Books by Karin A Fleischhaker-Griffin
A small town girl finds success - Dedicated to the Dragon Ladies of Welding
Carlisle then excused himself and brought Atari and Madeline to the drawing room where Kent awaited their arrival. He said “Madeline my dear that was a very brave thing to admit in this small town. You know what happened to you was not your fault, I feel you still have blamed yourself and you should not.”
“No Carlisle. I should have admitted it long ago. I really don’t care what anyone thinks about me. I was wrong to not have told Atari long ago. I really did not know her conditions were so impoverished; especially when I paid for her support monthly. Please keep me apprised of my sister’s disposition. I told her that if things are not better between her and Ken, that she should join us in San Francisco”, Madeline stated.
Realizing the Porsche would not be comfortable enough to drive Madeline and Atari to their hotel, Carlisle gave Kent the keys to the Mercedes, since his driver would not be available for the balance of the evening.
When arriving at the vehicle, Atari was told by Madeline that she should sit up front with Kent. She mentioned that she preferred the backseat because she was always a backseat driver, including the limos. At least she made them laugh for a moment. As they drove toward the city she kept the conversation going about the changes she had seen since she had left. Atari remained silent for the trip. She was still feeling badly over the evening’s events especially to the comments made by Gigi.
Once they arrived, Kent asked Atari if she needed a shoulder to lean on. When she refused, Madeline told Kent that it probably would be an excellent idea if he spent some time with her since she probably needed a friend. Atari tried explaining that it was not necessary, to which Kent gave her a look of compassion as he grabbed her hand. Madeline smiled, thanked Kent and then let herself out of the vehicle, heading toward the main door to the hotel.
“Sweetheart, this has been a very life changing day for you” Kent said. “Is there anything I can do for you?”
For some reason, Atari was unable to stop the tears which welled in her eye. Kent told her that he definitely did not wish to leave her in this condition. “I am not good with seeing you cry Atari. The attacks made by the St. Claire family were abominable. Let me park this vehicle so we can go up to your room”. He then proceeded to park his vehicle. As he opened the door to the passenger side, he told Atari that she could decide as to the length of time he would stay but he definitely felt he should walk her to her room. “Beautiful, if you would like to tell me about what is really bothering you, I am here to listen and my shoulders are available. I want to know everything about you and we do not have a lot of time.”
“I don’t know why I am crying Kent. I should be happy because I have such a great opportunity. But my family life has been turned upside down. I wasn’t ready for what happened at your parents’ home. I really do not wish to burden you and I feel I am being ridiculous. I do know that I don’t want to be alone, Kent. Would you please stay with me tonight?” Atari asked. “I just need you to hold me.”
“I would be happy to stay with you Atari if that is what you wish. But please do not be concerned, even if I do, I will not take advantage of you in any way. If I am distant it is not because I do not want you but rather to abide by your wishes. When we finally become one, I do not wish it to be for any reason other than that we love each other. I really hate to see you cry. You must know I love you.” he said.
“Thank you Kent. I love you too. I need a friend to talk to and to hold me. Right now you are my best friend and I do not know what I would have done without you. Are you certain you do not mind?”
“Are you kidding, Atari. I am your friend first and I will be there for you whenever I can. Please understand that” he answered. “Yet I do not wish to be your friend for the now but rather forever”.
When they entered the room, Atari attempted composure. The comments Gigi had made had certainly affected her. Although she had not intended, she relayed various incidents in high school where she was harassed and ridiculed by Gigi and her friends. She was happy to know that she would have an opportunity to begin her designing career, and she loved Madeline from the moment she met her. Yet, she was concerned for her mother who raised her and for all the gossip which surely would begin over her illegitimacy.
Kent held her in his arms comforting her and expressed that she not only had a family who loved her but a multitude of friends and factory workers who loved her as well. That was all that was important. He told her that he would contact her by phone at least weekly if not daily, dependent upon their respective schedules. They would also be able to contact each other by computer web-cam once she was set up in San Francisco.
Wrapped in his arms as she sat on his lap in the arm chair, she fell asleep. He picked her up and laid her on the bed. He then laid beside her, holding her as if he was fearful of losing the most precious gem in his life.
