CHAPTER 16: HEAD IN THE CLOUDS…
George decided that it was time for Justin to revisit Belle Aire Country Club. Someplace he’s been denied simply because Craig deemed him unworthy after he had come out. After the events of the morning, he couldn’t deny that it was a petty act of revenge in reverse, since while Christopher was being denied access because of who and what he is, Justin no longer was. As his party made their way to the table, he couldn’t help the feeling of immense satisfaction, even as the whispers started. Among those softly voicing their opinions about George’s choice of company were the Petersons, who were sitting with Gardner Vance, Martin Ryder, and his pinched-faced wife.
“Thank you for seating us, Gregory. May we have the best champagne you have chilled and on hand. It’s five o’clock somewhere in the world and we have a lot to celebrate,” George said loud enough for the nearby occupants of the club to hear. He knew the word would spread like wildfire to the others.
“No problem, Mr. Schickle. And I would like to add my gratitude and congratulations on behalf of the staff.”
“Gratitude?” Brian asked.
“Kinney. Brian Kinney, Gregory.”
“Ah yes, Mr. Kinney. Gratitude for Mr. Schickle finally making it possible for us all to do our jobs without being heckled and harassed by the former Mrs. Schickle and her bosom buddy, Mrs. Hobbs. Most of the guests here are pretty reasonable in their requests, but then there are those who think it beneath them to have to earn a decent living wage. There is a world of difference between building a life of privilege and having it handed to you based off of someone else’s hard work. They were two such people, who were unable to distinguish the difference. Even though Mr. Schickle was born to this type of environment, as were the Alwin families and their offspring, they never acted like it.”
“Thank you for the complimentary words, Gregory,” George said. The waiter blushed to the roots of his iron gray hair before bowing slightly and hurrying off to fulfill George’s requests.
“Uncle George, what exactly are we doing here?” Justin asked, nervously. He was uneasy, feeling like he was the center of attention.
“The simple answer is that you have a right to be here. You should have never been denied access based on someone else’s ridiculous ideal. As for the more selfish, in-depth answer, it’s to make sure that the people who are uncomfortable receive a very strong message. Like it or not, nephew, you are now officially part of the A-Gays. Both you and Brian are.”
“What does that mean?” Brian asked.
“It means that based on your incomes alone, you have influence and power, even if you never choose to use it or associate yourselves with the A-Gays of Pittsburgh.”
“All we want is to be able to live our lives as we see fit, not in service of some political agenda,” Brian answered, slightly annoyed at George’s explanation.
“I understand that but… well, if you could have anything you want, what would it be?”
Before he had a chance to answer, Ron Peterson, Gardner Vance, and Marty Ryder appeared at the table. Ryder cleared his throat. “George, we would like a word with you.”
“You just had several without my permission so feel free to have all you want. It doesn’t mean that I will listen to any of them. Besides, I’m here with my family and you’re intruding on that.”
“We just don’t feel the… company you are keeping is appropriate for this environment,” Ryder sneered, looking at Brian and Justin who were holding hands on top of the table.
“Neither is bigotry. But you’re feeling quite free to spill yours on everyone here,” Brian answered in place of George, since he knew the comment was directed at him and Justin. “I wonder how your constituents would feel if they knew of your intentional attempt at sabotaging my career based on my personal life. Or more appropriately, the willingness to plot and plan the attempted murder, wrongly recorded as simple assault, on Justin’s life, just so you could maintain a false level of standard regarding the legacy of a failing business.”
“What are you talking about, Brian?”
“It’s Mr. Kinney to you. And I’m talking about your plot involving the former Dr. Perkins and your wife’s idiotic nephew, Kevin Dixon. But then you know that, no matter how innocent you try to portray yourself in the matter. Let’s not forget the quick sale of your advertising agency to your fellow bigot-in-arms, Gardner, here. The problem, as I see it, is that neither he nor you banked on the fact that it’s not in me- not in either of us- to simply roll over and get fucked, unless it’s by each other, and never by the likes of you; metaphorically or physically. So you can take your opinions, lube them up nice and right, then politely shove them up your ass until you bleed money, because keep fucking with me and you will.”
Turning his red face towards George, Ryder complained. “See, George? Is this what you want for the club? Is this who you want to associate yourself with?”
