“I want these files completed by five today. They have to be sent over to the McCain firm. Do you understand?” Elijah said into the phone, feeling his patience wane, his nerves about to snap, and his anger rise. He slammed the phone down after the call ended, breathed out, and closed his eyes. His business was booming, the money was rolling in, yet he was more stressed out than he’d been in the last four years.
Turning in his chair he stared out the window of his office. He was fifteen stories up, looked down and stared at the activity below. Although it wasn’t really that high, for the town of Grapplers Corner it was considered a skyscraper view.
He stood, walked over to the glass, and continued to gaze down at the city below, not moving for what seemed like several long moments, and then he heard a knock on his office doors. Without turning around he called out for them to enter.
“Mr. Westgate?” his assistant Brenna said from behind him.
He turned and looked at her. She held a stack of papers and a manila envelope in one hand, and in her other hand held a cup of coffee. She set the coffee on the table and handed him the paperwork.
“You have three appointments this afternoon, and another one tomorrow. Mr. Jerald wants to talk to you about the new property development—”
“Cancel my appointments for the rest of the day and tomorrow.”
She was silent for a moment. “Okay. Are you feeling okay?”
He looked down at the files. “I’m fine, but the appointments today and tomorrow aren’t anything that can’t be dealt with later in the week.”
“Okay,” she said again, and turned to leave.
Once the door was shut behind her he sat back down and rested his head back on the chair. Staring at the vaulted ceiling in his office, he felt strained, pulled and tugged because of work, because of his life being so hectic anymore. It was the evil that came with success. It was the strain that came with the payoff, the loneliness that came with being wealthy.
He picked up his phone, and dialed the front desk. “Get Franco on the line for me, please,” he said to Brenna. After a second of silence he heard ringing on the other end of the receiver. He waited for a man he’d first met years ago to come on the line.
“Elijah, it has been too long,” Franco, a Portuguese business investor Elijah had met five years prior, said in his deeply accented voice.
After they small talked for about five minutes, Elijah finally got to the reason he’d called Franco. “You remember that property you mentioned all those years ago, the one you owned about two hours from the city?” They’d spoken just last month at a gala they’d both attended, and when Franco had mentioned the property to another investor Elijah hadn’t been able to help but grow interested.
“Si. I’ve been in the market to sell it, and was speaking with someone at the gala, if you remember.”
“I do.” Elijah turned and stared out the window again. “I’d like to talk business with you regarding it. Personal business.”
“You in the market for property?” Franco asked.
Elijah thought about how lonely he was, how it was pathetic that he went home every night to his apartment and stared below at the activity on the streets. He thought about how he had no one, and when he’d been married he’d felt more alone than when he stood in a room by himself. In the last four years he’d become more successful than he’d ever thought possible, especially in a city that wasn’t exactly a sprawling metropolis.
He had no wife, and the women he associated with weren’t ones he’d be interested in spending the rest of his life with, not when it was clear they were more interested in the money he had in his bank account. Yes, he was in the market for property, one that would give him the solitude and the peace he needed, even if he’d be alone.
Elijah pulled his Mercedes onto the cobblestoned driveway of the cabin about two hours from the city. Franco wasn’t there yet, but Elijah was about twenty minutes early. After cutting the engine he climbed out of the car. Although this was considered a cabin, was out in the middle of nowhere, sitting on ten acres of thickly wooded acreage, and was the farthest thing from simplistic Elijah had ever seen, it was still out in the middle of nowhere and he’d have his space. That’s what he needed, maybe even just as much as he didn’t want to live this successful life alone anymore.
He walked around the outside of the cabin, took in the two story height of the structure, the arched windows, modern construction, and the professional landscaping. It was a gorgeous house on an ideal piece of property. It was exactly what Elijah was looking for.
The sound of a car approaching had him turning on the porch and looking at the BMW that pulled up beside his car. When Franco came out, he was speaking on his Bluetooth, his voice angry as he yelled in Portuguese with someone on the other end. After a few minutes Franco ended the call, held his hands out, and smiled widely.
“Olá, Elijah,” he said and walked up the porch. “Bom dia. Come, let me show you inside.” Franco unlocked the stained glass double doors and pushed them open. When Elijah stepped inside he should have realized this cabin wouldn’t be rustic, not if Franco owned it. It certainly wasn’t a cabin that one would think was out in the middle of the woods.
“I purchased the land about a decade ago, and planned on making this a vacation spot because of the location and lake that’s in town,” Franco said in his thick Portuguese accent. He walked into the large, open kitchen, and turned to face Elijah, a big smile on his olive skin toned face.
They walked through the rest of the four-bedroom cabin, and Franco took great pride in explaining everything that was in the house.
“We finished construction just last year, and everything is brand new, top of the line.”
“You never thought of staying here with your family?” Elijah asked and walked over to the floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the sprawling back deck and woods.
“I planned on it, but my wife and the children are not ones for rustic living.”
Elijah looked over at him and lifted a brow. “This is rustic living?” he joked and smiled.
Franco started chuckling. “Let’s just say even after it was all said and done they prefer the villa in Portugal and the penthouse suite in New York over this.”
Elijah shook his head. “It’s not as simple as I’d initially wanted, but this is perfect for me, for what I’m looking for.”
“You wish to bring a wife here, have a family?”
It wasn’t a secret that Elijah was single, and that he had no family. That kind of information went through the grapevine and their social circle like gasoline through a fire. “I don’t think a family and another wife is in my future, Franco.” He paused a moment, and then looked over his shoulder again at Franco. “I’ve come to realize that no matter how much money you have you can’t buy everything.”
And that was the sad, depressing truth of it all, of his life.
One week later
“Do you really have to leave?” Freya asked Maurice, feeling sad that her best friend had to go, but knowing he couldn’t stay here forever. He had opportunities elsewhere, a job waiting for him, a career, family, and of course a girl.
Maurice smiled, and leaned back on her couch. “I wish I didn’t, believe me. No matter how anxious I am to start my career and earn enough to not have to live with my folks, I am going to miss you like crazy.”
She went over to him and sat on the couch beside him. “You’re only a car drive away.”
“A long car drive.”
She nodded and sighed. “Yeah, but that’s never stopped us before. I mean we have the phone, FaceTime, and we can always plan on hanging out for the weekend.” She rested her head on his shoulder, stared at the TV that was muted but showed an old rerun, and thought about how lonely she’d be. “I’d like to meet Sarah, too. I am all alone in this house, and having you guys come around will liven the place up.”
He chuckled softly and wrapped his arm around her shoulder. “We’ve hung out the last four years whenever we wanted to, and it was just a short walk across campus to see each other.”
“I know.” She leaned back and looked into his face. “We’re best friends though, and that won’t ever change. You’re stuck with me for the long-haul, buddy.” She leaned her shoulder into his and chuckled.
He smiled again and nodded. There was no sexual chemistry between them. They were only friends, the best of friends. They’d spoken about this, especially after that drunken night. It was what it was, and at the end of the day she was glad she had Maurice in her corner.
“I better get on the road though,” he said a little disappointed. “My parents and Sarah are waiting.” There was this blush that stole over his cheeks at the mention of the girl he was going to see waiting for him back home.
Freya didn’t give him a teasing jab at that, just smiled and felt so glad he was happy. “Okay, but you promise to call as soon as you get there.”
“Of course.” He gave her a big hug and then stood. His bags were already packed and sitting by the front door.