Rescue Mission


“Let’s go you guys! You’re gonna be late for school. Jenny? Patrick? Come on, I’m not kidding. Get a move on.” Kennedy Cooper was packing lunches and making sure homework folders were signed and put back in their book bags as she tried to finish a piece of toast and a cup of coffee. She loved her brother and sister, but they could be a royal pain in the butt sometimes. Patrick was seventeen and Jenny had just turned fifteen. It was hard enough dealing with typical teenagers, but like her, they’d had to endure the loss of their parents to a drunk driver a year ago and that loss impacted every area of their lives. Most of the time, the impact was negative although overall, they were still really good kids. She was now essentially raising them by herself and running a very busy restaurant while trying to have a social life of her own.

Her parents had owned The Crown Jewel in Columbia, South Carolina, for 15 years and it was doing very well after a typically rough start for any new business. It got so bad at one point the first year that her mom and dad nearly threw in the towel as they struggled to meet ends meet. She was only ten and her siblings were too young to have any idea why mom and dad were at work 12-14 hours a day, seven days a week for so long, but eventually all that hard work and effort began to pay off. The two years before their tragic death on New Year’s Eve, they’d been able to hire someone to run the place and finally spend some time with their two younger children. The person they put in charge however, had to be watched like a hawk and even then, the restaurant began losing money. Their last official act at the restaurant, made on their way to the party that New Year’s Eve, was to inform the general manager of The Crown Jewel they were letting him go the following day and that they would be returning to run the place themselves.

To their credit, they did their best to make up for lost time with their two youngest children. Kennedy was just out of college and already had her own apartment. Her bonding time had come before the bought The Crown Jewel, but they had gradually grown apart over the years. That didn’t mean she didn’t still love them dearly. It just meant she wasn’t the recipient of this extra time and devotion.

She was even doing reasonably well for herself selling real estate in the greater Columbia metro area and was dating a guy she really liked. She was out with him at a party that New Year’s Eve when the phone rang. She would have ignored it, but Patrick never called her. He tried to explain what had happened, but he was still in shock having just had the police at the house informing them of the news. He’d agreed to stay home with his sister on New Year’s Eve so their parents could have a rare night out alone. It was just after midnight when a man who was twice over the legal limit plowed into the side of their car when be blew through a red light at an intersection at 60mph. He was still in jail, but that was no comfort to the Cooper’s children as they were still orphans. Kennedy felt she had no other choice but to move back home and take over the business. She gave up her promising career in real estate as well as her very comfortable relationship and did what she had to do.

When the public learned the Jewel had not only lost its owner but the general manager, monetary losses quickly turned into hemorrhaging money even after an ad campaign emphasized the Jewel was still family-owned and family-run. As a precaution, Kennedy hired a tax attorney to audit their books to give her a solid assessment of just how bad things really were.

That’s how she met Dylan Walker of Walker, Walker, and Breckenridge fame, the most prestigious law firm in South Carolina. As a tax attorney, Dylan was a machine. Socially and physically, well, not so much. He was nice enough looking in spite of being rather slight of frame, but no one would ever call him handsome. Kennedy remembered thinking when she first met him that he reminded her of the guy who played Niles Crane on Frasier only without the neurotic personality. She’d almost choked one night during dinner when out of the blue Patrick referred to him as Niles. Jenny had nicknamed him Bookworm, and Kennedy hadn’t bothered to even try and correct either one of them because their assessments were heartfelt and accurate. To her, Dweeb was the name that wouldn’t go away whenever she thought of Dylan. And yet, she had to admit he was kind, polite, thoughtful, and thoroughly professional.

Beyond the obvious outward issues, there were other areas that raised red flags. She loved football, basketball, hip-hop and the blues while he loved opera and the theater. She liked hiking and camping; he preferred a five-star hotel with room service. But she wasn’t a teenager anymore, and there was a lot more to a relationship than liking the same kind of music. At least that’s what she kept telling herself.

