Her New Image
Marty’s identity was found out by Sandy on Spring Break...
Sandy and Hannah help Marti inside to Blossom...
She’s living 24/7 during her Summer Internship…
Relationships becoming complicated...
The Martina surfacing is here to stay...
I am lying in the bed looking up to mother Sparks. She kisses me on the forehead saying, “You’re like a young girl in some says. Have a good nap and relax. If you’re worried about her Dad being your boss, he already knows she has eyes for you.” With that she stands and leaves the room.
It is an hour later when I’m awakened by a knock at the door. It sounds a little like Tricia’s voice as the opens the door a little. I say, “Let me get up and put together again please.” I am both excited and anxious to see if it’s her.
I was expecting it to be Sandy or maybe her mother. I’m surprised to hear it is Tricia and I’m wondering what is happening. I am up with a nice robe around me as Tricia enters. I naturally want to give her a hug and kiss, but I wonder if I should. Tricia takes the guessing away by giving me a warm hug and a passionate kiss. “Marti, I am sorry about the coldness with which I dropped you off. It is true that my parents are not excited that I deeply care about you. Yes, I decided for them to slow down our relationship, but I am by no means wanting it over.”
“I am open to transferring to South Carolina University at Columbia or have you come to Francis Marion University at Florence, SC. How fast things have taken off for you as Marti is a bit overwhelming for me. I also saw you begin to look at men like you’re taking an interest in them.”
No sooner had Tricia stopped talking and I sat down hard on the bed. Part of me wished things were decidedly clear and simple. Either, Tricia and I are in love and everything is set or it’s over and we need to forget and go on a part from one another. Is it Sandy or Tricia that I have a love for, and how did Tricia know I’ve begun seeing other guys in a new way as Marti?
Tricia asks, “So what are you thinking?”
I tell her, “You touched on a number of my feelings and thoughts that I’ve been having. And one I hadn’t told anyone as far as I can remember. How did you do that?”
Tricia says, “I’m guessing it is either about Sandy or that you’ve begun to see guys in a different light. Marti, you’ve been on women’s hormones and a blocker. Your system is rewiring itself and you see and experience things differently. That’s one of the reasons I think we and you in particular need to slow down and not rush any conclusions concerning your emerging self.”
I am dressed and rechecking my makeup. I change my look for evening and we go out to the reception. When Tricia sees Sandy coming in our direction. She says, “I’ll go say hi to some others.
Sandy greets me, “I see that she found you. So you two are still friends.”
“Yes, things are okay between us. We’re slowing the relationship down. I need to allow my life get in sync with my changing body.”
Sandy asks, “Does that mean you’re going to put things along with me on hold too?”
“It means, I’m going to take time with you to figure better where I am with you. I like that we’re special, but… but I’m needing to take time and not commit to how I’m going to see things weeks or months from now.” I give Sandy a hug and she’s making me hot.
Sandy says, “Do you realize we’re almost looking eye to eye?” I’m not sure what she’s getting at. She says, “You were taller than me.” We walk over to her mom, and she asks, “Momma, I think Marti is getting shorter.”
Ellen Sparks, “Yes, but Marti probably hadn’t realize it. We realize it because we don’t see her all the time.”
“Marti do you notice clothes you wore when you were here in the spring fitting differently?”
Marti, “I thought it was because I’m dieting and losing weight.”
“Yes, that too but you’re also changing in the hips and waist. Surely I hope as a girl you’re noticing things like that.” I smile and shake my head affirming what she’s saying. There are a number of changes I’ve been noticing. I thought for sure some of them were just in my head that I wanted to believe it’s so. But I had not perceived that my frame had become shorter.
Maybe it shouldn’t have made a difference, but somehow the fact I was a little smaller, I felt more timid and defenseless. My perception of being a woman is taking on a new dimension. I smiled to myself as I wondered about an outfit that I thought I was too big for. Even my own image of myself begins to change in my mind.
It was late and I found myself in the midst of Sandy, Tricia, Hannah and other girls talking late into the morning. Dawn had broken and we gathered at the water’s edge and all of us were soon down to our panties and bras dipping into the ocean.