George gave the appearance of giving the matter some thought, when in reality he was doing his best not to laugh heartily at Brian’s tirade. He had to admit that Kinney’s way with words were a gem, since he’d wanted to tell these same sanctimonious men and many others within their set the same many times over. But Brian’s less than eloquent way was best, so there would be no misconceptions about what he meant. “I wholeheartedly agree with Brian, Martin. Furthermore, your own membership is about to be called into question based on association.”
“Wh-what do you mean? I’ve always paid my dues and abided by the rules your family set forth generations before.”
“Indeed you have, except that I was present at the courthouse today when your dirty laundry was aired publicly. Now although that is not cause to necessarily discontinue your membership, your blatant attempts at sabotage towards my nephew and his companion are. So I’ll publicly warn you- all three of you- that any further attempts made within these walls at any time will have your memberships immediately revoked. I don’t think that any of you can afford the doors that will automatically close to you when that happens, can you?” At their collective look of fear and fuming, George chuckled. “Thought not. Now, I would suggest you go back to your table and try to forget that you had the temerity to come over here trying to give orders. It might be the only way to save face in front of your displeased wives. As for you Gardner, I think you’ll find that aligning yourselves with these two will cost you much more than you think. You’ll be hearing from my attorney, Thorne Wingate, in the morning. I behoove you to listen carefully to what he has to say.”
“But…” Gardner huffed.
“Uh-huh… this conversation is over. I absolutely refuse to discuss business in the presence of my family, although it also involves the two of them to a degree.”
“Speaking of your guest, who just happens to be one of my employees… Brian, I’ll expect you in the office in the morning, 9am sharp. Your continued tardiness and absenteeism will not be tolerated. I hope I am making myself abundantly clear.” He looked at Brian, scowling when his order didn’t have the desired effect on the most obstinate man he’d ever had the displeasure of working with.
“You apparently haven’t done adequate research on me, Vance. Or better yet, you ignored Ryder when I’m sure he told you all about me. If you had, you would know that I’m impervious to intimidation. As for being in your office, since I’m officially still on leave, my answer is no.”
“Then there will be disciplinary action filed with Human Resources against you, due to your continued insubordination.”
“By all means file it, since my leave, as taken, falls under FMLA. I’m sure not only the Federal Trade Commission, but other key organizations within the government that protect the civil rights of all Americans who work for a living will be only too happy to look into your business practices thus far,” Brian said, smirking at the suddenly flushed appearance of his nemesis. “What’s the matter, Vance? Something to hide?”
He stormed off with Ryder following, while Ronald Peterson stayed behind. He cleared his throat before speaking. “Look, regardless of how it looks, I didn’t come over here for any of this.”
“Then just what did you come over here for, Ron,” Jennifer asked him, her tone as clipped as she dared.
His eyes widened at her question. This was clearly not the same soft-spoken woman who used to be married to Craig Taylor. Being away from him had taught her to speak her mind in public as well as in private. Although Nancy was given to do the same, it was how she had always been, so it was expected. With Jennifer, it was far less so.
“I just wanted to assure you all that the same arrangement regarding my daughter’s wishes stand.”
“I’m glad to hear it. No one likes to have their dirty laundry aired, but make no mistake that I would have done it, Ron. My children- my son, in particular, is not to be threatened or played with unduly.”
“I doubt Lindsay meant to threaten him. She just wanted…”
“Brian’s full attention focused on herself.”
“No, not on herself, but on the son they share.”
“If you choose to live in your Lindsay-induced delusion, I can’t stop you. But I can at least give you the benefit of the truth as I know it. Your daughter wants all of the rights, privileges, and attention this life affords. Tell me honestly, what is your issue with the fact that she’s been in a relationship with Melanie for almost ten years? From what I know of you, and have seen with my own eyes regarding you, you don’t share Nancy’s views about Lindsay’s life choices. If you can answer that question honestly, even if it’s only within your own mind, then perhaps you will find the key to controlling your wife, instead of the other way around.”
Melanie looked at him squarely. She had been silent since their arrival, only mentally noting what was being said, to add to the file she’d been keeping on Brian’s behalf. But Jennifer had raised an interesting point, and one she really needed an answer to for her own peace of mind. “I don’t get you, Ron. You’re successful in your own right; have worked your ass off for that success, and yet it’s like you are a visitor within your own life most times.”
“It’s cheaper to keep her,” he said weakly.
