We were winding up the business discussion and everyone was on board. The only area that was still up in the air was location. Justin stayed quiet when we were trying to debate which city should win.
“If we join my company to yours, there is a way to have it in both places.” Charles tells me.
“My team in Pittsburgh and yours in Chicago?” I ask him.
“The headquarters in Chicago but a second office here in Pittsburgh. You and I would have to travel back and forth, but you could live in either city.” He tells me.
“I could keep the loft for when I need to be here, then Justin and I buy a house in Chicago and live there.” I suggest.
“It would solve the issues here from showing up.” Ted tells me.
“We hire a few more execs and really, you’d only be here to approve the campaigns before we present them.” Cynthia tells me.
“With Charles’s firm handling graphics, the artists I hire would have access to people who can do the graphics while we handle the rest.” Murph tells me.
“Justin can do both, so keeping him in Chicago will help my guys transition into the kind you want for your boards. We have helped with Ad firms, but not to the extent that you want.” Charles tells me.
“Okay then, Ted, you work with Charles on the financing to buy into his firm for me.” I tell Ted.
“I have to quit my job first. I don’t want it to look like I was cheating my boss, by providing the service he provides to his clients.” Ted tells me.
“Do that in the morning, and feel free to give notice. We aren’t going to be up and running for a while, so all of you have time to leave your jobs without any hard feelings. When you’re ready, call me and I’ll start you to work on the new company.” I tell them.
“What are you planning on naming it?” Ted asks.
I look over at Justin, who is doodling on a napkin. “What are you drawing?” I ask.
“It was just something that I thought up.” He tells me, handing it to me.
“Kinnetik, with two N’s?” I ask him.
“A play on your name.” He shrugs.
I leaned over and kissed him, for naming all the important parts of my life. ”Kinnetik it is.” I tell him.
When everyone was ready, I paid the bill and Murph left to go home while the rest of us decided to go out to Woody’s for old times sake. Emmett wanted to take Charles to see the places he used to go. Justin and I were playing pool while Ted and Emmett laughed when Justin missed the shot because I sat next to the hole, smirking at him.
“Isn’t this fucking cozy, while my son has a black eye.” Deb screeches.
“Justin, we agreed, only once a decade.” Emmett tells me looking to Deb.
“He called Hannah a bastard twice in the same decade.” Justin tells Emmett.
“Apparently you don’t like what you made your child.” Deb tells him.
“So you call Michael a bastard too? It explains so much about why he’s so bitter. He couldn’t compete with Justin in intelligence, or well, anything, but by God, don’t let someone usurp Michael’s bastardhood.” Daphne tells her.
“Don’t you speak about my son that way.” Deb tells her, pointing a nail in her face.
“Then your son needs to learn what speaking about my daughter that way will do to him. Justin gave him a black eye, and you need to thank him for dealing with it, because if he opens his mouth about Justin or MY daughter again, he’ll need an undertaker.” I tell her.
“Brian I don’t understand how you could treat Michael as if he hadn’t always been there for you. He wouldn’t have made you miss your child’s life like Justin did. You can’t throw away years of friendship over someone you barely knew.” She tells me.
“Is this what you did to Brian everytime he pulled away from Michael? Deb, Michael wasn’t doing anything for Brian out of friendship, he did it because he wanted Brian to be with him.” Emmett tells her.
“Brian gave him the encouragement, by giving him enough to think that it would one day be his. Michael can’t be blamed for believing that Brian wanted him. You lost the right to say anything about Michael when you hurt him.” She tells Emmett.
“Yet when you needed Brian to get Michael back together with David, it was okay that you had everyone turning on Brian. Making sure everyone blamed Brian, for what YOU asked him to do. Instead of staying and telling everyone that Brian was doing what you asked, you made sure they were all pissed at him. I loved when you came over the next morning practically patting him on the back for losing his friends to give your son what you wanted for him. Then didn’t do anything to help Brian when they all treated him like garbage. It really made me see how little you loved anyone but Michael.” Justin tells her.
“You ASKED Brian to do that?” Emmett asks her.
“Michael would have stayed and waited for Brian to get his dick out of everyone else’s ass. I wanted my son to have a chance at a future that didn’t include chasing Brian and being a child forever. He needed to grow up, but Brian wouldn’t let him.” She tells us.
