console her. It was several moments before she answered. “Will you promise to treat me like a daughter? Like Grandma raised you and Aunt Suzie?”
            “That’s the only way I would know. But you heard what Grandma said about trust and telling lies didn’t you?”
            Karen nodded in agreement. “I know I’m a brat sometimes, and I get in moods and say stuff. Sometimes I don’t want to talk, to anybody, because I don’t know when they’re lying to me. I’ll obey you and do what you say. I do what Sister Rose and Mrs. Doberchek and the others tell me. Just ask Dad.”
            I let it go at that. What more could I do?  Here I was exacting promises from a twelve-year-old for life-changing consequences she couldn’t dream of understanding. I was ashamed of myself for doing so, but I so wanted this family to work, in harmony.
            I was not so naive as to think Karen and her entire family was prepared to give up the so-called opulent trappings of the wealthy, to live a truly normal life, nor was I ready to force it upon them. I stood with fingers crossed as Paul and Timmy met us on the front steps of their Newton home while Karen exuberantly explained our Summerside find to her open-mouthed father. There was no time to go inside and we all piled into the car for the hurried ride to the airport. Karen continued to describe the house, as she sat in the back seat with Timmy, who was now as excited as his sister.
            I couldn’t believe Paul hadn’t questioned our arbitrary suggestion he down-size his life style in so dramatic a fashion. Instead, he contentedly held my hand as he drove to the airport and listened to his daughter’s non-stop report of our afternoon activities. I wished he and I had time together before we were once again separated by hundreds of miles. There was so much to discuss but only minutes left before I boarded my plane.
            “I’ve never seen Karen this excited about anything in her entire life,” he said. His comment couldn’t have pleased me more.
            “I’m not being fair to you, Paul. I didn’t mean to put you on the spot like this.”
            “That life was all Carol’s concepts anyway,” he said as we all stood at the gate. “Maybe a fresh start is a good idea. If you guys want it, it’s a done deal.” Timmy, who’d agree to anything, bounced with glee.
            “There are hoards of details we have to talk about, Paul,” I said as I glanced at my watch. "Karen wants to go to public school, have a puppy, a computer. . .”
            Paul shook his head. “The only real detail is that I love you and I’m saying it right here in front of you and my children. I want us to be a family and I trust your judgment. Can I be any plainer than that?”
            It was Sarah who tossed cautionary cold water on the collective enthusiasm. “Paul, I want each of you to consider what you’re saying. Take this next week and talk about it, together, and I’ll come back Friday. No decisions until then! I mean it!”  I kissed each and turned away toward my plane leaving them to make the decision of their lives.
            It seemed I spent most of the following week on the phone, with long conversations with either Paul or my sister Suzie, and a couple of shorter chats with Karen and Timmy.
            At first Suzie was flabbergasted that I wouldn’t be jubilant about assuming reign over Paul’s castle as matron of the manor. She was further bewildered that Paul, and his children, were agreeable to go along with her daffy sister and, as she put it, kiss-off easy street for a mere mortal existence. Suzie was somewhat placated when I told her where Karen and I located a potential home. She was familiar enough with the Summerside area to know that real estate there  was far more expensive than anything she and her husband could ever dream of affording.
            “I keep thinking someone will yell April fools and you’ll turn back into a pumpkin,” she said. I didn’t disagree.
            While I tried to discuss details on the phone with Paul, he continued to act as if buying the yet unseen Summerside house was a done deal. He, or probably Thatcher Wright, had set up an appointment for this coming Saturday. I crossed my fingers that he hadn’t already purchased the place before I’d seen the inside.
            Paul and I reached a general understanding of how our new life might function. While he acted totally blasé about my suggestions, it became apparent he had given the proposed changes serious thought. He would continue his business interests unabated, including his corporate jet and other trappings. While Paul offered a willingness to curtail his frequent and lengthy business trips in the long term, the first year was already heavily booked. I’d often be left alone with the children.
            The home front would be my jurisdiction including the raising of Timmy and Karen. While I protested receiving so much delegated authority, with zero experience, he insisted he trusted my judgment. He pointed out how poor a job he was doing at present. I couldn’t argue that point but I held my tongue. I promised, and he agreed, we would work together and learn from one another. The challenge of my spearheading the drive to family normalcy was daunting and petrifying.
            My first telephone conversation with Karen began with her question, “So when do you get married?”
            “Whoa!”  I said. “We haven’t even talked about what kind of wedding we’d have.”
            “A fast one,” Karen said to my amusement.
            I spoke to my supervisor at the military base where I had been putting in a half-hearted job of teaching. I told him I was engaged to marry and might be requesting an early termination to my commitment. I was pleasantly surprised he asked only that I give him a two week notice. I spent the balance of my time counting the hours until I earned more frequent flyer miles with yet another flight to Boston.

Earned A Seal Of Quality

Enough to Miss Christmas is a family love story, about sisters, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, parents and children. Foremost, it tells the story of a stepmom and a precocious young lady and how they bond in spite of overwhelming odds.
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