“Nate?” Harry asked. His voice sounded more controlled more than he actually felt. “What’s going on? Is everything alright?”
“Everything’s fine, geez,” Nate told his father, rolling his eyes at the phone. “I was just going to let you know I’ve hired all the necessary management and have made plans for a trip back to The States.”
“Really? What brought this on?”
Harry had known that Nate wouldn’t be able to handle the reins for all the Charles’ businesses by himself, but he didn’t expect his son to come home directly after newly appointing his executive and management teams.
“I...I just need to get away for a bit,” Nate told him. “It’s been a while since I’ve been back home, and I think I want to stick close by for a bit.”
“But the wedding’s not for another two months,” Harry argued. “Surely you can wait to come back until then.”
Harry didn’t want his businesses being run without Nate being there to oversee them. He had only met the prospective management through Zoom and Skype, and he liked to have a better idea about them before possibly allowing them to run his companies into the ground.
“I’m taking an extended vacation,” Nate informed him. “During which time I told everyone at work I would be able to be reached at any time, day or night. Your companies are still safe with me, Pop.”
“How long is this vacation?”
Nate could hear the suspicion in his father’s voice, and he sighed quietly. “I’m not sure yet,” Nate admitted. “Listen, I just wanted to tell you so you weren’t surprised when I popped up on your doorstep with some luggage and a smile. We can talk more about it when I get there.”
Harry sighed as well, quite loudly into the phone. He was irritated with his firstborn, and it showed in the long exhalation of air. “Fine,” Harry said. “We’ll discuss this over drinks when you get in. Send your mother your itinerary and we’ll have someone pick you up from the airport.”
After hanging up the phone a minute later, Nate went back to packing up his flat in London. He had movers coming over for the larger items, and some of his smaller belongings were being shipped directly back to The States. His clothing and toiletries were waiting to be packed away in his bedroom, and there were a number of smaller things he needed to attend to. Mainly, giving his key to his landlord and having his utilities taken out of his name. The place was already set for lease once he left. He happened to have rented some seriously prime real estate.
A knock on the door announced the movers who would take his items to the storage place until he could figure out what to do with the larger furniture. He hadn’t told his father, but he wasn’t planning on coming back to England—not now, at least. Hopefully, not ever again, but he wasn’t naïve enough to think that there wouldn’t be times he would need to go back for any number of reasons. After all, it was what his father had done until a few years ago when he’d handed the reins over to Nathan Charles, his son.
But no, things were different now. Unpleasant. Every purchase he had made in the past year and every movie stub or ticket he kept from a show on The West End was now a reminder of why he needed to leave.
After escorting in the movers and giving them the keys to his storage unit, he let them work as he thumbed through his phone, trying to delete every last photo of her or them together. He had a hard time doing so before sternly reminding himself what had happened a couple of weeks previously.
Heading over to her flat after work, he’d decided to surprise her with dinner and some flowers. He’d shown up to her flat before with flowers and food on a whim, and she had always been elated by his sweet gestures. Not so much, this time.
This time, he had found a man at her place. A man in a very particular place in her flat. Her bedroom. Nude. Being ridden by a squealing Lorelei like she was a squeaky toy that some dog was happily gnawing on.
He had cursed up a storm when finding them, and she had sworn and hopped off the man’s lap naked, heading towards him. Nate had thrown the Indian food he’d bought for them against the wall of the living room before stomping out of her place, never looking back.
Since then, she had tried to call him numerous times until he finally blocked her phone number. He couldn’t turn off the phone since it was used for work as well, and it wasn’t really going to matter all that much once he went back to the US. He could toss the phone into the Atlantic Ocean and it wouldn’t have mattered after that. He would send his new contact information to his subordinates once he latched onto a phone carrier in California.
His flight for New York was for later that evening. It was a red-eye to the Big Apple and then a 4-hour layover at JFK until a non-stop flight to SFO. Nate hated layovers, but figured if he had to wait for four hours for a non-stop flight to the west coast, it would be worth it in the end. He was bound to be jetlagged as fuck by the time he got to Pacific Standard Time.
But still, he couldn’t wait. It had been almost a year since he had been back, and he missed them all. His sister, his parents. Even Carl, his future brother-in-law, would be a sight for sore eyes after the last couple of weeks.
And Mason, his nephew. The only reason he had left the U.K. to visit last year. When his sister had announced she was pregnant after having been with her boyfriend—now fiancé—for a year, he had been shocked. Violet was usually quite careful, but for all it was worth, the pregnancy seemed to be a shock to her as well.
So much for Depo shots.
And now that she was getting married in a couple of months, Nate felt the need to be closer to his family. He was missing out on life in the Bay Area. A life he wished he had never left now.
Phoning Violet after the movers left, Nate had to snort at his sister’s greeting.
“Did you tell him yet?” he heard through the earpiece.
“Sort of,” Nate replied.
“What do you mean, ‘sort of’?” Violet asked. “He either knows or he doesn’t.”
“He knows I’m coming home, but not the reasons why or that it’s a permanent move,” Nate told her. He heard her sigh.
“He’s going to flip,” Violet grumbled.
“Then he can flip when I arrive there,” Nate told her. “It’ll be fine. The guys I have taking over for me have years of experience. It’ll be like I’m not even gone.”
“Well, Mason can’t wait to see you, and even Carl has been talking you up to the little guy,” Violet told him.
“I don’t even want to know what Carl’s been saying about me,” Nate remarked. If it came out of Carl’s mouth, it probably had some sexual undertones to it.
“He’s been playing up the fun uncle card,” Violet informed him. “Not that Mason can understand a bit of it. He’s not even a year old yet.”
“Has he spoken yet? Walked?” Nate asked, though he assumed Violet would have sent out a group text or video if the little guy had. Mason had wrapped his parents around his chubby little fingers from the start.
“No. He babbled something that sounded like ‘Yemen’ the other day, but I’m sure that was just a fluke. He is getting closer to walking, though,” Violet told him.
“Yes. He pulls himself up fine, but his butt meets the floor within a millisecond afterward. It’s only a matter of time, of course.”
“God forbid when he starts running,” Nate said with a chuckle. “Carl won’t have to go to the gym anymore. He’ll get all his exercise wrangling his son.”
“Trust me, Carl gets plenty of exercise, at any rate,” Violet said to him in a dry tone.
“And on that note, I’m getting off the phone,” Nate stated. Listening to anything alluding to his little sister’s sex life wasn’t something he wanted to discuss no matter if it was in person or via cellular technology. Knowing she had a baby from it was the only nod toward sexual intercourse he wanted to hear in regard to her.
“Fine, fine,” she said. “I’ll talk to you after you get back to The States. You send Mom your flight info yet?”
“I’m just about to,” Nate told her. She was so much like their father sometimes, it was ridiculous.
Nate got off the phone and finished packing. He had only a few more minutes before his cab would pick him up to take him to the airport. He went to his phone again, this time deciding to delete Lorelei’s text messages and phone number. In one flick of his wrist, her texts were no longer, and he went to her number on his contacts page.
With one final swipe, he got rid of the last vestiges of his life in England and went out his front door one last time just before the cab came to a halt in front of his building.
The early morning fog had given way to a light drizzle, and Nate had stupidly packed up his umbrellas, thinking he wouldn’t need them in sunny California.
It would be of no consequence once he got to Heathrow and he wouldn’t have to deal with the dank weather until the rainy season came to northern California. By then he would be unpacked and thousands upon thousands of miles away from the dreary weather and manipulative little minx that had given him the idea to leave in the first fucking place.