#76 Mr. Havemeyer
“What?” Asia shrieks when the four of us show up on her doorstep. “Where’s my boy?” Her motherly instincts kick in immediately, sensing that something is wrong. Very wrong.
I’m still in my red clingy dress. Franny is the only one who changed into some clean clothes. Nathan looks worse than any of us, the huge bite on his hand – courtesy of Hollister – bleeding through the bandage and his shirt torn. Asia rushes us into the living room, yelling at the kids to go to their rooms. Only baby Aliyah stays with us in the living room for a moment, until Terryl shows up seconds later to put her in her crib upstairs, ordering Marcus to look after her. He sits down on the couch next to Asia, holding her hand with a tense expression on his face.
“Dshawn was arrested,” I say, sitting down on the coffee table in front of them, wanting to be close enough to put my hand on Asia’s. The others are behind me on the sofa. “There was a fight and he defended me. Aston too.”
“Fuck,” Terryl says, closing his eyes. “How bad is it?”
“Bad.” I swallow, knowing that when they know the whole story they will wish that their son had never met me. “They guy they fought is my ex-boyfriend. Melchior Havemeyer.”
“Havemeyer?” Asia repeats her eyes wide. “Please tell me that you don’t mean the millionaire with the huge phone company. Please, Shaughna.”
“That’s Alastar Havemeyer. Melchior is his son. And…” Just spit it out, Shaughna. “Melchior’s uncle is the chief of police and his dad donated the money for the police station. They’ve got money for the best lawyers there are, and Melchior will definitely press charges.” It hurts to say all these words, but I know that I need to get everything out before I eventually break down. I still feel strong, but surely that will end at one point… right? “I’m sorry. This is all my fault.”
“Stop saying that!” Caroline says behind me, sounding angry. “It’s not. This is all Melchior’s fault. And Hollister’s.”
“Who’s Hollister?” Terryl asks, his eyes still closed.
Slowly but surely, we fill Dshawn’s parents in on everything that happened. I even manage to tell them about what Melchior and Hollister did to me before this horrific night brought them and my friends together for an epic battle that never should have happened. Asia never lets go of my hand, not even when I admit that I was stupid enough to stay outside without anyone to protect me – since Joshua is hardly a muscular god like Aston and Dshawn are – even though I knew Melchior was out to get me.
“Oh honey…” Asia pulls me in for a hug. “This is not your fault. Stop apologizing. We do need to figure out how the hell we’re going to get my son out of jail, though. And Aston, of course.”
“And Nathan,” Caroline adds. “He may have been released, but I bet that’s only because he’s not black.”
“Yeah, I hate to admit it, but I think that my wife is right,” Nathan says, nodding along. “I think that when it comes to criminal records, Aston and I are in deep shit. Dshawn might be fine.”
“Not unless we do something drastic,” I disagree. “Melchior is going to make sure that my guy gets hell raining down on him. Trust me. I know him.”
The doorbell sounds and Teryll gets up to open it, returning with a stern-faced Annabel. She’s in sweats and an old shirt of Aston’s, looking nothing like her normal poised self. Still, her expression is defiant, like she’s ready to take on anyone who wants to hurt her guy.
“I’m Annabel,” she says to Asia. “Aston’s…” She throws up her hands, sighing. “Well, fuck if I know. His girlfriend, I guess, although he’d probably want to stay in jail if he heard me use that word. So, what’s the plan?”
Again, we repeat the whole story, shorter this time. Annabel just listens, asking the occasional sharp question. When we’re done, she starts asking us about what he told the cops. We all tell our story, but there’s not much to tell. We weren’t kept in custody for long, and we just told the truth. In my case, I even told them about my past with Melchior and Hollister.
“Okay,” Annabel says when everyone is done. “I don’t know if Aston ever talks about me, but I’m a paralegal. And that may not be as kick-ass as a lawyer, but I do know a thing or two about the law. And I’m sorry to say… Dshawn, Aston and Nathan are all fucked, unless we find some dirt on Melchior that will make him or his dad decide to drop all charges and tell the chief to back the hell off.”
