The Donaldsons - Cover

The Donaldsons

Copyright© 2022 by Lazlo Zalezac

Chapter 5

“Cousin Lily!”

“Cousin Mike!”

“Cousin Lily!”

“Cousin Tripp!”

“Cousin Lily?” Melinda said feeling faint. She had a feeling that she knew what the next subject of conversation was going to be.

“Did I mention that it is a very large family,” Jim said feeling sick to his stomach.

Smiling at Mike, Lily said, “When your girlfriend was trying to make a reservation here, I had to cancel a reservation to fit you in.”

“Who did you cancel?” Mike asked out of general curiosity.

“The Governor,” Lily answered.

“The Governor?” Melinda asked thinking that she hadn’t heard correctly.


“You didn’t have to cancel his reservations for me,” Melinda said earning a smile from Tripp, Mike, and Lily.

“It isn’t everyday that Mike’s girlfriend takes him out on their first date,” Lily said.

“I’m not Mike’s girlfriend,” Melinda said wanting to set the record straight.

“Why not?” Lily asked.

“He’s an asshole,” Melinda answered.

Lily looked over at Mike and said, “She talks just like an O’Connor woman. I bet she’s an engineer, too.”


“She is.”

Desperate to change the subject, Melinda asked, “Was the Governor upset that you canceled his reservations?”

“He was a little irritated, but I reminded him that the O’Toole clan donated a bunch of money to his campaign,” Lily said.

“Cousin George is all right. He won’t hold a grudge for long,” Tripp said.

“Governor Anders is your cousin?” Melinda asked wondering how many cousins Mike had.

“The Anders clan is full lawyers and politicians,” Mike said.

“Cousin George is a real piece of work. He said that he might stop by to meet you,” Lily said.

Tripp grabbed Jim’s arm and asked, “Would you like Cousin George to perform our wedding ceremony?”

“I don’t think Governors can perform marriage ceremonies,” Jim said. As far as he could remember it was a Justice of the Peace who did that.

“You might be right,” Tripp said. She winked at Melinda and said, “Did you notice that he didn’t object? I’m wearing him down.”

“This is Jimbo?” Lily asked looking at Jim in surprise.

“That’s right. I’m going to marry this sweet talking fighting man,” Tripp said hugging Jim’s arm.

“I’m not getting married to you,” Jim said. He sniffed the air. The odor reminded him of something, but he couldn’t place it. It took him a minute to realize that it was Tripp’s perfume. He still couldn’t place the smell, but he liked it.

Ignoring the denial, Lily took a moment to examine Jim. Finally, she said, “Looks like he’s packing a monster in those pants.”

“I plan on finding out tonight,” Tripp said.

Melinda said, “I’m in hell.”

“No,” Jim said trying to back away. He was pretty sure that if Tripp got her way that his days as a bachelor would be numbered.

“I’m sure you’ll have fun, Cousin Tripp,” Lily said.

“I will,” Tripp said.

Lily turned to Melinda and said, “You’ve got such lovely freckles. I’m sure that Mike is going to enjoy playing connect the dots with them.”

“Over my dead body,” Melinda said.

Lily sighed and said, “She sounds so much like your mother, Mike.”

Nodding his head in agreement, Mike said, “Dad was lucky when he found Mom.”

Giving a hint at her age, Lily said, “I remember their first date. Your Dad tried a hostile takeover of your mother’s company. He figured that his company and Lee Engineering would be an unbeatable combination. Cousin Liz had a very different idea. They met here to strike a deal. The negotiations have lasted for forty years.”

“It would be an unbeatable combination,” Mike said.

Melinda felt like the world was spinning around her. Lee Engineering was run by Elizabeth Lee; a woman judged by many to be the finest female engineer in the country. Melinda had gone into engineering after hearing a talk by her. Hoping that she was wrong, she asked, “Your mother is Elizabeth Lee?”

“That’s mom,” Mike answered with a grin. “Of course, that’s her professional name. She’s actually Elizabeth O’Connor.”

“Why are you working for us rather than her?” Melinda asked. She had been crushed when her application to work at Lee Engineering had been turned down. She had taken a position at the aerospace company when the job offer appeared out of nowhere.

“Dad,” Mike answered.

“Your father?” Melinda asked.

“I couldn’t go work for one or the other without hurting someone’s feelings,” Mike answered.

Melinda thought about it for a second as the pieces came together. She asked, “Your father runs O’Connor Engineering?”

“That’s dad,” Mike answered proudly. It was one of the largest engineering firms in the country.

