‘Hey. What’s up?’ Logan is surprised to see his brother at the door. Brodie didn’t tell him he was coming.
‘Sorry to show up unannounced.’
‘Brodie are you okay?’ Logan can read Brodie, he is trying to disguise his agitation.
‘Are Jojo and the kids here?’
‘No they went to her parent’s for the weekend. Come in.’ Logan observes his brother, when he walks in; something’s wrong. ‘Brodie what’s wrong?’
‘What happened between you and Francesca Milan and what does mom have to do with it?’
‘Logan, I have just driven for three hours back to London after a hell of a day yesterday. I’m going back to New York but Francesca insisted I talk to you.’
‘Does this have anything to do with Blu and what happened at your wedding?’
‘I don’t know she seems to think it does. What happened between you two?’
‘Are you hungry?’ Logan asks, taking Brodie by surprise, ‘I’ll heat something up, Imelda made Bolognese.’ He is trying to give his brother time to settle, Brodie in this state can be combustible.
Brodie knows what Logan is trying to do and he doesn’t fight it. He accepts the food and drink set out at the table. His brother sits opposite him.
‘So Franny talked.’
‘She didn’t have much of a choice, she was trying to salvage her friendship with Blu. Things got out of hand yesterday.’
‘Have you spoken to Blu?’
‘No, she won’t talk but she left me a note, says I should talk to mom she knows something about what happened but Francesca wanted me to talk to you before I leave town.’
‘When do you leave?’
‘I want to leave tonight.’
‘I’m sick and tired of everything, chasing after a woman who doesn’t want me-’
‘Did Blu tell you that or-?’
‘She doesn’t have to, actions speak louder than words. But she says she still loves me.’
‘So why are you going back to New York when things are still so unsettle between you two?’
‘I’m done Logan, this whole push and pull thing, I’m done.’
‘Brodie do you love her?’ Logan presses, Brodie can be so impatient sometimes, he hides behind this wall of his, it takes a while for him to drop his guard. Things were different with Blu, he was more himself with her than ever, without even trying.
‘I love her but what has that got to do with anything? Are you going to tell me what happened between you and Francesca or am I going to make my plane?’
‘You’re not making that plane.’ Logan gives Brodie time to finish his food and drink.
After eating, Brodie sends an email. Waits for a reply then puts his phone away. ‘I’m fed, watered, thanks to you. I have cancelled by ticket. Let’s talk.’
Logan smiles ruefully. ‘Remember that summer when I went away for a month?’
‘Yeah, you were touring Europe.’
‘I was eloping.’ Logan says deadpan.
‘Six months before, I met a girl in the local Waitrose in Belgravia. She was the manager of the store and helped me with some wine or something. We got talking and shortly after started seeing each other. I’d wait for her to finish work and walk her to the station or have dinner or go to the movies or just chill together.’
‘Okay…’ Brodie did not want to pre-empt his brother, he needed to tell this story in his entirety.
‘We’d been dating for five months when mum saw us one evening. We were having coffee in Starbucks, she walked in and headed straight for our table. I introduced her to my girlfriend and she brought out the charming Leila Sterling. I thought phew! She approved so I could introduce her to you guys.’
‘So what happened? Why didn’t we meet this girl?’
‘Mum. She’d gotten her stooge to investigate my girlfriend and in twenty-four hours found out everything about her. She grew up in a council estate in Kilburn Park before moving to live with her aunt after her mum died, her father died before she was born. She was a brainiac so she want went to private school on scholarship-’
‘Who was this girl?’
‘Francesca Wilcox, now Milan.’
‘She was working in Waitrose to save up for law school, and she was a waitress at a pub in Kilburn.’
‘Mum found all this out and wasn’t happy?’
‘You could say that again. She had us followed and knew we were planning to get married.’
‘You only knew her six months.’
Logan shrugs, ‘I was in love with her. I didn’t care what family she came from or what she did for a living. We were in love.’
‘So why didn’t you introduce us to her?’
‘I don’t know Brodie, I didn’t want to put you guys in the crosshairs of mum I guess.’ Logan shrugs, ‘Franny didn’t want a big affair; without a mother and father, she’d been on her own a long time, so she wanted to keep it small. She pestered me about introducing her to you guys. Meanwhile mum had called her up a few times, been very unpleasant to her, but Franny never told me any of this. That summer, we went to Florence, her first time on a plane, and we decided that’s where we wanted to get married. Everything was set for a week later but on the eve of our wedding she went out to get milk and didn’t come back.’ Logan laughs a little, the memory is still so painful. He is happy now, but it had taken a long road to get here.
‘Where did she go?’
‘No idea. I didn’t see her until three years later.’
‘Mum called her two days before, told her she would pay for her to go to Law school, all of her tuition and housing for however long it takes her, if she walked away.’
‘Fuck. Mum did that?’
‘Yep she did.’ Logan leans back into his chair. ‘Turns out she had plans for me to marry Jojo, Sterling was in trouble and it was the marriage to her that saved it from going under.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Grandpa gambled the family fortune away, Sterling was next and grandma told mom she had to save it because her inheritance had been pissed away. You know what their relationship was like. She tried to set me up with Jojo, told me she knew Franny was no good for me.’
‘She said that?’
‘She did. She never thought Franny would tell me the real reason why left me in Florence.’
‘Franny told you?’
‘She did. She called me up one day, she’d read about my marriage to Jojo Whittaker and she wanted to congratulate me. We met up and she told me everything. Mum made her sign a non-disclosure but she wanted to tell me know the truth. She was so ashamed.’
‘Because she felt she’d let me down and I couldn’t convince her otherwise. The thing is I was so mean to Jojo when we got together, I let her know I didn’t love her and this was a marriage of convenience and nothing more. It got so bad that one day she cheated on me.’
‘She slept with someone else so I could at least have a reason for the divorce. She wouldn’t contest it or say anything to the press. Sterling dynasty will be safe.’
‘The fuck Logan!’
‘Those days weren’t my best-’
‘This is all on mum.’
‘I’m a grown man Brodie, I had a choice.’
‘You didn’t she made you choose the life you didn’t want. How are things with you and Jojo?’
‘Better. I apologised, we went away, worked on our marriage… you know counselling and all that.’
‘Do you love her?’
‘I’ve grown to. I don’t pine after Franny, I made my peace with that and moved on and we promised not to talk about this anymore which is why I’m surprised she talked.’
‘I think she’s trying to help me and Blu.’ Brodie covered his face with his hands, ‘Logan man I wish you told me.’
‘Then what would’ve happened? World war three between you and mom as if your arguments were not bad enough. I couldn’t do that to any of you?’
‘What has she got to do with you and Blu?’
‘I don’t know. I gathered she said something to Blu and-’
‘That’s why you think she bolted?’
‘I think so.’ Brodie hands Logan the note to read.
‘Let’s go talk to the house, we need to get to the bottom of this.’ Logan says after reading the note. ‘This reminds me, Blu’s mum was at the office the other day.’
‘She had it out with mum from what I can tell, but I haven’t talked to her about it.’
Logan texts his other siblings to meet at their mother’s house in Knightsbridge, Brodie is in a foul mood and anything can happen.