“My family would adore you. Are you kidding? I do know about your family situation Atari, but that has nothing to do with my still wanting to know more about you. I understand you stay by yourself a lot. From what I have learned you hope to be a fashion designer and are working to save money for school” he explained. “Most tell me that you are one of the most intelligent young women in this town and you are currently writing a book”.
“Does that mean you were checking on me?” she asked with a grin.
“No, quite the contrary…. Your friend Susan apparently has indicated to Brad that you are a hopeless dreamer about becoming a designer and an author. That information seemed to have made its way to friends of mine. It’s amazing how fast things spread through 1800 employees. So when I mentioned your name, they advised me that you were only planning to work here until you had enough money to go to school. I think that is quite admirable. I know you work all the time and I just would like to see you enjoy yourself for once…and preferably with me. I can’t lie. I am attracted to you and I have not been able to get you out of my mind.”
The bell started to ring and Atari knew that it was time to go back into the factory building. She was shocked at his last comment and was afraid to respond. She started to move away from him using the bell as an excuse, when he grabbed her hand and gently kissed it. “Atari, please do the honor of joining me for dinner on Saturday night. I will pick you up at your home at approximately 5:00 pm. Please wear one of your designer dresses as we will be going out of town to a formal restaurant? Will that be okay with you? Will you accept?”
“Yes, I accept! How could one refuse such an eloquent invitation? Do you have my address?” she asked.
“I know where your dad lives and I understand you currently live with your parents. I will find you. Thank you, Atari, for finally accepting my invitation. I look forward to seeing you then.” They each left in their separate directions after he gave her a wink.
She really did not know why she had accepted his invitation but somehow she knew it was because she was highly attracted to him. And it seemed as though the two times she fell into his arms there seemed to be an electrical field holding them together which could not be ignored. Yet she was dedicated to be a designer in spite of others feeling it is just a pipe dream. She was pleased that Kent seemed supportive of her dream and he was not as forward as some of the men in the plant. He was pleasing and well mannered as well as one of the hottest men she had seen in a pair of tight jeans and a tee-shirt.
As she came running through the door, Susan asked where she had disappeared to. She explained she just needed some time to herself because she was having a bad day. This was not the first time Atari left to some obscure corner to be alone so Susan did not question the matter further. Instead she proceeded to let Atari know that Brad asked her out Friday evening for dinner at the local casino; to which Atari congratulated her and said it was about time they were on a real date.
As Atari worked at her station, she noticed her supervisor Ron Jenkins was watching her. Seeing her notice, he then motioned for her to take a break from the next run and talk to him. As she stood in front of him, he advised her that he knew where she had disappeared to and with whom. When Atari asked him what he was talking about, he exclaimed abruptly “You know who and what I am talking about. You feel no one in this plant is good enough for you including me. Yet, this playboy obviously is getting his way with you.”
“Ron, I never felt that you or anyone else was or is beneath me. I elected not to date anyone in the factory because it is usually not a good practice. I also do not chase after the men in the office. Everyone gossips about everything. With my parent’s situation, personally, I do not believe I really wish to be serious with anyone. I do not intend to stay in this town. I just wish to have friends”
“But you sure followed him out the door today. What were you doing? Necking?” Ron asked.
“As to Kent getting his way with me, I have refused his invitations for dinner more than once. I have not seen him for two weeks and today we conversed as friends. That is all that has happened” she said.
“Well, Atari, he certainly has you fooled. Ever since the day he met you with those new parts, he has been inquiring about you. In fact, the story upstairs is that he refused to join his parents and the St. Claire’s on a recent trip because of you. I can tell you, Atari, if you do not wise up, he will be the one to hurt you”, Ron warned. “He is known for his hot women and cars and neither matter to him in the end.”
“Please do not worry Ron. I have a dream which most of you do not believe in. I wish to be a fashion designer and I am not about to give my dream up for anyone. But unlike the rest of you, it is nice to have someone like Kent who believes I may become a fashion designer and who gives me his support.”
“But with his money and charm, you most likely will fall for him and then he will drop you like a hot potato, which is his modes’ operandi” Ron warned further.
