beverages and beer and wine. Atari received many cards and a few presents from her best friends. It was a wonderful evening and she and Kent left the restaurant at mid-night with Carlisle and two of his managers, while the party was still going strong.
Carlisle explained that they should be at the airport at about 9:00 am. He told Atari that not only Kent would be joining them for the flight but her friend Susan. Susan and Kent would then fly back within a couple of days after spending time in San Francisco.
Atari said “Mr. Stevens I do not know how to thank you. You have done so much for my family and I will never be able to repay you” she said.
“Atari, making my son happy will be repayment enough. I have watched over you throughout the years and I know you are an exceptional person who will go places in life. I never expected that you may become my daughter-in-law, but I am elated. It was then that Atari embraced Carlisle, this time in tears of happiness.
Kent then told Atari that he had set up appointments with a couple of Engineering firms and he hoped that it would be fun for the two girls to tour San Francisco while he was out on business. “In fact, I want the two of you to enjoy yourself without worrying about money” as he handed her an envelope of cash.
Not even looking inside the envelope which contained $1000 in cash, she said, “Kent I can’t take this. I am certain Madeline will provide me with an advance and I have a payroll check from the company,”
“This is my gift to you, Sweetheart. I want you to have fun and I do not wish for you or Susan to not enjoy the sites. After all, I want the best for you always” he said.
Susan then came running out of the restaurant and asked whether she could get a ride home as one of the managers immediately offered to take her. She hugged Atari and Kent and thanked the Stevens men for the ability to travel to San Francisco.
Once they arrived at the hotel, Kent walked Atari to her hotel room and told her he would see her in the morning. He told her how much he loved her and he was happy he had the opportunity to be with her in San Francisco. He also hoped Madeline would not mind the additional house guests since she had no forewarning.
Atari said she was certain that would not be a problem especially since they also had the apartment downtown for guests. “And perhaps we could spend some time alone at the apartment” she commented as Kent grabbed her placing a large kiss on her lips. Í think that will be most acceptable, Atari” he said.
Madeline and Adelaide awakened early and were already having breakfast when Atari joined them. They were happy that Atari had such an enjoyable evening and when Madeline was told that both Susan and Kent would be joining them on the flight, Madeline was elated. She said that the apartment downtown had two bedrooms and that they would have an opportunity to sight see while Adelaide had an opportunity to get settled at her residence. She said that she had to be at her fashion house the following morning because apparently there were some problems which required her attention regarding Paris fashion week.
Soon the ladies were ready to drive toward the airport to drop the rental car off and to take a shuttle to the private airstrip. Kent, Susan and Carlisle were already at the airport as they arrived. As Madeline approached Carlisle to thank him and ask whether he would accept payment for this luxury, he got on one knee and pulled out a ring box from his pocket.
“Madeline, I know we will have to wait until my divorce finalizes. Yet there is no other I wish in my life but you. I have loved you throughout the years and will you marry me after all of this is settled?” he asked.
She looked at him with loving eyes and said “Yes, how could I refuse your offer. I have always loved you Carlisle and I will wait for you as long as it takes.” He then stood up and placed a beautifully designed ring which consisted of at least three carats of stones on her finger. She was in awe of the ring and told him, he really did not have to be that extravagant. She would have been happy with a ring similar to Atari’s.
He then told her that it had been his grandmother’s ring and that he had saved it throughout the years for the person he would share his life with. “I know this was probably not fair to Susan but my instincts to have kept this ring hidden were correct in my opinion. And if Susan and I would have been able to sustain our marriage, I would have provided it to Kent. I love you and I always have. Somehow, I always knew you would be wearing this ring.”
The two of them then embraced in a most passionate kiss as those around them clapped and congratulated the two. Kent then advised Susan that whatever she had heard today had to be kept under wraps because of Carlisle’s impending divorce from his mother.
She said she would never divulge the information to anyone especially with the kindness bestowed upon her by the Stevens’ men. She explained that his father had offered her an opportunity to go to the local community college to get her associates degree in business and that she would soon be working in the office. She was grateful because she could not afford to go to school on her own. She then embraced Kent with tears in her eyes as Atari held them both before going onto the ramp toward their plane.