Mel nodded, understanding exactly what he was saying. “Whereas that maybe true, and I don’t doubt that it is, you still should have some say in what you will and won’t accept, regardless of the badger you live with. Take this for what it’s worth, Mr. Peterson, I am not your enemy, nor your real problem. The fact that you have caved to your wife and daughter, Lynette’s, foibles are. I have told Lindsay this many times, but she still has yet to get the message. If you live your life simply at the mercy of others, then you will not be living, but existing, and a slave to their aspirations. It’s something that I’m only just really learning that I have done with Lindsay. But I’m going to rectify the matter sooner rather than later, I think.”
“What are you going to do? She is Nancy’s daughter after all.”
“I’m not sure yet, but I’m sure you’ll be one of the first people to know. Lindsay’s actions through this entire matter have shown me exactly who she is, and I don’t think I have the patience to deal with it any longer. What good is being able to fight for people and their right to live their best life, if I can’t even do it- or be willing to do it- for myself?”
Jennifer sighed. “Ronald, go back to your table. We are here to celebrate the fact that Craig and the Hobbs family are finally receiving the justice that Justin was denied in court, not make excuses about why your daughter is incredibly self-absorbed.”
“So, Justin, do you want to leave directly from the hotel tomorrow, or from the loft?” Brian asked, effectively cutting off anything else regarding Lindsay the man might have wanted to add.
Seeing that there was nothing else he could say or do to defend himself, Ron schlepped off back to his table across the club’s restaurant. He couldn’t deny Jennifer’s claims regarding his actions about his family, but Mel’s words were affecting him the most. What did she mean that she was going to rectify the situation? It was the question that continuously went around his mind, even as he sat down listening to the others bitch about their confrontation with the group that was now laughing uproarously at whatever response Brian’s question had wrought. Listening to Nancy’s skewed views about Brian’s parenting of Gus, and Melanie’s inability to yield under the pressure Lindsay’s persuasion, Ron had the feeling that he knew exactly what Melanie planned to do… and God help them all when Lindsay found out.
“So, Justin, have you decided what to do with the money?” George asked.
Justin shook his head. “Not yet, Brian and I, along with Ted, will talk about it. I know that I want to invest at least half of it so that it earns interests while I leave the principle untouched.”
“That’s a smart thing to do, but why only half?” Jennifer asked. “I thought you and Brian decided to leave it in trust.”
“I want to, but I also don’t like depending on Brian.”
“Justin…” Brian began only to be cut off.
“No, Brian. Just… no. Don’t you know that your wealth has always, ALWAYS been at the core of Michael’s gripe with me?”
“Probably because it cuts into what he considers his ‘Brian, Bail Me Out’ fund,” Ted muttered. Emmett elbowed him to keep him from going further with that statement, but Brian heard what was unsaid anyway.
“Care to repeat that, Ted? I mean, I think we’ve come a long way and can be honest with each other, even to the point where I might not like it. But if you have something to say…”
“Brian, Teddy didn’t mean it like that,” Emmett tried to defend his best friend, but Brian wasn’t having any of it.
“Which Ted is perfectly capable of telling me himself, but I suspect he did mean it. What have you noticed, Ted?”
Brian waited a little less than patiently for his answer. It wasn’t a secret that in the most recent past, anytime someone would say a word against Michael or his motives, it was a recipe for Brian to take their heads off, using words that cut to the quick. That Brian was willing to hear him out, said a lot about what Brian was feeling about Michael as of a few months ago. He knew that he couldn’t stall him any longer. “I know that Michael and Deb have always been special to you, Brian. And that for whatever reason, you’ve always made sure that they were well taken care of. It’s just that… well there really isn’t any way to say this without sounding as if I’m sitting in the judgment seat. Between Michael and Lindsay, in the past eight months alone, you have shelled out well over ten grand.”
“Ten grand? Ten fucking grand?! What the hell for?” Mel asked, fuming at hearing that.
“There were extenuating circumstances,” Brian said, as a way of explaining.
“No! There is no excuse that you could possibly give...”
“I gave Lindsay five of it when she needed to handle Gus’ expenses and the house when you moved out.”
“Bullshit! I was paying the mortgage and other bills, even though I wasn’t living there, and was paying rent to my cousin, Rita, for invading her house. In fact, the bills were paid for the month before I left! When Lindsay went back to work and needed a sitter, I paid the babysitter directly so that she didn’t have to worry about it, but could use her money to get recertified and take care of the household necessities, like food. She knew all of this, so what reason did she give you for needing your money?” At Brian’s silence, Mel narrowed her eyes. “Brian, she didn’t?”
