A seal upon your heart, p.31
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       A Seal Upon Your Heart, p.31
 

           Pepper Pace

  “It’s fine, Tim. Maybe I should start driving the Range Rover to work so that you can stay later in the evening.” She’d never driven it before as they always used the Cadillac. She’d only been in it a few times but liked it. Tim had explained that it was Corrine’s baby and she liked to trek all over the country in it. The two of them had driven it from all points from Maine to California.

  “How about I just buy you your own car.” He responded matter-of-factly.

  She chuckled. “No. That’s silly when we’re going to be spending so much money at Christmas and for the Hawaii trip. The Range Rover is already there-”

  “The Range Rover is old. You need your own car; I should have thought of that long ago.” He gripped her hand and Martier regarded him in dawning realization.

  Tim hadn’t really let Corrine go.

  ~***~

  Martier had just hung up her suit and slipped on comfortable clothes when her telephone rang.

  “Hello?” She said distractedly, expecting it to be Tim announcing that he would arrive shortly so that they could go out to dinner.

  “Martier?” It was Sister Louise.

  “Uh…hello Sister Louise.”

  “I hope that I’m not disturbing you, dear.”

  “Uh, no. I was just surprised to hear from you.” She frowned and sat on the edge of her bed. She hadn’t spoken to Sister Louise since dropping off Tim’s donation items and that had been months ago. She hadn’t seen any of the sisters in several weeks. She hadn’t been to church since returning from New York and wondered if the sister was calling to chastise her. She suddenly felt horrified at the idea.

  “I hope you’ve been well. I know that I’m probably the last person that you want to hear from. I…I don’t like how we left things.”

  Martier closed her eyes feeling a sharp sense of regret. “No, Sister Louise, it’s fine.” She refused to apologize even though it was on the tip of her tongue to do so. Somehow, talking to a nun always made you feel as if you had something to apologize for and while she hadn’t enjoyed their altercation she had no regrets about speaking her mind and owning her feelings. “Is everything okay?”

  “I probably should have called you during business hours but I wanted to try to catch you while you were at home. Sister Nicolette gave me your telephone number.”

  Martier’s heartbeat quickened in near panic. “Is everything okay?” she repeated

  “Everything is fine. But I wanted to ask you a favor.” Sister Louise hesitated. “I…listened to what you told me when you left. I prayed on it and had council with Father Ashton. I know that preparing the girls with a college education is only one way to help them transition to the world outside of St. Bartholoma. But…I now realize that it’s not enough. So many girls have left us but they’ve lost touch. I feel—I feel as if they might have struggled with fitting into the world outside of our school.” Sister Louise cleared her throat.

  “For that reason I wanted to ask you if you might be interested in mentoring one of the girls that has just turned 18 and who will soon be leaving the school.”

  Martier’s spirit perked. So she had listened! She did understand that it was cruel to just thrust these girls out into the world. “Of course I will. I’ll help anyway that I can. Who is it?”

  “Lindewe, but you may know her by the name Linda. We’ve…uh allowed the girls to choose whether or not they want to use their given names. Lindewe wanted to use her African name.”

  She knew the girl, had been friends with her although she had been much younger. She had a pleasant disposition and liked to smile.

  “I would be pleased to help. What can I do?”

  “Can you help her to find a job? And maybe help her to get accustomed to the world? Sister Callista has offered to allow her to stay with her and she will be moving out Monday.”

  Martier was already nodding her head. “Of course. I’ll talk to Tim about getting her hired into the secretarial pool at the Firm. She knows office skills doesn’t she?” Martier already knew the answer to that. They studied that as a part of their regular school curriculum at St. Bartholoma.

  She and Sister Louise talked for a few more minutes and Martier hung up promising to call her the next day about how soon Lindewe could begin work.

  Later as she and Tim drove to have dinner she explained her conversation with the Sister and asked Tim about Lindewe working at the Firm.

  “I don’t see why not. You said that she has office skills. We get our new employees from a temp service but I don’t see why we can’t work out something where we can allow the girls from the school to be hired when they’re ready to leave the convent.”

  Martier smiled, not expecting this much from Tim. She leaned over and kissed his cheek.

  “You are wonderful. This is why I love you!”

  He smiled. “Well don’t get too happy too soon. I’ll have to work that latter out with personnel but I’ll make sure that Lin…Lin?”

  “Lindewe.”

  “I’ll make sure that Lindewe can begin Monday morning. 8 am.”

  Martier gripped Tim’s hand as he drove, grinning happily. “I’ll tell Sister Louise tomorrow.” She looked around. “Where are we going?”

  “I thought we’d try that East African restaurant that Dhakiya used to cater her wedding.”

  “What?”

  Tim felt Martier stiffen. “No,” she frowned. “Not African, not today. I thought we’d go for seafood. How about McCormick and Schmick’s?”

