“Whatcha thinking about?” I asked Sally in bed. She had just given me a ride home after my Uncle Jake abandoned me at the bar. Then I gave her a ride in return.
“You.” She answered. She rubbed my reddened cheek. “You’ve had a rough week, haven’t you?”
I rolled over with my head flat on my pillow. Sally scooted closer to me and placed her head on my chest and started to play with my bellybutton. “He called me dad. . . Just before he left, he said, ‘I love you dad.’”
Sally looked up at me. “So, rough would be an understatement then?” I nodded in reply. “How come you left?”
“I dunno. Look, can we not talk?”
Sally sat up on me, “We never talk. All we do is this!”
“I know.” I smiled. It was the wrong thing to say. She climbed out of bed and started to grab her clothes. “Oh come on Sal? Where are you goin?”
“Home!” She slammed the bathroom door to get dress. I laid back down, I was too tired to fight with her.
I woke a bit late in the morning. I had work in a couple of hours. I scurried to the kitchen and grabbed the milk and eggs. I was going to try and make some pancakes. After burning a batch and eating said batch of pancakes, I ran into the bathroom and took a long hot shower. I slept hard that night, all I kept hearing was Parker’s voice calling me dad. It cut me hard. I worried about him and school. I hoped he would listen to me. I knew eventually dad would find out about him cutting class, and I couldn’t protect him from dad’s wrath. I shuddered as I thought about what dad would do.
Right before work I decided to call Parker. The phone rang and eventually dad answered. “Hello.”
“Hey dad, is Parker around?” I asked.
“Nope, he’s at school, and his cell phone privileges have been revoked for two weeks. Why what’s up?”
“Not much. I just wanted to talk to him, I guess I’ll call back later.”
“Two weeks Travis. I’m not gonna budge on this just because you called, or that he called you dad. I love you, but until he starts acting like the young man I’ve been raising, he can’t talk to you or anyone else, understood?”
I gulped out of habit. Dad was pretty pissed off. “I understand, and I’m sorry if he’s acting out because of me.”
“He is, and I appreciate it. He’s just like you, you know that? Last night he grumbled all the way home, and when we got inside he slammed his bedroom door after saying your favorite word.” I tried not to smile. “It actually made me laugh, but I stormed in there and took down a few of his posters and grounded him for two weeks.”
“Wow, that’s harsh.” I said. I looked at the clock and realized what time it was. “Look, I got to get to work. Keep me posted on him dad. Love you.”
“Love you to, and I will.”
At work I kept busy running the bank smoothly for the corporate offices upstairs. This was the main branch in the state and I was running most of it. It was hard work. I had over two hundred people working under me. I sat at my desk for only a minute when my secretary buzzed the phone, “Sir, Mr. Wayde would like to see you.” Frank Wayde was one of the CEOs upstairs. He and I had a good relationship, hell I had a good relationship with everyone at the bank.
“Send him in Josh.” My secretary was a skinny little guy trying to make his way through medical school. He has only been working for me for two months, but he was really good.
Mr. Wayde walked in with his hand extended. “Mr. Rain.”
“Mr. Wayde, what can I do for you?” I shook his hand.
“You can head to China for starters.” I gave him a questioning look. China? Really? “We need someone to go down there and take care of some business with a few of our investors. China is a huge market, but as of late they are wanting to back out of the banks because of the economy. I need someone like you, who’s smart and has the charisma that it takes to talk them into staying. Can you do it?”
I sat and thought about it. China was pretty far away. “How long would I be there?”
“Hmmm? I dunno. I have to talk to my family, and I have to find someone to watch my place. When would I need to get back to you?”
“Tomorrow. I’ll stop in. We need someone there in two days time.” I nodded to understand. We both stood and I shook his hand and walked him out of the office. A week in China, cool.
After work I walked out and some guy from Starbucks ran out to follow me. “Dude, aren’t you Jake Right? Oh my, you are, aren’t you? Could I get a pic of you?”
“No, I’m not Jake, he’s my uncle. Name’s Travis.”
“Nah, your just messing with me. Please, just one picture?”
“Alright, but I’m not Jake.” The guy was an idiot. I had spent a lot of time with Jake, and was use to people asking for his autograph and photo. Yet I was never, and I mean never confused as being him, until now. I posed for the idiot from Starbucks and took off back to the apartment.
