Chapter 24 ~ A New Direction
Life has a funny way of playing out, I realised, that since my life was moving forward whether I was emotionally ready or not, it was time to just go with the flow of it. Last night we stayed at my house, but as we gathered some more clothes and made our way to the cars, Angelique comes rushing out fraught with panic. “Mrs Xeal, there’s someone at the gate requesting entry.”
“Did you inform them of Tim’s passing?”
“They are not here for Mr Xeal, they are here for you.” I turned and angled my head to get a better view of the front entrance, what I saw waiting there had my blood run cold. I recognised the car instantly, my body stiffened as I swallowed the suddenly large knot that had appeared at the back of my throat.
“B… b… better let… t… them in,” I stuttered.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” Dante questioned concerned.
“My past,” I replied, “open the gate please Angelique, but tell security to remain stationed behind the door, they may need to use brutal force to remove these warts.” I chuckled bitterly, “and a wizard with magical abilities to deflect the poison apples about to be thrown from the wicked witch,” I mumbled.
“What?” Dante spat. “What did you just say? Did I hear you correctly?”
I waved my hand, “nothing, ignore me.”
As the silver Lexus parked behind Dante’s car, I could see the pinched scowl of dislike already on my mother’s face; I spotted her and Dad in the corner of the funeral the moment I entered. How could I not? She held a likeness so similar to my own. My body had stiffened upon their presence that day and I wanted nothing more than to escort them out of his farewell, but I knew better than to cause a scene, warranted or not.
My father was the first to step out, “Quinn,” he nodded, was it really that hard to say a simple ‘hello’?
“Father,” I clenched my jaw.
“Who is this man that ogles us so forwardly, hired help should learn their station,” her vicious tongue had Dante whip his head at me in disbelief, despite seeing his reaction from my peripheral vision, I chose to ignore it.
“He is not hired help mother, he is my partner,” I couldn’t not notice the smile that grew across his face or feel the proudness that washed off of him being titled ‘my partner’.
“Well, don’t you move on quickly? Didn’t your husband just die a few months ago?” She enunciated the word husband like it was a vulgar term, sneering in disapproval.
“Well, you would know wouldn’t you, considering you were both at his funeral when I made certain you were not on the guest list?”
“Yes, well, never the less we were invited Quinn, Tritium had someone deliver the invite with a letter attached about how we should bury the hatchet after all these years and other useless sentimental junk.”
“Well, that was nice of him but there really is no need. You may go now father, and take that snobbish plastic old bat with you.” My mother gasped at my description of her, did she really expect a welcoming committee with open arms and an exuberant fanfare?
“I see your attitude has improved,” he scoffed, digging his hands into his expensive tailored pockets.
“You spoilt, selfish, ungrateful…”
My mother’s tirade was swiftly cut off by Dante’s protective lash, “do not finish your sentence, I will have you thrown out faster than it takes for you to smear lipstick on. Now, before you both upset my woman further, what can we do for you?”
My mother was seething in her shoes, “Tritium asked us to come, he requested we bring a box of your old baby photo’s, memorabilia, anything we had saved with us, though, there isn’t much left. We threw out everything that belonged to you when you defied us and married him anyway.”
“Yes, well that was predictable; you’ve always hated the fact that I received more attention than you. Jealousy is an ugly crown you wear,” I closed my fists into tight balls.
“One day you will have children Quinn, and then you will understand what we went through, how giving you everything we never had turned you into a greedy self-centred child.”
“Always playing the victim aren’t you mother, isn’t it funny how our memory of my childhood is vastly different?”
“Yes, well, everyone could see past your little performance at his funeral, your shacking up with the hired help only just proves you were after Tritium’s money this whole time,” my jaw fell open, my mother was many things but to call me a gold digger so crudely was beyond disgusting.
“What burns more mother? The fact that I was loved so endlessly, or the fact that you failed to receive his attention and his money?”
“Quinn, if I had of made advances towards him, he would have fallen at my feet.” I jolted forward and raised my hand, only to have it pulled back and for Dante to push me behind him protectively. Though I was bloody furious he had stopped me from smack that bitch.
“Do you have the box?” His temper was flaring up, I could tell by the way his body was trembling and his jaw muscle extended.
“Yes,” my father replied, popping open the boot and extracting the small box from his car. Dante stepped forward and snatched what was left of my former life. I scoffed at what they had driven over, a small package the size of an A4 sized piece of paper was how much I meant to them as their daughter.
“Thank you, now, kindly get back in your fucken car and leave, you are not welcome here ever again, you are not to EVER contact Quinn again, and if you so much as think about her, push it from your mind. She does not need you vile proletarians in her life, she is a part of my family now, and my family can see her value where you clearly lack the ability. You should both be utterly ashamed of your actions today. MR STRIKER…” His voice boomed.
“Yes Mr McCarlock,” Bricker and Arid stood there threateningly, tension rolling through their shoulders, it was obvious they had been listening.
“Please see these monsters off the property.”
“McCarlock? As in LMPT Limited, McCarlock?” Dad gaped, suddenly flabbergasted.
“Yes,” he was astonished by my father’s recognition of his name.
“Quinn,” my father nodded as the pair retreated into his Lexus and drove away.
“You should not have stopped me,” I was still furious about his actions.
“Baby, what is the company your father owns?” His question startled me.
“Um, um, Galaxy Corp. Why?”
“And his name?”
“His name Quinn?” His tone meant business.
“I have to go, I’ll see you at my place tonight.” Dante placed the small box into my arms, kissed me on the lips and jumped into his car. He was gone before I could even comprehend what was happening.
