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The big house seemed a lot less intimidating than every other time I’ve been back to where i’d grown up. The day I left it had been in anger, and every time since there had been some reason why dad needed to teach me a lesson, or demand I do something I didn’t want to do.
Like, go to the right college. Or deny my love for Elo, and marry someone I didn’t love.
It stopped today.
I just had to pull myself together, and not stand like a coward in the driveway. Elo had wanted to come in with me, but I’d asked for him to stay in the car. Stan wanted me to take a bodyguard, but they didn’t know my dad. He used words and blackmail to hurt people, and what was the old saying about sticks and stones? Yeah, well, words couldn’t hurt me, and I had to to do this alone.
I didn’t use the front door, took an extra few minutes to wind my way through the rose garden and approaching the house from the back where my dad’s study was. I could see him sitting at his desk, with his back to the window, on the phone and gesturing wildly with his free hand. I let myself in, and he snapped a look at me, a startled expression washing over his face.
“Get it done,” he snarled into the phone and slammed it down on the desk. “What are you doing here? I didn’t ask you to see me.”
“No, for the first time I’ve come back here willingly.” I kept my tone calm, and I could see the anger in him vanish in an instant. He thought he’d won; he thought I was here with my tail between my legs, ready to accept my role in his life.
“About time,” He said, and I could imagine him rubbing his hands together with glee. Me marrying Beth would have led to a huge swell in investment from her family into our business coffers; maybe even enough to pay back the Rush. He stood up and extended his hand, “it’s good to have you back, son.”
I held out my hand, but it wasn’t to shake his, it was to hand him an envelope. He took it, frowned and turned it over. He couldn’t fail to see our legal departments address on the back, or my name on the front.
“I called an audit,” I said. I may not be a majority shareholder, but I had my mom’s proxy, and I was in a position to ask for it all. Three weeks ago we’d got the information from Stan and Olaf, but in those three weeks we’d dug into every single account, and the picture was clear.
Dad paled, but he hid it with bluster. “You have no right to call an audit, how dare you interfere!”
“You may want to read it,” I suggested, and waited.
“I’m not reading anything,” he snapped and flung the envelope to the desktop. “I don’t know what you think you’re doing?”
“How could you do it, dad? How could you steal so much, and then use me to solve your problems? Do you hate me that much?”
His expression changed, his eyes glazed over. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Seven million, two hundred and five thousand dollars, dad. How did you think you’d never get found out?”
He went red, rage contorting his face. “All you need to do was marry her, and we’d have the money to cover it!” he was shouting so loud I took a step back, and he must have taken that as a sign of weakness. He came out from behind the desk, and crowded me, “You’re a fucking failure as a son.”
I stood my ground, and maybe it was that which stopped his ranting, or perhaps it was the arrival of Elo with two other men, FBI, through the same back door into the office. I told them I wanted a few moments, and this was as much as they would give me. Elo had wanted to come in and stand by my side. But the hate in my dad; I had to see that alone.
“No, I’ve realized you’re a failure as a dad.”
As he was read his rights and cuffed, I watched with growing despair at what I’d decided to do. At first, I’d wanted to get him to pay everything back, but the offshore investments didn’t even cover half of what he’d taken from the Rush. And how could I ever think of letting him get away with everything?
But, then, how would this impact the Rush? Would the Railers dig them out? Was their insurance? Who would run the Rush? Who owned them now? Did we as a family still have control? Was it me who had to step in as an interim owner. Was Elo’s job secure? Was Mike’s future certain?
In the end, I realized I didn’t know how anything would turn out, so I decided to pursue everything legally.
“Okay?” Elo asked, and slipped his hand in mine. I snapped back to the here and now and realized that the FBI guys and my dad were gone.
“I’ll be fine,” I said.
And Elo pulled me into his arms, and without words told me the very same thing.
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