Everywhere and Every Way

By: Jennifer Probst

Samuel Dyken, lawyer extraordinaire, droned on as he read from lengthy paperwork and used legal jargon like a ninja used throwing stars. Finally he looked up and cleared his throat. Caleb caught a strange wariness in his gaze. A tingle began at the base of Caleb’s spine, spreading outward and warning of something bad to come. Dyken neatened the stack of papers in front of him and took a deep breath. “Now I’ve come to the new agreement your father put in his will. It affects all of you in a rather large way.”

Dalton rolled his eyes. “Whatever. I don’t need anything of his anyway. I’ve been fine on my own.”

Tristan nodded. “I think we all agree we want nothing to do with Pierce Brothers and will happily sign it all over to Caleb.”

The words should’ve made Dyken happy, but he looked like someone had just overturned his winning verdict. He seemed to choose his words carefully. “Unfortunately, that won’t be possible. There are new terms to the agreement of Caleb keeping Pierce Brothers.”

The tingle got worse. He shifted in his chair. “What did the son of a bitch do now?”

Dyken winced. “He changed the terms of the will one year ago. The company originally would’ve been split among the three of you with an option to buy out the others’ portions. There is no longer that option.”

Dalton leaned forward with an impatient breath. “What are the options?”

“The company is not allowed to be split among the three of you. In order to inherit Pierce Brothers, all of you must run the company together as co-owners.”

Caleb heard the words, but his brain had put up a barrier. Probably to protect him from losing his shit and going straight down to hell to kick his father’s ass. It had to be a mistake. His brothers were staring at Dyken with comical half-opened mouths. Yeah, they’d been gone a long time. They weren’t used to their father’s tricks or viper meanness, even after death.

“What are the terms?” he asked briskly. “And how do we get out of it?”

Dyken held up his upturned palms. “The terms state all three of you must live in the house together and run Pierce Brothers for one year. If the company makes a profit—I have specifics on what he termed successful—you can all decide to sell your shares and leave. If the company is not profitable after a year, it gets dissolved without recourse.”

“Guess we’re going to court,” Tristan said simply. “Dad must’ve been out of his mind when he wrote that.”

Dyken spoke up. “Christian made sure every loophole was tight and would hold up in court. I’ve been over this with him countless times, and he was sane, logical, and determined. He wants all of his sons involved in the business or none at all. I’m sorry, gentlemen. I truly am.”

Caleb stared at the shiny pen slowly rolling across the desk. Embossed with gold, with elegant scrolls over the black, it caught the light and gave him something to focus on while he tried to fight through the waves of emotion tugging at the lockbox, raging to escape.

He’d had a difficult relationship with his father. There had been little warmth in Caleb’s life after he lost his mother, and even less when his brothers split up and refused to talk to him. But there was one thing he’d been proud of for the past five years. His role in the company. Caleb had taken the reins and proved his worth, with every ounce of blood and sweat, and not an ounce of tears. His father pushed, demanded, insulted, but Caleb believed in his heart it was done to make him a better man. There was no one else to give the reins to and teach the business from the ground up. In a way, by staying to do his father’s bidding, he’d allowed his brothers to carve out their own paths, and he rarely spent time on regrets. He loved building houses—creating a new home for someone ran thick in his blood. The company was Christian’s favorite child, and everything was sacrificed for the greater good of Pierce Brothers. He’d believed he had earned his father’s respect, which was more important than any familial love.

Now he knew that had been a lie, too.

Because his father had despised him so much, he’d give up his beloved company in order to dick around playing God. It was his last manipulation from the grave. A way to control each of them on his own terms, without care to their wants or individual paths.

Blessed numbness finally took hold. The pen dropped off the table and fell to the cushioned floor without a sound. Caleb looked up.

“If we refuse to live and work together for a year, the company is dissolved?”

Dyken nodded.

Tristan shook his head. “It doesn’t make sense. It’s been in the family for generations! The company is worth millions—Christian would never give up all that money.”

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