At home I headed for the shower. I needed to think and I was expecting Sally at any moment. I wanted to go to China, I really did. Yet, I didn’t want to leave my grandma or Jake right now. I also didn’t want to leave Parker. He’d probably steal dad’s phone and want to talk to me. And what if he decides to do something stupid and then call me asking for help. Could I really leave? Then there was Sally. We’ve been sleeping together for almost six months, and I was enjoying having her, but not being attached. As I pictured Sally, my hand moved down towards my favorite body part. I closed my eyes and just pictured her.
A knock at the door brought me back to the present, and I stopped. Crap. I turned off the water and listened. Another knock. “JUST A SECOND!” I screamed from the shower. I grabbed a towel and left the bathroom.
I was in a towel as I ran to the door, “Coming!” I called as I heard another knock. I unlocked my door and opened it with a crack. Sally was there. “Hey.”
“You gonna let me in?” She asked looking at the security chain still on the door.
“Yea, sorry.” I closed the door and took off the security chain and then opened the door for Sally to come in. “You caught me in the shower.”
“Oh really? And what were we doing in the shower?” She smirked and look down my towel and found her answer.
“I’ll show you.” I smirked back and took her in my arms and kissed her. She, however pushed back. I stopped my advances, “What’s wrong?”
“We need to talk.” Uh oh, that doesn’t sound good.
“Alright.” I said backing up. “What’s on your mind?”
“I’ told Mark.” I looked at the door and tried to calculate when he was going to bust in here and throw me out of the window, evicting me from more than this apartment.
“Why?” I asked, still in a haze. “We had a great thing going.”
“I’m pregnant, and I’m not to sure who the father is.” A haze went over my eyes and I went down on my knees. “I’m sorry. I know what this means for you.”
“My dad is gonna kill me.” I looked up at her, “well, if Mark doesn’t first. How pissed is he?”
“He’s working on the eviction notice. I begged him not to kill you. He gave me a choice to end it with you now or allow him to kill you. I am really sorry Travis.”
“So this is it? We’re just through, like that? What if it’s mine?”
“I’ll let you know. Mark won’t want to raise it if it’s not his. So, we’re gonna do a DNA test as soon as its possible. I’ll let you know.” I nodded and stood up. “I really am sorry Travis.”
“Yea, so am I. I’m gonna have to get a new apartment.” I looked around the place. I loved my apartment. “You think I can get like a month to look?”
“I’ll see what I can do, but don’t be surprise if you come home and all your stuff is in the garbage.” I nodded. She gave me a hug and left. Shit.
As soon as she was out the door I screamed. I looked over at Parker’s picture and screamed even more. How could I have been so stupid! I started to pace with my phone in hand. I had to leave for China, that was one thing I was sure of. Mark wouldn’t be able to find me there. I had to call Jake to help me pack a few items to take to his place. Then, I would call dad and tell him where I was going. I was going to avoid telling him about the eviction for now. He didn’t need to know that he may have another grandchild on the way.
I called my boss first and wrote down my departure time for China. He told me the tickets would be at the airport waiting for me. I thanked him and hung up. I called Jake second. He laughed his head off when I told him what had just unfold. “This isn’t funny Jake. If it is mine, dad is gonna kill me!”
“Kill you, nah, David’s gonna fucking massacre you. Hell your body won’t be identifiable.” He laughed. I was not amused by his jokes. After he finally stopped heaving he asked the question inevitable question, “You need a place to stay until you find something?”
“I am not staying with grandma! She’s gonna ask too many questions. You better not tell her! I don’t need her to kill me.”
“I won’t. I’ll be by in a minute to help you pack up your stuff.”
Lastly I called dad.
“Hello?” Parker answered quietly.
“Parker, your not suppose to be on the phone!” I said with a smile. I loved his voice.
“I know. Grandpa fell asleep on the sofa and I heard it ring.” I felt a tinge of guilt for him. I wanted to talk to him, but I needed to talk to dad. Crap. “Do you need something. . . dad?”
Okay, that’s it! I can’t take it. He’s guilting me into talking to him. “Parker, I need to talk to grandpa. Can you wake him up for me?”
“Hell no! He’s gonna kill me if he sees I’m on the phone!”
