Return to Cambridge – Chapter 13
Charles was at the office early Monday morning realizing that if the police were doing a background check on him, he’d need to explain to the senior partner his mentor what the reason for that check was. As soon as his mentor arrived, he beckoned him into his office and greeted him warmly.
“Were you able to sort out those personal issues you needed time off for? It’s nice to have you back in the office and I have a surprise to share with you.”
“I’m relieved to be back at work sir, but I hope you have the time to hear what has been troubling me this past week.” His mentor indicated he should continue as he shuffled papers on his desk. So, Charles rapidly poured out the issues with his neighbors, his delivery of a baby and the tragic event at the hospital culminating with the police check.
The senior partner began to smile and then finding it hard to control broke out in a hearty laugh. “You delivered a baby! Are you thinking of changing careers?” He sobered quickly. Too bad about your friend’s murder and the police interest. They haven’t contacted me about you. You’ll have to work twice as hard now, or I may be tempted to give them a bad report.” He laughed again then resumed his usual professional face.
Charles had never seen his mentor so animated, maybe everyone would find his situation funny, but he certainly was not able to see the humour in it. He remembered his secretary’s similar reaction when he confided in her about delivering a child and thought of her probable reaction when he went to his office. He was beginning to feel embarrassed. The senior partner saw his reaction and returned to business.
“Two things have come up since you were gone. Firstly, Jane Howlett has been trying to contact you and finally phoned me from the US. She is disconnecting from the holding company for some reason and interested in looking at business opportunities for herself in either Europe or the UK. She wanted to know if we would accept her as a client and if we had a spare office she could work from. I said yes to accepting her as a client and indicated we had no spare office for her to use. I think she’d be a difficult person to have operating out of our office complex and know you would agree with that.” The senior partner watched for Charles reaction and smiled when Charles nodded enthusiastically.
“Secondly, we are losing two from our branch office in Cambridge unfortunately. The senior partner and one recruit. The partner has decided to go into politics and stand at the next election and he is taking the recruit with him to organize his campaign. That will certainly leave us in difficulty there and we cannot afford to lose clients to competitors. While there is one remaining partner there who will expect to be elevated to the senior position, I’d like to appoint you as you are familiar with all the clients there too. This means a buy in to our firm and of course a dividend from our earnings there along with enhanced salary. Are you willing for me to recommend you to our partners here in London? We have the clout to override our branch there. You will have to be politically savvy to handle the disappointment there and we could lose a partner if you take the responsibility. Do you feel confident enough to take the position and have you access to finance for a buy in? If you say no that’s alright as I’d hate to lose you here and it will put a heavier load on us until we can access another recruit of your calibre. You’d have a heavy load and would have to do a search for suitable replacements there for us. What do you say?”
Charles was excited. “I’d miss the excitement of our practice here sir, but it would be a real opportunity for further career growth and yes I’m confident I could handle the disappointment there. Have you thought of calling the remaining partner to London and just leaving me there as I’d be prepared to take extra load? We have good recruits there and I could get more qualified people perhaps even raiding some from our competitors. As for a financial buy in that could be problematic as I just invested most of my stock in an investment rental in Cambridge. The purchase is being processed this week.”
“Could you mortgage the home to access funds for the buy in to our corporate practice? The suggestion of calling that partner to London is a good one. It could be looked on as an advancement for him and instead of him being upset it would take the politics out of the equation. Good suggestion. But it would leave you further understaffed. It would certainly solve our problem replacing you here. Can I take it you’re interested?”
“Yes sir, and I’m very grateful to you sir. You have been an excellent mentor and I feel confident with all the instruction you’ve given me since transferring to London. When should this transfer take place?
“Let me get in contact with our man in Cambridge and offer him the transfer to London. I believe you will have to find a new phone now yours is being held by the police. Why not go buy a new one at our expense and see if your mobile carrier will transfer your present number to the new phone now and when you get back come to my office again and we will see how your reassignment can be worked out.”
Charles thanked the senior and went to his office. His secretary greeted him.
“I have a number of people making inquiries about midwife services Charles. Would you like to have their phone numbers?” She broke off into peals of laughter as he nodded and smiled. He’d known she’d be on his case now she was privy to that knowledge.
“I’m going off to buy a replacement phone so will be away for a while and then I have to return to the senior’s office. When I come back you can input all the client numbers again as pay back for all the sass you give me.” He left the office laughing and wondering if she gave her husband the same treatment. She was super-efficient at her work.
A new phone was purchased, and the mobile carrier had no trouble transferring the number to his new phone but unfortunately what he’d stored on the old phone couldn’t be accessed. If he’d been able to use the old phone everything would have transferred over, but the police would obviously not let him have that privilege as they held it for evidence against Omario. He then returned to his office and handed the phone over to his secretary.
