“Where are you?” Alice asked, sounding tired yet cheerful enough to give me hope.
“Out for a run, well, a walk,” I said. “Needed to stretch my legs.”
“You do know that every news channel in Texas is trying to get a hold of you, right?”
“I can handle them,” I said.
“Just don’t punch anyone, okay?” Alice warned. “We have enough on our plates as is.”
“I thought we could use a few more challenges,” I joked.
“We definitely cannot.”
I smiled. “What’s the update?”
“Well, in so far, your girlfriend’s been very helpful,” Alice said. “Her ex-husband is definitely suing, but with him breaking his restraining order and a bunch of other issues, that should be resolved pretty quickly. Actually, I’m surprised he even decided to sue.”
Because no one’s ever said no to them before, that’s why.
“A little more complicated,” Alice remarked, but her voice said otherwise. “We offered him a settlement, but he still wants to go to court. Which the lawyers think is great.”
“Well, let’s just say some digging’s been going on, and there’s enough dirt on Dennis, including shady business deals under the umbrella of Ridder Technology, that will put him behind bars for quite a while. We let him sue, then fire back with our guns.”
I paused. “Bring him in tomorrow morning, and we’ll have a chat,” I said. “When he knows what we have on him, he’ll drop his case and do whatever we ask him to. There’s no need to drag him through the mud.”
“Are you serious? You’re willing to let him get away with trying to steal the company from you? I thought you would have Miles out digging his grave somewhere about now.”
I clicked my tongue and considered what I had just said. “Life’s too short. I don’t need the stress of an ugly trial, even if it meant burying Dennis in the dirt for good.”
“You really have changed, haven’t you?”
“Is that all?” I asked, unwilling to go through another round of Ludwig’s effects on my personality.
“Just one more thing,” Alice said. “Have you called Ashlyn Carter?”
“Alice, not the time, really,” I protested.
“Are you going to call her?”[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
I sighed and dropped my head. I had been wrestling with that all day, and still hadn’t made up my mind. “Please. Seriously.”
“Okay, I’ll stop nagging,” Alice said.
“Just don’t keep pushing it until it’s too late.”
“Good bye, Alice,” I said and hung up.
I walked back to my building, Alice’s words ringing in the back of my head. She had a point. If I kept putting this off for too long, whatever advantage I would have had with Ashlyn would be gone. I rode the elevator to the penthouse, my phone in my hand and Ashlyn’s number ready under my thumb, just waiting for me to press down on the call button. I didn’t manage to gather up enough courage to do it until I was inside my penthouse with a cold bottle of water in my hand and the setting sun in my face.
The phone rang for what seemed like forever, and eventually I got her voice mail. It felt nice to hear her voice, even if it was a recorded message, and when it ended with that annoying beep tone, I hung and dialed again. She didn’t answer then either, and I hung up before the voice mail picked up, frustrated and, in a way, embarrassed.
You just have to come to terms with the fact that she’s trying to move on. It’s over.