The Runaway Pt. 2, a short story by KiwiDreamer. Date added: 2012-06-04. Times viewed: 737.
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- Intro: Kylie finds life in New Zealand is enveloping her and decides to stay and receives a work visa that could lead to residency status.
Two months on Carla shifted Kylie into the furnished flat above the recently vacated dress fabric shop on one of the tourist town’s shopping streets in the commercial grid. The street-level premises had been gutted by the landlord and fitted out to Carla’s requirements as offices with a lounge at the entrance reception for clients to wait if necessary.
Kylie had successfully applied for have her visitor’s visa replaced with a work visa with Carla’s endorsement stating she wished to employ Kylie who qualified as a person with skills required under special immigration provisions. After two years residency Kylie could apply for permanent residency.
Carla now employed a receptionist and three other accountants, including Kylie plus a clerical assistant with a bookkeeping background. The business was taking off because Kylie and the latest accountant to be employed had been placed on retainers and charged with finding their own clients.
One of the new accountants Harry, employed under the expansion plan, and Kylie had both leased vehicles, with Harry being asked to find clients north of the town east and west and Kylie’s patch was in the opposite direction. Carla and Michelle who’d worked with Carla for five years and was another of Carla’s occasional lovers, prospected for more business within the town with its population of 23,000 people.
Harry, who had recently married, lacked the outgoing personality to chat up prospective new clients and was not doing well in soliciting and so Kylie spent ten working days working on recruitment with him and they finished that joint drive by signing up seven clients prepared to switch to Harry and another six making encouraging noises.
“I’ll give you 2.5% of my net income from those seven clients over the next year,” he said. “All signed with me because of your expertise in persuasion.”
Kylie was pleased that he was thinking that way but said, “No that’s not necessary.”
Harry said indignantly he couldn’t be let off his obligations like that.
The next day Carla came to Kylie and said, “Harry insists on rewarding you for boosting his clientele. You refused and now he wants me to allow him to pay your vehicle lease for the next 12-months. Do you agree? I think you should say yes because we know you lost income in those ten days you gave to joint-recruiting with him.”
“Okay and tell him thanks.”
“I think you should do that?”
“Oh I’ll invite Harry and Elaine to dinner Saturday night. He’ll know that’s saying thanks.”
“You are a really neat person Kylie and by god I’m glad I found you. You and I are taking a mid-winter break to go to the Gold Coast in Queensland for a week with me paying everything and that’s my way of thanking you for restructuring my business into this.”
“Okay and thanks but I’ll only go if we share a bed.”
Carla laughed and said, “We do think alike darling.”
* * *
Kylie usually had dinner a couple of times with Carla and family and often looked after the kids when Carla and Philip went out socializing. Whenever Carla’s mother Pam visited Kylie was invited for dinner for as many nights as Pam stayed. The first time Pam returned after Kylie decided to stay and work for her daughter she brought husband Ralph and their son. Doug looked warily at Kylie and she went up and kissed him on the cheek and that settled him but there was no sign of affection (or lust) between them.
One afternoon a guy in muddy boots came into the office and the receptionist said, “Please remove your boots on the tiles just inside the entrance and leave them stacked neatly.”
“Up yours lady.”
Kylie who’d just been out to buy new underwear came in behind the guy and said, “Please remove your muddy boots sir or I’ll do it for you.”
“Yeah you and whose army?” he said, swinging around and staring a little unsteadily at Kylie and then he gaped and said, “God you’re pretty.”
She put down her shopping bag and scolded, “You are drunk. Please walk out of here and returned when you’re sober.”
“Aw me and the boys…”
He was only Kylie’s height (5ft 10) but looked powerful and wide through the chest.
She grabbed him by bunching up the front of his Swandri (long hanging waterproofed wool work jacket) and then turning she hauled him to the door, he showing no sign of resisting.
“You’re a bossy tart aren’t you but you took charge of the situation well,” he said, shaking himself to get the collar sitting tight. “And I don’t know any other woman who’d have the guts to do that to me.”
“You are welcome to return when sober sir. Have a good remainder of the day and don’t drive drunk.”
“No ma’am,” he said, giving her half a salute. “Great tits.”
Kate the receptionist said in awe, “God Kylie you took a huge risk. That’s John O’Rourke, farm manager at Kaikohe Station that’s owned by his parents. It’s one of the largest farms in the Taupo District of almost 30,000 acres and he’s one tough guy. John worked as a shearer and forestry tree feller before returning to the family farm.”
