Part 2 Sweet Sunday Afternoon
The traders who remembered Max from the last time he was on the floor began rubbing their hands together in anticipation when he came in with the manager, who explained he would be working with them for a week, maybe longer.
Max began slowly and cautiously but once he found his feet he was off. He didn’t have to accomplish his goal in the first day; he played with it enough to peak interest. Today was make money for the bank day. By the end of the day he was their golden boy and went out to celebrate with a few of the traders. It was late when he got back to his flat and he’d forgotten to call Connie.
He called on the way to the bank the next morning, “Sorry love, I was taken out and drowned in drink last night.”
“I’m glad you’ve come up for air, do you know when you’ll be home?”
“Um I meant to tell you about that, I’ve somehow become temporarily employed, and really I felt a little obligated, they are letting me play in their court. It will be at least another week, Connie.”
“Oh Max, now I’m really missing you. I’ve enough work to keep me busy for awhile, I’m staying at my father’s”
“Don’t get too cozy over there.”
“No danger of that, not when you’re home. I love you, Max.”
“I love you too, Connie.”
On Friday Max put his own money into play and began to work on John’s fortune in earnest; he still played it safe, not wanting to raise any eyebrows, but he made a good start. He felt good when he left the bank for the day; he’d been invited to the Thorne’s for dinner and, stopped to buy Terry a bottle of scotch and a bouquet of white roses for Toni.
Sunday afternoon found him with nothing to do, he’d read the papers, worked the crosswords and worked out his strategy for the next week at the bank. He’d called Connie and had a long conversation with her, and that left him feeling a little antsy. He went to his lock up and took his car out, he hadn’t made any plans as to what he was going to do, but his car took him to Battersea. Terry had flown out early that morning for Miami.
Toni answered the door in her lounge clothes, she was down and blue because Terry had left and hadn’t bothered to dress for the day.
“Hello, Toni is it bad timing?”
“No, come in,” she closed the door behind him, “what brings you out here?”
“I don’t know, my car I think, it just brought me here, did Terry get off?”
“Yes, he did.” She led the way into the lounge room.
“Asleep,” she picked up the baby monitor and wagged it at him and went over and switched off the TV. “Are you at loose ends today Max?”
“I must be, I’ve run out of things to keep me occupied. I tried to talk Connie into coming over for the week.”
“She’s not coming? Sorry, Max. Have a seat,” She sat on the sofa and tucked her feet up underneath her.
“She doesn’t mind it for a few days, but with me working she’d be alone and she’s not up for that.”
“Connie could come out here and keep me company I feel very much alone right now, I hate it when he’s gone.”
“I thought I might take you out for a meal or something.”
“Honestly I don’t feel much like going out and there’s Jacky. Have you eaten?”
“No, not since breakfast.”
Toni smiled, “Well follow me down to the kitchen and I’ll see what’s cooked.”
Max had not been in their kitchen, a long low room with many rooms off to the side. The ceiling was beamed and hung with baskets and herbs, the room had a pleasant warm smell about it. A large well scrubbed table dominiated the center of the room and was sat about with comfortable chairs. Glass doors on one end opened into a tiled area with a bench and coat rack, beyond that french doors opened into the garden. He walked over to the doors and looked out.
“You’ve got a nice garden, Toni.” She had a pot garden by the back door and the smell of rainwashed herbs reached his senses.
“It is nice, Max do you like quiche?” she couldn’t remember if he’d ever eaten it at the House of Four Seasons.
“Um, yes I do, what kind is it?”
“I don’t know, but it looks like its loaded with good stuff, I’ll just put it in to warm.” She stuck it in the gas oven, the large vanilla colored Aga was beyond her comprehension. Back in the fridge she found endive and celery and began to put together a salad.
“I thought you had staff.”
“We do, but it’s the weekend, that’s family time.” She stopped and blinked back tears, she would not cry over Terry being gone.
Max came over and sat at the table and watched her work on the salad. Here in Terry’s home he had a glimpse into his domestic life and it pleased him. “Anything I can do to help?”
“Open a bottle of wine, you’ll find it there in the cooler, you choose.”
Max chose a chardonnay and found glasses on a rack above the cooler. “I like this room, it reminds me of something but I can’t think what.”
