New Shirts & the Step-daughter

“Hello, Gideon.”

“Hello, Pete. How are Fiona and the kids?”

“They’re doing well, thanks. How is Ruth?”

“She’s fine, thanks.”

“And how are things between you and Chelsey?” Chelsey was George’s step-daughter.

“They’re much better.”

“Good. I’m happy to hear that. Here to buy more shirts?”

“Yes. This the only place in the world where I like to buy my shirts and it looks like you’ve gotten more since the last time I was here.”

“Yes.”

“Well, let me go and see how many I can purchase this time.”

“Did I mention that you’re one of our favorite customers?”

Gideon laughed before excusing himself to go and browse the shelves with the new arrivals. Twenty minutes later, he was at the check out counter with at least twelve shirts and a couple of ties. “Pete, say hello to Fiona for me.”

“I will. And say hello to Ruth for me. Fiona and I would love to have you two and Chelsey join us for dinner one evening.”

“That would be nice. Just let me know when.”

“I will.”

“Goodbye, Pete.”

“Goodbye, Gideon.”

Gideon left the store and went to his car, stashing the bags in the trunk. As he was about to get into the car, his cell rang. He answered it. It was Chelsey.

“Hello,” he said, wondering why she was calling him.

“Hi, Gideon. I’m at–” she mentioned the name of the store.

“What are you doing there? Shouldn’t you be in class?” She was in her senior year at school. The following year, she would be attending Oxford. Although he was her step-father, she never called him, Dad. It was always, Gideon. She was thirteen when he married her mother and their relationship had been rocky to say the least. She seemed to resent him for taking her father’s place even though he had died when she was ten. Gideon tried to be a good father to her but his efforts seemed to be in vain until she turned seventeen last year. She seemed to be accepting him now which was what he had wanted all along. It pleased Ruth too. “I’m happy to see her finally coming around,” she told him. “I was beginning to think that it would never happen.”

“They let us out early because of the Christmas break.” she said.

“Oh, yes. Why are you there at the store instead of home?”

“I wanted to do some shopping. Where are you?”

“I’m on my way back to the office.”

“Can you come and pick me up?”

“Chelsey, I can’t take you home right now.”

“You don’t have to take me home. I can come to your office instead and stay there until you’re ready to go home.”

“You want to come to my office?”

“Why not?”

“What are you going to do while I’m working?”

“I’ll read or surf the internet using my cell. Please, Gideon. I promise I won’t disturb you.”

“All right. There’s a lounge on where you can stay and if you need anything, you can either speak to the receptionist who will get in touch with my secretary or you can come directly to my office.”

“Great. When will you be here?”

“In about twenty-five minutes.”

“All right. I’ll see you then.”

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Gideon ended the call and slipped the phone into his pocket. He got into his car and drove off. Twenty minutes later he was pulling up in front of the store. He waited for Chelsey to come out and when five minutes went, then, six, seven…he became impatient. After strumming his fingers on the steering wheel, he got out of the car.

He went inside the store. Where the devil was she? He looked wildly around and then, he whipped out his cell and called her. He tried several times before she finally answered. Trying not to lose his temper, he asked with great restraint, “I’m here in the store. Where are you?”

“I’m sorry. I had to duck into another store to see what they have. By the way, I’ve quite a lot of bags, do you mind helping me with them?”

“Where are you?”

She told him where she was.

“I’ll be there shortly.”

“Great. Thanks.”

He ended the call and made his way into the mall. Fortunately, it wasn’t crowded although there were a lot of students milling about. Chelsey was waiting for him. At her feet were several shopping bags.

“You weren’t kidding about the bags,” he remarked when he reached her. “It looks like you almost bought everything in sight.”

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“I wish, but I’ve only so much money for my allowance.”

He took most of the bags from her and they walked through the mall to where his car was parked. She left the bags she was carrying with him and got into the car. Some of the bags he had to put on the back seat.

It was almost one-thirty when he pulled away and headed to the office. “Have you had anything to eat?” he asked.

“Yes. I grabbed something on my way to the store.”

“Good.”

“So, have you and Mother decided where we’re going to be spending Christmas this year?”

“No. Where would you like to spend it?”

She shrugged. “I’m fine with whatever you and she decide.”

“I guess we can discuss it more this evening when we’re having dinner.”

“I guess so. Is Roche still working at your company?”

“Yes, he is. Why do you ask?”

She shrugged. “Just curious.”

“I might have known that he’s the real reason why you wanted to come to my office. He has a girlfriend, you know.”

“Yes, I know.” She looked out of the window and a little smile tugged at her mouth. If I have my way, she will soon be his ex-girlfriend.

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