“Medium-rare, just how you like it.”
Neither of them had seen him coming. And the expression on their faces, the moment they recognised his voice, was oddly satisfying.
“Am I wrong?”
His father responded to the question with a grunt, while his mother fidgeted in her seat. Richard was tempted to apologise for making an appearance, in front of the two oblivious couples, but then decided to keep the truth as a trump card.
“If you don’t like it, I can return it to the kitchen,” Richard offered. Turning to Guinevere’s parents, he added, “I’m just trying to be less of a disappointment.”
Guinevere’s parents didn’t respond, and their silence quickly grew awkward. It went on for a few seconds before his father grunted again and started his meal. That was Richard’s cue to leave. He knew he would be hearing from his father soon. Ten minutes after his departure, his phone rang.
The voice on the other end belonged to his father’s assistant. He spoke in the same distant manner, telling Richard to be at the private bar in an hour. Apparently, his father wanted to talk and Richard was more than happy to oblige. At a quarter past three, Richard headed for the private bar on the third floor. There, he found his father on an armchair with a glass of whiskey in his hand.
“Finally, a father-son chat,” Richard said.
“It is you who have been avoiding me.”
Those words were unfortunately true. Richard was promised a conversation at home, after their encounter at the airport. But since then, he never returned home. He avoided the whitewashed mansion in fear of reality. Now having finally accepted it, it was easier to navigate its unpredictable waters.
“So you sent mother to buy me off?”
“I let her do what she thought was right.”
“But she failed. So what are you going to do now?”
“What do you want, Richard?”
“I don’t know, you tell me?”
“I’m not going to play childish games.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know my life was a childish game.”
“If you don’t know what you want boy, what do you plan to do then?”
“You tell me.”
“Are you serious? I thought I was disowned.”
“We can change that. Come home and help your brother at the firm. He’ll have more responsibilities once he takes over Greengrass, and he could use your help.”
It seems the shareholders meeting was going to be more than just food and annual reports. The prince was officially ascending the throne and only God knows what would happen after he does.
“That’s what’s happening tonight?”
“You do know I can ruin it by revealing my true identity. Is this the best you can offer?”
“What more do you want? Your inheritance?” his father calmly asked. The man never once raised his voice. He was scarily placid. Richard could only imagine the mechanics in his brain, churning out evil plots to get rid of him.
“No. It wouldn’t look good if you went back on your word, would it? Tell you what, I’ll be the disappointment of a son you’ve always wanted, if you do something for me in return.”
“And what is that?”
“I want to know everything. All your plans. I want to be part of your schemes and I want to reap the benefits.”
When his father responded with a laugh, Richard realised how stupid he sounded.
“That’s not going to happen,” his father replied. “If I don’t have confidence in Gabriel, why would I have confidence in you? So, let’s make this simple. You think about my offer and you let me know your decision. You might not have anything to lose, Richard, but once you denounce this family’s name, this family won’t be here to protect you any longer.”
The final statement sounded like a threat. No, it was a threat. If Richard decided to sink the ship, he would have to go down with it. Was he ready for that?
His father didn’t wait for his response and rose to his feet. Richard remained seated as he watched the man stalk to the door. But just before his father left the room, his assistant hurried to his side.
“He’s awake. Should I inform the Cortezs?” the assistant whispered.
“I can hear you,” Richard stated.
“No,” his father replied. Then turning to Richard, he added, “It doesn’t matter. You can add this to your collection of useless facts.”
The father he once pretended to be loving and kind gave him a smirk. And when the back of his cashmere suit disappeared out the door, Richard had lost the game. For a while, he actually thought he had the upper hand. Staring at the floor, wondering what he should do next, Richard didn’t realise Matthias had entered the bar until he spoke.
“I heard everything,” Matthias stated.
“What? Wait, you were eavesdropping?”
“You’re wearing the earpiece I gave you. It’s not my fault you didn’t take it out.”
“So you heard everything?”
“Pretty much. What’s your plan?
“I don’t know. What would you do?”
Matthias shrugged. Then deciding to expand his knowledge on the newfound fact, and to briefly take his mind off the daunting decision, Richard asked, “Have you heard of the Cortezs?”
“I only know of one family with that name.”
“Who are they?”
“They’re the ones running the trial against Jodie.”
“The couple of the dead partner?”
Did Richard hear him right? Yes, he did. At the revelation, his jaw hung open and his eyes grew wide in shock. Unfortunately for his father, the new fact wasn’t useless after all.
“Why? What do you know?”
“You didn’t hear?”
“No. Tell me.”
Richard wasn’t sure if he should disclose it. He wasn’t even sure if giving Matthias the information would be of any help. Perhaps Richard should tell Jodie himself and be the hero of the day. Or perhaps he should play it safe and just let Matthias deal with it. Richard had to choose.
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The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2016 by Jeyna Grace.
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