Love, Lust, and Loyalty: Billionaire In the White House
Sandy looked puzzled, "Soft doe face? What is that?"
"He means you have a very feminine, pretty face – there's no hardness in it."
Tip added, "The women I see usually have rougher facial features."
"Where are you meeting these girls, Tip?"
"Strip clubs mostly."
"That's nasty, Tip! Ewe!"
"Beautiful woman are intimidating – at the clubs the girls are really friendly, easy going."
"They're friendly because it's their job – they're easy because you're paying them—would you want to marry a girl from one of your clubs?"
"No, but I feel comfortable. I know it's a job."
"Gross, Tip, that's so sad."
"A lot of agents have trouble meeting women."
"You need some serious help!" Sandy sounded like a concerned sister.
I coaxed, "He needs a good woman, – do you think you could introduce him to one of your girlfriends?"
"I'd really appreciate any advice you could give me, Sandy." Tip was sincere.
"Tip's not ready for one of my friends – seriously the girls I know are very needy emotionally – he'd be lost."
Trying to help persuade her, "So, you're basically resigning him to a life of strip clubs and hookers?"
Sandy looked at me wide-eyed, raising her eyebrows, "Crude, Jack, you're enjoying this aren't you." She turned to Tip, "You're a good man, – you deserve to be happy. Tell me, Tip, what do you think women want?"
"I don't really know – I guess – to be made happy?"
"So how would you do it then – make a girl happy that is?"
"Agree with her, make her feel important, give her things I guess."
"That's a start, but a woman needs so much more. She wants someone who can share in her emotions without being swallowed up by them. A man who will take his time with her and make time for her—she does not want to be rushed, but still likes spontaneity and excitement. She wants to feel like your equal and be respected for what she brings to the relationship. And, I'm just scratching the surface here."
"Men… do all this?"
"Some do—Jack does this stuff—he's kind… caring—he listens. Jack enjoys what women are all about—He looks with great passion. Tip, —she wants to know that you're desirable to other women and she didn't get stuck with you."
"What about…?" Tip stopped himself, embarrassed.
"The bedroom... She'll forgive you. Don't worry, she'll follow your lead. Just don't make her feel bad by talking about it later. That's the one place you can sort of be yourself... I can't believe I'm saying this—the poor thing… take it slow."
"Are there classes?"
"A good woman will teach you."
"Did Jack know all this?"
"Are you kidding? All he had was a smile when I met him – and a wandering eye. It's taken me years of subtle clues and hints to train him."
"Some not so subtle," I said, poking fun.
"She wants a friend – but not a guy that makes her feel responsible to make the first move or like she's a locker room pal."
Tip looked puzzled, "I'm lost."
"Jack, just for fun – tell Tip what you're really thinking… right now."
"You're serious –now? No holds barred – what I'm really thinking?"
"Yes, something you'd normally never share with me."
Tip chuckled, "This oughta be good."
"Before you do… let me guess." Sandy squinted and looked up to the left, – "My bikini?"
"Close—what was left of those cutoffs you were wearing that day by the lake."
"I was really close then. Tip, what did you think Jack was thinking?"
"I would have said World peace – you know to make you happy."
"Coward- okay tell the truth, what are you thinking right now?"
"The truth… really? – What it would be like – you know… if you were my girlfriend." Sandy rolled her eyes, pursing her lips.
"Not going to happen - but I'll help. We just have to start really slow."
"Jack gets to say what's on his mind and you're okay with it?"
"There's a lot of trust built up that you and I don't share. Stop whining – that's a deal killer for sure."
"Though you asked. I thought you wanted honesty?"
"Sometimes… oh forget it…"
Tip cut her off, "Am I a lost cause then?"
"No, I didn't say… don't feel like that – we've got something to work with. You're good looking – dangerous – you might be a girl's worst mistake, at least for the first few, but you'll learn as you go."
"So will you set me up with one of your friends? One who looks most like you—preferably?"
"Sweet, Tip…, but wrong. Not when you don't understand the first thing about a woman. They'd thank me at first, but you wouldn't last two weeks with one of my friends – try to imagine flying too close to a supernova. They'd burn you up and drag you into an emotional black hole. You'd never escape!"
"I can keep a woman safe, at least."
"Of course you can. A woman wants to feel safe, understood, but she also wants a man that isn't afraid of her -someone who can be honest. Tell her the truth once in a while. Then grab her and make love without asking. A woman wants to live the full range—she wants you to be able to feel her emotions with her – from misery to elation. Can you do that?"