“Ron, what is it that is not understood? I do not wish nor am I looking for a permanent relationship. I do not wish for anyone to fall for me because I have commitment issues. I, myself, do not wish to hurt anyone, especially you, and it is possible. That is why I will not date someone who may be looking for someone to be with for the rest of their lives” she said.
“Then the two of you will be happy shagging each other without a worry” and he stomped off, indicating his anger.
Fortunately in the next couple of days, the story of her meeting Kent was not relayed by Ron to any of the other factory workers. She was tired and looked forward to a quiet evening with her mother, because most likely her father would be at the Rusty Pail.
Once she had prepared dinner she started to read some of her fashion magazines. She had decided to dress elegantly for her date with Kent but was uncertain as to how she would fix her long red hair to match the evening dress she had designed. She was elated that he asked her to wear one of her designs.
It was 4:00 pm and she had just enjoyed a leisurely bath. She cascaded her long red hair to one side with an ornamental barrette. For the first time in weeks she decided to wear makeup.
She felt it would be fun to look like a cover girl for once and forget for one evening that she worked in a factory. The black evening dress she had chosen had a flowing draped skirt and from the waistline, the material criss-crossed over the front of her bodice with a perfect x covering her subtle breasts. The material then draped over her shoulders into another x on her back. Other than the area of her bust, there were small braided ties holding in the fabric at different intervals to make the material gather and flow and then gather again. The waistline in the front was defined with a large black sequined band which held the bodice material in place. This band decreased in size as it reached the back of her skirt. She wore a black choker with rhinestones to accentuate her dress. She also threw on a large flowing shawl made in the same material as her dress. It was then that the doorbell rang.
“Mom, don’t worry, I will get the door” she said as she ran down the stairways.
When she opened the doors, she was not sorry that she had chosen a more elegant dress for the evening. She was only concerned because it exposed much of her skin on the sides and in the back.
Kent was wearing a black Tux with a black bowtie, over a white pleated shirt. He looked extremely handsome and his cologne was amazing.
He stood at the door in what appeared to be shock on his face. He finally found his voice and gave her a huge grin. “I knew you were beautiful just in ordinary jeans and a shirt but what I see before me is unbelievably amazing. You are absolutely beautiful. Is that a dress you designed?
Yes, it is one of the dresses I elected to drape. I hoped you would feel it was appropriate for your plans to dine this evening” she said.
“Actually, your look is that of perfection. We have reservations at the casino’s restaurant. Unless we drive to Grand Forks, it’s the most formal restaurant in the area. Although I had not previously mentioned it to you, a couple of the sales reps and their wives are staying at the Casino hotel. Since it is good business for one of the Stevens men to take them out, I likewise have invited them to join us. I hope you do not mind. As beautiful as you are, I really am anxious for them to meet you. I have met their wives before and you will get along famously with them” he said. “You aren’t upset with me are you, Atari?”
“Absolutely not Kent; I look forward to meeting your associates and their spouses. Yet, please do not judge me on my appearances alone. There’s a lot more to me than what you see.”
“I certainly am realizing that Atari, even in your manner of speech. But let’s face it; one becomes so totally engrossed in your beauty that one even forgets how to talk. Let’s face it. It happened to me this evening” he said.
The balance of the drive became easy after a bit of laughter. They decided that they would direct at least 20 questions about each other so that his associates would not realize it was their first date. They found they enjoyed many of the same activities, music and arts. They found they both had an air of sarcasm which they intimately found enjoyable and humorous to each other. It was as if they had known each other all of their lives.
When they finally reached the casino, he told her to wait while he opened the passenger side door. As he did and he helped her out of her seat, he asked whether he may kiss her. She said “Yes” and gracefully fell into his arms and responded delightfully to his lips. They held each other tight as each caressed the other’s backs and shoulders while engaging in a passionate kiss that lasted for minutes. Finally, he pulled back and said “Beautiful, we can’t go any further or we will never make it into the casino to dine. Do you mind if I have a cigarette so I can think about something else?”
“May I also have one of your cigarettes? I really don’t smoke that much either but for some reason, I really need one and possibly I may need to pace.”