  “We’ll have to get valet service. Do you want to have to deal with all of that after the day we’ve had? I thought we’d just stop in some place without a lot of trouble. Besides, we’re dressed pretty casually for.”

  “I think I want oysters, Tim.” Martier looked down at her designer jeans tucked into stylish boots. “This outfit cost me nearly $500. I might be casual but I’m definitely not ‘dressed down’.”

  He appraised her model-like body, even concealed in a fur jacket it was plain to see that Martier was nothing less than perfection. “Okay, honey. McCormick and Schmick’s it is.” Tim turned down a side street and headed back towards Downtown Cincinnati.

  ~***~

  Monday morning Tim and Martier entered the offices of Rangbo, Singleton, Bradbury and Marx; Attorney’s at Law. Tim gave her a brief peck on the lips and then entered his office and a few moments later Martier received a call that a Miss Lindewe Nzeowu was waiting for her at the 7th floor reception area.

  She thanked Tammy the receptionist and then hurried to meet Lindewe. The poor girl looked nervous as she stood waiting and it reminded Martier that just a year ago she had been the same way.

  Lindewe was tall though not nearly as tall as Martier. And while she was slightly underfed, she filled out her clothes in all the right places. Martier took a moment to appraise the clothes that the girl had selected for her first day of work; simple yet nice. She swallowed back her guilt that she had not taken the time to stop by the orphanage with a selection of clothes for Lindewe. It had truly been her intent but every time she thought about stepping foot into the convent she felt panicked.

  Instead, they had talked on the telephone the day before and Martier had helped her to map out the bus route from Sister Callista’s apartment and then had given her tips on how to dress. Martier knew that the women in the typing pool did not dress as upscale as the secretary and assistants dressed but still warned her against certain clothing faux pas.

  It appeared that she had listened well because she looked very smart in dark blue slacks and a light blue blouse. Lindewe gave Martier a nervous smile and the older woman hugged her sister-in-heart.

  Lindewe’s eyes scanner her in shock. “You look so beautiful Martier! I can’t believe…”

  Martier smiled in embarrassment. She was wearing a grey wool dress and charcoal heels. She now knew how to walk confidently in four inch heels and often wore them. Her hair was pulled back into a loose bun and diamond studs and a diamond tennis bracelet adorned her b
ody.

  Martier noted that Lindewe had grown into a very beautiful woman. Her skin gleamed a few shades darker than Martier’s mahogany skin tone but was just as flawless. Her dark eyes were almond shaped and her much fuller lips gleamed with lip gloss. The girls knew that winter was the only time they could get away with that little stunt as the sister’s had a zero tolerance policy on makeup.

  Lindewe’s hair was a short natural cap of curls and rhinestones adorned her earlobes. She had four bangles on each wrist and Martier eyed them thinking that they were going to clatter a lot when she was working.

  The taller woman placed a comforting arm over Lindewe’s shoulders. “Lets start the day with a cup of coffee. That always makes things a little brighter. And I’ll show you where I work.” Several people greeted Martier as she led the younger girl back to her receptionist station. Lindewe gawked at everything in awe.

  “This place is beautiful. Everyone is dressed so well. Martier, am I dressed okay?”

  “Yes, of course you are. You will be on a different floor. Many of our clients come through these floors to visit with partners and the other attorneys. There are several conference rooms for that. No clients go to the floor that you will be working so the dress policy isn’t as ‘upscale’.” Martier made quotes with her fingers.

  Back at her workstation, she quickly made coffee while Lindewe sat down in the small leather office chair wearing a huge smile on her face.

  “How do you like your coffee, sis?”

  “Oh, let me do that!” Lindewe jumped up and took one of the styrofoam cups used for guests. She added lots of cream and sugar.

  Meanwhile Martier filled her and Tim’s mug as she chatted about the clients, Tim, partners and other office tidbits. “Come on follow me and I’ll introduce you. Just leave your coffee on my desk.” Martier knocked once on Tim’s door and then entered. Tim was on the phone and raised his finger at Martier as he finished up his conversation. He hung up and stood and then offered his hand to shake.

  “This is Tim Singleton. Tim, this is Lindewe Nzeowu. She and I grew up together.”

  Lindewe shook the offered hand shyly.

  “Welcome to the firm. I’m sure you will do well but if you have any problems or issues please contact Martier immediately.”

  “Yes sir. I will.” Lindewe whispered, eyes looking down at her shoes. Tim shot Martier a concerned look but she just shook her head slightly and then smiled.

  “I’ll take you down to personnel now and they will get you settled down. Shall we meet for lunch?” Lindewe nodded shyly. “Go out to my desk and wait for me there while I speak to Tim, okay?”

  Lindewe nodded in relief. “Nice to meet you Mr. Singleton,” she whispered before leaving.

  His brow quirked up. “She’s as skittish as a colt. Do you think she’ll be okay?” She was even shyer than Martier had been. At least Martier had met his eyes and spoke in a semi-normal voice.

