|Publisher:||Morgan James Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
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Life is good.
Seth Jacobs reflected on the idyllic late September afternoon outside as he adjusted his tie before the hallway mirror while awaiting his limousine. It was the type of day that made you grateful just to be alive — clear, crisp, with temperatures in the mid-seventies and puffy, white clouds billowing across a bright cerulean sky.
There, perfect, Seth thought, appraising his outfit. He still had a tan leftover from summer that contrasted nicely with the starched white shirt collar around his neck, and his charcoal tuxedo had been tailored well to fit his large, muscular frame, bringing out the golden highlights in his silver-flecked, light brown hair.
Hearing the sound of a vehicle approaching, Seth quickly shifted his attention from the mirror to the foyer.
The limo driver pulled the sleek, black extended Cadillac into the entrance of the Jacobs' estate, maneuvered up the long, circular drive and parked, letting out a soft whistle as he stretched his lanky figure out of the driver's seat. He had chauffeured a lot of wealthy people in his time but never before had he seen anything like the breathtaking home that lay sprawling before him.
Perched atop a manicured hill like a crown jewel was the magnificent Jacobs' mansion. The stone and stucco exterior and architectural lines gave it the look of a extraordinary European chateau adorned with an arched entrance, floor-to-ceiling bay windows, and first and second floor verandas. The landscaped mansion was surrounded by a wooded backdrop as far as the eye could see. It was like a Hollywood dream home tailored to fit the more rustic look of Massachusetts.
The driver stood waiting, continuing to stare. Although he was six-foot-four, he had to crane his neck to view the entire forty-room mansion. He couldn't see what lay beyond, but it was public knowledge that the two-hundred acres behind the house sported an Olympic-sized swimming pool, several gardens, and forests that buffered the estate for miles.
Seth's approach startled him from his reverie.
"Ahem, you must be my driver?"
"Good evening, uh, Mr. Jacobs, sir." The driver recovered by clearing his throat, taken off guard by the impeccably dressed man who stood nearly as tall as he.
"Relax, what's your name?" Seth extended his hand.
The driver hesitated for a moment before shaking it, appearing flustered that the famous multi-millionaire had made such a friendly, down-to-earth gesture.
Seth laughed warmly, sending slight crinkles fanning out from his sea-blue eyes. "Well, I might have guessed. Okay, James, let's go."
* * *
With Seth safely tucked inside, the limousine wound its way through the New England countryside and into downtown Boston, where it proceeded to get hopelessly snarled in traffic. James attempted to meander through it before he was forced to come to a complete stop, stuck just within the city limits.
Boston's highway system was once again under major construction and traffic was a nightmare.
It was already five o'clock and Seth was due at six. He was hosting the black-tie-only, thousand-dollar-a-plate fundraising dinner for U.S. Senator Robert Caine, a rising star in Massachusetts who was seeking the Democratic nomination for President in the upcoming election.
The dinner, of course, was being held at the Perfect Place, one of a series of now-famous restaurants owned by Seth Jacobs. With all of Boston's many fine eating establishments, it was still second to none, located at Rowes Wharf, the city's most prestigious waterfront district.
Seth checked his watch for the tenth time in two minutes. Traffic was at a standstill. At this rate, it will take over an hour to get to the restaurant, he thought.
"James, no offense, but I won't make it if we sit here much longer. I think I'll take the T."
"But sir, the way you're dressed, it might be dangerous," James protested.
Seth held firm. "Don't worry, I won't hold you responsible." He smiled and handed the driver a fifty-dollar bill. "Thanks, James."
Seth jumped from the limo and headed for the nearest stop of the underground metro, known in Boston as the T. At least I'm moving, he thought as he rounded the building on the corner of the next intersection and scrambled for the station. Seth boarded the Blue Line, which he calculated would get him to Boston Harbor in about ten minutes, just in time to make a last-minute check on everything before cocktails were served.
The Senator's dinner will be a culinary coup d'état, Seth thought proudly, taking his seat on the train.
Dining at the Perfect Place was always an occasion in itself, whether one dined alone, with family or friends, or with an intimate partner. One had to make reservations weeks, sometimes months in advance to get a table. But everyone knew the wait was always worthwhile.
Seth wanted his customers to enjoy their dining experience whether they were nine or ninety-nine. Each of his restaurants had a different decor but the same name, a name that Seth hoped reflected the experience within.
That experience included several signature attractions: a location on prime waterfront property, whether it be on a river, lake or ocean, a scenic indoor waterfall, paintings and sculptures by the finest local artists, a variety of appropriate dinner music from grand piano to string quartet, several strategically located fireplaces and the most important feature of all — the finest and freshest cuisine from around the world.