Brian didn’t have to answer because Justin did. “Yes, she did. It was during the whole Kip thing, so I remember it well. Brian asked me to get his checkbook after she asked for the money, saying that it was for Gus’ expenses. He didn’t think twice about giving it to her, but when I looked at the check registry, I knew what it was really costing him.”
“So you see, Brian, I wasn’t the only one to notice that things weren’t exactly as they seemed. I’ve been Mel’s accountant since we graduated college, so yes, I knew all of this as well. But I couldn’t say anything because… well, whereas I am your accountant, I wasn’t exactly sure of where I stood as your friend until…”
“Until you almost met your Maker. Ted, I trust you with my money and depend on you to catch things like this,” Brian told him.
“I know, but I couldn’t run the risk of you looking at me sideways, or betraying Mel’s confidence as a client. You understand that, don’t you?”
Brian nodded. “Yeah, I get it, but in future I need to you tell me this. With us starting Kinnetik, I need everything to be on the up and up.”
“And speaking of Kinnetik…” George interjected. “Brian, do you now see why we have been pushing you so hard today about it? Knowing Vance and Ryder as I do, I knew they would try to power-trip. Men like that get drunk on it and always want more. I couldn’t in good conscience let you continue to remain one of the casualties.”
“Yes. They would use you for your brain and then ruin you out of spite. You’ve already witnessed them trying to do that to you through means of other people. It’s better that you exit their game now, rather than pay for their foolishness and vindictiveness later.”
“That’s all well and good, but it could be up to a year before we’re ready to open.”
“Not at all. You already have clients, myself included. All it would take is telling the right people, to suffocate their prospective clients list.”
“The right people?”
George smiled wide then. “You have a meeting in Chicago with Leo Brown, subject to happen upon your return from your trip to Florida with Mel.”
“Leo and I went to school together, and he’s heard about you. The only problem was that you were aligned with the two men he can’t stand, even more than his last ex-girlfriend before meeting and falling in love with Carolyn.”
“The pretentious ass which is married to Samuel Hobbs, Senior. Clara was always a bitch, but when she insulted his sister, who incurred a sports-related injury requiring she have pins in her knee for the rest of her life, Leo drew the line. Victoria blew out her knee during the Olympic trials, and they were always close. When Leo had gone into another room to take a call, Clara began taunting Vicki; calling her more manly than Leo and saying that once she married him, Vicki could kiss any part of their parents’ inheritance goodbye. Leo ditched the bitch after he heard her plans to cut Victoria out from her own malevolent lips, so she couldn’t deny it. Both of them run Brown Athletics together. While he runs the company here in the U.S., she runs the one abroad. Once you call to set the appointment, she’s going to fly back to meet with you as well.”
Brian asked, “So where do you fit into this, Diane? I’m not big on political agendas.”
“I know, Brian, but I would like for you to work with my consultant on my campaign. Beyond that, I own a Real Estate business which Jennifer has agreed to take over once she reinstates her broker’s license.”
“It’s something I used to do before I decided to stay home with Justin and Molly. My father was one of the premiere Real Estate moguls of Pittsburgh and New York. Marrying Craig derailed his plans for me in a big way,” she answered.
“I thought within your set, you were never meant to inherit.”
“I wasn’t, at least not on paper. But it didn’t mean I couldn’t run the company from behind the scenes. His company has always been held in trust for me for when I ‘came to my senses’ as he said. So Diane and I have decided that I will take over her business and phase it into the one I was always meant to lead. You’re looking at the new owner of Diamondback Realty, Incorporated.”
“That’s why Craig was fighting you so hard during the divorce settlement?” Justin gasped. He’d always known there was some reason why his mother never seemed worried that Craig would leave her.
“Exactly, son. Your… sperm donor, could never quite understand that regardless of everything, I would be okay. I lost sight of that for a moment or two because of trying to keep up appearances. The final straw for me was how he treated you. I knew that although I might have wished otherwise, I couldn’t stay with a man who hated my child in such a way as to wish him dead, or corrected through force. Trust me Justin, he’s very sorry now.”
“What do you think he’s going to do?”
“Probably appeal to his brother, Woodrow, for a place to stay and all. It’s not like he has any money. Hell, he can’t even pay what he already owes. The only thing is that they can’t stand each other. His sister, Candace, would happily see him rot in hell along with the rest of her biological family, so that’s one more door forever closed to him.”
