Authors: Tierney O'Malley
Tags: #Erotic Romance Fiction
Rebecca nodded. “Right. We’ll handle this. No one will dare talk smack about you. Or I’ll toss boiling oil on their faces.”
James raised his eyebrows. “Dear, I didn’t know you were so vicious.”
“I could be.”
June smiled. “I just want you to know that I love you and thank you, and…” She couldn’t go on.
James opened his arms. Her composure broke and she ran to her father.
James sat on the finest leather couch he had ever laid his eyes on. His wife sat quietly on the other one, but her gaze jumped everywhere. She hadn’t said a word since they had been ushered inside the Colchesters’ library. None of them wanted to be here. To see the older Colchester was the last thing he wanted to do, but their daughter’s name and future were at stake.
For two days, and without June’s knowledge, he and Rebecca had discussed whether they should pay their grandbaby’s father a visit. Rebecca had hesitated at the idea of seeing the old Colchester. She hadn’t wanted to tangle with him anymore. But they had to do something. It was in the middle of the night when they finally decided on what they thought was best for June and her baby.
June might be spoiled, but she had a good heart—the best daughter any parent could have. She was smart too, but even the smart ones could make mistakes. They believed June was telling the truth that Henry didn’t know about the baby. Most likely, he didn’t know anything about June either, which was fine with what James had planned. Finally, James would have a chance to make the lying judge miserable and at the same time avoid the nasty talk that would come. His grandbaby would come in this world with a name, then he would shove that name back down Colchester’s throat. He would make the bastard feel what it was like to have someone’s thumb pinning him down so hard he could hardly breathe.
James touched his wife’s hand to reassure her that everything would be okay. She’d been worrying that June would hate them for going behind her back, but this was the best way they’d be able to help their daughter carry on with this phase of her life without the extra load of being an unwed mother.
From where he sat, James assessed the room. Books that must have cost a fortune lined the floor-to-ceiling shelves, a bust of Judge Richard Colchester sat atop the short marbled pedestal, awards and various recognitions were displayed on the shelves. An impressive glass case showed wine bottles that twinkled from the sunlight. Anything from this room would cost him an arm and a leg. And this was just one of many in this house—or should he say mansion?
The door to the library opened. A man in a gray suit with a white tie came in. James recognized him right away. Judge Richard Colchester. He’d know that face anywhere. Colchester’s face had haunted him every night for the first five years after Metro had given him the options of early retirement or being fired. He hated the man, but that hate had turned into pity. For someone who had everything, Colchester carried a heavy weight.
Richard’s wife followed him into the library. She practically glittered from head to foot, like a glass bottle left out in the sun. Neither spared them a glance. James stood. His wife would’ve had done the same, but he motioned for her to remain seated. Rebecca’s knees were probably shaking right now.
James watched Colchester rifle through the papers on the beautifully polished oak table. Mrs. Colchester sat on the plush seat. She held a fan that looked like it was made of ivory. The temperature was cool in the library. She didn’t have a need for that fan. James bet it was just some kind of an added decoration to her ensemble.
The high-backed chair Mrs. Colchester sat on looked so fragile and so out of place with its spindly legs. Someone must have had placed the chair there for today’s meeting.
Colchester cleared his throat, looked first at James then to Rebecca. Placing his hand on his middle to keep his tie in place, he sat. “Sit, Mr.…?”
James wanted to roll his eyes. Of course the man knew who they were. Asking who they were was Colchester’s tactic, a ploy to make him think that bastard was a better man than he was. “James. James Greenwald. And this is my wife, Rebecca.”
James didn’t like the way Colchester addressed him as if they’d known each other for a long time, but he kept his feelings to himself. He sat and took hold of his wife’s hand. It didn’t skip his notice when Mrs. Colchester stared at his fingers laced with his wife’s.
Colchester leaned back on his chair then placed his elbow on the armchair. He looked at James as if he were an annoying gnat. “So, my secretary has briefed me about your reason for this visit. You’re both here accusing my son of getting your daughter pregnant. I’ve heard this before. You’re not the first to try to trap my son into marriage. Accusations, such as yours, will only cost us both time. Nothing will come of this. So—”
“I’ve been in this position before, Colchester. I know what it takes to accuse someone.”
