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Chapter 1
Eileen Flies 

Eileen Robbins' flight touched down at Washington National Airport five minutes past ten on Thursday morning.  Her appointment with Senator Samuel Johnson was scheduled for two p.m. 'Plenty of time' she reasoned. While deplaning, she flashed her characteristic beautiful, infectious smile to the Eastern pilot. "Thank you for the nice flight." 

"Thank you for flying Eastern," the handsome pilot quickly replied. 'Gorgeous,' he observed, wishing that he could be her escort. Eileen defined beauty. She stood five feet eight inches tall; a svelte brunette with professionally coiffured hair, cut sharp and close. Her large hazel eyes sparkled with energy and enticing excitement. Her full cherry lips showcased her perfect teeth. An eye-catching, camera worthy outfit tastefully accentuated her cover girl figure.

Eileen's energy level was high and her mood great. She nimbly negotiated her way through the crowded terminal, retrieved her checked luggage, hailed a cab, and proceeded directly to the Willard Hotel.

"Your hotel is quite charming. I was told it would be."  Eileen commented to the registration clerk.

"Yes, thank you," the receptionist rotely bounced back her reply while proceeding to efficiently assign Eileen to a luxury room.

A bellman escorted Eileen to her room.  While arranging her luggage, he offered standard introductory remarks about the Willard. He departed promptly after receiving his tip, but no conversation from his guest, obviously preoccupied with the room layout. 

Eileen converted a corner of the room into a study. She opened her attaché case and removed a copy of her proposal. 'I'll just go through it one more time;' she determined. The title page excited her with each reading. "Project Moon City, A Proposal for Senator Samuel Johnson by Eileen Robbins." Eileen smiled with satisfaction. She needed the powerful fifth term Alabama Senator's help. He chaired the Ways and Means Committee.  'Finally within reach,' she was confident.

Eileen slowly turned the pages scanning every word, each graph and all projections. The proposal was polished to perfection, a recognized Eileen Robbins trademark. Nevertheless, she used her remaining time to rehearse her presentation. 'I can't wait to place a copy in the Senator's hands.'

Eileen closed the proposal, kissed it, and placed it back inside the attaché case. Only then did she realize that she had worked through lunch.

Eileen checked her appearance, freshening her make-up and rechecking her smart blue suit with white blouse and light blue silk scarf. Approving the woman in the mirror, she took a deep breath, picked up the attaché case and departed for her ambitious appointment with Senator Johnson.

The short taxi ride to the Sam Rayburn Senate Office Building rekindled her admiration and awe of the massive marble and granite monuments and buildings. Eileen first engendered these feelings on her initial and only other trip to D.C., her senior high school class trip. She remembered her impressions of strength and power. 'Perhaps,' she fantasized, 'Now I am a participant rather than an observer.'

Inside the Rayburn Building Eileen entered the empty elevator and pressed the third-floor button. She marveled at the polished mahogany surrounding her. Confirming its authenticity she touched it approvingly as she ascended.  Eileen lifted her eyes upward and offered a quick prayer, 'Oh, God, please let Senator Johnson like my proposal.'

Eileen entered the Senator's office ten minutes early. A masculine, rich wood and leather decorum confronted her. Eileen intuitively sensed, 'A strong and honest feeling, traditional and conventional, yet I'm confident he has a grasp of the future.  After all, it is 1977.'  She approached the receptionist, who reeked of longevity 'not unlike Senator Johnson' Eileen mused.

"Hello, I'm Eileen Robbins. I have an appointment with Senator Johnson at two o'clock.  I realize I am a few minutes early."

"Miss Robbins, I'm Ms. Sanders. I spoke with you on the phone. Welcome to Washington. Senator Johnson is looking forward to seeing you. He always enjoys visits by his Alabama constituents.  Unfortunately, the Senator is running a little behind schedule today. I hope you won't mind a short delay. Please have a seat and make yourself at home. Could I get you anything to drink?" 

Ms. Sanders looked and sounded efficient and business-savvy, but her practiced pleasantness left Eileen questioning her sincerity.

"No thank you. I'll be fine."

"The Senator knows your grandfather. He says he hasn't seen you since you were a small child. He is looking forward to hearing about you and your grandfather."

"Thank you for the heads-up Ms. Sanders." 'That was nice, perhaps she's OK.'  Eileen looked around the spacious waiting area, and chose a chair suitable for proper sitting by a lady in a skirt.

Eileen smiled at the mention of Senator Johnson remembering her as a child. She held the thought as she sat down and studied his portrait, which hung prominently on the opposite wall. 'When could Senator Johnson have seen me? How old was I? Did I behave? Did he like me?'  Her eyes lifted toward the ceiling, 'I wish I could remember. That was so long ago.'

'Perhaps he came to my elementary school, or maybe I was with papa on a trip to the Senator's office.  Oh, well, hopefully I made a good impression.' Eileen's eyes closed in a flood of memories.

Eileen worshipped Papa Allen Robbins. 'Papa always gave me treats and invariably invited me on short trips, business and pleasure. Papa was an entrepreneur, perhaps some of my adventurous spirit stems from my early days with Papa Robbins.' He had been one of the first major contractors in the over-the-mountain bedroom communities of Birmingham, Alabama. It was he who had established their Robbins pedigree name.  Her own father, Herschel, was much less aggressive and even less entrepreneurial, though he cultivated keen management skills and business acumen.  Herschel joined his father in the family construction business, and became an invaluable asset in the continued growth of the Robbins construction empire. The two of them were uniquely complementary.

'Dad and Papa never argued. They talked out their differences. Papa was a dreamer and a doer, but a good listener. Dad was a thinker and a manager, but he rarely challenged papa.  Yet if Papa's dreams couldn't withstand Dad's pencil and paper analysis, they mutually called it a gamble and wouldn't attempt it.  I'm lucky to have learned from two of the best. I couldn't have had better role models to prepare me for my position as CEO of Space Travel, Incorporated.'