Kennedy had never dated anyone for money, but she was well aware his family had a ton of it, and the reality kütahya escort of the situation was she had two siblings to raise and both of them wanted to go to college. She didn’t want to admit it, but financial concerns played a role in accepting his offer of a first date. He took her to the most upscale restaurant in Columbia and introduced her to a number of very influential people in the local community. She’d been generally well received, and she overheard several people mention how beautiful she was. Even so, she was perceived to be an outsider in Dylan’s social circle, and as such, she was well aware there was also a kind of coolness in the way she was treated. She couldn’t possibly miss the aloof way some of them looked at her. In other words, she could tell they were thinking she must be using her looks to get to his money.

The evening left her with all kinds of new and mixed feelings. On the one hand, she’d never gone out with someone she felt wasn’t at least her equal in terms of attractiveness. She knew that sounded snobbish, but snobbish or not, it was still true. Dylan was average or maybe slightly above-average looking. She hated the so-called 1-10 rating scale but even so, she thought Dylan was probably a 6. Not ugly, not UN-attractive, but definitely not very A-ttractive. He wasn’t muscular at all but he wasn’t totally a stickman, either. Well—not totally. He had sandy blond hair, a thin face, and wore glasses. On the positive side, he had a great smile and very caring eyes. Looks aside, she’d never felt intellectually inferior to anyone before, but Dylan was a veritable genius and a repository of more knowledge (both substantive and trivial) than anyone she’d ever known. He was charming in a, well…dweebish…sort of way, but that was also offset by the fact that we was clearly very well off financially. He drove a Jaguar, lived in a very large, beautifully-furnished home, and dressed impeccably. Whatever discomfort she felt dating a rather average-looking guy like Dylan tended to be mostly offset by other things that were in his favor.

So whatever misgivings she’d had about dating him, she’d said yes to a second and then a third date after which he finally kissed her goodnight. It wasn’t a terrible kiss, but it seemed so forced, so…perfunctory. It was as though it was expected so it was therefore delivered. It wasn’t until after their fifth date that he even made out with her and it was several more dates before he tried to sleep with her.

That first attempt was…well, what had it been like? Kennedy settled on the word—clumsy. Like that first date and like Dylan himself, his lovemaking skills left her in a kind of quandary. He wasn’t terrible. She’d slept with a couple of guys who were and Dylan wasn’t that bad. But she’d also slept with several incredibly good lovers and Dylan fell well short of them. Short. Ah, yes. Short. That led her to another serious problem. He was indeed…short. Kennedy wasn’t a size queen, and she knew what a guy did with what he had really was more important than size alone, but when a smaller-endowed guy lacked other valuable skills, it made for a rather average experience at best. There was just something…delicious…about being filled up by an attractive guy who sported a decent-sized Johnson. Dylan wasn’t what one of her college friends who’d served in the Army had called a “Tango Delta” which was Army-speak for Tiny Dick, but he was most definitely smaller than average. Okay, he was a lot smaller than average and she could pretend it didn’t matter, but it did. And yet, for the most part he was…okay at lovemaking. The problem was, he was just okay. So she did her best to focus in on his positive attributes and played down his um…’short’—comings.

She put the last item in the backpacks and was ready to move on to the next task. By now, she was firmly into the rhythm of the daily routine which started at 6am for her and ended somewhere after midnight most days. She called out to her brother and sister again and the two teenagers finally made their way downstairs, grabbed their book bags and even remembered to say thanks on the way out. Patrick had been driving them both to school every day since he turned sixteen relieving Kennedy of one extra burden for which she didn’t have the time.

She finished her coffee, brushed her teeth, and headed to The Crown Jewel just as she did every morning. She was already mentally ticking off all of the things she needed to do which started with inventory and ended with payroll. Payroll. Every two weeks she now faced the daunting task of making payroll which now typically meant going without a salary or taking a severely reduced draw from what little savings remained. Somewhere in between she had to make time for Dylan who said he had a very special evening planned for them.

She intended to hand things over to Kate, who was her new general manager, around 6pm so she could home, change, and meet Dylan by seven. As she drove through malatya escort the heavy morning traffic, she kept telling herself how fortunate she’d been to meet him and what a great guy he was. She’d once heard it said that repetition brings forth conviction. Perhaps if she just said it enough times, she might end up actually believing it because he really was a decent guy…right?