“Parker wake him up!” I yelled in my adult voice.
“Fine.” I heard him wake dad up. “PARKER, WHAT DID I TELL YOU!?!”
“I told you!” Parker whispered back before handing the phone off to dad. I heard a faint slam in the background.
“Dammit Travis! I told you not to –”
“I called to talk to you. Dad, I’m heading to China for a week on business. I wanted you to know, just incase. . . .Oh and I’m moving when I get back.”
“Why are you moving?” Dad asked. He sounded annoyed with Parker and me already.
“I need a bigger place.” Nice lets just lie to dad. I told myself..
“Why were you evicted?” He asked with a sigh. How did he know!?!
“How the hell?”
“Your grandmother called about twenty minutes ago asking me why you were evicted. So why were you evicted?”
“It’s nothing really. My landlord went a bit overboard after he discovered something. So he evicted me.”
I heard dad sigh. He was not pleased. “I’m not even gonna ask, I’ll just pretend that you aren’t the idiot I know you are. It’ll keep me sane for the next week, but promise me, no more stupid stunts!”
“Promise.” The console buzzed, Jake was here. “Look, gotta go. Jake’s here to help me pack.”
Jake walked in with a huge grin. “Just saw this guy come off the elevator, he looked like he could kill, I gave him a wave he gave me the finger. Asked him if he knew if there was any vacancy’s, and that I needed a place to rent. He said he had an opening once the fucker upstairs moved out. Man you sure pissed off you landlord.”
“I did a bit more than pissed him off.” I reminded Jake. “Now will you help me before the asshole decided to throw me out the window.”
Jake laughed, “Yea. I’ll keep the boxes in my truck till you get home.”
Jake helped me pack up the crap that actually belonged to me. I took the pictures dad gave me for Christmas, Parker’s painting, my clothes, and the books I had acquired over the years. Jake packed up the kitchen and made sure he packed every bottle of liquor I had in my cabinets. We took the few boxes out and I left my key on the kitchen counter. I was out of my apartment after six years.
Downstairs I stopped and dropped the boxes I was carrying by my foot and grabbed the last of my mail. I saw why Mark had come down to the lobby. Inside the mail box was a nice eviction letter on top of the piling bills. At least there wasn’t a threatening letter with the notice. “What are you doing Trav?” Jake asked.
I pulled out my bills and eviction notice and showed him, “Just getting my mail.” I handed the eviction notice to Jake and he laughed.
“Nice, says here under reasons of eviction, ‘Screwing my wife.’ Ha! At least he didn’t mention the baby.” I gave him a hard look. “I know, we still don’t know if it’s yours. You know you should frame this.” Jake teased. I said nothing as I picked up the boxes I was carrying. We headed out the door and I stayed the night at my grandmothers.
The next morning I was off to China. I was a day early, but I didn’t want to have to answer a whole lot of questions from grandma.
The first thing I did when I got to China, was head to The Simlou Corporation, an investment firm that deals with our bank, and is the reason I was in China. I walked in and headed up to the fifth story where I waited to meet with my contact, a Mr. Lee.
Inside the office building I received a call from Jake, saying he found a place for the two of us to move in. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of moving in with my uncle, but I had nothing else. I didn’t want to go back and be interrogated by grandma about the eviction. She didn’t need to know and Jake swore he wouldn’t tell a soul.
I met shortly with Mr. Lee. He was hungry though and asked if we could have our meeting over tea. I agreed and we walked down the street to a small little shop and sat outside.
“Economy not good in America. Economy not good anywhere Mr. Rain. We are pulling out internationally.” Mr. Lee said as we sat down and ordered some tea. “We need local business to thrive before going overseas.”
“That’s not the way I see it Mr. Lee. The economy is climbing slowly back up and if you back out now with us, you’ll lose more money in the long run. I’ve done my calculations, if you stayed in and we lowered the rates you pay, by next year you could net a few extra billion simoleans.” I went to my briefcase I carried and handed him a folder with next quarters projections.
“I still don’t see it. It benefit you, yes? It benefit us? Maybe. I need to talk to my board. You’ll have your answer Mr. Rain.” He handed me the folder and we were served our food. “Enough with business, how’s the women in Bridgeport?” I laughed and almost choked on my noodles. We ended talking about our different worlds and societies. I learned he was married with a son and I, for some unknown reason, told him about what I just went through. I also told him about dad and Parker. “I see. And do you love this girl?”
