Marshall convinces Maggie to give him another chance
Albert escorted Maggie to the podium, allowing her to present the checks to the Company, Adult and Youth winners for their Community Service Awards. Before she reached her seat the small five piece band started playing. Albert pulled out her chair and Maggie once again took her seat.
For the past seven years she looked forward to the Community Silent Auction and Award Gala, but not tonight. Maggie put a smile on her face. She didn't want to attend this year. Her friends repeatedly pointed out she bought her dress a month ago, and the tickets purchased last January. They also reminded her she would present awards this year.
She stopped kidding herself a week ago. Two weeks passed since her birthday. Marshall occupied her daily thoughts, her dreams and most of the conversations with her close friends. They spent eight hours together. Eight hours of a roller coaster ride through emotions. Eight hours which grabbed her heart, wrapped it in tight silken bands which refused to let go. Could someone really get soul attached in eight hours? The age difference and the fact Marshall attracted trouble, kept her awake at night. She couldn't go through it all again. Could she?
"Maggie would you like another glass of wine?"
Blinking a couple of times, she looked toward Albert seated on her right. He'd shown her extra attention the past two weeks, which started getting on her nerves. She needed solitude to wallow in her thoughts and process Marshall out of her life. "No thank you, Albert." Turning her eyes to the room she smiled. "This year's celebration turned out better than last year." Picking up her wine glass, Maggie took a sip. "Johnston said we already passed last year's pledges. The silent auction bids will not be cut off for another hour and a half. The bids are far more than we hoped for."
"I know," Jim said from across the round table. "We brought out four more tables. Makes seven more tables then last year. You and your committee should be proud."
"Thank you Jim. Everyone worked hard this year." Looking around she took in the large round white table cloth covered tables dotting the room; all surrounding the centrally located dance floor of the Civic Center. Lighting was minimal, with the use of "fairy lights" and battery operated Volvo candles in the center of each table. The dance floor and the long narrow cash bar running along the far wall, were lite better. Everyone at Maggie's table paid the extra price to drink as much as they wanted for no extra charge. A small powder blue flag stood in the center of their table to signify they needed the wait staff to stop by and take their orders. To offset the flow of alcohol, platters of finger foods dotted each of the table, platters kept full by strategic deliveies of new ones.
"Maggie would you care to dance?"
"No thank you Albert. I think I'll sit and enjoy the festivities. Why don't you ask Alice. I know she'd jump at the chance to dance with you." Maggie leaned closer to Albert. "You know she's got a crush on you. The two of you would make a great couple."
Albert's face flushed a slight shade of pink. "No. I know what I want in the world Maggie." He reached out and patter her hand, "Alice Fairchild's nowhere in my vision of my future."
Maggie smiled and shrugged. She really hoped Albert found someone to love. He traveled so much with his antique business there wasn't much time for him to romance anyone. He was a good friend, so she would continue to help him find happiness.
When one of the other woman asked Albert a question, Maggie turned and surveyed the room. Representatives from major corporations, both local and out of town, made the rounds. Maggie smiled. She'd been surprised when others pointed, the amount of high dollar deals done at the event.
Loud, male laughter drew her attention to one corner of the room, near the French doors leading out to the back patio. Maggie couldn't hold back the gasp when she spied Marshall, decked out in a perfectly fitting Tux. He stood next to Terrance Jones, Jr., a business tycoon who was openly gay. Was Marshall gay?
Two weeks earlier Maggie's life rotated just off center. A man twenty years younger showed her a world she forgot existed, as she settled into what she considered correct behavior for a sixty-one year old, retired librarian, self sufficient widow. She only spent seven hours and 43 minutes with him and she missed him. Since her birthday, he sauntered into her night and day dreams. Her friends probably started thinking her senile, when she would space out in the middle of a card game or other activity.
"You alright?" Albert asked her. He put his hand on top of hers and squeezed.
"I'm fine just swallowed wrong." When she turned back to the men who had laughed, Marshall wasn't there. She scanned the room again, but didn't see him. Maybe she could find a reason to talk with him after. She let her eyes fall back on the table in front of her. She was being stupid thinking a young stud like Marshall, would even want to be with a sixty one year old woman, unless he was getting paid. Maggie focused on the conversation at the table.
A her friends around the tabled stopped talking, their eyes focused at a point over her head and off to her right. Looking up over her right shoulder, she found Marshall smiling down at her. He held out his hand, "Excuse me Maggie, would you honor me with the next dance please?"
o o o o o o o o o o
Marshall fought boredom. His client only required him to stand by his side dressed in a tux and look handsome and important. His openly gay client introduced Marshall as his business partner. He held nothing against people who were gay, but he didn't swing that way. The knowing looks grated on him sometimes but the money was good. He plastered a smile on his face, taking small sips from the Champaign flute in his hand.
The Gala wasn't bad, compared to the few he attended in the past. A ten foot long banquet table ran along a wall perpendicular to the bar. Marshall and his client both wore light blue wrist bands which signified they didn't pay for their drinks. The band alternated between slow and upbeat music. The centrally located dance floor stayed busy. The upper crust flaunted their money though the clothes they wore and the general actions towards each other. Marshall figured the Children's Hospital would make out well, with the spending atmosphere generated here tonight. He wanted to be home. This was his third client today.
