Andi and Allie - 31

Andi and Allie – Chapter 31

‘Fair Winds And Following Seas’

The following morning I arrived at the office a little earlier than is usual. I knew Rhona would want to cross-examine me yet again and I wanted to accommodate her. The more I rehashed the day, the closer to being real it became. And sure enough she was there waiting for me, cup in hand and nail file on her desktop.

We sat and chattered away and I found that we were both speaking at the same time. Our intense excitement propelled us to speak in an even more rapid manner than usual. Neither of us noticed Peter standing virtually atop us with a bemused expression on his face. I blushed primrose and Rhona blushed witchy red when his presence was finally recognized. I had to give him the big news.

“Oh my God Peter…! I really need to speak with you.”

“Okay Andi… Grab my coffee and come on in.”

Peter walked down toward his office and after fixing his coffee I followed. I walked in and shut his door behind me. Peter laughed.

“You’re not quitting are you?”

“Oh no…” I had the most serious expression on my face I could muster.

“Well… Then I hope you’re not pregnant.” Peter chuckled. “I expect the miraculous every time you come to speak with me.”

“Oh no…! At least I’m not pregnant.” I giggled wishing as if…

“So… What’s up sweet heart?”

I still trembled every time Peter spoke and used that term of endearment.

“Martha is giving us a shot at her account.”

Peter sat up in his chair with a most serious look upon his face.

31-1a IMG_2730.jpg“You’ve got to be kidding!”

No smile…

“No… Like… For real… Susan had talked about our work for her company and Martha just happened to want to switch firms. She was going to call us anyway.”

“Now you do mean Gray Adams…right?” Peter finally grinned.

“Yeah… And I pretty sure she was speaking about the entire Mickey Mouse…ears and all.” I had to giggle.

“If we can get it that’ll make the third monster you’ve bagged…in less than a year?” Peter laughed. I grinned. “The boys uptown are really going to hate you now. They’re lucky to bag one of those in a lifetime.”

“I have a feeling that this might only be a beginning.” I snickered. “If Martha likes what we can do, she’s certainly going to spread the word about us. I mean we could wind up with another three or more.”

Peter’s grin suddenly turned sly. And just as quickly I knew what he was thinking.

“Do you think we could do that?” I asked with my usual clueless wide-eyed stare of wonder.

“If nothing else we could use it as leverage. But yes…we certainly could do that and there’s nothing the uptown boys can do to stop us. At the very least we should rate corner offices up on West Fifty Seventh.”

I was excited…to say the least. I actually wet myself a wee bit at the thought. I had to excuse myself and go to the lady’s and change my liner after washing a bit.

As I sat and completed my function, I thought of how totally cool it would be to have our very own company. Peter would certainly know how and I could certainly run the art department. And I’m sure Peter also knew other very talented people who could handle whatever else we would need.

I was walking on air the rest of the day. I couldn’t wait to inform Allie of the idea and get her input. I wouldn’t…no…I couldn’t do anything as drastic as forming my own business with Peter without her okay. After all, she told me about the gallery after her very brief exchange with Martha. She wouldn’t do that without me being okay with it.

In truth we could both could have taken a pass with all that money we now had. But somehow that didn’t seem right. We’d both worked very hard to be where we are, Allie much longer than me. It would feel weird not to be working. And what would our child…OUR children think seeing neither parent working?

I never expected to have the great fortune I inherited simply by chance of birth. And Allie was born fortunate as well. For sure our lives will change. But just as for sure we will still be quite recognizable. We certainly will continue to live where we live and there would be no major additions other than the baby stuff…and more baby stuff. And maybe… Just maybe… We would buy a car. And maybe… Just maybe… We would buy a small cottage in the country or by the sea to escape the mania of city life?

But that would be it. We had one another and we had great friends and now great family. Our friends and our new family were more than accepting; they were encouraging. Just how lucky is that?

I got home to find Allie asleep in the cave. And I don’t mean stretched out in her robe covered with a comforter. She was fully dressed with one shoe kicked off sitting upright with her head bent back upon the top of the loveseat’s backrest.

31-2a IMG_2758.jpg

Her mouth was opened and she was softly snoring. My heart simply opened up and my tears began to flow just imagining how totally wiped out she must have felt.

I sat down beside her and grasped her hand gently. Her head suddenly shot up and her eyes opened and closed several times. When she was awake enough to notice me next to her, Allie’s arm drew me close enough to kiss my cheek and hug me almost a little too tightly.

“Baby doll…” Allie spoke between kisses. “I love you so much.” She giggled. “God…! I am so fucking hungry!”

Allie’s eyes became wild. She actually salivated. I knew what to do. I had to feed my deliciously big, soft, and fluffy kitten.

“What would you like?” I got up with a grin.

“Everything…” She laughed.

I went into the kitchen and began to put together yet another movable feast. I seemed to work in an automatic mode. My mind was definitely everywhere else. If nothing else, my heart, my soul, and my mind were definitely undergoing great changes. How could this not happen.

I set several different things upon the teacart not knowing what my Allie might accept. She was becoming more unpredictable by the day. And I understood. With all of those mommy ‘mones racing through her body, anything was possible. I mean I was crying at the drop of a hat and I was only taking two ‘mones. So her crying because her sneaker lace wasn’t tied properly wasn’t out of place at all.

The next morning I saw a different person in the mirror. This person, a young woman, was smiling with confidence and contentment. Though I was still coming to grips with my new station…our new station…in life…I felt good about facing the day. I spent a little more time and care grooming myself.

A lovely New York City spring day glowed through the window and I decided to walk to work. I donned a pair of very low kitten heeled pumps. Though only a wee bit more than the heels on my flats, I could wear these nearly all day long without having to kick them off…too often.

I wore this lovely lightweight lime green silk blazer with beige trousers. I felt this to be my contribution of color to the revitalization of my life in the city. I chose the lime green leather pumps I bought to match my jacket and a black knit top to complete my OOTD. I felt my lucky ‘Martha’ medallion was in order considering the events of the past days.

