Charisma is an exciting adventure and challenges what you thought you knew about the world
With Allison driving the BMW, they pulled away from the building by a quarter past twelve. A few minutes later, they were on Interstate 5 heading south towards Portland. Billowing clouds were beginning to roll in from the west, supporting the forecast for rain by evening. With any luck, they would beat the rain for the sun was shining in Oregon.
Cool air buffeted his face from the air conditioning vent on the dash. His body sank comfortably into the warm leather and his hand rested in Allison’s soft palm. His cheeks creased from his smile of satisfaction and it wasn’t long before Liam was fast asleep.
When he awoke, he was alone. The car was idling with the air conditioning flowing softly. The car was in a Portland shopping mall parking lot.
He pulled down the visor, flipped open the mirror and tossed his hair around making it presentable. A quick wipe of the eyes and he slapped the visor back up. The open windshield revealed Allison walking back to the car.
She wore the charcoal mock neck shirt as a tunic, a wrap-around black mini-skirt, high-heeled boots, twenty-dollar sunglasses and a more suitable belt. Allison looked like a starlet. In her right hand, she held her purse and the bag holding the orange and white shirt, her runners and Liam’s black belt.
Allison opened the door, the bag and purse plunked onto the back seat and she slid in behind the wheel. Liam had to catch himself. Her beauty was undeniable. There was something else though. Beautiful women surrounded him his entire life yet this girl had him spellbound.
“You’re awake,” she announced with a smile.
“Sorry for falling asleep.”
“Am I that boring?” She said, pulling on the seat belt.
“No, just that comforting,” Liam said, smiling back.
“Hum, I guess I’ll take that as a compliment,” she said, placing her hands up on the wheel.
It did give him comfort to be with her but sedation really wasn’t part of it. He watched her for a moment and then an odd feeling registered in his brain, like a sixth sense telling him something was wrong. He scanned the immediate area and off to the right he spotted what he sensed. Two men in a dark sedan across the way were staring. Liam smiled, they could gawk all they liked but it would be as close as they might get to have a woman as beautiful as Allison.
Seemingly unaware of her potential fan club, Allison slipped the BMW into gear and left the parking lot, heading for the Interstate.
The I5 heading out of Portland was busy but not congested. Allison moved to the far left lane, traveling as fast as the traffic would allow her. It was twenty past two.
“So you went to Washington State?” Liam inquired.
Keeping her eyes on the road, Allison responded. “Yes. I just graduated in June.”
“Cool, I guess that explains why you live in Sand Point. What did you take?”
“I got my CGA.”
“Holy shit, really? I mean, you don’t seem like the accountant type, I mean, shit, I wish you ran our accounting group,” Liam said.
“I’m flattered but trust me, when I get dressed for business, people get a whole different take on me.”
“Let me guess, pant suit, hair in a bun, glasses, that sort of thing?”
“Something like that…I finished second in my class,” she said.
“Nice! So did you get any offers yet?”
“Yeah, from all of the top four.”
“Okay, so if you have your CGA, a bunch of big offers and you live down in Sand Point, what on earth were you doing at the Mix?” Liam asked.
“The very reason I received offers from the big four is because I have been doing bookkeeping on the side to help get through college. The Mix is one of my clients and I was there helping them develop some systems and put some controls in place,” she explained. “How about you? Where did you go to school?”
“Yeah well you’re going to think I’m being pretentious but it’s really not a big deal.”
“Where?” Allison cut him off with a giggle.
“Harvard,” Liam said softly.
“Why would you be embarrassed about that? I think Harvard is incredibly awesome! Did you get a law degree?”
“No, a business degree. Sales and business management,” Liam replied.
“So how did you fair?”
“Best in class.”
“Really? How unbelievable is that?” She turned to look at him for a second then back to the road. “So you went to work for Texaco right out of school?”
“Texaco? What makes you think I work for Texaco?”
“You mentioned in your drunken stupor last night how you were an oil company executive and there’s a Texaco ball cap on your back seat, so I just assumed,” Allison explained.
“I wear the cap when I’m working undercover!” Liam joked. “But seriously, I went to work for Vesaro Oil out of San Antonio. Two years later, they asked me to head up wholesale refinery sales for their Anacortes operation. So I moved out to Tacoma.”
“Anacortes is a long way from Tacoma, surely you don’t commute?”
“Our offices are in Auburn.”
“So you’re from Texas then?” Allison asked, swerving the car around a slower pick up.
“No, I grew up in California. Malibu Beach area but trust me, it wasn’t as glamorous as it sounds. I mean we did pretty well. My dad was a pharmacist and had four small drugstores. Things were good until he got sick. He died of ALS when I was eleven.”Liam slumped back in the seat.
“ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease right?”
“Yes, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It was a nasty period in my life. We were very close and it was a hard pill to swallow. My mom tried to run the business on her own but eventually sold out. The guy who bought her out, wound up marrying her.”
“Really? So you have a step dad?”
“Yep, you’re going to meet him tonight, Ron Fortinac. He’s not a bad guy. He tries too hard to replace my dad though.”
Allison nodded. “I’m guessing it’s tough for both of you. Do you have any other siblings?”
“Yeah, two step brothers, Todd and Danny. They both work in the family business.”
“No, they got out of the pharmacies several years ago. Now they do home delivery of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.” Liam sighed. “Pretty big business, they have over five hundred delivery trucks last time I checked.”
“How come you don’t work for the family business, I mean, Harvard degree and all?”
“Don’t think Ron isn’t pissed about that one. I hear about it every time I visit. The worst part is he knows my boss, Bruce, and they’re pretty competitive with each other,” Liam explained.
“Oh, so Bruce always rubs it in I’ll bet!”Allison laughed.
“I can only imagine,” Liam said.
“So why West Linn?” Allison asked. “I mean it’s a long way from Bel Air.”
“Ron grew up in West Linn and my mom’s family is from Portland. They only use it as a summer home. Once the fall hits, they’re back to California,” Liam answered.
“Interesting, hey we’re coming up to the exit for the 205. I can pull over on the turnpike if you want to drive the rest of the way in?” Allison offered.
“I’m ready to drive anyway,” Liam said.
Allison cut right, across and over to the turnpike. Half way up she pulled the car to a stop on the gravelly shoulder. Unbuckling her seat belt, she reached for the door but Liam stopped her.
Reaching up with his right hand, Liam gently turned her soft face towards his. Moving in, he tensed his lips and kissed her. Fortunately, she responded kindly and kissed him back. The exchange went on for a long minute and then with a mutual smile, they exited the car to swap seats.
Liam stopped at the driver’s door, looking back for traffic before he opened it. He noticed a dark sedan stopped about two hundred yards back down the turnpike. It looked oddly similar to the car he saw back in the Portland mall. Making a mental note, he climbed in behind the wheel.