“Now you can do your penance by inputting all the client numbers.” She groaned as he headed for the senior’s office and was waved in while the senior was on the phone.
The conversation ended and the senior smiled at Charles. “That was a great idea Charles, the partner jumped at the chance to come to London. I told him you were being sent there to cover for him so he could make a quick transfer. So, you had better get up to Cambridge and let him orient you to what’s going on there seeing you have been away from there for a while. You’ll need to hit the ground with your feet running to fill vacancies in employment and see client’s needs are being met. You have a big job to do seeing things don’t fall apart in this transition period and I know you won’t let us down. We will pay for any costs of relocation and recruitment.”
Charles returned to his office and informed his secretary the boss had transferred him to Cambridge, and he was being replaced in London by one of the partners from there. His secretary wept. “What if he doesn’t enjoy the kind of humour we have in our relationship, I guess I’ll have to look for another job then. It’s been so nice working with you, and I hate change.” She recovered quickly.
“I haven’t finished with all the client phone numbers, is there any point in that now? Oh, and you have a heap of messages and most of them are from Jane Howlett. Isn’t that the woman who was here early last week making all kind of demands? I thought that client job was complete. You better be careful as I think she has you in her cross hairs!”
She observed Charles looking embarrassed and smirked. “Oh, Charley the confirmed bachelor likes aggressive women!” She handed back his phone and went to her desk outside chuckling.
Charles departed for the streets below and found a shop selling chocolates. He bought a gigantic box and had it presentation wrapped. He bought a thank you card and stuck it on top after writing on it “To my aggressive secretary who I’m deeply grateful to for organizing me while I was with the firm in London.” He went back to the office to pack his personal things and handed the present to his secretary. She wept as he packed up his personal office things. Then he said goodbye to his mentor and each of the office workers in turn and left for home.
On arriving home, he found the piece of paper he’d written Ewbank’s contact number on and phoned. He reached the answering service and left a message to contact him as soon as he could and five minutes later his phone rang. It was Ewbank. Charles asked if he could come around that evening and pick up both keys to the Gordon apartment promising to give him the agent’s details so he could hand over keys when the apartment had been cleared of Taniyah’s personal items. The furnishings would remain. It would need to be done today because he’d be on his way to Cambridge in the morning. Then remembering there could still be some of his own things there and items remaining from Taniyah’s one night occupation of his apartment he did a thorough search of both apartments and made the appropriate exchanges.
Return to Cambridge – Chapter 14
It was late afternoon and Charles had made a series of phone calls. Because some family and friend’s phone numbers were not in his new phone, he’d spent much of the afternoon inputting these numbers from the printed out hard copy of these records. Charles was a methodical person and was careful to back up all his records in some form. He was looking forward to the challenge in Cambridge commencing tomorrow but realized he’d have to return to London to dispose of his apartment rather than pay rent on something unused. That would require another loading of his car and this time there’d be no one to help him unload at the other end. Having purchased some extra things since locating in London he’d have to make a couple of one and a half hour trips back and forth to accomplish the move. There was not enough to hire a mover and do it in one trip though the office would have paid for that service.
He made a note in his phone to immediately have calling cards printed to recognize his new status and location. He’d phoned some of the people he’d worked on his Chartered Accounting professional exams with to catch up with them after a long time and see what work they were doing now in case he sensed they may add value to his new responsibilities and could be persuaded to join him, He made notes of his impressions so he could think about this when he reached Cambridge. He made contact with friends in competitor accounting firms to tell them he was returning to Cambridge to head up work there and playfully suggested they may be interested in working with him. Some were well established with the competitors and treated it as a bit of friendly ribbing. Others were guarded in their responses. He’d re-join the clubs accounting professionals frequented and sound them out there quickly.
He was about to contact Jane Howlett in response to her many messages. He’d messaged back in the morning to say he’d contact her in the evening. The doorbell rang as he was about to do that, and he opened the door. It was Uwbank and a young adult about Charles age also of Indian appearance. He invited them inside and handed them the keys to the opposite apartment. Ewbank introduced his son Raj Dass from the US. He’d flown in from the US to assist his father on learning of the death of his sister and the unfortunate police complication for his father. Ewbank explained the name difference. Their ancestors had been called Dass and this son wanted to embrace his ancestral name rather than Ewbank which had a colonial past connotation. He was the one working on his PhD. The father had briefed his son about the friendship Charles had developed with the Gordons and his kindness to Taniyah after Omario’s disgraceful treatment by her husband. So, the young man was quite friendly.
The phone rang and Charles picked it up to view the caller’s name. “Jane Howlett what a nice surprise. Can I phone you back as we have a lot to talk about and I have guests with me? I’ll phone you soon.”
Jane responded. “We certainly do have a lot to talk about. You are a difficult man to contact these days, Charles.”