As they slept, there was a knock on Madeline’s door. “Mrs. Dupree, I am Officer Smith. Your sister said I could find you here.”
“What’s wrong? Is my sister okay?”
“M’am, unfortunately she is not. Ken came home in a drunken rage and beat her up. We put him in jail. Your sister is in the hospital with broken bones and lacerations on her face. She has difficulty speaking but was able to ask for you and tell us where to find you. Thank God one of the neighbors called us. Would you like for me to take you to see her?”
“No, I will dress and go there with Atari but thank you. Please tell me what room she is in.” The officer gave her the information and left.
Madeline quickly dressed and knocked on the door to the adjoining room where Atari and Kent were fast asleep.
Kent opened the door half dazed and it was obvious to Madeline that they were both dressed. She told Kent what had happened as Atari listened while sitting on the bed. He gave Madeline a comforting hug and said that he would need just a few moments to splash some water on his face to awaken. He motioned for her to come into the room and be seated while he and Atari individually headed toward the restroom. “Madeline, I can see you are in no condition to drive at this hour nor do I wish for Atari to drive. I will be more than happy to take you and Atari to the hospital.
Once she washed her face, Atari frantically changed into a pair of jeans and a top, not caring whether or not Kent or Madeline was in the room. But neither noticed her because Kent was holding Madeline in his arms as she was sobbing out loud. Soon they left for the hospital.
Kent stayed in the waiting room of the hospital as the women ran toward Adelaide’s room.
“Adelaide, darling, I am so sorry this happened to you” Madeline stated. “It is my fault”.
“No, Madeline” she stated in deliberate tones, “it would have happened sooner or later because Ken was only concerned about the money. He never cared about me”. She then dozed off as the pain medication set in. The nurse advised Madeline and Atari that she had broken ribs, a broken arm as well as facial bruising and cuts.
Atari started to cry “Mother, I never wished for this to happen to you. It is my fault” as she placed her arms around Adelaide.
Madeline then gently pulled Atari away from the bed. “Atari, I will stay with Adelaide and when she awakens, I will get you. This was not your fault. As soon as you would have left home and the checks would have stopped, this would have happened anyway. I am sorry but I tried telling Adelaide to leave him. Try to get some sleep in the waiting room. Kent indicated he would wait for you.
“Aunt Madeline, it is not your fault either. My father has never been good to mother and I feared this would happen one day due to his temper. It is his fault and I love you” Atari said.
As she made her way to the waiting room, Kent stood up and grabbed her hand asking whether she was okay. She stated that he must think poorly of her family under the circumstances. “I really appreciate that you stayed with me tonight and for bringing us to the hospital. I am so embarrassed about this entire situation and I am surprised that you just didn’t leave us. This certainly has not been a good evening for you.”
“Sweetheart, I would rather be with you than anywhere. Please do not be concerned” he said.
“What a horrible second date this has been for you. Seriously, you really do not have to stay. You look so tired. We will be fine” she said as she caressed his cheeks and kissed his forehead.
He then grabbed her hands and placed them in his palms. “I hardly think poorly of your family Atari. I learned a lot this evening. I learned that my father has retained confidences for years; that he has always loved Madeline but has never acted on it for the respect of my mother; I love that you are so sincere and loving and I could go on for hours about the things I love about you. It was my pleasure to be with you my dear Atari. I have called father and he will take my appointments today. I will stay here for as long as you need me” he said.
Atari had tears of joy in her eyes. No one had ever shown her this type of consideration. As he extended his hand to her, she then sat next to Kent. Soon she placed her head on his shoulder as he held her in his arm. Now she would have to wait for further word that her mother had awakened.
It was about 7:00 am when the nurse called Atari to Adelaide’s room and Madeline took a needed break to the public restroom. Adelaide had finally agreed to move to San Francisco with Atari as soon as she was well enough to travel. In the meantime, Madeline had decided to have Adelaide’s personal belongings packed so they likewise could be shipped. Ken would not be released from jail yet, pending whether charges would be made against him by his wife.
Kent advised Madeline that he would get some coffee and rolls at a nearby convenience store and would be right back. Madeline told him she would remain in the lobby because she had more than one phone call to make.