"I can try."
"That-a-boy, let's go out sometime and find you someone suitable. A starter girlfriend."
"That will be great, are you free tonight?"
"Tonight? I guess so – you don't need for anything, do you, Jack?"
"No, I'm good – take him out – it's on me." I was happy to make the offer. Sandy would have a project and I wouldn't feel guilty about leaving her behind.
"We'll find you a girl with a doe face. You'll have to show me – but once I know – I'm sure we can find you one. If that's what you want."
"Really? This will be great. Sandy, I'll owe you!"
"You'll owe me big time!"
Martha burst into the room, "Daddy, Daphne told me Sandy was still in here." Martha turned to Sandy, "Can we go?"
Excerpt: Gabby, Angel of God
While running toward the car and brushing the bangs out of my face, I spotted Cassadee. She was in no particular hurry walking toward her mom's anxiously awaiting car as if it was her own private limo service. She had a backpack slung over one shoulder and her cheerleading uniform over the other. She moved like a girl who had it all. I half expected to see paparazzi as I jumped into the back seat. I left shotgun for her because it was her car.
"Morning, Mrs. Cohen," I trumpeted, a little out of breath.
"Good morning, Bo. Are you excited for today?"
"Yeah," I answered politely, trying to hide my excitement to see Sally.
"You've got your big speech today, don't you?" She quizzed.
"What speech?" I cross-examined, taken aback. I was hoping that she was mistaken.
"The one you've been practicing. Cassadee told me you were giving the keynote, it's the freshman's turn this year. What an honor to be picked, Bo!"
Cassadee opened the door and blithely slung her backpack onto the floor. She carefully placed the uniform, which was still in the plastic laundry bag over the front seat and then slid in as close to me as she could. It's funny what people remember, for me it's smells. Twenty years blurred my memory of what she looked like, but having her next to me, I remembered her perfume.
"Hi, Bo," she whispered, too low for her mother to hear.
She was close enough for me to feel her breath on my face. I looked into her hazel eyes, "Hi."
"I missed you," she smiled and brushed my cheek with her hand. Either I didn't remember her being this pretty or my fifteen-year-old hormones were out of control, maybe both. She wasn't the typical girl-next-door either; she obviously worked at looking her best.
Mrs. Cohen asked, "Do you think you'll play tonight?"
I found that I couldn't take my eyes off Cassadee's hair. It was striking, so shiny and long enough to flow lightly curled over her shoulders. It was a medium brown with chunky blonde highlights, a gorgeous combination that doesn't exist in nature. It was as if the two colors were locked in battle, neither side claiming victory, a strand either way might make the fight.
I forced myself to pay attention to Mrs. Cohen. "I don't think so Mrs. Cohen, I'm third string. They'd have to go through two other guys to get to me."
I turned to Cassadee, "You look nice," I complimented, noticing her black baby doll dress.
"I'm changing for the rally. Are you ready to give your speech?" She asked this in a matter-of-fact manner. It was as if I'd been preparing it for weeks.
"Not really." I responded.
"What do you mean, Bo? You practically had it memorized last night. Did you remember to bring your notes?"
I reached into my right pocket and found it was empty. I felt a slight bulge in the left and hoped. The last thing I wanted to do today was speak in front of the school. It's funny that I can't remember giving the speech. Somehow, Gabby dropped me into the wrong year and on one of the busiest days of my high school career. Today of all days it was packed with classes, a student body assembly, the big game, and of all things the homecoming dance. I remember this day being high drama and I couldn't put my finger on it, but there was something else significant.
I reached into my left pocket, pulling out three hundred dollar bills folded with a note. I read the paper, "Bo, you might need some cash; remember not to change anything. Be careful and go with the flow, Gabby."
Mrs. Cohen met my eyes in the rearview mirror, "Bo, haven't you heard? Tyler's arm is in a sling. Something about his elbow, his mother told me he's out for at least half the season."
"No, I hadn't heard, Mrs. Cohen. That explains why the coach has me suiting up. It's for backup, in case anything happens to Billy. Slim chance, though, he's a tank!" I caught a glimpse of my face in the rearview mirror. In spite of everything, it was still a bit of a shock to see how young I looked.
Cassadee was ignoring her mother's conversation and reading Gabby's note. "Who's Gabby?" She asked, cocking her head, as though she might not like the answer.
I thought quickly. "My aunt," I said, "on my dad's side. You haven't met her. She's really nice."
"Oh, I should definitely meet her." She said as though we'd be getting married and she needed to know all my family.
