An excerpt from her novel titled Of Men and Monsters :
t was a day of celebration on Monday, January 2, 2006 – the day Davis Financial Services bought JFG Financials, a three-person financial securities business owned by John F. Greene. The celebration took place over lunch at Tacquet Restaurant at the Wayne Hotel, in Wayne, Pennsylvania – along the exclusive Main Line of Philadelphia.
John and his son, John “Jack” F. Greene, Jr. toasted with champagne and caviar with Virgil Davis and his son Joshua. The equipment, the assets, and the book of business were now the sole property of Davis Financial Services.
Shortly after the purchase, on Thursday, March 2, 2006, the new owner, Virgil Davis, fired John Greene – the father and owner, Jack Greene – the son, and Amanda Greene – the young daughter. Virgil Davis changed the goal requirements that financially were impossible to obtain.
They did not have a job or future income.
Jack, the son, justified his decision merging with Davis Financial Services by throwing around his degrees. However, John the father wasn’t having any of it. All that he had worked for was gone. Father and son fought bitterly, nearly damaging an already fragile relationship.
Moreover, Amanda’s wedding to Nick Toner, her college sweetheart, was less than three months away. John already knew it was going to be an expensive wedding.
During their childhood, Jack and Amanda enjoyed an easy and solid middle-class lifestyle living in a modest home, in Wayne, PA, as their father built a business.
Jack, the first-born, successfully completed an Economics degree from St. Joseph’s University and MBA from Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania; Amanda graduated with a dual major in Business of Administration and Marketing from St. Joseph’s University.
Jack was twenty-nine and tall at five feet, eleven inches. He had straight dark brown hair, brown eyes, and a manly nose on an Irish-looking face. He was slim-hipped and toned. He didn’t work out at the gym; he stayed in shape by playing basketball several times a week with his friends.
Jack was married to Sandra “Sandy” Altimari, a first generation Italian-American from South Philadelphia. Sandy worked as an accountant in a small CPA firm in Bryn Mawr, PA. She detested her job and longed to be a stay-at-home mother. Currently, they lived in a three-bedroom, one bathroom twinhouse in Narberth, Pennsylvania; they both longed to live in a bigger house with a more prestigious address.
Amanda Greene stood average height at five feet, six inches. She, as her brother, had straight brown hair and brown eyes. However, her nose was small and slightly upturned at the end. She had a smattering of freckles across her nose from years at the South Jersey shores. She was trim and fit from the years in high school playing lacrosse and during college when her sorority joined a yoga club. She was happy with her size four frame, small breasts, and slim hips.
Jack followed his father’s example in the financial security industry and started a new business renamed Greene Securities. He asked his father to join him, but John wanted nothing more to do with the business. He was angry, disenchanted, and decided to retire. However, Amanda, the peacemaker, promised Jack that she would again work with him.
Jack enjoyed the financial side of the company while Amanda was happy to be the marketing/web designer/secretary for Jack. While Jack found new clients and accounts, Amanda kept busy focusing on creating a new web page for the company. She continued to work with Jack and improve upon their technology; they worked on advertising and securing bank loans.
It always worried Peggy, John’s wife, that their only son Jack had a strained relationship with his father, John. She never understood why. In addition, now, with the failure of the merger, the relationship was crumbling between father and son. In addition, thus, Peggy found herself as the diplomatic buffer between the two, coercing Amanda into the fray.
Amanda found comfort in her fiancé Nick’s calm assurance that all would be well. Nick guaranteed Amanda that Jack would make the company successful one day; and once they were married, she wouldn’t need to worry about money. Nick had a good position at a solid insurance company; he had a trust fund that he was to inherit at age twenty five; and he had his father’s inheritance one day.
At the age of twenty-three, Amanda married Nick Toner that June 2006 at St. Katherine of Sienna Roman Catholic Church in Wayne, PA. The wedding reception was held at the Philadelphia Country Club, her new in-law’s private club; and they spent their honeymoon at Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
Upon their return, Amanda moved into their charming, single-family colonial house, circa 1967, in the sought-after Tredyfferin/ Easttown school district in Devon, PA.
Five months into Amanda’s marriage, she was asked to make her first business trip and represent Jack’s new company at a trade show in Los Angeles. Jack was not able to attend due a family conflict with his wife Sandy’s family.