'I am lucky to have been blessed with so many advantages; living 'over-the-mountain,' south of Birmingham. Dad and Papa helped to build much of it.  My brother and I always ranked high on the national achievement tests. Mama made me feel that excelling was the Robbins' credo.'

Eileen's lifelong best friend, Missy, had once described her as: "friendly, likable, popular, intelligent, attractive, industrious, trustworthy, loyal, conscientious, athletic, and healthy; the everything girl." Eileen cherished her admiration and frequently sought it during her "funky" lows. 

Eileen had flown bodily to Washington, now with welcomed unusual energy, she was mentally flying around through her past. She skimmed through the years, assessing herself, and with piqued curiosity that Senator Johnson remembers her.

Chapter Two

Months before Eileen's graduation from the University of Alabama she applied for a position with the accounting firm of Levine, Randall and Smith. An invitation for an interview was promptly returned. Accepting the invitation, Eileen prepared for it as she might for a major course exam.

The meat of Eileen's interviews with the firm's principals covered the nuts and bolts of a general interview, "Hello, Mr. Levine. Thank you for the opportunity to interview. I have heard so many good things about you and your firm. It's a pleasure to meet you; it would be an honor to work with you. I worked hard at the university preparing myself to be an asset to a prestigious firm such as yours. I have a strong work ethic. I am loyal, conscientious, and industrious. I can start anytime after July tenth. I'm happy to answer any questions that you might have of me." Eileen learned that his sporting interest was horse racing. She decided not to learn who the current favorites were but simply commented, "I understand that you enjoy horse racing. I tried to make some sense of it but it must take a great deal of patience and unique ability to follow horse racing. I'm impressed that you have chosen such a difficult sport, especially being so isolated from it here in Birmingham."

"Well." said Levine. "As a matter of fact there are a number of enthusiasts here, and sooner than you think, we may bring horse racing to Birmingham." 

"Oh, I hadn't heard. How fascinating.  I assume you might be a part of that enterprise?"   

"I best change the subject for now." 

"Oh, I see," said Eileen, "I think you have done a super job of incorporating your hobby into your office decorum. I like it." 

"Thank you very much." 

Eileen would use the same technique in each of her interviews. It was part of her preparation, be genuine, be friendly, be yourself, enjoy people, and let them like you.

LRS, short for Levine, Randall and Smith approved the office interviews and invited Eileen to dinner for a final interview. Eileen joined the three principals at the Relay Club on the top floor of the Bank for Savings Building. She was seated with the window to her left, 'It feels too open but the city view is pretty.'

Eileen observed, 'No spouses. I'm the only female present. I can expect more business questions. Fine, I'll just enjoy the evening.'

When the appetizers were served, Levine gestured to Eileen.

'How clever of him' Eileen perceived.  'He's handed off the hosting to me, their guest.' Eileen picked up the appropriate utensil and effortlessly led them through all six courses.

"In my research of accounting firms in Birmingham I continuously heard high praise and comments about LRS. I learned that you decided to remain independent. I understand you rejected an opportunity to join one of the big eight firms. I like that. It shows confidence and strength. Besides, you don't have to go to New York or LA and then wait for a decision." 

Levine responded, "Your research paid off. You're correct. In fact that was one of our questions for you this evening. We wondered if you would be, shall we say, put off by the fact that we are strictly local with no national aspiration? We prefer local control and ownership."

"Not at all. I am relieved. Birmingham is home. I'm looking for a professional home. I would not want to build up a clientele who trusted me only to be told to transfer to another city."

"That's our attitude," Randall offered. "Levine, Smith and I put this company together fifteen years ago. We are quite pleased with our accomplishments."

Smith said, "So you can see that we are interested in bringing on new people with like minded philosophies." 

"Yes, of course. Isn't it nice that I fit perfectly? I am happy to have my impressions and thoughts of LRS confirmed. I do hope you will seriously consider offering a position to me. I am a good worker and I'm sure that I will be a positive addition for you."

The following morning Eileen received a phone call, "Hello."

"Miss Robbins?"


"This is Jack Levine. Of course, we will put this in writing but on behalf of LRS I would like to extend an offer for employment to you."

"Oh, that's great Mr. Levine!"

"I'll send over a sample contract. Just give me a call when you've had a chance to study it."

"I'm sure it will be just fine. I will get back to you just as soon as possible."  Eileen was elated. It was Friday. On Sunday she would return to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa to begin her final semester.

'I wonder if I'm the first to land a job. I haven't heard of anyone else with an offer. I can't wait to tell Mom and Dad. I'll not say anything at school until others start mentioning their jobs.  Some,' she remembered, 'were concerned about their potential for finding a job.'

Eileen read through the LRS contract with minimal retracing, 'Alright. This is super. They are being straightforward. They are not selling me short. They are offering me the going rate for men. I earned it and I got it.'  Inwardly she speculated that the original interview came easier and quicker because of her name and family status.

Eileen held no delusion that her progression would be as rapid as her male counterparts. 'I wonder how long it will take me to break the glass ceiling.'  She was undaunted. 'I'm likeable and more ambitious than most. I'll work hard and become one of their top producers. They will want me to become a partner.’

Eileen sent a graduation invitation to LRS and tucked inside a small note; she telegraphed youthful eagerness by writing, "see you soon," then drawing a smiley face, and signed, Eileen.  After the ceremony, while visiting with her parents and grandparents, she heard a vaguely familiar voice. "Miss Robbins. Hi, Bill Randall. Congratulations on your graduation and especially Summa Cum Laude. We couldn't resist your invitation. I'm privileged to be representing LRS and I have a little something for you."  Randall handed her an envelope and a small wrapped present.

Eileen introduced Randall to all of her family members. 

Instinctively, Eileen knew, 'This is the executed contract. It was contingent on my graduation. How neat of them to take this opportunity to bring it, but what is this present?' She opened the envelope first, "Oh, I am so happy you've taken this occasion to bring this. I will get it back to you shortly."  Eileen opened the present. "Oh, this is great. How clever. Thank you so much Mr. Randall and it's practical as well."  Eileen held up a gold-plated Cross pen and pencil set. It had been inscribed "Eileen Robbins 1972." The occasion afforded a bonding for Eileen and Randall.