There was a new spring in my stride and a wide smile on my face as I met the day on the street. I missed the walking during the winter and was glad to be able to really feel the day. I wore a pair of sunglasses Allie insisted I get. They had these number three neutral Gray lenses that was so dark they allowed me to gaze at people without seeming…weird?

I had a chance to shed all of my ‘adult’ thoughts and focus on my art. I watched the many different expressions on people’s faces. I watched their body language as they spoke to one another…or not. I gazed at the buildings I passed and, once on West Broadway, at the store windows of the various shops.

I stopped in front of one window that displayed a wide variety of colorful spring and summer fashions. I couldn’t help but gaze at my own reflection checking to see how I looked. At that moment I remembered Allie’s words about not being able to pass a mirror without gazing at my reflection.

31-3a IMG_2749.pngWell...I should have looked good.

I took ten minutes simply to apply some mascara and do my lips. Okay…so I used a touch of blush as well! So go ahead… Kill me… I felt the need to look good.

Upon arriving to the office, Rhona simply couldn’t wait to get her hands on me again. Well…to be more precise, I never thought she would stop hugging and kissing my cheeks. One would have thought I was her lost child. My ‘Cinderella’ tale was obviously her event of the year…perhaps the decade.

And, of course, I simply had to reiterate every last detail of that all-important day once again. And, of course, we both were blotting our tears when Peter walked in. He just smiled, shook his head, and with a motion of his arm signaling me to follow, he went back to his office.

After fixing his coffee, as usual, I grabbed my attaché and cup and walked down the hall. The aroma of his rather citrusy, yet floral, cologne faintly left a trail. I walked into his office grinning.

“Well… Someone had an incredible day.” Peter laughed as he motioned toward one of the armchairs in front of his desk.

“Oh my God Peter…” I could barely contain my excitement. “It is just so unbelievable. I just can’t stop thinking about…about everything.”

Peter sat back and interlaced his fingers behind his head. He grinned and let me go on and on and on. Finally he sat forward in his chair and placed his hands on his desktop. I knew that to be a signal…however subtle…for me to shut up.

“Do you realize that you’re royalty now?” He chuckled. “I haven’t mentioned any of our conversation to the boys uptown but…” He sat back again. “But you can imagine what’s going to happen.”

I gave Peter me best and only blank stare clueless look as I shook my head slowly.

“Heads will definitely roll with this one. They should have known Martha was not happy with her present agency.” Peter smiled. “It’s a small world and news like that usually gets around quickly.”

“Peter…?” I folded my hands on my lap and gave him my most innocent look. That wasn’t very hard for me. “Were you really serious about…” I leaned in toward him. “…opening up our own thingy?”

“We can speak about that at another time?” Peter arched his brows and I understood. “Our main concern is to see what her old agency was doing and how we can improve upon it.”

“Ohhh… Yeah…” Derp… I was fourteen steps ahead of the first step.

“I hate to sound so…mercenary. But the truth is that although the Gray Adams work may not be the largest you’ve gotten us a shot at, it’s by far the most important.” Peter gave me his best paternal smile. “That club of theirs has over two hundred members worldwide and more than a few of those members have sizable businesses. You’ve done amazing work for the Scoville’s and that’s really what brought you to Martha Gray’s attention. If we don’t perform she’ll remain your aunt but she won’t hesitate dropping our firm.”

Peter certainly knew how to put things into perspective for me. I can’t say that it was always pleasant though. I sat and wondered just how I could find out what she might desire. Of course the ancient history of on line logo photos would be the place to begin.

“But the other side of the coin is that if she does like our work… There are heaven only knows how many other giant accounts to be had. When do you expect to see her again?”

“Well…? I’m not really sure.”

I should have invited Martha and Petra to our home…I guess. I wasn’t really accustomed to the formalities of this sort of thing.

“We both really wanted to invite Martha to our home…to see our studios?”

“That’s an excellent idea. And why don’t you have the guys begin researching the net for photos whilst you look at the existing graphic stuff. And…” Peter sat forward in his chair. “You might want to find out a bit about the Adams half of the name. I suspect that Martha would consult her before making any kind of a decision.”

I nodded in agreement. I mean… Why would this be any different than what we did for Susan? We looked at picture after picture and graphic after graphic but nothing really came to me. I thought them all to be quite drab and…industrial?

Peter seemed to have a way of organizing me in a manner that made sense and brought out the best I had to offer. Peter is my work muse the way Allie was my…everything else muse? He mentioned that I might examine aligned interests such as banks and brokerage houses as well.

After spending most of the day gazing at Gray Adams logos, and those of many other investment and banking firms, I managed to do little more than develop a splitting headache. And the various pictures of Martha with and without her partner, proved even less productive. I mean it’s not like they’re selling tools or something.

I left the office feeling more than a bit discouraged. I mean this whole thingy was dumped into my lap and I was clueless. And my being related to Martha wasn’t any help…yet. I even went as far as gazing at each family’s coat of arms. I’d seen that on one company’s logo. But I thought it to be too affected?

What was needed was something fresh; something nobody else has. They really needed something very unique and totally memorable and I had no ideas what so ever. I was so entirely focused upon my new task that I was home before I realized it.

I glanced around the street and also realized that it had been some time since I visited the myriad of galleries within a few blocks of any direction. Indeed I hadn’t been to any museums in some time nor had I leafed through the pages of any art magazines. So much of what I had done was about Allie and I needed some new input, some new vision.

As I rode the elevator up to our apartment, I was hoping that my Allie would feel up to a stroll out for dinner and perhaps a peek into a gallery or two. I opened the door and I went into the kitchen, dropped my bag and proceeded to our bedroom. After shedding and hanging up my things, I collapsed onto the bed to rest and try to ease my mind. I closed my eyes and simply inhaled the mixture of my scent and hers.

I took one of Allie’s pillows, the one she places between her knees, over my face. I could smell she sexuality on it. I felt my entire being tremble. My mind began to dream of being with her; tasting and feeling her heated swampy vagina. I was lost in my waking dreams when she came in.

