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I could hear voices shouting around me but couldn’t make out what they were saying. It hurt to concentrate so I let the darkness take me. It was a comfort.
My next moment of awareness was of being carried, bouncing a little in someone’s very strong arms. I think I heard someone say, “Lay him down there on the couch,” but I couldn’t be sure. Then I was falling, and a soft leather surface caught me. I heard no more for a while.
Sometime later I heard voices again. I felt the heat of the sun beating down on my face. It felt good. Really good. I tried to move a little, but everything hurt, especially my left shoulder. I kept my eyes closed. Maybe if I didn’t look, no one would see me and I could just disappear from the nightmare my life had suddenly become.
I lay there and listened to the voices, this time recognizing Sharon’s determined tone. “I’m telling you both, that’s enough for today. No more. The boy’s had more than he can handle and I won’t have you two overwhelming him with any more money talk or anything else for that matter. Larry, go home. Clyde, go home. You won’t get any more work done today anyway and you know it. I’ll call Shirley and tell her you’ll be home a little early and for her to fix you a nice drink and your favorite dinner. You both can try again tomorrow. That is, if he’s up to it.”
Apparently they knew better than to argue with her, as I heard a couple of grumbled comments and the sound of receding feet from the room. I could feel Sharon’s eyes on me.
“Alright, you can open your eyes now, Jack. Everyone’s gone.” How did she know I was awake and listening? I didn’t want to wake up. I wanted to die–of embarrassment, if nothing else.
Sharon paced and muttered to herself. “Two grown men don’t have the sense God gave a buzzard. Useless...utterly useless in a crisis.” I assumed she was talking about Larry and Clyde. I wanted to defend them, to say I was the one causing all the trouble, not them. But to do so, I would have to acknowledge I heard her, and I was afraid. She sounded mad and I was afraid she was mad at me too.
Sensing my reluctance to come out of it, she walked over and touched my arm gently. “Jack, baby...it’s okay. Everything’s gonna be alright. You can wake up now. It’s just me here. Don’t be afraid, Jack. It’s alright, baby.” She used her kind voice again, and it gave me the courage to crack open my eyes and look up at her. The sunlight was shining behind her head, and I swear she looked just like an angel. My angel.
“There you are. You gave us a bit of a scare there, Jack. Are you alright?”
I tried to sit up and got some shooting pains in my left shoulder for my trouble. I pushed up with my other arm and got myself upright, rubbing my sore arm.
“I guess so. What happened? Is everybody mad at me? I screwed up, didn’t I?” I stared at my shoes, embarrassed to look up at her.
She sat next to me on the leather sofa. “No, no, no, Jack. You didn’t do anything wrong. You’ve just had way too much thrown at you for one day and you fainted. It happens. I had no idea Clyde and Larry were gonna get into the money with you today, or I would have stopped them. Any fool could see you wouldn’t be able to handle that, on top of everything else you’ve had thrown at you today. There’s plenty of time to figure it all out later.”
I looked at her. “Why’d she do it, Sharon? Why would Amanda leave me all her money? What am I supposed to do with it? I don’t know the first thing about high finance. I mean, I do basic accounting and bookkeeping, so if you need an invoice typed or a bill paid, I’m your man. But millions of dollars? I don’t have a clue about what to do.” I was getting myself worked up again, and Sharon patted my hands in hers, trying to keep me calm.
“Jack, baby, don’t you worry about any of that right now. Larry and his folks over at the bank have it all well under control. Amanda never did anything with it directly, either, as far as I know. She and Phillip left it up to Larry and the team to handle it and you can, too.”
I sighed, thinking about what she said. It did take some of the pressure off. I’d never had five hundred dollars to my name at one time, let alone 500 million. It was incomprehensible. It wasn’t real. Sharon was right—let Clyde and Larry deal with it.
“Looks like you’re gettin’ your color back, Jack. Feel like standing up?” Sharon stood up and held out a helping hand.
