“Hey, bro,” Khalil said when he answered.
“Are you at the gym?”
“No. I’m at home. Why?”
There was a pause in the line. “I thought you were going over to see your woman.”
Brandon no longer had a woman. He didn’t respond to Khalil’s statement, but asked, “Are you going to be there for a while?”
He cut the connection. He still couldn’t believe that Faith was Uncle Thad’s daughter. Or that she’d kept it from Brandon. As he merged onto the freeway, it occurred to him that it might have been better if he’d gone with his first thought and dropped her stuff off at the hospital that first night and kept it moving. Now he had to find a way to get over her. To stop loving her.
“He wouldn’t listen to anything I said about not wanting his job,” Faith cried. She’d called Kathi as soon as Brandon left. “And he didn’t even acknowledge the fact that he’d been adamant about not wanting to have another person in the leadership role.”
“It doesn’t matter what he wants. That job and board position is rightfully yours.” Kathi sighed. “I know you’re trying to keep the peace, Faith, but you shouldn’t have to give up your inheritance because he can’t play nice with the other kids.”
“It doesn’t matter, anyway. I have my own business to worry about and, like I told you before, I don’t know a thing about home safety.”
“And like I said before, you’re good at multitasking. Why can’t you do both?”
“Because…because it would mean seeing Brandon everyday and I can’t go through that.”
“Because you love him.”
“Yes.” It would be too hard to have to sit next to him in meetings, remembering what they’d shared and knowing how much he despised her for being there. No, it was time for her to go home. She’d go to the meeting on Tuesday, then make plans to leave by the end of the week. Her heart was breaking and it would be best to get back to her life in Portland.
Tuesday morning, Faith sat on a bar stool in Thad’s kitchen. He had called last night and invited her to stay over. He held her while she cried without saying anything, as if knowing she needed the comfort of his arms.
Thad came to where she sat and handed her a cup of green tea. “How are you feeling this morning?”
She shrugged. “Same.” But she was happy that he had received his new prosthesis. He seemed to walk taller and more confidently.
He wrapped an arm around her shoulder. “Things seem a little uncertain and you’re hurting right now, but everything will work out. You’ll see.”
“I hope so. Um… I’m going home on Friday.”
He nodded his understanding.
She saw the sadness in his eyes and grasped his hand. “I promise I’ll be back to visit and I’d love for you to come to Portland.”
He smiled. “Nothing could keep me from visiting my baby girl.”
She hadn’t told him about the decisions she’d come to regarding both positions and thought this would be a good time. “I wanted to let you know that I’m not going to take the job as VP, but I will sit on the board.”
“I’m disappointed, but I understand. I hope you don’t mind, but I filled Nolan in on what’s going on. We both agree that the job will always be yours whether you fill it now or sometime in the future.” He gave her a strong hug.
The tears started again. “Thanks, Dad.”
Thad went still. “That’s the first time I’ve been called Dad since you were two,” he whispered emotionally.
Faith hadn’t realized she had called him Dad. The word had just slipped out, but that’s who he had become to her. “You are my dad and I’m so glad to have you in my life again.” They shared another moving hug that seemed to erase all the years they had been apart.
Thad placed a fatherly kiss on her forehead and smiled. “I tell you what, after the meeting, how about you and me going to get some ice cream. That always makes me feel better.”
Faith laughed around her tears. “Only if it’s two scoops of chocolate chip.”