"Bo, why all the sudden are you calling me Mrs. Cohen? It's been Becky ever since you and Cassadee started dating!"
I answered Cassadee, "Maybe next summer." I was still thinking about how shocking it was to see how young I looked in the mirror. I was an unhatched bird compared to this full-grown woman beside me. Proof that girls mature faster was sitting right next to me!
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Cohen, I mean Becky, sorry," I added sheepishly. I still did not remember ever calling her by her first name.
Mrs. Cohen pulled over about a block from school.
"Why are we stopping here?" I asked.
Mrs. Cohen gave me an odd look. "This is where I always drop you off. Cassadee gets embarrassed if she's spotted with her mother."
"What?" I turned to Cassadee. "That's ridiculous! Everyone knows you have a mom."
Cassadee rolled her eyes. "Oh my God, Bo! Don't encourage her!"
I continued arguing the point, "Your mom's awesome. Aren't you grateful for the ride?"
"Yes, but I don't want…"
I cut her off. "Becky, if you don't mind, please drop us off at the circle."
"Bo!" Cassadee objected. "All the kids hang out there before school, they'll see us!"
"Yeah? So what? They'll know you've got a great mom that drives you." I looked directly into her eyes, "Any kid that has a problem with that isn't worth your time."
She nudged me, "Oh my God, Bo, you sound just like my dad!"
I smiled at that, thinking of my own kids. "Well, maybe that's 'cause he's right. Think how silly it is for us to be dropped off down the street. What for?" I shook my head at her.
"Kids will make fun of us. I don't want word getting back to Sally. She'll think that she picked some kind of freshman-dork for the queen's court."
"Sally Campbell? You know her?"
Becky interrupted. "Are you okay with me bringing you to the circle, dear?"
"No, Mom! Here is fine. Thank… You!" She made a point of both words, sounding ungrateful. She gathered her things up and jumped out. I just sat there not believing how ridiculous kids can be.
"Bo! Are you coming?!" Cassadee demanded. It wasn't a question.
I jumped out, "Thanks for the ride, Mrs., ah… Becky!"
Becky rolled down the window, "Have a wonderful day dears! Remember to be yourselves. That's really the very best you can be!" She offered up that piece of wisdom to us a parting shot at Cassadee.
"Cassadee, wait up!" I called before walking back towards the car.
"Don't talk to her, Bo!" Cassadee attempted to order me as I walked to the car.
"Becky, don't give up on her. She's a teenage girl with a lot of peer pressure, friends, acne, mood swings, tears, but she'll come around. You'll see."
She looked touched. "Oh, I won't, Bo. I'm her mother. I couldn't give up on her. Anyway, I know what it's like to be a teenage girl. I was one once!"
"Well, thanks so much for the ride," I looked deep into her eyes and grabbed her forearm tight. "I appreciate you."
"You're welcome, Bo. And, Honey?" We shared a moment as she looked up at me.
"Yeah?" I asked, brushing my bangs back.
"Please look out for her."
"I will," I promised as I turned to catch up with Cassadee. She was already twenty yards ahead and nearing the field gate entrance. The track ran around the football field and served as a shortcut to school. The entrance was furthest away from school by the Visitors side Goal post.
I called after her. "Cassadee, wait up! You didn't answer me, you know Sally?"
"The homecoming queen?!" She rolled her eyes upward, "Duh, who doesn't! She picked us for the homecoming court, Bo! Don't you remember? You should remember we've talked about this. She told me that she liked my clothes! And, just in case you don't remember her boyfriend, Billy, he's coming this way."
On the fifty-yard line, walking towards us was Billy Barnes, the Varsity Quarterback, along with two of his lineman friends and a little blonde girl. She looked familiar. I strained my young eyes to see. As we walked closer, I saw she was early teens, probably a freshman. Then it hit me, I remembered her gentleness and kindness.
It was Holly Haskell, the special needs girl. She had on a pretty, soft cotton dress, mostly white with pastel flowers. I recognized her trademark thin wisps of long blonde hair. Holly had gone through grammar school and junior high with me. Her mother, a pediatrician, spent two mornings a week for as long as I can remember volunteering with our class. Holly couldn't read, and I suppose it was part of a deal she made to mainstream her daughter. Once in fifth grade, my teacher sent home a note praising me for helping Holly. I remember Mom being proud, which was nice, but I didn't need the note. I always wanted to help Holly, she had an innocence, I just needed to protect. Physically Holly looked like all the other girls, maybe she smiled more. She was a happy kid. It felt good remembering her sweetness.
