In front of his iconic father, David gaped like a fish out of water. “Pop, it’s not what it looks like.”
Harrison waved his cane at his son. “Oh, save it. I already saw everything. Drugs, whores, attempted rape … Jesus, son. What do you do for an encore?”
“I, um …” David paused for several seconds then finally closed his mouth. No way was he going to be able to talk his way out of this one.
I wished I could’ve claimed Harrison’s early arrival as part of my plan, but I couldn’t. As Robert Burns said, the best-laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. Sometimes we just need to leave it all up to the universe to right the wrongs.
Just then Harrison turned toward me, a wide smile on his face, and took my hand in a firm grip. “Noah, my boy! How the hell are ya?”
I couldn’t help the affection I felt for the man. He was my father’s partner, his best friend, and he was family. How he had spawned someone as devilish as David was beyond me.
“I’m good, Harry,” I answered, and because I just couldn’t resist, I added, “Finally met the woman of my dreams and somehow managed to convince her to be my wife.”
The look on David’s face was priceless. He hadn’t heard about our impending nuptials.
“Well, ain’t that a kick in the pants! Congratulations, son!” Harrison clapped me on the back a couple of times, and his strength would’ve knocked me on my ass had he not had a death grip on my hand still. “I damn sure better be on that guest list,” he warned.
Then he said more soberly, “It’s no secret my boy’s been trying to pry your parents’ legacy from your hands. I haven’t exactly been an avid supporter of that, but he’s got a thick skull,” he said, knocking on his own. “Can’t get a lick of sense through to him.”
David growled in frustration. “You founded this company. It’s my legacy, too.”
“Shut up, boy. Noah senior and I founded this company together. It was all his idea. And I can see you’re busting at the seams wanting to tattle something on Noah, but I think I’ll let him tell on himself.” He turned back to me. “What’s he got on you, kid?”
As embarrassed as I was to admit the truth, I knew it would eventually come out anyway. Better it be to Harrison than to the whole board, shaming the memory of my parents.
“I bought a virgin, and then I fell in love with her.” The admission was quick, like yanking off a Band-Aid. And you know what? It didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it would.
Harrison didn’t look thrilled, but he didn’t look disappointed, either. Kind of indifferent, in fact. He shrugged.
“And isn’t that enough?”
“Let me ask you something, son. Is she worth all this?” He waved his cane around, indicating the shit I was having to put up with from his son.
“Yes, sir, she is,” I said, meaning it. I’d endure David Stone on a daily basis for her if I had to. And then it clicked, as if I’d just put the last piece of the puzzle into place. I didn’t have to. Lanie was all that mattered. My happiness was the only thing my parents ever wanted for me. And it was probably something David Stone would never have. With that realization fresh in my mind, I turned to David. “You can have—”
“Hold on, now,” Harrison said, interrupting me. “Don’t be so quick to throw in the towel, Noah.”
“What are you doing, old man?” David asked, flabbergasted. “You don’t have a say in any of this.”
“The hell I don’t. I still control those shares when you get right down to it. All it takes is an announcement from me to the board and you’re out of here. You’re an embarrassment to the company, and you’re an embarrassment to me. I won’t stand for your shenanigans any longer. Grow the hell up.”
Harrison leaned over the table and took the contract from a stunned David, who couldn’t react fast enough to stop him. He looked it over for only a second before handing it to me.
“Do you have any other copies?” he asked David, who did nothing but shake his head. “Good.” Then he turned toward Scott. “Why the hell are you still here?”
“I have a stake in all this, it seems.”
“And what would that be?”
Scott nodded toward Mason’s laptop. “A video that can never see the light of day. If it does, me and your son are dead.”
“If I can guarantee it won’t, will you swear not to ever have anything to do with my son again?”
“I can do that. I don’t want any trouble. I have my own business to tend to.”
Harrison turned to me with his brows raised in a question. I nodded my acquiescence. I wasn’t going to get everything I wanted out of the deal. As long as I had Lanie safe and sound, I’d let karma handle the rest.
“The video will be destroyed. Now get out of here, you’re stinking up the place.”
Scott wasted no time finding his way out. I didn’t blame him. Harrison had this Clint Eastwood type of way about him that dared you to overstay your welcome.
“It seems the scales are now all tipped in your favor, Noah,” he said, turning back to me. “What is it that you’d like to do now?”
“He bought a whore!” David yelled, clearly agitated by the turn of events.
Harrison lifted his cane to silence him. “One more word and I’ll disown you.” He turned back to me. “Noah?”
I looked up at the ceiling, seeing way past that to whatever great beyond was out there. This was for my parents. All of it. Because of the relationships they had forged in life, they were still looking out for me even in death. I would not allow their memory to be tainted, and that included their legacy.
I dropped my head to see David Stone in a whole new light. I almost felt sorry for him. Though his father was one of the greatest men I’d ever know, David had never seized the opportunity to learn from him. But he’d threatened everything I held most dear, so I couldn’t pity him.
“Listen to me, David,” I seethed quietly. “Not only do I have the ability to release your little personal porno to the public and destroy you, but that video shows evidence of drug and human trafficking, and let’s not forget the other video of an attempted rape. You could spend a very long time in prison.”
Dez leaned in and added, “And FYI, a big Mexican named Chavez already has you on reserve, bitch.”