A Long Time Coming Ch. 02


The first day of Jade’s new job came with a feeling of optimism. She was up early and spent considerable time choosing the perfect outfit to make a good first impression. She settled on a tailored white skirt suit with a teal silk blouse and a pair of leather pumps. The reflection in the mirror told her that she look both fashionable and professional.

Her mother was taking Briana to the Kinder Care Academy since pre-school didn’t start until nine o’clock.

Jade gave Rollins notice the Monday after her interview. As expected, he didn’t take it well. However, she wasn’t immediately relieved of her duties; no doubt due to the fact that he needed to find a replacement. Instead he settled for being nasty right up to the end.

When she arrived at work she was greeted by Mrs. McCord and escorted to her office. After they were seated her employer got right down to business.

“The first order of the day is my family’s annual Fourth of July cookout.”

Jade was surprised at the assignment. She thought her job would be all about the charities and that, at least on the first day, she would be given the opportunity to familiarize herself with the office routine before she got into any actual planning.

As soon as the thought entered her head, she chided herself. Mrs. McCord obviously thought she was capable; besides she was there to do what she was told, not question the agenda. It seemed that there would be a lot more to her job than she anticipated.

“How many people will be at the cookout?” she asked.

Taking out a folder from her desk, Mrs. McCord placed it before Jade and said, “About three hundred, including children.”

Jade was stunned and hoped her jaw wasn’t hanging open.

Three hundred people for a cookout?

“This folder includes a list of our guests, their addresses, as well as their home, work and cell phone numbers,” she continued.

“Some of the guests are our personal friends; some are business associates and donors to our various charities. Although this is a fun event, the talk inevitably turns to business and opportunities to garner support for my charities present themselves.”

Jade nodded, understanding perfectly. Mixing business and pleasure was a good way for people to feel more generous.

“All other pertinent information is in the folder;” Mrs. McCord stated. “You should be able to answer any questions that arise. There will be more than enough inquires to keep you busy, along with sending out the invitations.”

“Will the invitations need to be ordered or picked up?” Jade inquired.

“No, that’s already been done. The invitations are in a box on your desk. The addresses need to be checked for accuracy and they need to be run through the postage meter. By the way, you and your daughter are invited and you may bring a guest.”

Shocked, Jade said, “Oh, no. I wouldn’t dream of intruding.”

“You’re not intruding, my dear, you’re my invited guest. Melanie was always invited as well.”

Knowing it would be rude to refuse, Jade accepted.

“Thank you. It will just be Briana and me.”

Mrs. McCord nodded and said, “That should be enough for you today. Tomorrow I’ll give you a run down on the charity events that we’ll be planning for the rest of the year. Part of your duties will be to book the venues and help with the planning.”

“Yes, Mrs. McCord,” Jade said and wondered what she had gotten herself into. Taking the folder, she headed to her office to start work on the first undertaking at her new job.


Jade’s first day went well.

Mrs. McCord was a dream to have as an employer; she was intelligent, hard working, thorough, organized and knowledgeable about all sorts of things. Although she was a perfectionist, she was also warm and friendly.

It was on the second day of employment that Jade met the senior Mr. McCord. He was tall with dark hair which had a touch of gray at the temples. His eyes were a light gray color with flecks of gold; quite a handsome man who’d pass on his great genes to his sons.

He greeted her with a warm smile and a hand shake, but his eyes lit up when he saw his wife. It was obvious that even after being married thirty eight years they were still very much in love. Jade didn’t mind admitting that she was a little envious.

She tried to imagine what it would feel like to have someone whose eyes lit up when she entered a room. She had an example of that with her parents, but she couldn’t imagine ever having that for herself. Still, there was some hope in that both couples were a testament that love could endure well past the first bloom.

Later that day, Alex stopped by. Jade was on an errand picking up invitations for the St. Matthew’s Children Hospital Dinner and Fundraiser at the time. When she got back, Mrs. McCord informed her she’d just missed him.

Just missed him? She’d been so busy that it never occurred to her that he would show up while she was working. Jade finished out the day, completing her tasks, but she couldn’t keep her mind from wandering van escort to thoughts of Alex.


It was a few days later that Jade met Jason McCord.

