Body and Soul

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Two Rivers

Chapter 19 (v.1) - Making Amends

Submitted: May 21, 2018

Reads: 54

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Submitted: May 21, 2018

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Tom pulled his rental car to the curb and hesitated.  His Maserati was totaled and beyond repair.  The thirty other cars he owned were really collector items and not really considered for street driving. So, he flew in only minutes before and rented a car.  He looked at the house.  This was the address the detective had given him.  It was a quaint middle class working man’s dwelling.  He sat there wondering what he expected.  Audrey Cline had grown up here.  He noticed the yard was mowed and trimmed.  The flowers against the fence set the light yellow color of the house off beautifully.  He got out and stretched, surveying the neighborhood.  Finally, he headed for the front door.  He didn’t know if he would even be welcome to show his face. 

“Mom, Mr. Stark is here,” Jake said.

Audrey came to the door.  “What?” She stared in disbelief.  “It’s you.  You were at my play,” she finally said, “the one with the crutch and cast on your arm and leg.”

“Yes, and you were very good.  I might add,” he said.

“What happened,” she asked.

“I was in an automobile accident,” he said.

She remembered her son standing there.  “Uh, this I is my son, Jake.”  Tom nodded not sure whether to offer his hand, but then Jake extended his hand.  And they shook.  “Come in.  Come in,” Audrey gestured to the dining room.  When Tom followed Audrey, Mrs. Ruby Brack, Audrey’s mother, was holding a bowl of mesh potatoes about to put it on the table and Amy was putting silverware and around each plate.  All motion stopped.  “This is my mom, and this my daughter Amy.  Amy only stared daggers at him.  Audrey’s mom said, “Have you eaten Mr. Stark?” 

“Uh, no, but you can call me Tom,” he responded.

“Absolutely not,” she said.  “We show respect.”

“Grandma, you’re inviting him to dinner?!”

“Yes, my house, my rules!”  Tom could see Mrs. Brack was not to be trifled with.  “Now, Amy go get a place setting for Mr. Stark.”  She finished setting the potatoes on the tables. 

“I guess you are joining us for dinner,” Audrey said, with a soft laugh. 

“Okay, Mr. Stark, you can sit at the other end of the table, and Jake you swing to the right side of the table and Amy and your mom can sit on the left.  Audrey, you sit next to Mr. Stark, okay?” Everyone agreed.  Tom could see it futile to argue with Mrs. Brack.  “Audrey, you say the grace.”

They all held hands and Tom felt awkward.  He hadn’t said grace since he had left home to go to college.  “Dear Heavenly Father,” Audrey began.  “Thank you for this food and the honor of Mr. Stark as our guest.  Amen.”  Everyone responded with an amen except Amy.  She was still giving him looks to kill.  He wondered if she even bowed her head. 

“Uh, actually, I came to just talk,” he said. 

“We eat and then we talk,” Mrs. Brack said.

“The Lord preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies,” Amy said. 

Audrey’s jerked around, “Amy!”

Mrs. Brack said, “Attitude, young lady.  Now, tell us where we might find that quote.”

“It’s in the Bible,” Amy said smugly.

“Where in the Bible,” Mrs. Brack said.

Tom felt sorry for Amy.  “It’s found in Psalms 23,” he said. 

Amy looked at him surprised.  “Thank you, Mr. Stark.  Now can we eat?!”  Mrs. Brack said.

They ate and made light conversation.  Tom mentioned the play again.  Jake said he was hoping to go to college in fall, maybe.  Tom asked in what field.  “Mechanical Engineering,” Jake said, proudly.  “My dad was in management, but I think I’d like to work with my hands.”

When Mrs. Brack brought in the dessert of upside cake with whipped cream and a cherry on top, Tom asked, “Uh, Mrs. Brack is it too early to talk business?”

“Coffee, Mr. Stark?”

“Yes, please,” He answered.

She offered him a cup of coffee and the placed the creamer and sugars near him.  Then she sat down.  “So talk,” she said. 

“Uh, okay,” he began.  “Audrey Cline, I have been relieved of my position of CEO and Chairman of the Board of Stark Industries; however, I am prepared to hand over two million dollars in an attempt to make you whole.” 

“Are you kidding me?!” Amy piped in you were being sued for 70 million and you are going to give us a measly two million?”

“I want you to keep quiet and hear Mr. Stark out or leave the table, but…” Audrey hesitated, knowing her daughter was extremely astute in business affairs. “But, I want you here.  I need you here at this table,” Audrey said to Amy.  Amy nodded.  “I’m sorry, Mr. Stark, go on,” Audrey said. 

“To answer Amy’s question,” Tom began.  There is no money for anyone.  The company is reorganizing to get out of not only your lawsuit but the multiple others stretching up into the billions of dollars.  I walked out with only 6 million, and I offering your mom 2 million of that.” 

“Mom, may I ask a question?” Amy asked. 

“Absolutely,” Audrey said.

“Mr. Stark, what are you going to do with other 4 million?” 

All heads turned to him. “Good question,” he said.  I’m planning to start a business venture to be an airplane vendor of parts.”

All heads turned to Amy.  She stared at Tom.  Then said, “Mr. Stark, I think it is going to take more than 4 million to start an operation like that,” Amy said.

Tom realized he was not dealing with some dumb bunny.  “You are absolutely right!  My former secretary opted to come to work for me and allowed me to keep $750,000 I was going to pay her for severance.  With the sale of all my personal assets, I think I can come up with another 10 to 20 million.” 

“I want to be in on that too,” Audrey said.  “Put me in for a million.”

“Mom!” Amy said, aghast.

Audrey addressed everyone.  “Less than an ago, before Mr. Stark entered this house we had nothing.  I believe in Mr. Stark.  Anyone who can build an airplane like he built, I have no doubt he can start over.” 

“And, what’s he going to do for daddy?” Amy said, nearly in tears.

“What do you suggest?” Tom asked.

“I want you to make a memorial to my dad that people will know he once lived on this earth,” she said.

“Okay,” Tom answered. 

Amy stared down at her hands and nearly whispered.  “I want you to name your new company Cline Aviation.”  Tom leaned back in his chair.  He felt all eyes on him.  He hadn’t considered that, but at the same time, he couldn’t use the Stark name either. 

“I like it!” he said, sitting back up.  “It has a good ring to it.”

Everyone sigh a sigh of relief.  “All bases covered?” Mrs. Brack said.  “Anyone for more dessert?” she asked. 

“Yeah, me,” Jake said.

“I would like to have more coffee,” Tom said.  “Jake, when you get out of college, look me up, we could use you,” Tom said.  “And, Audrey Cline, could you meet me at your local bank Monday morning and I’ll have those funds transferred to your account.  I will make sure all fees and taxes are covered so you walk away with a clear million.” 

“Thank you, Mr. Stark; you don’t know how much this means to me.  Mom gets to keep her house, and Jake gets to go to college.”

“And, I get to have service on my cell phone again,” said Amy, laughing and hugging her mom’s arm.”

“And, how about you, Audrey?  Would you like to be my associate?” Tom asked. 

She laughed, “No, you are making my dreams come true already.  No, I think I want to stay with the acting gig.  I really like it.  Maybe the show will change but I want to do more of that kind of stuff.” 

Mrs. Brack came from the kitchen extended her hand as Tom was getting up to go.  “God Bless, Mr. Stark,” she said. 

“Thank you,” he said.

“You know, when we say God bless, you say God Bless back,” she said.

He said, “Okay, God bless back.”  And they all laughed as he parted.


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