She was determined to move her sister away from here. If something had not been packed for her, it could be replaced. Fortunately Atari still had a key to the house so she could allow the packers in.
She also contacted her attorney who was still asleep. She asked whether he could commence divorce proceedings for her sister before he flew back. Since he could not represent her in Minnesota, he said that he could either refer a local attorney to assist her or that her sister could fly to Las Vegas to get a divorce.
Madeline apologized for awakening him and thanked him for flying out to handle her dilemma. She said she probably should allow her sister to make the decision and he agreed. He had always known Madeline to call at any hour if something was on her mind, so this was not a new event. He rolled over and went back to sleep for an extra hour because he would not be flying out until early afternoon.
By the time Kent returned to the hospital parking lot, he could see various media trucks in front of the hospital. He immediately called the police department and advised that the family of Madeline Dupree would need some protection. He knew that although Madeline Dupree was a celebrity designer, someone must have provided the media with dirt, and he felt he knew exactly who would have done so. He dashed to the front door of the hospital as the camera men began to follow him in.
Madeline had just completed her calls when she noticed the crowd of reporters entering the hospital doors. Kent with coffee in one hand and his remaining arm wrapped around Madeline, he guided her down the hall as reporters were asking her about her illegitimate daughter. Another reporter asked what part Kent Stevens played in this situation and another asked about her sister’s condition. Sirens could be heard as they finally made it to Adelaide’s room.
“What’s wrong? Is there a problem?” Atari inquired.
“Someone contacted the media, Atari, and the entire lobby is filled with TV personnel. No one really knew Madeline was in town because she came a week earlier so obviously someone at the Stevens’ house contacted them” Kent stated.
After he had passed everyone coffee and rolls he asked whether he may use Adelaide’s room phone. “Good Morning Mother. Do you know anything about the media following Madeline around?” he asked.
“Oh, did they find Madeline?” she said.
“Mother, that answer sounds like you actually contacted them” Kent stated
“Darling, don’t be upset. Madeline is a celebrity and Gigi and her Mom thought it would be great to get some publicity for our town. They were at our house early this morning and interviewed each of us. We contacted them after you had left. Of course, I did not mention the illegitimate daughter portion exactly. Gigi assisted with that. We are all going to be in the celebrity rag as well as the newswire. They took our photographs. Our town will be on the map” Sandra stated.
“What did father have to say about it?”
“Well dear for some reason he was upset. Jon St. Claire and he left the house immediately and I do not know where they went. Gigi and her mom are still here. Do you wish to talk to Gigi?” Sandra stated.
“No, I do not. I cannot believe you did this especially when Madeline told you she specifically had left a week earlier than planned because she did not wish the media chasing her. No one knew about her family and she wished to keep it private”, Kent said.
“Well she seems so hoity-toity and someone should know. If she slept around she should pay the consequences. I heard after they arrived the police arrested Atari’s father for beating up Adelaide. That is a family you need to stay away from dear” she said.
“I won’t even take that under advisement mother. I am very disappointed in all of you” he said.
Soon thereafter Carlisle walked into the room. “I am really sorry Madeline that the women in my home decided to contact the media. I am stunned and I cannot even begin to tell you how disgusted I am”, he said.
“Carlisle, you have been a friend of mine for years. I know this is not your fault and I should have owned up to it long ago. I do not wish for you to be involved, but I believe I should answer to the media. I will go out there and address their comments. Atari, do you wish to stay with Adelaide?”
“No, mother, I will meet with the media also and stand by your side” she said.
“And I will go with the two of you for support, since they already have realized I am associated with Madeline” said Kent. “Father, please stay here with Adelaide because you do not need any further publicity. I assume you were not seen when you arrived?”
“No, I came through a back door when I saw the vehicles” Carlisle stated. He then grabbed Kent and whispered in his ear “Madeline was a virgin when she was raped. This was not her fault. Do what you can without indicating that if she is placed in a bad predicament” he stated.
It was then that Madeline, Atari and Kent went toward the lobby to meet with the reporters who the police were keeping at bay.
“Gentlemen and ladies; Good morning! I am Madeline Dupree as you already know and now that I know my sister is safely recuperating, I am ready to speak with each of you.”
