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Chapter 6 — Loose Ends Have Beginnings
Bret found Dave cooking omelets on Sunday morning. He was laughing as he approached the cooking area Dave normally used for his morning service to his fellow Circle members. He said, “What did you do to my wife?”
Dave smiled, “Good morning. I assume she’s all right?”
“Oh, she’s better than all right. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a more affectionate wife, certainly not first thing in the morning. Moreover, all she could talk about is how much she is in love with you. She’s like on some love potion. What’d you feed her? All she said was you gave her The Experience.”
Dave laughed but suddenly he was surrounded by two feminine arms and felt the bare breasts of the woman he spent the previous evening with against his back. Based on the erect nipples, she was aroused. She was standing on tiptoe and kissing his neck above his t-shirt.
“I love you,” she crooned. Dave watched the expression on Bret’s face but it remained neutral and curious.
Dave said, “Bret loves you, too.”
“Oh, I know. I love him and always will. He’s my rock, but you rocked my world last night. I love you.”
The dichotomy of loving two men and openly pledging her love to the two of them in each other’s presence didn’t seem to befuddle her. This was normal.
Dave said, “If you give me your orders for omelets and get some seats nearby, I’ll be able to join you for breakfast in about fifteen minutes. This is one of my service jobs to the Circle. If you want more of a regular breakfast, we have that, too.”
Dave had explained about the concept of service to the Circle and how it was applied. Tan had also showed them the app she’d created to manage the assignments to teams for each of the members and the pledges.
Scarlett came along and made sure Bret and Jean had coffee and juice from the buffet, and then sat with the couple while she too awaited one of Dave’s custom omelets. About ten minutes later Dave shut down the operation and brought four omelets to the table the others had staked out. He put the plates down along with the napkin wrapped silverware.
Bret observed, “This is amazing. I mean the whole Circle is amazing. The way you’ve grown, the way you interact, your chefs and the cuisine, childcare, and the whole philosophy. Scarlett told me more about this place last night.”
Dave teased, “Oh, you liked having Scarlett ‘chat’ with you last night?”
Scarlett burst out laughing, “We did a helluva lot more than chat. Bret is very satisfying in many ways.” She leaned over and kissed his bare shoulder. He swooned.
Bret laughed, “You know the sad part of meeting and then being with Scarlett in an intimate way?”
Dave guessed, “You can’t tell anybody.” He laughed.
“In more ways than one. First, I’d never violate her confidence and trust, but second no one would believe me. I’d get the ‘Oh, sure, you made love with your favorite movie star this weekend. What were you smoking?’ I’ve been vocal to our friends about how Scarlett is my all-time favorite star in Hollywood. They’d never believe me were I to tell them I spent several hours naked with her in a bed the size of an aircraft carrier.” He laughed.
Scarlett teased, “Plus only a few people outside of here know that Scarlett hangs out around little old Sarasota instead of Hollywood so she can be with all the people she loves. Besides, they attract such interesting people, like you and our pledges.” She leaned in and kissed him. Jean wasn’t the least bit fazed. A moment later she was; Scarlett changed seats and then was making out with Jean; a move that included fondling and pinching an available nipple. Scarlett seemed warmed up.
Jean casually announced after the kiss ended, “I can’t and won’t say anything either.” She had a dreamy expression on her face that made the rest of the group smile at her joy.
Dave asked Bret, “So, did you get to learn what you thought you would about the Circle? What else can we do for you on this trip?”
“Oh, much more. You are all great people. This will be a tough act to follow, but I’m determined to put something together like this. I hope it’ll be all right to lean on you for ideas and stuff. I’d still like you to come up to Atlanta and visit with all of us as soon as you can. Your feelings about the personalities involved and our physical situation would be highly valued.
“I also plan to devour Cricket’s book. She was my other companion in one of your large beds last night. Despite the distraction of our attraction we did talk. I have her phone and will be talking more to her.”
Dave ventured, “Maybe she can come up with me when we go. Instead of the large Atlanta airport is there a smaller one closer to you?”
“Oh, yes,” Bret said. “Macon, Georgia, Airport is right near us — Middle Georgia Regional or the identifier for it is MCN. That’s where I take lessons. The main runway is over eight thousand feet including the displaced thresholds, so if you fly the jet, you’d have plenty of room to land and takeoff.”