“God no.” I laughed. “No, just having a good time.” I smiled, he didn’t. He must have some views like dad does. “I’m just not ready for a committed relationship, you know.”
“Yes. But you see, you only deserve what you get. Stay away from lust. It bad.” He smiled. We stood and said our goodbyes before parting ways.
Later in the evening I was up at the academy taking in the view when I heard a familiar sound. Someone had taken a picture. I turned and noticed a very nice looking woman snapping a photo of me. Great, the paparazzi. I walked over and introduced myself. “Names, Ming. I heard you in town trying to buy Simlou. I’m doing a story on those greedy, sexist, a-holes.”
“Rain.” I said. “And I’m not trying to buy them out. The bank I work for is trying to keep them happy so that they’ll keep their business.”
“They greedy. You should drop them.” She laughed.
I laughed with her. “Yea, but my bosses are even more greedy.”
As the evening dwindled I started to talk to Ming. She was a journalist, but I got that from the flashing of her camera and the fact she kept taking notes as we talked about my job. She wanted to do a whole scoop on the business ordeal, and on me. I was a bit flattered. “Now, why would a journalist be interesting in me, a simple banker?”
“It’s not job I’m interested in Mr. Rain, it’s you. Who are you?” I smiled, she was flirting with me. “What behind those brown eyes of yours.” She touched me on the face softly. Man was she hot. And just as it started to heat up, her phone rang. “I sorry. It’s the paper. Maybe we see each other again?”
“Yea. I’d like that.” I whispered into her ear before kissing her softly on the cheek. She blushed but the moment was gone she quickly walked away and grabbed her phone. I started to walk back to the hotel room. It was a beautiful night, and I was actually inclined to walk outside for once.
The next day I went out shopping. I texted Mr. Lee the entire day, asking for another meeting. Surely he had an answer by now. We needed Simlou, they were are largest international clients. We needed them more than they needed us. The bank would survive without them, but it would be a tough sell to other investors. My phone chirped in my pocket and I looked at the caller I.D. it read dad’s name. Crap, doesn’t he know how expensive long distant phone calls were.
“Dad, I’m in China! Don’t you know how –”
“I’m gonna kill you, Travis! Why didn’t you tell me!?!” He yelled, interrupting me. I gulped. I was gonna kill Jake.
“Dad’s its not what you think, she doesn’t even know –”
“SHE? Travis what the hell are you talking about?” He yelled a little surprised. I sighed in relief.
“What are you talking about dad?” I asked.
“YOUR SON! He’s skipping school and you of all people knew!” Crap. “And now he’s saying that you told him he could come visit you for a week! OVER MY DEAD BODY!” He screamed.
“I told him he had to get his grades up first and then I would talk to you. Geese dad, I was just trying to help. What did he do now that’s gotten you so pissed off?” I had never heard my dad this mad. He had his moments with me, but this was something different. It wasn’t surprising to know that he found out about Parker. And I knew he’d be mad. He never wanted anyone in his family to follow his footsteps. He regretted dropping out of school, I knew that, Alice knew that, Jake knew that, I didn’t know if Parker knew that.
“Susan and him were in a fight today at school. He clocked her in the face and broke her nose.” I tried not to smile. I was pretty proud that Parker finally stood up to my sister. I was also a bit mad that he punched a girl. “Then when I got down there I found out that he had a truancy record and his grades were in the tank. After yelling at him, he told me you knew and didn’t care.”
“I DID CARE!” I looked around and people in China were staring at me as I was getting more upset. Then I saw her, Ming. “Look, I can’t talk right now dad. I’ll be home in a few days and you and I can discuss Parker. I’ll even borrow Jake’s truck and drive down there and discuss this together, like you and mom use to do with me.”
“Alright. But until then he’s grounded and he’s not visiting you until he grows up a little.”
I hung up the phone and Ming came running up to me. “Hey!” I said.
She took my hands and held them, “You look stress. Something go wrong with Simlou?”
“No, my son. He’s getting into some serious trouble.” Ming dropped my hands and looked sadden. I figured out quickly what she was thinking. “Oh, I’m not married.”
