Always knowing I’d face off with Arch Winslow didn’t truly prepare me for a confrontation with him.
His gaze circles the sprawling, expensively decorated office, focusing on anything but me. He shows the power he wields through arrogant displays of wealth and authority and hatred boils in my gut until it threatens to consume me.
Everything from the Parnian desk to the van Gogh artwork to the Persian rugs announce to all who pass through the monochromatic corner office that Arch is an important man who can have the finer things in life. If this is how his office is decorated, I can only imagine his penthouse.
His body language screams confrontation, making it clear he never wanted to see me again. Yet here I am, a common plebeian in his sacred kingdom. “I’m not sure what you’re expecting from me.”
How can he look me in the eye and say that? “Restitution.”
Arch stands behind his imposing desk while I sit before it, a power play if I’ve ever experienced one. Despite our massive class difference, or perhaps because of it, he’s uneasy, at least a little bit, which inflates my confidence.
“It’s been years—” Arch starts.
“And I can see you’ve done a fine job moving on, sir. Unfortunately, my family hasn’t had that luxury.” He bristles at the interruption and weaker men likely cower in his presence while defaulting to saying, ‘yes boss.’
My eyes skirt to the photographs of Arch shaking hands with the who’s who of New York City and it’s clear he’s earned his place among the elite on the back of my family.
Arch sighs. “Look, I paid your mother a fair market price, which was more than reasonable given the circumstances.” A vein in his jaw tics, another hint that he isn’t over the betrayal from the past either.
“Fair market price?” Indignation has me half-rising to my feet and ready to pummel him senseless. Years of practice reining in my natural instincts allows me to breathe through the red haze consuming my vision. “Are you fucking kidding me right now?”
Arch makes a show of checking his Patek Philippe watch worth more than my house. “You showed up unannounced, and I made time for you, son, despite not having any to spare.”
My teeth grit against the familiarity of the endearment. When I was still knee-high to a grasshopper, Arch could have called me son, but not now. Not after he took my father away from me and then destroyed what was left of my broken family.
My eyes narrow, but Arch holds up a hand. “If you came for money, you won’t be leaving with any. If you came for an apology, remember it was your father who should have apologized to me. I’ve been more than generous, but my patience has run out.”
I’m not looking for a handout, only justice. Arch screwed my family over at our weakest and most vulnerable, an unforgivable act. As a child, I couldn’t do a damn thing. Now, though, I can make it right. He can make it right so my kid brother, Brandon, doesn’t repeat my childhood.