Life went on. For those in the Wilhelm Group scheme, their ship sailed into a storm that nearly brought the company to its knees. Lawsuits after lawsuits, it seemed never ending for the global multi-industry giant. Fortunately for Richard, he wasn’t a part of it. In fact, he reaped a massive cheque from suing the group, the law firm, and the Lees. It was easy money for the unexpected victim.
After Matthias surprisingly agreed to work with Richard, Richard launched his first fashion line. From a rich heir to an orphan, his story made him a celebrity. The day his first boutique opened its doors, hundreds queued around the block, with reporters snapping pictures for their favourable articles. In reality, what people assumed to be a ‘riches to rags to riches’ story was truthfully and simply ‘riches to riches’. Yet no one read between the lines of those biased, and occasionally paid, interviews.
It would seem Richard’s story ended on a high note, unlike the rest of the clubhouse contestants. There was no lost of status, fame, or wealth – only time and perhaps, the truth. For him, time wasted in court wasn’t time wasted at all. But the truth that surfaced during each session weren’t full truths. And the more he realised they were empty shells, the more he found himself questioning his identity.
Everything his lawyer brought to the table was an assumption. What happened to his birth mother? Was there foul play in her death? Where was his biological father? Was he dead or alive? And all attempts to find the answers were futile. Leaving the courthouse with millions in his bank account was great, but no amount of green notes could buy the answers he wanted. After realising how his lost of self held him back, he decided to move on and start over. And that was how his fashion empire began.
A year after the Lees made the headlines of every newspaper in the country, Richard received a call from Guinevere. They didn’t bother keeping in touch, but they did occasionally say hello at galas and showcases. To actually see Guinevere’s caller ID on screen washed a wave of nostalgia up his shore.
“Inviting me to an event, are you?” Richard answered.
“Now that wouldn’t be surprising. But, I’m calling because of something else,” Guinevere said.
“What’s that something else?”
“My brother-in-law has taken over my father’s company, and while clearing old files, he found something you might be interested in.”
Richard made a conscious effort not to be involved in any subsidiary of Wilhelm group. So, he didn’t see how any old file would interest him.
“Are you planning to sell information on my competitors?” Richard joked.
“No. I have information about your father. Your birth father.”
“Wait… what? How?”
“When he worked for your other – the Lees – he was given insurance under the company. There is a family contact with a country code of another… country.”
That was new information. The records of his father and mother in the Lees possession had mysteriously gone missing during the trial. The few local contacts related to his father couldn’t be reached. And there wasn’t a single international contact on the list. It could very much be a dead end, but it was new nevertheless.
“I can send you this document, if you’d like to look into it,” Guinevere added.
For the first time, in the opportunity to find himself, Richard contemplated.
“Give me a minute. I’ll call you back.”
He wasn’t sure if he wanted to know. Aside from the fact that he didn’t have the time to go on a wild goose chase, he was afraid of what he might find. Should he try again? Was it worth it?
Just last week, he was invited to an internationally acclaimed fashion event. He could use the lack of time as an excuse to drop the idea. But as his thumb hovered over the dial, he recalled Matthias telling him about Zach. Zach had found a place in a private investigation agency. After all the spying and snooping during their Skypeak days, it seems the man discovered his forte. If Richard really wanted to find his father, he could hire Zach to get the job done. Unfortunately, it was a much tougher decision than he thought it would be.
The thought of completely tossing the opportunity lingered at the back of his mind. Perhaps it was better to ask Guinevere to burn the file. Perhaps not knowing who abandoned him – who sold him off as a puppet – was a smarter decision. What would he say to the man who left him with the wolves? How could he even face him, if he was still alive? And what if he was dead – would that make Richard feel any better?
Still, he promised Guinevere he would call her back. And if there was one good thing Mrs Lee taught him, it was to never keep a lady waiting. Dialing Guinevere’s number, Richard had to choose.
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The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2016 by Jeyna Grace.
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