All of the restaurants in the Perfect Place family — Seth hated the word "chain" when it referred to his restaurants — were owned by Jacobs Enterprises, the company Seth formed when he was just getting started in the restaurant business at the young age of thirty. He had built his restaurant "family" one at a time and there was now a Perfect Place in every state in America.
There were no menus at the Perfect Place, which also made it unique, as well as both perplexing and delightful to first-time visitors. Daily specials were suggested by the wait staff, or patrons could order whatever they wished. Seth had decided people should be allowed to eat and drink whatever they preferred at the moment, whether it was lobster stuffed with caviar accompanied by Dom Perignon, or a good hamburger, fries and a shake. Everything was prepared to order by the finest chefs in the world.
* * *
Seth was by far the best-dressed and best-looking person on the train despite the fact his tux was disguised under his overcoat. He was forty-nine years old and felt at his prime, at the top of his game, and it showed.
Since he loved food in all of its wonderful varieties, Seth had to work to keep fit and trim for his size. He exercised early each morning in the spa in his penthouse on the seventeenth floor of the Custom House Tower, Boston's oldest but still premier office skyscraper.
He allowed his employees to use the multi-room suite and spa when they visited, or sometimes gave away private stays complete with airline tickets as incentives or rewards for jobs well done.
Seth valued his employees and believed he could always learn from them, especially those who were gifted. He also tried to be readily accessible to them, just to listen or to dispense ideas and advice even if it was by phone or computer.
Stories spread about how Seth Jacobs had helped various employees, building a loyalty among his staff unmatched in the restaurant industry.
There was the time Seth had been leaving the Perfect Place in New York City and found Billy, a frightened, black fourteen-year-old runaway, rummaging through the trash bin in the alley behind the restaurant. Billy had run away from an orphanage in the Bronx where he had been sexually abused by one of the wards. He would have been headed for life on the streets dealing drugs had Seth not caught him in time and offered him food, shelter and a job to pay for it after listening to his story.
He had found a foster home for Billy, and offered him work after school as a busboy, to keep him off the street and help him save some money of his own.
Bill Brown was now thirty, married with two children, and managed New York City's Perfect Place restaurant. He was one of Seth's most faithful employees and a good friend.
And there was Miss Carla. Raised in a mixed marriage by her alcoholic mother and abusive father and living in tenement housing in a Louisiana ghetto, Carla was neglected unless she was being beaten, and was ridiculed by other schoolchildren as a "poor little white nigger." She grew up tough and mean and ended up getting by on her own as a teenage prostitute. Seth saw her hooking one night in New Orleans and picked her up. But instead of paying her for her services, he asked her to waitress at the Perfect Place which he had just opened on the French Quarter. If she could stay "straight," Seth promised he could match her income and help her get her life together.
Seth helped Carla discover the beautiful girl with the cafe latte skin underneath the pancake makeup and rough street exterior. Carla started as a waitress, but Seth later discovered the girl could sing. The Perfect Place in New Orleans was now known for its famous Friday night musical entertainment featuring Miss Carla, who belted out jazz and blues in a sultry, sophisticated soprano that melted men's hearts. But if guys tried to pick her up, Miss Carla knew how to say no.
Seth also helped many an aspiring cook or sous chef become world-renowned culinary masters.
In return, his entire staff — now numbering in the thousands — admired him, and many loved him, even though they worked hundreds of miles away. Seth made sure he met each and every employee at least once, which meant he did a lot of traveling.
His wife and kids seemed to understand the sacrifice, and they loved him too.
Tonight I'll be back before they fall asleep, Seth hoped as the train sped along.
Unfortunately he had to attend the Senator's dinner without his wife Maria, who had come down with a stomach bug that day. Too bad, Seth thought. Maria loved to get out and mingle.
At least his teenage daughter Angelica had cancelled her Saturday night date to the movies and stayed home to play nursemaid to her mother. She hadn't seemed to mind much when her father asked her for the favor. He couldn't very well have asked his sons Adam or Aaron. Both were still at Dartmouth, hopefully celebrating Harvard's soccer victory. Aaron was just a sophomore at Seth's alma mater but was already a lead player on the varsity team. Adam, a senior at Harvard, had gone with his brother to the away game.
Adam never seemed to be jealous of his younger brother's athletic prowess, secure with his own academic abilities. Seth was proud that all three of his children seemed to have a healthy self-esteem.
I'm lucky I have such good kids, Seth mused as he looked out the T window and saw the late day sun reflecting its coppery light off the glass and chrome office buildings on the downtown horizon. Looking closer, one could see the scarlet glow cast on shorter, historic brick and stone landmarks, church steeples dotting the scene and majestic trees showing off their fiery autumn colors.
