A seal upon your heart, p.11
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       A Seal Upon Your Heart, p.11

           Pepper Pace
 

  However Claudette wasn’t finished. “What type of nylons?”

  “Um…”

  “Thigh highs or pantyhose?”

  “Pantyhose I guess.” Three pairs of pantyhose came to fifty-five dollars.

  When they left Macy’s, Martier had a full shopping bag and she wasn’t quite sure how it all had transpired, only that she was happy that one of them knew what they were doing.

  Before they headed for the deli, Claudette made her take off the loafers and put on a pair of her new shoes. She did and as they walked down the street Martier truly felt like a new woman. She smiled proudly.

  When she got back to the office she placed her bags in her cubby and quickly carried Tim’s lunch into his office. He had his jacket thrown over the back of his chair and was contemplating the ceiling as he leaned back in his chair listening intently to someone speaking over the speaker phone.

  “…I really think we should rethink taking on several of the cases that were turned down by you and the other partners. I even understand your reasoning. But they were high profile cases and I know we would have been successful at them.”

  “Ken,” Tim said. “You’re a good attorney but you’re just starting out in your career. I know you’re hungry. I was too at your age. I’ll re-think the Tobiason case and bring it…”

  Tim’s words faltered as Martier quickly placed his lunch on his desk. He’d seen her wearing the suit when she had brought him coffee. But he’d also seen her sad looking shoes and had been distracted from how good the suit fit her. But now she was wearing new shoes and somehow he could take in everything in a way that he hadn’t before.

  “Tim?”

  “Oh! Yes, Ken…the Tobiason case. I’ll bring it up to the partner’s and you can decide if it’s really what you want.” He glanced at her as she left his office then quickly consulted his notes. “Okay, Lloyd, I’m assigning you the Hendrix case…”

  Martier went down to the canteen for iced tea. She’d seen Tim purchase the bottled beverage the night before and decided to bring him back one as well.

  “Excuse me.”

  She turned and a man wearing a very nice suit and tie was staring at her. He seemed confused or alarmed. “Yes? Can I help you?” She gave him a helpful look.

  “Wow…I’m so sorry for staring. I—my name is Karl.” He held out his hand. “Karl French.” Martier took the offered hand, shaking it firmly.

  “Martier Besigye.”

  “Your accent…African?”

  She smiled. Was he…flirting with her? He wasn’t very tall, maybe even an inch or so shorter than she was. But he was very handsome. He was African American with a light brown skin tone and hair that was very short and tapered down to nothing in the back and sides. He had a slight goatee and big arms as if he worked out.

  “Yes, African.”

  He stared at her and then seemed to shake himself out of a trance. “I’m sorry. I’m an attorney here…I don’t recall ever seeing you before...”

  “I’m new actually. I’m assistant to Tim Singleton.”

  His brow went up. “Oh? A partner? Quite a coup.” She didn’t know what he meant by that but she smiled anyway. “Martier…is it okay if I call you that?” She nodded. “I was wondering if I could take you out to lunch?”

  “Well, I-” she stuttered in alarm at the invitation, “I already have my lunch-”

  “Not today!” He said quickly. “Maybe next Friday?”

  “Well,” she chewed her lip. “My lunch is based on Tim’s schedule-”

  “Then dinner?”

  “I…don’t know.” She smiled shyly. “I’ll think about it.” She turned to leave. “Nice to meet you.”

  “You too Martier. Please think about it, okay? You can find me in the directory; Karl French.”

  She smiled all the way back to her workstation. She knocked once on Tim’s door, he was still on his conference call, and she placed his iced tea on his desk. He had just taken a bite of his corned beef sandwich and a spot of mustard appeared on the side of his mouth.

  He gave her a quick smile of thanks for the iced tea, and she smiled back wondering how long before he realized that he had mustard smeared on his face. He was so cute. She closed the door and went back to work.

  CHAPTER 14

  The conference call had taken an ungodly amount of time. After he used the restroom he sent emails highlighting the key points to each of the partners. Afterwards he decided to do some of the research that had been on his mind since finding out that Martier had been a survivor of events that happened in Rwanda.

  He pulled up information on the computer about the Rwanda genocide. In just over a three month period more than 800,000 Rwandans were killed. It began in April of 1994 when President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down. Tutsi extremists were blamed but know one knew for sure. Factor into that a long standing feud between the two groups which resulted in the violent uprising and the mass murder of the Tutsi people.

  Tim rubbed his face, he remembered when this was going on, the almost disbelief that it was happening in this day and age…and the pictures. That’s when Corrine began helping the survivors there. She found St Bartholoma because they were bringing orphaned children back to the states and trying to get them placed in homes.

  They had stopped trying to have a baby by that time and Tim was reluctant to adopt because of his career but they had discussed fostering a child—not just from Rwanda but from half a dozen other locations that had suffered tragedies around the globe.

