Free to a Good Home, Book 2 of the Heartbeat Series

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3. Fatherhood

"I agree to amend Candace’s contract as per what her counsel presented,” said Alex, “it relaxes her recording schedule and extends her contract with us for another five years. It’s a win-win for us.” Alex flipped through the printed contract addendum from his home office in White Plains, New York. He awaited Daniel and Margery’s response on the conference phone.

“With her last album sales, I think additional time committed to ACR is a good thing,” said Daniel. “Motherhood suits her. It seems to have reached an additional demographic market we weren’t expecting.”

“Mama Mama, Up! Up!” fussed Molly, Alex and Megan’s nearly 2-year-old on Megan’s side of the office.

“No, Molly, Mama’s working,” said Megan as Alex stood up from his desk and peered into her office, seeing his wife, Megan, at her desk still trying to put the same figures into the spreadsheet for the grant proposal due within the hour.

Molly fussed and tried to climb into Megan’s chair. “Up, Up!”

“Speaking of motherhood,” said Alex, making them laugh. ”Molly, let Mommy work,” said Alex.

Molly saw Alex and toddled over to the baby gate that separated their offices.

"Daddy! Daddy!" whined Molly in Megan’s adjoining office. Molly stood up and toddled over to the baby gate and fussed at Alex.

“See what you did?” asked Megan, not turning, but typing the numbers in faster.

“I got this. Daddy to the rescue.” Alex stood up and took her a teething cookie from the half-empty box on his desk and kissed the top of her head. Molly stood there stamping her feet and almost dropped her cookie.

“Up, up!” Fussed Molly. Alex picked her up and put her on his lap at his desk while she nibbled on her cookie. He kissed the top of her head.

“Okay, I’m back, sorry guys.”

"So, moving on to Qiana,” said Daniel, from the Manhattan office, just trying to keep on the agenda.

“Hi!” said Molly.

“We have a new member of our contracts team,” said Alex. “She’s having a cookie.”

“Hi Molly,” said Margery Sims, Alex’s executive assistant in his LA office.

“Anything else on Candace?” he asked as Molly reclined in his arm.

“No, that’s it, Alex. We’ve moved on to Qiana,” reminded Margery.

"A and R has decided to extend a small contract to Qiana in Australia," said Daniel.

“I have their notes. Who is Dutch assigning her to, Margery?”

“Andy Weans, Dutch says he’s not traveling.”

Megan had just finished plugging in numbers on a spreadsheet for a grant proposal and was getting ready to send it when the phone rang.

“Associated Artists AIDS Foundation,” replied Megan as she clicked the print icon.

“Mr. Corwynn, please,” replied Martin, with a sense of urgency in his voice.

“He’s on a conference call at the moment. May I ask who is calling, or take a message?”

“This is Martin Mancusi, I’m the ACR warehouse manager in Queens. We just got a shipment in from Paul Lenci’s tour. This is the first time I have ever found a fan in the cargo, and I wasn’t certain what to do.”

“A fan in the cargo?” exclaimed Megan in disbelief. Alex hearing that, got up and set Molly on his desk chair and handed her a second cookie to keep her hands off anything else.

"The paramedics say she’s in grave condition and wanted ACR to notify the family immediately. She’s an unconscious kid and she had a letter and birth certificate in her pocket that said she’s Paul Lenci’s half-sister. "

Megan relayed what Martin said to Alex who told her to inform Margery and Daniel and tell them to wait for him and not hang up.

When Alex returned to his office, his salt and pepper curls disheveled from running his hands through them while his mind raced for a quick solution. Megan had filled in Daniel Stockton, the legal counsel for ACR and Margery Sims, his executive assistant in LA them in on what she knew of the situation.

Daniel, unfazed by the revelation that Saverio had a love child, candidly gossiped about Saverio and his player status in Manhattan and Chicago because he dared not to play around on Mama Mussolini in Philly. Megan took a sleepy Molly out of his side of the office so Alex could sit in his executive chair and twirl his Rolodex looking for a phone number.

