CRESCENT CITY by Jack Caldwell


Elysian Dreams
Volume Two of CRESCENT CITY

Buy
Elysian Dreams from:
Amazon. Com

(Excerpt from Chapter 10:)

At 5:30 p.m. on the 23rd of December, the doors of the board room of Delta Global Shipping were thrown open to EDNO and their guests. The room was a large rectangle on the top floor of the four-story DGS building, located on the river-side of the protection levee at the foot of Poydras Street. The room took up a quarter of the floor, and one side was lined with windows overlooking the Mississippi. A large table was in the center of the room, and it was covered with appetizers. A temporary bar serving wine, beer and soft drinks was set up close to the double doors leading to the hallway. A second door led to the personal offices of the President/CEO and the Chairman. The hosts for the evening were Will Darcy and his VP of Marketing, Leon Anderson.

The men were dressed in their usual business attire -- suits, and sport coats, with only Christmas ties as a nod to the season. The women were dressed appropriately for the occasion, their outfits more suitable for a night on the town than a day at the office. Elizabeth, after much indecision, had decided to go for it and wore a dark green cocktail dress and heels, a red belt showing off her trim figure.

Most everyone who was married or attached brought guests. Elizabeth hung out with Charlotte, as neither had a date.

As they were introduced to Kaywanda's new boyfriend, Scott Davis, Charlotte asked, "And where did you say you met him, Kay?"

Kaywanda giggled as she tightened her hold on Scott's arm. "I was down at Re-Uzz-It -- you know, that reused building supply non-profit off St. Claude? I was looking for a new door for my momma's house, and Scott here was so helpful, showing me all the doors that had come in, and taking measurements, and all that construction stuff. We got to talking and found we had so much in common and… well, here we are!"

Scott grinned. He was dressed rather causally in a black crew-neck shirt and cargo pants with a grey houndstooth jacket. "I'm just working there until next fall. I should be starting my graduate studies at UNO in September."

"What's your major?" asked Lizzy.

"Sociology," he answered.

Kaywanda piped in. "He wants to get his Ph.D. or become a social worker. Isn't that wonderful?"

They shared a little more small talk before the couple drifted off. Once out of range, Charlotte leaned over to Lizzy. "So, what do you think of Kay's new beau?"

"He's nice, if awfully--"

"White?" injected Charlotte.

"I was going to say 'Goth' with all those piercings and tattoos, Char."

"That too," Char laughed. "I like him. Kay needs somebody good. Oh, hi, Jan. Hi, Mr. Hill."

Lizzy and Charlotte talked for awhile with Jan Hill and her husband, a contractor from Jefferson. Lizzy looked around to see Will Darcy approaching. Her gut clenched. He was in a navy suit with a tie in a holly pattern. She had wondered if Will was going to talk to her ever since she learned of Darcy's offer to host the party. Now she was going to find out.

"Hi, Will." She moved over to invite him into the circle of conversation.

"Merry Christmas, Lizzy," he smiled. "I hope all of you are enjoying yourselves. Hello, Charlotte, Jan. Mr. Hill, nice to meet you."

"Same here, Mr. Darcy. Very nice place you got here. Who built it?"

"Haven't a clue. You may want to ask Leon." He turned to call to Anderson. "Hey, Leon, we got a question for you." After introducing Hill to Anderson and the two, with Jan, wandered off discussing the design of the building, Will turned to Charlotte. "Are y'all having a good time?"

"Of course! What a spread you've put out! I just might sneak some of that shrimp home in my purse."

"Charlotte!" cried Lizzy.

Will said with a straight face, "Well, don't take 'em all. Leave some for me. Saves me from makin' groceries over Christmas." It took a second for the girls to get the joke, and all three had a good laugh.

Charlotte looked out the window. "That's a nice balcony, Mr. Darcy."

"Please, call me Will. Want to see it? The door's right this way." He escorted the two women through a door onto the balcony overlooking the wharf and the river. The sun was almost down, the last pink streams of sunlight painting the nearby skyscrapers. The day was mild, with only a light breeze off the river.

"Beautiful!" exclaimed Charlotte. Will silently agreed with her, but for a different reason, as his eyes were on Lizzy. They moved to the railing, watching some of the river traffic.

"Will, this is so nice," remarked Lizzy.

"Yeah. Sometimes, when I brown-bag it, I eat lunch out here. My office is right over there." He pointed at another door.

Char breathed in. "How can you get any work done with this view, Will?"

"It's tough, sometimes. My assistant, Barbara, keeps my feet to the fire, though." They turned and observed the crowd within. "Everybody seems to be enjoying themselves."

"It was very nice of you to host this party, and to invite the spouses too."

"Yeah, well, it's a tradition at DGS, as well. We had about two hundred people at the office Christmas party last Friday. We had to hold it at the Hilton. You didn't bring a date, Char?"

She shook her head. "Lizzy's my date tonight."

"Mike couldn't make it tonight, Lizzy?" Will asked.

Lizzy blinked. "Pardon me?"

