The Butler - 9. Chapter IX
I’d called a cab from my room before leaving and waited for it at the gate, having walked the distance with the heavy suitcases. It arrived at the same time another cab turned into the driveway. The second cab stopped, and the backseat window rolled down.
“Chris?” Seth Montgomery’s voice sounded. “What are you doing here?”
“Good evening, Seth. I’m just about to leave. Give my regards to William.”
“Do it yourself,” William’s voice came from beside Seth. He leaned forward. “What do you mean ‘leave’?”
I indicated my suitcases to the cab driver, who’d gotten out after opening the trunk.
“Hold it,” William said, sharply.
The cab driver released the handles, sighing.
“Come on, I don’t have all day,” he said.
“You have until the end of time if you don’t shut it,” William replied.
“William!” Seth admonished him.
I took the opportunity to address the driver. “Please load them. I’ll be only a minute.”
The man proceeded, and I turned to the brothers.
“I think you’d better ask your eldest brother, William. I’m sure he has quite a lot to say about it.”
”What happened?” he sighed, “Never mind; Greg was being himself again, wasn’t he? What is it with you two…”
“He…” I paused, choosing my words carefully, “felt my services were no longer needed. He fired me.”
“He can’t do that!” William said, beginning to curse softly. “Fuck. Can he?” He glanced at Seth, who kept silent but clenched his jaws together.
“Well, in any case, it doesn’t matter. Because I quit,” I continued.
“You what!?” they both echoed. “You can’t!”
Seth opened the door and got out.
“I can, and I did. Gentlemen, I’m very sorry for your loss. Again, you have my condolences.”
I needed this to end, and quick. A clean break from this family. All of them, even if it hurt, knowing I'd never see these two ever again.
“Wait,” he said, grabbing my arm when I turned to get into my cab. “Come on…it couldn’t have been that bad.”
I pulled up a corner of my mouth. Always the peacemaker. Seth to a fault.
“Oh yes it could.”
“Christopher, Kat is flying in tomorrow, with the kids. We need you here…I know Greg can be a big pain in the…”
“I’m sorry, Seth; I really am,” I cut him off. “But I’m not spending another minute in there with him. Enough is enough.”
He raked his hand through his hair; it was still long.
“We’ll talk to him,” he said, pleadingly. “Please don’t go…we need you here. William?” His brother chimed in an agreement.
I smiled and squeezed his hand, lifting it from my arm at the same time.
“Thank you, Seth, but no. Besides, I think you better steer clear from him for a while too.”
He narrowed his eyes at me.
“Why? What happened?”
“I drenched all his clothes. On the floor, in the middle of the hall.”
His mouth fell wide open as he stared at me; from inside the cab, choked laughter began to bubble up.
“You didn’t!” William said. “Oh man! I wish I’d been there!”
“Shut up!” Seth hissed over his shoulder. “You’re not helping!”
Then he grabbed my arm again.
“Where are you staying?”
“The Hyatt. But only for the night; tomorrow I’ll…”
“Great,” he interrupted. “We’ll talk to Greg. Don’t leave just yet.”
I began to shake my head.
“Please. Promise me you won’t leave until I’ve come to see you. Please? Do it for me.”
“Us,” William added, also disembarking the cab. “Chris, you’re our bro too. We need you, c’mon man.”
Seth added weight to his words by holding on tight.
“Fine,” I sighed. A white lie. “I promise.”
Only then did he let go, allowing me to get into the cab.
“I’m sorry, no,” I apologized to the driver, when he confirmed the Hyatt, which he’d overheard. “Sheldon House Inn, please.”
I didn’t like lying to Seth, but throwing him on the wrong track ensured he wouldn’t come by and try to get me to stay. As I’d said; enough was enough.
“You got it.”
January 6th, 2011, Greenwich, CT
“You lied to us,” Seth said the following morning, as soon as I opened the door after incessant banging on it for several long seconds. It was just after 10am.
How the hell had they found me so quickly?
He pushed the door open further before I could think of closing it again and came in, followed by a widely grinning William. Then I immediately wanted to slam it shut when I saw the third visitor.
And he was mad as all hell. His eyes spit venom, almost black and promising nothing but revenge.
“Please leave,” I asked, turning to Seth. “I’m sorry I lied about where I was, but…”
“Yeah, nice try, that,” William murmured, winking. “We’re not that stupid, you know.”
“How?” I asked, causing him to jerk a thumb over his shoulder, towards his eldest brother.