Dave grinned, bostancı escort bayan “I just might do that. As I told you, that’s my new toy and I’m looking for opportunities to play with it. If I come up, I’d probably try to bring some company, as I said: Cricket and-or a copilot.”
* * * * *
Jim Danforth, the manager and part owner of the Club Ecstasy, came over at dinner to where Dave, Owen, and several others were seated having after-dinner coffee together. He said, “Gentlemen, I have another candidate for you to consider for one of your scholarships.”
Both men looked up. Owen said, “What’s the story?”
Jim pulled up a chair. “You might guess I found her through the night club, given I’m the one making the suggestion. Pretty girl named Kellie Sawyer grows up poor and abused, flees to Florida, meets Mr. Shithead who takes all sorts of advantages of her and turns her into his private plaything and meal ticket, she wises up after over time with the guy, ditches him, shakes the drug habit that he’s given her, and then applies for a job at the Club about two or three months ago.
“Kellie is a knockout and has a personality to boot. I started her at the Club with a few reservations but she’s proven herself. She’s smart, remembers everything, and appears well read. I’ve come to think that she should be in college. I asked her last night about that and she laughed. She doesn’t have two nickels to rub together.”
Dave asked, “Is she even motivated?”
“I think so. She was interested, but it’s such a far reach for her I don’t think college is even on her radar screen. She’s still dirt poor and just scraping by. You know we don’t pay all that well, although we do provide good benefits to make up for it. She’s a good dancer and knows how to work the crowd for lap dances and tips. I’m sure this profession is not in her long-term plan but she doesn’t know that.”
“Why don’t you invite her over for dinner sometime so we can meet her and do a little interviewing?” Owen asked.
“You both here on midday Saturday?” Jim asked.
Dave and Owen nodded.
Saturday afternoon just after lunch Dave was stocking the bar when a gorgeous young woman in her early twenties appeared between a few of the houses. She had long black hair to her waist that blew around lightly in the breeze. Many people looked up. He hailed Owen who went to greet her and see whether she was our appointment.
A minute later Owen escorted the girl to the bar and introduced Kellie Sawyer to Dave. The girl was beautiful just as Jim had stated. She had a pretty smile, blue-green eyes, great posture, and was well dressed in casual clothes.
Kellie said, “I’m not quite sure why I’m here and supposed to meet you two men. Jim Danforth told me where to come, how to get in the gate and park, and then what to do to find this patio bar. He said you’d take it from there and that you had something to talk to me about. By the way, he’s the best boss I ever had and I trusted him enough to follow his otherwise vague instructions of about what this was about.”
Dave rolled his eyes and then explained, “That’s right. Kellie, Jim thinks you’re worth saving. I’m sorry he didn’t explain more to you.”
“Saving? From what?”
“He thinks you’re basically broke, living from paycheck to paycheck, with little education to change professions or get a higher paying job, and that you are under-utilized by stripping, doing lap dances, and waitressing at the Club Ecstasy. Is that accurate?”
Kellie bright smile disappeared, “Yeah, pretty much. I have an old car, but I owe money on it. I rent a room over a pizza place that’s reasonably safe. I did score an old TV set from a friend so with an antenna I can get the local channels. The job at the Club was about the only one I could find when I was looking three months ago. Jim is very nice, and he doesn’t hit on me at all. No one does. I like Benny the Bouncer, the other strippers, and the bartenders, too.”
“Did you finish high school?”
“Yes, just barely. I left on the last day right after classes. I didn’t even go to my graduation ceremony. My home life sucked. My stepfather wanted me out working and paying my way from when he appeared on the scene in my sophomore year. He also kept hitting on me, at least until I told my mother on one of the days when she wasn’t in an alcoholic fog. She put a stop to that, so instead he’d whack me hard — frequently. He was a prick. It took four months after I left for the bruises to entirely disappear.”
“What kind of a student were you?”
“In high school, not half bad. I was in the top third or quarter of my class. I’d have to get a transcript to be sure. I think I had a GPA around 3.5 on a 4.0-point scale. I had a half-time job, too. That’s long forgotten. I look younger than I am. I’m twenty-four. I haven’t cracked a schoolbook in six years, but I sure learned a lot in the school of hard knocks.