Mrs. Sparks and someone had a mound of robes, beach towels and small blankets for us as we came out of the water. I loved this time of being one of the young women. Tricia whispered, “It’s nice to have you in the group Marti.”
We talked as we ate a light breakfast. Others went home or with Sandy to her room, Hannah invited Tricia to nap in her room and I was soon huddled under the covers in what’s become my room.
The white cotton dress I put on later was precious in its simplicity. My turquoise panties were but a faint pastel to those who looked hard and then became invisible after I put on a small half-slip going into the afternoon. Mr. Sparks sailed his small cruiser around and sailed us out into the Atlantic. I had scooted on my bikini bottoms under my dress and slipped on my top. Once the outer clothes were off four of us were sunning ourselves on the front deck of the boat. It was one of the long summer day nice for tanning.
Mr. Sparks had me sit down with a fishing pole in hand, as I fish with him late in the afternoon, until I got a bite. He had insisted I set my line to drop deep in the water with a piece of squid for bait. I had received one bite but pulled on the line too quickly. We were trolling a little further when the line went again and I waited to feel a stronger tug on the line. It took me a good twenty-seven minutes to bring up the fish with over a hundred foot of line. Mrs. Sparks was to identify it as a good Scamp over the usual 18-24”. I was exhausted as Mr. Sparks and Hannah helped me get it onboard. Almost half my height, the Scamp was 30 inches long and twenty five pounds. Mr. Sparks told me it would be a good trophy fish for a picture. Ellen Sparks said, “It will be good eating, Maria will be happy to cook it up for us tomorrow night.” Since I handled mostly the pole and the fish only for a picture; I was spared most of the fishy smell and the routine of cleaning it.
I couldn’t believe the picture of the fish and I sent it to my parents. There I was a college age girl showing off her deep sea catch. Dad soon text back, “I expect you’ll do better eating fish there.” The truth was my dad had caught and we ate a blue fish when I was growing up. I ate only enough to get by and I felt sick most of that night. It had an oily taste and strong small to it.
Luckily as Ellen Sparks said, Marie knew how to properly cook it up and serve it. It would be part of the family’s July fourth buffet at their home. We went out to party that night. I was told my Sandy that she and Tricia decided we’re all dancing with others more than ourselves. Troy was the only guy I knew to dance with from before. Tricia and I were dancing when it changed to a slow song and a guy name Carter and his friend Trevor split us up. Tricia seemed to know Trevor and didn’t mind. Carter began a conversation with me and my focus was quick enough onto him.
While I had known and danced with Troy. It would be Carter that I enjoyed a better part of the evening. I was with him and in his arms as the fireworks began and there I stayed until they were over. By that time the cool breeze off the ocean made me shiver a little and I found his arms nice and warm around me.
Before I rode back with Mr. Sparks to Columbia, I had already receive a call from Mrs. Brianna Jordan. She wanted another casual luncheon with me to just visit.
Mr. Sparks says, “That it is impressive that Mrs. Jordan wants to meet with you; but remember that is in addition to your regular work. Have you stayed up with keeping informed about the financial world?”
“Yes,” I giggled, “it wasn’t a holiday for the rest of the financial world. The Chinese are trying to unload three companies. One should be of interest to our investors. While the other two might look attractive to some of them as well. They aren’t what they use to be. They’ve been cannibalized.”
He says, “We already have communication from the Armstrong’s financial advisor. That usually means he has his own idea for something he is going to do or recommend.”
I say, “Isn’t he one of those who usually doesn’t take your advice?” Mr. Sparks seemed surprised that I knew that.
We are at the office and have taken our time to get acclimated with all that came across our desks. Someone had extended my cubicle. Giving me more space and adding two machines that I previously shared with others.
I do contact Ms Jordan’s senior Administrator to make a luncheon time with her. Mr. Johns says, “She is thinking Wednesday evening. Will that be alright with you?” Truth is unless Mr. Sparks has a good reason, I make it work.
