The Priority: Chapter 1 -2

A wealthy family living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan understands all too well the stresses of work pressures, rotating nannies, and the finest name-brand goods.  Until one day, Bethany finds herself caught up in an affair that costs her a high-paying job and almost her family.  That is when life took a turn for the worse, or at least that is what she thought.  Sometimes life takes unexpected detours, but it is how you prioritize your life that matters most.  

Chapter 1 – Business First

“Kayleigh, where is my coffee?”  Bethany demanded as she began spreading files on her desk.  “And where are my messages? Kayleigh, if you want to last here more than just a few days, there are two things that I always need on my desk when I get in – coffee and my messages. So far, you failed both.  Please get my coffee! I’ve had a terrible night and I have three new cases that could be quite lucrative for our firm. “Yes, ma’am,” Kayleigh said, as she handed me my messages.  “I will be right back with your coffee, Mrs. Downing.”  I shuffled through my files and began working on the Carlucci case, which is a very large-scale embezzlement case. 

Kayleigh handed me my coffee and I asked her to take a seat. “Kayleigh, please hear me out and understand why I am hard on you. If we win this case, it could be one of the largest wins that this firm has ever seen.  I began working at Jones, Sandler and Downing, back in 2003 and became a named partner 8 years ago. Ever since that time, I have worked on some of the largest profile cases, and have won almost every case. I have fought my way to the top by tackling every job with ferocity, incredibly long hours, and a need-to-win attitude. My assistant is not only my legal assistant but my right-hand person, you will work long hours, it will be grueling at times and you will probably grow to hate me, in fact, my last assistant only lasted two weeks. But I pay well, expect a lot and provide you with a company car. The temp agency has regarded you as a top candidate, a graduate of Rutgers, and a field hockey player.  I am also a Rutgers grad and field hockey player, so I am going on the recommendation of the agency, and offering you a position on my team.  Your employment package and keys are in your top right desk drawer.  I expect an answer by the end of the day, as to your decision.”  Kayleigh looked at me in the eyes and said, “Yes ma’am, Yes ma’am I will take the job,” she enthusiastically blurted.  “Great, please schedule a call with Joseph Carlucci, of Carlucci Brothers Construction for this afternoon, and cancel plans with my husband for dinner tonight.”  

“I will take care of that now.”  Kayleigh found Mr. Carlucci’s phone number on her desk, so she called him and scheduled a call for 11:00 am with Bethany. She then called Mr. Downing.  “Good morning Mr. Downing, this is Kayleigh from Jones, Sandler, and Downing. Mrs. Downing asked that I call you, unfortunately, she needs to cancel dinner plans this evening, as she has an important case that she is working on and will not be able to make it.”  

“Thank you for calling, Kayleigh.  Is she available to speak to me now?” he asked. “Let me see, can you hold for a moment?”  “Sure.”I knocked on the door to Bethany’s office. “Come in,” she said.  “Mrs. Downing, your husband would like to know if you have time to speak now?”    

“What did you tell him?” Bethany asked.  “I told him you would not be able to make dinner this evening because of an important case you were working on.”  “OK, connect him. And Kayleigh, please call me Bethany.” “Yes, ma’am”, she said. “Mr. Downing, please hold I will connect you.” 

The phone buzzed in Bethany’s office.  “Hi Frank, I am so sorry about this evening,” Bethany said.  “Bethany, how could you cancel dinner plans this evening? We’ve had these plans with Danny and Rae for weeks. Bethany, your job is taking over your life.  You leave the house at 5:30 am, and sometimes you do not walk through the door until 9:00 pm. You are consistently canceling plans with the family, and the kids very rarely see you anymore.”

“That’s not fair,” Bethany said sharply.  “Frank, we can discuss this later, tell Danny and Rae that I said hi and that I am truly sorry about canceling plans this evening. I will see you when I get home.” Frank was quite annoyed, and he rarely gets mad.  “Yeah, thanks Beth, see you then,” he said snarkily.  She gently placed the phone on the hook and got right back into work.  

