“Thanks.” She shut down her iPad. “Do you know what the meeting is about?”
“That’s what I’d like to know,” Malcolm said, entering with Khalil.
Brandon shook his head. “I have no idea.”
Siobhan breezed through the door and greeted everyone. Malcolm rounded the table and pulled her chair out. “Thanks, baby brother.”
He kissed her cheek. “You’re welcome. How’re you feeling?”
She smiled. “Pretty good, now that the morning sickness has passed. Anybody know why we’re here?”
Khalil said, “I hope this isn’t some announcement about Mom or Dad being sick.”
Siobhan shook her head. “I just talked to Mom yesterday. She didn’t mention anything about not feeling well and she sounded fine.”
Brandon leaned back in his chair. “I hope you’re right.”
“Good. You’re all here.” They all turned at the sound of their father’s voice. Nolan Gray closed the door and took his seat at the head of the table. “I know you all are wondering why I called this meeting, so I’ll get right to it. Thad and I will be retiring effective the last Friday of this month.” He shifted his gaze to Brandon. “Brandon, starting Monday, you and I will begin your transition. We’ll also put things in place to start interviewing for your current position.
Brandon nodded and relief filled him. And he already had someone in mind for his job.
His father leaned forward. “I’m also happy to announce that the vice president position, as well as Thad’s seat on the board, will be filled by a Whitcomb heir, just as we had always hoped.”
There was stunned silence for a full minute, then the room exploded with questions.
“Uncle Thad has a child?”
“Why haven’t we ever met his kids?”
Brandon’s chest tightened until he felt light-headed. Was he going to be expected to train this guy? And why come out of the woodworks after all this time? All of his siblings’ eyes were on him. He clenched his teeth and he gripped the chair arms so hard it was a wonder they didn’t break.
“Yes, Thad has a child. It’s a long story that I’ll leave him to share. Introductions will be made at the next advisory board meeting in two weeks.”
Brandon stared at his father in disbelief. “Why now?”
His father sighed. “As I said, Brandon, it’s a long story. This changes nothing for you, son.”
He pushed to his feet angrily. “It changes everything.” He stalked out. Brandon had been there since he was a teen and knew every inch of the business. He couldn’t believe his father expected him to spend precious time training someone who had never set foot in the company.
To keep from saying something he would regret, he avoided talking to his siblings and his father for the rest of the afternoon. The only bright spot was that he’d be seeing Faith in a while.
Brandon reached the hotel close to seven. She had booked the same place and her ground floor room was only two doors down from the original one. When she opened the door, he barely said hello before hauling her into his arms and crushing his mouth against hers in an urgent kiss. She came up on tiptoe to meet him stroke for stroke. He lifted her in his arms, kicked the door shut and carried her across the room to the sofa. The longer he kissed her, the more he began to feel. An unnamed emotion stirred within him and he broke the kiss.
“Mmm, hello to you, too,” Faith said.
Holding her in his arms and looking into the face that haunted his nights, Brandon realized he had missed her more than he cared to admit. “Hi, sweetheart.” He lowered his head again, unable to get enough of kissing her. At length, he eased back. “How was your trip home?”
She made a move to leave his lap, but he tightened his arms to stay her. She stared at him a moment, then relaxed against his shoulder. “I got a lot accomplished.”
“Did you and your mother talk?”
“Yep. We’re working through it.” She sat up. “Do you want something to eat or drink?”
“No, thanks.” He had originally planned to stay longer, but his mood had soured thanks to his dad’s little bombshell.