“Then where boy? You leave him alone for business trip?” She asked still saddened.
“He lives with his grandfather.” She nodded in understanding. “My dad’s just having a difficult time with him. He’s at that age where boys push their boundaries with their parents.”
I took a deep breath as we stood. I was waiting for her to say something about Parker, my dad, me, anything. “You okay Ming?” I asked.
“Yea. I’m just trying to hold my instinct in to hold you. You look as if you are hurt. You look as if the world is on shoulders and you can’t be free.” I smiled. She was right.
“You have no idea Ming. I am all kinds of messed up.” I then decided to pull her against my body and hold her.
As our body was about to part, I felt my lips wonder over to her mouth. I kissed her softly and felt her hand on the back of my head pulling me closer. We stood there, locked on, for what seemed life forever. The kiss was amazing, if not perfect. I let all my thoughts on Parker leave me. I thought of Sally for just a second but pushed that situation out of my mind. My body started to relax, and the stress started to free. “You know what’s a good stress reliever?” She asked as she pulled away. “Come on, my house over hill.” She took my hand and we walked about a half a mile to her place.
We found ourselves in her bedroom on her bed. I had her in my arms and we were going at it again. We had spent all day in bed and the entire night before. “This is off the record?” I asked with a grin.
“Of course.” I planted another kiss on her lips as I slid my hand down her thigh. We were ready for another round, and I didn’t know where the stamina was coming from. I had never felt so amazing with any other woman.
Later in the day my phone finally chirped. Mr. Lee wanted another meeting. I kissed Ming as she laid on the bed asleep and quietly showered before leaving. I headed to Simlou and walked up to Mr. Lee’s office. “Mr. Rain, nice to see you again.”
“Mr. Lee.” I held out my hand and he took it. “Well, have you taken a look at my offer?”
“We have. We decided to close.”
“What! No! Look, I don’t care what it costs Landgraab. Your business is highly valuable in the community and I can’t take no for an answer. Look, if you want to see a great return in your investments, you’re gonna have to stick it out during this time. We will go back up. The stocks will increase and you and this sorry business will be sitting in our dust with your mouths open. I promise you that!”
“I am sorry Mr. Rain.” SHIT! I NEED THIS! I told myself. “We just are looking out for our own. Maybe in a few years we’ll reconsider Landgraab International, but right now we just can’t keep losing money on it.”
“You aren’t losing money! You just aren’t making as much as in previous years. Look, I can go down on price, I can raise your capital gain, but not much. Just give us a year. We can help Simlou and you can help us. Just one more year.”
He rubbed his neck in thought. He was overly stressed at this deal. We had to do this. It was the only way to save my job and my bosses’ jobs. “One year. Then we cut off all ties if we don’t see better income.”
“Deal.” I shook Mr. Lee’s hand and had him sign the forms I brought.
I headed back to Ming’s as soon as the meeting was over. She was still in bed. The girl could sleep, I’ll give her that much. I tore off my clothes before sliding under the covers. I slowly kissed her collarbone as she slept. She rolled over, “How was the meeting?”
“Amazing. I got them to stick it out a year. Now I can go home.” She hung her head low, but we both understood that this was just a fling. I had my life back home and she had hers here with the paper.
“Well, I guess we’ll have to make the most of it.” She smiled and kissed me. She climbed on top of me and we went another round.
As I left Ming’s apartment, my phone buzzed in my pocket. I was outside the door, heading home to the airport. “Dad” was written across the caller I.D.
“Dad?” I answered.
“Travis, come home!” He said in a panic. “Parker’s missing!”
“WHAT!” My heart sank to the bottom of my stomach. I felt my head dizzy and my knees buckled. “When?” I asked crying.
“He didn’t show up to school. I’ve called Ella, Ally, and Jimmy. Mike’s searching the entire town with the rest of the police. We don’t know where he’s gone to.” I just sat in silent trying to will myself to get up. To scream, to do something. Instead I sat there motionless, crying, and unable to speak. “Travis? You there?” I tried talking. “Look just get home.” He said to me and the phone went dead.
Ming found me outside the apartment crying. I managed to get something out to her to make her understand what was going on. She didn’t say anything. She helped me up and put me in a waiting taxi. “Go find him.” She whispered to me. I nodded as the tears flooded.