It was then that Gigi and Betsy St. Claire arrived to bid Madeline and Atari goodbye. Betsy told Carlisle that Jon had moved in with Sandra because he had no other place to go. His personal possessions and his yacht were moved to the Steven’s residence.
“I bet Jon had to do some fast talking, especially when he told Sandra he only used her for sex” Carlisle said with amazement.
“I understand that he had to stand outside of the door for at least an hour, in accordance with the neighbor’s recollection”, Betsy stated. After everyone laughed she stated that she and Gigi would be moving to Florida as soon as the divorce would be finalized. Gigi would be attending the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Adelaide had not pressed charges against Ken so he was free to return to his residence. The divorce papers were prepared and served on Ken while he was still in jail. She felt he should be happy because he would not have to worry about selling the home they had purchased and hoped that he would someday be happy. She now had the opportunity to pursue a career at Madeline’s company, even though she would have to take courses to be proficient even as an assistant. Yet she was being allowed the opportunity and looked forward to a better life where she was previously felt unloved.
The plane arrived in San Francisco at 12:00 pm pacific time after an approximate five hour flight. Madeline’s chauffeur picked up the passengers including the pilot who was dropped off at a hotel near the apartment Atari, Kent and Susan would stay at. After leaving the luggage with the doorman of the apartment, they travelled to Madeline’s residence to enjoy the afternoon. Her servants had prepared lunch and beverages in the atrium. Madeline, of course, decided to go directly to her fashion house as soon as lunch was over. She knew Adelaide required time to herself and she had to handle the problem at the fashion house.
The fashion house was located just off Market Street. She had contacted Pierre to meet her at the door at her arrival because she wished to have a meeting with him before going to her office on the fifth floor. Pierre was frantic for some reason because some of the designs had not been completed to what he had felt would be Madeline’s specifications. He felt that Serenity, their top model, had provided information about the Dupree collection to one of the competitors because she not only left but took one of the designers with her. He was concerned that they would be using these designs to enhance their own collection since they had not won for years.
Madeline told Pierre that he should not be concerned. First, they would change their designs. Secondly, the collection would include some of her daughter Atari’s clothing designs which she felt would be the designs people would wear in the following year. She then gave Pierre Atari’s portfolio. “Thirdly, within a couple of days, Atari will join us and I will need for you to work with her so that she takes Serenity’s place. Do you feel the other’s are trustworthy or do you feel there are others who will betray our collection?” she asked.
“Madeline, I have investigated the other designers, models and seamstresses and from what I can see it was only Serenity and Claire Dufault who seemed to have an agenda. I understand they both are being paid well by Saran Façade. And since we cannot prove that they have taken copies of our designs, it will be just their word against ours because even our security cameras did not pick up anything specific” he said.
As they made their way to the upper level, all the employees were trying to act busy as Madeline and Pierre walked past them. She told her assistant Carrie that she wished all of her designers in the board room within fifteen minutes for a meeting.
Carrie could see the under toned anger which came from Madeline’s voice. Although it was common for Madeline to be extremely discriminatory and sometimes not too considerate of her employees, the Dupree House of Fashion was one of the most lucrative and popular houses to work for. If you worked for Madeline, it was of certainty that you would be going places. She in turn expected perfection in her staff’s appearances as well as perfection in the way everyone handled their respective positions.
Her designing staff was awaiting her arrival as she and Pierre entered the board room. She iterated the information Pierre had provided her about the top model and designer who left for another design house. She then advised that she would be placing Celia Wolf in charge of the other designers to complete a new look for fashion week. If their current designs were now compromised, she wished the design team to take the designs she would be providing them and to incorporate the styling into their current designs. Not explaining the designs were her daughter’s she was pleased that it appeared her designers including Celia Wolf found them to be exquisite by the comments and oohs and ahs made
Each was to come up with a change in the existing design to incorporate the new designs which also would be included in the collection. Since they had only two weeks to complete these designs, everyone would be expected to work additional hours until everything was completed. Each designer was to provide her with the changes the following day. She also stated that she did not wish for any fittings with the balance of the models until the final couple of days so that no one else would have the opportunity to steal their designs. It was unnecessary anyway because they had each of the models sizing.