I am to be at her house at 6:25 on Wednesday evening. A nice dress is suggested, “She does have a company helicopter you’ll be taking from there. You can tell Mr. Sparks you are not certain if you’ll be back Wednesday evening or sometime later.”
Back to the general meeting with Mr. Sparks and all the associates and us assistants. My news is important and I have the opportunity twice to speak. Apart from one appropriate little comment I keep things to myself.
Jackson, the Financial Advisor for the Armstrong account had in fact a recommendation to buy a portion of one company. But that company was one the Chinese would keep controlling interest. Mr. Sparks warned him based on my information and his that it was not a wise investment with present information.
Jackson alluded to other information that he had privy of, but he wouldn’t say what it was. Howard Sparks was fairly sure that Jackson’s information was bogus or a pure bluff on some other guy’s part. The fact that he wouldn’t divulge his source could be true enough, except for the fear Howard saw when Jackson looked down instead of into his eyes.
An Associate commented that, “The responsibility was now with Jackson the Financial Advisor.”
Mr. Sparks said, “Our contract is not with Mr. Jackson. And though the account rests with my Associate Mr. Franks. I am willing to visit with the Armstrong CEO if he wants.” Mr. Franks said he’d communicate with them and ask for Sparks’ assistance in meeting with them if it proved wise to meet.
Mr. Sparks didn’t say anything, but he looked pleased. There were many reports that it took us up to after lunch. I was asked as we were leaving to stay behind. Mr. Sparks spoke, “Martina, I knew you had more, but was glad you waited. Though it’s passed lunch time, I want to hear what Brianna Jordan had to say to you.”
He was happy for me about my invitation. He said, “You might want to take an overnight bag. Do not try to anticipate and take a lot. If there will be something special, she will provide or give time on the trip to get what is needed. You are free to use your company card to get what you need… We will figure out if there is an amount that should be covered by you as excessive.”
“Mr. Sparks I feel like I’m going to be in over my head. I’m not the woman she expects me to be.”
He simply asked, “If you don’t think she realizes that you have grossly underrated her.
“You have plenty of work to do until 3:30, so you better get to it.” I shake my head as I walk away. I’m missing lunch and I’m supposed to work until 5:00 p.m. Giving Mr. Sparks credit for knowing what he’s saying: I go back to my work area and keep busy doing my work.
I research: Alloy Composite, Inc. as the company China is letting go of and in which our investors might rightfully be interested. Their knowledge and expertise should be more valuable than their physical assets. I check with Mr. Sparks and together we decide that the Armstrongs would do well to partner with someone for 60% 0f its rated value.
On my way out the door at 4:00 p.m. Mr. Sparks hands me an envelope marked ‘confidential’ and it’s marked to me. I put it in my purse for when I get back to my apartment. I stop at Macy’s get a simple pastel blue skirt and a white printed blouse with complimenting colors.
Once I’m home I open the envelope. It says: “Armstrong agrees to purchase controlling interest in Alloy Composite with a silent partner. You can share this information only with Mrs. Jordan. Telling her that temporarily South Carolina Investments, Inc. is their silent partner.”
I’m elated over the news. I feel like I now need to put myself in total female mode to become prepared to be with Brianna Jordan tomorrow night. I called for an emergency hair appointment. I am thrilled that Amber will be there at 7:00 a.m. to help me out, but I wonder about how big my tip should be..
I will have my light blue skirt and blouse to wear tomorrow evening, even the makeup, jewelry and toiletries packed away. Steph my house mate giggles at how well I’m doing. She pushes me to shower and get ready for bed. She told, not asked me, that she’d being doing my nails. I was surprised that after a light meal that she started with a pedicure. “Your toes and feet have been better taken care of since you came.” While doing my nails I asked her about anything unusual about how I look.
She answered, “I didn’t until you came back, but you’re smaller more feminine than when you first came here. Who noticed that first?”
I responded and she said, “That makes sense Sandy and Hannah didn’t see you for a few weeks. Did they like the candy that they saw?”
She retorted, “Don’t tell me that you didn’t know they had eyes for you. You’re not only like a sister to them. Nor do they see you as a “Barbie Doll’ any longer. You are a young bird taking to flight, better a young woman beginning to blossom.”