“It’s a pity he didn’t work on manners,” Kate sniffed, picking up her shopping. “Call me if you have trouble with him again.
Kate arrived at the door to Kylie’s office next morning.
“He’s back and asked to see the pretty woman.”
“He probably means Carla.”
“Kylie, he’s holding flowers and looks as if he thinks he’s holding a long-dead possum.”
Kylie smiled and said she’d attend to him shortly. “Tell him I’m on the phone,” Kylie said, picking up her phone to call the supermarket to order her weekly delivery of wine and other groceries.
She went out and smiled, “Oh you’ve brought me flowers and even combed your hair. Yes you can date me.”
He awkwardly thrust the flowers forward.
Kylie teased, “God I didn’t think you’d have the guts to buy and hold flowers. What if the guys saw you?”
“That’s why I came early,” he confessed, sending Kate behind the counter into a giggling fit.
“Come let’s go out and have coffee. I don’t think you want to talk about a date.”
“I didn’t but you’ve change my mind for me. I didn’t think I’d have a show with you, not with your looks and your body and being so damn cool.”
“Well John, you never know your luck in a small town. Mind you I don’t do it on the first date.”
She had to lead John from the office, watched by the red-faced giggling Kate who now had real gossip to share with her lunchtime friends.
As they walked off Kylie said, “According to reliable information you’re not the town drunk, you’re John O’Rourke. I’m a runaway Englishwoman Kylie Weaver and you may call me Kylie.”
“Hi Kylie and I apologize for my boorish behaviour yesterday. One of my mates was leaving for Aussie via Auckland to take a look around and we guys gathered to give Chicken a good send off.”
“He’s a picky sort of guy.”
Having no idea what that meant, Kylie said, “Oh.”
As they entered the coffee house, John stepped aside to allow her to enter first. A real gentleman? But no, he came right up behind her and placed a big mitt on her right butt low down and whispered, “Lovely ass.”
She braced herself and said nothing and the fool grinned at her and said, “I got away with that one didn’t I?”
“Do you play in a sandpit?”
He scratched the inside of his left ear and said, “Kylie you’re one damn challenge.”
“Don’t regard me like that, a piece of meat. Admire me also for my brain and personality John and stop feeling the need to put me down. I’m your equal and you better get used to that if you wish to date me.”
“I wish and will pack away my toys and promise to be a good boy.”
She eyed him and he scratched that ear again and said, “Sorry.”
“Just a long black coffee for me thanks John.”
“I’ll get two roast beef sandwiches and a flat white.”
“Please yourself, it’s your health.”
“What do you think I should have?”
“One chicken salad sandwich.”
She walked to find a table and only two were occupied.
The people stared at her but minutes later when John followed her he stopped to both lots of people who’d hailed him as John.
That encouraged Kylie thinking perhaps he mightn’t be the Oaf of Taupo after all.
John said to her politely, “The West’s have invited us to join them. They migrated from England fourteen years ago.”
“Oh okay, isn’t that friendly of them?”
“Um yes. Gawd my mum is going to love you.”
“And why would I be meeting your mum?”
The look and his tenseness told the Englishwoman that John was ready to bolt to the door.
“Steady John, down boy. There’s no need to panic just because you couldn’t come up with a ready answer.”
“Jesus Kylie,” he said, visibly relaxing. “You read me like a book.”
“Well you do telegraph the pages.”
They went out that night on their first date. He dressed nicely, his hair was done and fingernails were clean. And he passed the test when required to use a knife and fork and perhaps amazingly had his napkin on his lap instead of turned into his shirt up high and said, smiling, he’d rather have wine than beer, passing the wine list to Kylie saying he would drink white wine but preferred red.
Later when they were finishing coffee John said, “Would you consider living with me? I live alone in the manager’s house which is nine miles from here.”
“I could consider that if things go well between us.”
“They will,” he said confidently. “Mum is expecting you for dinner Saturday and invites you to stay.”
“Your mother… how does she know about me?”
He dabbed his forehead with his napkin and said, “Geeze Kylie you do give me a hard time.”
“Answer the question please.”