She was making copies in the supply room when the sound of a male voice in the outer office startled her.

“Mom, where are you?” he called out into the hall after looking in her office and not finding her.

“In the library, I’ll be out in a minute,” she called back. The library was further down the hall.

Then hearing the copier, he noticed that the door to the supply room was slightly ajar. Curious, he poked his head in.

“Hi,” he said when he saw Jade. “You don’t look like Melanie.”

Smiling, he walked into the room.

Jade was relieved that it wasn’t Alex.

She remembered the McCord’s middle son. He was as good looking as she recalled. Jason was tall, his dark hair a little shorter than Alex’s and although he also had blue eyes, they were a lighter shade.

“You’re right. I’m Jade Harris. I just started last week,” she said.

“Huh! I should keep in touch on a weekly basis, maybe I’d know these things in advance,” he grinned. “How are things going with the job?”

“Oh, it’s great. A bit challenging learning my way around, but your mother is very easy to work for,” she stated honestly.

“Are you sure you’re in the right house? My mother can be a five star general at times,” he said affectionately.

Jade smiled at the description of his mother.

“So far, the General has not been called into active duty,” she responded.

Jason laughed; then in the middle of it realization dawned.

“Hey, I know you!” he exclaimed, abruptly bringing an end to his laughter.

Taken aback, Jade said, “You do?”

“Well, not personally, but I’ve seen you before; a couple of weeks or so back at Uncle Gino’s Pizza.”

“Oh,” Jade said unaware that anyone other than Alex paid any attention to her.

“You were there with a little girl,” he said.

“Yes, that was my daughter, Briana. It was a treat for her, she loves pizza.”

“I heard,” Jason said suppressing a grin.

Blushing, Jade acknowledged, “She can be a little vocal at times.”

“As I remember it, she was cute as a button.”

Then he abruptly checked the time on his watch.

“I’d better get going. I need to get back to the office. Mom has probably gotten distracted and forgotten about me.”

Then he said with a smile, “Nice meeting you, Miss Harris.”

“Please, call me Jade. It was nice meeting you too.”

“All right, Jade. I’m Jason. Later,” he said and continued on to the library.


At that exact moment, Alex was talking to Francine on the phone. They’d made a dinner date and she was deciding where to go.

“Well, darling, how about Merlin’s or Bern’s Steakhouse,” she suggested.

After considering the options for a few seconds, Alex said, “Let’s go to Bern’s. I’ll call David and let him know we’re coming; it’s short notice, but he always manages to have a table for us.”

“All right, Alex. I’ll see you at about seven?” Francine questioned.

“Seven is good,” Alex confirmed. “I’ll see you then, bye.”

Francine had a date with Alex, but she still was in a bit of a somber mood. In the last couple of weeks he’s often been preoccupied. He said it was just work, but once he got out of the office work had never distracted him to this extent before. He’d always made a habit of separating his work from his leisure time. He said it was the only way to keep his sanity.

They still went out as often as ever, but something just wasn’t right and trying to cajole information out of Alex was never successful.

Although sex was still satisfying, Alex was not always fully engaged, especially afterward. She didn’t like feeling that somehow their relationship was unraveling. Tonight she meant to rekindle his desire. She had a hot little black number that she knew would turn his head.


Alex was home and feeling unsettled. He hadn’t spent the night with Francine and he knew that she was disappointed. He almost always slept over after a date, but tonight it just didn’t feel right. To be honest, something hadn’t been right with their relationship for a while, he just hadn’t known what it was.

They had a wonderful dinner and the conversation was easy and steady. He was comfortable sharing the evening with her and found her alluring and sexy. When they got back to her apartment, they had sex as they usually did. He never called it making love, he just felt uncomfortable with that phrase knowing that he wasn’t in love with her. Although she never said that she was in love with him, lately he was beginning to feel that she might be.

Over the years he’d honed his skills to tell the difference between the women who wanted to be with him for what he could give them and those who truly cared about him. He believed Francine cared about him and he cared about her. Now he was thinking that maybe she wanted more yalova escort out of the relationship than he could give.

Alex wasn’t looking for a permanent relationship when he met Francine, but he wasn’t oppose to one either. However, within a few months of dating, he knew it wasn’t going to happen. He couldn’t make himself feel something that he didn’t.