“Before the job at the club I did some work in a hotel laundry and waitressing. I was a clerk at Walmart for a short time, too. My ex-boyfriend ümraniye escort got me hooked on some nasty drugs for a while, so I was unstable for a long time in there. I woke up one day and realized I had to grow up and tripping out wasn’t the way to do that. I stopped cold turkey without even going to rehab. It was hard, but I’ve been clean for almost a year and a half.”
Dave said, “Jim told us you’d been with some guy for a while that hadn’t worked out.”
Kellie laughed, “I’ll say. He was crazy. Now, he’d be pleased as punch that I’m working as an exotic dancer in a club. He wanted me to do more but he had all the charm of a rattlesnake. I don’t know why I kept thinking he’d change. I stayed three years too long in a three-year relationship that should have ended after two dates at the start.”
“What are your interests? What do you do for fun?”
“I’m a reader. I devour just about anything — fiction and nonfiction. I like biographies of famous people. Since I don’t have any money, I can’t do a lot of things most people do. I like the library. A movie is an extravagance. I like the beach but I have to avoid tan lines. I see some of the women in this group sitting topless over there so they don’t get strap marks. That’s good in my book. No one seems concerned.”
Owen added, “The monokinis are a concession to there being children around. On weekends when the kids aren’t around, the dress code is even more relaxed.”
Kellie chuckled, “Maybe I could hang out here if that’s all right with the powers that run this place.”
“Oh, it’s fine. Just come in. People will want to involve you socially in conversations, so don’t be surprised if you meet a lot of other people. They know we’re interviewing you today, so are being polite and not intervening. There are about a hundred and fifty people here in the Circle.”
Kellie said, “Yeah, so back to what this is about?”
“Saving you, as I said,” Dave smiled.
“Then what? What’s that mean?”
“We were thinking about giving you a scholarship to attend the university and get a further education.”
“Ooooooh, yeah, and just what would be the strings that came with that offer?” she laughed sardonically. Dave guessed she’d had many other offers that all came with strings.
Both men shrugged. Owen explained, “You attend, get good grades, and we give you money to live on, buy books, and for your tuition. You have to maintain at least a 3.00 average to maintain the scholarship. No grades below a ‘C’. We will provide you mentors and study partners if we can and you want the mentoring. Several of the other women in our Circle of friends have done this and are already waiting to help you. Several of those women worked at the Club Ecstasy, too: Heather Manning Prentiss and Christie Lee, to name two.”
Kellie squinted at both men, “And I become your sex slave, right?”
Dave laughed, “Nope. No obligation other than to keep your grades up. We’d prefer that you go to school right through the summers unless you can land some kind of unique internship or summer job in the field you ultimately want to work in. Heather and Christie were both computer science majors and are now employed in that line of work. They each still make an appearance at the Club every now and then.”
“But … but … what’s the catch?” Kellie asked. “What do I owe you? Will I end up with some of those massive student loans that are impossible to pay off?”
Both men shook their heads. “No. We want you to graduate debt free, well educated, and employable in some kind of great job. We think you and we’d do better in a STEM field — science, technology, engineering, or math, but you pick your major. We have people in many different professions in our group who will help you. The only obligation during the scholarship is that GPA. We’d want to do periodic reviews with you about your coursework and progress, but those are informal, just like this interview. Think of those as helping you steer into a great career. If you need graduate school after undergrad, I’m sure we can continue the scholarship. As is currently the case, YOU hold the key to your own success.”
“What do I have to do to get this scholarship and largess? There’s got to be something I’m missing here.”
“For one we want you to develop a mindset that you’ll pay-it-forward after you graduate. Besides working in a good job, we ultimately want you to find somebody to help improve just the way we hope to help you do the same. There are no set ways to do that; it’d only be your moral obligation to having been helped. No one here will check up on you after graduation, although we hope you’d stay in touch with us the way you would with helpful friends. Other than that, all you have to do is start the enrollment process. One of us can help you do that.”
“Wait!” Kellie said in a suspicious tone. “Where’s this money come from? This isn’t drug stuff is it? I don’t want to have anything to do with that.”
