‘You did what?’
‘You heard what I said.’
‘And I was hoping it was a very delayed April Fools joke. What is the matter with you?’
The Beckerman siblings are having dinner at the home of their eldest sister, Elizabeth. This is the first time they have gotten together in three months. Nobody in the family is happy with AJ about the divorce or the fact that he cheated on his wife with Wendy the sous chef. Nobody, not even his mother whose favourite he was, before he got demoted to second favourite after Sigourney, Sig for short, the second oldest by two years. Elizabeth was never going to be in the running because she is much like their mother. Lucky, the family Alsatian is likely miles ahead of her in the sphere. But she settles for being daddy’s little girl. AJ however, until recently was the darling of the family.
‘Why shouldn’t I want to have my son with me all the time?’
‘Because you are not his mother for starters. But more than that it is a cold and callous thing to do. How dare you?’ Sig wants to knock some sense into him.
AJ knew this was the wrong move the minute he filed the papers but he was just so angry about the email Ava’s cousin sent him.
‘You know what? You are wrong and selfish and stupid.’
‘You leave your wife and child to shack up with your sous chef, then you file for full custody of your only son with her. You know what she went through before she had Oliver and you want to take that away from her simply because you think you can?’
‘Sig its not like that.’
‘How is it then? You want to tell me how you intend on raising a child with a woman who has no interest in being a mother? You think she loves you?’
‘She does love me.’
Elizabeth scuffs, ‘she loves the the idea of you. You’re AJ Beckerman. Talented, charming, wealthy. You come from legacy, are married to legacy. You’re brilliant in the kitchen, own your own restaurant-’
‘Actually, fifty percent.’ Sig corrects.
‘Exactly. You think she wants to raise a child with you?’
‘Are you telling me she only loves me because of who I am?’
‘That’s precisely what we are telling you.’ Elizabeth clears the table. Her brother pissed off the family with his faux pas. They were hoping he would come to his senses but how does one go back from the series of missteps he’d made? Besides, Ava will not take him back not after the mess he put her through.
Nobody thought AJ would ever settle down, they expected him to be the brat and playboy for life; spoilt, rich and taken care of. He never has to work if he doesn’t want to and for a while they didn’t think he would get a job until he came back from New York one summer and told them he was going to the Cordon Bleu in Paris. He’d flunked out of university, two semesters before, worked as some sort of party promoter, club co-owner for a few VIP bars and restaurants; with his name and looks he made a decent living. He’d been in New York that summer for a new club opening when he met Ava. He came back to London a changed person; enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu, and graduated with a grand diplome. Ava was working in Paris at the time and through her connections AJ was able to cater to the most fabulous parties, and got the attention of some influential power players, Ava being one herself. Soon after, he was offered a job in Paris at a small but well-known restaurant, as head chef, where he cemented his status as an incredible chef. They got married in an elaborate ceremony in London, and after two years of trying and treatments and miscarrying two pregnancies, Ava had Oliver. They moved back to London when Oliver was five after Ava got offered a job at Huxley and together, they started Ava John their restaurant where AJ got the attention of the capital. Ava John is constantly named one of the best restaurants in the world, with a waiting list a year long. His reputation as one of the best chefs in the world is well deserved, but his family also knows none of that would be possible without the influence of Ava in his life. He would have ended up a tired club owner, probably coked out of his head too, Ava changed all of that and AJ blew it all for Wendy the sous chef.
‘AJ, she won’t want to raise a child with you, no woman wants that baggage, much as I love Oliver, he is your baggage and she is not in that stage of her life.’
‘Besides, you have no right to do that to Ava, none at all.’ Sig is so angry.
‘I just want my son with me-’
‘Really? Because you have always had him with you? You work the most unsociable hours as a chef-’
‘Ava works too.’
‘She does yet she is always there with him and has never made you feel less than and now you…’ Elizabeth shakes her head disgusted.
‘Look, you are going to do what you want to do regardless, its always been your way but I can tell you now, you are wrong on all levels. You’ve been wrong since you started sleeping with your sous chef.’ Sig leaves the table.
Elizabeth is more benevolent, ‘you know how Sig feels about Ava.’
‘Don’t I know it.’
‘AJ, all any of us ever want for you is to be happy.’
‘I am happy.’
‘Are you? Or is this just some flame that is likely to be extinguished soon because it sure feels like that. I’m your sister and I love you, I always will but that also comes with me being able to tell you when you’ve made a mistake. You’ve made plenty in your privileged and charmed life most of which can be chucked up to whatever, but you taking your son from his mother, knowing what she went through, is a terrible mistake. I hope it works with the sous chef, I really do, but Ava does not deserve to be treated this way. She deserves better. But if you are not going to do right by her, do right by your son.
AJ relaxes into the dining chair, deflated by the words of his sister. The reality is beginning to set in and he hates that bitter after taste.