“I remember him mentioning her as a cautionary tale to me and Molly, but I suspect what he said happened to her really didn’t?”
“Hell no! If your grandparents and uncles would have had their way, all of their dire predictions when Candace balked at their choices for her would have come true. However, your aunt worked her way through college since they refused to give her the money, got her degree in Business Management and started Arvon Cosmetics with her husband before he passed. Henry Arvon loved the fact that his wife was a go-getter and took a chance.”
“Wait a minute! The Henry Arvon? The man whose grassroots bed and breakfast became million dollar retreats all over the U.S. and Caribbean in a little under ten years? He was the one of the first African-American billionaires by the time he reached thirty.” Ted asked, his voice full of shock.
“Indeed, he was, and a huge pain in the ass to the Taylor family. Heaven forbid someone be more successful than them, but especially someone born in the middle of Harlem New York. So you see, Justin, WASP rebellion is in your blood on both sides. Never be ashamed of it.”
“So how do we go about building this business? And Justin, you never did answer your mom’s question about what you wanted to do with the money. It’s okay to dream aloud for once,” Brian said.
“After all, it seems like all of Brian’s are coming true, Baby. Why not yours, too?” Emmett asked.
Justin took a deep breath. “I guess my ideal plan would be to open up a school where the only goal is learning, and no one can be bullied.”
“Who would you open it up for?” Diane asked, already interested in hearing the young man’s thoughts.
“Gay kids, mainly, but not just them. There are a lot of hustlers on the street. I don’t know their individual stories, but I can guarantee that no one grows up wanting to be a prostitute. It’s just the only available option to them at the moment. Hell, I probably would have been one of them had I not had Brian when Craig kicked me out…”
“I’m sorry, Justin,” Jennifer said quietly, acknowledging the truth of his words.
“Don’t be, Mom, not for any of it. I can understand self-preservation better than most, and you had Molly to think of.”
“That’s no excuse.”
“No, but it is a reason that I can accept, and even respect a bit. You weren’t just thinking of the good of one family member but the entire family. Craig wasn’t thinking of anyone but himself and his wishes for Taylor Electronics. It’s what made the two of you different in your approaches of how to handle me and the changes my announcement wrought. But some of those kids are just like me, but had no one to guide them after they were put out or ran away. And it’s not just the boys, but the girls, too. Who knows what they were running away from. So I would like to build a place that gives them some hope of finding a job that doesn’t force them to compromise themselves or their safety.”
“You can’t save the world, Justin,” Brian said.
“I know, but if just one comes through that door looking for help, we can save them. Can’t you see that?”
Brian could, and in more ways than Justin could ever imagine. He thought of all the times he’d had to run to Deb’s because of Jack and Joan’s continued hand trouble. Or the times he’d played through the pain of broken bones and ribs so that he could earn a scholarship to college and out of Kinney-hell. If it wasn’t for having at least a moderate safe haven to sleep and heal, who knew where he would have ended up. It was why he didn’t have trouble offering it to Justin for a time, and then convincing Deb and Vic to do it in his place. He never wanted to imagine what could have befallen Justin had not reluctantly taken an interest in him.
“I can see it, Sunshine, and it’s just like you to want to do something like this.”
“What would you want your school to offer?” Diane asked.
“Everything from academic completion, so they can go to college if they want, all the way to having trade classes.”
“You’re talking grand scale, sort of like a BOCES program?”
“Exactly, but with more specialized courses. I was lucky when I got into PIFA and will pay through the nose to attend. But what if there are some other talented artists out there who require training but can’t afford to pursue it? I never understood why a piece of paper was a hindrance where natural talent and determination was present. It’s the one thing I won’t demand of my art department unless they want a position beyond an artist. Murph has a dual degree in Art and Management... and I’m going for my own.”
“Uh, when did we decide that?” Brian asked. This was the first time Justin had mentioned anything beyond wanting to be able to draw again.
“Brian, I have to be practical. Although I’m working my ass off to be able to, the chances are slim that I will ever be able to draw again like I used to. That fact is forcing me to look at other opportunities, even while working for what I ultimately want. I’m not saying that it will never happen, and I’m not giving up, but I am giving myself every opportunity to succeed at something.”
No one, including Brian, could argue with Justin’s logic, but he had to know. “What about the Diner?”
“If I cut my hours to part-time, not full-time as we planned, I should be able to do everything and still work at making Kinnetik a success.”
