Everywhere and Every Way

By: Jennifer Probst

Cal wiped the thought of his brothers out of his head, readjusted his hard hat, and continued his quick walk-through. In the past year, Pierce Brothers Construction had grown, but Cal refused to sacrifice quality over his father’s constant need to be the biggest firm in the Northeast.

On cue, his phone shrieked, and he punched the button. “Yeah?”

“Cal? Something happened.”

The usually calm voice of his assistant, Sydney, broke over the line. In that moment, he knew deep in his gut that everything would change, like the flash of knowledge before a car crash, or the sharp cut of pain before a loss penetrated the brain. Cal tightened his grip on the phone and waited. The heat of the morning pressed over him. The bright blue sky, streaked with clouds, blurred his vision. The sounds of Aerosmith, drills, and hammers filled his ears.

“Your father had a heart attack. He’s at Harrington Memorial.”

“Is he okay?”

Sydney paused. The silence told him everything he needed to know and dreaded to hear. “You need to get there quick.”

“On my way.”

Calling out quickly to his team, he ripped off his hat, jumped into his truck, and drove.

A mass of machines beeped, and Cal tried not to focus on the tubes running into his father’s body in an attempt to keep him alive. They’d tried to keep him out by siccing Security on him and making a scene, but he refused to leave until they allowed him to stand beside his bed while they prepped him for surgery.

Christian Pierce was a hard, fierce man with a force that pushed through both opposition and people like a tank. At seventy years old, he’d only grown more grizzled, in both body and spirit, leaving fear and respect in his wake but little tenderness. Cal stared into his pale face while the machines moved up and down to keep breath in his lungs and reached out tentatively to take his father’s hand.

“Get off me, for God’s sake. I’m not dying. Not yet.”

Cal jerked away. His father’s eyes flew open. The familiar coffee-brown eyes held a hint of disdain at his son’s weakness, even though they were red rimmed and weary. Cal shoved down the brief flare of pain and arranged his face to a neutral expression. “Good, because I want you to take over the Weatherspoons. They’re a pain in my ass.”

His father grunted. “I need some future political favors. Handle it.” He practically spit at the nurse hovering and checking his vitals. “Stop poking me. When do I get out of here?”

The pretty blonde hesitated. Uh-oh. His father was the worst patient in the world, and he bit faster than a rattlesnake when cornered. Already he looked set to viciously tear her to verbal pieces while she seemed to be gathering the right words to say.

Cal saved her by answering. “You’re not. Doctor said you need surgery to unblock some valves. They’re sending you now.”

His father grunted again. “Idiot doctor has been wanting me to go under the knife for years. He just wants to make money and shut me up. He’s still bitching I overcharged him on materials for his house.”

“You did.”

“He can afford it.”

Cal didn’t argue. He knew the next five minutes before his father was wheeled into surgery were vital. He’d already been told by the serious-faced Dr. Wang that it wouldn’t be an easy surgery. Not with his father’s heart damage from the last attack and the way he’d treated his body the past few years. Christian liked his whiskey, his cigars, and his privacy. He thought eating healthy and walking on treadmills were for weaklings. When he was actually doing the construction part of the business, he’d been in better shape, but the last decade his father had faded to the office work and wheeling and dealing behind the scenes.

“I’m calling Tristan and Dalton. They need to know.”

In seconds, his father raged at him in pure fury. “You will not. Touch that fucking phone and I’ll wipe you out of my will.”

Cal gave him a hard stare, refusing to flinch. “Go ahead. Been looking to work at Starbucks anyway.”

“Don’t mock me. I don’t want to deal with their guilt or bullshit. I’ll be fine, and we both know it.”

“Dad, they have a right to know.”

“They walked out on me. They have a right to know nothing.” A thin stream of drool trickled from his mouth. Cal studied the slow trek, embarrassed his father couldn’t control it. Losing bodily functions would be worse than death for his father. He needed to come out of this surgery in one whole piece, or he didn’t know what would happen.

Ah, shit, he needed to call his brothers. His father made a mule look yogic. They might have had a falling-out and not spoken for too long, but they were still family. The hell with it. He’d contact them as soon as his father went into surgery—it was the right thing to do.

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