A seal upon your heart, p.9
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       A Seal Upon Your Heart, p.9

           Pepper Pace

  “What’s happened?”

  She thought about not saying anything but that was impossible. The words came without thought. “When I first came to the school Sister Louise told me that my name was Jane and so…that became my name. She said that Martier sounded like a boy’s name and that…that Besigye was the name of a murderer.”

  “Jesus.” Tim sat on the end of his desk in front of her. “She gave you a new name? And your real name is Martier? Besigye…”

  Martier nodded quickly.

  “Okay…and why are you dressed in yesterday’s clothes? Did something happen?”

  Martier rubbed her forehead. She looked tired. “Sister Louise kicked me out.”

  “Oh my god. She kicked you out?! You weren’t late! I mean…” He reached for the phone. “What’s her number? I’m going to call that school and get this straightened out…or by god, they will never see another dime of my money!”

  Tim already had the phone in his hands but Martier shook her head. “It’s not because of that and I don’t want to go back. I’m staying with Sister Nicolette in her apartment.”

  “Why in the world did she kick you out?”

  “Because she found the books that I had hidden, and the CD from the movie.”

  Tim came to his feet while shaking his head. “Lunacy…Pure LUNACY! You couldn’t even get your clothes?” He asked angrily.

  “I was so mad that I ran out with what I had.” She looked around embarrassed. “Sister Nicolette is going to bring my clothes and the rest of my things tonight.”

  “Sheesh…Jane-MARTIER, if you need time to get things straightened out-”

  “I don’t need to straighten anything out. Sister Louise said that St. Bartholoma wasn’t healthy for me anymore and she was right. I have to sneak and read a book of poetry? Tim, even with headphones I have to listen to the CD with the volume turned down low so that no one will hear the African drums. I can’t wear my jewelry! I’m not allowed to speak my mother tongue…and they don’t want me to remember because as long as I don’t I’m less trouble!” She came to her feet with fire in her eyes.

  “They can go to hell!” She hurried into Tim’s bathroom and slammed the door. When she slowly opened it a few minutes later she had splashed her face and she wore a look of shame.

  Tim was holding the blue mug filled with coffee. He thrust it to her, his face was red. “Drink this.”

  “Okay.” She took a sip. “I’m sorry for…the way I acted.”

  He looked uncomfortable. “Why are you apologizing? It wasn’t your fault.” He sighed. “Are you ready to start the day?”

  She nodded enthusiastically. “Well you still don’t have your computer. You’ll work in my office again. I want you to contact human resources and let them know to update your name on all documents.”

  “I already did that.”

  “Good…Martier. And incidentally…that’s a pretty name.” His face warmed as she whispered her thanks.

  The morning moved swiftly. Tim wasn’t so busy and was able to teach her to do things the way he liked them done. It wasn’t as uncomfortable as he would have thought; having her in his inner sanctum. His music played softly, and the sound of her steady typing lent a calming backdrop. He had a meeting with the partners and as he left the office and headed to the conference room, he thought about all of the things that had just so recently happened. He thought about her professionalism, her shyness, her recent rage and the way that she had laughed just last night. Lastly he considered the light in her eyes that had dimmed.

  She; Martier, was like a landslide. If he still had a wife to go home to, she would say to him, ‘Tim what are you going to do about this girl?’ And he came to a decision.

  “Help her, I guess.”


  Martier had no intentions of telling Dhakiya. Her friend still resented Sister Nicolette for slapping her all those years ago. And Sister Nicolette felt the same way. She was actually shocked that of all the nuns that lived on their own it would be Nicolette that would offer to put her up. Though, there were rumors that some led private lives that could never be disclosed to the public, so maybe she shouldn’t be surprised, just thankful that she didn’t have to go running to Dhakiya.

  And she had no doubt that her best friend would gladly give her a place to stay, especially in an emergency. The problem wasn’t Dhakiya, but Rodney. There was only one bedroom. She could never share a home with a man; especially one that made her pulse race, and more importantly if that man belonged to the only friend she had in the world. It might be as long as a month before she had the money for a deposit and first month rent. Staying there that long would be unimaginable for a girl that had never even touched a man, let alone lived with one.

  She set the phones to forward to voicemail and then she went down to the canteen and grabbed a bag of chips and a soda from the vending machine. She saw Claudette and her friends and joined them. They greeted her enthusiastically.

  “And where is your lunch, young lady?” Claudette chided when she saw Martier just munching chips.