Just as the group approached us, a car pulled close by the track. The driver honked the horn. The car was carrying a group of varsity cheerleaders. One of the girls hollered out, "Hey Billy, where have you been all my life?"
"Out of your reach," he called back as he passed us, without acknowledging our existence. Other kids might not have been so lucky, but the older jocks usually left us younger ones alone. It was coach's orders.
Billy was the kid everyone wanted to be. Teachers bought him birthday presents. The girls loved his sandy blonde curls and deep-set blue eyes. The only problem was he was a little touched. He had a mean streak a mile wide. That's when I remembered, in freshman year at homecoming time, Holly left school abruptly. Something didn't feel right. Holly must be the big thing that happens today!
"Cassadee," I spoke directly to her, "I'm going to follow them and see where they take her. I'm worried about Holly."
Cassidy gave me an impatient look. "Come on Bo, we don't have time. We'll be late for Homeroom. Neither of us can afford detention today."
"You go on without me, I'll hurry. I won't be long."
Now she looked indignant. "I'm not going to walk through the band hall without you, Bo. That's where the Rats hang out until second bell. They hate the cheerleaders!"
"Then stay here and wait, or come with me."
"Bo, you can't think Billy Barnes is interested in her!"
Excerpt: The Protector: Kingdom of Heaven
When I returned I heard riotous laughter coming from inside the boardroom. My heart sank. Gabby wasn't in the waiting area. I panicked thinking she'd committed some kind of faux pas that was causing the laughter.
"Is she in there?" I asked the receptionist, "Did you see the young woman I was with?"
"Yes. They asked her inside. You can go on in."
I reached for the door, unsure of what blunder or misstep might have caused the hysteria. I opened it to find Gabby poised, confident and deadpan serious facing down ten men who were laughing like hyenas, pounding the table and begging her to stop.
I waited until Sam became somewhat composed before asking, "What's so hilarious?" The question started everyone laughing again.
On this go-around, one guy managed to laugh himself right off his seat. I watched as he attempted to reenter the chair using one arm while holding his belly with the other.
"This girl is a cutup, she told us, she told us..." Sam interrupted himself, "She told us that she loves Boston and...." He broke up laughing before he could finish.
"Uh-huh," I nodded to help him along. "What's funny about that?"
Gabby looked comfortable in her new role as an agent. She appeared professional and assertive. I worried that she had no experience dealing with professional negotiators, but so far she had them eating out of her hand. At least the laughter made the team of execs seem less intimidating.
Sam continued cracking up, "And, the last time she was in Boston was..." He had to stop and catch a breath. "1776! Shoot, I've got socks older than she is!" He reached for his belly. "She's a clown this one. Stunning too! Where did you find her? Bo, you must have been born under a lucky star with such a beautiful agent and a 103-mile per hour fastball." Sam stood up.
"Gabby, you told them you were here two centuries ago?" I couldn't believe she had done that and my disbelief was evident in my thoughts as I communicated with my mind.
"Yeah, I don't think they believe me," Gabby's voice in my head sounded amused.
"Is this your strategy?"
"I figured I'd disarm them with laughter, and then go in for the kill."
"What else did you say?"
Gabby still sounded amused and a little smug. "I told the boys about the time I met a ragtag group of colonists, ill-trained, poorly supplied, and practically broke, who vanquished the most powerful navy in the world to gain their independence."
I still couldn't' believe it. "You said it like that - straight-faced, unreadable?"
Gabby nodded in my direction but spoke aloud to the V.P. "Actually Sam, Bo throws 105; you need to have your gun calibrated. It's 2 miles-per-hour off."
Sam nodded to a guy nearby. "Have that checked."
I couldn't contain my curiosity so I continued to communicate with my mind. "Gabby, you've got me thinking now, how did the Colonies do it?"
I heard her reply in my head. "It was Timothy, he triggered weather conditions that stopped the British dead in their tracks near Long Island; otherwise you'd be a British subject now."
"Divine intervention, Gabby?" I wondered.
"Bo, a leaf does not fall without your Father knowing about it. You remember Timothy, don't you? He stirred the revolution and inspired George Washington in battle."
"Of course. Who meets an Arch Angel and forgets?"
I remembered Gabby raising her wing to filter my eyes. Timothy had come to assist her, slaying a forty-foot leviathan, sending its charred burnt carcass down into a hellhole. The Arch Angel raised his finger and lit up the night sky, illuminating an army a million strong behind him. The most memorable thing about Timothy was his gleaming chest plate emblazoned with the handprint of God.
