North to the Max
“Max, honey, where are you?” a sickly sweet voice called out from the bedroom.
“Out here, packing,” came a curt reply.
“Packing? Where are we going?”
“We aren’t going anywhere; I’m going to Canada.”
“What’s in Canada?” the voice asked as it came closer. A young man in all his glory presented himself at the doorway.
“Canadians,” Max grumbled. Max looked around the suite making sure he didn’t forget anything. When satisfied he headed for the door.
“But you promised me a tour of Paris!”
Max stopped before leaving the suite. By the door was a small table with the hotel menus and brochures on local tourist attractions. Max found something for Paris. “Here, enjoy,” he said as he slapped the brochure into the young man’s hand. “The suite is paid up to the end of the week, you may stay until then; room service included,” Max added as an afterthought as he quickly kissed the pouting lips then he was gone. Before leaving the hotel, Max returned his keycard.
“My guest may stay if he so chooses until the end of the week,” Max instructed the concierge.
“Of course, sir. Will there be anything else?”
“Yes, one moment,” Max said as he consulted a banking app on his phone. “He’s allowed this much per day,” said Max as he authorized a specific sum for room service and other expenses. “Anything more than that is on him.”
“Of course, sir, we’ll take care of it. I hope your visit was pleasurable, and please visit us again.”
“Yes,” Max replied as he slipped some euros to the concierge then left the hotel.
“Wow,” said Justin as he stared up and down the street. He and Brian decided to tag along with John one morning to take a look at the progress of the ‘Babylon project’. “This is amazing,” Justin exclaimed.
“My brother really knows how to put things together,” Brian murmured.
“You had doubts,” John said as he sauntered up to the pair with a coffee in his hand.
“Of your abilities, never,” Brian stated with confidence. “This stuff never gets old,” said Brian with a sweep of his hand indicating the progress.
“We’re actually a little ahead of schedule. We may be able to open the market by the end of September, if we can get the inspectors in early,” John explained.
“What about the gardens?” Justin asked.
“Probably the last things to do,” John said. “However, now that we know the precise dimensions, you and your gardening minions can prepare for planting.” John handed the blueprints for the market and rooftop gardens to Brian. Brian stared at the drawings for several minutes.
“Can I get a closer look at the space?” Brian asked.
“Sure, but you’ll need your hardhat,” John cautioned.
“Make that two hardhats. I’d like to help,” Justin said. Brian beamed.
“Two hardhats coming right up,” John said with a smile.
As soon as the boys were outfitted with the perfect safety gear, John let them into the gated space that would eventually become the “market garden”. It was roughly a square and filled with rubble. Two sets of eyes widened then stared at John.
“Yes, I know, it looks like crap now,” John said with a touch of sarcasm. “That’s why I said it’s one of the last things to be completed. The garbage has to go somewhere. But the walls of the market and the garage are complete so you can decide if you want to plant right up to them or have a fence. For the front and the back of the garden, I do suggest fencing like the Village garden. As for the rooftop gardens, they will definitely have to wait until next year.”
Brian nodded then held out his hand toward Justin which Justin readily took. John left the pair to wander about. A few hours later the three met up at the Liberty Diner.
“So, what do you think?” John asked as he sipped an iced tea while they waited for their orders to arrive.
“Sunshine,” said Brian then sat back with a smug smile. Pulling out a sketchpad from his ever present messenger bag, Justin handed John the pad.
“Wow, you did this while standing in the middle of all that rubble?” Brian and Justin nodded, all smiles. “And this is the fence line,” John stated as he indicated the fence lines with a finger.
“Yes. I like your idea of having the option to plant right up to the base of the buildings. We can also leave room for large planters or benches,” Brian explained. “Todd still has a few extra Liberty Avenue benches; we can reuse them here.”
“Oh, Brian, that’s a great idea!” Justin gushed.
“We have to clear out the garbage then truck in several tons of good planting soil first. Bulbs can go in now as well as some small trees and clumping bamboo. The rest will have to wait until Spring but I’ll get started with Todd,” Brian said. “Depending on how far we get, we can decorate for the holidays.”
“We did see some good bricks and interesting pieces of wood and concrete. Maybe we can reuse them somewhere like a sculpture,” Justin suggested. Brian could see the gerbil spinning on overdrive.
“You have this all figured out, don’t you?” asked John. Brian shrugged. “What about this? This reminds me of the Wendy house.” John pointed to a house-like structure at the back of the garden.
“It’s a garden shed but an esthetically pleasing garden shed,” Brian teased John using the same expression John used to describe the dozen or so port-a-potties he trucked in for one of their massive lane parties. “We have to keep the gardening tools somewhere,” Brian stated.
There was a lull in the conversation when their orders arrived.