She continued, “I know you may have many questions so I will provide you the opportunity to make your inquiries only after I have given you a statement. First I would like to introduce you to my daughter, Atari” she said. All the cameras then were flashing. “Although I have supported her throughout the years, she had no knowledge that I was her natural mother.”
“Years ago, I had elected not to marry her natural father who my sister loved. It was then that we made a contractual arrangement whereby my daughter would be raised by my sister and her husband until she reached the age of eighteen. My sister was unable to conceive a child so it seemed like the best solution. In the meantime, I would pursue my career as a fashion designer and provide a means of support for my daughter.”
“I arrived here a couple of days ago after my sister wrote a letter stating that my daughter Atari had a special interest in becoming a fashion designer. Since I have the means with which to assist Atari so she is able to receive the education she requires as well as an opportunity to work under me in my fashion house, I felt it was best to take her back to San Francisco at this time” Madeline stated.
“Ms. Dupree, I understand her father is incarcerated for beating up your sister. Is that correct? Was this a love triangle in the old days”
“Yes, it is unfortunately true that my sister Adelaide was brutalized by her husband. It has been difficult for him to see me take his daughter away after she had lived with him all of these years. And he apparently could not understand why my sister had contacted me relating to my assisting Atari in her career. As you are aware, gentlemen and ladies, alcoholism is a disease. This is not the circumstances of a love triangle and I am sorry to disappoint you. It was a bad night of mistakes so long ago. I will see to it that he is helped if that is what my sister and he may desire.”
But do you condone that type of treatment? I understand he has spent most of his life drinking at the local taverns and if you have provided support, it certainly has not been obvious in the manner in which they have lived. And no one has yet pressed charges.”
That is an unfortunate situation which may be rectified soon. Whether charges are imposed is up to my sister and she has not yet made such a decision. I had not realized the conditions by which my sister and Atari were subjected to and had I known, I would have been here sooner. Understand I was bound by the contract I had made with her father and my sister. And I have asked my sister to join me in San Francisco as well, but only if she wishes to do so.”
“Kent Stevens, this question is for you. How are you involved in this situation? You seem to know Madeline.”
Kent then placed his arm around Atari. “It may be obvious now gentlemen and ladies, but the reason I am involved is because of my love interest in Atari. Although I realize it will be difficult to continue a long distance relationship, Madeline Dupree has assured me that I am welcome to court her daughter; that is if Atari will have me?”
As Atari smiled at him and grabbed his hand a reporter asked “How do you feel about this Atari?” All the time, flashes from cameras continued.
“Although I have great concern for the mother who raised me and look for her ready recuperation, I am extremely happy to know that I have a successful natural mother whose interests I obviously have shadowed. I never realized fashion designing was genetic but obviously it must be because I had no knowledge of Madeline Dupree except with respect to the multiple fashion magazines I have read.” The reporters laughed. “And if you are inquiring as to my feelings about Kent Stevens, well I have to admit I will look forward to his every visit while I am residing in San Francisco.”
“But are you able to place your difficult life behind you?” one of the reporters stated
“Contrary to popular belief, I have not suffered by what many of you may consider my life to have been meager or impoverished. It made me stronger and allowed me an opportunity to do a lot with very little. That’s an opportunity in itself and it makes one use all of the mental faculties which may be inherent. I have been given the appropriate tools in which to fashion my own life as a caring and dynamic individual who has never been happy to be second best.”
“As to my new relationship with Kent Stevens, I am fortunate that he has stood by me while I have been criticized for my lack of wealth and for the unfortunate parents who have raised me. It shows his excellent character of seeing beyond that which the average individual perceives as certainly not posh.’
Atari then continued “I am elated that he wishes to continue our relationship even though we will be miles apart. His place is here at his father’s side and that comes first. We respect each other’s professional pursuits. Yet you never know, maybe I may be able to start a new fashion house in this area after I complete my education. Should you question why I would have chosen to work in a factory after high school, I enjoyed the time I spent at the Steven’s factory. It not only gave me a means of support and money for school but it is where I had met Kent. And obviously Kent has his father’s exceptional attributes.”