'Graduation and contract on the same day.  Wow, my career is launched.'

After graduation Eileen took a well-earned respite before beginning work August first. She relaxed, visited friends, and spent a week at their beach house on the Gulf. Eileen's four weeks in Europe rekindled her space fantasies. While in London she had déjà vu experiences. 'I feel at home. It was here that I witnessed the unfolding of the greatest technological event in history. President "Jack" Kennedy’s promise was achieved. Apollo XI of the United States flew three men to the moon. (Two, Neal Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin), landed on its surface July the Twentieth, Nineteen Sixty-Nine. Then they flew safely home. People everywhere were transfixed, always near and watching a television.' Eileen was no exception. In fact, she was more enthralled than most.

Studying abroad that summer semester, every facet of her life resounded with wonder and promise. Her fascination with space travel became entrenched and a recurrent unyielding obsession. 'I'm traveling to Europe. These guys are traveling to the moon. One day I'll go to the moon.  How long will it be before the rest of us can travel in space? With boats, cars and airplanes it only took a few years between invention and public application. Space travel is sure to be the same? Eileen resolved to be involved in its development.

Mrs. Sanders answered a phone call, interrupting Eileen's train of thought. 'One fifty-five, I'll be waiting longer. I wonder if the Senator knows my credentials.'

Chapter Three
Beginning Work

On the first Monday of August Eileen arrived at LRS five minutes before nine. She wore a navy blue skirt, white blouse with long sleeves and buttoned down collar with a small bow, tied at the collar.  Her navy blue pumps matched her navy purse. Her black attaché case clinched a professional appearance.

Preparing for the day, the receptionist was seated behind her desk arranging items as she Eileen approached. "Good morning. May I help you?"

"Hi. I'm Eileen Robbins. This is my first day to work here. I'm to meet Mr. Randall.

"Oh, hi, Miss Robbins. I'm Betty. I'm the receptionist. I'm new in this position. Let me get Cynthia for you. She's our office manager."  She pressed the intercom button, "Miss Robbins is here to meet with Mr. Randall and start work."  "She'll be right out, Miss Robbins."

"Hi Miss Robbins. I'm Cynthia the office manager. It's a real pleasure."

"Hi Cynthia, I'm Eileen. It's my pleasure. Thanks for meeting me. Mr. Randall mentioned that he would be meeting with me this morning."

"Yes indeed. I'm going to give you a quick tour of the office. I'll introduce you to our staff and show you to your office. I'll explain our phone and intercom system. Mr. Randall will join us there. He will meet with you for a few minutes before the nine thirty planning session. I will rejoin you there. We have these each Monday. They usually last thirty-five to forty-five minutes. The first one of the month frequently lasts longer. This morning you will be introduced to all of the firm's members. You should be quite a hit. You're our first lady you know. You'll do just fine. You look quite professional and smart. That's what it takes."

"Thanks for the heads-up and the compliment. I'm sure I will need plenty of guidance in transitioning from the university to the real world."

"No you won't. It'll be as easy as one-two-three but if I do say so, we have a good staff and we are always here to help."

"That's comforting Cynthia."

Eileen repeated every staff member's name as she was introduced to them. If she said the person's name while looking at them it somehow clicked in her memory. She had always had that knack.

"This will be your office, Miss Robbins."

"Thank you, Cynthia. It seems adequate."

"Well, we don't have an office that's been decorated for a lady. Everyone expects you to make some changes and add some feminine warmth. They told me to tell you that would be fine."

Laughing, Eileen said, "Maybe I will make a few changes. Let's see if we can make it feel a little more inviting. I'll think about it."

"Mr. Randall will be here shortly. He will take you to the meeting. Is there anything further I can do for you? Oh, I almost forgot. Let me show you the basics of the intercom system. I'm here all the time, so drop in anytime you have any questions or just buzz me and I'll come around. It's very nice to have you here."

"Thank you. It's very nice to be here." 

Randall walked into Eileen's office just as she withdrew her pen and pencil set from her attaché case.

"Oh, hi Mr. Randall. My first act of settling in" gesturing to her pen set. "That was so nice of LRS, again, thanks."

"We're glad you like it and glad to have you here at LRS. Coming through the office, on the way here half the staff told me how nice you are and how glad they are that you are here."

"Only half?"  Laughing, "I'll just have to try harder."

"No. No. I didn't see the other half. It was a hundred percent of the ones I encountered."

"Whew, that's a relief. Thanks for the clarification."

"That's nothing. All of the accounting team already likes you even though some of them haven't met you. I'm here to give you a little tip. Levine enjoys putting new people on the spot. If he treats you the same as he treats everyone else he will have each person introduce themselves to you. Then he will ask you to introduce yourself and to tell everyone about yourself."

Eileen's lips parted with surprise, she had not anticipated giving a speech about herself. 'Not a problem,' she reassured herself. She had memorized all the members’ names from the letterhead. It should be easy to place names with faces. 'I just need to find a way to connect with them.'

Fortunately for Eileen, Levine's format was to introduce her personally to each of their eight members.

Levine said, "This morning we will be discussing any unique problems and collectively work on solutions."

'Maybe I have dodged the bullet. He's going to treat me differently.' 

            "But first," Levine continued, "As is our tradition here, we like for our new members to tell us about themselves, so Miss Robbins would you, for the benefit of those who haven't had the opportunity to get to know you, tell us about yourself?"

'Well, at least so far I am treated equal,' she thought. "Why Mr. Levine that's all the direction you're going to give me? Where should I start?"

"Anywhere you like."

"Fellow accountants, thank you for inviting me to join you at LRS, and thank you for the warm welcome and solid handshakes. You have made me feel comfortable and for that I am grateful. I knew early on in life that accounting was what I wanted to do. In my junior year at The University of Alabama I began asking around about accounting firms. By the beginning of my senior year I knew that LRS was where I wanted to make my professional home. I applied here first. When my interviews felt positive I decided not to apply anywhere else. Thank you for choosing me because you were my only choice. So, Mr. Levine, Mr. Randall, Mr. Smith, Mr. Skinner," Eileen looked at each member and successively called them by name. "I consider you my professional family, my mentors, and my friends."