  “Yes, she will be okay. Remember, our school never interacts with males. Likely you are the first man that she has ever been in a room with other than the priest at St Francis. She hasn’t gone to college so she doesn’t have even that much. At least I did have some contact with people other than nuns.”

  “Damn. Well I know that you will take care with her.”

  “I’ll be back directly,” She closed the door behind her and joined Lindewe who jumped to her feet quickly.

  Martier grabbed her coffee and smiled at the nervous young girl. She promised herself that she would make Lindewe’s transition into the ‘world’ much easier than it had been for her.

  ~***~

  Martier led Lindewe to the canteen when it was time for lunch. She didn’t see Lois or Diana but did see a young woman that she liked. She was the assistant to Justin Miyoshi who worked nearly exclusively with Asian clients in all matters from criminal law to personal injury and estate.

  “Mr. Miyoshi allowed you to leave the work area? That man knows how to keep you busy.” Martier said as she and Lindewe sat down.

  Amber looked up and smiled. “I know, right?” She closed her electronic tablet and looked at the shy girl next to Martier. “Who do we have here?”

  Martier did the introductions and then they began eating their sandwiches which Martier had purchased. She didn’t want Lindewe to have to use any of her money until she had at least received her first check.

  It took a few minutes but the younger girl soon warmed up and began talking about the clerical pool and how fast everyone typed. With a shy smile she boasted that she was one of the fastest.

  Two secretaries joined them and Lindewe warmed up to them quickly. Martier smiled to herself. Someone should have been there to do this for her. She would need to talk to Sister Louise about starting a mentor program for the young girls. There was no reason they should wait until they were 18. She thought about the logistics of mentoring several young girls and it excited her.

  Lunch ended too soon and Lindewe had to return to work. Martier offered to take her out to dinner so that they could discuss her first day ‘in the real world.’ Lindewe gave her a quick hug and then happily returned to her duties.

  Tim was actually happy to stay at work. He cautioned that he might be in the office until very late and told her to take the car and he’d take a cab home. She bit back her retort concerning the second car and simply nodded.

  Martier and Lindewe had dinner at the same pub that she and Dhakiya had dined after her first day working and the younger girl jabbered away excitedly about work and a friend that she had made. She glanced shyly at her hands. “The men are very handsome.” She looked at Martier quickly. “Their all so rich!”

  Martier smiled. “Not really. People spend a lot of time on appearance.”

  Lindewe chewed her lip lightly. “How am I ever going to be able to afford it all? Sister Callista let me move in last night so that I wouldn’t be too tired for work and she said that I can stay with her until I get on my feet. She’s really nice—not like living with a nun at all.” She leaned in close to Martier. “She listens to real radio and watches movies with—you know…sex. She gave me my own room and she doesn’t come barging in to see what I’m doing! I love her!”

  Martier laughed. “I love Callista too. She is wonderful. I roomed with her at Bartholoma and she never invaded my privacy.”

  “She talks about you a lot. She says that you are a success story.”

  Martier smoothed her napkin and opened and then closed her lips. “I’ll have to call Callista. I miss her. The money situation is daunting, I know. But you have people who will help you and before you know it, you will be independent.”

  “That will be great Martier. Thank you for everything. I was really afraid…”

  She gripped the girl’s hand.

  ~***~

  Martier hummed softly as she dusted Tim’s home office the following Saturday. He’d been working tireless trying to get all of his loose ends tied before they flew out to Hawaii next week. Martier decided that she didn’t want to spend Christmas here after-all. In actuality she kept picturing herself returning to the convent to drop off presents to everyone and it nearly caused her stomach to turn. So she decided that she would have everything shipped while she sipped Mai Tai’s on the beach.

  Tim leaned back in his chair and watched her as she moved about the room. He marveled at how she could become more gorgeous each time he saw her. For instance when she dressed in her office finery she seemed sophisticated and worldly and he would have to suppress all desires to back her into an empty office and mindlessly fuck her.

  But then on days like this; when she cleaned the main house dressed in jeans and a t-shirt with her long hair pulled back into a cute ponytail he thought that she looked carefree and fresh and it caused his heart to ache that she could be so damn perfect. He would fantasize about stripping her slowly out of her jeans and eating her right where she stood—generally while she still held a dust rag or a container of window cleaner.

  She sa
w him looking and then gave him a quick smile. “I won’t be long in here-”

  “I like this kind of distraction. Now if only you would wear a cute little maid uniform and dust in high heels—”

  “Okay…no.” She said with a smirk.

  He grinned and turned his attention back to his work. A moment later he looked up and cocked his head. “Did you get your period yet?”

  Martier’s lip twisted and a frown crossed her brow. “No, but it’s only a day late. I’ll probably get it this evening or tomorrow.”

  When he didn’t respond she looked over at him. His face was filled with tension but then his brow smoothed and he returned his attention back to his computer.

 
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