Chapter 6: A Late Visit
It was in the middle of the night when the phone started to ring. Adam groaned as he sat up and looked around for the phone. According to the alarm clock it was almost one thirty in the morning. Adam sighed as he reached over and picked up the phone after a few rings. He was rubbing the sleep out of his eyes as he answered it.
“Hello?” Adam called out.
“Hello there, Mr. Freeloader.” The voice at the other end answered.
“Oh... hey Dad,” Adam said as he slowly sat up in bed, “Do you realize that it’s half past one in the morning over here?”
The old man was calling him at eight-thirty and wasn’t used to the time zone difference. Knowing his Dad, the old man was probably still at the office doing last minute work and decided to call. “Sorry about that.”
“It’s okay,” Adam said as he laid down on his pillow. “What are you doing?”
“Working,” The old man replied, “Something you’re not doing.”
“What makes you say that?” Adam asked.
“Cause you’re still in Gay Pair-ree.” His father answered. “I sent you there to attend a funeral, not stay an extra few days and take some personal time.”
“I was asked to stay,” Adam explained. “What was I supposed to say?”
“You’re supposed to say no.” His father coldly answered.
“What if the person that made the request is named Bouchard?” Adam countered, loving the chance to drop that truth bomb on the old man.
There was a long, uncomfortable silence. Adam waited for that little detail to sink into his father’s head. It didn’t take too long.
“You were asked to stay in town by the Bouchards?” his father asked.
“Yes, I was.” Adam confirmed.
“What about your room?” his father cried, worried he was still in the suite. “Are we still holding the tab on that?”
“Nope,” Adam said as he finally let the old man off the hook. “It’s being covered by the Bouchards for the entire duration; even the mini bar.”
The old man on the other end laughed. “I should send you out on these business trips more often. You seem to have a knack for connecting with clients.”
“You have no idea.” Adam said with a soft chuckle.
“Well done kid,” His father said as he also chuckled. “Well done!”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence.” Adam said as he looked at the time. The reading of the will wasn’t until after lunch so there was plenty of time to get ready. “Do you mind if I go back to sleep now?”
“Alright,” The old man said as he also sighed. The idea of the Bouchards picking up the tab seemed to relieve his worries. “Give me a call later today and we’ll talk more about this and you can give me all the dirt.”
“Will do,” Adam replied, “Wait, hold on a second.”
“What is it, sport?” the old man asked.
“What’s going on with Jen?” Adam asked, “She hasn’t tried to call me.”
“The house burned down,” his father reminded him, “She barely had enough time to get out alive, so she didn’t stop to pick up her mobile phone. She doesn’t have your number and I’m not moved enough to give it to her.”
Adam couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “She’s asked for it?”
“Once or twice,” The old man confirmed, “The authorities ruled the fire was indeed accidental, despite what she was doing when it started. But the house is still a write off. Everything inside is unrecoverable.”
“At least no one was hurt.” Adam said, thinking about it.
“Do you want me to give her the number?” his father asked.
Adam paused for a moment as he thought about it. “Not yet.”
“Well halle-fucking-luyya!” his father called out.
“Try not to get too excited,” Adam warned him.
“Screw that, it’s about fracking time!” the old man replied. He was never a fan of Jen’s and her recent act of destruction didn’t improve things. He was pleased to hear his son might be finally seeing things from his perspective.
“By the way,” Adam continued, “This is not a vacation, I’m doing business out here. This is time away with pay, since I probably have to do apartment hunting when I get home.”
“As long as we still have clients in France when you get back,” his father warned him, “then I’m okay with that. If you manage to land new business, you’ll get the standard commission I give our sales people on top of that.”
“Alright,” Adam replied, feeling more motivated than ever. “Is it okay if I go back to bed now?”
“Sure, Sure,” the old man said, as Adam could hear his wrist jingle as he was checking his watch. “I’ll try not to do that again.”
The line went dead. His Dad was never the ‘I love you’ at the end of the call kind of guy but the fact that he called so often just to check up on him was all the evidence he needed to hear that the old man still cared.
Adam put the phone down, turned the light off and closed his eyes and tried to go back to sleep. Less than five minutes later, where was a soft knock at the door. Adam wasn’t anywhere near asleep so he hopped right out and walked over to the door. Standing there in a nightgown and a robe was Fiona. She looked a little stressed and tired.
“I had trouble sleeping,” she started, “I heard the phone ring and since you were awake I thought we could talk for a second?”
“Sure,” Adam said as he opened the door wider for her to enter. Adam was the kind of person who needed time to sleep anyway, so talking to her wasn’t going to cost him any shut eye, unless she stayed a while. He watched as she walked over and sat down on the couch near his bed. It was beside the window so she was able to look out at the amazing view she procured for him.