“I bet you’ve been into my laundry again too.” Allie snickered.

“I didn’t think of it but…now that you mention it…” I giggled.

I felt Allie’s weight as she sat down next to me. She tore the pillow from my face and I opened my eyes to see her blinding smile. Her lipstick was worn from the day and she leaned down and kissed me on my lips. I closed my eyes and felt the fleshiness of her lips upon mine. As our lips parted and my eyes slowly opened, I could see the smile in her eyes.

“How are you feeling today?” That had become my standard question of late.

31-4a IMG_2734.jpg“I’m good. We’re good.”

Allie patted her bulging belly.

“Feel like going out for dinner? Maybe taking in a gallery or two…?” I arched my eyebrows hoping Allie was up to it.

“Ummm…” She rolled her eyes upward and bit her lip. “Sure… That sounds great.”

It took us no time at all to change. Well… That is if one considers thirty minutes no time. After all, we were going out in public. Whilst ‘street look’ was one thing, how the rest of our exposed selves looked was quite another. I took more time than usual to do my eyes. I still had trouble with the smoky eye thingy. Eventually Allie got tired watching me suffer and she completed the look for me.

“You want to know something?” Allie stared at me with intensity. “I would kill to have eyelashes like yours. And I never really could decide whether your eyes are powder blue or simply an amazing shade of Gray. Will you leave them to me in your will?” Allie giggled.

“Everything I have is yours.” I got emotional. What else is new?

There is a magical mystical pulse to the city’s streets once the day’s work has ended. I always felt the energy but never more than on this night. My senses were heightened for it was the first night we’d been out since the showing. As we walked with our arm around each other’s waist I had a chance to really observe the people.

The shop keepers knew us already and they would wave at us through their windows. And we even knew some of the other residents by sight and even a few by name. But our art usually kept us too busy to have much interaction.

I did notice an occasional soul cast us a glance and it wasn’t because of the appearance of two women walking together so intimately. It wasn’t until after we’d grabbed a bite to eat that we discovered why. We were gazing into one of the name designer’s store fronts when this guy and his…date…walked up to us.

31-5a IMG_2735.png“Excuse me… Aren’t you Andi…the artist?”

I could tell immediately he was some sort of artist. He had that starving artist look down pat including his torn at the knees jeans with color smears on the upper leggings. But he was so nice and humble about asking.

“Yeah…” I giggled.

“We were to your last showing. It was…amazing. Are you going to have another anytime one soon?”

“I hope so.” I chuckled. “The money does go. What do you do?”

“Well… I do water colors and I mess around with film. I think I like film more though. It gives me opportunity to work with creating the lighting I want to see.”

“We really all do this same thing. The only difference is our medium.”

I purposely used the plural to include him. It is so difficult and can be so discouraging to an artist not to, at least on rare occasions, receive even a little bit of affirmation. I could tell by his huge grin that he relished what little I gave him. Then I introduced Allie.

“I remember your work.” His girlfriend chimed in. “The forms were so amazing and they had no weight to them.”

“Are you a ceramic artist?” Allie had picked that one up from me. It sounded so much better than simply a ‘potter’.

“Well…?” She blushed diva red and rolled her eyes upward. “I’m trying.” She giggled.

“Well guess what…” Allie laughed. “This was my second showing with Andi and you want to know something? I’m still trying.”

As it turned out the guy was attending the film program at N.Y.U. His girlfriend was studying with a ceramic artist who worked in the West Village. I hoped the meeting was as gratifying for them as it was for us. Both Allie and I emphasized the importance of always doing their art; always learning from new sources and always seeing new things.

When we entered the first gallery we happened upon, the owner ran right up to us. I…we felt like super stars. He fawned over us and offered us wine and couldn’t say enough about the work we had done.

I felt …important…at least in the moment. It’s one thing to have a boss or a gallery owner who’s making money off your efforts to say that you’re good. It’s quite another for people on the street, or not in a position to make money off of your work, to laud you.

Fortunately that feeling didn’t last very long. Some of the art, particularly the audio visual stuff, was not to my liking. And some of the constructions were…vague and ambiguous? But some of the other pieces were just what I needed to see. They were textural and very organic; full of color and life. Some were quite reminiscent of the way Van Gogh used color and texture but with a more decidedly modern pop electric look.

By the time we hit our third gallery, Allie was becoming tired and I had seen enough to know that I needed to revisit some of the modern masters like Johns and Hockney and Wesselmann. They were all about texture with popping colors. It was at that moment I knew what to do for Martha!

“When can we see Martha? I think I have an idea!”

Allie grinned at me. She’d seen that look on my face before. Allie even said she could feel the energy emanate from me whenever I thought of something…special. Suddenly her expression changed.

“I am so sorry.” Allie took both of my hands in hers. “I forgot to tell you. Martha, Petra and Susan are coming for dinner this Thursday evening.” Poor Allie had become so forgetful lately. “Martha was especially interested in seeing our studio and what we’ve been doing.”

“Oh my God…! I should have something to show her…you know?”

“Oh don’t worry about that. Just let her look and then maybe you could even sketch something out with her. I’m sure she’d love that.”

“Maybe we should invite Peter?” All I could think about was doing something expressly different for Martha.

“Yes… Of course… I think Martha spoke about maybe bringing her partner Marti and her wife?” Allie’s expression became even more stressed appearing.

There it is…again; a woman and her ‘wife’. My expression said all Allie needed to know.

“Well… Doesn’t Martha? I mean is it that unusual?”

I stared at Allie blindly. Okay… It’s not like having a same sex ‘partner’ is such a huge shock. I was becoming so very accustomed to this. But these people were calling their S.O.’s their wives! Were they the husbands?

“I don’t know; ‘I now pronounce you wife and wife’ sounds so…so alien?”

“Get over it baby doll.” Allie laughed. “Unless you’d rather I be the husband.”

Hmmm… Would it come down to something like that? And would it really matter? But other thoughts interjected themselves into my wandering mind.

