Wife by Design(10)

By: Tara Taylor Quinn


“I didn’t, no. But it doesn’t matter. Darin will do what he can. And my boys and I will take care of the rest.”

“What about your other jobs?”

“I’ll handle them.” He was determined. She’d give him that. And she didn’t really know much about the landscape business. They took care of yards, she figured. Cleaning up, trimming, cutting grass. Planting. He’d said his business was small. And mentioned design.

Apparently, he was successful enough to support not only him and Darin, but two other men, as well.

“You haven’t seen the inner grounds.”

He shrugged. “Doesn’t matter.”

“I think you might change your mind,” she said, wishing it were light outside so she could give him a quick, escorted tour of the secured area of The Lemonade Stand—the area where their real work was done. Arms crossed in front of her, she said, “The philosophy here at The Lemonade Stand—when life gives you lemons you make lemonade—is taught by action, not by word.” She started in on a speech she’d heard many times before. The rote PR words that every senior staff member at the Stand knew by heart—because they were expected to live by them and up to them.

“We’re here to help abused women recover—and to make healthy choices for their futures,” she continued. “By nature of what they’ve come from—being mistreated by someone close to them, someone they trusted to love them—they’ve mostly learned, often subconsciously, that they don’t deserve the best. Abused women, by and large, have low self-concepts. Many of them believe that they’re somehow to blame for their abuse. Before they can fully believe in themselves and take charge of broken lives, they have to feel good about who they are. Environment is a huge part of that.”

Lynn was leading up to telling him about the grounds at the Stand. The mammoth undertaking that Grant Bishop was offering to absorb without realizing what he was getting himself into. But she stopped speaking for a second when she realized that the speech she was giving was similar to one any prospective employee of the Stand would receive. Like she’d already mentally employed him.

“I understand.” His brown-eyed gaze was soft. And she started to speak again.

“Our residents’ emotional and mental states are brought on by actions, and we believe that the only way to truly counteract the damage to their psyches is to counteract action with action.”

“Absolutely.”

“They’ve been treated horribly and they need to be treated well, not just be told that they deserve to be treated well.”

“You don’t have to worry about my boys. Luke and I have known each other since college. He’s married, has kids, is a great dad. And Craig’s wife is expecting their first child. But if you’d rather, I can make certain that only Darin and I service this facility.”

“The women live in bungalows,” she said. “Usually four women to a place.” Each one had four bedrooms with adjoining bathrooms. Each one was surrounded by beautiful landscaping. “Their living quarters are what they should be able to expect their homes to be—a place that cushions them from the challenges that life will inevitably hand them.”

“We’ll stay completely away from them.”

“First and foremost, these women need to be taught that they are worthy. We treat them like royalty. They are expected to treat one another like royalty and, through action, we hope to replace negative lessons with positive ones.”

Grant Bishop leaned forward. “Lynn, I understand. Do any background checks you need to do. I swear to you, your residents have absolutely nothing to fear from any of us, and most particularly not from Darin and me. We will keep our distance from residents at all times, and if we do happen to come into contact with anyone at any time we will show her nothing but respect. You have my word on that.”

He smiled. Her stomach flipped.

This was getting way too out of hand.

“Mr. Bishop, what I’m trying to tell you is that, inside the grounds, The Lemonade Stand is resortlike. We’re on the ocean, just like most of Santa Raquel. Our facilities, including our landscaping, rival any fine resort on the California coast. The Stand is a safe haven—a place women want to be. And the grounds reflect that.”

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