  “I’m not really hungry.” She said. Actually she only had $21 and wanted to make sure she could stretch it until Friday; payday. Sister Nicolette had given her a key and dropped her off at 7am. She told her that if she wanted to be picked up it wouldn’t be until after eight. Martier had no intentions of sitting here that long! The nun’s small apartment was close to the school…but not close to the bus stop. It would be a long walk home each night. Maybe she should call Dhakiya…

  But her friend would insist that she stay with her and she wouldn’t understand her reasons for saying no.

  “We saw the commotion yesterday when they escorted Miss THANG out.” The white haired lady said. Her name was Lois. Lois looked like a kindly grandmother but Martier knew that if she didn’t like you she would be a force to be reckoned with. She appeared to be in her late fifties. Like Claudette, she tended to dress more on the casual side but still nice.

  “IT took her computer, too.” Claudette added. Martier wondered again how she knew everything that happened around here.

  “Did they find anything out of place on it?” She asked curiously figuring that if Claudette knew everything she may as well use it to her benefit.

  “Nothing has been said yet, but you mark my words that one is going straight to jail-do-not-pass-go!”

  Jane ate the last chip then stared into the bag. She looked at the group of people that had befriended her; all at least 15 years her senior. “Ladies, I wanted to tell you that I won’t be going by the name Jane any longer.”

  “Oh….kay.” Lois said while giving her a sidelong look.

  “I’ll be using my given name which is Martier.”

  “Oh that’s much prettier than Jane.” Diana said. She was Claudette’s age. She wore very nice jewelry and wasn’t quite pretty in the traditional way, but her clothes and styled hair made her so. She liked these ladies even though she had already figured out that these three unassuming women were very powerful figures at the firm.


  Jakob walked over to Tim while they waited for the meeting to come to order. “So I suppose Priscilla wasn’t to your liking? I have to say I’m very surprised. The rack on her alone should have piqued your interest.”

  Tim gave him a rueful smile. “A warning about her breasts would have been nice. My eyes damn near popped out of my head.”

  Jakob laughed quietly. “Elaina’s pretty disappointed. She’s in match-maker mode.”

  Tim shook his head seriously. “Tell her to focus her talents on someone else. I intend to become an international playboy.”

  “Are you fucking kidding? We can barely get out of Cincinnati.”

  The meeting came to order and they discussed various things that Tim barely listened to. They wanted him to take the case of a man accused of abusing a child and he wouldn’t. They wanted him to take on a case involving a hate crime and he and Jakob both scowled at that one.

We take on some pretty sad clients but do we really want to be the go-to firm for every Neo-Nazi in Kentucky?” Rangbo turned red and the idea was quickly scrapped.

  They discussed their annual three day conference in New York and Tim’s head began to ache. The meeting adjourned three hours later and he and Jakob went out for a late lunch.

  When he returned Martier was just getting ready to leave for the evening. He liked the way her new name rolled over his tongue and with her exotic beauty it matched her perfectly. It conjured images of her dancing to the beat of wild music with jewels dripping from her limbs.

  He cleared his throat. “I see they brought you a computer, so you’ll be in your own cubicle tomorrow.”

  “Yes, have you heard if they found anything strange?”

  “Not yet.”

  “Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow Tim.”

  “Martier, I wanted to talk to you about something. Do you have a few moments? I can drive you home, I’m about to leave myself.”

  She nodded thankfully. It wasn’t raining today but she was very tired and she just wanted to get back to the apartment, relax and hopefully Sister Nicolette would have some food at home.

  She followed him to the car and as soon as her body hit the comfortable leather seats she relaxed.

  “I haven’t had dinner yet. Let’s eat and I’ll tell you about what I wanted to discuss. Is that okay?”

  She hid a relieved smile. “Yes, that would be fine.”

  In fact Tim wasn’t hungry but he just wanted to be doing something while he discussed his proposition with his new secretary. This was a new age and as an attorney he knew very well that what he suggested would skate very close to the lines of impropriety. He’d tried sexual harassment cases over less.

  Tim drove them to an upscale diner and he had pie and coffee and she had a burger and fries. “Jane…Martier, sorry, I’m going to have to get used to that—I wanted to talk to you about your…circumstances.”

  Jane felt a cold chill run down her back. Oh no…he was going to fire her. She was too much trouble. What was she going to do without this job?!

  “I want to help you.”

  “You are helping me.” She said nervously.

  “Well…Look, I have a guest house. I want to rent it to you.”

  She blinked. “What?”

  Tim blushed. “It’s small, but it’s completely functional. There’s a kitchen, living room, complete bath with a Jacuzzi tub. It’s already furnished. Corinne’s parents used it before…well they passed away within a year of each other. But it’s very nice.”