“No, I won’t hear of it. Before you even tell me that it’s too much, I’m not going to listen, so save your breath… and that goes for all of you. This is something that I want to do- I need to do- for my own peace of mind and to restore my faith in myself.”
“Okay, but you have to know when to ask for help. That’s my only requirement, Justin, and I won’t bend on it,” Brian said, still fearful that Justin was intent on taking on too much, too fast. But if there was one thing he’d learned about Justin since he’d met him, it’s that when the twat took an idea into his head, he wouldn’t be deterred from it. In the end, all Brian would be able to do is to help him not crash and burn, or more accurately to not burn out. “I want your promise, Justin.”
Justin looked deeply into Brian’s eyes, allowing Brian to see all of the emotions there: all of the excitement and the little bit of fear, but most of all the determination. He smiled when he noticed those same things within the swirling hazel depths within the eyes of his lover. It was then that Justin really realized he wouldn’t be alone in his quest to regain himself and his independence. Wetting his lips, he almost laughed when Brian followed the action just before he whispered, “I promise,” and sealed it with a kiss...
“So about this school... I need to find out if I can renew my teaching license or what the criteria is for getting one for the state of Pennsylvania.” Vic said.
“And I need to find out if I qualify to teach Paralegal Studies,” Mel interjected.
“I can do an Accounting Prep class,” Ted offered.
“And if college offers life experience, I should be able to teach Hotel Management and Hospitality,” Emmett said. Everyone looked at him in shock. “What?”
“Emmett, you’ve gone to college?” Brian asked.
“Well of course, silly. Believe it or not, it’s where I met Michael before he dropped out to go to work at the Big Q. It’s how I found out that we lived in the same building.”
“If that’s true, then why didn’t you graduate?”
“I did, but I wanted to go to Carnegie.”
“Wait a minute! You graduated Community College and never told us?” Ted asked.
“Yes, I did. It’s why, when I started working at Torso, I was given a management position without ever having worked retail before. I stayed there and got too comfortable, when really, I was trying to save up to attend CMU. Then my apartment caught fire and I moved in with Michael on Deb’s recommendation and voila here I am.”
“What’s your Associate’s degree in?” Justin asked.
“You mean all this time you could have been working a regular 9-5 at an office somewhere?” Brian was astonished by just how much they didn’t know about Em.
“Sure, but sometimes self-confidence gets in the way. I went where I knew I could get a job hassle-free. I also hold a degree in Culinary Arts. Since I could never seem to afford a semester at Carnegie, I went back to Pitt Comm for it.”
“How come Michael never told us? You know the he can’t hold water, let alone a secret,” Brian asked.
“He didn’t know, since he was too busy chasing you. His obsession with you definitely came in handy when I needed to study or make my projects. I just told him I had a date.”
“Amazing that he could be that oblivious,” Justin muttered, receiving an elbow from Brian.
“Be nice, Justin. I taught you better than that, no matter how true it may be,” Jennifer snickered.
“I was. If I wasn’t I would have questioned why Brian, Ted, and Emmett remained friends with someone they didn’t have anything professionally in common with. I mean, the theory of like-minded people and all that…”
Mel laughed. “You’re such an imp, Baby. But to answer your question, I think I can speak for all of them when I say it’s the link to Deb and Vic that has often kept us from defecting. Michael can be… hard to take, but none of us had families that wanted anything to do with us after we came out- or at least in my case, they still loved me, but hated my choices. So when we met the two people who offered what we were missing, we were willing to put up with just about anything to bask in the glow of their acceptance. Having Michael as a ‘friend’ was the lesser of evils.”
“I can somewhat understand that answer, but I know that Daphne and I wouldn’t have the type of friendship we have if we didn’t drive each other to live our best lives. That’s why I questioned it. From the outside looking in, it seemed as if he dangled his family as a means to interrupt your hopes, dreams, and wishes.”
“He did,” Vic concurred. “It didn’t help that my sister has always been willfully blind to Michael’s faults, or his constant need of supervision and attention.”
“Supervision, huh?” Daphne asked.
Vic laughed. “Well you’ve seen what happens when he’s left to his own devices, haven’t you? Justin clocks him and Ted ends up in jail.”
“Had it been me, I would have ended up doing both. It’s bad when you think that prison orange should be in your color wheel.”
“Darling, no one looks good in orange. Tangerine, however…” Emmett said as everyone at the table laughed.
“Ever the queen!” Justin exclaimed.
“You better believe it, Baby!”