"Gentlemen, shall we begin?" Gabby inquired, motioning thru the window to Rebecca.
"Would you put this up on the video feed for me?" Rebecca got the gist and popped in the room to retrieve the zip drive from Gabby.
Gabby commanded the room with her presence as she introduced the video we were about to see. "I took the liberty of mixing some of my client's tryout this afternoon with some live footage of a recent Red Sox – Toronto game. You'll notice I substituted Bo Garrett for starting pitcher, right-hander De Le Rosa. I picked Ruby because in his last few trips to Fenway he's caused you some headaches, giving up only one or two runs each outing."
Then the video began and Gabby lets the announcer's enthusiasm carry over her voice.
"What a game we've got going ladies and gentlemen! We're witnessing maybe the biggest story in baseball - the come out of nowhere, Toronto sensation, Bo Garrett. He's hurled no-hitters in his last two outings. Tonight we're in a beautiful and breezy Fenway Park to see if the lanky left-hander can do it again. Here's the windup, it's a swing, and a miss as the ball sails over the outside left corner retiring the side. A fastball does the job and we are at the top of the Fifth with Garrett showing no signs of tiring. That makes it a three – zip ballgame in favor of the Blue Jays."
Gabby pressed pause. "Has everyone seen enough?"
It was fun listening to the announcers pitch-by-pitch account. I wish she had let the tape play a little longer.
Gabby was warming up to her role as agent and negotiator. "In the interest of fair play I'm letting you all know I'll be sending this clip to the Baltimore Orioles, the Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay, and, of course, the New York Yankees. That is, provided we can't make a deal. We'll want to give other teams a chance to bid."
The room got tense. The executives began looking sideways at each other to gauge the reactions of the others.
"Gabby, you're tough!" I voiced internally.
Nicky directed a comment to me, "Bo, do you like Boston?"
That was an easy question to answer. "Sure I do. I'd love to play here, and working with you would be an honor."
Nicky smiled as Gabby interjected, "It's simple, then, we'd like 300 million over ten years."
"You can't be serious! That kind of money for a rookie player?" Sam bellowed. "He's thirty-five; we'd be gambling the future of this ball team on his production at age 45. What if he can't throw at 40; where will we be then?"
"That's not reasonable," one of the execs, sounded. The others echoed the sentiment. Like a Kangaroo court of yes men waiting for the wind to choose a direction, the rest chimed in.
Gabby was cool as ice. "Oh, not to worry, he's only pitching for five of those years."
"That figures to 60 million a year." Sam leaned forward. "Young lady, you may be impossibly beautiful and used to getting what you want, but we're the Boston Red Sox. You can't march in here with demands like that. No one including the damned New York Yankees is going to pay that." He sat back in his chair indignant.
I was as astounded as they were. "Gabby, what are you thinking? I'd play for free. Why are you being so tough?" I continued our inner dialog.
"Bo, he didn't ask us to leave did he?" Gabby's voice seemed to smile inside my head. She sounded completely confident. "I'm using Sam's worst case scenario against him. Courtesy of his own mind, he's negotiating with his worst nightmare – himself."
New tension peppered the voice I was hearing in my head. "Bo, I'm afraid we're going to have to wrap this up. I can feel an assignment coming on. Play along."
"Alright, but I hope you know what you're doing?"
Gabby continued with her plan of attack. "Sam, gentlemen, here's our offer. It expires in ten minutes. Bo Garrett will receive 13 million for each of the next five years. You all know that's in line with what teams are paying for first round draft picks. Everybody, including the fans and the league, will be happy with that number. Moreover, when they see what Bo can do, you'll be heroes. The rest will be paid out in bonus money."
I was awestruck as Gabby reeled off the deal.
"The bonus money is funded in equal installments after he's pitched three no-hitters each season. Sammy, you'll only hope you have to pay it."
Gabby was smiling from ear to ear as she added, "The bonus money will go toward building homeless shelters in and around Boston. The credit for the charitable giving will go to the Red Sox. It will be great PR, and since no one knows but us, the bonuses will not be subject to the luxury tax."
"We'll take it." Sam burst out of his seat to shake on it. "We agree to your terms in principle and we'll iron out the details. Bo, welcome to Boston."
"Thank you, it's a pleasure, Sir," I said, shaking his hand, then making my way around the room to shake other hands.
As I did, Sam took Gabby aside. "Do you have any other clients? I'm terrified you might be representing somebody else we want."
"No, just Bo. No need to worry, Sam." She laughed.