TITLE: London's Journey Chapters 1-3
By Victoria Weathers
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London Arnette Montgomery
London Montgomery locked the door to their family home for the last time. The Heritage Real Estate agent’s sign was already sporting the usual “SOLD” banner. She had assumed that she and Evan would watch their grandchildren play in the pool out back at their Waverly Estate address, London could not believe her life had taken such a turn. It didn’t make sense. How did their marriage come to this? How did Skylar Ellington manage to steal the most important person in her life?
Skylar Xavier Ellington was Evan’s personal assistant, with growing emphasis on the personal. There was a definite tension in the air any time the three of them were in the room together.
Evan had been spending more time at the gym after leaving the office. Sometimes he would not get home until after 10:00 p.m. He, always concerned with his physical appearance, worked to stay in shape. He would only allow himself a five pound gain. When he reached his self imposed limit, it would be a strict regimen of salads, cold water fish such as tuna or salmon, and lemon Propel fitness water.
A few weeks ago, when gathering Evan's gym clothes to be laundered, London found a monogrammed hand towel in his gym bag. It had to have been Skylar’s. Not many people have an “X” as an initial. London also found it quite ironic that Skylar’s monogram spelled out SEX since the surname initial is always in the middle position and enlarged. She knew they were the very least spending his post work hours at the gym together.
She looked at the topiaries flanking the entry on either side. Reaching to straighten the bow atop one of them she noticed her eternity band…another little bit of irony today she thought. It was a beautiful two-carat, wide paved diamond platinum band from one of Atlanta’s premier jewelers. Seeing the jeweler’s box alone caused even the most pampered of women to squeal in the anticipation of what possible treasure might be waiting inside.
Evan had given it to her during their twenty-year anniversary trip to Savannah. He was so romantic that weekend. Claire, London’s sister, had been an accomplice in getting London’s suitcase packed and keeping her nieces, Juliet and Lily. Their first night in Savannah Evan took London to dinner at The Lady and Her Sons restaurant. It was Food Network's Star's, Paula Dean's, restaurant. He knew London loved Paula Dean. She was always trying her recipes and he enjoyed that very much. But the recipes were rich with butter.
Since becoming the newest partner at Sayers, Forsyth and now Montgomery, S. F. & M Architecture, AIA. He had really pulled out all the stops. The evening ended with a beautiful carriage ride through the streets of Savannah and a night of passion and Evan was wonderful. Now her beautiful possession seemed to mock her.
She bet Evan didn’t even pick it out. He probably had her do it for him. That thought made her physically sick. Her eyes welled with tears. How could he love her so completely that night and nine months later divorce her? What was Skylar’s hold on him?
“Jerk!” she muttered to herself as she strapped herself into her Escalade.
Her cell phone rang. London quickly composed herself and put a smile on her face as she answered the phone. She read somewhere that smiling while speaking on the phone made you sound friendly. She was afraid the call was Evan since it was a number she didn’t recognize. She was right.
“London? Evan.” Like she wouldn’t recognize his voice after twenty years. He sounded cold and unfriendly.
“Did you pick up the rest of your things? The new family wants to take possession tomorrow and begin setting up house.”
“Yes. I am taking set of keys and garage door opener to the real estate office on my way to your place. I should be at your place in half an hour. The traffic on 75 isn’t moving. It is rush hour you know. Can you please ask the girls to be ready?”
“You haven’t changed your mind about moving to the country? The Juliet is less than thrilled.”
“They will be fine. I’m sure if Juliet misses the city terribly she will welcome a stay with you.”
There was silence. Then Evan awkwardly replied, “London, you know my place is only a single bedroom loft. When our renovation in the Castleberry Hill district is complete, I will have a nice three bedroom dwelling with plenty of room for the girls. But I don’t think my current place would be suitable for any lengthy visits right now.”
You are right about that. London wanted to say but was not ready to open that Pandora’s Box yet.
“You don’t have to move so far away. This is a big city with plenty of room for everyone.”
It was London’s turn for silence. She was fuming. Evan Montgomery had another thing coming if he thought she was going to share a social circle with Skylar the marriage wrecker.
“You know, Evan, you have abdicated your right to suggest, recommend or advise me in any way. Just have my daughters ready please.”
With that, she closed her cell phone.
London mouthed, “Not you.” as she waved her hands at the neighbor who was checking his mail. The gentleman frowned and walked back up his driveway. Her face burned with embarrassment. Was there any end to the humiliation he would cause her?
Starting her vehicle, she began dreading the journey to the real estate office and Evan’s loft. Turning over her keys to strangers was a lot more difficult than she had anticipated. She never expected to burst into tears in front of God and everybody at that office either.
She would not allow herself to even think about a possible encounter with Skylar. She was just too tired. Besides if Evan ever really loved her, and London knew he did, he would make sure Skylar was not around.
The urge to retreat from the pain of seeing Evan in person, consumed her. London’s stomach began to tighten as if she were preparing for a boxer’s blow to the midsection.
Why she hadn’t made some other more neutral arrangements to get her daughters? Audrey, Evan’s sister would have met her at a restaurant or anywhere with them. London didn’t want them to see her crumble at their now former home and she did want Evan to have some time with them before the moved two hours away.
