Later that evening Camilla and Leo walked hand in hand toward her parent’s large home. It was in one of the more upscale and fancy neighborhoods that if Camilla was honest with herself, she had never been comfortable in. Despite her moneyed background, she didn’t act rich and had never flaunted it.
In fact, her best friend, Shelly, didn’t have two pennies to rub together, and they were the best of pals all through school. Camilla hadn’t cared that Shelly didn’t have money and hung out with her all the time. Maybe that was why in school the rich kids had made it their number one priority to mess with her.
Reaching the front door, Camila took a deep breath and opened it. “Here goes nothing.”
Leo squeezed her hand, and they stepped inside.
“Mother, Father, I’m home,” Camilla called out heard her voice echo in the large hallway.
“Camilla!” Her mother exclaimed as she jogged down the staircase on Camilla’s right. When she reached the bottom, she pulled Camilla into her arms with a happy cry. “Oh, my sweet little girl! I have missed you so much, and I’m so happy you are home.” She pulled back, holding Camilla at arm’s length. “Let me get a look at… Camilla! When did you get a tattoo?”
Camilla brought her hand up, covering it. “Um…”
Her mother shook her head. “No use to hide it, dearest. It’s not like you can take it off. I’m simply curious as to why?”
Camilla smiled. “I wanted to. It’s special Mother, I don’t know how to explain it to you exactly, but it is.”
“My little girl is all grown up, and getting tattoos,” Mother moaned.
Camilla laughed as she hugged her mother again and kissed her cheek. “I’m not so little anymore, Mother. I’m almost thirty and married.”
Camilla jerked as she heard her father yell from somewhere behind her mother. She thought she heard Leo hiss right after and moved from her mother to his side to calm him. “Mother, you didn’t tell him?”
“I’m sorry dear, I know I should have but…” Mother’s voice trailed off.
Father marched forward, his face red in fury. “You knew she was married?”
“Well, yes,” Mother said as she turned to face her husband.
“I know you went off to find you so-called soulmate Camilla,” Father began, “but to already have married a man?”
“Yes, Father, I did marry him. He loves me, and I love him. So, why wait?” Camilla asked calmly from where she stood by Leo. She took his hand and said, “Father, Mother, I would like you to meet my husband, Leo Vogel. Leo, this is my father, Willard, and my mother, Maryanne.”
Camilla saw her father take a deep breath to calm himself.
Putting out his hand for Leo to shake he said, “I would say it is nice to meet you Leo, but I’m in a bit of shock right now. I was not expecting Camilla to bring a man home, much less a husband, and it has put a bit of a kink in this evening.”
Leo shook Father’s hand, as he said, “Oh, and why is it such a shock sir? I was under the understanding that she told you she was searching for her soulmate, which is me. I would think that would be cause for a celebration.”
Father shook his head. “Let us go and be seated. I think we need to talk.”
So, walking into the sitting room, everyone but Father took a seat. He began to pace. When he finally stopped, he turned and asked, “I suppose I should ask first if you know anything about who I am?”
“Ja, I do. I did a bit of research before Camilla and I came here. I know about you from Camilla, but I also know what is happening to your company,” Leo replied.
Father chuckled. “Well, if you know about my company, and you’re still here, I can safely assume you aren’t after my daughter for her money.”
“Nein. I am not after your daughter’s money because I have plenty of my own. I’m with her because I love her,” Leo answered.
Father nodded and began to pace again. “I don’t know who is out to ruin me, but they are just about to send me under. It was bad when Camilla left, but after she left it was like an all-out war on me.”
Camilla watched her father rub his face tiredly and realized how much he seemed to have aged since she’d left. She told him softly, “Father, Leo and I will help you any way we can.”
Father turned and smiled at her. “I know you will, sweetheart. There’s something I need to tell you though that I probably should have told you a long time ago. Tim came to me, I guess it’s been almost a year now, and said he was going to court you. I felt like laughing him out of the room because I knew you had no interest in him. He seemed so sincere though that I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.”
