ADVENT STORIES #16 | QUID PRO QUO

Dear River,

Thank you for allowing me see the children without a court appointed visitor. I know I do not deserve the kindness so I thank you. I know sorry can never be enough but I want to say I am sorry I know how much I hurt you. I hope you can forgive me someday.

Bree.

River reads the email from Bree and then deletes it. Raymond did not tell her about their visit before he signed the papers to give her free visitation with the children. It was not because he was being kind, rather, it was a deal he had to make with his brother…

River reads the email from his attorney with much irritation. It is simple; Raymond is refusing the money he sent in payment for his share of the loan that started Huxley. He is the last of the start up investors; there were ten of them, friends and family who’d loaned him money to start Huxley; they took a chance on him and their investment paid off. He’s paid them all. Or would have if Raymond would just accept the money and Huxley would be one hundred percent his but his brother has other ideas.

As if by kismet, his attorney’s number flashes on his mobile phone.

‘What the fuck is he playing at?’ River bypasses the niceties.

‘He would like a meeting with you.’ Annabel answers River’s question. She’d been trying to settle his accounts but his brother was always going to be a problem. This is not her area of expertise, but she did it for him as a favour.

‘I don’t want to see him.’

‘Do you want to own Huxley outright?’

‘Of course I do.’

‘Then you have to see him River, its just that simple.’ Annabel knows nothing about this is simple, ‘look I know how much he hurt you, it doesn’t sound sinister, this is his way of trying to make amends.’

‘I don’t want him making amends he should never have fucked my wife in the first place.’

Annabel wanted to ask him about things with Ava but that would be presumptuous; she thought he was doing better, thought he was finally coming out of his cold funk. ‘I am going to tell you this as a stranger who only has your best interest at heart, see him, talk to him find out what he wants. He has made this the only condition of accepting the money, it seems a worthwhile thing to do for a long term goal. That’s just my two cents.’

River sighs, she is probably right, Raymond has been trying to speak to him for months, either through their common friends or their mother. River gave him a wide berth, avoided the people they knew together, places they went and things they did. He’d almost had to reconstruct his life to avoid ever having to interact with his brother and his ex-wife. ‘Fine I’ll meet with him. In my office six pm today and if he doesn’t accept I will sell Huxley in parts and tie up the money so he can deal with the new owners.’ He doesn’t know how far he is willing to push that threat but he is seriously considering it.

‘I’ll set it up.’

‘Thank you.’

*

Six pm.

River’s desk phone rings. Lara, his assistant.

‘Hi Lara.’

‘Raymond is here.’

‘Thanks, put him in the boardroom and I’ll see you tomorrow.’

River walks into the boardroom to see his brother standing, looking out the window. The last time they’d seen each other, he was dressed in boxers having just fucked his wife. Thankfully now he is fully dressed.

‘What the fuck are you playing at?’

‘Hello to you too River.’ Raymond turns to look at his brother, that hate in his eyes is still there, from the moment he thrown him out of his house, it stays there.

‘What the fuck are you playing at?’ River asks the question again.

‘You need something from me, I need something from you.’

‘I don’t need shit from you. I want to pay you back your money-’

‘So that you can own Huxley outright. If I don’t accept the money, you don’t own it. So I beg to differ, you do need something from me.’

‘I will sell it for parts if it comes to it.’

‘You wouldn’t do that. You spent your life building this business.’

‘Try me. To never see or deal with you again, you have no idea what I would do. Now what the fuck do you want?’

Raymond sighs, seeing his brother’s hate for him makes him sad. They’d been so close until two years ago and that is on him. ‘River, I’m sorry I don’t-’

‘Don’t. Don’t apologise, don’t justify your shitty behaviour, I don’t want to hear it. You asked to see me for a reason, you are wasting my time standing here with this pointless discussion.’

‘Fine. I’ll get to it. Bree would like to see Wyn and Ralph more freely, I would like that for her too. You want me to accept the payment this is what I need in return.’

‘You’re here to bribe me to remove visitation rights from her before you accept the money you’re owed.’

‘It’s not a bribe, it’s a quid pro quo.’

‘Really?’

‘Look, you’re mad at us and you have every right to be-’

‘Thanks. I didn’t know I needed your validation for my anger.’

‘River, I didn’t come here to start anything. I am begging you, please just do this not for me, not for her, but for the sake of… kindness or Christmas. I don’t even think Wyn and Ralph want to see her as much. They are growing up and soon they will stop coming around, I just want her to have some free time with her children when she can. That’s all. Sorry if it feels like I’m hamstringing you, but I had to try.’

‘You can see yourself out.’ River walks out of the boardroom, leaving his brother to do as he asks, being in his presence was too much to bear and he didn’t want to have to do it if he could help it.



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