It had been a particularly busy time of the month with K Industries and it was the kind of busyness that kept both Brad and Stephanie, business partners, friends, and husband and wife, on the go for long, long hours. Brad had been working closer at home, enjoying Stephanie and Libby, Stephanie's daughter, totally, so they took time now and again to simply slip away from work and get out for some time by themselves.
Libby, at that time, was at a girl scout camp and it was just the two of them at home. That particular evening, they'd had reports from various branches of the company throughout the world to deal with and had simply decided to stay at work until the pile of necessary reports were read, digested and acted upon.
"Looks like we're having a dazzling quarter in most parts of the world, Mrs K!" he said with some satisfaction.
"Got that right!" she replied.
"Means we have the right team in place," he said, smiling at her.
She smiled back and kissed him quickly.
"Oh, kissing the big boss at work! How risqué!" he said and she gave him an even broader grin.
"How about if I take the big boss out for some dinner?" she said.
"Oh, great idea," he replied, "No need to cook and all at home then."
It was settled then for the two of them. They finished up what they were working on and, with a sense of satisfaction, went out to dinner. Since, neither of them felt like a huge meal, they ended up at a Culvers for a salad or some fast food and a dish of ice cream.
They sat at a table and talked softly with each other, while waiting for their food to be delivered.
They noticed, only in passing, a young couple seated at the table next to them. They were there with a lovely young girl, maybe about 5 or 6 years old.
After Brad and Stephanie had been seated at their table for a few minutes, the little girl began to stare at him. He smiled at her but apart from that tried not to notice her very much.
The couple at the next table seemed to be deep in a discussion about their future and Brad didn't want to seem to be eavesdropping.
"You look like my grandpa!" the little girl said.
For the moment, her parents ignored her and went on with their deep discussion.
Brad smiled at the little girl and said: "Thank you, what a nice thing to say."
"He had a beard like that; like yours," she went on.
"I see," he said, smiling at her all out now.
"She's lovely," Stephanie put in and they went back to their own discussion.
"He's with God now!" the little girl continued.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Brad said, turning some attention to the little girl now.
"I miss him!" she said.
"I'm sure you do!" he commented.
The parents were still earnestly talking together and not paying any attention to what the little girl was up to.
Brad pulled his attention from the little girl back to Stephanie.
"I like your pretty chocolate colored skin!" the little girl said next, speaking to Stephanie.
Stephanie smiled at her and said; "Why, thank you very much! And I think that you're very pretty too."
"Thank you," the little girl said.
The little girl fell silent then but both Brad and Stephanie could tell that it was only because she was considering something.
What that was, was soon apparent, when the little girl began to talk again.
Brad thought to himself that some kind of real crisis must be impinging on the couple for them to be so oblivious to what the little girl was saying.
"My Daddy's a Gineer," the little girl said to Brad next.
"Oh, how nice!" Brad said but, because of what came next, it was the last thing that he said that was stated from a position of non-involvement with the little girl and ultimately the family.
"He says that no one is hiring Gineers because of the conomy," the little girl went on.
Now Brad, glancing at Stephanie, was paying attention to her and what she was saying.
"I see," he said, "That's probably true."
"He says that's why we had to leave our house and need to find a place, a hotel or something," the little girl went on. "We don't live there anymore."
"Ohh," Brad said now listening intently.
"Do you think if my Grandpa's an angel that he'll know where to find us and visit us, if we're not at home?" she asked next.
"Well, I guess that Angels are really smart!" Brad said.
"That's what I think too," she said.
Then she said: "I'm Amanda!"
"Hi, Amanda," he said, "I'm Brad and this is my wife Stephanie."
"Yes," she said, "The the pretty chocolate colored lady."
Stephanie giggled at that, and finally the mother of the little girl noticed that she was deep in conversation with the couple at the table next to them.
"Amanda, honey," she said, "Don't be bothering people."
"I'm not, Mommie," the little girl said,"These are my friends Brad and his wife Stephanie, the chocolate colored lady."
The woman turned red from blushing and the father noticed also.
"Amanda," he said.
Brad broke in with: "It's entirely okay; we're just having a conversation."
"Oh," the father said, and nodded.
He turned back to his wife then and they were once again deep in an earnest conversation. Brad caught bits and pieces of it and the apparent problem that they were discussing, including what they were going to do next and where they'd go.