Amanda was glad for the escape from her marriage and was looking forward to this business trip. She was hoping that she would miss her husband. And, more importantly, she was hoping that Nick would miss her. Being married was a disappointment to her.
Jack scraped together some money so that Amanda could attend a financial securities trade show in Los Angeles – the Beverly Wilshire Hotel – the following month. Jack wanted to find a niche market for their business, to expand, to do whatever it took to be more successful than his father was. Jack felt tremendous guilt that the buyout of his father’s company turned into an utter disaster.
Amanda bought the lowest airfare ticket she could find, even though it required several stops from Philadelphia to Los Angeles.
The cost of the hotel room was exorbitant by Jack and Amanda’s standards and budget; however, Jack preferred to keep his younger sister safe and keep her at the hotel where the trade show was. Even though Alden Industries were offering breakfast complimentary, the host of the trade show, Amanda had to pay for her lunch and dinner meals and knew she had to stay within her budget.
Amanda arrived that early December, Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles at the exclusive hotel with her carry-on luggage.
She exited the taxi wearing a white James Pearce tee shirt, Levi jeans, Coach-brand flat shoes, a dark blue blazer for the trip over, and a bright fuchsia scarf tied around her neck. A young male attendant, smiling at her and appreciating her attractive looks and style, helped her from the taxi and led her personally into the hotel lobby, assisting her with her carry-on luggage.
The hotel lobby was expansive and grand with shiny marble floors and a giant crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling. In the middle of the lobby was a round table with a flower arrangement that filled the entire tabletop. For a moment, Amanda understood Jack’s quest for a grander lifestyle. Their father did well; however, Nick’s father did better and Amanda wondered if Jack and Sandy were jealous about that.
Amanda found her way to the registration desk and checked in. She had booked the least expensive room, if that was possible. She slid her card key into the lock and entered into a large spacious room. It had a king-sized bed, an armoire that housed the television, a chair, and executive writing desk.
The marble bathroom had a deep-soaking tub that Amanda felt she might use and a separate, glass-enclosed shower. She liked the bathroom the best. When they could afford it, she would suggest to Nick that this was how they should remodel their master bathroom at home.
Early the next morning, Amanda did all the hard work by herself. She put up the booth and laid out all the brochures. Once the show began, she presented her products to interested parties, making sure each took a brochure and business card.
At the end of each night, she packed up everything into a box, took the box with her, and went back to the hotel room, called Jack at home saying she could not tell if anyone was interested or not, and then she telephoned Nick.
“What did you do tonight,” asked Amanda to her husband Nick.
“Grabbed a beer with Mitch and his friend,” he said. Mitch Saunders was the all-star player for their college basketball team and Nick’s best friend. Everyone at college suspected Mitch was gay, although Mitch never openly declared his preference. Only Nick and Amanda knew he was; and Nick was emphatic with Amanda that she never discuss Mitch’s personal business with her self-righteous, parochial family, especially with her sister-in-law Sandy’s homophobic brothers.
After she spoke with Nick, Amanda went to bed. The same routine was in place for two nights until the last night, Thursday evening.
During the two days of the trade show, one sales representative, Garry Huggler, who worked for an inland marine insurance company, would stop by Amanda’s booth to chat. Amanda thought the man a bit odd and lonely. Garry was in his early thirties, single, and chubby. He was kind and friendly, but had a tendency to perspire a lot along the hairline. He was the only person at the trade show to speak with Amanda.
It was on the last day that Garry insisted that Amanda attend the cocktail party being hosted that evening by Alden Industries. Amanda didn’t want to attend but Garry told her that all the important financial security industry barons would be there. Amanda suspected that Garry didn’t want to attend the cocktail party alone.
Jack, her brother, encouraged her to attend. “Besides, you never know who you might meet! This could be good for the business,” he told her by phone from the East Coast.
Never did those words ring more true.
Amanda was wearing a gray, lightweight blazer with three-quarter length sleeves over a gray and yellow printed dress with black, pointed pumps when she met Garry in the hotel lobby; and they walked in together into the Sidebar. The Sidebar was reserved exclusively for the attendees of the trade show that evening. It was just becoming crowded and they were able to get the last seat at the end of the bar by the entrance. Amanda noticed that most of the trade show attendees were congregated near the back of the bar surrounding a tall man in a business suit.