“Well shit,” Francesca says, pacing up and down the living room like she’s been doing for fifteen minutes now, unable to sit still. “How the hell are we going to do that?”
“Easy,” I realize, finally feeling like I might be able to fix this mess. “I’ve got just the thing.”
“Are you sure this will work?” Annabel asks me almost nervously, pulling at her black pencil skirt. She showered and changed as Asia’s place, borrowing her nicest clothes so she would look professional.
“It has to,” I say with a grunt when we get into the elevator of the tall office building. I’m not in my red dress anymore, wearing jeans and a blouse instead. “If it doesn’t, our men are both fucked.”
“Then it will work,” she decides, taking a deep breath and plastering a fierce expression on her face. “Do I look like a lawyer?”
“Yes.” And she truly does. Her hair is pulled up into a tight bun, she’s holding a black briefcase and her make-up is impeccable. Asia’s skirt, button-up shirt and jacket don’t quite fit, but that’s not noticeable if you don’t know… I hope.
The doors open on the twelfth floor and we get out, our heels clicking on the floor as we make our way to the desk to our right.
“Yes?” the secretary asks in a snippy tone. “Do you have an appointment?”
“Tell Mr. Havemeyer that Miss Elmore and her lawyer Miss Wilkerson are here to see him about his son,” Annabel says. “I’m sure he’ll be able to fit us in.”
The woman gives us a strange look but dials a number on her phone anyway, explaining to situation to the person on the other side of the line – Alaster Havemeyer, I presume.
“Very well,” she says when she hangs up. “Follow me.”
We’re led through a long hallway lined with offices with glass walls, where important-looking people are having what I guess are important business meetings. Not one of those meetings can possibly be as vital as the one we’re about to have, though. There are people’s lives at stake here.
The secretary knocks on the large wooden doors at the end of the hallway, opening the left one without waiting for an answer.
“Mr. Havemeyer,” she says politely when she steps in. “Miss. Elmore and her lawyer Miss. Wilkerson.”
“Very well,” a deep raspy voice that sounds a lot like Melchior’s responds. “Let them in.”
The secretary moves back into the hallway where we’re still standing, motioning for us to head in. She closes the door behind us, leaving us in the large office with Alaster Havemeyer, who is sitting in his black leather chair behind his oak desk, his gray eyes intent on me.
“Shaughna,” he says, giving me a worn smile. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“You can direct all questions to me,” Annabel says snippily. “I’m sure you must have heard about your son’s action by now.”
Alaster grunts and shifts his focus to Annabel. “You mean his millionth arrest? Yes, I’m aware.” His eyes find mine again. “Shaughna, just say what you came here to say. I know it’s been… what? Eight years? But I like you. You’re a good girl. Why are you storming in here with a lawyer?”
I look at Annabel, unsure if I should just speak to him frankly or let her do the talking. I do know Alaster, after all. Not well, but I do believe he is a good man. He was always nice to me back when I was dating Melchior and he never made me feel like the 18-year-old dim-witted child I must have looked like to a millionaire like him.
“Melchior has been contacting me again,” I tell Alaster, surprised to see anger flutter over his features. “Stalking me, even. And tonight, he showed up out of the blue and got into a fight with my boyfriend and a few of my other friends.” I take out my phone and show him the texts Melchior sent me the past months, ending with the one where he threatens my friends.
“I’ll talk to him,” Alaster days, running a hand through his hair. It is slicked back like Melchior’s, but he’s messing it all up now, making him look younger than his sixty years. “Although my son doesn’t have a history of listening to his father.”
“Oh, you’re going to do more than talk to him,” Annabel cuts in. “You are going to make sure that Aston Johnson and Dshawn Davis are released from police custody as soon as this afternoon. All charges will be dropped, against Nathanial Storm as well as Mr. Johnson and Mr. Davis. And you will compensate them for their troubles.”
I shoot her a surprised look. We didn’t discuss anything about payment. What is she doing?
