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The usual legal sounding crap about original story, strictly fiction, consenting adults. Blah, blah, blah…
Thank you for your patience. Writing has been difficult these past months. Please rate and comment.
* * * * *
Five days after leaving Marseille, Tony and Rita found themselves staying over in Bordeaux. Renard et Benoit (ben-wah) Wines operated a bottling plant there, and Tony had many friends there. One of the managers of the plant and his wife hosted a small dinner party for them. Rita enjoyed seeing Tony totally immersed in the wine culture and speaking only French for hours. He did so very well for a Georgia boy.
In private, they spoke mostly English, but seldom did they speak of the night at Club Phantom. Tony still felt waves of guilt about the way it went down and Rita getting hurt. When they spoke of it, they talked about their new friend, Phillipe.
Phillipe had helped save the lives of Andre Benoit’s granddaughter, her friend and Rita. Now he was an employee. Andre liked the lad. He saw a young version of himself in Phillipe, both having French and Italian heritage. Still, Phillipe had much to learn in order to fit in the company and help Tony and Rita. Fortunately, he was eager to learn and very intelligent. He was also a very handsome and charming young man.
* * * * *
In Bordeaux, the corporate apartment was occupied by a couple of buyers, so Tony had gladly checked them into a nice modern hotel in an ancient building. The place was beautiful and expensive and going on Andre’s credit card.
“We usually are on each other’s nerves really bad after a week together. This has been very nice, Mr. de Palma.”
“It’s been beautiful, baby. But there were some frustrating moments.” Tony said.
“Oh, really?! Come to think of it, I think you are on my nerves right now.” Rita said with a growl in her voice.
“Well, you are bugging the hell out of me, too.” Tony said. He lifted Rita’s leg and thrust his cock deeper. “You are the most exasperating woman I’ve ever known.” He kept up the pace, doing Rita from behind, standing in the bathroom.
“Tell me what that word means later. Now, show me that you know how to finish this on a bed before you actually piss me off.” Rita said and laughed.
Tony gently lay Rita on the hotel bed and slowly resumed their love making. They laughed quietly and spoke a few soft words for each other. He matched her rhythms and varied his thrust, and soon they found their groove. Like one spark igniting two fires, a slight change in their rhythm launched Rita and Tony into synchronized orgasms. They reveled in each other’s embrace.
* * * * *
Tony awakened the next morning to an empty bed and the sound of water running in the bathroom. He checked the time. It was early, barely daylight. He slowly moved to the bathroom door and peeked in. Rita sat on the toilet clutching a wet towel to her face. He saw her shoulders shake and knew she was crying. He stepped in. “Rita, are you OK? What’s the matter?”
Rita looked up with red swollen eyes. She wiped her face. “Just bad dreams, hauntings from the past.”
“Did you dream about your parents again?”
“No. Dreaming about my mother and father makes me happy.” She got up and leaned into Tony’s chest as he wrapped his arms around her. “It was the babies, those beautiful babies.”
* * * * *
Seven years earlier.
“Alicia, my name is Dr. Isabella Renard. I was here today, and an old friend asked me to talk to you.”
“You are a pretty lady, and you sound British. Are you another head shrinker?”
“Many people would call me that, but not really. I am a psychologist. I write boring papers and work with people more like a councilor. They tell me that you got very upset over losing some patients in the pediatrics wing.”
The girl smiled. “Well, that’s putting it mildly. I busted some furniture in the staff dining room and hit a friend in the face. He was just trying to help me. They made me take a diazepam. I’m sure I will be sacked as soon as possible. I don’t care. I can’t be a nurse if beautiful babies are going to…”
“They told me that the young man said he was hit by accident. He was holding an ice-pack to his eye and begging them not to fire you.” Isabella said.
“He is nice. He came by to see me. He’s going to have a terrible black eye. I apologized. He has had a crush on me for a while. He will rethink that. What do I have to do to get out of the psych ward?”
“Just leave. They just wanted you to cool off and make sure you will not hurt yourself.”
“I am not suicidal. Although, no one would miss me. My parents are gone, and my father’s family will not have anything to do with me. I’ll quit nursing and go back to working in a kitchen somewhere.”
“Alicia, why did you want to be a nurse?”
“I wanted to help people and make a difference. Please call me Rita. It is a name my mother called me. I was her little senorita.”