They laughed as they both paced the parking lot smoking cigarettes and laughing at almost nothing at all. Others who walked by them in the parking lot thought they were inebriated. She then found her lipstick and applied it while looking into the vehicle mirror. Then he placed his arm around her and escorted her to the dining area where his two reps had just arrived with their wives.
One of the wives, Kathy, really took a liking to Atari immediately. She mentioned that she had previously met Kent’s former lady friend Gigi who had treated her as an inferior. She mentioned it was the worse evening she and her husband Todd had.
Terri also mentioned she had not looked forward to dining with Kent and Gigi. She had even told her husband Bill that she had a headache and really did not wish to go to dinner. She said she was happy that when Bill persuaded to go, she saw that Kent was escorting someone new.
Atari laughed and told Kathy and Terri that she certainly understood. She explained that she had attended the same high school as Gigi and how she continually was harassed and picked on because her family was not wealthy.
Kathy mentioned that Gigi was probably jealous of her because she could not match Atari’s beauty both inside and out. At that point Atari gave Kathy a huge hug for her appreciative words. It was nice to meet new people who were not from the area. In Atari belief, it had to be the perfect date and business meeting.
Finally everyone retired to the casino to do some serious slot machine gambling. “The casino, as you know is owned by an Indian Tribe and does not have the same high stake betting as the casinos in Las Vegas, but at least it is entertainment” Kent mentioned.
It was an opening for Bill and Todd to start telling each other tales about their last visit to the strip while Kent gave Atari a handful of tokens so she could play the slot machines with the ladies. She wasn’t much of a gambler but accepted the tokens knowing it was what he wished her to do while he still conducted business with the men.
She had not gambled previously but loved to play poker so decided she would try a poker slot machine. She was pleased because not only did she still have the original tokens he gave her but she had won an additional $30.00.
After his reps and their wives decided to retire, she gave her cashed-in winnings to Kent. Shocked, he told her to keep the money because he did not expect her to return it since it was part of the evening’s entertainment. It was at that moment that Ron Jenkins and four of his friends from the factory noticed them. It was obvious that the five men were totally inebriated but Ron was really horrid. “You little whore; you are now accepting money for tricks?” he said as the others grinned and made hand, tongue and facial gestures.
Kent was ready to take him down when she placed her hand on his chest and shook her head “No”. She then went up to Ron and asked him who he was calling a whore when he knew she has not dated anyone since her junior year in high school.
He said “Because you are going out with a jerk like him who just uses women and he now has just paid you. You’ll sleep with anyone for money now just to become some fashion dyke”.
“You have to be kidding, Ron. Look at him. Do you think he would have to pay anyone for sex? And by the way Ron, he is just returning my winnings which he paid for in the first place. Secondly, it’s none of your business if I do decide to have sex with Kent. But finally, and most importantly, he is the owner’s son and I think you owe both of us an apology before you have to feel badly about the situation when you get back to work on Monday. I know you need the job and I know you surely did not mean what you just said” she told him.
Ron then approached Kent and apologized to him and then to Atari as she joined Kent at his side. He finally admitted to Kent that he was jealous of him because he had wanted to date Atari since she had started at the factory but she had paid no attention to anyone other than him. He also apologized for calling Kent a jerk and Atari a whore.
Kent was still a bit hot under the collar. And if he had not been with such an angel, he probably would have decked Ron just for pure enjoyment.
Atari could sense his muscles tense and she started to massage his back. She then whispered “It will be okay. It will be forgotten on Monday, Right?” He turned toward her and pulled her next to him. He kissed her on the forehead, holding her ever so closely in his arms.
“Ron, I expect that you will be sober when you return to work on Monday, right? Kent asked. After Ron nodded, he then said “We will forget this evening’s displeasure. I will place it behind me and we will never discuss it again. By the way you are fortunate you have a guardian angel in Atari because I cannot believe that I have not already decked you or considered firing you at the slightest opportunity at work. Yes, I have been known to be a jerk, but it is not my intent to hurt Atari. Have good evening gentlemen!”
Atari then placed her arms around Kent and her lips searched for his but not for long. He gave her one of the most passionate kisses she had ever experienced in the middle of the casino floor with many of its patrons clapping. “Ah beautiful” will you walk out just a little ahead of me until I can get little Kent under control. You can’t keep doing this to me in public.” They both then laughed hysterically as they made their way out of the casino doors toward the parking lot.