She could have avoided seeing Evan all together but deep inside she really wanted to see him once more. She wanted more than anything to break the spell Skylar had on her husband…ex-husband.
Skylar Xavier Ellington
Skylar could not wait to be alone with Evan. She was more than a little annoyed when he asked her to give him a couple of days alone. She had worked so hard to climb the corporate ladder at the firm and she had enjoyed a measure of success - not bad for someone with only a high school diploma. She couldn’t risk him having second thoughts. If she ignored his wishes and went to his place, she risked appearing too clingy or needy. On the other hand, if she left him to his thoughts, she risked even more. She decided to give him a call and feel him out.
“Hey love. I just wanted to call and see how you are doing? I know it must be difficult saying good-bye to your daughters.”
“It’s devastating. I keep thinking that I have ruined their life. I feel like the most selfish...”
Skylar interrupted because she didn’t like where his mind was heading.
“We will get through this together. You are a good father and you love those girls. They’ll come around. I did when my parents divorce. Over half of all marriages end in divorce you know. Don’t worry…kids cope. They adjust. You’ll see.”
“Maybe. I just don’t want to be responsible for ruining their lives. You haven’t seen the pain on their faces. It is almost more than I can bear.”
Skylar knew she’d better change the direction of the conversation before London arrived.
“Call me Love, when the girls leave. I know you said you needed a few days but I really hate for you to be alone. We can sip some wine while enjoying a moonlit soak in the Jacuzzi…swimsuits optional of course.”
Her words purred over the phone and enveloped Evan in pleasant images.
“Mmmmm…very tempting.” Then, as if cold water had been dumped on him, his tone changed..."London’s here. I’ll call you later.” And that was it.
Skylar decided to shower and make sure her legs were silky smooth for her visit with Evan. She would wait for his call, but only for so long. Then she would be forced to take matters in her own hands. There was no way she was going back to living the simple life of a meager existence. She had become quite comfortable and planned to stay that way.
Evan had leased an apartment for her so they could be discreet. He requested and got a company car for her, stating that she was always on the go for him and the firm. They provided her with a new Lexus RX 350 because she sometimes picked up clients from the airport; SF&M always projected and image of success. Evan even managed to secure a clothing allowance because she was such a visible associate.
No one, not even Evan, would ever have guessed that she grew up in the very rural North Georgia Mountains in a run down mobile home, with the world’s sorriest parents who only cared about their next high or beer.
Skylar’s dad had drowned her mother in their toilet after an argument over an episode of C.O.P.S. Then, unable to live with the guilt, he had driven his pickup into a tree and died upon impact. Skylar had become an orphan at the age of twelve and after several foster homes; she was freed from the system at the age of eighteen.
She got her pretty foot in the door at SF&M through a customer she dated while working as a waitress at a down town restaurant. She had no issue using whom ever she needed to in order to get her from North Georgia to Atlanta. She had come to understand quickly that her sultry good looks most easily advanced her one and only cause self preservation.
She had become accustom to fine things and the man who made all that possible for her was Evan. For that, she was genuinely grateful and more than slightly jealous. Though so far she hid it very well.
After her shower, she misted her neck with the perfume Evan gave her on their first rendezvous. It was called Playful; a light floral scent with a hint of citrus. It added to her fresh from the shower scent that Evan found so irresistible.
She used a simple clip to pull up her hair and kept her makeup minimal. She looked natural, polished and pretty. She liked to wear her hair up at the beginning of the evening. She never tired of the look in Evan’s eyes as she let her long chestnut hair fall.
She chose a white delicate summer skirt set that made her look so sweet. Her nice flip-flops revealed her pedicured feet and silver toe-ring. It was just a simple band. She embodied everything beautiful about the summer.
Skylar chose an aqua bikini with lime green and white accents. If his mood was still somber, she planned strategically to re-appear in it after excusing herself to the bathroom and if she had to bring out the big guns, she would remove it as she approached the Jacuzzi. She wasn’t going to have him getting all nostalgic on her watch.
The phone rang. Checking the Caller ID she could see it was the bossy senior partner, Audrey Sayers the “S” in SF&M. She considered letting it ring but decided making a partner angry could be detrimental to her lifestyle.
“Hello?” Skylar used her most friendly yet professional tone.
“Miss. Ellington, how are you this evening?”
“Very well Mrs. Sayers. How can I help you?”
“I need you to get word to Mr. Montgomery that the Colorado Springs project needs his attention. We need him to smooth over the relations between labor and the corporate representative, Wallace Langstrom. Apparently Mr. Langstrom became intoxicated and started hitting on one of the laborers daughters.”
“I need Mr. Montgomery to get in touch with me immediately. I have the number to his new residence on my desk at the firm; but I have not as yet had the opportunity to enter it into my PDA.”
“I will be happy to convey the message. I need to call him on another matter anyway.”
Audrey cleared her throat softly. She had been suspicious of a building relationship between her brother Evan and Skylar a since HR assigned her to his office after his promotion.
“See that you do. I need to hear from him tonight.”