Frank dropped the kids off at school and headed into the office. Frank is a very simple man; he is a builder by trade and has been working in the industry since he was 16.  He graduated college with a degree in business but always knew his passion was in homebuilding. He took over his father’s small remodeling business about 15 years ago and has been running the business since then.  It is not a large business, but it is his passion and it allows him time to spend with the family.  “Good Morning, Alice,” he said, as he walked into the office with a box of Joe and some donuts. “Oh good morning Frank”, Alice said.  “I picked up some Dunkin for us today, I’ll leave it over here on the table.  Will you let the guys know it’s here for everyone to eat?”   “Sure, Frank, and thank you. I love Dunkin Donuts.”  

“Frank, you have a few messages on your desk.  Oh, and the mayor called, he was hoping that you could have someone go over to his house today, he said his window must have a leak because every time it rains water is coming in.’  “OK, I will give him a call in a few,”  Frank said.   “What’s up, what’s up everyone?” said Dwayne, as he came into the office.  Dwayne was Frank’s only full-time employee, other than Alice. Dwayne is a carpenter by day and is in a jazz band by night. He is one of the finest trumpet players NYC has seen in a long time. “What do we have over here, a few donuts and java? He asked. “Yes, Dwayne I got some jelly donuts for you this time, I wouldn’t forget. I even got an old-fashioned donut for that dog of yours. ‘Yes sir, Snuffy loves donuts,” Dwayne said.  Snuffy always came to the office and hung out with Alice while we went out on jobs.  He was part of our team.  “Ok Alice, what do you have lined up for us today?” Frank asked. “Well sir, you have to finish the Meyers deck this morning and then head over to 5 Sunset Lane to begin the painting job. Oh, and don’t forget to call the mayor.”

“Thank you, Alice.  We are on it.”  He grabbed the keys to the truck and Frank and Dwayne set off for the day. “Take care of Snuffy,” Dwayne said.  And the door closed behind them. “

Kayleigh, I need you,” Bethany yelled from her office.  “Yes, Bethany.”  “I need you to send the financials for the Carlucci case to Dr. Smith, the economist so he can work on the economic report. Remember to send it through dropbox.  He will need all the financials from the last ten years,” Bethany said.  “And before you ask, they can be found in the Carlucci computer folder.”   “I will send them over right away,” Kayleigh said.  “Also, can you get me another cup of coffee?  This time make it black with one Splenda, and do it quickly, my brain needs a jolt.”  

“Yes, ma’am.”  As Kayleigh scuttled her way to the kitchen, she thought about her official first day at the office.  The office at Jones, Sandler, and Downing is a very prestigious office located on Sixth Avenue in Manhatten, however, everyone seems uptight, stressed out, and not overly friendly. But this law firm employs some of the best attorneys on the east coast, and this is one of the most sought-after law firms of law students across the nation. Everyone is like Bethany, hungry, crude, and ferocious, but this is where the ‘best of the best’ practice and I am now employed here – wow.  “Here is your coffee Bethany,” Kayleigh said.   And Bethany shushed her out of the office, with a rude, wavering hand motion. And this is my first day, Kayleigh thought to herself. Kayleigh went to her desk, opened her side drawer and looked at her employment package.  $100,000 starting salary, three weeks vacation, keys to a BMW X1, and MANDATORY OVERTIME.  Kayleigh was ecstatic, speechless and scared to death all in that split second.  

Chapter 2 – The Nanny

Sammy and Ella came racing over to the car shouting “shotgun” with smiles on their faces. As they opened the car door, I said “girls, today it’s Sammy’s day to sit in the front.”  They said simultaneously, “We know we just like to see who’s faster.”  

“How was school today?” Amy, the nanny, asked. “It was great, we had a fire drill, and I had the science test,” Ella said sarcastically.  “How did you do on your test, Ella?  Did the note cards help?”  Amy asked.  “Yes, Amy they did. I really think I got an A+ on that test.  I knew every answer and was the first to finish.  Thank you so much for helping me make them. I can’t wait to tell Dad.”  