Once they were seated in his Porsche, he told Atari that he needed to talk to her. He said that Ron was correct and that he had always treated women poorly. He explained that he was extremely selective and became bored with the relationships within a very short period of time.
Atari explained that she had commitment issues, possibility associated with the manner in which her parents lived. She explained how important education was to her and how she had hoped to be a fashion designer and that was her primary focus. Since she had only been out of high school for a little over eleven months, she felt it was ridiculous to not take advantage of what the world had to offer. She was not ready to settle.
Kent then said “I love the fact that you have a vision unlike so many of the females in this town who do not have a plan. If I would not have seen one of them for two weeks, after initially asking them out, they would have been hanging on my office door. Yet, I could see, it did not affect you. You were not playing games or acting hard-to-get to get some man, especially the owner’s son to take care of their needs. You just are. Many of the women I met in college went there, only to find a man for most part. That is why I find you refreshing. I find you to be honest, intelligent and interesting without some unbelievable agenda.”
“I appreciate that, Kent, because, as you know, I am naturally attracted to you, but I have commitment issues. I know that I am very cautious about getting fully involved with anyone…and unfortunately, that also means you Kent, because I am uncertain if I am good partner material. Especially since I have not yet achieve those things which I wish in the world” she said.
“We can take our relationship slowly, Atari and at whatever speed you wish. Yet, if I may inquire, why is it that you have difficulty in committing?” he asked.
“My parents don’t even have a thing to say to each other. My friends only have other people to talk about or what happens at work. Outside of work there does not appear to be anything to talk about. I find that happens when I go out with my friends. There has to be more in life and I will not commit to someone I feel is boring and who I could never love.”
“I sensed that in you Atari and surprisingly, I get bored easily with women and obviously have a commitment issue myself. That is why I wish to take our relationship slowly. I could easily get wrapped up in you but I want you for more than just a beautiful play thing. I want to explore your mind, your heart and your soul as you should explore everything about me.”
“But Kent, this sounds as if we are going a bit fast” Atari mentioned.
“Mind you, I do not wish to frighten you because it is sounding like I am making a commitment; but I feel that if we both decide that we are meant for each other, we can pass the test of time while still enjoying each other’s company. That is why, as difficult as it is to keep my hands off of you after kissing you, I feel that is as far as we should go for a while” he said. “I wish to know you better and as friends. I know it will not be long before we will be able to support each other’s dreams.”
“Thank you Kent for addressing this. You cannot imagine how relieved I am. I honestly can admit that I feel something for you that I have not felt with anyone else. But I am young and I have time. But, really, we have to stop kissing like that!” she said. “Or perhaps we should not be so agreeable with each other”.
“You have that right. Sometimes I feel this way only hearing your voice, so I guess I have to work on the issue of little Kent. And I apologize if I am so bold but unfortunately I am embarrassed to say my animal instincts are noticeable when I am with you. I can honestly tell you this first date has been the most important one in my life. I have been known to show animalistic instincts on a first date, but it is usually with someone who provoked the issue and threw themselves at me. Yet, here I am acting in this manner when there has been no real provocation on your part” he said.
“I have been more than willing to give myself to you and that even concerns me. Tonight, I am pleased we were able to discuss these issues and perhaps we can stop each other from going further until we are both ready” she said.
“I love you Atari and I have a feeling it will not be long and I will be in-love with you” he said with a look of passion in his eyes..
“Ooohh, please do not look at me in that way. You need to take me home before we do something which is not meant to be. I love you too and we will see where this goes” she said.
Atari knew that Ron or some of the men he was with had mentioned seeing her and Kent at the Casino. She could tell by the manner in which they looked at her, laughing as though there was some major secret they knew.
Although her mother had not inquired as to who she had been dating, her father mentioned how pleased he was that a Stevens had his eye on her. “It would serve the Stevens right for their son to end up marrying my daughter” he said.