Garry bought him and Amanda each a glass of white wine. “Look who it is,” Garry gushed, “It’s Remy Alden over there. He rarely ever attends these functions.”
Amanda looked over Garry’s shoulder and noticed a gorgeous-looking man, who glanced her way for a moment, while politely shaking hands with the various attendees.
Remy Alden was shaking hands with the attendees of his trade show. Remy was six feet and one inch tall, in his late thirties, with an athletic build, blonde curly hair, blue eyes, and straight white teeth.
He was distracted in mid-sentence making polite small talk when he saw the most natural and prettiest woman sitting at the end of the bar with a chubby geek. Remy caught her looking at him. His heart skipped a beat, and he felt a slight movement in his pants as he had a fleeting image of them half-dressed making love on his office desk.
Once he was done shaking hands, he turned toward the bar and reached for his drink, a glass of single-malt scotch.
“Who is she?” he inquired to Michael Callahan, his chief operating officer, indicating the last two people at the bar.
“Her? She has a booth at the trade show this week. Her name is…something from Greene Securities.”
“Do they work together?” Remy asked of the two. He knew they couldn’t be a couple. The body language said otherwise.
“Garry Huggler? No, he’s from a small insurance company from the Midwest. Her company is from the East Coast.”
“What kind of business is she in?” asked Remy.
“A financial securities company,” Michael responded.
“Right,” he said. Michael watched Remy walk his way over to the end of the bar.
“Excuse me,” interrupted Remy, directing his attention to Garry and then focusing his attention on Amanda, just giving her enough courtesy without being offensive.
“I’m Remy Alden,” he introduced himself by first shaking Garry’s hand and then shaking Amanda’s hand. His grip on her hand was firm, strong, and – to Amanda – very sensual, holding it a bit longer than business appropriate as if he wanted to take her hand, lift her from her chair, and lead her away.
Amanda was in the presence of a man who made her body tingle unlike anything that her husband could make her feel. Moreover, it was shameful and exciting all the same. Her legs were crossed, and she unconsciously bobbed her ankle up and down. Remy noticed it, which indicated an attraction to him.
She introduced herself, “Amanda Toner.” She felt her body react by his touch in places that she knew should not be reacting by a man who was not her husband.
Garry could not believe that not only was he sitting with a pretty woman – albeit married – but that Remy Alden, the premiere financial security wizard and business man, was introducing himself to him. He could not wait to get home and tell everyone!
“I didn’t have an opportunity to visit your booth this week, Garry. Have any of my representatives stopped by and asked about your services?”
“Yes, yes, yes, they, they, did, Sir,” sputtered Garry. He could not believe that Remy even knew of his company, so small that it was.
“I’m not sure that I was given your business card yet from my associates. Do you happen to have one with you,” Remy asked. Garry pulled out his wallet and handed Remy his business cards. Garry was hoping that the sweat on his hands didn’t get onto his business card. Remy glanced at it briefly, looking for the name of his company.
“Thank you, Garry. I appreciate this.” Garry beamed while Remy shoved the card into his pant pockets. Next, Remy directed his attention to Amanda.
“Did anyone from my company stop by your booth and get a business card?”
“I’m not sure. There were so many people this week,” she replied, feeling like an idiot and unprofessional, knowing exactly who he was. Remy was standing closer to her now than to Garry and it was making her uncomfortable. She was uncomfortable not in an invasive manner but in a sexual manner. Her body temperature was rising. She was scared to have an attractive man so close in her personal space because of the way he was making her feel.
“Do you have a card with you now,” Remy asked, leading the conversation.
“I wasn’t planning on attending tonight,” she replied nervously.
“What changed your mind?” he inquired. Remy didn’t believe in destiny or kismet; however, he was willing to give Fate her due credit tonight.
What did change my mind to come tonight? Amanda laughed a genuine, no-pretense laugh. She laughed as if she were laughing at herself, which Remy found lacking in most human beings. Remy liked her laugh; it was genuine and honest, a trait missing with most of the women in Los Angeles. Nevertheless, he understood this young woman had nothing to gain or lose by being anything but herself.
