Everywhere and Every Way

By: Jennifer Probst

Caleb flinched. Direct hit. But he had nothing left to lose and had to fight dirty. “Yeah, I know. Let’s just say I’d rather succeed and give him a final fuck-you.”

Tristan turned to Dyken. “Does the will outline whether we need to run the company in a certain way?”

Dyken shook his head. “No, you just need to turn a profit. You need to live in the house together, and you all need to have a part in the company. That takes care of all the obligations.”

“I can’t move back here!” Dalton said. “I’m in California with my own woodworking business.”

“It’s one year, Dalton. Bring the business here and offer your services as part of Pierce Brothers. I’m telling you it’s possible this can work. I’ll find you some ocean to surf.”

“Fuck you!”

Tristan glared. “Caleb, your point is well-taken. It’s not impossible, and we can do this.” His eyes darkened. “But I don’t want to. I like living in New York and doing what I want with no one to please but myself. I’ve got money I earned on my own, with no one barking orders at me. For God’s sake, I’m thirty years old, and I’ve been digging out from Dad’s shadow my whole life. I’m not going back.”

“Me neither,” Dalton said.

“Oh, you’re rich, too, huh?” Caleb threw out. He knew his younger brother had perfectionism issues when dealing with woodcraft. He’d inherited his grandfather’s skill, but had been well-known in the family to throw away profits in pursuit of product. Caleb guaranteed his brother was living paycheck to paycheck.

“I do fine,” Dalton clipped out. The corner of his left lip twitched in his trademark confession of a lie. Some things never changed.

Caleb had one last shot. He hated how dirty he was willing to play, but it was his life, and he had no choice. Already his brothers seemed to gather themselves up and walk out the door, ready to give up Pierce Brothers. In a way, he couldn’t blame them. But he needed to win.

“If you don’t do this for me, I’ll lose everything,” he said quietly. “You probably don’t care about that, and I accept it. But I’m asking you to do it for someone else.”

“Dad?” Dalton sneered.

“Do it for Mom.”

Tristan stilled. Dalton jerked back, raw pain carving into his face. A long stream of curses emitted from his little brother’s mouth, stinging his ears. Tristan just stared at him like he’d enacted the biggest betrayal—worse than Fredo in The Godfather.

The words fell flat from Tristan’s mouth. “Tell me you didn’t just say that.”

Caleb didn’t back off. “This was Mom’s company. She gave it to us from her great-great-grandfather and renamed it Pierce Brothers because she believed in all of us to keep it safe. Sure, Dad doubled the profits, but she always told us this was our legacy.” His throat burned with something, but he refused to name it. “Mom was the one who told us at the kitchen table every damn day that blood is the only thing we can count on. That if we’re not here for each other, nothing else matters. To watch this company, the only thing we have of her memory, dissolve would leave us with nothing.”

Dalton looked like a ghost had walked into the room. “She left us,” he said. “We have nothing anyway.”

“We’ll never know if she was going to come back,” Caleb said softly. “Don’t we owe it to her to give it one last try? We were close once. I’m not saying we can get back that same type of relationship, but there’s gotta be a way we can live in the same house but still have separate lives. Tristan, you can run your businesses from here and incorporate some of the changes you always wanted to see in Pierce Brothers. Dalton can take over all the woodworking. Then we can all walk away at the end of the term and decide what we want from there. I’m asking you, as my brothers, for one year to try.” His throat was choked, but he forced the final word out. “Please.”

He heard his father’s spirit roar and call him a pussy. He watched the faces of his brothers harden, trying to process emotions they’d refused to deal with for way too long. Caleb didn’t care if he went to hell for it. He needed them to keep his company alive, and he’d do anything possible to convince them.

Finally Tristan spoke. “I need time to think about it.”

Caleb nodded. “Understood.”

“You all can take a few days,” Dyken said. “Talk it over. Let me know your decision.”

“I’ll tell you within twenty-four hours,” Tristan clipped out. He straightened his suit jacket, tugged at the Windsor knot on his bright red tie, and turned. “I’m going out for a while.”

Top Books