  Tim sighed and continued his research. Soldiers and police officers encouraged ordinary citizens to take part. In most cases, Hutu civilians were forced to murder their Tutsi neighbors by military personnel. Tim remembered the horrendous stories of neighbors killing each other, children forced to take up arms, killing with machetes because that was sometimes all they had…

  In July the Tutsi’s captured Kigali and millions of Hutu’s fled to the Republic of Congo and that’s when the arrests began and many were implicated in the massacre. Tim wondered if that is what happened to Martier’s father. Had he been an instigator—had he been forced to kill? And if Martier’s father was Hutu, then why had his family been killed?

  There was a brief knock at the door and Tim quickly minimized the screen. Martier poked her head in. “Tim I was wondering…about my pay-”

  “Oh! I’m so sorry. I hope you don’t mind but I assumed you wouldn’t want it mailed so I arranged for it to be sent to Human Resources. They should have it down there by now. You may want to consider direct deposit, otherwise your checks will be mailed and you won’t get it until the following Monday.”

  Martier’s eyes had lit up. “Do you care if I run down and get it now?!” He suppressed a smile.

  “Go ahead. Our credit union is on the same floor. You might want to look into joining.”

  She nodded enthusiastically then dashed out of the office. He logged out deciding to call it a day. It was Friday and no one should work late on a Friday. Maybe Martier might want to have dinner…maybe he shouldn’t ask. No. He wouldn’t ask.

  ~***~

  Martier was sitting curled up on her couch. It was the most comfortable couch in the history of mankind. Of course anyone that could afford five thousand plus dollars on a skirt would spare no expense on their sofa. Unfortunately she couldn’t much enjoy it as she was tense and squeezing the phone in her fist listening to her best friend going ballistic.

  “You’re living with your boss?! Martier, why didn’t you call me? I’d have wiped the floor up with that heffa! I still might do it. How could she do that to you?! After she promised-”

  “Sis, but it worked out better than I could have ever wished-”

  “Nooooo. You’re living with your boss-”

  “Hardly. He lives in a house that’s eight times the size of this one.” She was suddenly happy that she hadn’t told her friend that she would clean Tim’s house in exchange for the rent. “Besides, I’m telling you this because
I was hoping that you’d want to come over and see it before Rodney gets off work.”

  Dhakiya didn’t speak. Then she sniffed. “Okay. Tell me how to get there.” Ha! She knew her curiosity would outweigh her skepticism. And once she saw this place she would understand why she’d had to jump at it.

  Dhakiya had arrived within half an hour, barely giving Jane enough time to slip out of Corinne’s clothes and back into her own. Dhakiya would definitely not get that. She heard the car pull into the back and Martier hurried outside. Her friend just stared wide-eyed at everything and was too awestruck to even pretend to hold on to her anger. And she hadn’t even gone into the house yet!

  “He’s rich.” Dhakiya whispered.

  “Very.”

  Dhakiya nodded in something like understanding. “Rich whites like to help poor blacks.” Martier didn’t know about that, but if Dhakiya said it then it was probably true. Before ushering her friend inside she pointed out some things; the pool and a garden that she planned to revitalize when she got the chance. Right now it was overgrown and in sorry condition. Then she led her friend inside and they spent fifteen minutes just going ooh and ahh together.

  “This is so much larger than mine!” Dhakiya’s eyes were big. “Sis…this is very nice. And you’re not lying to me. You don’t have to do anything bad with him, do you?”

  Martier hugged her friend merrily. “Do I act as if I have to do something bad?”

  They sat down over iced tea and Martier filled her friend in on the goings on at work. “It’s crazy, but I tell you that is how it is in the real world. The people you work with are insane!” Dhakiya commented.

  She left a while later, as the sun had gone down. Martier watched her drive away and she stared at the large house. The lights were dark inside. Tim must be out. She wondered curiously what he did on Fridays and if he had found a lady friend. No one should be alone. She rubbed her arms and shut the door.

  ~***~

  After dropping Martier off at the cottage, Tim couldn’t stand the idea of spending a beautiful Friday cooped up inside his house. He changed into jeans and a polo shirt and headed for Kentucky. The Madd Crab was a local redneck bar and he remembered that the cheap beer was plentiful and the karaoke on Friday was entertaining. Best of all is that no one there knew about Corrine and offered him condolences or sympathetic looks. Second best thing is that he’d only gotten drunk there once.

  He sat at the bar and listened to music and when the beer was going down good he began to chat with the bartender; a mullet wearing ex-biker. They traded stories about their bikes; Tim was a Harley guy but admitted that he had thought about getting a Ducati and racing. Well…that was long ago, another lifetime, it seemed.

  Someone asked him to dance, he thought it was a woman; they had breasts but he remembered thinking that he wasn’t sure. But what the hell; the beer had gone down smooth and he danced or shuffled with the person.

  “I love you, honey.” He slurred at one point.

  “Mhm.” The other person said, nearly as drunk as him.

  “Hey Buddy. Do you need a cab?” And Tim opened his eyes and realized that he had fallen asleep with his chin on his chest. Damn…he hadn’t done that in months.