Amanda laid her hand on Garry’s forearm – and Remy watched him grin with pride – “Garry insisted I attend. So, I’m not prepared.”
Garry was perspiring and beaming from ear to ear. Remy assessed, correctly, that Garry had never had this much attention bestowed upon him even though he wasn’t the purpose for Remy being here.
“Here is my card. If you ever need anything, just give me a call.” He pulled out his finely made, Gucci wallet – which Amanda noticed – and handed her a business card. Then, she noticed how well dressed he was. He wore a crisp, tailor-made white business shirt, a silk green-patterned tie, dark slacks, and leather belt. His black business shoes alone had to be the cost of her monthly mortgage payment.
She took the offered card with her left hand and it was then that Remy saw the gold wedding band and small engagement ring on her finger. Amanda just tucked his business card into her small cell phone case.
Remy felt as if he were being dismissed and felt completely out of his element. No one dismissed him; no one told him when the meeting was over, he told you when the meeting was over.
“Perhaps I will,” she replied in a breathy tone, without realizing what she said or what her meaning was.
They locked eyes for a moment. Her comment indicated she read his intentions. Amanda regretted how direct she sounded because her comment appeared more come-hither than business professional. She meant to say ‘thank you’, but she was all confused and feeling extremely warm with this attractive man standing close to her and speaking with her.
Remy offered them a round of drinks, trying to figure out the mixed messages. Garry concurred, but Amanda declined. She didn’t have lunch today and she didn’t eat dinner yet. The alcohol from the one glass of wine already was going to her head. More importantly, Remy’s attention and proximity was becoming too much for her. She was feeling flushed and now hot. She needed some air.
“If you’ll excuse me, I have to go now.” She rose out of her chair with deliberate care, hoping not to trip over herself, she gave a quick kiss on the cheek to Garry, and said good-bye. Then Amanda all but ran out of the bar leaving behind a confused Remy.
Remy walked back to his group and ordered another single-malt scotch. He pretended to listen to the conversation around him but he kept thinking about Amanda Toner. She had a natural athletic build, as if she had played sports at some point in her life. She had straight, shoulder length brown hair with bangs that grazed dark eyelashes and a small, freckled nose. He knew she found him attractive, of that he was certain. However, she was frightened with her attraction to him, perhaps frightened of herself, and she was battling some inner desires within herself. Despite that, her being married was a big concern for him.
Amanda went back to her hotel room. She hated to admit it to herself, but as a married woman, she was flustered by Remy’s approach to her. He just had a way of commanding a room and letting everyone know he was in charge. She found his presence attractive and powerful.
In deference to her father, she remained at home during her college years and engagement, banking all of her income to buy a house and furniture when she and Nick would be married. She even waited to give herself to Nick until their marriage night. It was a disaster. Moreover, it had already been six months and it still was the same. Thus, her attraction to Remy was unsettling because she knew the problem must be with her, at least that was what her experienced husband told her. She met other attractive-looking men before, but she never thought of being intimate with anyone else other than Nick. Now when she rode the elevator up to her room, she found herself fantasizing and creating images of what this stranger, Remy Alden, would look like bare chested, looking down at her, wrapping his arms around her in a romantic way, and leaning in to kiss her mouth.
Amanda never crossed the line, always stayed within boundaries, always took direction from her father, brother, and now Nick. Sometimes she hated all that control over her. They never let her take the lead or be in charge. “She needs a firm hand – she’s impulsive and easily distracted” was her father’s dictum.
However, she was here on business; her assignment was to get more business. She could take the lead and give to Mr. Alden her business card that highlighted her title of Director, Marketing and Technology in bold Arial type. After all, he did ask for it.
Yes, I’m going to do it.
She debated about reapplying her lipstick, thought it too trying and desperate in a business sort of way, but applied it anyway. She grabbed her hotel card key, a business card, and went back down to the bar.
She stood in the entrance of the bar looking for Remy Alden. She spied him at the back of the crowded bar speaking with others. He was leaning against the bar and his long legs were crossed. She thought he looked so sexy that she wanted to climb right up him. It was a thought and an image that she never would have thought to have with her husband. She thought her husband good looking and desirable, but she rather much didn’t like his touching her.
She worked her way through the throng of people, who jostled and blocked her way. She was inches from Remy and felt her body tingle again.