"I study hard, and I work hard. I exercise regularly, and I don't smoke. I don't use or believe in illegal or recreational drugs. I love life and enjoy people. I restrain from religion and politics at work. I am an adventurer. I love excitement and I'm simply enthralled with space travel. I hope, one day, to travel in space. Will that be sufficient Mr. Levine or was it too much?"

"Perfect Miss Robbins, perfect." Levine himself began the applause.

Eileen listened intently through the forty-five minute meeting. Levine and Randall made sure that she was included but she was not otherwise challenged throughout the meeting. At the meeting's conclusion, Eileen proceeded to her office.

'That went well. Everyone seemed nice. I am going to work with a passion. I will be as good as anyone, better than most, I hope.' She knew her first assignments would be subordinated to partners, taking care of details for those with heavy schedules.  She knew that everything she did would be reviewed by senior members. 'I'll double-check everything myself before submitting anything. I'll pay my dues and bide my time. I'll watch for opportunities and be ready when they present themselves.'

Several months into Eileen's employment, Randall informed Levine, "Eileen's knowledge is solid. She even makes appropriate and significant suggestions. She’s conscientious. Her work is impeccable. Everyone likes her, the staff, the other members, the clients; no doubt we've got a winner. I believe we should back off on the overview and save ourselves the effort. She's solid."

"Glad to hear it. That's record time for a new employee right?"

"You're absolutely correct."

After the first year, LRS began assigning new clients to Eileen. She easily won their confidence and loyalty. Her credo was "Be timely and accurate."  Typical was a comment from Mr. Eddings. "Miss Robbins, it's a real pleasure to work with you. You hear what I say. You do what I need and you get it back to me when you say you will. Thank you."

"Thank you, Mr. Eddings. I enjoy working with you. In fact, I enjoy people and I enjoy my work. A great combination."

"It sure is. I'm glad I found you."

It became office SOP for anyone, especially the staff, to let Eileen know when there was anything on the radio or TV relating to the Apollo project or for that matter, anything that related to space and space travel. She watched everything, take offs, splash downs, and anything in between. She read all that she could find in the newspaper and in the popular magazines. At night she drew sketches of fantasy spaceships, interconnected rooms for space stations, and buildings for barren, airless, interplanetary destinations. Primarily though, she was focused on Earth's moon.

"Do you still want to be the first woman in space Miss Robbins?"

"That would be nice Betty but I'm sure some hotshot pilot will beat me to that. I'll just have to settle on being the first tourist to the moon." 

"That's cool. Take me with you?"

"We'll take lots of people."

"You're a dreamer aren't you?"

"I guess so Betty but who else were dreamers? The Wright Brothers, Henry Ford, Werner von Braun. Hey, I'll take that company any day."

"Well, dreams are one thing but work is reality, speaking of which I better get back to mine. Have a nice day."

'Betty was right, work is reality. I've got dual dreams, success at LRS, and getting to the moon. I better get to work on both.' 

At two minutes past two Mrs. Sanders approached Eileen. Miss Robbins, "It's going to be several more minutes before the Senator can see you, may I get something for you, coffee, soft drink, or water?"

"Perhaps some water, thank you Mrs. Sanders."

Eileen returned to reconstructing her professional growth, as if somehow this would make the Senator aware of her accomplishments.

Chapter Four

Early in nineteen seventy-four, only eighteen months into her career at LRS, Eileen's opportunity was literally handed to her.

Eileen watched Mr. Skinner come through her open door with a client folder in hand. He gestured that she needed to take the folder. His voice was crisp and his face firm, "Eileen, I'm really in a bind. I need your help. This has to be ready by Monday morning and there is no way I can get it done with my heavy schedule. Mr. MacInough has been a client of mine for several years. He's asked that I refigure his estate planning along with the tax treatment of his business dealings. Would you have time to take a look at it for me? I would be very grateful."

'MacInough. I've heard that name. He's important. I wonder if Skinner has other clients more important or more pressing.' "Of course, Mr. Skinner, I'll be happy to take a look at it. Show me what you have." Eileen skimmed through the folder. "Let’s get together Friday morning?"

"Sounds good."

Eileen knew that of all the people at LRS, Skinner was the least conscientious in keeping up with new trends, regulations, and tax codes. 'I'm going to look at every conceivable possibility.'  She felt a surge of energy. Her mind was sharp, clever and cunning. She had anticipated this type opportunity.  'As the first female at LRS it's my moral responsibility to demonstrate our capabilities even if I have to connive a bit here and there.'

Eileen was certain that Mr. Skinner's Monday morning meeting with Mr. MacInough would be to deliver the proposal to him. These meetings always inserted a buffer of time to accommodate changes. She methodically calculated her plan.

On Friday morning Eileen approached Mr. Skinner, "Here's a draft proposal for Mr. MacInough's business arrangements, estate planning and tax treatment. They are fairly standard for business dealings here in Birmingham. You might want to suggest to him that he could be a little more aggressive in his expense deductions."

Pleased, Skinner semi thanked her, "That's a great idea. I'll be sure to mention it to him."

"I have some other ideas I'm researching, but it's too premature to discuss any numbers. I will continue working on them."


Eileen thought, 'You wouldn't think it fine if you knew how badly these new numbers will show you up. How could anyone be so incompetent or to miss such great opportunities with one of your prime clients?'

Late Friday afternoon, Eileen provided the finished product to Skinner. "This is the finished product of the proposal we spoke about this morning. I wanted you to have an opportunity to see it before you meet with Mr. MacInough on Monday." "I'll do a proforma on the other thoughts this weekend."

"Thank you Eileen. I'll study this over the weekend."