Suddenly a dinner for our little family was turning into a dinner party and a business event. But Martha had spoken about Marti and thought very highly of her. And of course Peter has been a virtual father to me from the very first time we met. I certainly would want him there if I came up with something to show.

“Oh my God Allie… How are we going to deal with all these people?”

I couldn’t imagine preparing a meal for…for eight people and serving in as well. And in between trying to be the perfect host…ess and trying to maybe come up with an idea to sell, how would I be able to serve our guests. I certainly didn’t expect Allie to do any work at all in her condition. No doubt Allie saw the anxiety etched on my face.

“Oh don’t you worry baby doll. We can have the whole thing catered. We’ll bring in a chef and the only thing we’ll need to worry about is the menu.” Allie giggled. “It’ll be so much fun. And it’ll be kind of like one of Peter’s parties. You’ll see.”

The next day at work was kind of extraordinary. It began with my usual morning ritual of coffee with Rhona. But that all changed when Peter came in. He wasn’t his usual smiley self. After acknowledging us with a nod and smile, he walked directly to his office. Rhona and I gazed at one another in shock.

“I’ve never seen him like this before.” Rhona was obviously distressed.

“I’ll check it out.”

I grabbed Peter’s mug and fixed his coffee. I walked back to his office only to find the door closed; a rather usual event. I rapped softly on the door and edged it open. Peter was on the phone but, upon seeing me with his coffee, motioned me in.

“Well I understand that.” Peter rolled his eyes and smiled at me. “We should have no trouble handling this.” He was silent again as obviously someone was saying something Peter didn’t care to hear. “Listen Jack… You can do what you want with the account. If you’d like I’ll make sure nothing is done on this end without your say so.”

I could tell Peter was having trouble containing his chuckling.

“Quite honestly Jack…? Who cares if they want Andi to run the project as long as the billing gets paid? I simply think that if they think it’s important to have Andi doing the lead work, then who are we to say no? And I’m sure that Andi, being a complete team player, won’t have any problem working with the boys uptown.”

Peter spoke to Jack…whoever that might be…for a few more moments before hanging up the phone. He folded his hands and gazed at me with a bemused expression on his face.

“Evidently one of Martha’s senior vice presidents called late yesterday and wanted to discuss the Gray Adams account.”

“Oh my God… Martha was serious.” I don’t know why that should have surprised me other than maybe the speed at which she acted.

“Well… Evidently whoever called wasn’t interested in speaking with any of the account executives or even the headman himself. However, your name came up. It seems they want to meet with you.” Peter laughed.

“They…?” Clue… Less…

“The suits... They want to find out what is going on.” Peter chuckled. “I must admit I was a bit worried when I received a phone call about all this.”

“Well… Do we have anything to show them yet…Martha that is?”

“Not a single thing or idea…yet. We’re going to have a dinner party…sort of. And you definitely need to come. Martha wants to see our studios and she’s coming with Susan and her partner Marti? I think it would be a great time to see just how her tastes run.”

“I’d love to join you and Allie for dinner under any circumstances.” Peter’s eyes lit up. I’d love to see you studios.” He chuckled. “Well… If you do come up with something, how long would it take to work up a presentation?”

“Oh…” That was a killer question. “I could have something for you to review by…oh say…Monday?”

“Are you sure? I do have to go uptown and speak with the suits and I really need to have something to tell them.”

“I’m sure we could have something for them. Oh… By the way… The invite is plus one if you’d like.” I giggled.

“I think I’ll go stag on this one.” Peter laughed. “They’ll be more than enough chefs in the kitchen.”

I spent the day at my desk simply playing with swatches of color using watercolors, ink, and bushes. I don’t know why I chose to do the exercises I was doing but I felt that the only thing I hadn’t seen was lettering on colorful backgrounds.

I mean the entire concept of having somebody else tend to ones money seemed…stuffy at best? And for sure Martha was anything but stuffy. I actually thought of Allie’s parents as being more the type. And I wanted to represent Martha’s company as the opposite.

Of course by the time that Thursday came I was a nervous wreck. Just the thought of having the evening go past and nothing coming to mind was more than enough to trigger a minor panic attack.

Fortunately, my Allie had everything under control. Even though I had left work early to give her a hand, everything was entirely set up when I arrived home. The chef was busy preparing along with his helpers and two uniformed servers were setting up the main room for dinner.

I should have known that nothing small or insignificant would happen to me during this year I’ve been with Allie. To date my life has been nothing short of miraculous. Not only can’t I recognize my old self in the mirror, I was seriously beginning to forget I even had an ‘old self’.

The table was set in the long room and upon it sat the finest of the fine things Allie accumulated over the years. Some were heirlooms and some were things she simply liked and bought. My breath was taken when I saw the arrangement of things and I knew it had the Allie touch. The candelabras had lovely long bees wax tapers ready for the flame and each place setting had the mandatory three stemmed glasses.

The long room had its own distinctive quality. This was where Allie hung the pieces she liked and displayed those that caught her eye. There were several of my pieces on display although she kept the ones she especially adored in the cave or our bedroom. The few pieces of furniture used to display various ceramics or antiques of interest were antique.

I guess growing up in the environment she did a certain measure of formality would become her and it showed in this room. But what I loved about her was the ability to simply roll up her sleeves and take an active part in the work. When I walked in the door I noticed the people in the kitchen and my Allie was in the midst.

When I made my presence known Allie shuffled me off to our bedroom and cautioned me to stay out of the way. Can you imagine? She told me to undress and rest up. The dress code was to be casual and we were simply going to have a great meal and exhibit our studios. But before I could do that, I needed to bring the color splotches down to my studio. I just had this feeling.

What else could I do? I went shopping. I was already in the area and so I called to have Allie meet me at Bloomies. I was simply tired of my ‘plain Jane’ attire. Sure, it was office stylish but I had seen enough of the latest street styles to know that I was missing out. Since I had ‘become’ a woman, I might as well take full advantage.

Everywhere I looked I saw bodycon, asymmetry, high-low, handkerchief, and everything in between and I wanted in…literally…all the way. I had never experienced this kind of dress ‘jones’ before and it had everything to do with the morning’s meeting with the ‘boys in the suits’.