“Guys, I do have something to discuss with you. I already talked it over with Bobby and have his support,” John began. He had Brian and Justin’s attention. “I’d like to keep the buildings. What I mean is, obviously Babylon isn’t going anywhere and the “Kinney building” will be ours but the rest of it; I’d like to keep it within the family. I’d be really pissed if we sold the apartment buildings to someone who turns out to be a slumlord. But I really don’t want to be in the rental or management side of it.”
“Maybe my mom can help,” Justin suggested. “She already keeps an eye on the Village properties; maybe she and Seth will take it on.”
“That’s a great idea,” John said.
“We should also ask Hunter if one or more of his grads are interested in business. Jen and Seth are semi-retired, they may not want to take this on fulltime but that doesn’t mean they can’t pass on their wealth of knowledge to the next generation of business tycoons,” Brian threw in. Justin gave Brian a peck on the cheek.
“I guess we have more work to do,” John stated as he returned the sketchpad to its rightful owner. Lunch was over; it was time to go back to work.
Gus, Bree and Ray walked into the old building that housed Kinnetik North. This former church has a lot of character, Bree thought to herself. It always surprised her how the modern furniture seemed so at home in the interior of the old church. Yet somehow it all went together perfectly. She had a fleeting thought that Mr. Dunhill, whom she had met on the plane, probably wouldn’t like it very much. He seemed kind of old fashioned. Then again, Bree smiled. Mr. Dunhill just might like Kinnetik North anyway, because he seemed like a with-it kind of guy. Bree realized she would be interested in what his reaction would be if he ever stepped inside their building.
It had been quite a while since she had been to Toronto, but everything seemed pretty familiar. She decided that she liked it there.
“Nice to have you back,” the young man at reception said to them.
“Thanks, Jeff,” Gus replied. “This is my sister, Bree,” he said indicating Bree. “I don’t think she’s been here since you were hired.”
“Nice to meet you,” Jeff replied looking at Bree.
Bree did not know this new person at reception. It had been a woman when she was there the last time. She held out her hand and shook with the startled young man who wasn’t quite sure what to make of this new person. “Nice to meet you,” Bree said. “I hope you enjoy working here.”
“I…I do,” Jeff stammered.
“That’s good,” Bree said with her sunny smile and a bat of her violet eyes.
Gus and Ray looked at each other as they stifled giggles.
“Um, is Ms. Marcus in?” Ray asked.
“Yes, she’s in her office,” Jeff replied.
“Come on, Bree. Mama will be happy to see you,” Gus said.
“I can go by myself,” Bree stated. “You and Ray need to get caught up with work. I’ll be fine.”
Bree didn’t wait for an answer. She headed towards the back of the building where she knew Melanie Marcus had her office. Gus and Ray watched her go.
“She really is a little dynamo,” Ray said.
“Just hope she doesn’t run over us all,” Gus said with a thoughtful look on his face.
“That makes two of us.”
Bree tapped on Melanie’s open door. She could see her aunt sitting behind her desk reading some papers.
“Yes,” Melanie said without looking up.
“Hello, Ms. Marcus,” Bree responded.
Mel looked up at the familiar voice. “Bree?” she said. “Since when do you call me Ms. Marcus and not Auntie Mel?” Her seemingly stern tone was belied by the smile on her face at the sight of her niece.
“I’m being professional,” Bree stated with her own smile.
“Well la-dee-da! Come here and give me a professional hug,” Melanie ordered.
Bree crossed the office and they hugged tightly for a minute.
“Have a seat,” Mel said when the hug was over. “It’s so good to see you. I guess I haven’t seen you since JR’s wedding.” Bree nodded. “How is my daughter doing?”
“She’s great. And
Jacqueline’s great. They love their house and each other. They’re really,
“I’m so glad to hear that. I…” Melanie did not finish her sentence.
Bree hesitated and then decided to finish it for her. “You were worried about their age difference, weren’t you?”
“For a time, but they seemed so good together. I guess I just can’t help worrying about my daughter and what the future holds.”
“You know there’s a big age difference between my fathers. They’ve been able to make it work.”
Melanie snorted. “I know only too well.”
“But … I’m just
saying that the age difference doesn’t always matter. I think JR and Jacqueline
will be really happy together and that’s all that matters.”
“Yeah, that is all that matters. Are your fathers still happy?” Mel asked and then immediately regretted having said it.
“Yes, why do you ask?”
“No reason. I just have this reaction when they are mentioned.”
“Why do I react? Wish I could explain it, but it just happens.”
Bree frowned. “Could I talk to you about something?” Bree asked. “Privately and in confidence?”
“Always, sweetheart,” Mel said as she got up from her desk and closed the office door. “What do you want to talk about?”
“Ray told me that maybe I’m too much like Gus and my father.”
“Brian,” Mel clarified.
“Yes, my Dada,” Bree confirmed. “He said I can be too blunt and it might sound dismissive, that sometimes I need to choose my words more carefully and be less direct.”