I held on to it and managed to pull myself to my feet, although still a little shaky. But I didn’t think I would fall down again. My arm hurt but other than that I was in one piece. I took a couple of steps and realized I didn’t recognize the room we were in.
“Where are we?”
“Oh, I had Billy move you into this empty office next to Clyde’s. Since the founding partner retired a few years ago, we’ve never used it for anything but storage. I knew we had this nice couch in here and I thought this was better than the conference room floor. After all, what would people say if they saw a young man passed out under my conference room table?” She winked at me with a big smile.
We both chuckled. So Billy was the one who picked me up and carried me. I could still feel his big strong arms holding me firmly. It was a comforting thought. Sexy too. Maybe I would be alright after all.
We stepped out of the unused office and stood right behind Sharon’s work area. Clyde’s office door was to my right, so now I had it worked out as to where I was. Then I saw the conference room on my left and my previous embarrassment and emotional horror returned.
“Oh, Sharon. I’m so sorry. I ruined your trash can. I’m so, so sorry. I’ll replace it, I promise. You’ll have to let me know how much and I’ll figure something out.” I could feel the heat of my blood rushing to my face in a flush. I was mortified as I relived the worst moment of my life.
Sharon laughed. “Jack, it’s already been taken care of. Someone from building maintenance came up and took care of it straight away. Don’t give it another thought. They’ve had to clean up a lot worse than a dirty trash can after the annual Christmas parties around here, I can tell you. And Jack, I don’t think after today finding a way to pay for things is going to be difficult for you.”
She was smiling, trying to make light of it, but my anxiety started to rise up again. She must have seen signs of it on my face–she was starting to read me well–because she grabbed my hand.
“Jack, never mind about all that. Leave it to tomorrow, or whenever. Whadda ya say we get you back to your hotel, you can get some dinner if you want, and have the rest of the evening to yourself with no more lawyers and bankers messin’ with that cute head of yours?” I nodded. Her idea sounded wonderful and I rolled my shoulders to relax. Did she just say I was cute? I grinned.
I came to Denver with one mother I had known all my life. In Amanda Franklin, I found, and promptly lost, the mother who had given me life. And now in Sharon I was fast gaining yet another mother who felt like she was saving my life. I’m not sure I could have put into words at that moment how special Sharon Adams had become to me in one short day. Billy better be careful–I think I wanted his mama for my own.
Sharon gave me a great big hug, then said she was going to call Billy to come get me. I sat down in one of the chairs in front of her desk–I didn’t want to go back into the conference room–and waited for him.
I was strangely excited about seeing Billy again. Sure, he had his magnificent ass and he had carried me confidently in his big, strong arms. That was hot. But, I decided it was his presence I enjoyed the most. His relaxed, happy demeanor was a needed respite from the tensions of the day and I was looking forward to the ride back to the hotel with him smiling at the wheel.
Billy arrived just a few minutes later. He greeted me with a blazing smile. “Feeling better, Jack?” he asked.
I grinned and stood up. “Yes, much. Thank you for your help. Your mother told me what you did. I appreciate it.”
“No biggie, Jack. You don’t weigh very much.” I thought I weighed plenty but, looking at his arms again, I doubt it took much effort for him to move me.
He kissed his mama’s cheek again, they exchanged two fabulous Adams’ smiles and we were off.
“Let’s roll, Jack. I gotta get home. Jerome is cookin’ us up a special dinner tonight for our anniversary.” He started walking toward the office entrance.
I turned for a second to look at Sharon’s face. I can’t imagine the look on mine. Did Billy just say he and his business partner Jerome were a couple? Sharon looked at me and chuckled, shaking her head. “Good night, Jack. Call me in the morning when you want to come back in. Get some sleep.”
I turned back around and trotted to catch up with the fast-moving Billy. I followed him out the door, down the elevator and back to the car, the whole time looking at his ass and thinking about anniversaries and a whole lot of other jumbled thoughts. I wondered if I would ever have an anniversary with a guy who made me dinner. It sounded wonderful.