Letting his eyes wonder cleared the boredom. Maggie sat at one of the larger round tables, with a group of men and women. Marshall recognized a few of the women from the birthday party. The man sitting next to her, the same man who read him the riot act in the kitchen of the Club House, sat way too close to Maggie. Marshall let out a low growl. He didn't trust the man. The man expected to control all those around him.
Maggie dressed in a long formal dark red dress, her hair loosely piled on top of her head. She was stunning. The woman occupied his thoughts and dreams since the birthday date. He knew she thought him too young for her. With what she said about not wanting any dramatics in her life he also knew she ran from all of the problems on her Birthday. The chance to talk with her again was all he wanted. Right?
Marshall leaned forward and whispered in his clients ear. The man gave him a puzzled look but nodded. He put his glass on a tray of one of the servers and headed for the small band on the sidelines of the dance floor. Giving them his request he headed for Maggie's table. He knew he was taking a chance the lady would send him on his way, but it was a chance he needed to take. Reaching the table, she looked up. He held out his hand. "Excuse me Maggie, would you honor me with the next dance please?"
Marshall wasn't sure the beautiful woman would say yes. He got looks of various degrees of emotions, happiness, speculation, weariness, from the other seven people at the table. He side glanced at Albert, finding anger in the man's steel gray eyes.
Maggie laid her hand in his. As he led her to the dance floor the band started to play A Lady In Red. "The last time we tried this it didn't turn out so well," Maggie whispered. He gently squeezed her hand, stopping near the center of the polished parquet floor. Keeping his voice low he whispered close to her ear, "Ah, but Sunshine the crowd's a bit more refined here." She leaned against him as he pulled her close. One of his large hands settled on her lower back, The fingers of his right hand entwined with hers. The people around them melted away.
He started a slow, rhythmic rocking to the music. She mentioned, at the Pub, she had no confidence in following the lead of her partner. Maggie melted into his embrace. Maybe he might convince her to stay in his arms for a long time, maybe past tonight. "I had a nice time, Sunshine when we went out for your birthday. I would give anything to end the day differently. Please believe me Sunshine. My life can be dangerous. Conflicts will come up, but I can make you the promise I will never go looking for a fight. I will never throw the first swing. I will back down if I can. I need you to believe me Maggie, please?" He knew he couldn't push too fast. The nick name of Sunshine fit her perfectly. He also knew people would give her grief about their age difference. He already decked one man because of his comments. Even a couple of people he considered friends came dangerously close to feeling his fists, when they said things like, "You get yourself a sugar mama." and "bet she's willing to give you whatever you want without a lot of cost."
Now he wanted to date the woman who invaded his dreams. A date without money involved. He accepted the twenty year age difference. Looking into her eyes he tried to explain. "Maggie since we had such a good time for the most part... baring of course me having to leave you to get home on your own..." Marshall wondered how her police ride went with her neighbors. The fact would travele through her mobile home park faster than electricity through wire. "... I wonder if you would do me the honor of letting me take you out on a real date? We can do anything, go anywhere you want."
He felt her stiffen. He needed the chance to show her what it would be like when he wasn't getting paid to escort her. The dark brown eyes looking up at him held questions and apprehension. But not fear. "Please Maggie, spend a little more time with me."
Maggie stared up at him for countless seconds while he held his breath. "I think I would like it if you would come for lunch tomorrow, say around 1:00 pm. After lunch we can decide what to do," she whispered.
"I would like to very much." Her invitation told him she trusted him. Good, right? They'd never been truly alone. He would need to answer all her questions truthfully and hope she'd accept the reasons for his past actions. The time would make or break their relationship.
He felt a tap on his shoulder. Turning he found Mr. Sourpuss standing beside them. Marshall decided not to fight it. He smiled, stepped back and took her hand in his. Bringing her knuckles up he brushed them lightly with his lips. "Until tomorrow then, Sunshine." Nodding to the other man he turned and made his way back to his clients side.
o o o o o o o o o o
Albert's temper simmered. The whelp took Maggie to the dance floor. He watched as the man pulled her close to his body. Albert carefully cultivated his relationship with Maggie over the years. No hired upstart would undo all of his plans. Albert was convinced the man only wanted Maggie for what he thought she possessed. Why else would a 40 year old man pretend to care for a mature 61 year old woman.
At home he had a report on the man. When the girls told him their plans he had Bailey's Escort Service checked out. All five of its members were thoroughly documented in the report of the private investigator. Marshall was co-owner. Multiple arrests, out of the service on a less than honorable discharge for fighting, three bank accounts and the only visible means of support his Escort Service, catering to men and women. All detailed in the report. Medical records still stayed hidden. Time to interfere. He headed for the dance floor. Albert planned to give Maggie the rest of the information he uncovered in the morning. Tonight he would keep her close. Taking her home immediately sounded even better, but they couldn't leave yet.
As the man stepped away, after kissing the back of her hand, Albert stepped in close. Tomorrow really? Don't count on it. Marshall's growl made him smile. He tightened his grip on Maggie, when she tried to put some distance between them. He would show her he cared and treat her as nice as much as any man. Tomorrow morning he would step up plans to claim her. He had taken it slow but Maggie was starting to make wrong decisions about her life and he needed to correct them so she would find happiness. He would show her the best way to spend what time she had left.