Remy was in a conversation with the same two men – Michael Callahan and Tom Simon – as he watched Amanda working her way toward him, and he liked that she was coming to him. That was a clear message to him that she changed her mind. Amanda took a deep breath and approached the men.
“Excuse me, gentlemen, for interrupting,” she said, trying to keep her tone low and professional. All three men stopped and gave her their full attention, but not before Michael Callahan and Tom Simon shared quick glances at each other.
She nervously cleared her throat; and Remy was amused. Five minutes ago, she was all breathy and running away; now, she was trying to be all business. He wanted to scoop her into his arms and assure her that she need not pretend with him her intentions, so adorable was she.
“Mr. Alden,” she began. He was going to interrupt her and tell her she could call him Remy but he thought that type of casualness might destroy her false bravado. She continued, holding out her business card, “here is my business card that you, uh, asked for.” He took the offered business card, but not without allowing his hand to make the slightest, most innocent of a touch against her hand.
“Thank you, I appreciate that,” he responded looking directly into her eyes. For a moment in time, Amanda thought they were the only two in the bar. All the other faces blurred and the roar of the many voices dimmed in her ears.
Amanda blinked rapidly, bringing herself back to reality – or so she thought, “Yes, well, have a good flight home.”
“You as well,” responded Remy, broadly smiling. His business card, had this young woman bothered to look at it, stated his company is located in downtown Los Angeles and the trade show is in Los Angeles. He wasn’t flying home, he was at home. Michael Callahan and Tom Simon turned away so as to not start laughing aloud and embarrassing this young woman.
Amanda walked out of the bar and Remy knew he found “the one”, the woman he wanted to spend his life with and build a family. A family he never had.
Remy watched her derriere as she made her way back out the bar and to the lobby. Michael knew Remy was interested; and, Michael saw the wedding rings. In a clear, paternal tone, Michael told him, “Leave it, Remy.”
Remy didn’t like being rebuked. He didn’t like being told no. And, now, Michael was telling him to stay away from Amanda.
Michael was good for him, Remy knew. Michael was the older brother that he never had. And, at times, the father he never had. However, Michael worked for Remy, not the other way around. When Michael became a bit patronizing with Remy’s personal life, Remy always knew to go around Michael. And this was what he was going to do.
“Right,” said Remy, displaying the slightest of a British accent. Michael had heard this tone before. I hear you, Michael, but I’m going to do what I want anyway. Michael sighed.
At midnight, Remy ended the cocktail party and paid the bar tab. He walked out of the hotel and gave his ticket to the car attendant. As he waited, his cell phone rang.
“Yes?” he answered. He forgot all about Peyton Proctor, his current girlfriend.
“When are you coming over?” she whined. He also forgot that he was to stop at Peyton’s tonight.
“It’s late, Pey. I’m not coming over. I’m going straight home.” This was his truth. Peyton felt insecure, “Are you with another woman?”
“No,” he replied emphatically, at times annoyed with her simple jealousies. In addition, this was one of those times. But, I wish I were with Amanda Toner right now.
Peyton could hear in his voice that he was telling the truth and she wouldn’t be able to change his mind about coming over.
“I’ll call tomorrow, Remy.”
Remy disconnected the call and his silver Ferrari 360 Spider showed up with the young attendant behind the wheel. As was protocol, since Remy conducted a lot of business at this hotel, the attendant knew he wouldn’t get his tip until after Remy walked around his vehicle looking for any scratches or dents.
On the drive home, Remy battled his conscience. He didn’t get involved with married women. Remy wasn’t a saint, never pretended to be, but his early childhood life experience left an indelible impression on him that he would not ever sleep with a woman who was sharing a bed with another man.
It was one of his rules.
Author: Ellen Marie Bahnsen
We actually live in 'the village of Valley Forge'. My mailing address is Phoenixville so that I get my mailed delivered (love that delegation tactic); otherwise I have to pick it up at the Valley Forge Post Office (which used to be the Farmer's Market during the Revolutionary War)....just a piece of history for you. Oh, yes, in my development of townhomes is the Valley Forge Military Hospital whereby the sick-and-dying soldiers were placed away from the other soldiers. During the Christmas Holiday, if I am able to mention that occasion, someone puts a wreath on the dilapidated hospital and a light to shine upon it.