Illusions begin, p.4
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       Illusions Begin, p.4

           N.L. Greene

  Chapter Two

  He turned to face her, a wide smile instantly taking over his older, but still handsome face. “There’s my girl,” he declared proudly as he spread his arms wide and waited for her to step into them.

  When she did so, her fake smile dissolved into one of genuine delight. She loved her father. He was a great man whom she never doubted loved her with his whole heart. Growing up with two parents that owned one of the most prestigious law firms in not only the state but in the Northeast and who were also two of the most sought after attorneys with in that firm, wasn’t easy. But she never wanted for anything. He and her mother raised her well, giving her as much time as they could and always reminding her how much they loved and cherished her. They always explained things to her and tried to make up as best as they could for late nights and long work weeks. They took extended vacations when they were available and they made sure they were home for dinner most nights. It wasn’t always easy and there were times that they let her down, but those were far and few between. Knowing that her father loved her wasn’t the problem. The problem was that he was her boss now and as far as bosses went, in her opinion, he had to be one of the worst.

  He demanded nothing short of perfection when it came to his employees. Now that she was one of those employees, he didn’t pull any punches with her either. It was a side of her father she had never known before and was quickly realizing that she didn’t care for at all. His unyielding requirement of long hours, endless demands, and high expectations were beginning to wear on her last nerve. She had only been working for him for a month. She didn’t know how she was going to last until he retired, in like ten years from when he actually said he would retire.

  Truthfully though, it wasn’t just her father’s demanding work ethic. It was the company as a whole and the job itself. She didn’t want to be a lawyer, she didn’t want to run the law firm, and she definitely didn’t want to do it at Lance’s side. All of which were things that were expected of her. Now wasn’t the time or the place for a repeat of that discussion, so she pulled back with a smile on her face and looked up at her dad’s matching grin.

  “What are you doing here Daddy?”

  “Oh, I just came to check in and see how everything was going with you? I’ve heard nothing but great things about you, but I thought I would come down and see for myself.”

  “Checking up on me huh?” she asked with fake indignation as she let go of him and walked through the doorway to her office. She put her purse in one of the drawers and sat behind her desk. Her father wanted her to start out like every other lawyer did at the firm, from the bottom, but she was still his daughter and he insisted she have a private office. Even though she was sure it was more out of wanting to keep unwanted attention from his baby girl, she definitely wasn’t complaining. She liked the privacy as well as the peace and quiet.

  “Of course I’m checking up on you. What kind of father would I be if I didn’t make sure you were doing okay down here?” She raised an eyebrow at him. “Okay, okay. And what kind of boss would I be if I didn’t make sure my biggest asset wasn’t fitting in and learning the ropes?”

  “That’s more like it,” she said as she powered up her laptop.

  “Katherine Rebecca, you know I only want what’s best for you and your future, both of which hinge on this law firm. It has been in our family for almost one hundred years…”

  She cut him off. “I know daddy, you’ve told me a million times. Great-grandpa Wellington started the firm from nothing and our family has built it into the empire it is now. His only stipulation, his dying wish, was that it always remains in the family. Being as I’m the last living heir to the empire, it’s all on me. I get it.” She rolled her eyes when she finished with her speech. She really had heard it a million times and it was starting to get old. She understood her responsibility to her family, even if she hated it with every fiber in her body.

  “Oh pumpkin, I know it’s a lot to live up to but your mother and I have every faith that you will be even more successful than we have been. Besides, it will give me peace of mind after I’m long and dead, knowing that you’re okay.”

  “Daddy!” she said sternly. She hated it when he played the death card. He may have been almost sixty but he was a strong and healthy sixty. She had every confidence that her father would be around to see his grandchildren. However, that didn’t mean a stab of dread didn’t hit her heart every time she thought of him or her mother not being around any longer. If they were taken away from her now, she would be left all alone and be completely destroyed. They were all she had and she couldn’t imagine her life without them in it.

  “What?” her father tried to give her an innocent look. “You can’t blame a father for trying can you?” He chuckled and moved behind her to give her shoulders a light squeeze.

  “You are incorrigible, you know that?”

  “So your mother tells me.” He sighed, but she could hear the love in that heavy sigh. Her parents may have married as a business deal between their families, but over the last thirty years their marriage had grown into much more than that. In fact, she hadn’t seen two people who were more devoted to each other. They spent as much time together as their work permitted and always seemed to find a reason to talk to each other in between. When they were in the same room, they always found some excuse to touch or be near one another. It was actually really romantic. Becky could only pray that someday she would find someone to love that deeply and that reciprocated that love, just the way her parents did. Right now the possibility seemed impossible.

  “So other than checking up on me,” she smiled at his sheepish look “what did you need?”

  “Well…” he hesitated and she braced herself. He only did that when he was asking for something he knew she would not like. “Your mother is having a dinner party this weekend and she asked that you come.”

  She narrowed her eyes. There was more. She waited.

  He blew out a breath. “The Huntington’s will be there.”

  “No,” she stated simply then turned to her laptop and began checking her e-mail. She wasn’t even reading what she was opening but she refused to make eye contact with her father. He would try to persuade her to go and she would not bend on this. She knew what her mother and Mrs. Huntington were up to and it would not work. There was nothing and no one that could make her even entertain the idea of reconciling with Lance, ever. Furthermore, she had no intention of putting herself in a situation where she would be badgered by her mother and his mother at the same time. Was. Not. Happening.

  It was silent for a few moments but she could feel her father studying her. Then he moved closer to her chair and crouched down beside her, turning her chair to face him. “Is there more to this Lance thing that you haven’t told me Katherine Rebecca?”