“Ray told you this?”
“Yes, at the hotel. Do you think I’m dismissive?” Bree asked with genuine concern on her face.
“Bree, you’re talking to a well known blunt and abrasive person. It has never hurt me professionally. I always find that the truth, however harsh, is always for the best in the long run.”
“And in the short run it can cause problems?”
Mel nodded. “Also personally it can cause problems.”
“Is that why you and Dada don’t get along all the time? You’re both too blunt.”
Melanie laughed out loud. “Got it in one.”
Bree smiled. This helped explain the tension she often felt between her Dada and her Auntie Mel. Most of the time they were civil to each other and other times they were in a stand-off. Bree decided she would have to watch for the dynamic between them and try to help them get along better. She loved both of them, and sometimes they even seemed to like each other, but not often.
“So, is that all you wanted to talk about?” Melanie asked.
“I guess I just wanted to know if you thought I come on too strong. Do you think I need to be more careful?”
“More careful?” Mel said with her brow wrinkled in thought. “My first response to that would be, ‘Fuck them all’, be who you are and let everyone else fend for themselves. Pardon my French there.”
“No problem,” Bree said with a smile. She had heard much worse. “That’s your first reaction; is there a second?”
“If I think about it, I know what Ray means. You have to have consideration for clients when you are in business. You don’t want to drive customers away. So, you choose your words carefully, and you don’t knowingly antagonize people. There are ways of saying the truth without causing a scene or offending people.”
“So, I can still be me, but I don’t always have to throw it in people’s faces.”
“Exactly,” Mel agreed, “and I know you can do exactly that. You are one smart cookie.”
“Thanks Auntie Mel, I think I get it.”
“I’m sure you do.”
There was a knock on the office door.
“Come in,” Mel said.
Gus entered the office. “You two have been in here a long time. Ray and I were beginning to wonder if everything was all right.”
“Everything’s fine,” Mel responded. “Right, Bree?” Bree nodded her head. “We were having a very informative conversation.”
“You were? What about?”
“That would be private between Bree and me,” Mel replied.
“I seem to be on the outside of a lot of private conversations lately,” Gus said. “I’m not sure I like it.”
“Well, get used to it, because I’m sure there’s more ahead,” Mel informed him.
Gus’ mouth dropped open for a second before he could snap it shut. “Mom!” he said.
“Oh, for fuck sake, get with the program. This is Bree’s business not yours. Some things are just between women,” Melanie explained in none too gentle terms.
“So how does Ray fit into that?” Gus asked in bewilderment. What the hell was going on? It seemed like his whole family had lost their minds.
“Did you want something when you came in here?” Melanie asked abruptly changing the subject.
“Ray and I just got off the phone with Mr. Waldon, your client, Bree.”
“Yeah, I know,” Bree said with a smile.
“He’d like to meet with us in about an hour. He has some ideas about a new campaign, and he’d like to run them past you,” Gus sad looking at Bree.
“It would be good to see him again,” Bree replied. “I’m ready when you are.”
“We should leave in about fifteen minutes,” Gus said as they left the office. Gus looked back at his mother who merely smiled benignly at him.
“Do you know how you’re going to handle Mr. Waldon?” Gus asked Bree as they got out of the car at Waldon Enterprises.
“I’m not planning on handling him,” Bree said.
“I like Mr. Waldon and he seems to like me, so we’ll just play it by ear.”
“Sounds good to me,” Gus said as they entered the building.
“Miss Briana,” Mr. Waldon greeted them as they went inside. “I’ve been waiting for you. Look at you! Every time I see you, you become more beautiful and more grown up. I’m so happy you could be here.” He shook Bree’s hand gently.
“I’m happy to be here too, Mr. Waldon,” Bree said graciously.
“I have a few ideas I want to run past you, both of you,” Mr. Waldon said realizing he hadn’t been including Gus. “Great to see you too, Mr. Kinney.”
Gus smiled at finally being recognized. He shook Mr. Waldon’s hand.
“Let’s go into the office.”
When they were seated in Mr. Waldon’s office, he began to explain how well his company was doing since he had signed on with Kinnetik North. He then told them his big news. He had decided to expand into the United States. He had found a warehouse and office in upstate New York that he thought would be just right for headquarters of a United States branch of his company.
They spent the next half hour discussing all the things that needed to be considered in such a move. Both Bree and Gus asked pertinent questions which Mr. Waldon had already thought about and could easily answer.
“Sounds like you’re all ready to go with this new direction,” Gus finally said.
“I believe I am. The only thing I need now is some great advertising to let my possible customers know that I’m there.”
“And Kinnetik North can help you with that,” Gus affirmed.
Bree nodded her head and said, “We’re looking forward to doing that, Mr. Waldon.”
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