“So tomorrow is Halloween are they doing anything in school?” Amy asked.  “Really, Amy?  We are in 8th grade, we don’t do school parties anymore.”  I giggled and said, “Wow we had Halloween parties up to 12th grade, and we had costume prizes. We had so much fun in school. I won “the best costume” a few years in a row because my mom and I made my costumes.. We had so much fun trying to find the best idea and turning it into a masterpiece.” 

“What were some of your costumes?” Sammy asked.  “Well one year, I was Flick from the Christmas Story, you know the kid who licked the flagpole and his tongue got stuck.  That was the best costume ever because I dressed up just like Flick in that scene and we made a flagpole that connected to my costume and I licked it all day. The flag pole had a hidden candy cane in the hole, and no one knew until the day was over. It was great.  My mom still makes costumes for my nieces and nephews,” I said enthusiastically.  “Do you have any pictures of the costumes? Ella asked.  “Actually, how about we take a ride to my mom’s later, my nieces and nephews are coming over to pick up their costumes. I will call your Mom and ask her if it would be OK?”  “Sure, that sounds fun,” Sammy said.  

We pulled up in front of the Downing’s house and the girls ran in.  The twins are always trying to beat each other in one way or another.  The Downings lived in a beautiful brownstone on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. I work for them every weekday from 2:30 until 7:30 pm and occasionally on weekends. I pick the kids up from school, help them with their homework, drive them to sports and sometimes make dinner.  But on most nights, the Downings order dinner, and I pick it up. Mr. Downing usually gets home by 6:30 – 7:00, and I rarely see Mrs. Downing.  

I called Mrs. Downing and asked “if it would be OK if I take the kids to my mom’s house to see my nieces and nephews’ Halloween costumes.  The girls don’t have soccer practice today, so they are free. I can pick up Eddie from the daycare center on our way.”    Eddie is the girl’s younger brother, he is two years old and an absolute bundle of joy.  “Sure,” she said, I won’t be home until after 8:00 this evening, so please be sure to tell Mr. Downing. Can you put Ella on?”   

“Hi Mom, I think I got a 100 on my test today.”  “That’s great Ella, keep up the hard work. When you work hard like that, one day you will be able to buy your own Mercedes.”   “Yes, mom I will.  Will you be home early tonight?”  Unfortunately, I won’t be home until 8:00, I have a big case that is keeping me very busy.” 

“Alright mom, well I will see you later.  We are going to Amy’s mom’s house,” Ella said.  “Yes, have a good time.  Can I talk to Sammy?”  “Sammy, mom wants to talk to you,” Ella shouted.  “I’m in the bathroom!” “Mom, she’s in the bathroom, I’ll tell her to call you later.”   “No worries, I will be home later. Have fun with Amy.  Can you put Amy back on, please?”  She handed the phone to Amy.  “Hi Mrs. Downing,” I said. “Amy what will the kids be eating for dinner tonight?” Bethany asked.  “Oh I will ask my mom if we can join them for dinner tonight, she always makes extra.”  

“Great, have a good time.”


“Kayleigh, please call Joe Carlucci, I need to speak to him today,” Bethany shouted out of the office. “Sure, I will call him now,” said Kayleigh.  “Hi Mr. Carlucci, this is Kayleigh from Jones, Sandler and Downing, Mrs. Downing would like to speak to you, are you available now?”   “Sure,” he said.  I buzzed in, “Bethany, I have Mr. Carlucci on the line.”  “Thank you, Kayleigh.”  