Celia Wolf waited as the other designers left the room. She approached Madeline and thanked her for her confidence. “Celia, this is temporary and an opportunity to be a permanent position for you. I will expect that you will meet with the designers before our meeting tomorrow to be assured that everything is handled. Pierre should also be in that meeting.”
“I am curious Ms. Dupree. How is it that you have a totally new design? I find it extremely innovative but it seems to have been done in such a short time since you left. Do you have another designer that you will be including on staff, if I may inquire?”
“Yes Celia and you will meet her within a couple of days. She will also be one of our models in the Paris collection” Madeline stated. “Now, go and coordinate this project with your design team. Oh, and you can also tell them they may expect a bonus if the collection is completed by next week. Otherwise, I guarantee heads will roll.”
After everyone left, Pierre reminded Madeline that she was asking a lot in a very short time. She agreed but said she had no other choice. She also asked Pierre if he could make the arrangements to have the stylists meet with Atari to assist her with skin care, hair care and make up. “And Pierre, I need for you to show her how to walk on the runway as well as how to pose. Have the photographer take test shots and some video so Atari will feel comfortable with her new role.”
“You mean, Madeline, so you may feel comfortable; right?” Pierre commented.
“She said “Yes, but I do wish for her to be comfortable as well. She has come from a small town and although she has excellent poise and is thin, beautiful and tall, I will be taking her totally out of her element. And let’s face it, she’s a small town girl” Madeline replied.
“Well then, she will have no fear. She obviously does not really know what to expect and she will be perfect. You will be proud, Madeline” he said.
“I know I will Pierre and I cannot thank you enough for putting up with me this long. I don’t know if you have noticed, but I am now engaged to a wonderful man that I have loved for years” as she placed her hand in front of Pierre so as to notice her ring.
“Congratulations, Madeline. I was wondering if you had something to tell me” he said.
“Pierre, I have operated as the CEO and President of my house for years and I wish to promote you to President. You have been my friend and partner for years and considering you only as my director has been a shame. I apologize that I have not given you a greater opportunity sooner. I wish for you to not only share in my success but to share in the profits of our house” she said.
“Madeline, you have always been good to me financially. I would consider it to be an honor to assist you in your endeavors as I always have. But what plans do you have of Atari?” he asked.
“First of all she has to get her designer’s degree while working as a model. This way she will be able to support herself even if I pay for her tuition. In time, I hope she will start her own design house but Pierre you know that it is not a fun position. It may seem glamorous to those outside, but on the inside, it is extremely cut-throat and competitive. She is currently engaged to a wonderful man and frankly, I want her to have a happy life, one which may be enriched by a family” she responded.
“I do not intend to provide her favors because she is my daughter Pierre. However, if her designs save our Paris collection, then I expect her to be rewarded. That is only fair” she continued.
“I agree with you Madeline and I will be happy to work with her in every way that I can” he said.
“Pierre, understand, I wish to have you be the one everyone looks to and to handle the everyday matters. It will not be long and I probably will leave you to the entire task of running this company and determining the designs. I will make certain you join me in every meeting and in every show. I will introduce you as the one who will be taking over Dupree Fashion House” she said. “Oh, by the way, will your partner have the opportunity of joining us in Paris?”
Yes, I am happy to say that he will be there. He is having his associates handle his practice for a couple of weeks so that he can take some time to be with me. I am really happy about that. And, Madeline, thank you for this opportunity. I know this will be a difficult transition for you since you are completely hands on” he said.
“I trust you Pierre, and I have seen you accomplish so much in the years we have been together. Yes it will be difficult but not as difficult as it would be if I did not trust you so explicitly” she said.
“Oh by the way, I have already contacted my corporate attorney to draft up the contract relating to your new position. He will be in tomorrow at 10:00 am. And Pierre, if you would like your partner to go over the details, please let him know. I realize I am not giving you a lot of time, but I really wish your position to be in place before fashion week. Anyway, you will have time to review it, in the event he cannot be here tomorrow. I will make certain once everything is done that we contact the media.”