Camilla frowned. “He never said anything to me. I mean, I would see him around, and he took me to dinner a couple of times. We’ve always been friends, so I never…”
“In other words, he hasn’t shown more interest in you lately or more than he did before?”
Camilla shook her head. “No, at least I don’t think so. Then again, I had my mind on…”
“On what?” Mother piped up to ask.
“Ah… nothing,” Camilla muttered. She saw Leo smirk and hit him in the ribs with her elbow.
“I think what she’s saying is that even if he had, she had her head in the clouds to the point she never really saw it,” Mother said with a knowing look.
Camilla felt her face flush because she knew her mother was right.
“The thing is, I invited him and his parents for dinner,” Father admitted.
“Does Mr. Franklin know about the company?” Camila asked.
“Yes, and he’s as puzzled as I am. You know, he has a thirty percent share in the company, right?” Father asked.
Leo spoke up, saying, “If you don’t mind my asking sir, how many shares are in Camilla’s name?”
“Thirty percent and I own the remaining forty. I planned to give those to Camilla on her thirty-fifth birthday, if she wasn’t married by then,” Father informed Leo.
“And if she was?” Leo asked.
Father was silent for a moment. “On her thirty-fifth birthday, my shares still become hers. As her husband, you would get her shares.”
Leo nodded. “Instead, how about you leave them all in her name? When we have children, we can sign stocks over to the oldest, or more than one of them whichever Camilla prefers.”
“Don’t you want your share?” Father asked.
“Nein, I don’t. I will help with the company the best I can, but I prefer to stay in the shadows leaving my name unknown. I don’t do well with crowds, or… people for that matter,” Leo concluded.
“Alright then. If that is what you both,” Father said as he looked at Camilla.
“Yes, Father. Unless you want to keep your shares, that is fine with me also,” Camilla told him.
Father opened his mouth to speak, just as the doorbell rang. “That will be the Franklins.”
Mother went to open the door and let them in.
Tim came into the room first and smiled. “Camilla, your home, I’ve missed you.”
Standing, Camilla hugged him. “Yeah, I am.
“So, where did you go?” Mr. Franklin asked as he stepped into the room.
Giving him and his wife a hug, Camilla replied, “I just got in my car and drove. I had no real destination in mind, but I ended up in Florida, that where I met Leo.”
Mr. Franklin turned to Leo, and he stood up to shake hands.
“It’s nice to meet you, Leo,” Mr. Franklin said. “I’m Walter Franklin, a longtime friend of Willard here.”
“Hello sir, it is nice to meet you,” Leo said.
Mrs. Franklin spoke then. “Do I detect an accent? It doesn’t sound much like a southern one.”
“Nein. My family comes from Germany,” Leo answered politely.
A smile lit Mrs. Franklin’s face as she spoke again. “Really? How did you come to be in Florida then?”
Leo smiled at her. “We lived in California first, but Mutter became tired of the earthquakes and didn’t want to live somewhere cold. My youngest Bruder, Felix, said he had heard there were a lot of lovely ladies to be found in Florida. Mutter decided that was as good a place as any to go then since she’s been trying for years to unload her five unmarried sons.”
“Five boys, that poor woman!” Mrs. Franklin exclaimed with a laugh. “So, has she been able to marry some of her sons off there?”
“Three of them. Myself, and my Bruders Falco and Tobias,” Leo replied.
Mr. Franklin raised an eyebrow and glance over at his son.
Following his gaze, Camilla looked over at Tim. His face was red in anger. She sighed, this wasn’t going to end well, she just knew it.
“Oh,” Mrs. Franklin said softly. “You and Camilla are married?”
“Ja, we are,” Leo said as he gave Tim an assessing look.
Mother cleared her throat. “Time to eat.”
So, everyone headed for the dining room behind her, though after that bombshell, Camilla wasn’t sure anyone would be hungry.
Camilla sighed. Talk about awkward.