About: William, Sarah/Noah, Julia
Disclaimer: I don’t own anything
Extra: This an AU (Alternative Universe) story, so remember : The more things change, the more they stay the same. Here are part 01, part 02, part 03, part 04, part 05, part 06, part 07, part 08, part 09, part 10, part 11, part 12, part 13, part 14, part 15, part 16, part 17 and part 18
HALFWAY DECEMBER 2007
William realizes he could not have picked a prettier day to go to Ojai. The sun is shining, but not too bright, it’s cool and nice and William looks forward to his meeting this afternoon. He knows the file on Harper’s Landing in and out. And he really wants to buy the vineyard.
The land is right beside his own and he’s been trying to get it for years, but so far David Harper had not been willing to sell the land. But his recent death had left his widow in the position, that she couldn’t keep the land for herself, so she had contacted him through her lawyers.
And so far, most of their transactions had been through them, aside the occasional phone-call, but now that William is ready to buy it off her hands, he wants to meet her in person. You meet people face to face, see what they look like, how they behave. William firmly believes that you can judge people on first instinct.
He has to admit that he is also very curious. Harper’s Landing has a good reputation in the wine-business. Small vineyard, but their product is made with love and care and apparently that shines through in their wine. He wants to know about how it is made and see if perhaps he can keep the winery going.
It would be extending his company beyond his knowledge, but considering his own line of business, fruit and vegetables, it would not be too far-fetched to have a winery as well. If he can perhaps keep the personnel and keep the winery running under another name, it might even be an interesting project to watch.
Another bend in the road and then he sees the house. Not a big ranch, just like what the Walkers own, but a small, tidy place amongst some trees. He parks his car and he sees a woman open the door. And because of the sad look on her face and her black clothes William can only assume that she is the widow, Holly Harper.
“These are lovely, Noah.” Sarah is genuinely surprised by the advertisements Noah shows her. Noah and she always had this knack for picking out the right messages, it was what made them so good together, there was this directness, this gut-feeling that they knew what they were doing.
“Which one would you pick?” Noah asks. Sarah looks up with a smile. His dark voice can still make her stomach flutter. She never knew if Noah felt the same, but to her there had always been this erotic undercurrent in these talks. It was like they were flirting, trying to figure each other out, by looking if they agreed on the same.
Of course, they never did anything besides being close friends. Noah is married and has three small children. She would never even consider interfering in his marriage and she is pretty sure he feels just as protective towards her, her marriage to Joe and the children she has.
“I’d go for this one. Colorful, bright, funny, it catches your eye immediately. That one is just a little more… bland? Could really be about just anything? Too general?”
“I see, we still agree…” They both smile at each other over their coffee and Sarah is amazed that after all this time, three years, there is still this immediate recognition in them.
“I’m glad you finally agreed to meet with me. I mean, the phone, the texting, it is all very nice, but having you actually present to look at and to talk to… Even just for coffee, like this.. it makes me realize how much I miss you.” He looks at her with a tenderness, that she feels he shouldn’t display, because she enjoys it too much.
“I mean it. The company hasn’t been the same without you. Sure, we found someone to take your position, but I miss you. Your input, your laughter, your crazy ideas, the way you can look at a drawing and see what is right or wrong and how to make it a better one.”
Sarah laughs again. She knows that she laughs too much around him. He always makes her feel giddy and special.
“So what is it like to be working for your father? Still exciting?”
“Oh, you know….” She shrugs.
“No. I don’t. Otherwise I wouldn’t be asking.”
“I took the job, hoping I’d have more time for Joe and the kids, but where the boss of Northern Light at least allowed me to have a private life, be it a little one, when you work in a family-company, private life and work are just entangled.
If I have dinner at my parents, my father, my brother and I end up discussing clients. If I run into my brother Kevin, I want an update on legal matters. If I see uncle Saul in mom’s kitchen, the conversation inevitably goes towards finances. Ojai Foods is such a big part of all our lives, that I just cannot step away from it.
But lately it starts to feel like it’s restricting me. I feel that my creativity is gagged, because, in the end, dad makes all the decisions and he and I often don’t agree on what would be better for the company. Tommy of course always sides with dad. So, not much help from that side either.
Kevin can sometimes step in, because he can talk. He can override dad with logic. Sometimes, not always. Besides it’s usually also about pride. Dad would rather not admit that his gay son is right. Or his daughter, you know, a woman…” Noah nods his head that he understand.
Noah met William Walker a few times and he’s the sort of man with strong prejudices. His gay son. The position of a woman. And Noah wonders if William would want to deal with him, a black man. William would probably find some prejudice there too.
“So, how is your family? I miss the zany stories about them.”
“Same old story. Dad is dad, in charge of the business and all our lives. Mom is mom, always at home, cooking, cleaning, looking for new recipes. Tommy and Julia are trying to get pregnant. Kevin’s heart is broken because his latest boy-friend left. Kitty still lives in New York and has a rich boyfriend, Justin is still sober.” She sums up. “You?”
The smile disappears from Noah’s face, for a second. He shrugs.
“I tell everyone that we’re fine and doing great.”
“Everyone, huh? And what will tell me?”
“Trish and I hardly talk to each other. She… She’s having an affair.”
“Oh, my God! Trish? I’m sorry. What will you do?”
“I spoke to my lawyer, but she says it’s better to stay with Trish. If I get a divorce, with my work-load, my hours, I’d probably not be able to see much of my kids and I would pay way too much alimony. And as far as I’m concerned Trish isn’t worth the hassle.”
The bitterness in Noah is painful to hear and see. And Sarah needs to take a sip of her coffee to regroup her thoughts. Their respective marriages had always been the barriers that had kept them in line. Now, that both their marriages are on shaky grounds, can she continue to keep her distance?
Julia plays nervously with her keys. They roll from one hand into the other with some considerable noise. Not that Julia notices, her mind is somewhere else.
“Ma’m, would you mind? It’s kinda irritating.” Another woman in the waiting-room asks and after an embarrassed look at her fingers, Julia sticks the keys in her pocket.
“Mrs Walker?” The assistant asks. “You can go in.” Julia gets up and takes a deep breath. Why is she doing this? So what if they have been trying for several months now and she’s still not pregnant? Doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with her…. like William Walker suggested.
She still gets mad when she thinks about what Tommy told her. He was so upset that night, the sweetheart. Before she opens the door her hand caresses her flat tummy. Oh, what she wouldn’t give if only she could carry Tommy’s child in there. She wants to be pregnant. She wants a child.
“Mrs Walker, the test-results are all in.” The doctor starts after the usual greetings. “We cannot see a reason why you couldn’t get pregnant, Mrs Walker. You’re healthy and strong and, medically, there is no reason why it shouldn’t happen. We, of course, don’t have your husband’s medical data.
I know this must all be very stressing for you, with high hopes and expectations, but sometimes it might just help, if you try to ‘forget’ about it. Relax, enjoy your time with your husband, rather than desperately think about how much you want to get pregnant, concentrate on the intimacy you share with your husband, Mrs Walker.”
When Julia walks out to of the clinic she holds her head up high. She knew she wanted a independent test, not done by her own doctor. And there’s nothing wrong with her. She laughs as she looks up to the sun, in the park children are playing and she is sure… soon enough her child will play there too.
END OF PART 19