In the beginning he didn’t think Francine was looking for a permanent relationship either, but over time somehow that had changed. As he thought about their relationship, he began to perceive when the change occurred. It was right after Jason and Kate got engaged. Francine became clingy and more possessive of his time.

Alex didn’t play the field or sleep around; he was and had always been a one woman kind of man. But, until recently, the lack of a more permanent relationship wasn’t a problem for him. Yet, here he was, thirty six years old and he was suddenly thinking about the lack of a special woman in his life.

He knew what was at the root of his feelings and the accompanying restlessness. He had no problem getting women, but finding the one for a lifetime was the issue. He wanted what his parents had, no matter how long he had to wait. But recently, the waiting began to chafe.

Alex hadn’t given much thought to the qualities he wanted in a wife, but now it was important to him. Nor had he seriously thought about having children, but now he wanted them. And, as much as he tried to deny it, he knew why. It was her; the woman at the pizza place. A woman with a child and who could be married for all he knew.

For the first time, while having sex with Francine, he saw another woman’s face. He couldn’t deny that he wanted her. He also knew it made absolutely no sense. He couldn’t even explain what he felt.

In any event, it was clear now that he would have to end his relationship with Francine. He couldn’t and wouldn’t disrespect her when she was no longer the object of his desire. He needed to have some time alone to make sense of what he felt and wanted. Then he would have to find that mystery woman and figure out if she had any place in his plans for the future.


The following day Alex was having lunch with Jason and Cam, when Jason mentioned he’d met their mother’s newest employee.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you guys, I met Mom’s new assistant.”

“What’s she like?” Cam asked.

“She’s a single mom with a little girl. I only talked to her a short while, but she’s friendly, witty, and she actually thinks Mom is the perfect employer, or nearly so,” he smirked.

“It sounds like she’s a good fit for Mom. What does she look like?” Cam asked.

“She’s a pretty young black woman with dark reddish brown hair. She looks …” Jason let the statement trail off as he saw Alex’s eyes flicker.

“Something wrong, Alex?” he asked.

“No. Uh, the description just reminded me of someone,” Alex said, telling himself that it couldn’t be her.

“Oh,” Jason said keeping a straight face.

Then he continued, shattering any illusion his brother might have had. “You might remember her from the pizza place, Alex.”

Cam looked at Alex when he didn’t say anything.

“You met her at a pizza place?” he asked.

“No,” Alex said gruffly.

Cam thought that was all he was going to say until he sighed and elaborated.

“She was at Uncle Gino’s the last time we were there, a few weeks ago.”

“Huh!” Cameron said, “How come you guys noticed her and I didn’t?”

“Easy,” Jason answered, “you were too busy talking about your baby, the PhoeniX.”

Grinning, Cam said, “Oh, yeah. I was kind of excited about it. She must have been something to take your attention away from my scintillating conversation.”

Jason could see Alex was clinching his jaw. He decided to diffuse the situation before he blew up, although he didn’t know why he would. One thing was sure; his big brother was still on edge about this woman.

“She had a kid with her and she started yelling, ‘Pizza, pizza, pizza,’ when their pizza arrived,” Jason said. “Man, I don’t know how you missed that.”

“As you said, I was in deep conversation about my baby,” Cam smiled.

Jason could see Alex relax and unclench his jaw.

The rest of the meal was enjoyable with the brothers engaging in a more neutral conversation to Alex’s relief.


The next day Alex called Francine and asked to come over to her place after work. Francine was excited beyond words. Rarely did Alex call her out of the blue and just ask to come over. She thought he must have some special reason for wanting to see her and hoped that he was ready to pop the question.

Alex got to Francine’s place around six thirty. She greeted him at the door with a kiss. Alex returned the kiss, but a sigh wasn’t far behind. Francine knew immediately that something was wrong and she didn’t like the feeling.

“I need to discuss something with you,” Alex said running his hand through his thick hair, obviously agitated yozgat escort about whatever it was. Francine motioned him to the sofa where they sat down. He looked at her intently and she knew, just like that, she knew what he was going to say.

“I can’t see you any longer,” he said bluntly. “I’m sorry, but it’s not going to work out between us.”

