King:Las Vegas Bad Boys(10)

By: Frankie Love

My chest tightens. Retirement? I’d always assumed it was in the far-away future for my father, although my mum has been prodding him to take a step back from he empire for years. But retire now? Passing on the business? This I did not expect.

“You’re passing it on to Geoffrey?”

“Don’t assume anything, Landon. I haven’t made up my mind. You and Geoffrey have equal holdings in the company now, but I need one man’s name on the paper. The president and CEO. Need one of my sons in charge; I’m not interested in passing on The King’s Diamond to some willy-nilly chap who’s been working up the corporate ladder. No. I want one of my boys to take over what was once a small enterprise.”

“But doesn’t Geoffrey work for you now? Surely he’s the front-runner. This seems like an unnecessary step, really.”

“No,” my father says sternly. “I haven’t given anything to Geoffrey. Sure, he has experience with this business ... but I need my successor to really care about people. To care about each diamond, and whose hand will wear that wedding ring or that necklace, to know why each purchase is special, signifies love and commitment.”

This is the point where my father can drone on and on for days about diamonds representing something solid, unbreakable. Representing love. How The King’s Diamond is more than a jewelry store, how it’s an opportunity to be a part of the greatest moments of someone’s life.

He’s still talking, and I try to concentrate, mostly hung up on the fact that he’s considering me as his successor. Is he serious?

“You know how much I want you to succeed,” he says. “I want you to put some real heart into your life. Well, I need you to come home and show me what sort of man you are.”

I’m grateful that my father hasn’t learned what Face Time is, or he’d see my aggressive eye roll, notice the way my fingers grip the steering wheel.

Is this is motherfucking joke?

“Do you know me at all, father?” I snort.

“I do, Landon. At least, I know what sort of boy you were, before this mess. Before your stint in rehab, before you ran off with that dancer. Before you landed in Vegas for the past several years drinking and gambling away my money.”

The call goes silent. My jaw clenches as I listen to his recounting of my early twenties. I don’t need him reminding me of my past.

“But I don’t think that’s who you are anymore. Or, at least, I believe in you, son. Now, I want you to come home and show me what sort of man you are.”

I don’t want to fight with him. He isn’t that macho-aggressive sort of man, the kind who bullies and pushes to get what he wants. My father is a good man, and he seems to see something in me.

But I don’t know why.

“Look, I’ll think about, but things are busy here, I don’t know if leaving in a few days is gonna work,” I tell him. The last thing I want to do is show up in Hertfordshire and remind everyone what a fucking failure I am.

In the gym, sweat runs down my back. McQueen’s personal trainer JoJo has given me a run for my fucking money.

Throwing the boxing gloves on a bench, I grab a towel.

“You’re a beast. You know that, right?” I ask her.

“That’s what all the boys say,” she teases. Her long, red hair is wild and free, and from the body in her tight little shorts, I can tell she’s strong. Fierce. I won’t mess with a woman like her.

McQueen though, doesn’t know what’s good for him.

“So, you wanna come to a poker game tonight?” he asks her.

“Hey,” I say, punching him in the shoulder. “What the fuck? That’s a men-only game.”

“But JoJo is one of the guys,” he says, shrugging.

I see JoJo stiffen at the assessment, and I try to read the silent language going on between them. I can’t tell who wants whom.

“JoJo is most certainly not one of the guys.” And she’s not. Her little tits are perky and her ass is tight.

“Fine.” McQueen smiles coyly. “We’ll hit it a different night, JoJo. Maybe you can come over and teach me some new moves.”

“We’ll see about that, won’t we?” she says, laughing, waving us off toward the locker rooms.