"What in the world is going on?" I rose up in my seat to see why the hell there was a traffic jam. "Tuesday at two in the afternoon. Do you guys not have jobs?" A smirk lifted my lips as I uttered my dull curse.
I hadn't really had a job in a month thanks to waiting for my next adventure to start.
Ten years of hustling as a real estate agent in Florida and I thought I was living the high life.
One death changed everything.
A horn honked behind me, and a chorus of them started around me.
If the line of cars in front of me didn't get moving, I was going to be late for my final meeting with Mr. Collinger, my father's attorney. My wait was over, and the board of directors of the private jet company my father left me in his will was ready to meet.
My first day as a grown up. I chuckled, but the sound fell flat. Fucking traffic.
A guy got out of his car behind me and walked up to the side of my car, lifting his hand and shaking his fist. His fat face was blood red and looked like a beet that was about to pop. His voice was muffled, but I could still hear him through the glass.
"Move the fuck out of the way. This is a one-way road. Get some help, why don't ya? God!" He screamed a little more and walked back to his car like a small child storming away from being told no.
Get some help? What the hell was going on?
I got out of my car and rose up on my toes to see a vehicle with its hazard lights flashing about four cars ahead. There was no way that car was getting in the other lane. The oncoming traffic wouldn't allow for that. The line of cars along the road on our right didn't offer any reprieve either.
"Shit," I mumbled and got back into my car. I pressed the number for the lawyer's office and explained that I would be a few minutes late. Accident. They were pleasant enough.
The second I got a chance, I pulled over into a parking spot along the street and pulled my tie off. My father, though pretty fucking hands off with us boys when we were growing up taught us one thing — help when you're needed.
I jogged up the right side of the car and walked slowly in front of the stopped car. The elderly woman in the front seat had her face in her hands, and her narrow shoulders shook. She had to have been terrified.
Kneeling beside her driver's window, I tapped softly.
She jerked back and gave me a look that confirmed my suspicions. I lifted my hands and offered the nicest smile I could muster.
"I'm just here to help." I waited patiently while she dabbed her face with a Kleenex and rolled down the window.
Her voice was tight and almost a whisper. "The car won't move, and all of these people are honking at me. I don't know what to do. I'm lost."
"It's okay," I responded softly. "How about you put the car in neutral and steer for me. I'll push us to the next block, and you can pull over. We'll call a tow truck or your insurance maybe?"
"Really? I feel so horrible, but I have anxiety, and my husband," she paused and pressed the tissue to her eyes.
I touched her shoulder. "Hey, it's okay. Let's get you off the road and away from these asshats, okay?"
She sniffled but chuckled too. "Okay. Thank you, young man."
"No thanks needed. Turn when I say to, okay?" I pressed my shoulder against the door and waited for her to pop the big old Buick into neutral. Thirty minutes and four blocks later, she was on the side of a much less busy street, and I was covered in sweat, my right shoulder aching like a bitch.
"Let me give you something. Please." She got out of the car, her features more relaxed.
"No. Not a chance." I glanced down at my watch, not meaning to. Bad habit.
"You're late for something. Let me call your boss for you. What you did over there meant the world to me." Her eyes filled with tears again.
"No one to call." I smiled. "I already told them I'd be a little late. I'll wait here with you and —"
"You will not. Get to where you need to be, and thank you." She sniffled and pulled her shoulders back as if she were trying her damnedest to be brave. "My Henry died a few days ago, and I was just coming back from the funeral. I think when the car stopped, it all came crashing down, but you saved me. Thank you, son."
I nodded as my heart tightened. My father had passed a month before, and where it wasn't as soft of a story as the woman in front of me, it still brought back its fair share of pain.
"I'm glad I was here." I gave her a quick hug since she was going in for one anyway.
A slow jog back to my car, and I was headed to see my father's lawyer and back on track.
Life was beyond fucked up at times, but one thing I knew I would never have to face was the heartache on that woman's face. I wasn't falling in love. I'd seen it not work enough times to know better.
"Nope. Not me," I mumbled and pulled out into the line of cars steadily moving in the direction of my future.
* * *
"Mr. Collinger. Sorry I'm late." I shook his hand.
He pursed his lips and nodded before responding. "I am too. This is going to have to be quick. You know, your father had many faults as all great men in power do, but he was never disrespectful of someone else's time. Might be something to think about."
I bit my tongue. I'd have helped the elderly woman ten times over whether it meant being late or losing a bank full of money. This asshole lawyer didn't have a clue what he was talking about, but then again, most people didn't.
"I'll chew on that." I sat down at a long conference room table, the same one my three brothers and I had sat at not a month earlier to hear the reading of the will. Hawke got the art gallery which was fitting. He was a street spray painting artist himself. He was the only one of the group that had started running his inherited business. My oldest brother, Zak got the construction company and the wildest, Lars got a high-end body shop for luxury vehicles. Zak was all about it, but Lars was still fighting having to move from sunny California to rainy Seattle.
"Good. Now, have you heard from your fourth brother? Jagger? We still haven't been in contact with him." The guy lifted an eyebrow and stared me down like I'd fucked his daughter on their living room floor the night before.
I held back a chuckle. "No. He's off the grid like we mentioned before. He's probably not going to take his inheritance. He's a mountain man of sorts." The chuckle escaped.
Henry ran his eyes over me and tilted his head to the side. "You look like you ran a few miles in your suit. Something happen this morning?"
"Just helped someone out of a bad situation. Let's get to this so I don't waste any more of your time today, Mr. Collinger."
He cleared his throat and glanced down at the folder in front of him. "Yes. Of course. The board of directors will be ready for you next Monday to come and introduce yourself. The top floor of the Williams building has been cleared for your office. Feel free to do what you like to make yourself at home. This was one of the few businesses where your father was quite hands on. He loved this company." He glanced up and gave me an odd look. "You must have been his favorite?"
I chuckled. "I tell my brothers that, so yeah, maybe."
"Good enough." He worked through the various details and numbers that he felt I might need, as well as a short list of people working in executive management for the company.
My mind wandered as he droned on. My little brother, Hawke had set up the art gallery and done amazing things over the last month, including falling in love with the beautiful girl who ran the place before he got there.
What would this crazy ass adventure hold for me?
Wealth? Peace? Contentment? Long nights and a dull social life? Sex and wild parties? It could go either way, left or right or up or down.
"You still with me?" Henry slid a thick stack of papers my way.
"Yes, Sir. Sign on the dotted line?" I took his pen and got after signing my life away. I might have been adopted by Geoffrey and Linda Miles, but I trusted them both to keep my best interests first. They loved me with a passion, and even after death took them from us, they were still setting up my future.
No need to question or fight it. I wanted this company and the opportunity to keep my father's name alive and well.