He had gotten to the point quickly, which threw Francine off a bit, but she knew she had to keep her cool. She couldn’t let him know how absolutely shattered she was. It was tearing her apart to see her dreams die in just a few words.

Sighing inwardly, she acknowledged that Alex never made any promises to her. He never said he loved her or gave her any reason to believe that they were headed to a permanent relationship, but she had hoped. Now that hope was gone, but there was one thing she wanted to know.

“Why, Alex? You owe me that at least,” she said.

“You’re right,” he replied solemnly. “It’s quite simply that it’s not fair for me to continue to see you when I know that we will never have a deeper relationship,” he said.

“But, why now?” Francine asked, suspicion ruling her thoughts.

“I hadn’t thought about having a wife or family until recently,” he revealed. “Now that I know what I want, I can’t keep seeing you. I can’t continue this relationship when I might meet someone else. I know that sounds harsh, but how fair would it be to break up with you then?”

“Have you met someone else?” she asked with a gnawing feeling in the pit of her stomach.

“No, I haven’t met anyone,” he replied immediately. “But I won’t lie to you; there is someone I would like to meet. I don’t know if anything will come of it, but I wasn’t going to approach her while we were still together. She has no idea that I’m even interested.”

“Is it someone in our social circle?” Francine asked.

The last thing she wanted was someone she knew to flaunt a relationship with Alex in her face. It wasn’t lost on her that she had done just that. She’d been possessive and haughty; she still felt possessive, but a lot more humble.

“No. You don’t know her. I doubt that you’ve even seen her in passing. I don’t know when or if I will approach her. I have a lot of thinking to do before I get to that point. There’s more at stake than how I feel or what I want,” Alex stated thinking of the little girl.

“I’m sorry it didn’t work out for us,” Francine said, “but I want you to be happy and I know I’ll eventually find the man who wants me as much as I want him.”

She deliberately hadn’t use the word love, not wanting to let Alex know how she felt. The break up was enough of a humiliation; she couldn’t bear it if he felt sorry for her.

“I do appreciate you telling me now rather than later,” she said.

Standing up, Alex said, “I really am sorry it couldn’t have worked. I hope we can remain friends because it looks like we’re going to be in-laws with Jason and Kate getting married. I wouldn’t want things to be awkward between us.”

“It’s just going to take time on my part, but everything works out for the best in the end,” Francine said not feeling all that assured.

She followed Alex to the door and said goodbye. Neither thought a farewell kiss was appropriate.


The Fourth of July cookout was fast approaching.

Since the fourth fell on a Wednesday, Mrs. McCord planned the celebration for the following Saturday. Because of the size of the event, the food would be taken care of by Outdoor Catering, a company that specialized in large outdoor events. They cooked all of the side dishes off premises, but the meats were prepared on site.

Jade had butterflies in her stomach thinking about the prospect of seeing Alex. Carrie said that he and Francine split a few weeks ago, but that information only increased her anxiety. She doubted that Alex had given her a thought, even if he wasn’t ever far from her mind. Unable to help herself, she wondered if he was seeing anyone. If he came with a date she’d just have to grin and bare it, but it made her stomach turn to think of him with another woman.


The day of the picnic was picture perfect. The temperature a warm eighty five degrees, but it was offset by unseasonably low humidity. The sky was a gorgeous blue with a few whimsical fluffy clouds. The flowers were in full bloom throughout the large expanse of the garden, the lawn lush and newly manicured.

Since the dress was casual, Jade wore a pair of Khaki shorts and a short sleeved knit shirt with sandals. Briana had on light blue shorts with a floral top. Her daughter wanted to wear her Cinderella princess dress and took some convincing to save that for a more appropriate occasion. In the end, she settled for wearing a pair of Disney Cinderella sneakers.

As soon as Jade drove up to the McCord’s home, Briana asked, “Where are the kids, Mommy?” She’d been giddy all morning with the expectation of making new friends.

Smiling at her daughter’s eagerness, Jade said, “They’re in the back of the house where the barbecue is being held.”

As Jade parked, there were several other vehicles arriving. She and some of the other guests walked toward the entrance to the back yard together. One of them, a Mrs. Madden, asked Jade if she was a friend of the family.