“You really can’t see that Michael needed to be the one to grow up on his own, but then that would have meant you not coddling his ass and kissing all the boo boo’s. I don’t get you, you give Justin advice on standing up for himself, but if it was Michael, you expected everyone else to do it. You're acting like Michael, who couldn’t go a day without calling Brian for everything, and then crying to you when he didn’t like what he heard, deserved more from people than men who faced their problems. Woman, you need to go see someone for your problems, Michael does something, and somehow they were all supposed to clean up behind your thirty year old son. Then you come here and try to justify your son’s actions, but not liking when I called your son the same thing to your face. Trust me, I saw your hand, so slapping me would be okay?” Daphne asks her.
“Justin made mistakes too, but no one thinks about that. All of you think he’s a kind person, but he was always taunting Michael that he had Brian. Showing Michael that Brian wanted him, you can’t blame Michael for not liking Justin.” She tells us.
“I get it, the blame game. Deb started it and everyone played. Where did it start? Was it not wanting to own up to your own mistake of getting pregnant with Michael? Did it make you realize that as long as you could cover your own ass by pretending to be married to a dead man, that it would mean not ever having to say you weren’t perfect? Give me a clue at how my life became a way to keep Michael the golden boy in your eyes?” I ask her. “Find someone new to blame for your son, because I don’t have time to play with you anymore. You and Michael need to find a new patsy.” I tell her.
“Michael doesn’t need people like you when he has all of Liberty Avenue. Enjoy your night here, I’m sure the people here won’t be as welcoming when they find out the way you treat people.” Deb tells us, walking out.
“She really thinks that anyone gives a shit about her and Michael?” Cynthia asks.
“The world according to Deb, everyone owes her for her serving them a sandwich.” Daphne tells her.
“Since she never served me anything but constant phone calls, I’m in the clear.” Cynthia tells us.
“Just be happy that you never ate there, because the indigestion wasn’t worth the price of admission into her family.” Daphne tells her.
“Hey, I made sure the stuff we ate didn’t kill us.” Justin tells Daphne.
“It was the only time I was willing to eat there, when you cooked it.” She tells him.
“So Daphne, what did Justin do to Kip?” I ask her.
“It wasn’t really a big thing.” Justin tells me, staring at Daphne.
“Kip?” Cynthia asks.
“Yes, it seems Justin did something to get rid of Kip, other than his homework.” I tell her.
“You have some ’splaining to do Lucy.” Ted tells Justin.
“It was all a mystery.” Justin tells us, going to the bar.
“But not to you?” I ask Daphne.
“Please, he had to tell someone, of course it was me. Kip just learned that no one accuses you of things unless they want to be accused of worse. Kip fell for it and you were free.” Daphne tells us, trying to get up.
“Sit down and tell me, it’s always killed me that he just gave up on that case against Brian.” Cynthia tells her.
“He hit on Kip, made sure to go home with him, and told him about the guy his father put in jail for touching Justin since he was only seventeen. I think Kip thought prison wasn’t worth false accusations.” Daphne tells her.
“I’m going to spank his ass.” I tell them.
“Like he wouldn’t see that as a good thing?” Ted tells me.
“He didn’t do it for any reason but to help you.” Daphne tells me.
“He could have told me what he did, no one ever knew why.” I tell her.
“He didn’t see any reason, he didn’t do it to get your attention the way your bestie would have. He did it because he hated that anyone could be accused of things they didn’t do. He didn’t want you to thank him, he just wanted to know you were okay.” She tells me.
“Unlike Michael, who would have shouted from the roof top, that he save you.” Emmett tells me.
“Unlike Michael, who sniped at Justin for breathing.” Daphne tells us.
“Was that all Michael did to Justin?” I ask.
“Directly yes, indirectly he used you to fight dirty. He made sure to play on your insecurities and made sure that if Justin got too close, to say things to you that would have you treating Justin like shit.” She tells me.
“Like when Justin first came around, he was hinting that I needed to get rid of Justin.” I tell her.
“Or inspecting his room, and telling Justin when you went out with him. Telling Justin every trick you took that wasn’t him to the backroom and making sure that Justin understood that he would never have all of you the way Michael did. Of course, when you were there, he was always trying to act like he liked Justin, just didn’t see why you had to include Justin in everything.” She tells me.
“He called it adopting a trick.” I tell her.
“What did you call it?” She asks me.
“That was my problem, what to call him.” I tell her.
“What do you want to call him now?” Emmett asks me.
“My other half.” I tell them, getting up to take my other half home to our daughter.