Late Saturday morning Eileen called Mr. MacInough at home, "Mr. MacInough, I'm Eileen Robbins. I'm one of the CPA's at LRS. I'm helping Mr. Skinner with your tax planning. I wanted to make sure that you won't mind if we at least look as a few alternative opportunities."

"Of course not. Please look at all opportunities. Thank you for calling."

 "Thank you very much. I'll see you on Monday."

Skinner had not invited Eileen to the Monday meeting. However, she vowed, 'This is one party I'm going to crash.' 

On Monday, Eileen waited until Skinner initiated the meeting with Mr. MacInough. She surprised them by entering the conference room unannounced. She closed the door behind her and approached them with her file folder in hand. "Hi Mr. MacInough. I'm Eileen Robbins; I spoke with you about working with Mr. Skinner on your business plan and tax treatments. I brought my notes in case you have any questions after Mr. Skinner explains it to you, but I can leave if you would rather discuss this privately?"

"No. Please stay Miss Robbins. The more the merrier," MacInough answered preempting Skinner.

Eileen sensed MacInough's satisfaction. She exercised the patience of a master chess player and the precision of an atomic physicist to calculate the appropriate moment to interject herself further.  Mr. Skinner discussed the ramifications of his proposal just as Eileen had given it to him. When it was apparent to Eileen and MacInough that the session was about to conclude, Eileen struck. She rescued MacInough from financial disaster and Skinner from his inadequacies.

"Mr. Skinner, when you and I reviewed Mr. MacInough's needs we discussed the idea that perhaps we could be more aggressive in structuring his business and estate planning, and perhaps utilize some of the new tax maneuvers available to businessmen such as Mr. MacInough. I assumed you wanted me to follow-up these thoughts, so over the weekend I prepared an alternate proposal. Thank you for letting me develop this. It appears to me that Mr. MacInough can save in the neighborhood of a quarter of a million dollars over the next couple of years through using new techniques available to us. Of course, continuing to use these will provide annual savings beyond that. Mr. MacInough should be very grateful to you, Mr. Skinner."

With fixed gaze, Mr. MacInough sat in shocked awe. After a short, uncomfortable silence, MacInough cleared his throat and turned towards Skinner. "Wow. You guys are geniuses. I hoped you could help, but this is phenomenal. How soon could you draw up the papers for the alternate proposal?"

"I assumed you would like the alternate proposal so I took the liberty of preparing the necessary paperwork. Naturally, you will want to have your tax attorney bless it. Would that be Mr. Levine? He is our expert."

MacInough was hooked, "I'll use whoever ya'll recommend. I'm very appreciative."

Skinner was upstaged. But, how could he complain?  'Eileen made me look good to MacInough. Not only that, she saved MacInough a bundle of money and now LRS can refigure our research, development and preparation time.'  Suddenly his fee looked much more lucrative.

As the meeting was ending Mr. MacInough inquired, "Miss Robbins, are you any relation to Samuel Robbins?"

"Why yes sir, I am, he's my uncle. Do you know Samuel?"

"Yes I do, Samuel and I are big buddies. In fact, we were in college together. We joined different fraternities but we were always best of friends. After college we maintained our friendship and have been involved in several mutual business ventures. He's a fine man. Looks like you were cut from the same cloth."

"That's a real compliment. I appreciate it. I can't wait to tell Uncle Samuel." Skinner separated himself from them and the conversation which obviously did not include him. He walked to Levine's office contemplating, 'How do I relate this to Levine? I have to think of something.'

Levine's door was open. Skinner walked in. "Jack, you're going to be interested to hear this. You know old MacInough. We've been doing his accounting for about ten years, but we never could get him to break away from Sam Jones, his tax attorney. Well, Miss Eileen just did the job for us. She assisted me on a project of his business set-ups and tax planning. I thought maybe we could save him some money. By golly when she ran the numbers sure enough we'll be saving him about a quarter of a million dollars during the first year or so. Of course, then there will be annual savings after that. He told us we were geniuses. Then she told him he should have a tax attorney check it out and suggested you were the expert so Sam said, 'That's fine with me,' so you just wound up with a new client."

Levine looked straight at Skinner taking a moment to digest the remarkable news. "Well Bob, you've done a helluva job here. You realize there was lots of research on that don't you?"

"Oh yeah, I've already thought of all that. It's just a matter of reconstructing just exactly how many extra hours of work went into that research and preparation."

Levine and Skinner laughed heartily.

Internally, Eileen laughed hardest, 'That was smooth as silk. That should get me some attention.'  Actually, she could hardly wait to share the encounter, and her excitement, with Missy.

At five past two, Mrs. Sanders approached Eileen with a glass of water. Eileen accepted the water and thanked her, but returned to her own absorbing line of thought.

Chapter Five
The Payoff

Not a full week had passed before Eileen received a fortuitous phone call. "Hello, this is Eileen Robbins." 

A strong pleasant, but authoritative voice announced, "Miss Robbins I'm a friend of Bob MacInough. He told me about the marvelous job you did for him. I find myself in a similar situation and was wondering if we could meet. Currently all my business is at one of the big eight firms. I would appreciate meeting you prior to saying anything to them. My preference would be to meet somewhere other than your office, at least initially. Perhaps we could have lunch and explore potential possibilities?  If you are agreeable we will meet at Brittlings Cafeteria. Would that be all right with you?"

Eileen's thoughts were racing faster than the fingers of an abacus expert. 'The door is open. The MacInough deal has paid off.'

"My name is Broadman. John Broadman, but I will ask you to keep it confidential in case it doesn't work out. Do you mind?"

'So much to answer. I don't even know him. A total stranger. What do I say? I can't refuse this type of opportunity.'  "Well sir, if you are a friend of the gentleman Mr. MacInough to the point that you discussed private matters such as he and I have reviewed, you must be trustworthy enough for a public meeting. I will be happy to meet with you sir."

"Fine, what about tomorrow at eleven thirty for lunch?"

"That will be fine. I will describe myself to you."

"That won't be necessary 'ma’am, Mr. MacInough has done a decent job of that."

"How shall I recognize you?"

"Don't worry I'll see to it that we get to the same table."