"Mike."

"Mike who?"

"Mike Riviere. Did he come in this weekend from Washington?"

"I don't know. How would I know that?"

Will frowned. "What do you mean? I thought-- Hold on a second. Aren't y'all dating?"

"No."

"No?"

"No."

By this time, Charlotte, seeing that something both personal and important was going on, had discreetly slipped away back indoors. The pair never noticed.

Will was clearly confused. "But… but I was told… You aren't dating?"

Lizzy shook her head. "Mike and I broke up back in May. I haven't seen him since."

Will blinked. "You aren't dating Mike Riviere."

"No, I'm not."

"Oh."

Now Lizzy was confused. "You sound like you're disappointed."

Will started. "No! I mean… umm… I'm sorry." He looked over her shoulder, trying to control his growing hopes. "Mike's a nice guy. I'm sorry it didn't work out."

"It happens."

"Right. Breakups can be painful. I hope… well--" He looked at her, "How are you doing?"

She smiled. "I'm fine, Will." She realized that Will was uncomfortable, but for all the right reasons.

"Good, good. You look good. Well, I mean. Happy."

"I am happy. Alone, but happy."

"Good, good. No! I mean, It's not good that you're alone… I mean--" He stopped and slapped his forehead. "Oh, hell -- I better shut up. I sound like an idiot."

Lizzy giggled. "And how are you?"

"Me? I'm fine, fine." He shrugged. "Umm… I'm not dating anybody right now, either, though. Been busy, you know."

"Yes, I can imagine."

"Lots of out-of-town meetings."

"I know how it is. It's hard to have a relationship when you're busy."

He leaned over the railing and looked at the river in the twilight. "Yes, well, it's lonely, too. Finally, you get to the point of wondering if it's all worth it. The work, without having someone to share it with. Without having meaning in your life."

Lizzy joined him gazing at the river, watching a freighter navigate the bend at Algiers Point. "I agree. We weren't made to go through life alone. Everyone's looking for that special someone, wondering if they'll ever meet, frightened that they won't, and scared that they have but passed up the opportunity. Torn between the mystery of the future and the regrets of the past."

Lizzy stole a peek at her companion, afraid she had said too much or not enough. She felt a warm rush as he turned his attention to her, his eyes searching, wondering. His lips started to move.

"Mr. Darcy?"

The couple broke out of their trance at the interruption. Darcy's assistant, Barbara, was right behind them. "I'm sorry to disturb you, but Miss Darcy's on line one."

"Oh!" cried Will. He glanced at his watch. "Tell her I'll be at the condo in a little while. Thank you, Barbara." As the secretary walked away, Will turned back to Lizzy. "I'm sorry, Lizzy, but I've got to cut out a bit early. Gina got back in town today from Auburn, and we've got this dinner to go to. Family thing."

"I understand. How is your sister?"

"She's doing fine. She's studying marketing and graphic arts, and doing real well. Between school and her sorority, she's staying busy."

"Nice to have her home for the holidays."

"It is. And you? What are you doing this Christmas?"

"What I usually do. Spend some time back home in Chackbay."

"I'm sorry -- I should have asked. How is your family? I know how Jane and Chuck are doing, but what about the rest of them?"

"Oh! They're fine. My parents are just the same. Mary's teaching now, and Kit's in college."

"There's… five of you all together, right?"

"Yes, all girls. Jane, Mary, Kit, Lydia and me. The Boudreaux Babes." She didn't know if Will had caught the slight hesitation before she mentioned her youngest sister.

Will seemed torn for a moment. "I've really gotta go. I'll make my excuses inside. But before I do that, I want to personally wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas."

"Thank you, Will, that's very nice. I wish the same to you, too."

"Thanks." He turned to go. "Please give my regards to Chuck and Jane?"

"I will. See you next year!"

Will stopped and turned, confused. "What? Oh… right, next year. January. Yep, I'll be seeing you. You bet!" He grinned, waved, and stepped back into the board room.

Lizzy sagged back onto the railing, replaying the encounter in her mind. She was still staring off into space when Charlotte found her a few minutes later.

"He just left. What the heck was going on out here?"

Lizzy had been contemplating Darcy's dimples. "What's that, Char?"

"What's with you and Will Darcy?"

Lizzy was glad that the gathering darkness hid her blush. "We were just catching up on old times. We did go to college together."

"Is that all?"

For now, maybe. "Since when did you get so nosey?"

"Since when do you have a private conversation with the most eligible bachelor in New Orleans?"

"'Most eligible bachelor?' Where did you get that?"

"Gambit -- two months ago."

She pointed at her friend's forehead. "You read trash, you'll turn that into trash. Now, let's go inside. All of a sudden, I'm famished!" She made her way towards the door, Charlotte following in her wake.

"Hey! Leave some shrimp for me!"

"Not a chance."

All writings and web site Copyright © 2007-2015 by Jack Caldwell.
All rights reserved.
E-mail may be sent to
info@cajuncheesehead.com