  “Jakob.” He slurred.

  The bartender cocked an eye at him. “Jakob. Do you need a cab?” It took him a full minute to explain that he would call his friend Jakob and by that time the bartender had just taken the cell phone from him and located Jakob on speed dial.

  Tim was staring into a glass of water and trying to determine whether he should drink it before or after; he spewed his guts that is, when Jakob sat down beside him.

  “I thought that we weren’t going to do this anymore,” he said quietly.

  It was a long time before Tim answered. “At what point are you going to stop coming?”

  “Are you all paid up here?” When his only response was a shrug Jakob spoke quietly to the bartender and then the two left together. Tim fished in his pocket for his keys and handed them to his friend. “Do you know where you parked?” Tim shook his head. And so began the process of searching for the car. Once located the two friends drove in silence.

  “Sorry.” Tim finally said. “Tell Elaina I’m sorry for getting you out of bed.”

  “Elaina doesn’t mind, Tim. I don’t mind. The only thing I care about is that this has been going on for nearly a year.”

  Tim was staring out the window. “I can’t do this now. I’m too freaking drunk to do this now, Jakob.”

  Jakob’s eyes narrowed for the first time. “But we will do this, Tim, not now. But yeah, we will do this.”

  He got his friend home and to the restroom where he finally spewed his guts. Once Tim was passed out, but safely in his own bed, Jakob climbed into his car and headed back home.

  CHAPTER 15

  Martier got up bright and early, even before the sun had risen. She could have lingered in the comfortable bed but there was so much to do today and she was excited. She ran a bath in the Jacuzzi tub and read Emily Dickenson until her toes puckered. Then she wrapped a huge terry cloth towel around her body and rubbed hair cream into her hair while it was still wet, allowing it to dry naturally. To put a blow dryer to her hair would cause it to draw up like a lion’s mane.

  Then she got dressed in jeans and a shirt; both items that she had long ago dug out of the donation bin at school. Most females weren’t six feet tall and so whenever Martier came upon slacks that actually reached her ankles she became excited and took care with them. She had actually never purchased an item of clothing for herself; she had never needed to. But now she took pleasure in the idea of having her own money to do just that.

  She made a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast—repeatedly opening and closing the refrigerator and marveling that the food was all hers to eat any time that she wanted. After breakfast Martier grabbed her set of keys and went out to explore the grounds. She had looked forward to Saturday so that she could explore the forgotten garden. It was choked with weeds but she could still see the vegetation that sprouted; beautiful tomatoes were growing wildly as well as strawberries. She wished she had gardening tools with her now and planned to ask Tim about it later. She poked around and found zucchini and squash, cucumbers, peppers and three different varieties of tomato. There might be more that just hadn’t revealed itself yet. It made her excited and she picked several of the tomatoes and cucumbers.

  Then she looked at the pool area. There was a Jacuzzi within the stone pool. There was an outdoor fire pit with plenty of room to entertain several people. She saw a shed and assumed that one of the keys in her possession would unlock it. Martier walked the grounds, front and back amazed at the privacy. She couldn’t really see any of the neighboring homes due to the many mature trees and careful landscaping.

  She checked the time and noted that it was just after eight and wondered if Tim was up and about yet. She knocked on the back kitchen door, and listened for sounds. Not hearing any she went back to the small cottage and listened to the CD that Dhakiya had given her. With a smile she turned up the volume a bit so that it could be heard throughout the entire house. Then she curled up on the couch and relaxed with her books.

  At about ten o’clock Martier decided she would get started on cleaning. Her hair was dry and she pulled it up into a ponytail and went up to the kitchen door again. This time when she knocked and didn’t get a response she used her key to let herself in.

  “Tim?” She called out. She opened the door to the garage and saw that his car was there. Martier decided to start a pot of coffee. He’d want it. He drank nearly a pot of it just by himself every day. She decided to start cleaning the kitchen. The floor was in need of a good mopping.

  She located cleaning supplies in the pantry. There weren’t any dishes so she wiped everything down and mopped the floor. The house was so quiet. It was late in the morning and she decided that she had better find Tim and determine if it was okay for her to clean the rest of the house. As
she went up the stairs she began to worry that he might not be alone.

  After all, he was a single man. She had used a key to get in. He didn’t know she was here. This was a recipe for disaster. She turned to head back down the stairs when she heard the toilet flush from his attached bathroom. She decided to stand at the bottom of the stairs and let him know that she was here.

  “Tim? It’s Martier.” After a moment Tim’s bedroom door opened and he shuffled to the top of the stairs and peered down at her. He was dressed in jeans and a shirt but they looked as if he had slept in them. He rubbed his face, his hair had fallen into his eyes and he rubbed his hands through it.

  “Coffee.”

  She jumped. He looked horrible. “Sure I’ll get you some.” She hurried back to the kitchen and located a mug. She poured the coffee and turned and he was standing right there. She yelped and almost spilled it.

 

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