"I'm not even sure where money's coming from to eat next," he said to her, in a voice that was cast low on purpose but still which Brad still could hear.
He glanced at Stephanie who gave him a significant return glance.
"My Daddy says that we're going to be poor now," Amanda said next to Brad, and by now also to Stephanie. "Because no one's hiring Gineers."
She paused only for a few seconds and then she went on: "I'm not sure that I'm going to like being poor. Are you poor?"
"No," Brad said, "We're not poor." he said.
It was then that the couple realized that Amanda had indeed been talking with Brad and Stephanie about their financial business and both the Mom and Dad were embarrassed and he began to make moves as if to leave.
Brad decided to plunge right in and addressed himself to Amanda but in a tone that they would be sure to hear:
"Do you know what, Amanda?" he asked.
The parents were polite enough to not want to interrupt him, while he was speaking.
"What?" the little girl said.
"I own a company that hires Gineers and maybe I'd have a job for your daddy," he said.
"Oh, would you?" Amanda said, "And then I could have my lovely room back in our own home and not have to go to a hotel and all."
"Well," Brad said, "It's certainly possible."
"Good!" Amanda said, as though it were all settled between them. "Talk to my Daddy! He's sure to like being your Gineer."
"Amanda," her Mom said and just as the little girl was turning to her Mom, Brad excused himself and got up from his position at the table with Stephanie.
There was a seat at the empty table next to where the couple was sitting and it was there that Brad sat down, next to the couple.
"Sorry," he said, "But your Amanda and I have been talking."
"Yes, I heard a bit of it," the Father said, "I apologize for her running off like this. This is being hard on her especially."
"Well, let me introduce myself," Brad said. "I'm Brad Kenniston."
The Father gave Brad an intense glance, when he heard Brad mention his name.
"Stan," the Father said, "Stan Gaines. This is my wife Lucy."
Brad took her extended hand and offered: "This is my wife and business partner Stephanie."
"Stephanie," Stan said.
Then turning to Lucy, Brad said: "Do you mind if Stan and I talk for a bit?"
"No, of course not," Lucy said.
"Lucy," Stephanie said, "Come sit with me and Amanda; let them have their man's talk."
Lucy moved at that point, taking Amanda with her and sat with Stephanie.
Stan spoke up then: "You don't mean Kenniston, as in Kenniston Industries?"
"Guilty," Brad said.
He chuckled then and said: "Amanda has been telling me that you're a 'Gineer'.
"Yes," Stan said, "But the economy is so crappy that no one is hiring."
"So, Amanda has said," Brad went on.
"She was unloading all of our problems on you!" Stan said with regret in his voice.
"She's a very wise little girl!" Brad went on.
He turned his attention then to Stan and said: "K Industries is hiring! We're looking for 'Gineers'!"
The two women and Amanda were paying rapt attention by then to what Brad was saying.
"Let's talk about it a bit," Brad said, "And then you can come and see me in the morning."
"Oh, Wow!" Stan said, a smile creasing his face. "That'll be great!"
"I'll just have to run it past my COO," Brad said then.
"Problem?" Stan asked, his voice showing that he was expecting the worst.
"Steph?" Brad said.
She grinned at them. "The COO doesn't see any problem!" she said, and laughed.
"You are?" Stan asked impressed.
"Best in the business!" Brad said, "One of the reasons that I married her!"
"Only one, big guy?" Stephanie asked, grinning at him.
"Only one!" Brad said, grinning back at her,
It was then that Stephanie changed the subject; she put her hand on top of Lucy's and said: "House defaulted?"
Lucy had tears in her eyes and shook her head 'yes'. "He had a job, he thought and it just went away. He's been hard at it looking for months and there has been nothing."
"Well, we seem to be solving that problem just now," Stephanie said, "What I'm more interested in right now is your plans for the night and the next few nights."
"We don't have any!" Lucy said, "I've been so frightened."
"Then you must come and stay with us until your settled and back on your feet!" Stephanie said.
Lucy then began to sob.
"Is my Mommie okay?" Amanda asked.
"Yes, honey," Lucy said, "It's just that these two people are being so nice to us; it's like tears of joy."
"Ohh," Amanda said.