Thursday, September 15, 2016

One More Cup Of Coffee ... Part 4

One More Cup Of Coffee ... Part 4

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, places, or actual events is purely coincidental.

As days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, Maggie Fontainebleau and I became lovers. At first, she was reluctant to let me out of my room, preferring, instead, to visit me there for evening meals, idle conversation of what had transpired over the course of her day at Lonnegan's Diner, and several hours of sexual play, the likes of which I had never experienced before. Over time, I earned her trust, and she released me from my prison.

"Pendleton Park has been the home of my family for endless generations," she began as we toured the sweeping rooms and lawns of a one-time cotton plantation. "Sadly, I am the last of the Fontainebleau line. I will most likely die without an heir, and then whose to say what will happen to dis lovely home."

"It is quite beautiful," I offered as we moved from room to room, some of which were now mostly inhospitable and empty of any furniture or possessions.

"I've had to sell off most of the antiques to maintain just a small portion of the great hall," she would say with a dire look in her face. "Da damn taxes are more than enough to force me into bankruptcy."

I could tell that revisiting parts of the estate troubled her, returning her thoughts to what I suspected were better days. Eventually, her fatigue overcame her, and we cut the tour short. Only later, when she was working, would I completely scour the entire plantation to find, at long last, the south garage where my car was stored and covered with a large grey tarp. I never did find my car keys, my wallet or most of my personal effects. I suspected she had squirreled them away, most likely somewhere away from Pendleton.

This is not to imply that I had any intention of leaving Pendleton or Maggie Fontainebleau. I saw in this manor home an opportunity for a new life, and I had convinced Maggie Fontainebleau that I was in love with her.

Just three months after our first night together, Maggie Fontainebleau and I were married in a quiet service on the back lawn of Pendleton Park. The ceremony was performed by a Baptist preacher from a distant county, the Reverend Charles Murdoch Lincoln, and was attended by a clerk and their respective wives. Afterwards, we drank champagne and ate croissants. It was, by all accounts, a lovely day, and Maggie was happier than I had ever seen her.

And so, it came as quite a surprise when I began to sense that Maggie was likely growing tired of me. She began to stay longer and longer at the diner, and when she returned home late in the night, she would complain that Lonnegan's was short-staffed and the restaurant was as "busy as a bee in Flowertown." I knew better. She had become unfaithful.

"You leave me here alone, all day, and now most of the night," I complained one evening. "What's going on that I don't know about?"

"There's nothing," she insisted. "Nothing at all. It's just the work. I must work to survive and keep Pendleton."

"It's not work," I insisted. "You are seeing someone else."

"I am not. I assure you, Mistah Bryce Hoskins, I am not."

"I don't believe you."

"As you wish. I don't much care either way."

"I am coming with you tomorrow to the diner. I want to see for myself."

"No, you are not. You will ruin everything. Your family ..."

"What?" I cut her off with a bark. "What about my family?"

"They have been looking for you. They have traced you all the way down to Tallahassee. There are flyers with your photograph posted everywhere. Someone will recognise you and tip them off."

She became increasingly angry as she spoke, and with a furious flourish of her hands thrown wildly up in despair, she added, "I will be sent to prison, for kidnapping, and Pendleton will be forever lost to the county. Is that what you want?"

I stormed out of the room. The idea of my family scouring the nation for me was unsettling. I knew what they were after. I had a million dollar life insurance policy and a pension of an almost equal amount from Cornell University, where I was a professor emeritus. If they could somehow prove me dead, they must have believed that they would inherit all of my assets. Little did they know that I had married and that Maggie was now the legal beneficiary of at least half my wealth. I never dreamed that what little family I had would throw a monkey wrench into all these months of planning. I had no choice but to devise a new course of action. Pendleton was my ticket to a massive fortune, and I was not about to let it slip away.

... To be continued ...




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