“Hi Joe, I spoke to Dr. Smith today, he has most of the financials needed to begin preparing his report, the only thing he is missing is the payroll report.  He needs to know the names of the alleged fictitious employees reported.  He has the names of the shell companies from your Accounts Receivable statements, based on what your accountant said, but he would like to schedule a call tomorrow to discuss.  Do you have any availability between 9:00 – 11:00 am tomorrow?”  Bethany asked.  “Hang on, let me check my schedule.”  There was a brief hold, and then he got back on and said “Yes, let’s do 10:00 am tomorrow.” “Great, I will have Kayleigh schedule a call,” Bethany said.  “If there is anything else he needs, I will let you know before our call tomorrow.  Thank you.”  

“Kayleigh, please call Tom Riker from Salsberg and bring me a coffee,” she buzzed in. “Yes ma’am”, she said.  “And don’t call me ma’am,” Bethany scowled. 


Frank was driving home around 6:30 pm and saw some kids already beginning the Mischief Night festivities if that is what you call it. He giggled and reminisced about when he was younger and he and his friends bought rolls of toilet paper and covered their friends’ cars in it.  We used soap to draw “clean me” on cars and stuck plastic forks in people’s grass. We never did anything to harm or hurt anyone, just good ole’ fashioned fun.   

He got home and made some shrimp scampi for him and Bethany, as the kids were out with Amy.  The smell of garlic permeated the house, it smelled absolutely delicious.  He grabbed a beer, turned on the TV, and enjoyed cooking dinner.  Frank truly loved the simple things in life; his family, his friends, and God.  He never really cared about wealth and riches, that was always Bethany’s thing.  But he would do anything to please her.  His family is his world. Of course, he doesn’t mind the money, but to him, Gucci, Audi, and Versace are only names.  He was fine shopping at Cabela’s and Kohl’s, after all, he only wears jeans, flannels, and t-shirts anyway. As he sat down to eat dinner, the kids came running through the door, with Halloween costumes and Amy followed behind.  “Hi Mr. Downing”, said Amy.  ‘Hey Amy, how was your mom’s?  It looks like the kids had some fun,” he said.  “Dad, check out our new Halloween costumes.  Amy’s mom made extra costumes and we love these.  Amy wore this when she was younger.  It’s Flick, Ralphie and the light from The Christmas Story.  I’m going to be Flick, Ella is going to be Ralphie and Eddie is going to the be light.”  “I didn’t know you girls got dressed up anymore for Halloween.”  “We actually weren’t going to, but these costumes are so cool, so we decided to dress up this year.”   “Hey Dad, I think I got an A+ on my Science test,” Ella said. “That’s great, Ella, keep up the good work.”  

“I am going to head out, Mr. Downing.  All of the kids are fed, and I put Eddie in the swing,” Amy said.  “Thank you, Amy.  I will see you tomorrow.”


Screech! “Holy cow,” what was that?” Bethany said. Bethany quickly stopped the car, and got out to see what just hit the car. “Are you kidding me, an egg? Someone really hit my Jaguar with a freakin’ egg?” She asked herself. She was beyond pissed, she hated Mischief Night. She thought it was the most stupid night of the year. She got back in her car and sped off. She arrived home within 20 minutes and was still furious. She slammed the door shut and threw her keys on the table in the foyer. The girls came running down from upstairs, “Hi Mom,” they said. “Hi girls, what are you wearing?” She asked. “These are our costumes for tomorrow.” Bethany said, “they look old and dingy, you are not wearing them.”

“Mom, we want to wear them, we like them.  Look I am Ralphie.” 

“Yes, I know who it is, but they look old and dingy. You are not wearing them, and that’s the final word,” said Bethany.  “But mom,” said Ella.  “There is no but mom, that’s my final answer.”  The girls ran back upstairs and slammed their door. “Bethany, can’t you go easy on them? Said Frank. “Frank, I am not in the mood tonight, someone bombed my car with eggs, I hate Mischief night and my daughters want to wear costumes that look like they came from the Salvation Army.  So no, I will not go easy on anyone tonight.”  Frank went outside to clean off the car, and Bethany took Eddie upstairs and put him to bed. 

(Stay tuned for the new chapters released daily.)

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