“That’s nice. If you güvenilir bahis will call me Isabella, it will be more comfortable. Rita, will you spend the rest of day with me? I’d like for us to talk like friends and maybe meet my husband later.”
“I have nothing else to do, other than clean out my locker and look for another job.” Rita said with an artificial laugh.
Isabella was somewhat taken aback by Rita’s coarse wit but understood. “Can we talk about the children, Rita? You know all about the statistics of nursing. Do you know why this hurt you so deeply?”
“They teach you in nursing school that we will lose patients. I guess it was the babies. They never got a chance to live. Mother Nature is a cruel bitch. We lost four beautiful babies in two weeks and I snapped.”
“They told me about the eight-year-old girl with cancer that you made friends with.”
“Yes. I read stories to her when I had time.” Rita said. “At least I saw that one coming. She lost her hair from the treatments, but she kept her spirits high. We made hats for her and laughed. She got very sick at the end and it seemed merciful, like the infant boy born with the bad heart. It seemed like a mercy.”
“Is that a religious belief for you?” Isabella asked.
“I believe in a power greater than us, but I am not tied to a religion. I pray sometimes, just for my own peace of mind.” Rita went on. “We lost these babies, and I snapped. We had lost a boy that was premature and the boy with the bad heart. I was very sad, but it was part of the job and the way of the world. The last one was the one that hurt so bad.” Rita said.
“What happened? They didn’t give me any details on the children.”
“It was a beautiful baby girl. She had big bright eyes and a ring of wispy black curls around the crown of her head. She was fat and healthy. She was bright and alert. When I talked to her, she made eye contact and smiled. I held her and rocked her to sleep. Her liver function was screwy. She became jaundiced over the weekend. When I came in, Monday, they had lost her.” Rita slipped out of her chair onto her knees and wept. “She was beautiful, Isabella. Death is so hard. I just can’t handle this.”
Isabella thought of all the things she might say to try to help but stayed silent. She helped Rita off the floor and held her in a warm hug until she stopped crying. “Rita, I have a photo I’d like to show you.” Isabella took a twenty-year-old picture from her bag. It was a younger Isabella cradling an infant and smiling broadly. “This is me and my son Michael. He would listen to my voice and smile. Rita, we lost him a month after this picture was taken. They said he got choked in his sleep. Robert and I were devastated.”
Rita began to weep again. She and Isabella held each other and cried together for a while.
“Did you say that I can leave?” Rita asked.
“Yes, if I tell them that you aren’t going to wreck the place or hurt yourself.” Isabella said.
“I promise. Let’s get out of here before they lock me in.”
“Let me take you to lunch and we will try to help each other.” Isabella said and tried to smile.
Rita and Isabella walked to a café near the hospital. Along the way, several hospital staff members stopped Rita and hugged her and offered support. The two ladies talked constantly, avoiding speaking about lost children. Still, Isabella tried to keep Rita talking about how she was feeling. Rita told Isabella many things, some may have even been true. Still, Rita’s feelings came through.
Later in the afternoon, as the sun began to filter through the trees at a low angle, the ladies were approached by a handsome middle-aged man. He spoke directly to Isabella then gave her a quick kiss.
“Robert, this is the young lady we were told about. Her name is Alicia Valadez, but she likes to be called Rita.” Isabella made the introduction. “Rita, this fellow is my husband, Robert Renard.”
Rita stood. “Bon jour, Monsieur Renard.”
“English is fine, dear girl. I was born here in France then grew up in the States. I moved back here when my older brother talked me into the wine business.” Robert sat near to them in the gazebo. “I heard you went bat-shit crazy for a while when some kids died in the hospital.”
“Oui, yes. It got to me. It rattled me so bad that I’m spilling it all out for a couple of nice strangers.”
The group all got a chuckle from Rita’s observation. “Honey, we are all damaged. I had a son by my first wife. He joined the army and was killed in action. Then Bella and I lost the child we had together. If not for this beauty sitting with you, I would not be here.” Robert turned to Isabella. “What do you think, my lady?”
“She is a remarkable young woman. I think so.” Isabella said and smiled.
“Alicia, er uh Rita, the hospital is going to fire you if you don’t quit. Quitting for another job will look better on your record.” Robert said. “One of those clowns wanted to send you to jail.”