“I will see what I can do about getting them released, but I’m not paying you a dime.” Alaster is in business mode now, no longer looking at me like he knows and likes me.
“I think you will feel differently when Shaughna shows you something else on her phone,” Annabel says with a tightlipped smile. She opens her briefcase and pulls out three contracts. One for Nathan, one for Aston, and one for my boyfriend. “I think you will be more than willing to sign these in a few minutes.”
“I highly doubt that.” He frowns at the contracts. “What is this about a movie clip that will be released if I don’t hold up my end of the bargain?”
Okay. My turn again. Thank God Dshawn saved the folder with the old pictures of me and Melchior to an online account and not on the hard drive my shattered laptop. Without knowing it, he is saving himself with his IT skills. I tap the screen of my phone and put it on the desk, pressing play and turning up the sound. The clip starts right when Melchior pulls out of me and we snuggle up on the bed. Alaster’s flick up to mine and he shifts uncomfortably. A minute later, when the abuse barely even starts, he taps the screen to stop the clip.
“Okay,” he breathes. “I get it. And I bet it only gets worse after this. I know my son. I’m not an idiot. I’ll sign these damn things and even write out three checks.” He grabs a pen and scrawls his signature at the bottom of all three contracts. They all state the same: make sure that our men get free without any charges and the clip doesn’t get released. Fail, and the whole thing gets posted online with Melchior’s name on it.
He pulls open a drawer and takes out his checkbook, putting down a number and showing it to me. “Will that be enough?”
My mouth almost falls open at the amount of money he’s offering, but Annabel scoffs before I can agree.
“Try that with two more zeros,” she orders. “And times three, of course.”
Alaster groans, but he complies and shoves the three checks across his desk. “Okay. You got what you wanted. Now leave.”
While Annabel grabs the contracts and checks to put them in her briefcase, I frown at Alaster Havemeyer. We got what we came for, so it doesn’t matter what I say anymore. I can’t walk out like this. He needs to know.
“He abused me for months,” I tell Alaster, my gaze so intense that he can’t look away from me. “He broke me. And from what you just told me, you know perfectly well what Melchior is capable of. Did you know?”
He nods. “I… suspected it. Yes.”
“And you just stood by and did nothing while a goddamn 18-year-old girl got beaten to a pulp by your own son?” I ask, my voice tight. “What kind of man are you?”
“He’s my son,” Alaster states simply. “And I got him away from you, didn’t I? Or did you really think he broke things off with you because he fell out of love with you? Trust me, it took everything I had to force him set you free. When I realized you were so broken that you kept coming back to him even though he was hurting you, I even transferred him so he wouldn’t live in the same country as you were. I tried to protect you. All these years, I’ve tried to keep him away from here. From you.”
He’s the reason Melchior broke up with me? My mind is reeling. Oh wow. In his own twisted way, Alaster was trying to do what he could.
“Thank you,” I say, my voice breaking a little. “But honestly… it wasn’t good enough. It took you too long to step in and it breaks my heart to think that he must have done this to other girls too.”
“I try,” Alaster vows, his expression that of a broken man. “I really do.”
“Get him some help,” I plead. “I’ve seen the best and the worst, Alaster. And his worst is monstrous, but his best is amazing. I was in love with him for a reason. If you truly want to help him, get him admitted someplace where they can help him manage his insane jealously and controlling tendencies. Some anger management classes… Hell, I don’t know. Get him professional help.”
“I’ve been trying to do that for years,” Alaster admits, closing his eyes for a moment.
“Try harder,” Annabel snaps. “That son of yours is a goddamn disgrace. You should be ashamed to be the father of such a monster.”
“I am.” Alaster’s eyes fly open and he looks up at us with tears in his eyes. “Trust me, I am.”
Not knowing what else is left to say, Annabel and I walk out of his office, rushing to the elevator like we’re being chased. It isn’t until we’re outside in the parking lot that we look at each other with wide eyes, realizing what this means.
“We did it,” she whispers. “We really did it.”
“Hell yeah!” I shout, throwing my fist in the air. “We’re fucking badasses.”