Eileen pushed back from her desk stood up, walked around and looked out the window. She stretched forth both arms mentally embracing all of the outdoors. 'Fantastic! I have to make sure the meeting goes well. This could be my big opportunity.'  Eileen had no idea how big.

Her energy soared through the afternoon and into the evening. 'Why am I so revved up? I need to slow down. I've got to use this energy. I have to collect my thoughts for my meeting with Mr. Broadman. What will I put in my attaché case? I want to make sure I'm dressed to kill. He needs to see me as professional. He needs to like me. I hope I can save him some money. He is with the big eight; they do really good work. I have to win his account. He will send me others just as MacInough sent him.  I'll have my own clientele. I'll break that glass ceiling. I'll become a partner. I've got to get some rest.' Nothing seemed to slow her down. Eileen showered and prepared for bed. 'I'm not sleepy. It's eleven thirty.' She went to the closet and selected an appealing ensemble for the following day. She checked for soils or wrinkles. She vacuumed the apartment, dusted the lamps, sorted her laundry. It was twelve thirty a.m.

'It's sinful to feel this good.' But her mind rebelled at this line of thought. She told herself, 'No. I've earned it. I've worked for it. I will enjoy it.' Her thought pattern switched rapidly. 'I'm so lucky, so fortunate, so smart.'  She felt guilt and chastised herself for the egotistical thoughts.

Eileen's eyes and mind searched the room for something, anything to corral her thoughts, relax her body and bring her sleep. The clock taunted her, two a.m. She hadn't noticed that book before, even when she dusted everything in the room, but there it was, the Holy Bible. 'I haven't been reading the Bible lately. Perhaps if I read a little, God will know how grateful I am.' Opening the Bible she skimmed the pages and spotted the passage, "Ask and it shall be given. Seek and ye shall find."  Eileen closed her eyes and thought, 'How lucky to have a God so generous and the Bible pointing the pathway directly to Him. God grant me the right words for Mr. Broadman and give me peace and sleep.' She shortly dropped into a sound sleep with the Bible lying beside her, unclosed.

Eileen awoke late the next morning. She realized she would not get to work by eight o'clock if she followed her usual routine. She popped in two pieces of bread for toast and poured a glass of milk. 'This will get me through the morning. It's a crucial day. She took time to double check her make-up, and scrutinize her outfit in the full-length mirror.

At the office Eileen paced more than usual. She scribbled thoughts and doodled drawings, then crumpled them, half-filling the wastebasket. She nervously made several trips to the break room.

'What's happening to me? Am I just excited?  I was out of control last night. I'm nervous. I'm too excited. I must calm down. Broadman can't see me as anxious.'

Eleven thirty seemed interminably far away. Her mind raced forward to meeting Broadman. 'Who is he? What kind of person is he? Does he have a big account? Can I win his account? Be calm. Be yourself. You can win this account on your own.'

Eileen stepped through the door at Brittlings Cafeteria at exactly eleven thirty. She felt out of place despite previous visits. Brittlings was so public, so utilitarian, but she knew that was precisely the reason Broadman had chosen Brittlings.

John Broadman was seated alone in the private dining room. Through the open door, he could see Eileen enter. 'What a fine looking woman. MacInough was right on the first count. I hope he's right on the second count. Maybe I should have taken her to the country club. Maybe next time.' 

A dark complexioned waiter who wore a patch over one eye picked up the signal from Mr. Broadman and immediately stepped up to Eileen, "Miss Robbins, I believe? My name is Horace. You will be the guest of the gentleman over in the private dining room. Nobody else in the room today. It will just be the two of you. You just go through the line 'ma’am, get anything you like. I'll be at the end to pick it up for you. Will that be all right ma’am?”

"That will be quite fine, Horace."  Eileen had seen him there several times previously. Though she had not known his name, she had admired him. He was a pleasant man, a good worker, and he never mentioned or complained that he was blind in one eye. He never worked without a black patch over that eye.  Presumably, it hid a deformity.

Eileen went through the line and selected a light lunch consisting of cottage cheese, fruit, chicken salad, and sweet iced tea.

"Won't there be anything else, 'ma’am?" Horace was asking.

"No, that will be fine, Horace."

"You just let yourself on in 'ma’am and I'll be right along."

Eileen entered the medium-sized meeting room. Mr. Broadman stood as she entered.

'He's rather pleasant-looking, handsome, tall, salt and pepper hair.'  The vibes were good. She was already relaxing. 'There's that southern gentlemanness already showing. I love it.'

Mr. Broadman walked toward her with an extended hand. "Miss Robbins, I'm John Broadman, it's a pleasure to meet you 'ma’am. Please have a seat. Bob told me how pretty you were and also how smart. We'll see if you check out as well on the second part as the first part. He told me that in a couple of years you'd be saving him a quarter of a million dollars."

Horace entered with Eileen's tray. She noticed that he had added a glass of ice water and two nice slices of lemon.

'What a nice touch,' Eileen noted, 'A real thoughtful waiter.'

Horace sat everything on the table and inquired, "What else can I get for you 'ma’am?"

"Nothing Horace, but thank you very much."

Turning back to Mr. Broadman Eileen commented, "Well Mr. Broadman, that's very kind of you. I try to do a good job, and when Mr. Skinner asked me to work out that proposal for Mr. MacInough I just did the best I could."

Mr. Broadman quickly framed a tone of straightforwardness for their relationship, "Now 'ma’am, let's start this meeting shooting straight. Skinner hasn't read a book or journal since he left college and you know that as well as I do. Bob said you did a good job of letting him save face and he went along with it, but he knew exactly what had happened, and he damned sure appreciated it." 

Eileen was blushing. Her assumption had been confirmed. 'I love his frankness. He must already like me. This is great. His eyes are warm and his words are engaging. He's an honest man, I can tell.' She answered him simply with her warmest smile.

They sat down to eat. While she nibbled at her food, Broadman ate heartily. "Well, you're like all the pretty girls, you eat like a bird and keep that pretty figure and I eat like a horse and look like one." 