“I think it has the same feel about it as the kitchen in the House of Four Seasons, doesn’t look anything like it though, blue cheese dressing okay?”
“That’s good, yeah maybe that’s it. We’re about to do a major renovation on the Chateau kitchen.”
“It needs it,” she smiled across the table at him, she was glad he came by just having him here made things better for her, chased away that dark cloud that had descended upon her when Terry left.
“I know, the handle on the fridge fell off,” he smiled a crooked smile, “had a devil of a time getting the thing open.”
Toni chuckled, “Oh Max, I’m so glad you came by.”
Max smiled he felt at home with Toni here in her warm cozy kitchen; outside the rain splattered against the windows and it was cold and gray, but inside was filled with warmth and love. Just what he needed on a Sunday afternoon.
They finished their meal and Toni went up to get Jacky, Max stacked the plates in the deep sink. He would have liked to stay in the kitchen, but he went upstairs to the lounge with Toni and Jacky. He played with Jacky, who was now standing and walking around holding onto the sofa and coffee table.
“This is what life is all about isn’t it, Toni?”
Toni tilted her head, “Yes it is, it’s what you want isn’t it?”
Max nodded his head, “It is, I got caught up in working for the last couple of days and even had a thought about it,” he smiled slightly, “it’s not what I want anymore, I spent too much time at the House with you to want to go back into that fast paced life. La Siroque suits my pace now, it’s where I belong.” Jacky was trying to climb on the sofa and he picked him up.
“Will you have children, Max?”
He twirlled Jacky’s curls in his fingers, “Eventually I will,” he was treated with a Jacky smile, “how could I not want one like this.”
Toni smiled, she could not have loved him more if he’d been trying to take her to bed, which he hadn’t. He was in need of something else today. Later Toni went to feed Jacky and get him bathed and in bed for the night. When she came back downstairs Max was asleep on the sofa, she covered him with an afghan and found a book and curled up in the big oversized chair to read.
A while later he made some little sound and she turned to see him awake and looking at her, she put her book down and went over and lay down beside him. He tucked her up close and kissed the back of her neck. “What time is it?” he asked unable to see his watch.
“About half past nine.”
“Umm, why didn’t you wake me?”
“You were too comfy looking, you’re welcome to stay, Max.”
Max thought about it, sleeping with Toni…but not in Terry’s bed, “I’ll go back to my flat, tomorrow I will be at work, sounds odd doesn’t it?”
“Mmm, it does coming from you,” she turned in his arms and he kissed her.
“I’m going to get up and go, it’s been a wonderful afternoon and evening, thank you Toni you’re just what I needed today.” He kissed her again.
“Anytime darling, you know I’m here.”
He held her closely for a moment and sat up. “Jacky’s asleep?”
“Oh yes, I’ll give him a kiss for you,” Toni got off the sofa and pushed her hair back. Max got up and stretched, she wanted to hold him and lay her head against that soft cashmere sweater he had on. Their eyes met and a look passed between them. Max took her hands.
“Not in Terry’s home,” he said quietly, tomorrow may I take you to dinner?” She nodded unable to speak. She knew what she needed to do and she would because she loved him that much.
As soon as he left she picked up the phone and called Connie.
“I know it’s late, Connie. I don’t know what your problem is with London but I’m telling you right now to get yourself over here for Max. He needs you.”
“Why, what’s wrong?”
Toni was near tears, “He wants to be loved…if you don’t get over here and take care of him…I will.”
“Toni, has something happened with Max, I don’t understand?”
“He’s got to be number one in your life because he can’t be in mine, he needs you. And no, nothing has happened, except a quiet afternoon here. Terry left this morning for Miami, he’s going to be gone for a week. Don’t…let me…just come will you?”
“Yes, of course I’ll need to make flight arrangements in the morning and get to the airport,I’ll call and let you know, Toni, I’m sorry if something has upset you.”
“I’m okay, and Connie, don’t tell him I called you, let him think you missed him enough to come.”
“I do miss him, Toni, and I will come. I just left because there was nothing for me to do. I didn’t know at the time he would be gone as long as he will be.”
“You can come hang out with me during the day, I want to talk to you anyway.”
“All right, I’ll call you and let you know when my plane is coming in, can you pick me up?”
“Yes, I’ll be happy to.”
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