As he walked Madeline to her limousine, he was deep in thought. If Madeline had not come to her senses and offered him the title to go with his responsibilities soon, he had made up his mind that he would be leaving her after the Paris show. He felt that perhaps some of the designers have sensed that and perhaps that is the reason for Claire Dufault to have left. Unfortunately Claire shadowed him in his every move pertaining to the collection and it could have been that she overheard the situation. After all she was now working for the fashion house that had contacted him to join them. He hoped that this would not come out in the open to Madeline. Yet, she seemed to understand that he had not been treated in the manner in which his responsibilities required. He realized this was quite a concession for Madeline who was always the barracuda of the fashion industry. He also wondered if this new man in her life brought her to her senses.
He then contacted his partner and stated he knew that he would be working late to make preparations for the following day. He would not be alone because not one of his designers had yet left and were working together on changing their designs. He fortunately felt their newly designed fabrics would work for Atari’s designs.
As Madeline arrived at her home, everyone was seated in the dining room, enjoying an extravagant dinner. She apologized for being late as she sat at the head of the table. She advised Kent that he would have use of her Mercedes and that she would have the company limo take her wherever she needed to go. It was then that she explained her dilemma and advised Atari that she would be using her designs. Atari was surprised but explained she was elated.
Madeline also explained her dilemma regarding her existing top model and hoped Atari would take her place. Although Atari initially was hesitant, Madeline advised her that Pierre would work with her so she should be comfortable by fashion week. When Atari expressed concern about spending time with Susan, she was told that she would not have to go in for a couple of days for her training. Yet, she said she would take the girls in the morning to the fashion house where they would take Atari’s measurements and she could meet Pierre and some of the staff. Susan was exited about the possibility even though it meant they would not be able to tour the Fisherman’s Warf or China town until the afternoon. She then asked Atari whether she had a passport. It was confirmed that Adelaide had made certain she had one in her senior year of high school, just as a precaution.
Because of the busy day ahead, Kent, Atari and Susan travelled to the apartment shortly after desert was served. The GPS was already programmed with the address to the apartment. Even though Kent was somewhat familiar with San Francisco, it had been a number of years since he had been here. He was happy for the opportunity to have relaxed and taken a swim in Madeline’s pool with the girls. One never requires swim gear when you are at a designer’s home because there are racks of various clothing and swim suits at your disposal. He could definitely understand why his mother had been so envious of Madeline’s lifestyle and home.
Carlisle was happy to see his son arrive as he picked him and Susan up from the airport. Susan spoke for the majority of the trip to her home, telling Carlisle what a wonderful trip she had, how marvelous it was to have viewed the Dupree House of Fashion and how great Atari had adjusted to her modeling role.
After they had dropped Susan off at her home, Carlisle asked Kent how he felt about Atari becoming a model and travelling to Paris in fashion week.
He stated he did not feel it had changed Atari but he could see how everyone felt she was one of the most extravagant beauties they had laid their eyes on. “Not only that but Madeline has promoted her long time partner and friend from director to President and she will be allowing Pierre to make most of the decisions after fashion week“, Kent explained.
“Well that is great. I had hoped Madeline would find a little time for herself and for me. If you are asking, I never told her that was a requirement of our being together” Carlisle stated.
“I didn’t think so but I was prepared to ask. With Atari being an overnight celebrity and the magazines all publicizing the fact that she is Madeline’s daughter, I have to admit, I really would have liked to have told her to make a choice, me or modeling. Yet, that would have been wrong but I can honestly tell you I feel insecure and I am concerned about losing her. You could not imagine the attention she received from the media when modeling one of the evening dresses. It was televised as well as being on the internet.”
“Oh Kent, I know she loves you. And you admitted, this celebrity status had not gone to her head, right?” he asked.
“No, that morning before we left, I and Susan went directly to the fashion house and watched her being photographed…even in scanty swimwear. And at every break she would run up to me and kiss me. She even cried when I left and she had to go into makeup before completing the rest of the shoot”, Kent said.
“Well then son, you will just have to place your trust in her. Let’s face it, her mother has not been with anyone for years and obviously still loves me. I am banking that the Dupree women only love us Stevens’ men” he said.