  Jane looked away nervously. “I-” She shook her head. “I couldn’t do that, Tim.” She met his eyes. “Wouldn’t people say things?”

  He shrugged. “Probably.”

  “Well…I wouldn’t want to make it tough for you.”

  He shrugged again. “But I’m the one asking you, not the other way around.”

  She swallowed; her eyes took in the kind man in front of her. And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Martier smiled. Who was she to toss God’s gifts back into his face? She knew without a doubt that Tim had been place in her life to help her.

  “How much is the rent?”

  Tim wouldn’t tell her how much he would charge her for rent until she checked it out. She was almost too excited to eat her burger…almost.

  “It’s been shut up for a while but I check on it each winter to make sure the pipes are good and I air it out in the summer. You’ll need to give it a cleaning but otherwise, it’s in great condition.”

  She took a big bite out of her burger as she listened to him. “Where is it?”

  “Oh! It’s behind my house. So, it’s totally separate. There’s a pool…um, when the weather warms. The coup de grace is that you have an instant ride to and from work. And Martier…I know that your current living arrangements…well if you want to move in tonight we can go get your things.”

  “Sister Nicolette won’t have my things until after she leaves the school later tonight. I’d expect her shortly after eight.”

  Tim checked the time. It was just six thirty. “This is what we’re going to do, I need to go to the grocery story,” he thought about throwing away all of the food over the weekend. “If you help me shop I’ll stock the fridge in the guest house. Is that a deal?”

  “Well, I’ll help you grocery shop but I’d like to pay you for anything you buy for the guest house.”

  He squinted and thought about it. “We’ll negotiate on that one.” He ordered another cup of coffee and they talked about the city and the weather until Martier finished her dinner. He paid the check and they went to a nearby grocery store.

  They had lingered at the grocers, trying to time it so that they would arrive at the nun’s apartment by eight. They were a bit early and waited in the car.

  “Tim,” She turned in her seat to face him and her dark eyes were bright. “Thank you for everything.” They had filled his trunk with enough food for the both of them; so much food that she didn’t think it would all fit!

  He was clearly uncomfortable as he stammered out some response about it not being any trouble. He thought that if anyone should be thanked it would be Corrine because without her influence he would have never thought to do something like this. And besides, it was worth it to see the light return to her brown eyes.

  Thankfully the nun arrived a short time later. She was carrying two over-stuffed shopping bags and Martier hurried to meet her.

  “Oh Jane, didn’t the key work?” Martier didn’t correct her about the name. It wasn’t necessary since she planned to move. Sister Nicolette strained to get a look at the car that she had just exited.

  “That’s my boss Tim Singleton. He’s going to rent me his guest house.”

  “Oh.” Nicolette said softly.

  Tim saw Martier wave him forward and he cursed under his breath. He hadn’t planned on being introduced to a nun today. He got out of the car and than joined the two.

  “Sister Nicolette this is Attorney Tim Singleton.” She felt proud when she said that, proud because she was his personal assistant. “And Tim this is Sister Nicolette.”

  Tim shook her hand while the two scrutinized each other. She didn’t look like a nun. She didn’t wear a nun’s habit or even a big cross. How many nuns might he have passed on a daily basis without ever knowing?

  “Guest house, you say?”

  “Yes. It’s a fully functioning house behind mine.”

  “Is there a telephone?”

  “Yes, of course.”

  Sister Nicolette thrust the bags into Tim’s hands. “Jane I want you to leave me your telephone number as soon as you get there. Come on upstairs and you can get the rest of your things while Mr. Singleton puts those bags in the car.”

  “Yes, Ma’ame.”

  Tim got the impression that Sister Nicolette didn’t really trust him. He wasn’t bothered by that, he would have hoped that someone cared enough about the young girl to worry about such things. After all, she’d been tossed out of the only home that she knew and tossed out by nuns. That sickened him.

  Jane followed Nicolette up the stairs while indicating to Tim that she would be just one moment. When they were inside of the apartment Nicolette gave her a stern look. “Jane I highly advise against doing this.”


  “Has that man coerced you in any way?”

  “No!” Martier was surprised by the question. Sister Nicolette hung up her jacket and placed her hands on her hips as she searched Martier’s face.

  “He’s never touched you has he?”

  “No. It’s not like that.”

  “And you’re not in love with him are you?”

?” What was with that crazy question?

  But Nicolette just looked at her closely and at some point she seemed satisfied and moved into the living room where Martier had slept on the couch.

  “Sister Nicolette you’ve been so kind to me.” Martier gathered her things. “I don’t know how to thank you.”

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