As she pulled into her private parking space, she gave up thinking about it and turned her attention to the laundry list of things that had to be done that day, just like every day. Kate met her at the back door and started in with the most pressing concerns and worked her way down the list. For the next ten hours, Kennedy and Kate worked through the it getting as much done as they could.

Just before she left for the day, she looked out the window into the alley behind the restaurant. There was a van parked there and someone got out and was going through their crates and other stuff stacked against the back wall. She opened the back door and said, “May I help you with something?”

The man looked up and said, “I was just looking for leftover food.”

“If you’re hungry you can come inside and I’ll give you something to eat,” she told him.

“That’s very nice of you,” he said, “but it’s not for me. You may not know this, but not all black people are homeless bums. For the recored, I run a homeless shelter and I’m looking for anything I can take with me to feed the people who really need it.”

“Well, we don’t leave anything out here. We throw it all in the dumpster.”

“That food could feed a lot of people, you know,” he told her in a way that sounded accusatory.

“I’m sorry, but just who are you and who do you think you are telling me how to run my business?” she said defensively.

“My name is Jaquon. Jaquon Williams. And I’m not trying to tell you anything, lady. I’m just noting that your restaurant, like most others, throws away a lot of food that could feed a lot of hungry people. That’s all. Why are you so defensive about it? Is it because you know I’m right?” he said.

She was more than a little irritated and told him, “Look, you have no idea how busy I am or anything else about my life for that matter. I don’t have time to separate everything and put in containers, and set it out every day. If you ran a business, you’d know that.”

“Wow, defensive and deaf. Did you miss the part where I told you I run a homeless shelter? I spend at least 12 hours a day there, every day, trying to make a difference in poor people’s lives. I don’t make a lot of money doing that, but it isn’t about money for me. But I wouldn’t expect an entitled, rich, little white princess like you to understand what that’s like. You see, not everyone’s got a rich daddy to give them a business or a new car.” He pointed to the BMW in her parking spot, a car which her mother had driven before she was killed. “Some people have a tough life. They grow up without a father, their mother’s on drugs, then they get into drugs or gangs themselves, and the next thing you know, they’re in jail. They get out and they need a little help. They need a hot meal and clean, warm place to sleep while you go home to your fancy place in the suburbs where you don’t have to deal with any of this. And before you call me a bigot, I don’t hate white people, I hate rich people who think they’re better than everyone else. So I hope you sleep well tonight with your belly full of food in your nice, warm house. Oh, and while you are, I’ll be out here scrounging for scraps so the people who go to bed hungry most nights have a little something to eat. You have yourself a really nice day, okay?” he said as he turned around and got into his panel van that had Rescue Mission written on the side.

“I do plenty for the poor!” she said as he drove away. “You have no idea who I am or what I do!” She was shaking by the time he drove off.

“Who was that?” Kate asked.

“Just some asshole who thinks he’s the only one who cares or who has problems,” she said.

That confrontation bothered her for the next several days. It was really eating at her during her dinner with Dylan and she was finding it hard to stay focused as he went on and on about his day and all of the legal events that had happened since he last saw her. At one point she heard him say, “Did you hear me?”

“I’m sorry. I’m just so pre-occupied with work, the kids, and some idiot I had a run-in with earlier. Please tell me again. I promise I’ll pay attention this time.”

He had a kind of hurt look on his face as he said, “I’m being made a junior partner.”

Kennedy felt completely embarrassed for missing something so significant. “Dylan, I’m so proud of you. That’s amazing!” She was afraid to ask him when for fear he’d say he’d already told her that, too.

His sense of being annoyed had passed and he said, “So, I was thinking. We’ve been dating—exclusively—for quite a while now. And with this new promotion, manisa escort I’d be making a lot more money and well…I was wondering if…”

She saw him reach inside his suit coat and pull out a small, blue box. A moment later he was on one knee next to her with the box open asking her to marry him. Everyone was looking at them and smiling, and it was so quiet she could hear the sound of her own heart beating. She was so caught up in the moment, she completely forgot about everything she’d been thinking about that morning regarding Dylan (and every day since she’d met him) and blurted out, “Yes! Yes, I will marry you!”