  She wanted to tell him about what happened, how Lance had cheated on her and embarrassed her. She also wanted to tell him that Lance had threatened her and that she was really scared of what he said and how he seemed to be getting angrier and angrier with her, but she just couldn’t. She and Lance’s parents had been friends for years. They genuinely liked each other and she didn’t want to be the cause of a rift between the two families, not if she could take care of the problem herself. She just needed a little more time to figure out how. “No Daddy...” she started to reassure him, but he cut her off.

  “I hope you know that you can tell me anything and I will always believe what you tell me. Do you understand? No one will ever hold my ear over your word.”

  She looked up into his eyes and saw the truth and determination in his statement. She wanted so badly to tell him but she knew she couldn’t. She believed what her father was telling her and knew that he would never doubt what she told him. Even so, she also knew that once her daddy heard the things Lance had said to her, he would not only fire him, but he would ruin him forever. Lance was a complete jerk, but sti
ll she didn’t want him to be ruined and she didn’t want his family to hate her or her parents. She just wanted him to go away. She sighed. “I know that Daddy, but there’s nothing to tell. I just don’t have feelings for him anymore. I don’t want a relationship with him and I just wish mother would stop her prying.”

  “You know how your mother and I ended up together, right? We didn’t love each other at first, but now I cannot imagine my life without her. Don’t you think the same could happen for you and Lance?”

  She started shaking her head before he even finished. “No, Daddy. I am sure. I will never love Lance. I don’t even like him.”

  He narrowed his eyes on her and studied her for a moment longer before standing and placing his hands in his pockets. “Okay. I still don’t think you’re telling me everything, but you are an adult and I will respect your privacy and your feelings. I’ll tell your mother you have plans for Saturday evening, but…” he removed one of his hands from his pocket and pointed sternly at her. “I do expect you for brunch on Sunday young lady.”

  “Yes sir!” she saluted him and then said softly. “Thank you, Daddy.”

  “Anything for you, my love,” he said just as softly before straightening his shoulders. “Now get to work young lady. I expect great things from you.” He winked then strode purposefully down the hall toward the elevators, everyone stepping to the side to clear a path. He may be a slave driver, but everyone that worked for him respected him.

  Turning back to her laptop, she scrolled back to the top of her e-mails so she could re-read all the ones she had already opened but couldn’t remember the content. Since she was returning from a weekend, her inbox contained almost a thousand new messages. Most of them were requests for advice on whether or not they needed an attorney or the cost involved in retaining their services. She hit delete on every single one of those.

  Wellington and Wellington was not like most law firms. They didn’t have a website with a form that people could fill out and get free advice and they didn’t give price quotes via e-mail. No, they were one of the top law firms in New York and only took clients on a referral basis, which they didn’t even do often. In fact, most of their clients were inherited through death, passed from family member to family member. So although Becky scanned each e-mail, just in case something stuck out, she ended up deleting ninety percent of her inbox. Once that was finished, she could focus on the other e-mails that were actually legit and from current clients.

  Still having to go through about a hundred or so more messages, she decided she needed another cup of coffee before tackling the list. She locked her laptop screen and headed to the break room. Thankfully her father was a coffee lover and understood the need for the good kind. He equipped each and every break room in the building with a traditional coffee maker and a cappuccino/espresso machine. It was so nice to get coffee shop quality coffee at work.

  While Becky waited for her drink to brew, she thought about the evening ahead of her. She had heard about a new show that was starting this week and bought a ticket as soon as they went on sale. She purchased one for the very first show, tonight, and made sure it was a front row seat. She was so excited! She just wished she had someone that enjoyed the same things she did so she could share her experiences with them. Life could get really lonely at times and it had been even more so for Becky lately.

  When Lance was pursuing her, she didn’t have much time to think about just how alone she was. Then when that relationship ended, she was so worried about graduating early so she could impress her parents and start working, she didn’t have time for friends or socializing. But now that she was finally finished with school, she realized just how much more free time she had and how she had no one to spend it with. Sadly, it seemed there wasn’t anyone that shared her same hobbies or interests anyway. Everyone she had grown up with was either still in college and studying all the time or out seeing the world and partying constantly. Becky had enough of school with her doubling up the way she had to so as to finish early like her parents wanted her to and the party scene was just not for her. She had tried going out a few times when her and Lance had first broken up, but she found that she was uncomfortable and awkward in the bar/club scenes. She didn’t enjoy drinking and definitely didn’t do any drugs. Plus, she was very inexperienced when it came to men and didn’t enjoy putting herself in uncomfortable situations, which was where she had found herself the two times she let her friends talk her into going out. Now two years had passed and she didn’t even talk to those friends any longer.

  She truly wasn’t complaining though. As sad as it was, she much preferred loneliness to being overwhelmed and uncomfortable. At least she knew what to expect and what to be prepared for. She hadn’t minded Lances company but she had missed being able to do what she wanted. She hadn’t dared tell him of her secret, for fear of him telling her parents or laughing at her. She may be naïve in the world of dating and men, but she wasn’t in the world in general. She knew how odd her interests were. She also knew how disappointed and angry her parents would be if they found out. It didn’t matter that her hobbies and interest were harmless and could be much worse. Most children born of the wealth she was were into drugs or sex, flunking out of school and having to be supported by their parents. It didn’t matter that Becky had graduated three years early from law school, was the model daughter in public, and would allow her parents to bend her to their will and take over the family business. None of that would make a difference.

  This was precisely why Becky didn’t have many friends and why she kept her own company whenever she was away from work and her family. She couldn’t risk anyone letting her secret out because she knew she would deeply regret it if her parents ever found out just how obsessed she was with magic.

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