“What about you,” I ask, “are you still my friend, hopefuly nothing more?” Steph waves her left hand in my face. “I’m now engaged you don’t need to worry about me.” The conversation turn to Steph and her engagement. There is a slight suggestion I might be asked to be a bridesmaid. She says, “Don’t get too excited it won’t be until next year.”
I like how my nails look. I stay up later to make sure they were completely dry. I would wear open toe dress sandals to work and the one pair of open toe heels I have to Mrs. Jordan.
Come morning I am anxious as I dress and go to the salon. I hadn’t slept the best with all that has happened. Howard Sparks seeing I was looking well but a little tired, took me to the Garden Café for breakfast and a dinner meeting. “Brianna Jordan as the chair of the Board will know what you know, but she’s likely to ask you to explain the deal. The Willis Holding Corporation is the one I am presently talking to about buying our shares of Alloy. They have invested with the Armstrong Corporation once before. Willis currently has a 3% interest in Alloy. They already know how it could be great if properly run. I am sure Willis will buy more stock and strengthen their position if they buy in. We will get our fee plus two to five points in appreciation.”
Mr. Sparks thought it was cute at the Café Garden that Melissa a waitress I knew my, is my unofficial waitress there. He knew her but had not usually remembered names or become friends with those who waited upon him. He later told me that may change for him. He had work to do, but he was to be golfing with someone early into the evening.
I was sure it was business, but he wasn’t saying anything and I knew not to ask. Constance, the woman with whom Stephanie was an intern, called me. Constance is SCI’s chief research manager. She had missed Mr. Sparks before he left and needed information concerning Alloy Composites, the Armstrong investment and potential buyers of SCI’s shares. She pressured me for information and was upset that I a subordinate wasn’t freely sharing my information. It was only after Mr. Sparks called me back and gave me permission, did I share the basics of the deal. It did not include a potential buyer of our portion of the stock.
I changed at work to meet with Ms. Jordan and drove from there to her estate. Joining with Ms. Jordan and two of her contingent, we flew by helicopter to the airport connecting with a private shuttle to New Orleans. Mrs. Jordan was like a different woman when we arrive at New Orleans. We stayed at an expensive hotel styled like New Orleans’s older historic hotels but with modern conveniences and more space. I with those serving her stayed with her in the suite she had reserved.
Tammi, one of her aides, came with me to show me my room. It was like she knew something I did not. She lightly laughed as I opened my overnight bag, revealing one lone outfit. She went to the closet and revealed several dresses and outfits and to the chest of drawers saying, “I hope these are properly sized, if not we’ll have time in the morning to help you find some to your pleasing.” Out to the main room of the suite our dinner had arrived for the four of us. Mine was sirloin steak tips lightly garnished with sautéed onions and peppers on a bed of wild rice. It was an extraordinary meal that we ate casually like four women friends just uniting again together.
The others retired, but I stayed with Ms. Jordan as she asked about the business information I was privy to. She shared her thoughts which were very insightful, showing much wisdom and understanding. She tells me of her daughter meeting with her this weekend.
“Where will you be meeting her at,” I asked Brianna?
“Here this weekend; I thought she’d enjoy a younger woman along for our time together out on the city. And yes, I know Mr. Sparks expects his interns to get some work done wherever they are. You might find an hour or two each day to get some formal work done. However instead of learning from the Old Boys Network; you’re here learning to be a woman in the world of business women.
“My daughter has heard about you from me. Now she’s the one who asked that you be on our trip. It will usually be the three of us or the two of you when I take a breathier. I just hope you won’t tire of hearing about her family especially her teen age daughters.”
“Martina, you have change some since we last met. Your life is taking up a new image; I hope it is to your liking. I am told it has been with some difficulty that some let go of their male persona. Are you among them?”
“Truthfully Mrs. Jordan, I hadn’t really seen that until I was nearly ready to come back from the holiday. Being a little shorter and I have a sense that I’ve begun burning the bridge to my past. Having softer rounder shoulders causes me to ponder in my femininity…”
Story to be continued…
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