“Just listen. That’s all,” Seth interceded, gesturing at one of the two chairs that occupied the room. “Please?”
Gregory remained standing near the door as his brothers both took a chair, William sprawled in his, one knee over the side. I sighed and gave up, and picked a spot on the other side of the room, continuing to pack the opened suitcase on the bed; I’d been close to ready, and was about to leave for the train station. Ten more minutes and they’d been knocking on the door of an empty room.
“Where are you going?” Seth asked, eyeing the clothes I’d been reorganizing before they knocked.
“Home,” I replied.
”And where is that?”
“Montreal,” Gregory answered, before I could even think about lying. “But he probably means New York.”
How the hell did he know that? I was born in Montreal, true, and grew up there, until my mother had died. Then my dad and I had moved to New York, when his job sent him there. But no one knew that, not even old Mr. Montgomery had.
Both William and Seth seemed to think the same thing, frowning at their brother. Then Seth cleared his throat, turning his gaze back on me.
“Right. Well, you can’t. And here’s the reason why. Greg?”
Gregory’s jaws worked but he didn’t say another word.
“Greg, do it right now, or I swear…” Seth hissed. I’d never seen him angry before, but he was now.
As said before; Seth was the peacemaker of the three. Whatever talk they had, it apparently had been fierce and there’d been a threat of some kind. Whatever it was, it made Gregory set his jaw and then look straight at me.
“I’ve been too…hasty, in my decision to terminate your employment.”
It came through clenched teeth. Oh, he was fucking livid. I could just feel how angry he was.
“Apparently we need you.”
That last was said seethingly.
“For God's sakes!” Seth bit out, swiveling angrily toward him, “apologize.”
Apparently that was a sore point; Gregory turned his head and made a point of making eye contact again. His eyes were simmering with anger.
“Fine. We need you. More than you need us. Please stay.”
It didn’t matter, anyway. As if an apology would eradicate five years of his treatment of me.
“I don’t know what I ever did to deserve your hatred. I’ve been nothing but civil to you, and each and every time you’ve repaid it with vile remarks, disdain and treating me like a slave.”
His nostrils flared.
“You are hostile, rude and arrogant and whenever you’re around, you ruin every single day,” I replied, unable to keep my voice from actually quivering. I didn’t know where this courage came from; I normally wouldn’t dare speak to him like this; he’d eat me alive. “There’s no apology in the world that would make me want to do anything for you. You can go to hell and freeze it over with that insincere ice-clump of a heart. If you even have one.”
Fuck. Where’d that come from? I was actually proud of myself. I dared it!
He blinked as I stared angrily at him; obviously he hadn’t expected that from me. His mouth opened and shut again, and some color appeared on his cheeks as he rose.
“Chris..” Seth spoke softly, taking on a reasoning tone. “He’s trying.”
“He can go fuck himself.”
Dark eyes narrowed to slits as Gregory’s head snapped back, zeroing in; his hands balled into tight fists. Oh shit. Pure fire spit from his eyes.
He took a step into my direction. Shit…he really was gonna go for me. I knew it.
I jerked my head towards Seth, who seemed genuinely shocked. I nodded, once.
“Greg, knock it off.”
Gregory stiffened. Wow…close.
“Fine. Sorry. I don’t give a…hoot about what he wants or tries,” I amended, flicking a look at Gregory and taking a step away from him. “Whatever he says at this point doesn’t really matter. From this moment on, he’s air. So if you’re in such a lurch; you ask me.”
“You ask me. I don’t care what he has to say.”
Seth stared at me and then at his eldest brother, who frowned.
“Alright. We need you at the house. Just until everything is sorted. Would you do that for us? Please, we had burned toast and a spoon of jelly for breakfast. I can’t cook, Greg can’t either and William…well, he supplied said toast, so that should tell you enough. We really need you.”
Crap. I really didn’t want to.
“Please? I don’t think dad would want you to leave like this. Kathleen and the kids are coming this afternoon, and the house is a mess. Chris…please? Come back…”
Using Kat and the kids…and his dad. God, that was unfair.
“I’ll do this, out of respect for your father,” I answered, with difficulty, after several long seconds, “because of what he meant to me, and what he’s given me over the years.”
I ignored Gregory as he tilted his head with sudden interest, and then regarded me with another frown.
“But…he doesn’t get to order me around any longer. I’m not lifting a finger for him. Understood?” I asked.
“Understood,” Seth replied quickly, rising. “Will? Get his suitcases. We’re going home.”
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