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BHM The Main Line - by Ashblonde (~BHM, ~FFA, Romance)

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Busy writing
May 8, 2006
~BHM, ~FFA, Romance - A girl born to privilege, but happiness won’t come on a silver platter

The Main Line
by Ashblonde

(Author's note: I've written and re-written the beginnings of this story many times. It will likely end up rather long and will probably take some time to become the novella that's taken form in my head).

July 2001

"Allie Cat, darling, are you there?"

"Yes, Jane," Allie sighed looking at the clock. She usually called her mother by her first name, especially when she was peeved. It was only 6:15 in the morning. "Have you forgotten that it's six hours earlier here?"

"Oh dear, sorry," her mother sighed, "Well, this will get you out on the courts early. What's the weather like there?"

"Hot," Allie rolled her eyes. It was July, what did she think it would be like?

"How were the fireworks?" Jane wanted to know.

"The usual," she didn't feel like having a big conversation about who did what at the country club, and definitely didn’t want to discuss Jimmy Oliver.

With her brother now living in California, Allie had the place to herself for the summer, not including the cleaning crew, grounds service and security watch. Her parents were both in Europe. Her father, Kenneth, was spending a few months commuting between Prague and Zurich to become acquainted with the major international offices of a Fortune 500 corporation in his new role as the CEO. Jane decided to take a sabbatical from her professorship and join him overseas. She was researching her latest work, delving into Marie Curie's impact on nuclear physics, staying in Paris during the week, and traveling to Zurich to be with Kenneth on the weekends.

She was due to reunite with them in Geneva for a few days of sightseeing and a couple of more days with her mother in Paris before heading to Rome for her junior year abroad with her best friend, Maia. It was going to be fabulous, she figured, getting away from the moneyed suburban Philadelphia crowd of her youth and the pretentious Lilly girls she ended up living with at her sorority at Cornell.

She wasn't particularly fond of the Greek life, but her mother and grandmother were Alpha Phi; she was pledged by default. Allie had rejected Jane's wishes that she attend Bryn Mawr nearby so that she could study at one of the finest architectural schools in the world. Going along with the sorority plan was a compromise to ease her mother's disappointment she wouldn’t attend the family alma mater.

"Savor your summer vacation," Jane had urged Allie before leaving in May. "You have your whole life to work, so just enjoy yourself while you can." But Allie now regretted heeding this advice. She had to admit to herself that she was a little bored. Her volunteer work at Children’s Hospital only filled about 20 hours a week, and a girl could only play so much tennis and swim so many laps. It was getting old. But it was July now, too late to get a job or take a summer class.

Aside from her athletic pursuits and work at the hospital, she filled her time sketching building concepts and layout plans for museums and urban green space that harkened back to classic yet ornate styles and still incorporated modern, sustainable building and design principles. Her dream was to work in urban planning, and her passion was historic preservation.

"Your father told me to call and remind you that the contractors start tomorrow," her mother's voice sounded tinny from an obviously poor roaming signal on her mobile. "So don't get upset if you see some strange men walking around the grounds."

Allie's heart sunk. She liked to lounge by the pool in private and not get leered at by some dirty old men. She really should have gotten a full-time job. "Great. Do I have to let them in?" She asked.

"No, they were given a temporary access code so you don't have to worry about managing the gate. They're just doing some stone repair and maintenance around the grounds, so you should be able to sleep in all you want," Jane offered with a hint of sarcasm in her voice. "But it would be nice if you offered them water or lemonade once in a while. I didn't raise you to be a snob."

Oh please, Allie thought to herself, we are total snobs... just bleeding-heart liberal ones.

Now wide awake, she took her mother's suggestion and rode her bike over to the Cricket Club tennis courts and played a few sets with friends. Well, they weren't really her friends, really, just privileged girls her age who had plenty of free time. After a couple of short matches she joined them for iced tea and listened to them complain about their lives despite the advantages staring all of them in the face.

"Hey Allie," she felt a tap on her shoulder. It was Jimmy Oliver.

"Hi Jimmy," she beamed back at him. He looked especially handsome today with his summer tan in tennis whites; there was no question about it. James Newton Oliver III had always been considered the hottest guy at the club. When they were younger he rarely spoke to her, but once she shed her chunky adolescent awkwardness and transformed into a svelte sorority co-ed, he began to take notice.