Apparently the story was all over the Rusty Pail. But what was more interesting today was that her aunt who she had never met had written a letter to her parents. She mentioned she would be in town in the following week. She told them to not be concerned about providing hospitality because she would be staying at the Holiday Inn. She likewise would be leasing a vehicle for her travel in the area.
Her mother had never spoken about her sister except that her sister lived in San Francisco and they were estranged. Atari wondered if that was why her mother was concerned when she wished to go to school in San Francisco. Yet she did not even know her aunt’s name and the information had only been relayed to her after the letter was received. She only knew that her aunt’s name was “Madeline from the signature”.
Susan arrived at work crying. Apparently her dinner with Brad on Friday had not gone so well. The reason he invited her was to tell her that his current girlfriend no longer wished for him to see her. He had said “I explained to her that we were just friends and had been friends since high school. Being with you was like being with one of the guys.”
Susan said that she then became quite upset because their friendship had always been with benefits. To tell her this over dinner made her feel as though she had just been used and that was more than she could handle. She told Atari that she had to hold back tears while he just ranted about how sexy his new girlfriend was. “In fact, his girlfriend came by an hour later to introduce herself” Susan said “and then she decided to join us at the restaurant. I didn’t know what to do so I made an excuse that I had a text from you and I really had to go.” Susan then started to weep.
“Susan, it will not be easy but please pull your self together! You are very pretty and are young enough to have some fun before settling down. You do not need to be treated like that and obviously he has no respect for you. If he wished friendship, it should not have been with benefits or he should have told you sooner that he did not feel that way about you” she said. “And, to say you were like one of the guys, perhaps he is bi-sexual. I always wondered.” As Susan then showed a bit of a smile, Atari cautioned her that she really needed to pretend she was happy before the entire plant got wind of the situation.
“Anyway, you should be happy. You found out what type of person he was before your relationship became serious. At least you are not going through a divorce” Atari stated to which Susan gave her a slight nod in agreement. Then Atari gave her a hug and held her for a few moments while Susan reached some form of composure.
Ron then approached the girls to tell Atari that she needed to go up to the HR office. He didn’t seem to question why the two women were in each other’s arms hugging each other. When she asked him why she had to go to the office, he shrugged his shoulders. From his reaction, he obviously had no idea. He stated he was just relaying what he was told.
When she arrived at the HR office she noticed Carlisle Stevens was standing at the door, speaking to a very well dressed woman. It appeared they were friends because the conversation was one of enjoyment and laughter.
When Carlisle noticed she was approaching, Atari was asked to be seated while he excused himself and escorted the HR person outside of the door so Atari and this female could have a moment alone together.
“I know this may seem confusing to you Atari. First let me introduce myself, I am Madeline Dupree. I was not expected until next week but I decided to arrive earlier because I did not desire publicity.”
“Madeline Dupree? You design haute couture and own the Dupree House of Fashion in San Francisco? Atari inquired.
“Yes that is who I am known professionally as, but I am actually your mother’s sister” she said. “I am here to meet you and to address a further issue with your father and my sister” Madeline stated.
“I am curious why you did not refer to yourself as my aunt. But more importantly, I am curious as to why my mother has never mentioned you by name. In fact I did not even know my aunt was the famous Madeline Dupree. And may I inquire what issue you have with my father?” she asked.
“I can see where this would be extremely perplexing to you. I am your natural mother, Atari. Your father who was an upper classman of mine impregnated me. In fact he and Carlisle Stevens were in the same grade in high school and good friends. I realized my sister loved your father and I did not. Our family did not believe in abortions nor did I”, Madeline explained.
“Well, why did you not marry my father?” Atari asked.
“I desired a career so I did not accept your father’s proposal of marriage. So my sister and I moved to San Francisco until you were delivered. Shortly thereafter she married your father and moved back to Minnesota where they introduced you as their child. I remained in San Francisco where I became a freelance designer and later upon many runway successes, a good friend of mine assisted me in opening my haute couture Dupree House of Fashion.” Madeline stated.
“Why are you now telling me this?” asked Atari. No one would have been the wiser, nor would I have.”
“My sister, Adelaide, recently wrote me about your desire to become a fashion designer. And although I was told never to show up here, by your father, you are now 18 years of age and should know that I am your mother. I allowed full