The dinner was a smashing success. Martha and Peter knew one another far more intimately than I ever thought. Evidently they nearly grew up together. Peter’s mother was a member of ‘the club’ and often had business dealings with Martha’s father. They socialized often so it was only natural for Peter and Martha to become more than simply acquainted.

Both had attended the same private school in Manhattan and had even gone to Harvard together. Martha was decidedly bi-sexual leaning toward the ladies more than the boys. Peter was also bi-sexual but he also enjoyed being with the same gendered lovers. They found that their ‘keeping company’ during a time where sexual idiosyncrasies were still somewhat of a taboo was more than convenient.

And although each was on the other’s Christmas list, they now travelled in more diverse circles. Martha preferred her acquaintances to be from the business community and Peter preferred his artists. Susan seemed to be as surprised as I was when we heard the tale of their coming of age together although they never did more than play ‘show and tell’. But their friendship, was quite apparent.

Martha’s partner, Martina Adams, gave a whole new meaning to ‘chap stick lesbian’.

31-6a IMG_2737.jpgShe was tall, blonde, and had broad swimmer's shoulders.

Marti, as she liked to be called, was an athlete throughout school until an injury whilst trying out for the Olympic women’s swim team ended her career. She fortunately had an amazingly sharp mind and a very warm personality. It was easy to understand how Martha would be taken with her.

Marti’s wife, Drew, was a delight as well.

31-7a IMG_2752.jpgShe was as femme as Marti was butch.

Drew and Pet seemed to be good friends, as I would have expected. They both seemed as anxious as I was to be involved with the actual mechanics of the dinner but Allie put down the law.

I was stunned that Drew was the same as Petra…and me I guess; ‘new girls’? Even though I knew, I never would have guessed. She was so amazingly elegant and graceful that I actually envied her.

I was also beginning to see a distinct pattern. Martha had Petra, Marti had Drew, Allie had me, Susan had just gotten rid of ‘what’s his name’, and they were all members of the same club. Was it more than simple teasing when Susan said she’d gobble me up in a minute?

Anyway, when dinner was finished and just before we settled in for dessert, Martha and Susan were quite anxious to go to the studios and see what treasures lay hidden. We all went down and Martha immediately went to my little bastion of creation. Whilst the others entered, Martha simply stood at the portal and slowly gazed all around the space. A smile came to her lips.

“Yesss…” Martha hissed with the sound of joy in her voice.

I began to show everyone some of the things I was working on. Not having a show in mind I kind of did several different experimental pieces. Peter in particular spent time on every single work whether it was completed or not.

Drew was surprisingly interested in the works that dealt with texture. Knowing she was an accomplished author I understood what she was getting from the viewing. Pet stayed by her side and simply smiled, her eyes enjoying all the colors and forms.

“What are these?” Martha was gazing at the studies I’d done in the office.

“I was just playing with bands of color in particular spectrums. I kind of interlaced the water colors with the inks.”

Martha lifted up one of the studies. I’d started at the top with a very pale pastel yellow and by mixing in blue by varying degrees until I finished at the bottom with a royal blue. It brought to mind…at least my mind…the sea and water as being the beginning of life.

“Yesss…” Martha turned to look for Marti. “Marti dear… Have a look at this.”

Marti walked over from an oil still life I was still working on. She stood next to Martha and gazed at the stock. I felt somewhat intimidated by her height as well as her broad shoulders.

“Yeah…” She looked down at Martha. “What are you thinking?”

“Well…” Martha took a breath and cocked her head to one side. “I think that this would definitely stand out against everything I’ve seen.” She looked up at Marti. “It certainly would make a statement. Don’t you think…?”

“Well…” Marti gazed at the sheet again. “It’s certainly modern…at least compared to what we’ve been looking at. But how would you contrast our names against that?”

“How about this…?” I suddenly had an idea. “Suppose we did interweaving lines than varied color from top to bottom. The center would be blank and your names could appear. Wait a minute.”

I went to my colored pencils and brought them back with a blank piece of paper. Peter heard our conversation and he joined us as well. Susan had gone off with the others as Allie led them into her studio. I bent over and began to feverishly draw a Celtic knot border graduating the colors in the same fashion as the coloration on the stock. I worked as quickly and as accurately as I could whilst standing.

“Yesss… I can see it.” Martha mumbled softly. “And the lettering…?”

“Old English…?” Marti offered.

“Well…?” I stood up and gazed at the half finished work. “Gothic first letters…the ‘G’ and the ‘A’…” I imagined the lettering in my mind.

“And maybe block in a smaller font?” Peter added as he watched appreciating my effort.

“I’d leave the yellow and the…navy blue off?” Marti glanced down at Martha. “It’s kind of harsh.”

Slowly…well maybe not so slowly…but surely…and not Shirley…the logo was assembled in my mind. It wouldn’t take any time at all to put this together.

“How about a rainbow logo for our… Well… Our rainbow clients…?” Marti asked with a chuckle.

“Perhaps for…personal correspondence…? But I don’t think there’s anything to be gained by individual logos for specific markets.” Susan said as Martha gazed at me sketching away feverishly.

“After all, you’re not exactly selling baked goods mixes...” Susan chuckled as she reentered my studio. “…or power tools.”

“I really like this one.” Drew said without even turning.

“When did you do this one?” Peter asked with total surprise.

“Ummm…” I was just finishing up my stretch. “One minute…”

“I could certainly use something like this for cover artwork.” Drew said excitedly.

I turned to see them gazing at a portrait I did of Lilly the way she looked New Year’s Eve. It wasn’t completed but most of the work was there. I should have had that one covered but I didn’t think of it.

“Ummm…” I really didn’t want Peter to see it. I wanted to surprise him. “It just kind of happened? She looked so amazing…so adult. I felt like capturing that?”

31-8a IMG_2755.jpg“You’re amazing Andi.”

Peter said as he began to choke up.

“Everything I’ve seen is really stellar.” Martha said with some pride.