"Why Mr. Broadman, you look just fine sir. You actually remind me a bit of John Wayne."

"My goodness 'ma’am, I've not had flattery like that in years. That'll get you anywhere you want to go, you know." 

 With a quick wink, "Well, why don't we start with your account, Mr. Broadman?"

"Hold on there. All in due good time. Tell me first how you figured out what you could do with Bob's business dealings and tax structuring. How did you come up with the idea anyway? Are you quite sure it is legal?"

"Well sir, Mr. Levine wanted to make sure, so he's checked it out thoroughly. He's very comfortable with it. He's gone ahead with all the preparations for Mr. MacInough. I believe we can consider it perfectly legal. Everyone's needs will be individual, and require personalized creativity. I would very much appreciate an opportunity to see what we can do with yours."

"Not we, Miss Robbins. You. I don't want Skinner or the rest of them working on it. I just want you to take a look at my situation and tell me if in your opinion we can do better."

"I understand. Frankly that's exactly what I would prefer."

"Well Miss Robbins, I have a unique situation. My wife, bless her heart, has been a mighty good woman to me, bore me three fine boys and raised them right. The doctor found a big lump in her breast last year so they operated and took it out in December.  They are trying to give us as much hope as possible, but I've seen and heard and read too much in my lifetime to not see the writing on the wall. I'm not going to have my sweet bride much longer. Bob tells me you said the best time to do any estate planning is before you need it. That's why this meeting is so urgent. I talked to my accountant about it in early February. He said he would look into it. I suppose he is still looking because he hasn't called me back. I hadn't figured there would be a whole lot he could do; so, I haven't been pushing him. When I heard what you had done for Bob I decided to give you a call. Do you think you can help me, Miss Robbins?"  "I don't mind paying a fair share of taxes but I've worked hard for my money and I've paid Uncle Sam his due. I'd rather he not get most of it just because I won't have my wife to pass it along to."

"Mr. Broadman, I'm so sorry to hear this sad news. I do hope you are wrong about your wife. I can tell you that Uncle Sam is still going to want a slice of your estate. With proper planning however, and with due thought and consideration to your wife's final desires, your desires, and family planning, we probably could get Uncle Sam to take less than you might have expected. It's definitely worth exploring."

"I would be mighty obliged to you, 'ma’am. This is what I propose we do. We'll set up a formal appointment at your office. I will come over for a proper appointment. I'll bring my papers outlining my current situation. I will leave them with you for your analysis. After you have studied them and prepared a response, you let me know and we'll set another meeting and I'll come back. I would appreciate it if you would keep this confidential for the time being."

"Of course. All we do is confidential."

"I understand, just wanted to say it."

As they stood to leave they were face-to-face. The lingering eye contact was unmistakable. Both recognized it but neither acknowledged it. A mini-bear hug was brewing, but he refrained and she didn't invite.

She walked out into the sunshine. 'It's a beautiful day. It's a wonderful world.'  She drew a deep breath. Her thoughts were so strong that she felt they were audible. 'Broadman is going to be my first big client.'

It was fifteen past two. Mrs. Sanders noticed Eileen glancing at her watch. "I am so sorry. The Senator will be embarrassed. I'm sure he will be out shortly."

"I understand," Eileen obligingly replied.

Chapter Eleven

Flying back to Atlanta felt symbolic for Eileen. It was business as usual to catch the flight back to Atlanta. 'One day my space bus would be just as routine from Robbins Space Center to Moon City and back.'

Forced sitting allowed fatigue to catch her.   She had hardly closed her eyes before she was fast asleep.

After retrieving her car in Atlanta and negotiating through traffic out to I-20, Eileen settled in for the drive to Birmingham. She was not consciously aware of how energized she became following the one-hour nap. The two and a half-hour drive to Birmingham would be tedious because of the unfinished section of I-20 but it was great brainstorming time. Not far out of Atlanta there was no radio signal carrying anything exciting enough to compete with her own consuming mental pleasures.  Her thoughts were furious and powerful, deceiving even herself with one imagination feeding the next. It didn't matter that Senator Johnson had not officially given his endorsement; he had definitely exhibited an interest and even assigned his senior staff assistant to work with her. ‘That should convince some of those fence-sitters to invest in the project.'

Arriving home late, Eileen continued working on into the night until nearly two a.m. Finally she told herself, 'I must get some sleep.'

After two hours of sleep she awoke refreshed. 'Good, I'm awake and feel great. I need to get organized.'  Rapid fire thoughts flooded her mind as she reconstructed her accomplishments from the weekend and her projections for the future. She was flighty. Thoughts about work encroached on her Moon City project. She found herself thinking about multiple topics at once. She could not stay with either one long enough for a conclusion. She abruptly remembered, 'This is the morning I am to meet Mr. Blackburn at eight. She had promised to analyze the potential tax consequences, if he accepted an offer to sell one of his businesses.' She rationalized, 'I have not had time to do it. I'll just have to charm him. I can do that. He likes me better than apple pie. I'll just postpone it, that's all. He will be fine with it.'

With all the important things Eileen was doing, she needed more free time. Her thinking became inventive. Levine is expecting too much of me; I need to talk to him.' She arrived at the office an hour before anyone else. She walked directly to Levine's office and taped a note to his door, "Mr. Levine, please meet me in my office at 9:00 this morning. Eileen.”

Even though Levine was an early riser and always at work on time, a couple of partners saw the note on the door before Levine arrived. Skinner cringed when he saw the note. He was the most senior partner next to the three founders. Even he would not presume to leave such a note. He recognized it as a tenebrous sign. He wondered how long they would have before the storm. He thought, 'That young, arrogant, upstart is unappreciative of the advantages we have willingly afforded her. Well, maybe I begrudged the firm making her a partner, but now in retrospect, that foreboding doubt and my abstention was a sage premonition. Perhaps now they will listen.'

Her meeting with Blackburn did not go as well as she had hoped. Despite her flowery ego strokes to him, he would not be placated. He advised her that this offer had a short time frame. "My decision must be made by Thursday. If you can't guarantee to provide me with the analysis by Wednesday noon, I have to know now, so that I can ask someone else to do it." She couldn't believe that he would treat her this way.