“Contact you very soon Jane.” He placed the phone on the side table.
Raj Dass looked at Charles with surprised admiration. “That was Jane Howlett PhD? Do you know how important that woman is? You know her? I’ve attended all her guest lectures at Harvard. She’s big in the business world and one of the favoured few invited to guest lecture on a regular basis. Her insights are phenomenal and students at Harvard flock to her lectures when she’s in town.”
Charles shrugged. “Yes, she’s one of the clients of our firm and I have to return her call so let’s finish our business quickly. You have the agents name and number, so you now have the keys to finalise that contract. Do you have any further word from the police? What are you doing about Taniyah’s funeral and the child?” He remembered then he couldn’t leave London tomorrow without police approval while the murder investigation was proceeding. He needed to contact them urgently.
Ewbank responded. “Omario has admitted to the murder and justified it on the grounds of his wife’s infidelity. Of course, the police ruled that infidelity out as you arrived and came to know them both after Taniyah became pregnant and he had no other person he could point to. But he agrees he murdered her, and they have it in writing. We are no longer persons of interest, and they have no objection to us clearing up loose ends here and accompanying the body and the child back to Jamaica. Apparently, they haven’t communicated that to you yet. So, we will have the funeral ceremony in Jamaica as soon as everything can be finalized, and you of course will be invited as an honoured member of the family now. She will be cremated as our custom demands. I know you have important business to attend to so we will take our leave now. Thank you for being the friend my daughter needed so urgently. We will never forget your kindness to our family.”
“Yes, I have to leave for Cambridge tomorrow and take up a new position for my firm so will probably not be able to see you again. However, should you ever be in Cambridge I’d be honoured to have you as my guest and learn of the progress of my goddaughter.” They shook hands as he saw them to the door.
He phoned Jane as soon as the door closed behind them. She pretended to be cross as she answered the phone. “You promised you’d help me make a transition in life and I can never get you on the phone!”
Charles chuckled. “I hope you have a lot of time because I have a lot to tell you. Do you do Facetime video calls?”
“OK here is my Facetime detail. Find me there and give me a call back. I’ll wait for your call on Facetime.”
Within a minute they were on Facetime and for the next hour Charles related his experiences since their last meeting in London. Jane listened spellbound occasionally commenting. Then he grew tired of talking. “Now it’s your turn Jane. How are things at your end?”
“Hectic! I was almost hounded out of my father’s funeral by the family, but I hung in there and was glad I did. When they saw my mother there, they went ballistic.” She laughed recalling the scenes. “Our holding company is in freefall. There is fighting for the top position my father occupied and I’m out of the running. Other corporations are circling our assets and raids are occurring on companies we control as they are aware of the leadership vacuum. I dumped my stock before the share price in our enterprises took a hit, but the others were not so smart as they were too busy fighting. Serves them right. I’ve received a lot of attractive offers from competitors and that makes me feel good, but I’d like to take a break from the corporate world and sort my life out. I told your boss I wanted to retain your firm as I look at anything interesting in Europe and the UK.”
“Yes, the boss told me this morning when he informed I was on transfer to Cambridge again this time as the head of our branch there.” Charles observed Jane as they spoke together. She was looking relaxed and in casual clothes. She seemed a different person to the aggressive corporate pit bull he remembered her as. There was a softness about her.
Jane spoke. “So, you won’t be in London anymore?”
“No but I’ll be happy to see you anytime you’re in Cambridge and show you around, I had one of your students with me when you called earlier. He is absolutely spellbound by your lectures at Harvard. Apparently, you do guest lectures there along with your corporate raiding.” He laughed.
“I wouldn’t know who is in the audience when I lecture there Charles but it’s interesting you should have met someone who attended my lectures. I hadn’t told you I did that on the side.”
“Perhaps in your new life you should consider being a university professor full time? You certainly don’t lack for money so don’t need to be in corporate administration.”
“That’s an option. So, you’d welcome a visit from me now? I must be making progress with you. I certainly would like to.” She looked at him inquiringly.
“Tell, you what! I just bought an old house in Cambridge as an investment for rental, but it needs supervision for upgrading I’d like to be done on the home at my expense. I’ll be returning to the old bachelor pad I occupied the firm owns there. If you want a place to use while you think of a new career. you’d be welcome to use it rent free and supervise the renovations for me.”
“I’ll take up on your offer before you change your mind. That would be perfect, and I love renovations. Perhaps you’d let me make some suggestions? It would take me a month to wind up operations here and rent out my high-rise apartment and store my stuff. Would that suit your program?”
“Better than suggestions I’d leave the renovations entirely at your discretion and gladly pay. I’m looking forward to your visit new Jane.” He laughed.
“I’m so excited Charles and am happy you want to see me. I’ll make sure you like the new Jane.”
“I know I will Jane. Come soon.”
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