“So who was on the phone?” Fiona asked, as it was apparent she wanted to discuss anything except the will reading, which was the next day.
“It was my Dad,” Adam answered, “Updates on the ex.”
“Oh!” Fiona said, remembering the video. “What’s happened?”
Adam paused for a moment. “She burned the house down.”
Fiona’s eye went as wide as saucers and her mouth gaped open. “No way!”
“I’m afraid so,” Adam confirmed for her, “It was accidental. Something was still plugged in when she was trying to toss it, it sparked and started a fire. With my clothes all over the place, it spread rather quickly.”
Fiona tried to hide it, but she started to laugh uncontrollably. She rolled onto her back and was convulsing in hysterics.
Adam couldn’t help but giggle as well. “No one was hurt in case you were wondering.”
“That’s good,” Fiona said, sitting back up, wiping a tear from her cheek from laughing so hard. “Oh, I needed that.”
“It’s write off,” Adam said, laughing as well. “Much like the relationship I had with her.”
“Are you sure about that?” Fiona asked, curious if he was serious.
“Well, she ended it,” Adam started, “But in the end, she’ll always be that crazy lady who burned my house down because I went on a business trip. You don’t go back to someone that nuts unless you’re a glutton for punishment.”
“Makes sense,” Fiona agreed, “What does your Dad think?”
“He never liked her,” Adam informed her, “I think he broke out the bubbly.”
“Oh my,” Fiona said, smiling at the thought, “So he’s a happy camper?”
“Pretty much,” Adam said, “He’s also happy not to be footing the bill for this room. He’s surprised I’m still in town, but I said it’s for business.”
“So you lied?” Fiona asked.
“I exaggerated,” Adam corrected, “This time tomorrow I might be talking to the new owner of Bouchard Enterprises. I’d say that might be good for business.”
“Touche,” Fiona said, though her face soured as the subject came up. “I don’t know if I want anything, just to avoid having to deal with George and mother.”
“From what little I know of your grandmother,” Adam started, “I’m sure she was more than fair to everyone. That might not fly well with them, but I’m sure whatever she left you was done with love so you could continue to pursue your own goals without any kind of financial burden.”
“It sounds so loving when you say it,” Fiona said as she grabbed one of the pillows and laid her head on it. “It won’t sound that way tomorrow at the reading. Just numbers and cold business jargon.”
“Is that why you’d like me there?” Adam asked, “To deal with the jargon?”
“That and for support,” Fiona confessed, “Things just seem easier to deal with when you’re around. You know what I mean?”
“I do,” Adam said, as he was in full agreement. The last few days in Paris with her had been amazing. They both had a good time, and he hadn’t felt that happy in quite some time.
“What are you thinking about?” Fiona asked, noticing his mind had wandered.
“I was just thinking about the last two days,” Adam confessed, “I had a really good time out there. I hope you did too.”
“I did,” She said, “What part was your favorite?”
Adam thought about it for a moment. “I would have to say the art gallery.”
“Why?” Fiona asked, “Besides the oblivious answer.”
“I’d have to say it was the company,” Adam told her, “I always loved going to galleries whenever I had the chance, but no one ever wanted to go with me. Not even my parents when I was a kid. They were raised to blue collar to apprentice stuff like that so the answer I would always get was no. So whenever we did business in New York, I’d always sneak off and take a subway to the gallery and museum. Jen wasn’t that cultured either, so asking her to look at art was like asking a child to help you eat Brussels sprouts. Dragging people out to share moments like that seemed like a chore and I stopped asking people a long time ago. The same goes for watching your grandmother on the big screen. No one wanted to go, but I refused to let them spoil my fun. I went there myself, and I know it sounds strange that a kid would be there watching black and white movies along, but I didn’t care. So when you suggested the gallery, I was more than just eager to go; I was elated that it was someone else’s idea to do it. It was also nice being there with someone who also knew just as much about the art there than I did, which was fun cause I like learning new stuff all the time. I had a lot of fun there, and it was nice of you to suggest it. It was quite refreshing actually, because usually I was the one on my knees begging to go out there. You know what I mean?”
Adam expected a reply, but didn’t get one because Fiona had fallen asleep on his bed while listening to him jabber on. He took a deep breath and then grabbed a blanket to cover up the young and very attractive young lady. Because the room was a suite, there was a couch that was large enough to substitute as a bed. Adam grabbed a spare blanket from the closet and a spare pillow from the bed and crashed on the couch. He liked Fiona but wanted to make sure the wake up the next day as un-awkward as possible. He really liked her, and didn’t want to spoil it by coming on too strong, so he crashed on the couch just to be cautious. He checked the alarm to make sure it was set so neither of them would be late for the next day’s reading, and then went to sleep.