ETC Chap 9 Author's Notes: Per the request of Monica, I should mention that ETC stands for "Elizabeth Townsend Calvaicci" EVERMORE: The estate is fictional(think Biltmore estate in Asheville, N. Carolina). However, the place in Maryland, just a little southwest of Baltimore is REAL. Chapter 9: Unexpected Developments NOON. SATURDAY, AUGUST 27, 1960. BX SNACK BAR, PENSACOLA NAS "Al, look at this!" Beth looked up sharply, surprised at the anger in George's tone as he approached their table. "What's wrong?" Al asked when George reached their table. George handed Al a white envelope, the type used for official invitations. Al opened it with a small frown. His eyes grew wide as he read the enclosure. He gave a low whistle and handed the envelope and contents to Beth, who had watched Al with curiosity. It *was* an invitation and Beth read it aloud in disbelief. "You are cordially invited to the Birthday Gala given in honor of Admiral (Retired) John Patrick Jones, USN. Date, September 10, 1960. Place, Pensacola Country Club?" She looked up at George. "They're coming here?" "Yeah," he replied, fuming. "It's been in the works since January. Grandfather wanted to surprise me." "Isn't his health failing?" Al asked, taking the invitation back from Beth. Anger dissolving, George sighed and pulled up a chair. "He's got his mind set on coming and no one can change it. I called as soon as I received this. Grandfather plans to stay through September and October. He wants me to take leave, so we can spend some time together." The bond between grandfather and grandson was strong. George would do anything he asked. The fact that his grandfather was coming here told George that he didn't expect to live until Christmas. "Who else is coming?" Al asked. "My parents," George replied sourly. Al frowned but kept silent. George continued. "My cousin Eddie and his girlfriend, Daphne." "You have a cousin named Eddie?" Beth asked, curious. "Second cousin. Edward St. John V. He's in the Royal Navy." The conversation died. George's mind was still on his grandfather. It took several minutes of awkward silence for George to realize that Al and Beth were waiting for George to leave. He mumbled an apology and left them. He was almost to his car when he realized that he left the invitation with Al. Reminded of the document, George instantly became angry at his father again. George loved his grandfather very much, but in recent years, he couldn't stand being in the same house with his parents more than a few days. George's visits to Evermore were few and far between. By supporting Grandfather's request to come to Florida regardless of what the doctors may have said, it gave his father an excuse to come and stay a few weeks. The only other bright spot, as far as George could see, was that his mother would not stay long at all. He was certain of that. George glanced at his watch, waiting for the light to turn green. He was late. He should have been in Alabama by now. George even skipped breakfast with Al so he could leave first thing, but thanks to this new irritation, he had wasted hours. Not that Dixie was expecting him this early. Depending on her girls' clientele the night before, Dixie usually got out of bed at noon. He hated the fact he had to go to Alabama, but the local girls knew who he was and George wanted things to be discreet. He was willing to bet that even *Al* didn't know he had taken a ‘mistress' again. Janet, if she suspected, made no protest. *Janet.* Janet was less demanding and more pleasant to be with since the death of Lenora, but George was still planning to break up with her. The reason he hadn't ended things yet, was that he still needed a convenient and proper girlfriend for social engagements. It surprised him the relationship had lasted as long as it had and George had to admit, grudgingly, that Al was right and the mind was just as important as the body. Janet could hold her own in conversations that his previous girlfriends would have just giggled or shown how ignorant they really were. Janet was following Kennedy's presidential campaign closely and could get into heated debates very quickly with Nixon supporters. Regardless of how he felt about her, his mother would never approve. Her father may be a highly respected surgeon in a good hospital, but Victoria Hamilton Whitmore-Jones would always look down at her. His mother was an American, but he felt she behaved more like British nobility of a bygone era. Not even her mother-in-law, Lady Catherine Whitmore, had behaved in that manner when she was alive. Not that he cared what his mother thought. If George was in the least bit serious about Janet, he would marry her, with or without parental blessing. The worst they could do was cut him off and refuse to see him again. That was a mixed blessing: his grandfather would support his decision and see that George got something. As for not seeing his parents again, George couldn't be happier. Al didn't realize how lucky he had it. He had the love of a lovely young woman and there was no one to pass judgement on his choice. As for *their* relationship, George did not know, nor did he want to know, how much further they had gone. He was getting a little irritated, though, with all their long looks into each other's eyes and spontaneous hand-holding. They still gave him the impression that neither had expressed their true feelings. George's mood improved considerably when he saw the first road sign advising him of the distance to the state line. By the time he reached it, he had forgotten about Al, Beth, Janet, his family, and the invitation. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Once George had walked away, Beth turned her attention back to Al. Contrary to George's prediction, they had taken turns talking about their pasts. She was sure Al spoke more on his family during in the last few days than in his entire life. Beth knew she had. It had been painful, but each took comfort from the other. "Where were we?" Al asked. "You were about to tell me about Maureen," she prompted. Al nodded and stared off into the distance for a moment. "My sophomore year, I went to the regular Catholic school because the orphanage had taught me all they could in the math department." Beth knew this already; it was the same reason the Academy sent him to MIT. She didn't know what it had to do with Maureen. She was about to ask him when he continued. "I first met Maureen that year. She needed a math tutor and I volunteered. You can guess where things went from there." He looked at her when he said this. She nodded, and he continued. "Her parents are good, decent, people who more or less took me in. They really like me and I'm still fond of them." Al paused, taking a sip of water. He continued. "Mr. McGinty helped me with my application for an appointment. The day I received the acceptance, I thought him and his wife would burst with pride. But not Maureen." He paused again and looked away. "Up until that day, all four of us believed that I would one day marry her. Her reaction to the news changed everything. Maureen wanted me to stay in Chicago and work for her father, and the two of us would settle down near them. She didn't understand that I couldn't spend the rest of my life in Illinois. Her parents did and her mother even tried to make her see my side." "Did you love her?" Beth asked softly. He was still looking away. "I thought so, at the time." He looked at her. "I mentioned to her that I was bringing you for Thanksgiving. She's jealous." Beth never had anyone jealous of her before. "She sounds self-centered," she observed. "Spoiled, actually. She is an only child." "I'm an only child." Al didn't reply to this. The conversation had died, and Beth knew from experience, this meant he did not want to discuss anything more. She watched him play with the envelope flap and knew where his thoughts had turned. "He's so unhappy," she said aloud. Al nodded, still fiddling with the envelope. "He has everything and he's still unhappy," Beth continued. "I think we're the lucky ones." "Well, they say money can't buy happiness. I guess that really is true," Al said, lost in thought. "I rather be happy than wealthy." "He once told me he envied me." Beth looked at Al. "Do you know why he hates his parents?" "Adam and Victoria never really loved each other, I think. It was more of a merger than a marriage." Al grimaced. "I think it's my fault though, that he hates his parents. I mean, I did open his eyes to reality, our plebe year." "George is more alone than either of us." Beth said, looking into Al's eyes. "At least we had family that cared about us, loved us, and showed us that we were loved." Beth shook her head. "This is something out of a bad Gothic novel. Only thing missing is the love child and a forbidden love between a member of the family and a member of the staff." "Don't be too surprised if the forbidden love isn't missing from the picture," Al commented. "Do you mean the admiral is cheating on his wife?" "Who said anything about the admiral?" "Mrs. Whitmore?" Al shrugged. "Rumors, but yes." Beth tried to imagine living under the same roof with the Whitmore-Joneses. She just couldn't. Beth pitied them, and sincerely hoped that Janet would come to her senses and seriously reconsider her pursuit of George. "And what about his grandfather?" Beth asked. Al immediately brightened. "JP? He's great! Real down to earth. You'd never know he spent his time in exclusive schools, and from the stories his tells, you'd wondered why he wasn't expelled from them." Beth smiled at Al's sudden lift in spirits. "I can't wait to meet him." "Oh, you'll love him. He has so many stories about the places he's been and the people he's met." Al shook his head, fondly. "I could listen to him for days." "George's very close to his grandfather," Beth observed, quietly. She thoughts drifted to her own. Henry Townsend was a decent, hardworking man. Gran had told her many times that Betty's disgrace had affected him deeply. He felt he had felled her as a father, and that she betrayed him. Even so, he never compounded the situation by turning his back on his own child. Then Beth came into their lives. Her grandfather had learned to ignore the looks and whispers. He also learned to forgive his daughter. "Beth?" Beth looked up at Al, still sitting across from her. "I'm sorry. My mind wandered." "Thinking about your grandfather?" She looked at him, quizzically. "How did you know?" "Logical assumption." Beth nodded. "He never put my mother down, never demanded to know the identity of my father." She sighed. "I never could understand why she kept silent." "Maybe he was married." Al supplied. Beth nodded. "Her diary never said as much, but studying it has led me to believe he was. But that doesn't explain her silence. I mean, if he was married, that's all she would have needed to say to my grandfather. She did tell them that he was not from around Greenbelt." "No other theories, then?" "Well, she did mention a Navy pilot in her diary, but Gran found that out after her death. Grandfather always believed it was a midshipman. They were always passing through, to and from the Academy." "Maybe he was, and he lied to your mother to impress her," Al replied in a gentle tone. "It sounds like something I would do." Beth had thought about that over the years. She didn't want to think her mother could easily be duped. But the possibility was real. "I guess you could be right. About him lying, I mean." Al chuckled gently. "I knew what you meant." Beth gave him a gentle small. "You're not lying to me, are you?" "Honey, you need to drop by the airfield once and awhile." "I have a day off next week," she said tentatively. "I think I can arrange a little tour," Al told her. "And you