Boston never looks more inviting than in the fall, Seth thought while he watched the city speed by in his mind's eye as the T plunged underground.
Seth reflected on his beloved city and all its special attractions this time of year. He knew the large grassy expanse known as Boston Commons, the nation's oldest park, was full of squirrels gathering their harvest, college kids, joggers and a mix of humanity who sought to stretch their muscles or just get some fresh air.
It was still warm enough for boaters and fishermen to be out in the Massachusetts Bay and Seth smiled, remembering how his family was looking forward to next weekend's upcoming Charles River Regatta they attended together each year.
It was warm enough to still catch a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. And the perfect climate, not too hot or cold, for tourists and townsfolk alike to dine al fresco in Quincy Market or wander through its outdoor emporium filled with arts, crafts, souvenirs, and food vendors hawking everything from fresh produce to just-caught seafood to homemade fudge.
Schoolchildren from near and far would be planning trips to Boston's plethora of historic attractions, to experience the Boston Tea Party or walk the Freedom Trail and hear stories of the Battle of Bunker Hill, Paul Revere's ride and the Boston Massacre that had been told countless times.
Seth especially loved Boston because the city was always so alive and seemed to have it all — a fascinating and eclectic combination of old and new architecture, an All-American legacy and European flair, and so much history, culture and scenery. One could never get enough in his opinion.
He had so many memories, both as a child when his family would visit on weekends from their home in Providence, Rhode Island, and as a father who delighted in soaking in all of the city's events and attractions with his own children.
I'm lucky to live in this city, Seth thought as the T raced through the black bowels of Boston's underground, and then churned to a grinding, screeching, unexpected halt.CHAPTER 2
The lights in the subway flickered precariously, casting just enough light for its riders to survey the damage.
The train itself hadn't crashed, but had braked suddenly, causing rail and undercarriage damage. But its contents — namely, about one hundred and sixty passengers — had crashed within its interior onto floors and into walls, doors, poles and one another.
Above the cacophonous din an elderly woman moaned in pain as a toddler wailed in his mother's arms. Some passengers started babbling hysterically while others dazedly assessed the situation.
A man's voice over a loudspeaker managed to pierce through the clamor. "This is your conductor speaking. Please take your seats and don't panic. The Blue Line has run across an obstacle in its path and is experiencing technical difficulties. We will send medical personnel to each car as soon as they arrive on the scene. Until then, we ask that all passengers remain seated unless you are a registered nurse, licensed doctor or a certified paramedic. In that case we ask that you please assist anyone in need of aid until help arrives. We will keep you posted as to when the Blue Line will resume its course or if boarding another train to reach our destination will be required. Thank youuuu." The robotic voice almost sounded like a recording.
The thirty passengers in Seth's car, who had taken their seats and listened impatiently to the loudspeaker, simultaneously resumed their nervous chatter. Everyone glanced at each other as if to ask, "What do we do now?"
No one in Seth's car seemed to be a nurse or doctor. At least no one stepped forward to help the old woman sitting on the floor, her head flopped forward, still moaning. After searching the assembly of helpless, embarrassed and apathetic faces around him, Seth bent down on one knee next to the woman, lifted her chin and asked her what was hurting.
"My leg," answered the lady, a heavyset woman obviously of modest means. She wore a house dress and thin brown coat. Her wispy gray hair and watery, gray eyes that nearly disappeared in the wrinkles around them made her appear to be in her seventies.
She looked at Seth with mistrust as he silently removed his expensive wool overcoat. Her leg was cut, bleeding and already swelling around the ankle. He gently took off her shoe and bloody sock and wrapped her foot in the cashmere lining, which he had unzipped and separated from the outer coat, placing it under her foot as a cushion. Then he gave her his kindest smile. "I hope that helps until a doctor can take a look at it."
Gratefulness replaced the mistrust in the old woman's tired eyes as she looked at the handsome man kneeling beside her. He flashed her a nearly perfect white smile that brought forth charming dimples. The elderly woman cocked her head to one side and squinted her eyes up at him. "Haven't I seen you before? Aren't you one of those models I've seen in my magazines?"
Seth chuckled. "No ma'am, I'm not a model. Just a restaurant owner."
The woman reached out and touched a gnarled finger tentatively to Seth's gold wedding band. "Too bad you're married. Good looking and charming to boot. You would make a great catch for my daughter Lucille, who if she waits much longer, is going to end up an old maid for sure. Pity too. She's a beauty."
"I'm sure she is if she looks anything like her mom."
"What's your name?" Seth wanted to know who was in his care. It was his nature to ask.
"Ruthie. Ruthie O'Hanlon. And thank you Mister uh ..."
"Jacobs. But you can call me Seth."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Faithful One"
Copyright © 2017 Michele Chynoweth.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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