Chapter 12 ~ A Selfless Act
I was beyond exhausted, my bones ached, my head pounded and my heart clenched with unimaginable pain. I was in love with two men, my husband and my lover, what the hell was I doing? I had never been one to live so vicariously, loyalty and honesty were traits I had always admired in myself but as I started out the windows in Tim’s office warming his desk chair, the weight of my decisions bore down on me with weakening force… and I wanted to cry.
Bryce knocked and entered, breaking me from my reverie. “The young kid is here, as is the new contract for him to sign, you ready for this?”
I mulled over his question for a moment, “Yes, thank you, Bryce, please send him in.” I reached into the desk drawer, extracting some painkillers and swallowed, chasing them back with the frosted water from the glass bottle on my desk.
The young man, who had stolen the private information about my husband, gingerly followed Bryce in taking a seat in front of the desk but was unable to meet my assessing gaze. It was only now I noticed the dark circles under his light brown eyes. His dishevelled hair indicated he had raked his fingers through it multiple times. His knee bounced furiously in anticipation and his cheap suit pants and dress shirt looked as though they could do with a needle and thread as well as an iron.
“Harmon Kirt, thank you for coming in, I hope you managed to get some rest whilst you were in lock-up?”
His brow furrowed, “Mrs Xeal, I’m so sorry for my actions, I never really wanted to hurt you or your…” I held up my hand, halting his thousandth apology.
“Please, no more, I understand you are sorry, I also understand your reasons behind what you did, the promise of being able to pay for your mother’s medical bills was an enticing offer.”
“I spoke with my Mum this morning; I have never seen her so disappointed in me, I don’t know how I can ever make amends for my actions but I am willing to do whatever it takes.”
The twinge of sadness and regret that slid over his face did not go unnoticed. “We have decided not to press charges against you, instead, we are going after the reporter that bribed you,” his face then flooded with relief but then confusion as his mouth went slack.
“Why? I betrayed everyone.”
“Yes, and as a result, you lost the only income feeding both you and your mother. My husband and I believe in doing the right thing, did you ever read the documents you procured?”
“No, I saw the words ‘sensitive information’ and ‘private and confidential’ and presumed that is what he was after.”
“Well, if you had of, you would have read that my husband and founder of Tri-Star, is dying of cancer. I have watched his gruelling decent as the sickness ravished him, I personally understand your circumstances, though, I admit I do not know much about MS, I know this can’t be an easy thing for you to endure.”
He hissed and his shoulders slumped, “I’m so sorry Mrs Xeal, I had no idea.”
“Thank you, I am sorry about your mother. I had your background investigated, your father left you at such a young age and you were a troubled teen with a heavy heart, having to be strong and support your small family when others your age were able to live a normal life. You were lumped with responsibilities way beyond your maturity level…”
“I love my mother and would do anything for her.”
“I don’t doubt that for a second Harmon, which is why I’ve asked you to meet with me. My husband and I believe you have been kicked in the arse by life and we are willing to offer you a hand-up. We have sold the company to LMPT Limited and with the sale goes all of its employee’s including Bryce my personal assistant. He will step up and take control of the company when I step down and run everything for LMPT, which means, he will need an assistant of his own, this is where you come into it. Should you accept our offer, your health insurance will be fully covered as will your mother’s medical costs and treatment, including all outstanding monies owed. You will be issued with a wardrobe allowance and a company car as well as a generous pay packet to ensure yours and your mother’s needs are met. Along with your new position comes a new house for the both of you and a part-time carer to help with your mother’s needs and rehabilitation...” he sat there with wide eyes and a gaping mouth, “… all we ask in return, is full loyalty, something you must prove continuously from here on out.”
“Why… would… you do… that?” Tears rolled down his cheeks as he whispered his words of disbelief through strangled sobs.
“Because, Mr Kirt, we believe in you, you are not a bad kid, you were dealt a hard hand in life, through no fault of your own, and we strongly believe you will cross paths one day with someone who will be trapped in a similar situation as yourself. Our hope is that you will offer a chance to the next downtrodden person you cross, a chance at a better life, for the good of humanity.”
“I don’t deserve this,” his eyes met mine sincerely.
“We disagree; we think you both deserve this.” I slid the contract across the desk to rest in front of him, “if you accept, sign on the dotted line and you will start tomorrow. Bryce will issue you with the keys to your new home and car, your credit card for your wardrobe and your new security tags for the building. Tomorrow you will shadow Bryce, do everything he requests of you and learn as much as you can, he is training you to take over for him and Bryce demands compliance and competency. No one but Bryce, my husband and I will ever know of your history as we prefer you have a clean and fresh start with Tri-Star, but this also means no more college as your job description requires full-time hours. The movers are ready to go the moment you sign.”
“You’re offering me more than just a hand-up in life, you’re offering me the life of someone else?”
“I understand you are hesitant and dubious Mr Kirt, your cautiousness is quite normal but I can assure you this is one hundred per cent legit.”
He moved quickly, grabbing the pen and signing straight away, “why do you trust me when I have failed to prove myself trustworthy?”