When she came home from college after her freshman year, he was already friendlier to her, saying hello and exchanging pleasantries. He spoke more to her in a few weeks time than he had in their entire lives growing up in the same social circles. Fast forward to a summer later, at the club's annual Independence Day party, he invited her on a private walk and kissed her behind the pro shop.

His attention and flirtations were exciting yet confusing to Allie. He was the guy that all the girls wanted. It was like an annual competition, every summer; as far back as she could remember. Which girl, or girls, would win the affections of Jimmy Oliver? Not only was he extremely good looking, his family owned a chain of car dealerships, allowing him to zip around the wealthiest neighborhoods in the Philadelphia suburbs in his black Porsche 911.

Allie never imagined she would be on his list. But now, her youthful insecurities seemed like they could be finally put to rest by his newfound interest in her. He was a great catch and she found herself primping and posing for him whenever he came around. But buried in her heart, she felt an underlying annoyance that he only took an interest in her once she became pretty enough for him... however shallow people define pretty. If he was such a great guy, what was his excuse for treating her like chopped liver when they were younger?

"You should really sign up for the Hackers tournament. You were kicking some serious butt out there today," he praised her, ignoring the girls sitting next to her who's butts she just had kicked.

"I don't know, I'm not really competitive like that," her modesty was always close to the surface and she shied away from his suggestion.

"You've gotten really athletic, Allie, you’d dominate."

She smiled politely but said nothing. Her neck felt hot with embarrassment and irritation that he had alluded to her weight loss like that, as if her modest reduction suddenly made her a good tennis player. She had always been good; he just had never noticed until now that she was a size 4. If anything, she was less fit. She knew that her periodic starvation tactics had reduced her strength and endurance.

"We should catch a movie or something," he was almost asking her out.

"Sure," she smiled nonchalantly. She couldn’t tell if he was serious or just making flirty conversation. She couldn't assume anything with a boy that perfect looking.

"Friday?" he suggested, his perfect teeth now gleaming from the sunlight through the window. "I'll pick you up at seven?" He made his intentions more clear.

"Do you need directions to my house?" She asked him, feeling a little shocked, but triumphant that she hadn't acted too eager.

"No," he laughed at her offer, "Everyone knows where you live, Allie, just be sure the security team knows I'm coming," he joked. "See you Friday," and with that he sauntered away.

Allie felt stupid for acting like she lived in a normal house tucked away in the suburbs. She lived in an American palace with enormous architectural significance. But she often felt ill at ease with her family's status and wealth, which made even the more prosperous in her community seem quite ordinary.

The seven-acre estate had been in her mother's family since its nineteenth century construction. Jane often joked privately that her position in academia didn’t cover the property taxes. It was Kenneth's career as a high-ranking corporate executive that bankrolled their daily lifestyle. And all the while, as sole heir to the family's trust, Jane accumulated thousands of dollars in compounding monthly interest.

Allie's birthright was evidenced daily by a picture that hung in her bedroom. It was a black and white photograph of her great-grandmother, the young maven of her family's railroad fortune, posing with her carefree Bryn Mawr College contemporaries, including a very young and gorgeous Katherine Hepburn. Allie adored the picture, as if she didn’t entirely realize how much pressure it ladled on her. She was the next in a line of Beaumont socialite beauties tasked to carry on the legacy of poised, accomplished young women who do just as they should.

Her mother, in her youth, briefly took exception to those rules. A striking beauty in her own right, Jane had broken from the debutante mold for a few years, having participated in the civil rights Freedom Schools movement while still in college. After graduating from Bryn Mawr during the Summer of Love, she pursued a bohemian lifestyle in Greenwich Village, ensconced in art and intelligentsia culture at New York University. By the mid seventies she had earned her doctorate in cultural studies with an emphasis on Victorian science.

In 1975, when Allie's great-grandmother passed away, Jane was bequeathed the estate. Upon her return home, she took an academic position at Haverford College and later at Villanova. Within a couple of years, she was married to Kenneth Turner, the Wall Street wizard son of a family friend, and quickly found her way back to Main Line society. The year after her wedding brought the birth of their son, Holden Montgomery, and three years later, Alexandra Catherine was born.