“I have to agree.” Susan grinned.

“Do you ever do cover art?” Drew turned with a look of hope on her face.

“I… Ummm…” I looked at Peter for a brief moment. “You should really use Linda Cray. Her art is amazing.”

“As if I could contact her...” Drew sounded dismayed. “My publisher’s tried several times but she seems to be impossible to commission these days. Everybody wants to use her.”

“You’re looking at her daughter.” Peter chuckled.

“You’re joking.” Drew looked shocked.

Peter pulled out his cell phone and speed dialed a number. Of course Allie and I knew who he was calling. We stood there and grinned.

“Hello baby…” Peter cooed. “How was school today?” His smile grew larger as he patiently listened for several minutes. “That’s really wonderful. Hold on and I’ll ask.” He turned to me. “She wants to know if you’d like to go to her art fair at school.”

I looked toward Allie who smiled and nodded.

“We’d love to go.” I grinned

“Yes baby… They both want to come. Is your mom at home?”

I found their relationship to be so very unusual for divorced people. I mean they can be friends…sort of? But Peter and Linda seemed to be even closer than simply friends.

“Hi Lin…” Peter’s smile grew even broader. “Yes… I’m well. Got a minute for some business?” Peter winked at Drew. “You’ve heard of Drew Adams?”

Now everyone’s attention was turned toward Peter. He said nothing for several minutes. But he did laugh and smile.

“Would you like to do some cover art for her?” Again Peter listened for a few minutes. “No… I’m with Andi and Allie at the moment. Drew is here as well and she wanted to inquire. We’ve just had dinner. I know sweet heart. But that’s what agents are for.”

Peter listened for a few minutes more, laughed, and then ended the call. He watched the screen on his phone for a moment or two and then smiled as he handed it to Drew.

“This is her agent’s e-mail address and phone number. Just give him a call and forward a copy of the manuscript to him. Linda will make sure she gets it.”

Drew gazed at the phone and forwarded the information to hers.

“Oh my God Peter…” Drew then hugged him and kissed his cheek. “I can’t thank you enough.”

I felt as if the entire room sighed in relief. Peter chuckled as he took his phone back.

“She was actually wondering what took you so long to contact her. She adores your work.”

Drew took hold of Peter’s arm as we walked toward Allie’s studio. Only Martha stayed back and looked through some of the canvasses I’m begun but left stacked against the wall.

“You know sweet heart…” Martha never took her eyes off the canvasses.

31-9a 20160913-_DSC0075.jpg“I see this room…”

She looked up at me. I could see tears beginning to form. “And I can’t help thinking about your father. He would have been very proud of your work…and of you.”

I walked up to Martha and I hugged her. She continued to stare around the studio as if taking a panoramic picture with her mind.

“I image his studio would be very similar to this.” Her face saddened and I could see her actually aging as she thought about my father. “Are you happy? I mean truly happy?”

Martha turned to me. I could see she was quite serious. I thought for a moment, if for no other reason than to fully absorb her question. Was I truly happy?

“Yes Aunt Martha…”

“Please dear… Simply Martha will suffice. ‘Aunt’ makes me feel older than I am.” She chuckled.

“Yes… Martha…” I smiled knowing that the title would arise. “I think I’m happy.”

“Come dear… Sit with me for a moment.”

Martha walked to one of two stools and sat down. I followed her and did the same. She reached out and took my hand in hers. Martha’s smile was gentle and serene. She gazed down at my hands and ran her finger across my highly polished nail. Then she gazed up at me.

“We’re adults…you and I.” Martha paused for a moment. “And we’re of the same blood. If you fear I’m intruding upon your personal life, do be good enough to say so. There will be no formalities or secrets between us.”

I nodded my head. I had no idea of where Martha was going with this conversation but it sounded quite serious.

“Once your Allie gives birth, she will change.” Martha’s gaze was fixed totally upon me. “Things will change. It is inevitable. She’s a lovely caring and generous young woman and I couldn’t be more pleased that you two have found one another. But once that child is born, you will become second on her list of concerns. It’s the way of things and it’s quite natural.”

“I understand.” I smiled. I did understand.

“You will need to hire help. I would suggest getting at least one woman full time. There is plenty of space down here to construct an apartment. Perhaps you might even consider finding sisters or two relatives so that you can have coverage around the clock.”

“Well… We were planning on having a nurse for at least two or three weeks.”

“That’s good planning. But you should consider something more permanent. If I’m any judge of character, your Allie may find it difficult to return to work. I suspect that child will be the focus of her life for at least the first few years.” Martha chuckled. “And if her attention toward you is any indication, she’ll be a good mother.”

“Yes…” I laughed. “She mother’s me all the time. There is something though.” This was really a concern.

“Yes sweet heart… Whatever is it?” Martha crooned.

“Well…” I didn’t know how to really begin.

“Just relax and take a deep breath dear.” Martha smiled.

I did as she requested only my exhale came out as a sigh.

“I worry that Allie will lose interest in me. And not simply because of the baby...” I was quick to add.

“Whatever makes you think that?” Martha seemed…shocked?

“Well… She had regular lovers before; you know? And… Well…? I wasn’t exactly the most…manly…to begin with?” I felt my face turn hot Paris pink. “And I worry…” My voice trailed off.

“You worry she’ll lose interest in you as a sexual partner?” Martha chuckled which didn’t make me feel any better. “And you’re worried that once your performance fails she’ll seek her pleasures elsewhere.”

“Yeah…” I gazed down at my pumps. “I guess that’s about it. I mean…” I gazed up at Martha. “She says that won’t ever happen but…well…we all have our needs. And I would never think of stopping her. I mean… You really can’t own a person.” I was verging on tears.

“My dear child…” Martha laughed and gently slapped my knee. “That woman will never leave you…especially for the cock. But what about you…?”

“Me…?”

“Yes… Certainly you’ve had relations with a male before.”

“Yeah…” I couldn’t believe where our conversation was going. “But they weren’t very positive experiences.” I sighed.