“One mistake does not constitute a lifetime of attempting to do the right thing, Harmon, I know you are a good man, now go show everyone how right I am.”
The teardrops still fell from his eyes as he sniffed back his emotions, “thank you, thank you so much.”
“You can thank me by showing up at eight tomorrow morning, learning everything you can from Bryce and making sure I have a coffee, on my desk, every morning at eight-fifteen.”
He smiled broadly, “eight-fourteen.”
I chuckled, “we’ll see, you made need the extra minute to make sure my coffee is perfection brewed in a cup.”
For some strange reason, doing a good thing, felt incredible and intoxicating. The exhaustion I had felt before our meeting melted away and I was rewarded with new energy, finally, I could get some work done.
Bryce came in just before he was due to go home, “you guys have changed that boy’s life, ya know?”
“Maybe tomorrow, you can share your story of how we acquired you,” I pointed out.
He laughed, “I might just do that, god knows a homeless street kid that stole the boss’s wallet and is set you take over when you step down, should be a best seller.”
“Do you regret how you started at Tri-Star?”
“Maybe, in the beginning, guilt would be the word I’d use. But it also brought the most unbelievable luck into my life, I will always be thankful to Tim for taking a chance on me.”
“As will I, I guess we were all rescued by him, weren’t we?” Bryce gave a side smile, knowing how I ended up here too.
“Yes, we were. Anyway, I’m off, Harry and Bricker are on the mad hunt for the reporter and I’m currently knee deep in plans for the hand-over celebration. Have you decided what you are going to do about Dante James McCarlock?”
My face paled, “what do you mean?”
“Oh Quinn, lying was never your strong suit, you have too many tells and a very openly expressive face. Also, I’m not blind and I’m well aware of what’s been happening with Tim pushing you to find love for when he passes. He let it slip when requesting the advertisements for the anonymous app. He also was never a very good liar but he, unlike you, perfected his misdirection technique over the years.”
I sat back, surprise rolled over me, “I’m… I’m… in-love… with them both,” I admitted with tears clouding my pathetically sinful eyes.
“I figured that, well, Tritium has been so good to me, but he will never hear it from my lips, this situation does not involve me in any way, but I’m here if you need me.” His kind smile was comforting.
“Thank you,” I whispered.
“No one that matters, will judge you, Quinn, I’ve seen everything first hand and I know you’ve given everything to Tim, neglected your needs for his, maybe it’s time to focus on you a little hey?”
“You make it sound so easy,” I spluttered.
“Oh, it’s not. Better you than me, anyway… night Quinn, try and get some rest, you look exhausted.”
“You mean I look old,” I joked but just before he shut the door, he spat back.
“And haggard, like an ugly stepsister.”
I hadn’t heard from Dante all day, I guessed by now, he had figured out it was my way of saying goodbye, I had too, his temptation was just too great and I wanted him to move on, find someone to cherish and love him, the way he deserved to be, for I knew just how much of a wreck I would be when it’s all over.
I entered our bedroom to find a smiling Tim, “how was your day? You’re home early?”
“Well, my love, I decided to come back early from my ski trip in Vermont, it was getting cold and I craved a warm body to hold me.”
His crazy adventures always entertained, even if it was just pretend, “ah, I see, Cindy Crawford busy was she?” I slipped out of my skirt and kicked off my heels.
“Oh, I didn’t tell you? Cindy and I are over; Brooke Shields came knocking so I traded her in.”
I laughed, “Probably for the best anyway, she was becoming clingy and the wife wouldn’t have liked that.”
He sighed dramatically, “no, she has always been the jealous type, but god knows I love her.”
“Well, she loves you too, that’s why she is so jealous of these supermodels.”
I leant over giving him a chaste kiss to the cheek before heading to the shower, “I’ve written up the press release, did Harmon Kirt take your offer?”
“He signed with tears in his eyes,” I called back, feeling uneasy about the press release Tim had mentioned.
“Feels good, doesn’t it? To make a difference in someone’s life.”
“Exquisite, how have you let me go so long without doing that before? I felt like Santa Clause or how the people at the Make-a-Wish foundation must feel.”
After my shower, which I refused to look at myself in the mirror out of fear of disliking what I saw reflected, I rounded the bed as Angelique was leaving. “Did you eat?” I questioned.
“As much as I could handle,” I gave him a stern face.
“You need to gain your strength.”
He furrowed his brow, “my strength is fine, stop worrying.”
“Make love to me?” it was more of a question than a request.
“I will try, no foreplay, I don’t want the same thing to happen again.”
“My love, if it does, it does,” I shrugged, climbing onto his lap, “you should not worry about it, not with me. I love you, remember? I’m here, there’s nowhere else in the world I want to be but with you.”
“Quinn, you are my weakness.”
I stroked his rising member before slipping down on top.
It didn’t take very long before he came, at least this time it was longer than the last, but as I sat alone on the balcony, listening to his incessant oxygen machine and the noises from the surrounding bushland, my mind wandered back to Dante, despite having no right too.
Next weekend would be the official hand-over of the company and the last I would see of the, only other man, I was undeniably in-love with, my very last opportunity to watch him from afar before I disappeared for good.