Alistair effortlessly rolled Chinese stress balls in his right hand
while he conversed with one of his many footmen on the speakerphone. “Have
you taken care of things?”
“Yes, sir,” the man answered. “As you predicted, the young man was quite eager to come with me when I shared the designated information with him.”
Alistair laughed heartily. “Good. Very good.”
“He wants to know why he has to wait until tomorrow for the meeting. What should I tell him?”
“You tell him good things come to those who wait or that patience is a virtue or any one of those other ridiculous clichés. I don’t care! Just make sure he stays put.”
“I will do that, sir. He is very excited about this.”
Alistair cackled with evil glee. “So am I. So am I.”
“Was that Theresa I saw leaving?” Fox asked Whitney as she invited him into the penthouse.
Whitney smiled. “Yeah, we had a good visit.”
His heart swelled. Whitney had the most beautiful smile. “Good.”
“Did you take care of your errands?”
Fox thought back to his meeting with Julian. “Yes and no,” he answered. His father called just as he arrived at the hotel parking lot and shared he would be over in fifteen minutes to talk to Whitney. Fox could only imagine what his dear old dad would say, but whatever it may be, he would be there to hear it all. “So, have you had dinner?”
The rumbling from her midsection answered the question for him. She blushed and rubbed her hand over her stomach. “Actually, I’m a little hungry.”
“I noticed.” He laughed. “Let’s order some room service. Since my father insists on picking up the tab for your stay, you should really go all out. We’ll order the most expensive item on the menu. How does lobster sound?”
“It sounds delicious, but I don’t want to take advantage of Julian’s generosity.”
Fox frowned. “Please. If you ordered ten of everything on the menu, you wouldn’t even put a dent in what Rebecca spends in an hour.” He walked to the desk and picked up the telephone and the room service menu. “Besides, I’m sure he won’t mind.”
A few minutes later there was a knock on the door. In the midst of checking email, Fox looked up from his laptop.
Whitney glanced at her watch. “Room service got here fast,” she said.
Fox watched as she made her way to the door. No, more like his father got there right on time, he mused.
“Julian, hi,” she greeted. “Come in.”
“Thank you,” Julian said entering the suite. “I wanted to come by and see how everything was for you.”
Fox made his way to Whitney’s side. “Everything is fine,” he answered. “Yeah, uh, Whitney invited me to fly out with her. I guess my invitation to your wedding got lost in the mail or something, huh?”
“Yes, something like that.”
“Your son has been a wonderful friend to me,” Whitney shared. Fox thought his heart would burst out his chest when she wrapped her arms around his and flashed him that million-watt smile. “In fact, he’s responsible for my being here. I had changed my mind about coming.”
The two men shared a look. Julian cleared his throat. “Is that a fact?” he remarked. “May I ask why?”
Whitney released Fox’s arm and strolled to the couch and sat. “Because of my parents.” She expelled a long breath. “They came to visit me in L.A. right after I talked to you. By now I’m sure they’re divorced.”
“I can imagine how much that hurt,” Julian said, joining her on the couch.
She shook her head. “No, I don’t think you can. Sure, I know they’ve been having problems for a while, but divorce? I guess I didn’t want to imagine their marriage coming to that. Fox made me see that as much as this divorce hurts me, I have to try to see it from my parents’ perspective. They weren’t happy anymore, and if staying together made them miserable, they would be better off apart.”
Julian glanced at Fox. “My son said that, huh?”
“Yeah, he did. As much as I didn’t want to hear it, it made a lot of sense.”
“May I ask you a question, Whitney?”
“I guess, sure.”
Fox stepped closer. What was his father up to?
“Do you really believe that? I mean, could you be happy for your parents and support them if they were to find love with other people?”
“Yes.” Julian pressed his finger to his lips and sighed. “Say your mother falls madly in love with another man and wants to spend the rest of her life with him. This is a man she knows would move heaven and earth to make her happy, and would love you and your sister like you were his own children.”
Fox coughed, nearly choking on his father’s words. There was no way Whitney or Simone would want to be loved by Julian the way he loved his children.
Whitney’s eyes widened with concern. “Fox, are you alright?” she asked.
He sniffed. “Yeah, I’m fine. My throat just got a little dry,” he said, walking to the bar and pouring a glass of iced water. “Please, Father, continue.”
Julian shot a flaming dagger at Fox and then cleared his throat. “As I was saying, your mother falls in love with another man and wants to be with him, could you accept that?”
Julian nodded. “Yes, absolutely.”
Fox took a sip of water as he waited for Whitney’s reply.
“I don’t know,” she finally said. “If I shared my mother’s happiness, I think I would feel like I’m betraying my father. Of course, I would want my mother to be happy, she deserves all the happiness in the world, but--I don’t know. I guess I’d have to be in that situation to be able to answer with any certainty.”
“I see,” Julian murmured.
Fox smirked. Not the answer you were looking for, huh, Father?
“You wouldn’t stand in her way, though, right?” Julian asked. “You wouldn’t oppose her moving on and finding her happiness?”
“I wouldn’t oppose either of my parents moving on and finding happiness. It might take me a while to revel in the happiness with them, but I would never begrudge them of their happiness. I can’t imagine being that selfish.” She fixed her gaze on Fox. “At least not anymore.”
Fox felt weightless. His feet no longer touched the floor and the stars in his eyes rendered him completely blinded by love. Could it be? Could Whitney have genuine feelings for him? Julian’s voice brought an end to his romantic ponderings.
“Whitney, thank you for being so forthright with me.” Julian stood. “And on that note, I’ll be on my way.”
“Mr. Crane--Julian,” she corrected, “why did you ask me that question? I mean, Gwen can’t have a problem with you marrying Rebecca, you two have been together for so long.”
“Yes, we have. I just--I wanted to know what you thought, that’s all.”
“Okay,” she said, seeming to accept Julian’s answer for what it was. “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow evening.”
Julian gave her a big smile. “You will indeed. Sleep well, Whitney.” He grabbed Fox’s arm as he made his way to the door. “A word, son.”
Fox snatched his arm away when they stepped outside the door. “Watch that!” he warned.
“No, you watch yourself!” Julian snarled. “Don’t think I didn’t notice the looks between you and Whitney. I swear to God, if you do anything to hurt that girl, I will make you rue the day you were born! Do you understand me?”
Deep red stained his father’s cheeks. Fox shook his head in dismay. “What I don’t understand is how you always think the worst of me. You all but got the green light from Whitney to marry her mother and you owe that all to me, not to mention I’m the one who got her here, and you can’t even manage a ‘thank you’!” He grunted. “You know, forget it. I love Whitney, and I would never hurt her. I don’t give a damn what you think.” Fox grabbed the doorknob.
Julian released a haggard breath. “Fox?”
“What?” He turned around with a jerk and found a flicker of something he never imagined he would see in his father’s eyes, especially directed at him. Genuine gratitude.
“Thank you,” Julian uttered before walking off to the elevator.