Hudson (Page 66)

Hudson (Fixed #4)(66)
Author: Laurelin Paige

By the time dinner arrives, I’ve relaxed considerably. Whatever Celia is planning, there won’t be a scene. Not here, anyway. I may even get away without speaking to her at all tonight. Maybe there actually is a God.

I’ve just taken my first bite of duck crepes when Warren strikes a conversation. “I’m very sorry to hear about your Plexis deal,” he says around a mouthful of steak au poivre.

We’d bantered business earlier, but nothing personal until now.

“You win some, you lose some.” Though I’m still disappointed with the loss of Plexis, I’m in the process of getting the company back, thanks to Alayna. It’s too early to share this type of news with others, so I don’t mention it.

Besides, there’s another plan I’ve been toying with, a plan that might insure me some leverage, but a lot needs to line up if I’m to pursue it. Part of that includes information that I can only get from Warren. “Is GlamPlay still looking to buy into Werner Media?”

Warren shrugs. “They’re toying with me. Haven’t made up their mind.” He takes a swallow of his wine. “It would be a great advantage for both corporations, but I can’t quite convince them of that.”

I nod, digesting the information. Pierce Industries has heavy influence over GlamPlay. They’re a company I’ve considered purchasing for a while. For my plan to work, GlamPlay needs to buy shares in Werner Media first. I’ll have to get Norma to see how we can make that happen.

Meanwhile, I need to shore up my own investments in Werner’s company. “How much is GlamPlay looking to buy?”

“Thirty percent is on the table. Any more than that would put me at a liability.”

“Of course.” With the ten percent I already own, plus the thirty percent that GlamPlay could own, I would be at forty percent total holdings. I’m not sure that’s enough. “Is the portion on the table from your shares or from the other investors?”

He offers me a grin. “All from me.”

It leaves Warren with forty percent as well. It’s a risky move on his part, leaving himself with less than fifty percent of the ownership. But he’s right that GlamPlay will bring benefits that will increase the overall worth, and as long as he has the majority shares, he’s in a good position.

So I just need to make sure he doesn’t have the majority. I’ll need to convince another investor to sell. Another star that has to align.

As if he can read my mind, he says, “Are you interested in further investing? Bishop is looking to sell his two percent. Great time to buy. Prices are going to go up if GlamPlay invests.”

Bingo.

“I’ll have my people contact Bishop tomorrow.” This idea of mine is working out better than I thought. The prospects excite me for many reasons, not the least of which is because it’s a version of the game. Making good business deals always is. Just like chess. It’s strategic and secretive and often manipulative, but much more ethical. Work is where I exercise my need to play. It’s thrilling.

But not as thrilling as life with Alayna. I tuck away the newfound information and turn my attention to her. Loading my fork with a piece of my crepe that doesn’t have any mushrooms, I offer her a bite. Her lips slide along the silver, and all I can think about is how beautiful she looks when her lips curl around my cock.

“Divine,” she says.

“I could say the same thing.” I’m not subtle about my meaning.

Madge reddens and clears her throat. I guess I’d spoken louder than I’d meant to. Oh well. Maybe this will make her forget her silly ideas about me marrying her daughter. Though whether it does or not, I’m not really concerned.

Talk turns to Mirabelle’s pregnancy. The whole table joins in. It’s hard to ignore the excitement of a new baby. I know this from experience.

Also from experience, I recognize the tension in Mirabelle’s voice when she suggests hyphenating the baby’s last name to Sitkin-Pierce. It’s a ridiculous idea, and I know she’s only saying it for my mother’s benefit. Even more ridiculous is how my mother makes Mirabelle think she needs to say it.

“It’s not the same.” At least Sophia isn’t encouraging the idea. “Sitkin-Pierce is not Pierce. So the bloodline continues, but not the name.”

It’s that one statement that makes me fear for this conversation. If I know my mother—and I do—it won’t be pretty. I watch the pieces line up for the accident that I’m certain is about to take place: Adam reminds us that Chandler could have a Pierce child. My father slips in his doubt that Chandler really is a Pierce.

Then Sophia says it, the thing I’ve been dreading. “Hudson and Celia’s baby could have been both.”

It’s at this moment that I realize how my lack of emotion has enabled me to survive a life with my mother. Her drunken antics, her caustic comments, her cold indifference—none of it has ever fazed me. They’ve skimmed off the surface of my shields, leaving only faint scuffs and shallow dents.

Now, though, with Alayna in my life, my armor is down. And I feel every hit.

I’m angry. She has no right. She’s not only hurting Alayna but Mirabelle and Celia. Probably the Werners as well. While my mother can’t know all the memories and pains that she dredges up with this casual statement, she isn’t so ignorant as to not realize its inappropriateness.

I plan to say something, but I want to be in control of my rage before I do. I’m unused to having to rein in emotion, and it takes me a minute. Meanwhile, it’s my father who speaks out. “Not this again, Sophia. Really? Goddammit, I won’t listen to this.” He tosses his napkin down and stands. “Thank you everyone, I wish I could say it has been a lovely evening, but, well, I’ll leave it at that. I’ll take care of the bill on my way out. The rest of you stay and enjoy. Order dessert. As for my wife, I’m not going to invite her to rot in hell, as I probably should, because I think she already lives there. At least hell is where anyone who spends time with her feels like they’ve been sent.”

My father’s outburst surprises everyone. For me, I find that within the surprise is lucidity. Jack hasn’t had the emotional shelter that I have had. Perhaps I’ve placed too much blame on him for my mother’s behavior. Maybe it’s her that drove him to infidelity in the first place. Maybe the situation is more complicated than I’ve realized. Even with all my study, I couldn’t realize how easy it was to get hurt and be hurt in a relationship until I was in love with someone myself.