Home to Laura - By Mary Sullivan
“WHAT DID YOU do to my granddaughter?” Mort Sanderson stormed into Nick Jordan’s office, indignation pouring from him like lava.
Nick took his time placing his pen beside the documents he’d been perusing and struggled to remain calm. Mort’s behavior was becoming more erratic with age. Sure, Nick could handle it, but Mort’s eccentricities didn’t belong in the office.
He also wished Mort would keep Nick’s private life out of here, too. He worked hard to separate the two.
Mort was Nick’s boss. He was also his father-in-law. Ex-father-in-law.
Too late, Nick had learned the danger of mixing his personal life with business.
He pointed toward the office door. “Would you mind closing that so this conversation can remain private?”
Mort stepped into the room and slammed the door.
That should impress the two clients in the waiting room, Nick thought. Thank you, Mort.
“What’s wrong with Emily?” Nick asked.
“She called me last night in tears.”
“What?” Nick shot out of his chair. “Why? What’s wrong?”
“She’s not happy with you.”
Not happy with him? Why not? Old, familiar acid churned in his gut. His stomach troubles had started with his ex-wife’s defection to another man. Was he about to lose his daughter, too?
Emily hadn’t said a word to him about being unhappy. He reached for the phone and dialed his home number before realizing Emily would still be at school.
His daughter had called Mort in tears.
You should have been there for her. She shouldn’t have to go to her grandfather.
“What did she say?” he asked.
“That you ignore her and never have time for her.”
“I work hard.” Nick owned a beautiful home in a good neighborhood. Emily attended a private school. Every Christmas, he sent her to visit her mother. “That’s what a man does to support his family.”
“My granddaughter deserves to be happy,” Mort shouted, leaning his fists onto Nick’s desk. If he were a tall man, he would loom over Nick, but at five-five, Mort had learned to use the force of his personality to intimidate. At the moment, he leaned close enough for Nick to count the red spider veins on his cheeks—and to smell alcohol on his breath. Damn. It wasn’t yet noon, too early for Mort to be drinking.
After Mort left the office, Nick would get his assistant to find out where he would have to do damage control.
What was happening to Mort? When had he started this slide into...what? Self-indulgence? Self-pity? Where was the astute businessman Nick used to admire, used to emulate? Nick was the one making all of the big decisions in the company these days.
If that involved putting out too many fires that Mort started and not enough time on creativity and problem-solving—the things Nick loved—so be it. That was the cost of running a large corporation—and a small price to pay for the money he raked in.
His stomach roiling, he stared at Mort, eerily afraid that he might be peering into the crystal ball of his future. No way did he want his life reduced to a string of wives and endless days of drinking, of depending on others to fix his mistakes.
How could Nick stop that future for himself? He didn’t know when Mort’s slide had started, or how.
“You couldn’t make Marsha happy.” Mort interrupted his thoughts. “Now you can’t keep Emily happy.”
“Enough,” Nick shouted, anger spurred on by fear that this might be a problem even he didn’t know how to fix. What then? What would happen to Emily? “How is this any different from you? You’re on your fifth wife. Marsha complained about how little attention you gave her as a child. Keep your damn hypocrisy to yourself and stay the hell out of my relationship with my daughter.”
“It’s different because Marsha is my daughter and Emily my granddaughter.”
“Each of your wives was someone’s daughter and granddaughter.”
“That’s beside the point. I want Emily to be happy. That’s your job.”
Nick mimicked Mort, leaning his fists on his desk and pushing forward into Mort’s face. “That hasn’t been my only job, has it? You’ve never once complained when I worked nights and weekends on end to bring in new clients or to complete your projects, have you?” The unfairness of the man’s criticism burned.
“You’ve been my mentor,” Nick continued. “You taught me how to deal in business. I’m following your example. You’re the reason I am the way I am.” He silenced a voice that nagged, that’s not completely true. You wanted so much. You were an ambitious SOB. Mort fit into your plan. “I ignored Marsha and Emily because