The entire place burst into applause. The women were saying things like, “Ahhh!” and “Bless your heart!” and their were many congratulations from people she didn’t know. Kennedy scarcely noticed when Dylan slipped the ring on her finger and told her he loved her.

It wasn’t until he finally said, “Did you hear me?” again that she realized she’d never said it to him before.

Without thinking she said it back. “Oh. Oh! Yes, yes I heard you. I…I love you too, Dylan.” He stood, bent down and kissed her on the cheek and there was more applause.

The rest of the evening, he yammered on and on about a June wedding and a honeymoon at his parents’ summer home in The Outer Banks in North Carolina, and the need to hire a really good wedding planner. Kennedy felt like she was a spectator listening to someone else plan her future. As the buzzing sound kept coming at her from across the table, she was flooded with the thought of him making love to her once a week on schedule in his bland, predictable way. And for the first time, all she could see was a tiny little dick in front of her with blond hair and glasses.

She looked down at the huge diamond on her left hand and then back at the human dick with feet and it once again became Dylan. She wasn’t sure if she’d just made a terrible mistake or if she was just being realistic and pragmatic as she once again ticked off all of the pros and cons on her Dylan list. The pros outweighed the cons…didn’t they? Weren’t his positive attributes more important than his…small…er, negative ones?

All of this was ricocheting around in her head when she remembered that smug prick who’d made her feel so guilty about throwing away all that food. It came flooding back as they left the restaurant when a homeless man walked by out front who approached them and asked for money. Dylan threatened to call the police and Kennedy didn’t say a word as the man muttered something about just being hungry as he walked away.

That was it! That was how she could show Mr. What’s-His-Name she wasn’t heartless. She didn’t have to do things his way, she could do this on her own terms and help out the poor and assuage her guilty conscience and even drum up new business for the Jewel. She hated to admit it, but he had indeed made her feel bad about getting rid of all that food that really was still very edible, but he’d been such an ass about it she’d never give him the satisfaction of letting him know.

The next day she pitched her idea to Kate who said, “Uh, I’m not sure about that, Kennedy. You want to invite the homeless in here and feed them for free?”

“Yes! Once a week for lunch. It’ll be great. Just think of all the publicity we’ll receive for being so caring! And we’ll doing something important at the same time. How is this not a win-win, Kate?”

Kate had her reservations but she’d locked horns with the boss several times and had her head handed to her more than once. Having expressed her reservations, she bit her tongue this time hoping against hope it might work out.

Kennedy knew where a fairly large group of homeless people stayed during the colder months and she stopped by that day and handed out some flyers. “Free food and hot coffee at The Crown Jewel every Wednesday from 11am-1pm” is what it said along with the restaurant’s address.

That first afternoon about fifteen of them showed up and Kennedy personally met them and welcomed them. She had a place all ready for them and a buffet style menu prepared. The rest of the restaurant was quickly filling up with regular customers and things seemed to be going great.

“I think this is going to be a big hit, Kate!” she told her.

“I hope you’re right,” was all she said.

Not five minutes later the first regular customer approached them and said, “I hate to sound like a snob or something, but the smell from…those people…is so bad we’re not gonna be able to stay.”

Kate noticed it when she welcomed them, but she was so excited about her new idea she didn’t pay any attention to it. Moments later another couple come by and said, “I’m sorry, but we’re leaving. If this is going to be a regular thing here, we won’t be coming back any more.”

Several other customers got up and left and Kate said, “We really need to do something, Kennedy.”

“Okay, okay. I’ve got it! Let’s put all the food in plastic take-out boxes and give them plastic sporks. They leave with food and everyone’s happy, right?”

Kate got three servers to help out and in ten minutes, all of the homeless were gone. That’s when someone from the local paper who was there covering the event approached and said, “Are you the owner?”

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