Woods

My mother had called and said my father wanted to meet with me. I had been ready for this confrontation so while Della was working I went to see him. Except he wasn’t home. Mom told me to have a seat and she’d fix me breakfast while we waited for him. After two hours of listening to my mother’s concern for my future and telling me my grandfather’s wishes, I stood up. I wasn’t staying any longer. Della would get off her second shift soon and I was going to be there when she did. I didn’t have any more time to waste.

My phone buzzed for the fifth time in a row and I glanced down to see Blaire’s number on the screen. I hadn’t talked to her since she had left Rosemary with her fiancé and right now wasn’t the time. I had other shit to deal with. I’d call her back later. I turned my phone off and stuck it back into my pocket.

“He’ll be here in just a few more minutes, honey. Just give him time. He’s a busy man. Let me see if I can find him.” She started to call him when I heard one of the two heavy front doors open and close then the click of my father’s dress shoes on the marble floor.

“He’s here.” She beamed. The relief on her face was obvious. She was getting tired of entertaining me. The feeling was mutual.

“Sorry, I’m late. I had a matter to attend to. Issues with staff that you overlooked but it is taken care of now. We need to discuss your future and decide what it is you want exactly with your life. I understand that Angelina isn’t it. I am ready to accept that. But we need to talk.”

I wasn’t sure I trusted his easy acceptance of my refusal to marry Angelina. He’d been forcing it down my throat since I was ten. I glanced over at my mother who was giving me a fake smile while twisting her hands nervously in her lap. Something was up. They must have another future bride lined up. That was the only reason he would even be ready to consider something else.

“Can we discuss business in my office and let your mother go relax and enjoy the rest of her day?”

I followed him down the hallway toward his office. I had exactly thirty minutes before Della got off work. I could give him twenty minutes then I was gone. He needed to talk fast.

“Cigar?” he asked as he stopped by the humidor that mother had given him as a wedding gift. He’d since then had a room built into the house for his large collection of cigars but he kept a few in here for convenience.

“No,” I replied and stood over by the window instead of sitting across the desk from him like I was a child that needed direction.

“Very well. I don’t need one either. I’ll wait to enjoy one tonight. Douglas Mortimar will be here for dinner. I expect you to join us.” Douglas Mortimar was one of the largest investors in the club. He had an entire hole dedicated to him on the golf course. I was never invited to meetings like this one.

“Why?” I asked, still not ready to trust him. I couldn’t recall Mortimar having a daughter. If I wasn’t mistaken he had a son who was much older than me and visited in the summers with his family.

“You want a bigger part in this business and I’m giving it to you.”

That wasn’t the correct answer. “Get to the point. What is it you will require out of me? I know Angelina has told you about Della. I’m not stupid enough to believe she kept that piece of information to herself. She’s a vindictive bitch, which is one of the reasons I didn’t want to be stuck with her for the rest of my life. So, you know about Della now. Let’s address that first since it’s what really spurred this meeting.”My father’s jaw tightened and I knew I’d completely messed up his carefully laid trap. This meeting had been to lure me in and show me everything I could have then he was going to hit me with an ultimatum concerning Della. He needed to understand nothing came before her. That if he couldn’t accept her I would walk. Kerrington Club could be left to some distant relative or maybe even Mortimar’s son since Dad loved him so much.“I know about your little fling. I’ve met her. She’s not exactly what one would call mentally stable.”What did he mean he’d met her? When? How had he ‘met’ her? I stalked across the room and put both hands flat on the desk he was sitting behind and glared down at his calculating eyes. “What does that mean?” I snarled.My dad didn’t flinch. He shot me an angry glare with a look of indifference. “It means exactly what I said. She isn’t mentally well and you’re aware of it. However, I did some research on her and it goes much deeper than I think you know or understand.”He was too calm. Something was wrong. “When did you meet her?”“I came by your house yesterday morning. She was alone and I had barely spoken a word to her when she went completely catatonic. She didn’t respond. She just sat there staring off in space. You’re a smart man, son. You don’t actually think there is a future with this girl?”Yesterday. I’d come home and she’d been on the ground. Fuck. “Did you leave her there on the ground like that? You didn’t think to call me?”My father shrugged his shoulders. “I wasn’t going to touch her. She could snap on me the way she did on her mother. I left. And I did some research.”He had left her like that. Hate seethed through me as I stared at this man I didn’t even know. He’d raised me but I didn’t know him.“Did she tell you the police found her with her hands covered in blood? She was sitting there beside her mother’s dead body rocking back and forth completely unresponsive with blood on her hands. The only reason she wasn’t locked up was because she had an alibi. Her neighbor said she’d been out with her all night. She’d apparently been the person to call nine-one-one.”My stomach churned. Della had found her mother’s dead body. Holy shit. She hadn’t told me that. She also hadn’t told me she’d been a suspect in her mother’s death or how her mother had died. There was so much I didn’t know.“I didn’t know she had found her mother. Shit.” I stumbled back and sank into the chair behind me. No wonder she was messed up. She’d lived with a crazy woman locked away from the world. Then when she’d gotten brave enough to escape when she could she had come home to find her dead. Blood on her hands. Holy fuck. I had to go. I needed to hold her. She might be okay, but I wasn’t. How much had she had to bear in such a short time?“I have to go,” I said, standing up and heading for the door.“As a parent I have to make decisions that are for the best. Remember that when you think I’m controlling your life. I’m helping you become the Kerrington you were raised to be.”I didn’t look back at him. I didn’t care what he wanted or who he thought I should be. The image of my grandfather looking at my grandmother with so much love in his eyes came back to me. He’d said that he couldn’t imagine a world without her in it. I understood that now. I wasn’t my father’s son. I was his father’s son. The sordid screwed up heartless bastard who was my father hadn’t been something he’d inherited from his parents. They had been the reason I would find happiness in life. My grandfather had taught me what to look for.