Everywhere and Every Way

By: Jennifer Probst

“Yes, he would,” Caleb said softly. His brothers turned to stare at him. “He’s always wanted the final word. Now he’s got it. If we don’t play by his rules, we’ll lose everything we’ve worked for.”

Dalton groaned, rubbing his forehead. “This is insane. We haven’t worked together in years. Tristan and I have our own stuff going on.”

An uncomfortable silence settled around them. In minutes, his whole future had blown up. His identity and livelihood was tangled within the company, and the idea of losing it brought a faint rush of panic. How should he play it? His brothers had taken leave years ago and couldn’t care less. They’d opened up their own businesses and left the past behind. He’d done everything right, followed in his father’s footsteps, and gotten fucked.

“I guess we dissolve the company,” Tristan finally said. “There seems to be no other choice. I’m sorry, Caleb. I have no other suggestions.”

Caleb appreciated the gleam of regret in his brother’s eyes, but it wasn’t enough. He was the one with everything to lose, and it was up to him to convince them they could have it all. He leaned forward. “Hear me out. I know you’re ready to call it quits. I know you’re pissed off that I didn’t call you about Dad and never had time to say good-bye. I made a big mistake, but I swear to God I didn’t do it to hurt you.”

He had their attention. Good. He’d have one shot at this, and he had to be good. “I invested everything in this company. I was promised Pierce Brothers as my future; I stayed by Dad’s side, taking his shit, because I was the only one ready to protect the family business.”

Dalton shot up out of his chair. “Are you kidding me right now? Dad never listened to anyone else but you! Don’t act like you were doing us some big favor or sacrifice for staying. Do you know how many times we tried to get involved? We wanted to be a part of this, too.”

“Bullshit,” Caleb retorted. “You hated taking orders, and you wanted to do whatever you wanted. Instead of listening to a customer’s specs, you’d focus on your current dream project, then get mad when they didn’t want to pay for it!”

“I’m an artist and you never gave me a chance. You drove me out of here.”

“I think sleeping with my fiancée drove you out of town, brother. Not me.”

Caleb could tell that it still stung, but Dalton kept to the script he’d been repeating for years. “I didn’t sleep with her! I just wanted to prove she wouldn’t be faithful.”

“Thanks. I was real grateful.”

“Shut up,” Tristan commanded. “Everyone calm down. Let’s stick to the facts. We can’t even stay in the same room together, let alone run a company. We have no other choice.”

Caleb clenched his jaw. “There’s always a choice. I’m asking you to help me. Years ago, you wanted to bring real estate and renovation to Pierce Brothers. You can do it now. Open up and run your own business as part of the company. No interference from me.”

Tristan blew out a breath and began pacing. Dyken watched the whole scene with quiet interest. “Real convenient. When I brought it up to Dad, he nixed it, and you backed him up. Now that you want something, you’re happy to give me what I’d been fighting for. It’s too late.”

“Dad was never gonna bend, Tristan. I knew that, and even though you saw it as a betrayal, I was trying to save you from a bunch of crap. We have the power now to run the company our way. I know we have to do it together, and we haven’t had a real conversation in years, but we can do this. Hell, it’ll be a lot easier than you think. With the senator’s job, and the other projects I just finished, we’ll make plenty of money to be called profitable. All we have to do is ride out the year.”

Dyken cleared his throat with a loud emphasis. “Umm, you misunderstood, Caleb. Your father put in a specific clause that states profits begin the official day you begin working together. In other words, no previous projects or funding will be counted. You start with a clean slate.”

The tiny flicker of hope smothered and died. He hated himself even more for the frustration that believed there could possibly be a way out. No. Christian would’ve made sure every loophole was closed in order to suffocate them properly.

Dalton gave a bitter laugh. “See! You’re just as delusional as Dad. That means we’d start out with a big fat zero. You know why he set this up? To laugh at us and watch us fail. Don’t you know that by now, Caleb? Are you that far gone that you still want Dad’s approval and will sell your soul for it?”

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