“I know you’re pretty angry at your mother right now, but try to see it from her side. She was only doing what she thought best.” He gave her a strong hug, palmed her face much like he did when she was a child and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. “Whatever you decide, I’ll always be here.” Although approaching his fifty-eighth birthday, he didn’t look a day over forty. His walnut-colored skin remained unlined, his body was still trim and toned, and his deep brown eyes held the love he had always shown her.
“When are you leaving?”
“Call to let us know you’re safe.”
“I will.” Faith kissed his cheek and slipped out the door.
She drove home still in disbelief over what her mother had done and that her biological father was actually alive. Once there, she called Kathi and filled her in, then searched hotels and reserved a flight and car for the following Tuesday. Although she loved her stepfather, Faith had often imagined what kind of man her father had been. Now that she had his letters, she’d get her wish. But she wanted to know what he would be like in person. Guess I’ll find out soon.
“Are you ready to step into the CEO position, little brother?”
Brandon Gray acknowledged a couple of people leaving the conference room after the Wednesday morning staff meeting ended. He then smiled at his older sister, Siobhan. “Been ready.” His father had started the company more than two decades ago after being discharged from the army. When he saw the difficulties his best friend, who had been wounded in combat, had trying to get services and accommodations, Nolan Gray decided, instead of waiting around, he would design them himself. What started in their home garage had now grown to be one of the largest in-home safety companies in the country. They provided everything from shower rails and specialized mattresses to custom-built ramps. Their father would step down at the end of the month, leaving Brandon as head of Gray Home Safety. His father’s best friend, Thaddeus Whitcomb, whom they affectionately called Uncle Thad, had joined the company shortly after it was formed and served as the company’s vice president. He planned to retire, as well. The two men had always said that the reins would be turned over to their children, with a Gray in the CEO position and a Whitcomb as vice president.
Siobhan stuffed some papers into a folder. “I wonder what Uncle Thad is going to do. Too bad he never got married or had kids. And as good-looking as he is, I’m surprised. I don’t ever remember seeing him date.”
“I saw one woman coming around for a while when I was working in the warehouse that summer after junior year in high school, but I don’t know what happened to her.”
“Well, with no one to step in as vice president, you’ll be in charge of everything.”
“True.” Brandon actually preferred it that way, expected it after all this time. While the roles worked well for his dad and uncle, he’d much rather work solo.
Their father came around the table. “Brandon, can you come by my office? I need to talk to you.”
Brandon studied his father’s serious expression. “Sure, Dad. I’ll be right there.”
His father clapped him on the shoulder and exited.
Siobhan said, “I wonder what that’s about.”
He shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Well, let me know what happens.”
“Okay.” Brandon left the room and started down the corridor leading to his father’s office. He spoke to the administrative assistant, who told him to go in.
“I just hope this time you can get the answers,” he heard his father say.
“Dad? Oh, hey, Unc. I didn’t know you were here.”
“Hi, Brandon. I’ll talk to you later, Nolan,” Uncle Thad said. The two older men shared a glance that wasn’t lost on Brandon.
He followed his uncle’s departure. Today Uncle Thad was on crutches. He’d lost the lower part of his left leg during Desert Storm and typically used a prosthetic. However, over the past year, he had taken to using his wheelchair or the crutches because of problems with the artificial limb.