“It doesn’t matter. I’m not the türkçe bahis type to be a nurse. It hurts too much.” Through her ragged emotions, Rita was struck by the realization that this man, Robert, had been involved with the administrators discussing her incident.
“We have a health and safety program at my company. You could work for us on a trial basis. It’s mostly record keeping for our dock and warehouse workers. All of our people are healthy, just an injury here and there. They are mostly male and will flirt with a pretty girl like you relentlessly because they are French.” Robert laughed. “You come in with us and we will give you space to get your head together. I warn you, there is a backlog of paperwork, but it’s a job for a multi-lingual person with medical training. You might be perfect.”
“If I’m not bat-shit crazy?” Rita said smiling.
“Well, that goes without saying.” Robert said with a cautious chuckle. He came over to the ladies. He bent and kissed his wife, then shook Rita’s hand. He noted how unusually firm and strong Rita’s hand was.
* * * * *
Present time. La Rochelle, France.
Isabella and Robert Renard had gotten a few details about the incident at Club Phantom. Rita’s new pink scars and the mention of a “knife fight” had the older couple on edge. Robert had begun to relate to Rita as a daughter long before. He was concerned and supportive of every aspect of Rita’s life. He had been around enough to know that coming out of a knife fight alive, was a win.
Isabella’s reaction was to assign Rita to domestic duty at Manor de Renard. Rita was always pleasant and fun to have in their home, but it was like a racehorse giving rides to children. Robert wanted to tap Rita as his driver and security guard, but this left Rita sitting around the business offices all day. The compromise put Rita driving when needed and working at the Manor the rest of the time. Rita’s involvement in ‘special projects’ forced Robert to hire a retired nurse to be the health officer.
Rita felt as if she was grounded but understood how protective people can be of the ones they love. She made the most of the situation using her sense of humor and sarcastic wit. Going between the two locations gave Rita the opportunity to touch base with all the people that she knew in Robert’s world. One lady at the business office was particularly pleased to see Rita.
Michelle Bisset returned to her office to find Rita making herself at home in Michelle’s chair. “Well, look what washed up on shore. Hola, Rita.”
“Bon jour, Michelle. It’s so good to see you.” Rita stood to greet her friend. She gave her a short kiss. They held each other in a hug for a long time. “I’ve missed you. You look pretty as always.”
“Apparently you didn’t miss me enough to keep up with calling or writing. I love the hat.” Michelle said. She sat in her place and shuffled Rita out to the chair in front of the desk. “What’s with the glove?”
“Just a little kitchen catastrophe, shucking oysters with a clever. It’s a cut that has just healed. Robert doesn’t like the hat. He thinks I’m being sarcastic wearing it.” Rita had found a chauffeur’s cap and worn it with her jacket and slacks when driving for Robert. The flair was bright red lipstick and attitude.
“You are annoyingly sarcastic at times, but that hat is sexy as hell on you. Maybe that is why Robert doesn’t like it. What would you say to dinner at my house very soon?” Michelle asked.
“Honey, that sounds very nice, but I have to tell you that Tony and I have gotten very tight lately. We had a romantic drive up from Marseille. I feel connected to him right now, as annoying as that sounds.” Rita said and laughed.
“Maybe you should bring him with you. He is very handsome. We might have a splendid weekend, just the three of us.” Michelle said trying not to blush.
“That’s a naughty and appealing idea but someone might wind up getting hurt.” Rita said. She hoped that her former lover thought she meant emotionally hurt not ’emergency room’ hurt. “I have a meeting with Robert. He can talk to me anytime, so a “meeting” means he is serious. Take care, Shell.”
Rita left Michelle’s office in “Accounts Receivable” and walked up a flight to Robert Renard’s office.
“Rita, come in for a few minutes.”
“Is there anything I can do for you Papa Robert?”
“Relax, dear. I need to meet this Phillipe Gaston that Andre speaks so highly of. Let’s get him up here for a couple of weeks. Tony says he’s an exceptional young man.” Robert said with some doubt in his voice.
“Phillipe is a promising young man. He lacks experience and education, but his instincts are spot on and he learns quickly. He is respectful and well mannered. You will like him.” Rita was confident.
“Look, I’ve got college kids beating at the door to come work here. Phillipe needs to show me something. Get him up here. There is an apartment open in the old hotel. He can use it, for now.” Robert said and walked around his desk to güvenilir bahis siteleri hug Rita. “Andre says that you are a guardian angel. It just hurts us to think of you hurt or worse. You know that Bella and I love you, girl.”
