The Cad

Evelyn mentions in Dreaming of Xeres that she and Cadwallader have a history of
antagonizing each other. We were curious how it all started. Now we know. Enjoy!

“The vendors room is just down the hallway,” the conference check-in clerk said, pointing to his left, “in the Fredericks Room.”

Evelyn thanked the man and began pushing her luggage cart past the easel sign reading, HypYesCon, Hypnotherapy Beyond No: Turning Skeptics into Clients.

Halfway to her goal, she heard a familiar voice calling her name.

“Good morning, Dr. Adams. Nice to see you again.” Evelyn smiled at the older man jogging to catch up to her.

The large man with silver hair huffed. “Evelyn, how many times do I have to tell you to call me Jake? Dr. Adams is for my patients, not my friends.”

“Whatever.” Evelyn made sure he saw her roll her eyes at him. “I need to get in the vendors room and get set up. Want to catch up later over coffee?”

“I’m free now.” He looked at her overladen cart. “How about I help you get your booth set up? We can catch up while we’re at it.”

“It wouldn’t be an imposition? I got a late start from home this morning and could really use the help.”

Jake trotted ahead a few steps to open the door to the vendors room for her. She waved her thanks as she pushed her cart past him into the room.

“According to the layout in the program, my booth is inside the door to the right against the far wall.” Once she found the table with her name on it, they began unloading her boxes into the space.

Jake picked up their earlier conversation. “So why were you running late this morning? Nothing serious, I hope.”

“No, no, this is just the first time I’ve been away since I adopted Kier. It was hard to leave, even knowing that Maeve will take excellent care of him while I’m gone. He really wanted to tag along and help me out, but had to tell him he couldn’t until he’s older.”

“Funny, you don’t strike me as the overprotective mother type.”

“It’s not that. It’s just that I lost my husband while he was working on a project not too far from here. This is the first time I’ve been down here since he died. I think subconsciously I’m worried something could happen to me to make Kier an orphan. Silly, isn’t it?”

“No, you’re just a new mother. Parents are hard wired to worry about their children.” He paused. “Well, most parents. I’ve got a client or two….”

Evelyn smacked him on the arm playfully. “Don’t start that or we’ll never get my booth set up.”

Soon, all they had left to do was hang the banner proclaiming the title of her new book, Learn Self-Hypnosis for Stress Relief in Five Minutes a Day. She paused a moment to appreciate how professional the thing looked. It had taken her and Kier hours to produce the red vinyl banner with its carefully stenciled gold letters.

“What inspired you to write this?” Jake asked as he reached up to tie off the banner. To Evelyn’s annoyance, he didn’t need a stool to reach that high.

“I figured if I needed to learn more self-hypnosis to deal with being a newly adoptive mom, there were probably a lot of other parents who needed it too. I’m telling you, having a little one around doesn’t leave you much free time.”

Climbing on a chair to reach her connection point, Evelyn got a crow’s nest view of the vendors room. She’d just finished connecting her end of the banner when there was a loud crash from the doorway. Glancing over, she saw Matthew Cadwallader pushing his cart through a sea of overturned plastic boxes. He washed up to the booth across from hers and dropped anchor.

Jake, finished with his end of the banner, turned to greet the new arrival. “Hello, Matthew. What happened over there?”

“Good day, Dr. Adams. That man left a stack of empty boxes blocking the door. I didn’t see them until it was too late, so they ended up all over the floor.”

“Hi, Matthew,” Evelyn said, climbing down off the chair.  “Um, why didn’t you stop to help him pick them up?”

Turning to face her, Matthew tipped his head, sneering, “Dr. Sloan. It wasn’t my fault he blocked the door with them, so why should I pick them up? Maybe he’ll be more careful in the future.”

Evelyn recoiled at the man’s attitude. What’s up with Matthew? He’s usually so informal. But he greeted both of us with our titles, like we were strangers. He doesn’t seem like the same newbie I’ve spent the last couple of conferences teaching how to display and market his stuff better.

Putting her thoughts aside, she watched as Matthew unloaded his cart. She bit her lip to keep from laughing as he picked up one component, then another of his new display.

“Can I help you with that?” a new voice asked.

They all turned toward the newcomer.

“Do I look like I need help?” Matthew said, scowling at the short, balding man in the aisle.

Unable to resist, Evelyn piped up, “You know, you wouldn’t be in that pickle if you tried reading the directions. That’s just a guess, though.”

Matthew shot her a dirty look. “I can’t read the instructions and put the pieces together at the same time.”

The stranger spoke up. “I’d be honored to help you set up your booth, Dr. Cadwallader. I’ve read all your books and I’ve signed up for your workshop this weekend. I’m really looking forward to it.” The man stuck his hand out toward Matthew. “I’m Denny Talbot. I’m looking to use some of your techniques in the dental practice I own with my sister in Denver.”

Matthew fairly glowed under the man’s praise. “Oh, really? I’d be happy to accept your assistance. This is a professional setup, so it’ll be easier with two people. Can you believe that some people come to these things with homemade displays and signs.” He looked pointedly at Evelyn and her booth.

The nerve of that man. I’m the one who taught him how to display his things so they’d sell better. I told him which colors would be the most soothing and increase his sales. I even encouraged him to give workshops to build interest in his books. And now he has the audacity to look down his nose at my ‘homemade’ display?

Across the aisle, Matthew was sitting on the empty luggage cart, reading off the instructions while the man, Denny, worked to assemble the complicated M-shaped structure.

“In all honesty, Matthew,” she offered, “that would be easier if there were four hands putting it together instead of two.”

“I’m sure,” Matthew said haughtily, “you’re too busy putting up your own little do-it-yourself booth to assist Danny there.”

“I believe the man said his name was Denny, not Danny, you cad.”

As Matthew turned away with a dismissive wave of his hand, Jake, on the far side of her booth, burst out laughing. Evelyn looked askance at him. “What’s so funny?”

The big man wiped a tear from the corner of his eye. “Seriously? You don’t realize what you just said? You just called Matthew CAD-,” he dissolved into laughter again, “-wallader a cad.”

Evelyn closed her eyes and took a deep breath, desperately trying to not join him in laughter. Summoning up all of her professional poise, she forced out, “That is not funny. You should be ashamed of yourself, Jake.”

While Matthew sputtered behind her, Evelyn entered her own booth.

“So, Jake, what’s new with you? Last I knew, you had begun teaching classes. How’s that working out for you?”

The man’s face beamed. “You know, I wish I’d started this sooner. I never knew I would enjoy teaching this much.”

“Of course you like teaching. It’s the one place you get to tell someone else what to do instead of being told. Sully keeps you on a pretty tight leash. Like that diet he had you on last time I saw you. How’d that go?”

Jake huffed. “Like every other diet he puts me on. Fine for awhile, until he gets tired of cooking ‘healthy’ food and goes back to preparing gourmet meals again.” Jake waved a hand at her. “Let’s stop talking about diets. I’ll get depressed.” He pointed across the aisle, observing, “I think that nickname you gave Matthew might stick, if he keeps acting this way. The Cad.”

Evelyn looked across the aisle at Matthew. No, Caddy, she amended to herself. I hope he’s wrong and Matthew gets over whatever’s gotten into him. He seemed like such a sweet guy when we first met. Where did this arrogant, bossy person come from? She shrugged. He’s probably just nervous about the workshop he’s giving. I’m sure he’ll be back to his polite self by the end of the conference.

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