August 28, 2015 – Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four, Chapter Five, Chapter Six, Chapter Seven, Chapter Eight, Chapter Nine, Chapter Ten, Chapter Eleven, Chapter Twelve, Chapter Thirteen, Chapter Fourteen, Chapter Fifteen, Chapter Sixteen, Chapter Seventeen, Chapter Eighteen, Chapter Nineteen, Chapter Twenty,Chapter Twenty-One, Twenty-Two, Twenty-Three
“Jenny, we’ve got plans to make.”
The text message was cryptic, and if she did not know Mr. Hiller’s cell number, she would swear he had sent it. She had not recognized the number associated with the text, but thought it had to be from Charlotte. Unless Melissa sent it? The thought made her feel a bit uneasy, but she dismissed it quickly. Why would she send her a text about making plans, unless it involved staging a coup and overtaking the book club to throw Andrew out of office. What a ridiculous thought, and one that popped into her mind because Andrew came back from London last night. What was it with London and the men in her life anyway? Maybe Andrew sent it. They were supposed to meet him for coffee later that night.
While wallowing in thoughts, the door to the store opened ringing the familiar bell and Charlotte bounced in full of energy. “Hi, did you get my text? I wasn’t sure because I didn’t receive a reply”
Mystery solved. “I didn’t know who I’d be responding to,” Jenny replied with a smile. “I don’t recall giving you my cell number.”
Charlotte shrugged. “I’m a resourceful woman, what can I say.”
Jenny nodded. “I’m almost afraid to ask what is on your mind.” She said it playfully, but wondered in anticipation.
“You look phenomenal, by the way,” Charlotte said with a smile. “The hair is fab and I love the blouse.”
Jenny smiled, feeling instantly at ease. She wore a pair of classic cut black slacks and a white lace blouse that was the most figure-flattering thing she wore to date. It was all in preparation for her time tonight with Andrew.
“I wanted to let you know that I’ve hired a private investigator to look into a few things with the DIH board,” Charlotte replied.
Jenny was surprised. “Why would you do that? she asked.
“I’ve had my suspicions there’s been a problem for a while now, and if I’m correct, the gala will hold a lot more surprises than the unveiling of the real Carrie Grant.”
Jenny was intrigued and thought about the envelope Mr. Hiller gave her with information on Martha Chadwick and her husband. Should she tell Charlotte about it? Mr. Hiller said it had been information available in all of the newspapers anyway, so her private investigator may have uncovered it already if Martha Chadwick was on her list, and Jenny would never have to use it. Her fear was implicating Mr. Hiller in this mess. “Is it that serious? What do you suspect?”
Charlotte shrugged. “I’m not ready to divulge yet. It is just instinct anyway. But Martha and Elyse are as thick as thieves lately, even more so than usual, and it bothers me.” She looked a little flush, and Jenny realized this must be something big. “I’ll let you know once I have proof,” Charlotte continued, “if I get proof.”
Jenny offered a half-smile. “Have they ever pulled anything before?”
“I’m not sure, but perhaps the investigator will prove me right.”
Jenny decided to hold her information secret for now. It had been her own paranoia, or lack of self-esteem, but she remained a little fearful Charlotte would out her before the gala. It was improbable, especially now that she confided in her about hiring an investigator, but she had to be careful. Likely, she was being silly, but she couldn’t help but believe that Charlotte may be baiting her information.
The door swung open and Fiona breezed in foregoing her typical knock on the window if she was still in the store at the end of the day.
“I wanted to wish you luck tonight,” she said. “I’m sorry,” she added. “I didn’t realize you had a customer.”
“You’re not interrupting,” Charlotte said. “I’m a friend of Jenny’s and I stopped by with a quick message.” She looked at Jenny and smiled. “What’s happening tonight?” she asked.
Jenny shrugged. “It’s no big deal.”
Fiona laughed. “No big deal? It’s the biggest deal of your life!”
Jenny looked at Fiona with a look that begged her not to say more. She knew the woman had little filter, but still she acted surprised she spoke so in front of a woman she did not know.
Charlotte seemed intrigued. Looking at both of their happy faces, she was not sure she was happy to call these two woman friends, or horrified that they knew so much about her.
“Someone fill me in please,” Charlotte said with a grin, but almost making her request sound like a demand.
“I’m having coffee with Professor Gordon tonight. He runs our historic book club. He asked me to fill in for him while he was on vacation, and he wants to talk about how it went.”
“ Professor Gordon? Is that Andrew Gordon from Penn?” Charlotte asked.
Jenny prepared herself to hear something about the two of them dating at one time. “Yes, do you know him?” she asked.
Charlotte nodded. “By reputation,” she said. “He’s a historic scholar who’s helped out the DIH on a few occasions. You should mention that you know some of us.”
Fiona laughed. “What she isn’t telling you is that she has a mad crush on him, and that he recently broke up with his girlfriend.”
“Fiona!” Jenny said even more shocked.
“Oh, Jenny, you do like him. You know it’s true,” Fiona said.
Charlotte offered a warm smile. “He’s a catch, so I can’t blame you there. He’s a good man who helps the community. Did you know he helped raise over $500,000 with his students to refurbish Christ Church where Benjamin Franklin’s burial plot is, but only if the church hall agreed to feed the homeless every Sunday after service, especially after the city passed that horrid law that you couldn’t feed them outside in Franklin Square.”
Historic Christ Church sat in Old City, near the Hall and Constitution Center, opened in 1695, the first church in Philadelphia. The DIH planned to get the bricks repointed this year with funds, but knowing Andrew wanted to feed the homeless there was more endearing.
“I didn’t know that,” Jenny said, yet it thrilled her to hear. Perhaps that’s where he got the idea to write a book about Benjamin Franklin.
“With him, the community always wins,” Charlotte said with a smile. “He’s one of the good ones, you know. Is he the reason for the wardrobe update?”
Jenny blushed. “It’s a business meeting,” Jenny said.
“But Jenny plans to make it more,” Fiona said.
“You’ve said enough,” Jenny said to her friend.
Fiona smiled. “You love me, you know you do.” Fiona blew a kiss, said goodbye, and ran out the door so she could get into her apartment from the street entrance.
“She’s right, Jenny, “Charlotte replied with a grin. “If you want more than a mentoring relationship, you need to let him know.”
“He just broke up with someone.”
“You know, you could ask him to the gala. You could phrase it in a way that it won’t be a date, but something he may be interested in attending.”
Sure, the idea seemed perfect, but Jenny could never pull it off and she knew it. “I’ll think about that,” she said.
“Or better yet, he has a new book out, right? The one about Franklin. You could ask him if he’d be interested doing a book signing at the event. Maybe some of the profits can be donated to the DIH charities.”
Jenny smiled. “That may work.” Jenny felt better about that scenario.
“I suppose that means you’ll be coming to our little gala,” Charlotte said with a sly grin behind it. “Will you be Carrie Grant or Jenny Hobbs?”
Jenny smiled. “I decided to go for it and do the big reveal,” she said.
Charlotte smiled. “I can’t tell you how happy that makes me, Jenny. I’ll call you tomorrow now that I have your cell to find out your date.” Charlotte walked toward the door with the stupid grin still present. “I have to run, but I’ll also be in touch when I find something about my suspicions.”
Jenny watched her new friend walk out of the store wondering how she’d pull all of this off. Moreover, wondering why she always had to run.