“I sure hope so. The way some of those men were looking at her, I had some concern” Kent said.
“Well be proud of the fact that you probably have one of the most beautiful women on the planet as your future wife, Kent. It is a compliment and not a curse. I have seen the way she looks at you” Carlisle commented. “You are extremely handsome yourself and within a week will be a multi-millionaire”.
“That last comment doesn’t help me. I want someone to love me for who I am and not for my money. Most of the women I have dated throughout the years, including Gigi, only seemed interested in money. Atari instead felt obligated to me for anything I did for her and even tried to return the money I had given her to make some wagers at the casino” he said. “So what’s happening with mother? Is she ready to meet with your attorneys?” he asked, changing the subject.
“Yes, in fact her attorney and she will be having a preliminary meeting with me tomorrow morning. I am surprised about that but also concerned since she seems a bit eager to get this matter handled” Carlisle added.
“Well I guess you will know tomorrow. What’s on my agenda at work?” he asked. Carlisle advised there were some additional problems with the engines which were sent over from Japan. Although the engineering department took the appropriate tests and have all the data for him, he will have to go over the details. He also told Kent that he would need for him to fly to Japan possibly within a week because of these new problems.
Kent knew that if this engine dilemma could not be handled soon, that he would have to layoff his people again and he certainly did not wish for that to happen. They had only about 500 engines on hand and the assembly area could put together almost 200 vehicles a day. Kent told his father that he would see whether he could work with the engineer in Japan via web meeting so that a possible change in the engine could be made at the Carlisle factory before the new shipment arrived.
It was early morning and Kent left for the factory early. He had not awakened his father in the next room because he felt he needed some sleep before meeting with his mother and her attorney. He called a meeting with all of his engineers in the board room and set up a web-cam meeting with his Japanese counterpart. The meeting was set for 5:00 pm which would be a 14 hour difference or 7:00 am the following day in Japan and two of the top engineers would assist Kent in going over the test information to come to a conclusion. He also called the University of ND for an interpreter to join them.
Carlisle arrived an hour later, realizing his son already had all the engineers in the board room. He was not anxious to see Sandra after the scene at Adelaide’s home. Yet, it was necessary to conclude this matter, especially since Jon was now living with her.
Soon his and Sandra’s attorney arrived, with Sandra trailing behind by five minutes. Since the engineers and Kent were using the board room for their meeting, they unfortunately would have to meet at the table in his office. Each of the attorneys brought paralegals to assist them.
Carlisle’s attorney began the meeting by inquiring as to whether the offer made by Carlisle was acceptable to Susan. She said she felt it was not fair that she did not share in the profits of the company. And because she had bore his son, she felt the entire house should be hers and that included all of the family artifacts since Kent was her son.
Carlisle had enough as she carried on about her difficulties in being a mother and his wife. “Sandra, it is like this. We can take a 50/50 split on everything. You then will have to sell the house you and Jon are living in and give me my share of the equity. The family portraits and artifacts are not from your family’s heritage but from mine. You will not keep those items I have listed. I will accept a compromise, however, since you have indicated more than once about our son’s interests, that he may retain all such items you feel belong to him.”
“As for the company Kent will not remain as the engineer. He is moving to San Francisco where he has secured a position with an Architectural firm. And should you elect to sell the company, I will vacate my position immediately and the factory premises will be shut down unless you wish to operate it yourself. In that case, you will have to determine who you wish to sell the factory to, realizing that the competitor which is in the area will purchase it but absolve our company anyway after using our designs. Or maybe Jon St. Claire has the experience and know-how to run the company. Either way, you decide” he said.
Sandra’s attorney then asked for a short recess where he could converse with his client. Carlisle was angry because he gave her a very sweet deal, considering the circumstances. He felt that if she was sleeping with his former best friend, she should be happy with the residence, which in itself is valued a little over $1,000,000 without the acreage. His attorney calmed him down and advised him he felt certain that it would work out.
After about a half-hour, Carlisle, his attorney and paralegal returned to his office. This time Susan’s attorney agreed that Susan would agree to the terms of the