Few people in the firm knew that Evan was Audrey's brother. He worked his way into the position partner. She encouraged Evan to keep it that way. They both wanted Evan to be respected on merit not nepotism.
Once he settled in to his position, Audrey had hoped Evan would eventually hire someone of his own choosing so that Skylar would be sent back to the lower management secretarial staff. She just didn’t trust her around Evan. Separating them was the least she could do for London.
“Yes, Mrs. Sayers. I’ll call Mr. Montgomery right away. I'll be right on it.”
“Yes, well…good evening.”
That woman made her nervous. She did however; give her a good reason to go to Evan's.
Evan Greyson Montgomery
Evan stood in his loft watching London, Juliet and Lily back out and drive away. His eyes filled with tears. Was he doing the right thing? Did her really feel nothing for London any more? Questions began to nag at his heart.
What was it about Skylar that had stolen his heart? Was it his heart? Why did his loft, which was filled with all his possessions, suddenly feel so empty?
He decided a beer would relax him. Opening the fridge he immediately saw the big bowl of mac and cheese Lily had prepared for last night’s supper. Juliet made salad; he had grilled some New York strips. It was actually a nice evening. For a few hours he had been able to set aside the guilt he felt for London and the irresistible pull of Skylar, and just be Dad. All had gone so well. He was sure they knew nothing of Skylar. He knew London was suspicious but felt certain she had no solid proof.
They laughed as they enjoyed their supper. Laughed a little too hard as a matter of fact. Juliet’s small bladder beckoned for relief. She took off down the hallway to the master bath.
When she returned, she was no longer smiling. Tears welled up in her pretty blue eyes. In her hand she held a piece of paper. The voice that had only moments earlier rang with laughter, now roared with contempt.
"Who is Skylar?” She said as she slammed the note right in the middle of his plate.
“Where did you get…What were you doing in my room?”
“What’s going on?” Lily didn’t understand anything she was hearing.
“Dad’s having an affair!”
“Liar! Dad wouldn’t do that to Mom or us.”
“Read it yourself.” Juliet grabbed the card and flung it at Lily who immediately read it.
Lily's hands trembled as she read, “Evan, I have missed your touch these last few days. I know we are at a real crossroads in our relationship. Just know I love you…I am waiting for you. Love, Skylar.”
With tears streaming down her face, Lily looked at her father, her hero.
“Dad?” Lily said with eyes pleading for some sort of explanation.
There stood Evan's two daughters, his treasures, with eyes pleading for meaning; struggling for reassurance. They looked to him for an answer to the horrible truth that must have seemed to have struck their very core. He never meant for them to know of Skylar at least not in the position of adulterer.
His silence spoke volumes. He hadn’t only betrayed their mother. He betrayed them…cheated on them…sent their world into chaos and stood there speechless. Some father. Evan thought.
They didn’t speak to him the rest of the night. They didn’t speak to him even when their mother arrived to pick them up. No “Good-bye”. Nothing. Just two very disappointed looks and then emptiness.
As Evan sipped his beer, he heard the lift elevator and then the door. He wanted it to be his daughters coming back to tell him of their love for him in spite of his repugnance. Instead, it was Skylar. He didn’t bother to hide his disappointment.
“What’s wrong Love? Aren’t you happy to see me?”
“The girls know about us? They found the note you had given me with the new towels last week. I could have sworn I put that in a drawer.”
“What makes you think otherwise?”
“Juliet said it was on the dresser. She thought it was from London and read it.”
“Invading your privacy? She may have been snooping.”
“No, I really don’t think so. She’s never been one to invade our privacy. She said she was frantic to find out if her mom and I were going to get back together."
“Well, she is their mother. Loyalty to her is to be expected.”
Skylar knew exactly how that note got there. She needed the girls to be angry with their father, otherwise they would keep nagging at him to go back to London. She retrieved the note from the wastebasket not he drawer and put it in a place where it wouldn’t stand out but that it would eventually get noticed. Mission accomplished.
“Evan, Mrs. Sayers called me. She wanted me to tell you she needs you to go to Colorado Springs and smooth out some wrinkles in your project there. Really, I think you have been dealt quite a blow. You need to get your thoughts together. I can call her and let her know that now will not be good for you.”
“No. Getting away and engrossing myself in work is just what I need. Besides, I haven’t been out to the site in a few months. I need to see how things are progressing.”
“I’ll call and book our flight.”
“I think I will go alone. You’ve got other projects pending and maybe with some time apart we can both get some work done.”
Evan’s sheepish look mad Skylar feel much better. She was beginning to feel she had lost her allure.
“Come here Love. Let me make you forget your worries.” She extended her arms toward Evan. Her eyes softened as well as her voice.
“It will all work out. You are a good father and these are adult issues you can’t expect a sixteen and thirteen year old to understand.”
Evan loved her scent, so clean and sweet. There was something about this woman that bewitched him.
“You call Mrs. Sayers so that I won’t get in trouble with her. I don't want her to see me as one who drops the ball. I’ll pour us some wine and get the bubbles going and remember…swimsuits are optional.”
She could tell by his grin he was back under her spell.
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