“And you lost, didn’t you?”
He knew this bastard remembered him. “You know very well that I did.”
“Yes. So I say let’s forget about all of this. I am that kind of a man. I do understand people, despite what others believe. I’m not going to charge you for false accusations.”
“Isn’t it? Just like the first time.”
“No, Colchester. Just like last time, this is not a false accusation. And this time I’ll win.”
Colchester grinned. “I am Judge Colchester to you. But I like your grit. However, I don’t have time for this, Greenwald. I am a busy man and I don’t like long talks when I know where the topic is heading. If you need help, a job, a loan or anything, I’ll have you talk to my secretary.”
“My wife and I came here to talk about our children.”
“Yes. My daughter is pregnant, and your son is the father.”
Mrs. Colchester made a noise that sounded like a gasp, but didn’t say anything. James glanced at her. Her eyes were wide as if she wanted to say something, but couldn’t. The woman must have been living under her husband’s thumb for years. She was afraid of him.
The insincere smile that crossed Judge Colchester’s face disappeared. “You claim that my son and your daughter fucked. That’s why you’re here, right? I hardly think they deserve to be called children.”
“Please don’t talk that way in front of my wife.”
“I apologize, Mrs. Greenwald. We are all adults here. I’ve been around bus drivers. They’re used to hearing and using blue-collar language. I didn’t think your wife would take offense.” To Rebecca, he asked, “I didn’t offend your sensibilities, Rebecca, did I?”
Rebecca shook her head. Her grip on James’ hand tightened. She was angry, but she wouldn’t give Richard the satisfaction. James knew his wife too well to bite Colchester’s bait.
This man had perfected intimidation and succeeded at it all the time. Colchester had cost him his job. The bastard had somehow managed to make Metro believe that James was at fault when Richard’s limousine had hit the bus that James had been driving. The impact was strong, a handful of passengers had been hurt and had cost Metro lots of money. Colchester’s lawyer dug up James’ medical records, claimed that he had been under a prescribed medication that caused drowsiness. Two passengers, whom he remembered had sat at the very back of the bus making out, testified that he’d been falling asleep. He’d bet someone had paid them to testify against him.
Colchester had not taken the case to court. He’d said that he understood James’ situation. But the bastard had asked Metro not to let him drive the bus again—for James’ safety and the commuters’. Later, he learned from one of the Metro Base Chiefs that the limo driver was busy ogling Colchester through the rearview mirror instead of watching the road. Colchester, apparently, had been feasting on his secretary’s breasts Of course, none of this information had come out.
Colchester had cost him his job and had won. Not this time. Not when his daughter was involved.
“We’re not here for money. Like I said, we are here to talk.”
“I’ve been a judge for a long time, Greenwald, to know that talking goes hand in hand with money.”
“Well, perhaps you haven’t been in the business long enough yet to know that there are people who actually want something other than money.”
Colchester smirked. “What made you think that my son is responsible?”
“What are you trying to say, Colchester?”
“I don’t know your daughter, but if you were in my shoes, you’d ask the same question.”
“I know my daughter. She’s not the type who sleeps around.”
“Heard that before, Greenwald.”
“My daughter is not lying,” he ground out.
“And my son attracts women like a fucking bear to honey.”
“If you need evidence, we’ll give you some.” A bluff. June didn’t even know they were here. “I tell you, though, once we start getting medical records, everyone will know about your son and what he’s done. He’d be under the microscope. Literally.”
Colchester narrowed his eyes as he straightened his back. He looked like a provoked snake ready to strike. Obviously, he didn’t like to be counter threatened. “Blackmail will land your ass in jail, Greenwald. This time I will not fucking care.”
As if you cared before.
“Refuse to listen to me and your name will end up in a tabloid. And I will not stop until you listen to me.”
“You son of a bitch! How dare you come here and threaten me?”
“Richard, please. Calm down. Your blood pressure—” Mrs. Colchester said in a quivering voice.
