Banner grabbed his forearm. “How dangerous is whatever it is you’re doing?”
He sat back on his haunches, and Banner inwardly groaned knowing this was the precursor to him jacking with her. “You worried about something that isn’t real?”
“Don’t be an ass Keith, how dangerous?”
“One to ten about an eight,” he answered slowly.
“What do you classify as a ten?” she asked sharply.
“Smart woman,” Jason tossed in.
Keith crunched his face pinching one eye closed. “Anything involving open flames.”
Banner knew she paled. “What about something that draws blood?”
They both stared at her as if she was insane. Keith threw up his hands with an inscrutable look on his face. “Ummm, doesn’t get to register, that’s standard issue babe, like getting tackled in your tongue.”
Banner held out her hands trying to calm her rising temper. “Don’t call me babe, and what’s a one?” she finally got out.
“Any drop that’s more than ten feet.”
“So let me get this straight, much more dangerous than a drop from more than ten feet, but not as dangerous as open flames, just really close.”
Jason smiled. “I think that’s how he described it to Mr. Cassidy verbatim.”
“Not quite, but damned close.” He took Banner’s shoulders. “Look I love it that you are freaked out, but don’t be. I’ve done much stupider things, trust me. This is a baby bump in comparison.”
“You aren’t going to tell me what it is because it sounds really bad,” Banner guessed.
He gave her a slow meticulous smile with a chaste kiss on the cheek, and walked away with Jason.
“Good luck with that”, she heard from behind her.
She turned to face Sheryl Cassidy. “That man doesn’t heel worth a damn,” she finished with a knowing look.
“Part of the appeal,” Banner begrudgingly admitted.
“Damn shame isn’t it? We only want the ones we can’t tell what to do.”
“How is Scott?”
Banner felt bad about asking the question as Sheryl’s face clouded with pain. “I wouldn’t know,” she admitted softly. “I haven’t spoken to him since I left him at the hospital.” She cradled the clipboard she was carrying, and shook her head. “I don’t know what to do with him. He’s put me in such an awkward situation with the business and my family.”
Banner stepped up to the woman, and put a hand on her arm. “Still love him.”
“More now than before. I almost lost him.” She sighed long and heavy. “But every once in a while a girl has to ask herself the same question that Anna Mae Bullock had to.”
Banner grinned recognizing Tina Turner’s real name. “What’s love got to do with it?”
Sheryl met her eyes, resolve spreading over her. “Honestly, can women like us afford it?”
They stood there for countless moments staring at each other understanding what was really being asked. Could women in positions of power with the ability to change things for the better make any other choice than the one that benefitted them and those around them the most? Could they just refuse the pull of advancement, and follow their hearts anymore? Maybe a decade or two ago, but today. The only women that truly wanted to be housewives already were, and loved the job. The rest just weren’t cut out for it.
“So tempting to be selfish,” she whispered. “To just chuck all that could be done, and chase after that man.” She shook her head. “I can’t drop the ball like that. Too many people suffer for it; and why, so that I can feel like everybody else. Husband, 2.5 kids, the American Dream.” She humphed harshly, and looked around.
The noise was deafening. There was a match going on in the ring. Guys were running around yelling orders. Her father had signaled her, and she had unconsciously made a notation to her clip board. With an ironic look on her face she met Banner’s eyes again.
“I’m not like other women. I’ll never be like other women. So it just makes sense that my dreams are different. I want it all Bay; the husband, the kids, the career, my life, my mark on this place. For so long men got to do this; have it all. The home and the career, and women were relegated to making it happen; being the crutch. It’s not fair, and it takes women like us to change it. But it’s hard; we have to do it the way that hurts the most. You cannot forsake one to have the other. They have to all find a way to coexist, so you stay with the one that needs you the most when it needs you.” She took a deep breath, and looked around. “This one needs me the most right now. Scott needs only himself. If he’s worthy, he’ll see to it. If not, I’ll find another.”
Sheryl stared at Banner for a moment longer and started talking mostly to herself. “If he’s the one, he’ll understand. Maybe not today; maybe not tomorrow, but someday. Don’t be tempted to stray. You’ve got a job to do.” With a slight nod she continued past Banner, and took the reins of the backstage production.
Sheryl Cassidy was very good at her job. She had what Teddy had referred to as good vision. Banner had seen behind the scenes production for television, people that worked the mechanics of it all. She had seen people that were, okay, good, outstanding and clairvoyant. Sheryl Cassidy was almost a level beyond clairvoyant. It was easy to see why Keith had fallen in love with her. Why all the guys were obviously crazy about her. Besides being the bosses’ daughter she was humble, but not so much that you didn’t respect her. She knew what she was talking about, and wasn’t afraid to follow through on it. Whether Daddy approved or not. If he didn’t, and she knew it was right, she changed his mind, or did it without him.
Banner felt her head tilt as with stunning clarity she realized that she was practically looking at herself. Just under different circumstances. But unlike Banner, Sheryl had acknowledged instantly that she was in the presence of an equal. They were women who didn’t focus on what women couldn’t do in their chosen fields. They had instead made strides so that one day women could do anything in their fields, and thus anything in the world.
Banner took a deep breath feeling the plan take hold. They could have it all couldn’t they? God this was a gamble, she thought to herself. The fallout initially would be immense, and Keith may not ever forgive her. There was a story here, as a matter of fact there were a few. And while very compelling, the most important story here wasn’t Keith Daniels. Banner stared after Sheryl for a few moments more. With a deep sigh, she checked her tapes, and started to set aside paper for a different line of notes.
With a nod she left her spot. “Hey Sheryl, wait up.”
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