Atari continued “I hope this answers your questions Gentlemen because frankly, I did not know that it was a problem to be impoverished. Had I been provided a lot of money and been raised by Madeline, I may not have had the values I have today. After all, everything my mother, Madeline did was due to her own dynamics and not handed to her. I believe God does things for us and not to us. My destiny is of utmost perfection because she has extended her hand to me. I look forward to being one of the best designers in the country with my natural mother’s help. And hopefully her sister, the mother who raised me, may join us in San Francisco. Adelaide is talented as well and I only want the best for her. Again, it’s obviously in the genes…not the jeans I am wearing” as Atari laughed and everyone joined her.
The reporters then asked Madeline about her fall Paris collection which will be shown in July and whether she could provide them with a sneak preview of what was new in the fashion world. She smiled and said “You know that I cannot do that. In fact when Atari returns, she may also be including some of her designs so until I have determined my entire collection, I would rather not discuss it at this time.”
“Ms. Dupree you realize Fashion week is just three weeks away” one of the reporters commented. By this time the media seemed to enjoy the conversations about the fashion world with Madeline and Atari who each discussed their various designs and how they each began designing.
Kent was extremely proud of Atari in the manner in which she spoke to the press. Even though she was in a pair of jeans and a tee-shirt, with no sleep, she was beautiful and talented abound. In fact, one of the reporters inquired whether Atari with her sculptured features may also be modeling some of Madeline’s clothing line.
It was then that one of the reporters noticed Carlisle Stevens standing near the lobby. “Mr. Stevens, can you tell me why your spouse and her friends contacted the media? Mind you, we are grateful for this story.”
“I hate to say it, but I believe it has to do with my son Kent. You see, Atari went to school with his long time friend Gigi St. Claire who I understand a reporter met with this morning. When Kent showed his interests for Atari this evening for the first time, Gigi became upset and talked her mother and my wife into contacting the media for a great story. Yet, it was not as if Madeline had hidden the fact that Atari was her daughter. I have known it for years and I too have looked over Atari on Madeline’s behalf. In fact, my wife and I had the pleasure of staying at Madeline’s home on Nob Hill a few years back and our families have been friends for years. It is amazing what a love triangle will do. See, there is a triangle but it has noting to do with Madeline” he stated as the reporters laughed. He then continued, “But after meeting Atari, who I find has many of her natural mother’s fine attributes I can say that I believe my son has made a wonderful choice in Atari. He resembles Atari in that he has an excellent eye and he only settles for the best. They shall make a wonderful couple.”
Does that mean that Kent and Atari will be married soon? What do you say Atari?
“I have no comment at this time” said Atari.
“I have not asked her yet, gentlemen and ladies, but you can be assured that now that I have found her, I will not let her go alone in life without me” said Kent.
“Now if you do not mind, I believe Madeline and Atari need time to be refreshed because they have been here all night and have some packing to do. I and my son also need showers and shaves, but only after all of us get something to eat. I hope that we have assisted you in straightening up this love triangle” said Carlisle “so we can have a nice private breakfast alone.”
Everyone thanked the Stevens’ men and Dupree women for their time. The media seemed to disperse at once and the police officers were relieved. Carlisle Stevens gave each of the officers some cash and thanked them for responding so quickly.
“Okay, Kent, I will need to go with you because Jon St. Claire dropped me off at the hospital and you have my Mercedes. Why don’t we go to the ladies’ hotel and we can get some breakfast. Thereafter, you and I can go to your apartment Kent to freshen up. This time, you will have to provide me with a change of clothes” and he laughed. “Then I’ll take you back to Atari’s house so you can help them pack. I need to handle some things for the two of us at the office. Madeline can take you to the house later to pick up your Porsche, if that’s okay with you, Madeline?” Madeline indicated that she would be happy to do so.
“Great plan father! Is that okay with you girls to be stuck with me for the day?”
“Absolutely” they both said in unison.
In the meantime, Kent, since you do not have to go to Japan for another two weeks, perhaps you would like to help the girls by taking them and their belongings to San Francisco. I will not need the Lear Jet, so I will contact the hanger and get it readied. You will have to tell me the exact time you will be leaving so I can give the information to the pilot. Right now he is on standby.”