“I see them every day and had dinner with them last night. Mum often asks me had I found Miss Right yet. And um…”
“I sort of indicated, not being overly optimistic of course, um…”
She waited and he scratched the back of his neck but he worked out the delaying tactics aimed at letting him off the hook weren’t working with Kylie.
“I said yes, I’d met a really wonderful young woman and said you were English and she asked where you came from in England. I said Kent and she said well that was all right then, that southern England girls from both coasts and in between had proven their ability to adapt to New Zealand?”
“I see,” Kylie said softly.
“Does that mean you’re not mad at me?”
“God John, I’m not a dragon and I don’t mind you having independent thoughts and acting how you wish to be but would you stop apologizing to me so such and being overly keen to impress me. I don’t want any guy fawning over me. Just be yourself, with a touch of politeness and softness. I suggest you think about walking down the street with flowers for your mother or a female friend and not caring a fuck what you friends or foes think.”
He said gravely, “You said fuck.”
“Oh and doesn’t that suggest I’m not perfect either?”
“You’re sharp and a damn clever girl Kylie, that’s all I’m saying.”
Kylie shared coffee and sandwiches with Carla that day for lunch in Carla’s office and she said she’d befriended John O’Rourke and had been invited to have dinner at the farm with his parents on Saturday.
“Yes I heard about that, you treating him like a delinquent and Knuckles O’Rourke – his nickname at school because he was always fighting, usually in defence of small kids being bullied, and he behaving like a lamb when you gave him the bum’s rush out of the office.”
Kylie knew the person who’s been into Carla’s ear over that incident.
“He seems a nice enough chap.”
“God Kylie, don’t let him hear you call him a chap. Guys like him think chaps are poofs and anyone calling John O’Rourke a poof or every implying it is likely to be knuckle dusted.”
“You mean punched.”
“I do, and with chaps (a giggle) like John O’Rourke one punch can be near-lethal.”
Kylie sighed and said she was still struggling with local colloquialism.
“You best get your hair done and buy a new dress for Saturday night because the O’Rourke’s are considered among a handful of families as being local royalty.”
“Oh that means they eat with knives and forks and use napkins?”
“Well it’s your choice to sail close to the wind Kylie.”
“Carla dear I accept you are giving good advice and I’ll do nothing to disgrace myself.
On Saturday night Kylie arrived at the massive farm house wearing black velvet trousers tucked into mid-thigh boots, a pale blue silk shirt and a new red velvet jacket and had her hair up in a ponytail. Some of the extended family was there for dinner and Kylie was relieved that nobody was dressed formerly and actually the formality of the evening was very low tempo. She had a good time and impressed John’s parents and noticed their attitude change toward her as the evening progressed. She assumed they must have had the impression she was a gold-digger and had decided they were mistaken.
John’s mother actually kissed Kylie when she was leaving and said it had been wonderful meeting her. Kylie thought that was promising and when John walked her out to her car he said, “Mom’s bowled over by you. I don’t know what she’d been expecting, someone who might steal the silver I suspect. Are you coming over to stay with me?”
“No John and please understand. It’s a little bit early for that. Just allow me to make progress with your mother first.”
“Jesus are you figuring on dating me long term?”
“I’ve been thinking about that, yes.”
He kissed her and made no attempt to paw her and then opened the door for her to get in her vehicle. Kylie was most impressed. She had the feeling Taupo was becoming her adopted home.
Almost two years after Kylie met John for the first time, they married without Kylie’s family in England knowing about the event, being effectively excommunicated when Kylie made that decision to leave home. The Taupo Times called it the largest wedding in the town in many years. Ralph Orange ‘gave’ Kylie away and his wife Pam was matron of honour. Their daughter Carla was chief bridesmaid.
These days Ralph and Pam visit John and Kylie on the farm, usually on Sundays, and they act as if they are Kylie’s parents and grandparents to Nicola with a sister or brother for Nicola due in the spring. Kylie is one of the six partners in the accountancy business that Carla founded and the business is the second-largest accountancy practice in the district.
Doug Orange, who six years ago stopped his vehicle and watched Kylie, the runaway from England, peeing on the roadside is married and now his Canadian wife Bridget is pregnant. Bridget is worried that Doug won’t be the type to settle down to become a role model for their children but Kylie has told her, “Just you wait. Something seems to happen to fathers when they hold their first-born for the first time. Bridget, an accountant, works with her sister-in-law and Kylie and it’s expected she will be offered a partnership soon.
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