Pretend Daddy(6)By: Amy Brent
I am a firm believer that the love our family shared was what made us wealthy and not the money we acquired. For that reason, although I’m very proud of how hard you work and all the amazing accomplishments you’ve amounted in your time working for our company, I must admit that it worries me that those will be the only accomplishments in your life. You deserve so much more than just work and money, son. You deserve to be happy and fulfilled in all aspects of your life, and that’s my final fatherly wish for you.
My wish is that you find a nice woman to love. Don’t settle for one of your brainless bedmates just to fulfill the clause in my will—Hank will see through that, and you know it. Instead, find someone who cares more about who you are than about how much money you’ve got, and enjoy being a whole person with her. Have kids and a home that isn’t tidy and perfect all the time. Get a dog and let it sleep in your bed. Go on vacations and turn your damn cell phone off every once in a while.
The company and the money will be waiting for you—for the two of you. And life will be just as you’ve dreamed, only better. Trust me on this, I know.
With all my love,
I read that letter three times, and each time the result was the same. My whole being was filled with a terrible mixture of love, pain, and anger at my dad.
There was a part of me that understood his motivation for forcing me to get married. His marriage to my mother had been one of those fairy tale affairs, and, of course, he wanted that for me as well. However, that was his life and his happiness. It wasn’t mine, and I resented him for forcing me to either lose what I loved most or fake something for his benefit. It was selfish and wrong, and I didn’t want to deal with it.
Pissed and drunk, I shoved the letter back inside the envelope, tucked into my jacket pocket and called my driver to come pick me up. Since my fate now rested in the hands of the board, I was determined to go back to NYC, finish that merger and prove to everyone still alive that my father and his policies were wrong.
Challenging my father’s will wasn’t going to be easy, and I knew it, but the company was all I had now, and despite my dad’s Disney dreams for me, I wasn’t going to let it go because of a stupid rule. No fucking way in hell.
Chapter 3 — Pam
“What are you doing here?” James asked as I walked into the airline’s staff lounge at LAX.
I looked sideways at my friend and smirked at his question. With a raised a brow, I parked my suitcase next to him and gave him a quick peck on the cheek before walking to the counter to collect the paperwork for the flight.
“Working,” I deadpanned in a playful tone that made him roll his hazel eyes.
“Considering you’re in your uniform, I’d say that part is clear.” I chuckled at his usual sarcasm as he continued, “What isn’t clear is why you’re working when you just got back from London this morning.”
I shrugged and turned to look at him. “Lori’s sick with the stomach flu and asked me to cover for her. Since I’m a single mom putting her daughter through college with no financial aid, I can’t refuse extra shifts when they come around.”
“Damn,” James muttered under his breath and stared at me with admiration in his eyes. “I wish my mom had been that committed to my education. Jess is a lucky girl.”
I laughed at his comment and walked back to where my suitcase was waiting beside my friend. “Be sure to tell her that when you see her next. That brat sometimes forgets it.”
James assured me he would do as requested and walked to the coffee machine. Moments later, he returned with two steaming paper cups, and then asked, “Where are you going?”
“JFK,” I replied as I retrieved my much-needed dose of caffeine from his hands.
He rose a brow and gave me a smirk. “Nacional. How long has it been?”
“About three years, but at least I get to serve in first class.”
“Uhhh . . . Fancy!” he teased as we left the lounge and started making our way through the airport to our gates.
As we walked, James babbled about his life. As per usual, I laughed at his drama but still lived vicariously through him. Aside from our age and profession, our lives were complete opposites. While he lived an exciting life filled with lovers and adventure, I lived a dull existence of work and bills. Although I sometimes envied him, I wouldn’t change the life I had with my daughter for anything in the world.