“But you do think about men.” Martha smiled wickedly.

I giggled and turned fruit punch red.

“I thought so.” Martha smiled. “I dare say that you’ve had your eye on Peter.”

“I must admit he’s difficult for me to be around when I need to concentrate.”

“That is totally understandable my dear. He is quite delicious.” Martha grinned. “Well I certainly hope you didn’t act on your…desires?”

“Oh no… I mean it’s difficult enough without any…complications?”

“Smart girl…” Martha chuckled. “Although I must admit that the lure of a nice big stout cock can be quite a temptation. Pet…quite like you…had several early relationships with males. She found them to be very pleasurable from a physical and spiritual perspective.”

“How does she deal with...? I mean…”

“What do we do about our urges?” Martha chuckled.

“Yeah… I mean sometimes the urge is kind of strong; especially since I’m still curious?”

“We rent a man.”

“You what…?”

I was…stunned and shocked and almost fell off my stool. Martha burst out laughing.

“It’s really quite convenient. We rent a nice young, virile, beautiful man and shack up for the evening in a hotel room the company rents for visiting customers. It’s really quite convenient and all very discrete.”

I sat and listened to Martha with my mouth agape. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

“Oh we don’t do it on a regular basis. But once in a while; oh…maybe once a month or so…we do take advantage of the service.”

“You both do it with the same guy at the same time?” Words fail to describe my total shock.

“Certainly… We are a couple and we would never cheat on one another. We view this as no different from getting a massage together. After all, it never lasts long enough to develop into anything and it’s a different young man each time. But it does relieve the tension and that’s what is important…to both of us.”

Martha smiled but I saw the seriousness of what she was saying in her eyes.

“I mean…” I didn’t know what to say or how to ask…anything about what I’d just heard.

“I have a good acquaintance that happens to run a ladies club across the river. We must bring you and Allie with us one evening if you both feel like a night out to go dancing. The club is quite elegant and it’s strictly ladies only.”

“You mean it’s a lesbian club?”

“Why yes dear…” Martha chuckled. “Those do exist you know. She has connections and availability to fine young men. They’re English may not be very good but it’s not conversation we’re looking for.”

“Is she… Is she like a pimp?”

“Oh heavens no…” Martha laughed. “We simply pay the young man. I imagine there is somebody who does get their share. After all, somebody is making these young men available. I do handle her investments even though her account is quite small by our standards. But she is an endearing person and she always makes sure we get the best of everything whenever we are at her club.”

I thought about what Martha just told me. I thought this might be a good outlet should Allie have the urge. Although I seemed to usually have the urge I could never cheat on her. This might prove to be just the solution should the urge strike us both at the same time.

“Do Marti and Drew use the same service?”

My real question should have been if this was a sorority thing of theirs.

“Oh Lord no…” Martha laughed. “Marti has always been gay and Drew, although she has had… Oh what do they call it? The cut…? Drew prefers women and always has.”

“How did Marti meet Drew?”

“Did I hear my name mentioned?” Marti walked in and chuckled.

“Were your ears ablaze dear girl?” Martha asked with a smile.

Allie and Drew followed Marti in and announced that coffee and dessert would be served downstairs. We all slowly walked down the flight to find an amazing spread of desserts in the way of pastries, cheeses and fruit. It was nearly midnight when our dinner party finally broke up.

Finally, after the catering people were paid and everything was back in reasonable shape, Allie and I were able to undress, wash, and crash into our bed. We were both physically and mentally exhausted. I was spooned up behind her and luxuriating in the feel and the scent of Allie’s body.

“I think our first dinner party was a success.” I giggled. In truth I was thrilled.

“Yeah…” Allie yawned. “We need to do this again. But next time let’s do it on a weekend.”

“Oh absolutely… I had no idea just how much work went into one of these things.”

“Everyone loved my pottery.” Allie grasped the arm I had around her. “Drew wanted to buy about a dozen different things.” She giggled. “By the way… What happened with you and Martha? You both kind of disappeared.”

“We were in the studio talking.” I snickered.

“Oh…? What did you guys talk about?”

“Oh…” I could barely contain myself. “Just girl talk…”

The meeting was scheduled for nine in the morning. Peter and I arrived early to see to the preparations. Someone had arranged to have breakfast catered and they were in the process of setting up the conference room. I had dressed for the occasion in my usual conservative trousers, a lovely white blouse with a ribbon neck tie, and a light weight ash grey linen blazer.

Moving the easels to a better position so that they could be seen as one walked through the double doors; I opened my portfolio and set out the display placards. I had done several with different color schemes, omitting the harsh yellow and deep blue, and I had different styles, and colorations, of lettering on plastic overlays. The real challenge was to have the overlays done for the morning.

I had done a few other drawings over the weekend. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ideas we had for the new logo. I came up with a pair of crossed anchors. I pictured a heart with four stars in it where the stocks intersected and between the rings. I drew the symbols to different scales. The symbols were all from the coat of arms of the Adams and the Gray families.

Mister Helms came in before nine to see that everything was in order. I watched his reaction to the display. A look of curiosity crossed his face. He crossed one arm and rested the elbow of his other upon the crossed one. He held his chin with his hand and a sort of scowl came upon his face. He quickly glanced at me.

“This is a little out of the ordinary for an investment banking firm…don’t you think?” He pointed to the Celtic knot symbol.

“Well…?” I clutched my hands in front of me and rolled my eyes upward as I blushed all night long red. “They asked for something different. They wanted something with…life in it?”

Mister Helms glanced back at the colored mattes. He walked over and began to place some of the lettering overlays atop the mattes. He stood back and stared at what he saw for several very long moments. I bit my lip, the anxiety of those moments getting the better of me.

“Well… The Gray Adams certainly stands out. But I’m not sure whether I’m selling paint or art supplies.” He chuckled.

Mister Helms walked a few steps to one of the computer displays and typed something in. He carefully glanced at whatever appeared on the monitor.

“I will say that there’s only one that even comes close.” He turned the monitor for me to see. It was simply geometric shades of blue in a simple design. “Is there purpose, or meaning, to the intertwining lines of color?”

