John Francis - Chapter 32

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 at 10:43 AM
Jon drove Tico’s car to the Mar-a-Lago club that was owned by Donald Trump. The club has been on the island since 1927 under the then ownership of Marjorie Merriweather Post (Mrs. E.F. Hutton). The 114 room home, now a private club, sits on 20 acres and stretches from the intracoastal waterway to the ocean. Amanda had never been there.

Quietly talking a bit about Habitat, one of his pet causes, they drove into the gated drive and to the valet area. Jon exited the vehicle while one of the parking attendants helped Amanda out. Taking his ticket from the valet, Jon took Amanda’s arm in his and they entered into a world of splendor she had never imagined.

Having been there quite a few times, he was able to tell her a little of the history of the place. She learned from him that Mrs. Post had acquired approximately 36,000 tiles that had been collected by the late Mrs. Horace Havermeyer in the 1800’s. Among the earliest tiles, dating back to the 15th century, is the “Plus Ultra” tile, translated as “Beyond the Ultimate”, a Roman influence upon the Moors.

Amanda worked very hard at keeping her jaw from dropping to the floor as room upon room of splendor was revealed to her. She was looking at the décor so extensively that the familiar voice of Donald Trump saying “Hello, Jon, glad you could make it” took a moment to reach her brain. She willed a smile to her face as Jon introduced her.

“Amanda, it’s a pleasure” she heard Donald say to her.

“I’m very happy to be here, Mr. Trump” she replied. Only Jon could feel her slight trembling.

“Donald, please.”

“Donald. Thank you so much for including me,” she managed.

He laughed then, “Any friend of Jon’s…” he trailed off. “Please excuse me now,” and he took his leave of them.

Jon chuckled deep in his throat at the little whine that escaped her.

“Manda, baby, they’re just people, just like me.” He tried to reassure her.

“Yeah, but you’re Jon and he’s freaking Donald Trump!” she hissed.

“You did it again, didn’t you?” he asked, cocking his head at her.

“What?” she turned to him with big eyes.

“You really do treat me like just a guy.” He laughed softly. “I think I love that about you most of all!”

“Jon…” she began warningly. He laughed again and pulled her close.

“Want a drink, babe?”

“Oh thank God, yes!” she moaned. They moved to the bar area where Jon ordered two red wines.

Several people came up to Jon as they moved from the bar and Amanda found herself introduced over and over again until names and faces became a blur. A second glass of wine helped her calm her nerves to the “just barely hanging on” stage and then it happened. She started to see celebrities. Kevin Costner was there with his wife and Drew Barrymore and a man she didn’t recognize, as well as several others from Hollywood.

Jon heard a little whine again that told him Amanda was seeing something that surprised her. Thrusting another glass of wine in her hand, he told her firmly, “Drink up, relax. It’s okay, baby.”

She took the third glass gratefully and with the mellowing effects of the wine she really did start to relax. By the fourth introduction to one of the more celebrated actors of the time, Amanda had started to be able to give genuine smiles and her natural charm and warmth captivated both Jon and the more jaded celebs she was introduced to.

Although by her very character Amanda had not noticed, Jon was very aware of the looks they were both getting. This was the first time he had been in public with a woman in over a year and he knew the gossip mills would be running overtime tomorrow. There were a few photographers there, sanctioned by “The Donald” to show what was being done for Habitat, and he noted quite a few flashes that came their way. He thought this was probably not the best time to tell her they would be in the papers tomorrow.

After dinner, they moved into the ballroom of the club, where Amanda was astonished at the size. She shot a questioning look to Jon, who replied, “20,000 square feet.” She kept looking at him in surprise.

“What? So I paid attention…” he grumbled a little embarrassed.

They walked around for a bit, looking at the items up for auction. Jon noted a particular piece and knew it would be perfect for what he had in mind. He made sure he didn’t linger over it too long, however, as he didn’t want to draw Amanda’s attention to it.

They found seats and watched as the rich and famous bid on the items. Jon bid on a few, but at first was only trying to help raise the price. Amanda practically sat on her hands and scarcely dared breathe as she tried not to do anything that would look like she was bidding, especially as some of the items climbed into the hundreds of thousands of dollars range. She was watching the bidding closely and noticed when Jon seemed a bit more interested in one of the items. It was a diamond ring, but instead of a clear diamond, it was a 15 carat vivid pink diamond, with matching smaller pink stones running on both sides of the emerald cut center stone.

Jon knew that pink diamonds were exceedingly rare and only came from one mine in Australia, the der Argyle-Mine. He also knew, as he had talked with one of the auction personnel, that the mine in Australia was expected to be played out as soon as 2018, making the stone and this particular ring, due to its size, even more rare.

Amanda saw him raise his paddle over and over again, bidding aggressively against another man. He finally topped the last bid and secured the ring for the staggering sum of $1,550,000. Leaning back with a satisfied smile on his face, he noticed her expression.

“My mom” he explained to her look, “her favorite color.” She nodded her head then and smiled at him.

“She’s gonna love it, Jon. It’s one of the most beautiful rings I’ve ever seen.”

Jon, knowing the true reason he had bought the ring, replied, “Yeah, well, she spoils me, so I gotta do the same to her.”

The auction ended soon afterwards and they began making their way to the door. More of the glittering throng stopped Jon as they were leaving and again he was aware of the flashes of the photographers. None of the paparazzi’s actions penetrated Amanda’s consciousness, however, as it was so far out of her realm that she couldn’t imagine her picture being taken. Jon was doing some hard thinking though, trying to figure out how to tell Amanda how much her life was going to change because she was with him now.

After the valet had brought his car around and they got inside, he figured he had to let her know.

“Manda…” he started.

“Yeah, honey…” she answered.

“Baby, our pictures were taken tonight…” he began hesitantly.

“What?” she hissed, turning to look directly at him.

“Yeah, honey, it’s an occupational hazard.” He explained.

“Jon, what about your ex-wife?”

“I’ll have to call her. Sorry, babe, but I haven’t been seen with anyone since our divorce became final.” He explained apologetically.

“Of course you have to call her. Please do. I wouldn’t want her to read the tabloids after she had called you about her…situation…” Amanda stumbled a little at that.

“Yeah,” Jon mumbled, “Fuck, you made me forget she’s getting married.”

“I didn’t want you to forget, I just didn’t want you to hurt so much,” she said softly.

Jon shook his head, knowing he had to try to acclimate Amanda a little to what his world was like. Their feelings for each other were so new and he had not yet fully thought through how he was going to tell Dot, or his kids, or his parents and brothers. From what he was learning about Amanda, their lives were so far apart as to be on separate planets. He wanted to bring her into his world and he knew most of the changes would have to be made by her. A part of him worried she would fear some of what was sure to happen.

3 comments

  1. Opester Says:

    Oh boy, I wonder if that diamond is really for Jon's Momma? And how will Dot take this news? Better if she hears it from Jon first rather than reading about it in the papers, tho! I hope she'll be happy for him too to see he's finally moving on...

  2. allina_90 Says:

    For his Mom? Sure! I can clearly imagine how Amanda had looked at him after he said that weird sentence...

    And with that photo - Dot - tabloid - stuff.. yeah, they should have expected something like that, especially Jon. But whatever ;)

  3. jovikitn65 Says:

    Nice try Jon, but you and I both know that beautifully exqusite ring is not for your mom! Lol wonder how long until the photos of Jon & Amanda surface? Amanda you might want to call your mom and Susan to warn them.

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