The weather was the culprit. Thunderstorms stranded Ella’s date in Boston. Flooding in South Carolina kept her son’s girlfriend in Charleston. Ella’s planned evening of formal dress, fine dining, forgettable speeches, and priceless facetime with clients and potential clients was a must-attend event.
She cajoled, hectored, and bribed her son, Elton, with the promise of excusing him from her annual Remembrance Ball into donning his tux and escorting her to the Governor’s State of the State dinner.
At age forty, Ella was confident, intelligent, ambitious, strong-willed, and attractive. She used every one of her assets to build her commercial litigation firm into a northern Virginia powerhouse.
She considered herself much less successful in raising her only child. Elton was “oppositional” in so many ways that at times the sight of him set her teeth on edge. Elton looked like his deadbeat of a father who deserted them when Elton was four. Her son was handsome, brown-skinned with a relaxed, laid back demeanor that was a betrayal of her ambitious genes.
Elton was not interested in following her footsteps into the law or emulating his father’s engineering career or joining his cousins in their medicine or business successes. The boy was into theater, acting, writing, and directing. And even in this, his area of interest, he was not aggressive, demanding, or forceful enough to truly make his mark
But on this night, he was charming, engaging, supportive – a perfect companion.
Ella saw him through the eyes of her friends and her firm’s other two partners.
“Ella, you did a wonderful job raising Elton. He is delightful, thoughtful, and kind. You must be so proud.”
“God, Ella, you and Elton make a terrific team, your drive, and his cool. I have never seen you work the floor better.”
“Ella, sweetheart, I’m going to borrow Elton for, oh, a decade or two. He makes me feel like I’m talking to a real person who listens and cares.”
“Ella Lovie Stanton, why are you constantly whining about your son? I’ll trade you all three of my strivers, social climbers, and backstabbers and throw in my new Benz.”
The cumulative effect of these compliments struck a nerve – Ella remembered that Elton, not her business or reputation or legal accomplishments, was the most important thing in her life.
At that moment, she caught Elton’s eye, and for a second, she saw the same emotions of appreciation and love.
As Ella and Elton said their final goodbye’s, Ella reflected on a job well done and an evening well spent.
Back at home, they celebrated the perfect evening with Champagne and good-natured ribbing. Sitting on the expansive leather couch, she offered him her feet to rub. She had a twinge of doubt about that proffering.
But his hands felt so strong and soothing, and the wine was so relaxing.
Ella closed her eyes and rested as his fingers worked her calves and caressed her knees.
She spread her legs slightly to give him better access; her dress shifted, revealing her upper thighs, her eyes connected with his.
At last, she saw the aggressive ambition, urgency, and drive that made her know he was truly her child.