Colchester pointed his finger at his wife and was about to say something, but he kept his mouth closed tight. James noticed Mrs. Colchester looked down at her fan right away.
“Just so you know, Greenwald, you’re not the first to sit there trying to pin my son with some fucking outrageous accusations. None of them left with their pockets full.”
“All these years I’ve managed to put food on our table. I’m not going to start now by using my daughter to put a dime in my pocket.”
The forced smile that Colchester gave him showed he didn’t believe any words James said.
“Why don’t we just cut to the chase and you state your business here. What do you want from us?”
“We want your son to marry our daughter.”
Colchester didn’t show any surprise at all. His wife remained quiet on her chair like a doll on a shelf. “Ah. If I took a hair sample of the women who came here asking that my son marry them, I could probably make a wig for my wife. I hate to tell you this, Greenwald. You are just wasting my time and yours.”
“No, I’m not. Your son will make an honest woman out of my daughter.”
“Because your daughter is pregnant? Come on, Greenwald. Are you trying to frame my son because of the stupid bus accident? Is this some form of revenge?”
“That kind of accident is hard to forget.”
“We are here because I will not let another Colchester cause my family shame.”
“Does my son even know about your daughter? Where is she? Shouldn’t she be here fighting her case?”
“Your son doesn’t know and my daughter doesn’t want him to know about the baby.”
“What the fuck, Greenwald? Are you saying that you came here without your daughter’s knowledge?”
“If your daughter doesn’t want my son to know about her pregnancy, then why marry them? Obviously, she doesn’t want to. Jesus.” Judge Colchester threw a pen on the table. “I knew this meeting was a waste of my time.”
“We are doing this for our daughter. She’s too young to understand the ramifications of her actions.”
“She made a mistake and obviously knows it so that’s why she doesn’t want her baby’s father to know—whoever the stupid man is. She created her problem. Let her face it.”
“June’s problem is our problem. What happened between our children was a lapse in their judgments, but the whole world will know. She will be the talk at every dining table. Who knows? Someone might post about her getting pregnant on Facebook or other social media. She’ll get hurt. Most of all, we don’t want our grandbaby to be called a bastard.”
“This is a new world, Greenwald. Unwed mothers, divorce, mixed marriages, gays and lesbians marrying—and getting pregnant without a husband is not a big deal anymore.”
“Maybe to you. But to us it is.”
Colchester shook his head. “My son, I’m sure, has been planting seeds everywhere. But he wouldn’t be able to do that if some dodo head offered her field.”
“Watch your mouth, Colchester. My daughter is not a whore.”
“Your daughter made a mistake. She should have protected herself. You can’t blame Henry, and you can’t force him to do anything against his will. You have nerve to come here demanding that Henry give you his name. Leave now before I lose my patience. Good day, Greenwalds.”
Rebecca stood. Her hands shook. “You listen, Colchester, and you listen good. We didn’t come here excited about the prospect of connecting your name with our daughter. Do you really think that everyone wants to be associated with you? You’re delusional if you do. Newsflash—not everybody likes you or buys your good judge crap. Maybe some people see you as a shiny rich judge, but I can see past your expensive suit. You fooled Metro, but not us. We know the truth about the accident. You look surprised. What? You think you can keep your secret? Oh yeah, we know that you bought the witnesses who testified against my husband. And your driver? Yeah, he swore the accident was my husband’s fault, but he began telling everyone a different story as soon as you fired him. The truth, Colchester, is that everyone knows what you’d been doing in your limo when your driver hit the bus that James was driving.”
“What is the truth?” Mrs. Colchester asked.
“Stay out of this, Minerva.” Colchester smacked the table with his hand.
James watched Mrs. Colchester shrink in her chair.
“You see, Colchester,” Rebecca continued, “we’d rather eat dirt than accept a penny from you. But despite all that, we are here, ignoring the icky feeling crawling on our skin for the sake of our daughter.”
James patted Rebecca’s hand. In all the years they’d shared, he’d never seen his wife show this side of her. She had spunk! “Rebecca, let me handle this.”