“I know, Papa Robert. This has become my home. Thank you so much. I love you both.”
“I hope that Phillipe saving your life isn’t clouding your judgement.” He paused. “OK, get the ‘beer chucker’ up here. Andre says Phillipe has a head for logistics. We will start him tracking our stuff through shipping. If he can learn enough about the security end of it, he could take some of the load off of de Palma. Are you thinking about using him on our ‘special projects’?”
Rita cracked a smile. “Yes, Robert. I think he could be an asset with some training.”
“Then I’m glad you volunteered. You are to work with him every day.” Robert said.
Rita heard the “last word” tone in Robert’s voice. She didn’t bother with her usual “I do not teach” rant. In a way she was glad that Phillipe was officially her student. She had given it much thought and was ready to mentor “the beer chucker”.
* * * * *
Three years ago,
Tony de Palma rushed back to La Rochelle as soon as he heard of the trouble. He had endured excited security people trying to tell him a scrambled account of the incident over the phone. His travel time would give his people some time to calm down. After arriving, he made his best time to the downtown office building. He jogged limping to the security office.
“What in hell happened?” Tony turned to an older employee. “Jacque, I need a level head to give me the story. You are up.”
“OK, Tony. There have been all these environmental protesters in the area.” Jacque said.
“We are in the wine business. We have an excellent environmental record. All of the wine business does.” Tony said frustrated.
“There was a huge group picketing the oil company office down the street. They spilled over here. They had no idea who they were attacking.”
“What does the beautiful Nurse Rita have to do with this?” Tony asked.
“Leto, roll the video from camera twelve.” Jacque said to the younger man sitting at the computer. “We have video from three cameras. One inside the door and the one down the ally. The best is from the camera that watches the side entrance.
Tony watched the short video as his mouth slowly opened. “What the hell…?” He took the mouse from Leto and moved close to the screen. He watched with guarded disbelief.
As Rita, Robert and Isabella approached the door, a group of enraged people dashed around the corner and straight for the door. A man with a short piece of steel pipe made it to the door first and smashed the security keypad, locking them outside. Rita went straight for him. She dodged a swing of the pipe and grabbed it. A fast kick to the crotch loosened the man’s grip and Rita shoved the pipe into the man’s jaw with him still holding it. He fell back as another came up the steps. Rita turned that guy around with a blow to the kneecap with the pipe. Robert had pushed Isabella against the door and put his back to her. He took all of the fire out of an attacker with a swift punch to the face. Rita gave him the pipe. Robert began beating the concrete with the pipe and yelling at the “protesters”. A large man decided to take on the smaller Rita. He flailed at the Spanish girl with both hands. Rita high blocked right and left then a flurry of short jabs to the man’s big belly. A woman with a protest sign made it to Rita. She tried to hit her with the feeble sign. Rita punched the hand holding the sign. The stick broke and probably a finger or two. Suddenly, the security personnel got the door open. They pulled Robert and Isabella inside and began using pepper spray on the remaining mob. Rita stood vigilantly with her fists clinched and at the ready.
Tony went back and forth, frame by frame. He looked at the other footage for a long time. Finally, he sat back smiling. “No one laid a hand on Robert or Isabella.”
“She is very fast. Did you know Rita was a martial artist? What was that thing she did to the fat man? When we got out there, he was on all fours puking.” Jacque asked.
“It looked like a triple punch, just hard enough to put a spasm in the man’s stomach. Her hand speed is incredible. That’s not movie tricks. She just jumped in and kicked ass. Did you talk to her?” Tony asked.
“She didn’t have much to say. Robert just sat smiling and not saying much either. We thought we would let you do that interview.”
“Thanks, a mil.” Tony said with a chuckle. ‘Could our cute little nurse be a master of karate?’ he thought to himself.
Tony failed to get any more information out of smirking Robert, who was also his boss. Rita admitted to having taken a karate class or two. She kept meeting Tony’s gaze with her golden-brown eyes.
“Tony, we are going home. We just stayed to see you. We don’t know anything about those people. Rita studies karate as a hobby, and I knew about it. I did some boxing when I was young. I hope I broke that guy’s nose. Your security people did well. The Police Nationale detectives are off looking for anarchists. Our people took Bella home. Everyone is fine, son.”
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