“This girl is not well. She’s got a high fever, is dehydrated and unconscious. They took her to Queens Medical. Grave condition is what the EMT said. The truck was loaded three days ago. She’s been without food or water for 72 hours at least,” said Alex.

“Was she trying to get herself killed?” exclaimed Margery Simms.

“All I know is that I need Saverio to verify if he has another daughter, or if this is a fabrication. I will keep you guys in the loop. Mum’s the word, Margery. Daniel, keep your phone on and meet me at Queens Medical. Meg, call Mike and my car."

"On it,” she said with the phone to her ear and Molly nearly asleep in her lap. ”So young to be all alone,” sighed Megan, hearing the fax machine beep in her office. She returned with Molly over one shoulder and the fax of the birth certificate and handwritten note from Maia, not expecting to return to her office for the second page that printed out after it. Shaking his head, Alex breathed deeply, knowing that Paulie would go ballistic before supper at this news while Meg read the article and brought it to him. He glanced at the underlined quote she pointed to as she set it on the desk blotter.

“What a little shit. I like her already.”

“Are you calling Paulie?”

“Not unless I have to. I’m going to the root of the matter. This is Saverio’s news to tell, not mine. Trust me, if he could, Paulie would be screaming at me in Italian before the hour is up.”

He dialed the number from his Rolodex hoping the old man would be home at his Florida condo and not out at the senior center playing Bocce. After a few rings, the old man answered the phone.

“Mr. Lenci, its Alex Corwynn.”

The shocked old Sicilian said nothing at first as if he had to stop and register the voice and brace himself for possibly bad news.

“Alexander, is everything all right? Paulie, is he well? The news said he cancelled—too sick. No answer at his house…” rambled the old man in broken English. Since Alex grew up with Paul, he knew how to communicate with Saverio and Mama Mussolini even better than Paul sometimes.

"Paulie is on his way home to the Poconos from what I’ve heard. His concert tour was successful, and Joey just got him well enough to travel. They started home today.”

“Thank God, son, you scared this old man.”

“It was not intentional, by any means, I just needed to speak with you. I need to ask you a personal question, and Mr. Lenci, it’s important that you answer me honestly as it’s a matter of life or death.”

“Have I ever lied to you, boy? You…who are ah…like my son—” said the old man, becoming agitated.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Lenci, but this is a delicate matter. Do you have a daughter named Maia?”

Saverio said nothing at first, then sighed and mumbled a Sicilian curse before asking Alex, ”Merda…Shit…Maia? Why do you ask me about ah… Maia?”

“There was a girl found in Paulie’s cargo this morning. Her name is Maia Lenci. Her birth certificate lists you as her father.”

“I have a daughter named Maia, yes. Her mother must be frantic and worried about her.”

"Paulie has never mentioned her.”

“He doesn’t know of her, Alexander.”

“Why not?”

“She is from an affair I had some years ago.”

“I see.”

“A trust was…ah…established for her and her mother after she was born. But why...ah…why would she hide out in Paulie’s cargo? That makes …ah…no sense to me.”

“Same here. She’s gravely ill. You need to come to New York. She’s very sick and needs family nearby.”

“I’ll try, I need to speak with Rosa first.”

“You do that and call me back. Do you know how to contact her mother?”

“I’ve not talked to ah…Catrina in years. She gets the trust fund checks…same house…ah always same house.”

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with this child. I think you should tell Paulie before I have to. Maia is at Queens Medical Center. I’ll have my assistant locate her mother. I’m going to the hospital now. Please, Mr. Lenci, call Paulie the moment you get off the phone with me.”

“Yes, Alexander,” said Saverio, “I will call Paulie as soon as I’m able.”

“Be it within the hour, or a reporter could be the one telling him of the blessed event.”

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