When I arrived back at Dante’s home, there was no one. After getting used to having continuous people hovering, it was unnerving to be left all alone in the empty silent house. Viola, I knew, had another date with her Editor and Chief, Blade was spending the day with his daughter Ruth, but I had no idea what the other three were up to. I decided now would be the perfect time to nap, in actual fact, my encounter with ‘the shrew’ cleverly disguised as my biological mother, had more than drained me of every speck of energy.
I had no idea how long I had slept for, but feeling the bed dip beside me had me alert, “Dante?”
“Shhh, yeah, it’s just me.”
“What time is it?”
“It’s late, well after ten.”
“You mean I slept all afternoon and all evening?” I knew I was exhausted but I had no idea how much. “Where have you been?”
“Go back to sleep, we’ll talk about it in the morning.” He got comfortable snuggling into my side, placing his arm around my waist and pulling me to his chest.
“What is it DJ, please tell me?”
He sighed heavily, “Galaxy Corp. is one of the companies we are working with that are facing liquidation. I have spent this past week rummaging through their accounts trying to find where the money is being pilfered to. Their profit margins and expenditures don’t add up.”
“And LMPT’s role is what exactly?”
“Simply put, to sell off the company’s assets and make a profit from Galaxy’s closure. Your father owes too much to revive the business.”
“That means good innocent people lose their jobs.”
“Yes,” he ran the tip of his nose across the curvature of my neck.
“From your point of view, do you think the company can recuperate?”
“It would have to take some time, maybe a new line, something the tech world has not seen yet, it definitely has a solid market base. But Quinn, you are pregnant, you can’t be taking on something this stressful in your condition.”
“Excuse me? It’s not like I’m missing all legs and arms, Dante, I’m pregnant, I’m still able to function.”
“I can hear the defiance in your voice,” he quipped.
“It isn’t going to hurt to make a few enquiries.”
“Fine, but will you go back to sleep please.”
“Nah, I’m hungry, you go to sleep, I’ll just grab a sandwich and come back soon,” I kissed his arm and removed myself from the bed, he groaned but rolled over. I had no intention of going back to sleep and grabbed my laptop, slipping quietly down the stairs.
Tritium’s words flashed across my mind,
~ Smile down on those who need your light, even if they don’t deserve it ~
If I was a petty person, I would leave them to sink in the mess they have created, but I needed to prove to myself that despite being born to them, we were NOT cut from the same cloth. You can find anything on the net if you know where to look, so discovering the articles about my parent’s strife was not a complex web.
Including the exposé about their drain and missing company funds, it seems my parents were an enigma to me and they never failed to disgruntle me. Tritium had instilled all of his knowledge about how to run a successful business, deep into the very fibres of my being, that’s just the way he was. It would take hard work and determination, but I had a feeling that I could do it. I definitely had the money, I had the contacts, what I needed was a solid business plan and a way to relaunch Galaxy Corp. into the market, starting with a new brand.
I picked up my mobile and dialled Viola’s number, she answered on the third ring.
… Q? Are you okay? It’s after one in the morning …
“Vi, do you remember when we were joking around about how those dating apps needed something like a fuck-rater?”
… Yes, god knows you don’t want to waste time fucking a dud in the bedroom …
“I have an idea, and I’d like to base it off of our conversation.”
… What? Like the anonymous app? Only for fucking dudes? ...
“Yes, with proper marketing and the right endorsement, I think we could really make this work.”
… What do you want from me? …
“Well, since it was your idea technically, I’d like to purchase your idea.”
… Q, have the idea, I’ll sign the fucken thing over to you and then use fuck-rater for entertainment purposes …
“We’ll discuss payment tomorrow, how was your date?”
… Q, you know I love you right? I’m still on it …
“Shit, sorry Vi, I got a little excited and ahead of myself.”
… No worries, we’ll chat tomorrow, he’s coming back from the bathroom now, then we are heading to my place …
She laughed before hanging up. I spent all night devising a business plan and researching the target audience. I sent off e-mails to the accountant, the programmers we used for ‘anonymous’ and Galaxy Corp. requesting a meeting for next Saturday and then finally, I designed a new brand, logo and thought of a new name, Galicia. It seemed more feminine, gentler with a hint of danger.
The idea was simple enough, a rating system that links to your profile that allows dating site users to rate your performance it the bedroom. But it wasn’t just men I was targeting, it was women as well, gay, straight, trans, no matter what you identified as... were you a flop or a thumbs up in the bedroom?
This was going to be hard, this was going to take time and patience and a shit ton of gusto I wasn’t certain I possessed, but I was going to try. The only brick wall I could foresee was my parents, but if they were the ones pilfering the company’s money like I suspected, then an out would be exactly what they would be praying for.
My tired eyes fluttered open to the sound of tapping on a keyboard, as my vision adjusted itself, I noticed it was Dante, and he was tapping my keyboard on my laptop.
“What are you doing?” I croaked out, lifting my kinked neck, I had fallen asleep at the table and right now I was regretting my decision not to go back to bed.
“Replying, you had an urgent email pop up from the program developers. Is this your business plan?” He clicked open the document on my screen.
“A rough copy,” I yawned, tilting my head left and right hearing the cracks in my neck as the tension released.
I scowled at his nonchalant attitude. “You’re not upset?”
“Nope, I told you, I will always be there to support you and if I really know you like I think I do, you’ll make this work.” I gushed at his answer, honestly, I could have fucked him right then and there, in pain and stiff or not. “Just, promise me one thing baby?”
“Anything,” I breathed out.
“You’ll come to bed at a decent hour and you’ll eat properly, I don’t ever want to catch you asleep on the table again next to a half-eaten salami sandwich. You have our kid growing inside you.” He bends down placing his lips against my forehead.