If he hadn't needed gas for his red Jaguar, Edward Jasper Radford III, or Jasper for short, would never have seen the town of Heartflower, Wisconsin. When he passed the sign for the town limits, he had to smile. Someone thought he was a poet.
"It doesn't matter wherever you roam, nothing rivals Heartflower—you'll call it home." He chuckled as he read aloud. The poem was handwritten below the sign for the town limits. Sounded like a place Jasper wanted to visit, but he couldn't stay long. He had to get to his meeting out west.
If only this town was in Montana, he'd be more likely to stay and scout out the area. The more he looked around, this was the sort of place he'd envisioned for the gigantic resort he and his father's company planned to build. But who, in their right mind, would come to Wisconsin? He could persuade tourists and future landowners to go to Montana or Washington State, but Wisconsin? Most people couldn't even find it on the map, unless they liked cheese, snow, and football.
He drove on the tree-lined rural road, past a farm and a small stand near the road, which advertised their early harvest for sale. But Jasper wasn't interested in the local produce. He was running on empty and needed a full tank to make it out west. Just gas, maybe a quick bite to eat and he'd be on his way.
The speed limit went from 55 to 25 in a hurry, so he slowed to accommodate the tiny town. There were maybe six businesses, total, lining the street, but he had to obey the laws. He didn't need some local newspaper picking up his speeding ticket and blasting it all over the front page. His goal on this trip was to be as low profile as possible. No one could know he intended to buy as much property as he could in Montana. He'd buy the whole state if need be. Since he and his family were extremely wealthy and famous, he could afford just about anything.
A small gas station up ahead advertised gas, cigarettes, and a restroom. Might as well stop there at some point. But first, he needed to eat and he wanted something substantial—not something from a gas station. Then he could come back and get a full gas tank for the trip. Always think logically and every step had to be in order—his father's voice rang in his head.
He passed the gas station and kept driving. About a mile down the winding street sat a little diner. Just a bite to eat, he'd then go back and get gas and be on his way to Montana.
Letty's Diner sat on the edge of a big body of water. Jasper drove into the gravel parking lot, kicking up dust as he put his foot on the brake and stopped. Instead of worrying about the paint job on his expensive car, his attention turned to the men out fishing on the lake. There must've been ten boats in the afternoon sunshine, just hanging out on the water. Jasper longed to be able to relax someday, but first, he had to create his legacy. He had to make his father proud, putting the Radford name on everyone's lips around the world.
The thought of taking one day off to fish appealed to him. Even if he didn't catch anything, it was a dream of his to learn to relax. However, it wasn't to be. Time was money and he was losing both fast by driving from Florida to Montana instead of flying.
He turned off his car and pushed open the door, stepping out onto the gravel. Once he stretched from sitting for so long, he closed his door, beeped the car locked, and headed to the front of Letty's Diner.
He took the two steps up onto the porch and read the menu. 'Delicious fare at fantastic prices,' it advertised. They served diner food.
He looked up at the building, which was in need of major repair. From the falling tin roof to the rotted wood on the side, it needed help. What he could do to make this place shine. But he wouldn't say a thing to the people inside. His background in marketing and architecture wasn't going to interfere with a good meal. No, he'd just eat and get gas, then be on his way to his destiny to build his dad's legacy. Uh…his legacy. He had to keep reminding himself of that fact. This was for him, since his dad was considering retiring from Radford Industries to pursue other interests. He'd never told Jasper what those interests were, but if Jasper could guess, it was playing golf with the big wigs. Regardless, when his dad walked away, Jasper would not only have his own business, he'd take over his entire dad's company of building huge office buildings and resorts worldwide. The responsibility would feel insurmountable, but if he just kept Dad's one rule of logical order in mind, he'd be fine.
With a last glance over at the fishermen, he ran his hand through his hair. If only he'd been born into an average family, he could enjoy life instead of having to go, go, go, every minute of every day, working up to twenty hours a day, every day. Dad was a slave driver. Even his mother was a go-getter as the chief of medicine in a hospital in Florida. Unlike his brothers and sister, Jasper had followed in his parents' footsteps in drive.
Even so, Jasper longed for a slower life, to actually take the time to savor a few moments before he retired and realized his entire life had passed him by. He wanted to marry, have a few kids, and that white picket fence in a small town where everyone knew everyone else.
He took a breath. He was a Radford. Time was money. So he grabbed the doorknob and yanked open the door, where he seemed to be transported to another time and place, inside the family establishment called Letty's Diner.