“Well yes actually…” Peter finally chimed in. “That’s a Celtic knot. The lines interconnect and never end. This represents the intertwining of all things and the continuum of life.” He looked at me and smiled.

31-10a IMG_2761.jpgMister Helms smiled at me.

“Are you Irish? Your last name sounds…Italian.”

“Ummm…” I was not about to let the proverbial cat out of the bag about my relationship with Martha. “My dad was from Scottish people.” Peter looked at me and could barely control himself. He actually had to turn away for fear of snickering. “Ms. Gray and Ms. Adams are both of Scottish descent. I thought this might be appropriate.”

Mister Helms folded his arms and pursed his lips. He seemed to be thinking about it as he slowly nodded. At just that moment Martha was shown into the conference room followed by Marti, Meg and, of all people, Susan.

“Oh yes…” Martha spoke in that amazing smoky voice. “I do like these.” She saw me and grinned. “Come here dear…” Martha opened up her arms and embraced me when I came to her. “I hope you didn’t slave all weekend over these.” She kissed both my cheeks.

Susan came up next and hugged me, kissing my fore head. “It looks like our little art genius scored another one.” She turned to Peter. “Peter dear… So good to see you again…”

Peter came up to Susan and gently took her hand as he kissed both her cheeks.

Marti simply walked up to the mattes and began to move the overlays about. She suddenly turned to me.

“How about that other thing, the rainbow…?”

“Well…” I walked over to my portfolio and took out several mattes. I placed them out on another easel. “I thought the rainbow looked a bit too…overdone? So I also did these using shades of purple. I think it has a different look; not quite as newbie?”

“Yeah…” Marti took two of the overlays and centered them upon both the rainbow and one of the purple knots. “I think you’re right. Everything is too rainbow these days anyway.” She laughed. “What do you think Martha?”

“Well…” Martha stood back from the easel, her fingers seemingly locked together in prayer just beneath her reddened lips. “I agree with you completely. We should make the logo available to those who wish to use it.” She turned toward Peter. “Peter dear… We shall also need some sort of campaign. I’m not sure whether the net or print would be more appropriate.”

“And we’re also thinking maybe cable as well.” Martha added as she continued to play with the lettering overlays.

“We’ll have no problem handling any of your needs Martha. Our staff is quite diverse and knowledgeable in all areas of promotion.”

“If you wish, I’m sure Peter and Andi would be quite willing to be your exclusive contacts with us.” Mister Helms smiled.

“Oh… I’m so sorry.” Peter rushed over to Mister Helms’ side and took him by the arm. “This is Jack Helms, our senior vice president. Jack…” Peter turned to Martha. “This is Martha Gray and Martina Adams. Of course you already know Susan.”

“Ms. Gray…” Mister Helms smiled brightly and held out his hand.

“Oh please…” Martha’s eyes flashed as brightly as she smiled. “Call me Martha. And this is Marti.” They both shook his hand. “I’m quite happy to leave things in Peter and Andi’s talented hands. Susan has been bending my ear continually about the great work they’ve done for her.”

“Well Peter has always done brilliant work for our clients and Andi is the shining star of our artistic team.” Mister Helms reached into his suit’s jacket pocket and he pulled a card out for both Martha and Marti. “I’m twenty four seven. If either of you need anything…” He left the rest unsaid.

“Well…” Martha grinned and looked at me and then Peter. “I will try to not have you regret saying that.” She chuckled.

“Ummm…” I interrupted…sort of. “I also did these.” I pulled out anchor and heart mattes and laid them over the knot ones. “The symbols are from both your coats of arms.”

Martha and Marti glanced at each other and then back to the images.

“Now we really have a problem.” Martha frowned. “I really love the imagery of the anchors and the heart. It says more than any slogan possibly could.”

“Why not get them both?” Marti grinned. “No sense in letting a perfectly good logo go to waste. I kind of like the entire idea of the anchors and the heart. And I also like the knot.” Marti turned to Peter. “Let’s test them both.”

“That’s won’t be a problem. We could probably have good results by…” Peter glanced at Mister Helms and then back at Marti. “…probably by Wednesday or Thursday.”

“We just took on a new behavioral scientist who has done ground breaking work in economic decision making. This is just the sort of thing she’ll love.” Mister Helms offered with a grin.

And so we breakfasted and spoke of ideas for Gray Adams and the repartee was delightfully full of humor and ideas and very elegant thoughts. Mister Helms excused himself after coffee and left Peter and I to finish up. The ladies spent another half an hour looking over the mattes and I assured them, and Peter, that the work could be finished within days of the test results coming back and a decision being made.

As we all gathered our things and preceded down the elevator, I asked Peter for the rest of the day off. Of course there was no problem. Once outside Peter hugged and kissed all three ladies’ cheeks and left for the office. I lingered for a few moments with them.

“So dear child…” Martha spoke with a wry grin. “What mischief do you and Allie have planned for this afternoon?”

“Well…?” I giggled and rolled my eyes. “I want to go to Bloomies and look at some of the new styles. I think I want to try some of the new dresses I’ve seen being worn around town.”

“Ahhh… I see.” Martha chuckled. “One must be stylish as one moves up the corporate ladder…so to speak. And you’re quite wise to have Allie with you. She happens to have exquisite taste. After all, she did find you.” She smiled slyly.

“Don’t even think of going without me as well.” Susan said in a mocking voice as she then turned toward Martha and Marti. “I told you she is amazing.”

“Of course she is.” Martha chuckled and hugged me.

31-11a IMG_2766.png“After all…she is my niece.”

Will Andi continue to ‘climb the ladder’? Will she need to fight an angel on the way up? Will Jacob be ahead of her doing all the fighting? Can we expect more events of a biblical proportions? Where’s Cecil B. DeMille now that we need him? Will Allie vore the entire city? And what about Bob? If there’ll ever be answers to any of these ridiculous questions…they’ll be found in the next congressionally approve and signed chapters of ‘Andi and Allie’!!!



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