Conor unfolded the contract, willing the adrenaline in his body to dissipate. He needed a clear mind now. Obviously the contract was going to be different than expected. He couldn’t let thoughts of Elise ruin his rationality.
As he took in the contract, he dropped his stoic mask and allowed his eyes to widen. He raised his head and saw Roy frowning at the clouds rolling in. Lightning flashed far away.
“You’re a bastard,” said Conor. “How did you even get her to sign this?”
Roy was the managing partner at Ma Charisse. He controlled everything. Charisse was just a silent partner. She’d invested a small start up amount, but Roy had paid for most of it and taken all the power.
Conor heard a distant rumble before Roy spoke.
“I did it for her own good. She was making really bad decisions at the time. I told her just to sign it, and she did. She didn’t read it at all because she trusts me.”
“And you rather that I take over her business than change the contract and let her be controlling partner?”
Roy turned and faced him. “If I took this to her now to change it, she’d read the whole damn thing and hate me forever. She’s different. I had no idea owning a business would turn her around. She was a mess. I was protecting her. If the whole thing crashed and burned I could deal with the fall out and she wouldn’t have to.”
“What do you mean she was a mess? Drugs? Alcohol?” Conor couldn’t believe that a father would do this to his daughter. Couldn’t he have at least told her, “This is for your protection,” or some shit?
Roy screwed up his face and began to shout, “It’s none of your damn–” but then he caught himself. He ran his hand over his bald head, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He opened his eyes and said in a calmer voice, “What happened to Charisse is her business. I plan on getting the shipping company back on top. When I do, I beg of you to please turn Ma Charisse back over to me.”
Conor glared at Roy as he leaned over and punched the intercom. “Get Darnell up here now.” Darnell was his personal lawyer. He didn’t want anything hinky going on in the transfer.
Roy’s threat of investigating Elise’s death had pushed aside all thoughts of a relationship with Charisse. He stood again on the precipice of self-pity he’d spent three years dragging himself out of. Once the deal was done with Roy, he knew he’d fall back into the pit of despair. He hated Roy for that.
He released the intercom button and said, “I don’t think you should have anything to do with Ma Charisse ever again. You have one month to get the shipping company turned around. If you do, I tear up the contract and everything belongs to Charisse. If you don’t, I tell her what a bastard of a father you are and I retain full control of her company.”
Roy jumped up. “One month?” Curse words spewed out of his mouth.
Conor leaned back in his chair and waited for his lawyer as Roy ranted. He needed to get out of the office. Lightning flashed again and the rumble came quicker. He saw Elise’s broken body lying on the ground of the forest with snowflakes falling. And then the picture changed like he’d slid his finger across a smart phone. There was Charisse curled up on a chair or a couch. Her eyes echoing his own pain and reaching out in an unspoken connection.