Somewhere along the way, after settling down with marriage and a family, Jane's progressive ideals became watered down by her duties of marriage, motherhood, the tenure track and their increasingly conservative society. So much so, that Jane's presence in Allie's life had become more as a social guidance counselor than a philosophical or feminist mentor. As such, Allie figured Jane would be thrilled to know Jimmy Oliver asked her daughter out on a date, which seemed like a good reason to keep it to herself, at least until the Main Line social grapevine news made its way over the ocean.

"Holy shit, girl, Jimmy just asked you out," Tara whispered loudly as he sauntered away.

"So you're the lucky one this summer," Beth added in a backhanded reminder that he never stuck with any one girl for very long. Allie didn't care though. She loved that they were green with jealousy. Tara and Beth were pleasant to her now, but they hadn't been very kind to her during their teenage years at the Baldwin School.

It never stung more than memories of a horrifying mother-daughter fashion show. Allie was in her peak chunky phase was about two sizes too big for the size 10 dress that her mother had chosen for her. The girls snickered in the changing room as her mother fiddled with the zipper, trying to pull it up over her bulges that were enhanced by the silk blend that couldn't reach around her burgeoning tummy.

She never forgot the humiliation as she walked red-faced along the fabricated stage, feeling her pudge test the seams of the ugly drop waist, sleeveless flower print dress. After the show was over, she overheard them laughing with some other girls about her "flabby rolls." She wasn't that big of a girl, but to their rigid standards she might as well have been morbidly obese.

She spent the rest of the afternoon swimming and obsessing about what she would wear on her date with Jimmy. Perhaps something body hugging and fabulous would extinguish any lingering memories he might have of her from her chubby years.


Allie awoke to a loud humming sound. She peered out of her window and saw a large case of tools on a good-sized workbench. The humming sound continued from what sounded like the other side of the mammoth house, near the front. Annoyed and wanting to know the source of the obnoxious sound, she descended the stairs to the library and peered out the front window. There, just a few feet away from the window, she saw the back of a plump figure pressure washing the stone walkway that trailed around the vast home and into the gardens.

Not wanting to seem creepy but still strangely curious, she quickly tiptoed away from that window and headed over to the alcove window in the great room so she could peek around the corner and see his face. She found herself smiling and her body warmed as he turned, allowing her to see his jet-black hair, great cheekbones and flawless yet slightly freckly tan skin. She couldn't help but think that he was gorgeous, even if he was quite chunky too. But boys could always get away with a few extra pounds... which only reminded her that it was her duty to stay thin. She snuck out through the garden entrance, hopped on her bike and slipped away to the club for her morning workout.

Allie avoided seeing Jimmy at the club that day by confining herself to the fitness room and working on the elliptical and treadmill. She felt more self-conscious now that he had commented on her smaller body. She wished that she could go join a public gym so he would only see her socially when she had her hair, makeup and outfits just right. Not to mention how nice it would be to be able to go somewhere and not be known as, "the Beaumont girl."

Of course she knew that her mother would never agree to buy a membership at a public club. She could hear her now... "Why would we send you to some sweatbox in Ardmore when we already pay for you to use the best money can buy? I'd rather donate an extra gym membership to charity, wouldn't you?" That was Jane; only the best... and give away the rest.

As she pedaled home, she remembered that she probably wouldn't be able to sneak back through grounds and would have to ride right past the cute and chunky pressure washing guy to get her bike back into the garage, which made her feel inexplicably awkward. As she came up the drive, she saw that he was shirtless now with his body displaying a distinct jiggle as he continued his work around the very lengthy circumference of her home.

Her timing was terrible. As she got closer, he was right there in front of her pathway to the garage. Staying on her bike, she set her foot on the ground and paused while he worked. She noticed his long shorts were a little tight around his rear, and did nothing to hide the mild but noticeable thickness of his thighs. When he turned to find her there, just a few feet away from himself, his big, dark eyes bulged from surprise. He immediately stopped spraying.

"Hi, um sorry," she managed to say as she walked her bike over the stones he had been so diligently cleaning. She glanced down his bare body and witnessed beads of sweat trickling down his smooth, blubbery torso. He was clearly a bit fatter than she had initially thought. Allie felt a funny feeling in her lower abdomen that she couldn't explain but she knew she felt attracted to him; after all, he had a lovely face. But what she was feeling felt more forbidden and it was very unnerving... and embarrassing. Imagine, letting one's fat belly hang out in the open like that? Who would do such a thing? She moved quickly toward the garage, feeling the heat of his eyes on her while she entered the code, waited for the garage door to open and dragged her bike in.


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