Life Before Damaged, Volume 5

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Life Before Damaged, Volume 5 Page 7

by H. M. Ward

  Constance continues, “If you agree, we can make all the charges laid against both Peter and Regina disappear and silence the witnesses. It will be as if nothing ever happened and, as an added bonus, we will keep Granz Textiles intact. So, it will remain in your family, to some extent. Say no, and Peter goes to jail, Miss Granz ends up with heavy criminal charges, possibly jail time as well, and Granz Textiles belongs to us completely, to do with it as we will."

  Something doesn’t mesh. Before my father can answer, I speak up. "You’re lying. Something is missing. You haven’t said part of what you want, I can tell. If you have the power to make all of this go away, to buy the witness' silence, keep Pete out of jail AND take over Granz Textiles, why don't you? You don’t need us.”

  Daddy snaps his fingers at me, but I don’t stop talking. “Regina.”

  “What do we have that you want so badly and that you can’t get without our consent?"

  “Regina!” Father yells, “Enough!”

  Mrs. Ferro disregards my father’s outburst completely and gives me a glance that could be the closest thing to admiration I’ve ever seen from her. Her brow lifts and I can practically hear her thinking smart girl. "You are very shrewd, Miss Granz, and I admire your strength of character.”

  Every little bit of her is conniving and strategic. Every word that drips from her mouth is bait set in a trap and I’m determined not to fall into it, that is, until she answers my question, “I also admire your sense of loyalty. You want to know what you have that I so desperately want? It’s you, Miss Granz. I want you.”

  "What?!?" Pete, my dad, and I all exclaim in unison.

  This is the first time Pete has spoken up since he admitted what he’s done.

  His mother laughs and sets her tea cup down on the table next to her. “Don’t look so surprised, Miss Granz. You know I want you to work for me and the offer still stands. Once I have you sitting in your father’s seat as CEO of Granz Textiles, it will be as if nothing ever happened. Well, except that the company will be owned by Ferro Corp. Just be thankful I intercepted the paparazzi before this became headline news.”

  She reaches back into her briefcase and hands a stack of pictures to my dad. “Just think of the scandal this would have been. Regina Granz seen selling corporate information to Ferro Corp only weeks before the takeover.” She’s all smiles now.

  “What? I never... Dad! Don’t believe her! She’s lying!”

  “Really? Then explain this!” My dad tosses the stack of pictures at me. They hit me and scatter, falling to the floor. When I stoop to pick up the pictures, I see myself with Pete and we’re in the middle of what looks like a heated embrace. It was from that first night at Ricky’s club when we were dancing. Another picture shows Mrs. Ferro and I sitting at a table, a manila envelope being exchanged from one set of hands to the other. The picture is incriminating, making it look like I’ve been secretly dealing with the Ferros behind my dad’s back. It doesn’t matter that it’s not what happened.

  “Dad, you have to believe me. She tricked me into having lunch with her. She wanted to offer me a job. Those were application forms in the envelope. I turned her down. Why would I do this to you?”

  “I don’t know, Regina. Why do you do anything? For yourself. With complete disregard for your family.” Dad doesn’t look at me and when he talks, it’s as if he’s talking to a stranger. “Is this your way of getting back at me because I didn’t let you sit in on those meetings? Is that what this is? Are you really that vindictive that you’d sell out your own flesh and blood? You’ve betrayed this family one too many times Regina. As of this day you are no longer my daughter. You’re dead to me.”

  My legs give way and I’m lucky to be standing in front of a chair because otherwise my ass would be on the floor. My mom sits there stunned. I take her hand and squeeze it. Thankfully, she doesn’t let go. I need her support right now.

  Everything is coming apart.

  Constance cuts in, “You will do no such thing, Mr. Granz. Not if you want your company to stay somewhat in your family. Disown your daughter and you lose everything.” Mrs. Ferro stays cool, calm and collected, almost emotionless. She could be ordering her house staff around or picking her toe nails and it would be just as exciting.

  "Now, if you agree to my proposal, Ferro Corp will keep Granz Textiles intact, placing Regina at the head of the company as soon as she finishes her graduate studies. We will make sure Granz Textiles will go down your family line through your daughter’s lineage. On our side, we will destroy any evidence linking either Peter or Regina to the warehouse incident, keeping them both clean and out of jail.”

  Looking her in the eye, I ask, “You haven’t told us what you want us to agree to. All of this because you want me as CEO of my family’s company? It just doesn’t make any sense. And how does that keep the company in my family line if it’s owned by Ferro Corp?”

  “Regina. In the public eye, you are immaculate, completely unsullied. Everybody loves you. My son, on the other hand, well, let's just say that he’s slowly becoming a social pariah and could use some polishing. He could benefit greatly from associating with someone as pristine as you and with such strength of character, especially now that he’s the heir. Thanks to my loving family, the Ferro name is becoming tarnished and I will not have it.”

  “What are you saying?” I repeat.

  With a triumphant smile, Mrs. Ferro drops the bomb. “If you agree, Granz Textiles will return to the Granz family in the form of a wedding gift to your husband, which he will then pass down to your first child.”

  She wants to give a gift to Anthony? I’m lost. I can’t see the two by four coming at my head, but I know it’s there. I feel it. Mrs. Ferro stands, and steps closer to Peter. She puts a hand on his arm.

  When she turns to look at me, my blood curdles. “Miss Granz, let me be the first to congratulate you on your recent engagement.”

  “Wait, what?” I stutter, shocked.

  Her eyes zone in on the diamond ring on my left hand and, with a wry smile, she adds, “Of course we’ll have to replace that bobble with a Ferro wedding ring. It’s far too petite to be something a Ferro woman would wear.”

  Pete’s brows are mashed together and he’s holding his breath, like he didn’t see this part coming either. The man knows better than to interrupt, but not me.

  “A Ferro what-now?” I lean in closer, like she’s speaking pig-latin and I just can’t understand.

  “You’re engaged to my son,” she smirks, “as of right now. He proposed. You said yes. Welcome to the family, dear."





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