Atlas (Billionaire Titans)By: Alison Ryan
“Sorry I’m late,” I said, insincerely. I didn’t give a damn that I’d made my father wait almost an hour for me to show up. He wasn’t used to waiting for anyone. I needed to keep him humble.
“Sure you are, Atlas,” my father, Emerson Titan, responded sarcastically. “You do this every month.”
I shrugged, “Something came up. What’re you gonna do, right?”
He cocked one eyebrow at me. He was very good at that little move and I could tell he wasn’t all that mad anyway. My guess is he’d had at least a few cocktails and at least one platter of raw oysters as he waited for me at Old Ebbitt Grill, his favorite place to have lunch in DC. We met here at least once every couple months to catch up on things.
My old man liked to keep a close eye on my brothers and me.
Which is kind of funny being that I’d dwarfed my father in height since the eighth grade. I had at least fifty pounds of muscle on him. People could have easily mistaken me for one of his myriad bodyguards. So it was funny he still thought of himself as my protector.
“Anyway,” he started. “I haven’t heard from you much lately. How’s New York?”
I smiled, taking a long swig of my bourbon and water, “Dad, I haven’t lived in New York in like three months. I told you that last time. I’m in San Fran mostly these days. Though I might head to London after Christmas.”
Dad chuckled, “You’re too fast for me, son. But that’s the way to do it. Never stay in one place too long. See the world. Have some adventure.” A very cute waitress brought over another stack of raw oysters and Emerson smiled at her as she set them down.
I looked at him, puzzled at his response, “You on something? You’re usually trying to convince me to settle down here in DC. What’s the deal?”
Emerson shook his head, “I’ve given up on trying to convince you to do anything, Atlas. You’re contrarian to a fault. If I tell you I want something for you, you’ll always want the very opposite. So what’s a man to do?” Emerson sucked and then swallowed a large oyster. “I’ve learned to let my sons find out things on their own. With plenty of financial backing, of course.”
“You’ve been good to us, Dad,” I had to admit. Plenty of my wealthy friends had real assholes for fathers. I had done alright with mine.
“I know it’s not always easy being a Titan,” he said. “Especially Atlas. You know, he carried the world on his shoulders.”
I rolled my eyes, “Yes, Dad. I’m well aware.”
I was my father’s oldest son and being that his last name was Titan he thought he was clever naming me Atlas. He also had a fascination with Nordic mythology, so he’d named my younger brother, Odin. We were the only sons of his who shared the same mother. She died of ovarian cancer when I was four and Odin was two. My mother was the one topic my father wouldn’t broach or discuss. With anyone.
He’d been married four times, but his heart would always belong to her.
“Well, I like to remind you,” he said as he sipped his gin martini. “Your name has predestined you, son. And you’ve lived up to it, thus far. I’m proud of you.”
I was uncomfortable with his sudden demonstrative affections. It must’ve been all the martinis.
“Yep,” I replied. I glanced around the restaurant, desperate to start a new topic. “So what’s going on today? You were pretty insistent on the time and place.”
Dad smiled, “Well, I have a favor to ask.”
I sighed. He’d been attempting to butter me up with all this talk of how proud he was of me. Now it made sense. Not that I doubted it was true, but it wasn’t like my father to say these things unless he wanted something.
“What is it?” I asked as the waitress placed another bourbon next to me, quietly swiping the other one away.
“Well, you remember Piper,” Dad said. “Maureen’s daughter.”
“Maureen. Haven’t heard you mention her in a long while,” I said.
Maureen Kipton. My father married her ten years ago when I was a junior at Georgetown. She was a small-time news anchor at the time, a hot little blonde he’d met at a gala hosted by Titan Enterprises. Maureen was a single mother to her daughter, Piper, who was twelve when her mom married my dad. I hadn’t paid much attention to either of them since I was off on my own by then. Their marriage had only lasted a couple of years. Once Maureen was promoted to the bigger leagues of network anchoring, she left my dad in the dust and shipped poor Piper off to boarding school. Now Maureen was one of the big time anchors on NBC, the journalist that always showed up to the latest national disaster or tragic event. I imagined it was hard for my dad to see her face all over the place, not that he would ever admit it.