Eileen told him she was sorry, but her meeting with Senator Johnson had required a great deal of preparation time last week and over the weekend, but indeed she would have everything ready for him by 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Was he sure that would be okay?

"If you have it satisfactorily prepared for me, I am sure it will." He left.

Eileen wanted to cry. It wasn't fair that Blackburn's damned 'ole project was going to get in the way of her project.

Her phone rang. It was Betty the receptionist who said, "Miss Robbins, Mr. Levine says to let you know he has nine-thirty open. If you would like to see him, he will be in his office." She said, "Thank you Betty," and hung up the phone. She missed the message intended by Levine, only getting the message that he would see her as she had requested. Great, she thought, she couldn't wait to present her thoughts to him. If he had been impressed before, enough to make her a partner, he was really going to be impressed now.

At nine-thirty she entered Levine's office. Skinner, appearing unusually cheerful, was just exiting. He and Levine had been discussing their mutual concerns about Eileen's liberties and how she exceeded boundaries. They had fears of what this might do to the firm's reputation.

Eileen stepped into his office without an inkling of what the paneled walls had just absorbed from her senior partner's summit and would be hearing again in a few moments. This time from Levine's lecturing her. "Come in Miss Robbins, you wanted to see me."

"Yes sir. Thank you for seeing me. I've been thinking. I've been with LRS now for better than two years. I'm your first female partner. I'm your youngest partner ever. There are nine CPA's in our firm and I account for thirty percent of the firm's revenue. That's pretty phenomenal I think. I hope you agree, sir."

"It is quite an accomplishment Miss Robbins. You are to be commended." Sensing part of what might be coming, he added, "And I believe from your comments that you understand we have appropriately and adequately rewarded and compensated you."

"You have been most thoughtful, sir and not to be ungrateful, sir, but looking at the salaries, it does appear that I make less than half of what you make. All the partners, even though their gross earnings are considerably less than mine, make more than I do. Don't you think that is discriminatory, sir?"

"Not at all," Levine retorted. "Those partners are being paid on prior generated revenues. You are on a faster track than anyone has ever been at LRS. You should be grateful."

"It is not that I am ungrateful sir, I just believe that my earnings justify a higher compensation."

"Miss Robbins you are making a very good living."

"I am, sir, but I have many opportunities and projects. I can't stay idle. I need the economic reward for my success. It would help to capitalize my private ventures."

Mr. Levine pushed his chair back, sat upright, squared his jaw and looked firmly at Eileen, "Miss Robbins, we here at LRS are quite concerned about you and your 'private' projects. You have broken some serious rules of not just LRS but accounting in general. Professional ethics require that accountants not use knowledge of their clients to entice them into personal businesses. You've gotten old Broadman invested up to his gills in your private project. You should never have mentioned your project to him."

Eileen cut him off, "I'll have you to know, sir, I never mentioned my project to him. It was by pure accident that he found out about it. He came to me, mad as a hornet, because I had not let him in on it. I told him about the professional ethics and that we couldn't do it. He said, 'We can, goddamn, do anything we want to. Those things are guidelines, not laws. Now this seems like a good project from what I have heard from my friends and I want to know more about it.'

"I wouldn't even tell him. I told him if he had heard about it from someone else, he should get the information from them, and that's what he did. He then came to me and insisted that he be a major investor and a Board member. He told me if there was any problem with the Ethics Committee, he would personally tell them what happened. I'm hurt that you would think I would stoop to bending professional ethics for personal gain."

Levine was surprised. He had not anticipated this answer. He began to feel that perhaps he had been too harsh and overstated his position.

Eileen, unwittingly, rescued him from his faltering backbone as she proceeded in her boundless comments. "Furthermore, I am the most ethical person you have in this firm. I have heard partners laughing at how you inflate charges, talk people into research they didn't need, stretch thirty minute conferences to an hour, call clients on the phone, perhaps as many as ten in an hour, but each one gets charged a minimum of a quarter hour no matter how short the phone call. You are just like the lawyers you complain about."

Levine's adrenaline was rising. His true color began to show a very angry red.

Eileen never noticed his color. She was on a roll. "I came in here to ask for a fair raise and for two weeks vacation beginning this Wednesday at noon and you want to lecture me, Eileen Robbins, savior of your pitiful LRS sinking ship."

Thundering, Levine shouted, "That will be quite enough Eileen Robbins, I will not be talked to like that. Not by you, not by any partner, and especially...."

Eileen interrupted him, "By a woman, Mr. Levine?"

"No, by a damn young whippersnapper that's what. Get out of here. Oh wait a minute, why don't you just take a month off. Yeah, that's what you do, take a month off starting now and if the Board doesn't vote to terminate your contract, we'll sit down and see if you have come to your senses. In the meantime you give some serious thought to this conversation, do you hear me?"

Eileen couldn't believe the turn of her situation. Except for her feeling of invincibility, she would have been devastated. She regrouped and retorted, "Who needs this crappy place?" and stormed out.

Back in her office, she thought, 'Hell, I got more than I asked for. I've got a whole month. I'll show them. I'll take all of my cases and put a note on them to Mr. Levine. He can take care of the next month's work. They'll be begging me to come back; but they can't get Blackburn's done on time. I'll take it home and do it. She stacked each one of her case folders on top of each other, gathered up her personal items and left a note for Mr. Levine, "All of these charts are timely but they can't wait a month. I'll take the Blackburn folder with me. You guys couldn't get it done by Wednesday. Good luck, Eileen." She put those with the note on Cynthia's desk instructing, "Give these to Mr. Levine." She took her personal things, along with Blackburn's chart and left.

Her energy was stratospheric and her determination so firm that she did an outstanding analysis for Blackburn. She called him to advise that she was on vacation and to ask where she should deliver the proposal. She took it to his office, flattered him, explained the proposal to him, won his approval and left his office even more convinced that she was indispensable.

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