“O’Connor Engineering is a major subcontractor on a dozen of our projects,” Melinda said realizing that Mike was probably richer than any of the executives at her company.

Lily said, “I wouldn’t be surprised. All of the O’Connors are mechanically minded. Of course, Cousin Mike is the best of the lot of them.”

“I wouldn’t say that,” Mike said modestly.

Lily asked, “Who built a fully functional flying saucer in their backyard when they were in sixth grade?”

“I did, but it was just to replace my helicopter,” Mike answered.

Tripp said, “I loved that helicopter.”

“You built a fully functional flying saucer?” Melinda asked. She remembered the conversation about the helicopter and hadn’t believed that story the first time around.

“Well, it is more like a hover craft. Unlike most hover craft, it can achieve altitudes of five thousand feet,” Mike said.

“You’re kidding me,” Melinda said.

“I was just a kid at the time. I would do it differently now,” Mike said.

Lily asked, “Whatever happened to that flying saucer?”

Mike grinned and said, “I take it out to New Mexico sometimes and fly it around Roswell.”

“You don’t?” Lily asked wide-eyed.

“I just love to read the newspapers afterwards,” Mike said with a very large grin.

“You are a very naughty boy,” Lily said. She gave him a love tap on the arm.

Melinda said, “I don’t believe you.”

“Maybe we can fly down there later tonight,” Mike said.

“You don’t have a flying saucer.”

“Do you want to bet? If it flies then you go to New Mexico with me,” Mike said.

“If it doesn’t, you drop this insane idea that you and I are getting married,” Melinda said.


“You’re on,” Melinda said wanting to prove him wrong.

“Is that a promise?” Mike asked.

“If it is a flying saucer and it flies, then I’ll go with you.”

“I’m looking forward to it. I’ll bring a blanket so that we can land in the desert and watch the stars,” Mike said.

“Like that is going to happen,” Melinda said dismissively. “Once you’ve shown me what you are calling a flying saucer, I’ll be too busy laughing to go anywhere with you.”

“I’ve always wanted to make love under a star filled sky,” Mike said.

Tripp said, “Cousin Mike is going to get lucky tonight.”

“No he is not!”

“I think he’s not the only one who is going to get lucky tonight,” Lily said looking over at Jim.

“I’m going to take Jimbo to the gun range with a couple of the old black powder rifles. I’ve never met a fighting man who could resist the smell of gunpowder,” Tripp said.

Jim sniffed the air catching that familiar scent again. Unable to keep his curiosity in check any longer, he asked, “What is that perfume you are wearing?”

“Do you like it?” Tripp asked with a grin.

“I’m not saying,” Jim answered.

Tripp said, “It is Hoppe’s No. 9.”

“I love the smell of that stuff,” Jim said thinking that she was using unfair tactics against him. It was cheating; no man could resist that smell.

Lily said, “You and every other Ables male.”

Melinda had heard stories about this room, but had never expected to see the inside of it. It was the private Donaldson room and was used only by invitation. Presidents, royalty, and other distinguished people had been allowed or denied entrance according to criteria that made no sense. She had been dining there once when the Governor and the President of the United States had gone through the polished wood doors.

The entire room was filled with photographs. She went over to the wall and started to look at some of the pictures. Those near the top were almost a century old. Mike stepped up behind her and pointed to the oldest picture on the wall. He said, “That is the only known picture of great-grandfather Donaldson. He had six daughters and no sons.”

Pointing to a picture with a young woman and a man in a suit, he said, “The oldest daughter, Anna, married an O’Toole. Peter was a young man just starting out in the restaurant business. This is the original room of O’Toole’s. It has been kept in the family for three generations and the fourth generation will be running it before too much longer.

“The second oldest daughter, Donna, married an Ables. Charlie was a lowly captain in the U.S. Calvary at the time, but retired a Colonel. All of the Ables serve in the military before entering law enforcement or becoming adventurers of some kind.”

“She was a little lady,” Melinda commented. She couldn’t keep from observing that Tripp bore a strong resemblance to Donna Ables.

“The third oldest daughter, Susan, married a Connor. Chuck Connor was a chemist back in the day when dye research was big money. They quickly moved over to the plastics industry and made a killing in the early days of plastics. The Connor clan has always kept to the sciences. Steve is one of the first to move into the computer sciences, but he’s a wizard at it.

“The fourth oldest daughter, Alice, married my grandfather, Michael O’Connor. I’m named after him. He repaired tractors for a living at the time they married, but he was an inventor in his spare time. He soon had a couple of inventions that allowed him to work fulltime in his basement machine shop. There are still a dozen devices around every household that are based on patents he filed.”

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