Owen laughed, “No. The money comes from a very reputable charitable and philanthropic foundation named escort kartal the Bennett Foundation. Originally it was set up on behalf of Otis Bennett, who happened to be my grandfather. He made his money by taking advantage of the industrial revolution and real estate. Since its inception, other individuals have added considerably to the funds we manage and we have made prudent investments. Mostly, we help others based on the earnings of that money.”
“How much is in the fund? Will it be able to help me all the way through the university? I’d like not to start something and then have the source of funds evaporate.”
Owen and Dave both laughed. Owen said, “Currently, a rough valuation of the fund is around four hundred billion dollars, so yes, we’ll be able to fund you all the way through university unless you spend our money really wantonly.” His teasing was evident and inspired a smile that crossed Kellie’s face.
Kellie’s eyes were bugging out of her head. “Oh. You could buy the whole university for that!”
“There are a few buildings on the campus that we’ve funded, most recently a new robotics laboratory and computer science center. We do believe in education as a core for improving civilization. The Foundation does many other things as well. We can have that discussion sometime, or you could meet talk Julie, my wife and colleague, who can also tell you about it. She runs much of the Foundation business and she knows about you as one of our smaller but special projects.”
Dave set a large envelope packed with Cricket’s book and several pages stapled together on the table. He said, “There is a legal agreement for you to read and sign. You should have a lawyer of your choice review the agreement with you. We will pay for your legal counsel; have him or her send the bill to us. We don’t care who you use. There’s a list of local lawyers that do this kind of review in the packet, but you can use anybody. Our business cards are in this envelope with the agreement. It pretty much states what we just told you.”
“How much will I get to live on?”
“In certain circumstance we can provide you housing and board, but you’ll have to decide that. Also, in the large envelope is a book about this place — it’s called the Circle. You are under no obligation to live here or socialize with any of us. We are not part of the deal and it’s not religious or a cult, but you should read it since it includes our philosophy about caring for our fellow man. We think you’ll see why we are doing this for you at a more basic level.
“More directly to your question, we will directly pay the university for your tuition and incidentals. You’ll have a large line of credit at the university bookstore. You also will receive biweekly checks for about two thousand dollars. Those will be adjusted up or down based on your living habits and the cost of living. If you live and board with us, we will use part of that money to pay your ‘membership fees’ in the Circle where you will live and board, for instance; think of that expenditure as rent and money for meals. Those may run about six to eight hundred dollars a month.
“We also want you to get a new car that will be safer and more reliable. One of us can help you choose more reliable transportation and buy it for you. The car title will be in your name and there will be no payments that you’ll have to make on it. We will also provide you health and dental insurance and cover any copay, life insurance payable to any beneficiary you choose, and some other similar benefits. That’s all in our contract with you. You will be well kept. If you have any financial difficulties you should talk to your mentor or one of us and we will help fix the situation, including providing additional funds, if needed.”
Kellie gawked at the amount of money. She’d hoped to make a fraction of that working at the Club. This whole hour was like a dream.
Kellie said in a weak voice, “You said someone would help me get admitted?”
Dave responded, “I did. Just a second.” He texted Heather at the far end of the patio; she’d been with the younger children and some other adults. She came across the patio and sat in an empty chair. She had her hair pulled back in a ponytail and looked gorgeous. She was also topless and only clad in a monokini. She greeted Kellie warmly. She knew of her role in mentoring the young woman.
“Kellie, I’m Heather Prentiss. I’m one of Dave’s wives but was about where you are when I met Dave and Owen about a decade ago. I worked at the Club Ecstasy as you do, and then attended college on the same kind of scholarship. I know the ropes for filling out all the paperwork and getting you enrolled. The way has already been paved for you. I can make some recommendations to you, too, especially about career tracks and courses to take. My business card and email are in that envelope you just got. You’ll also see me written about in Cricket’s book that you have.
“You can call me anytime, night or day with any questions. The same is true about Owen or Dave. We and all the other people you see around you want you to be a success, and more than that we want to ensure your long-term happiness and feeling of worth. We think that for you getting this education is what you need. If you agree then welcome to having our support for a few years before you strike out on your own again.
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