can watch me fly circles around George and Chip." "I would like that." SATURDAY, AUGUST 27, 1960. NURSES' BOQ, PENSACOLA NAS Later that afternoon, Al dropped her off in front of the BOQ. She watched him drive off. Lost in thought, Beth headed in She passed Kelly, sitting quietly by herself, in the day room. The redhead said nothing as Beth passed through. Beth, mind on Al, kept walking. Half way down the hall, Beth stopped, turned around and headed back into the day room. Kelly's expression was pensive. Beth sat across from her. "What's wrong?" Beth asked quietly. Kelly remained silent. "Tom?" Kelly nodded. Beth studied her, noting that there were no noticeable signs of physical violence on Kelly's face and arms. Beth worried that there were bruises concealed by Kelly's clothing. Before Beth could voice her concern, Kelly spoke. "I . . . I broke up with Tom today." "Oh, Kelly." Kelly gave her a wane smile. "Don't feel sorry, Beth." The smile faded. "He's changed so much since he's been back. He's become so . . . secretive lately. I don't even recognize him sometimes." "Do you think it's another woman?" Beth asked her gently. Kelly shrugged. "I don't know, Beth. I. . . . I just don't know." "Beth! Have you heard the news?!" Janet called excitedly as she came through the front door. "We're invited to Admiral Jones' birthday gala! We need to shop for. . . . What's wrong with Kelly?" Beth filled her in as Janet sat next to Kelly. "I never could see what you saw in him," Janet said, patting Kelly's hand. "*Janet*!!" Beth said, horrified. "Well, I just don't. Listen, Kelly, I didn't want to say this before because I didn't know how to say it without hurting your feelings, but I always thought that Tom was a real . . . a real. . . ." Janet floundered for a suitable word. Beth and Kelly looked at each another. A genuine smile spread across Kelly's lips. It was obvious that the same thought occurred to both women. "Nozzle," they said in unison. "Yes! Thank you, Al," Janet replied, also smiling. "Now, tell me truthfully, how upset are you over this?" Kelly's smile wavered slightly, but it did not fade this time. "I'll get over it. I saw it coming weeks ago. At least I did the walking out." She seemed to brighten up with that observation. She turned to Janet. "What were you saying about a gala?" SUNDAY, AUGUST 28, 1960. EVERMORE CASTLE, ELKRIDGE, MARYLAND "Victoria, you can do whatever you want, but only *after* the birthday gala," Rear Admiral Adam Whitmore-Jones informed his wife. The tall blonde woman stood in front of his desk with her arms folded across her breast. She was angry. Angry, because he was making her accompany him to Pensacola, and because their only child would not do what she wanted. Victoria's great ambition in life was to see both her husband and her son in the White House. "I cannot believe that you actually supported your father's decision, Adam. We need to stay here, in Maryland, during the remainder of this election campaign." Adam had lost count of the times they had this conversation since January. "I'm well enough known and well enough connected, to be able to leave the area for a few weeks." "It could still hurt your chances--" "Hurt my chances?" Adam interrupted his wife. "Victoria, I'm not running for public office *next* year. At best, I'm looking for an appointment as Secretary of Defense or Secretary of the Navy in the new Administration. And you can forget about being First Lady for a least another ten years." "You're not ambitious enough, Adam. You could have put a bid in for the Presidency in this election, if you had listened to my advice two years ago." "The Democrats wouldn't have chosen me over Kennedy, and the Republicans wouldn't have chosen me over the Vice President. Besides, we've been through this before, Victoria. The Navy comes first. The fact that I'm *willingly* submitting my retirement still fails to please you. Now if you don't stop being unrealistic, I will change my mind and stay on Active Duty." The threat hit home. She dropped her offensive stance and stood quietly, keeping a check on her anger. "Now, I'm still looking forward to this career change, but I will go through with my threat if you so much as mention a presidential bid again." Adam was well aware that she would start harassing him again, once he retired. That was fine with Adam. He was well aware that his chances for a presidential nomination were slim. "I still plan to fly down to Miami," she said, as if she hadn't heard a word he said. "Starting on the 11th," Adam reminded her. Victoria nodded, once again the ice queen. She turned and left his office. Left alone in silence, Adam looked around his spacious and elegant office. There had been no need for the last three generations of Joneses to work for a living. All three had considered *not* joining the service, but all three had heard the call of duty, and the sea, and responded without hesitation. Adam thought back to when he and Victoria were first married. He had intended from the beginning that he would one day enter politics. Victoria's family was politically prominent and Adam thought it was high time that the Joneses enter that arena. America preferred her leaders to have military experience, and Adam had plenty of that. For years now, she had been pushing for his retirement, but as he reminded her again and again, the Navy would always come first. Always. Victoria was pushing George, now that his initial active duty obligation was completed. She was also looking for a suitable daughter-in-law. His own father had reminded her on several occasions, that this wasn't 17th Century Europe and George wasn't the Prince of Wales. As always, Victoria ignored her father-in-law. Adam sighed. There was much still to do before they departed for Florida. Adam wondered if he could work in a round of golf, weather permitting, with the President before then.