I knew all I needed to know about Emil Stone. I still could not understand how he could abandon such an incredible woman as Addy and his own child. Then I never could understand people like that. Even as head principal at a prestigious school like East Point, I had seen so many traumatized children over the years. I took the time to get to know every student who attended my school. I knew their stories and I tried my best to give them the support they needed. Why is it the people who were never meant to be parents always ended up with the gift of a child?
I’ve seen so many broken souls through the years and I remember every one of them. Some of them were able to rise above their circumstances and go on to be great successes. Others were not. I still think about the ones who couldn’t shake the damage. But I could see a fighter in Amber. She was one strong young woman, just like her mother. I knew she would be one of the ones who would rise above because she already had. She had a strength in her I often compared to a gladiator. She possessed the will to move beyond what she faced and come out victorious. Addy was much the same way.
So Emil could come. He could try his damnedest to weasel his way into Amber’s life. If he somehow managed to get a foothold, I would support her and Addy. When he broke their hearts again, I would be there to help put the pieces back together. I wasn’t going anywhere. Ex husband be damned. Shit father be damned. I was here to stay. I was already head over heels for Adelaide Stone and I wasn’t about to step aside for some smooth talking snake charmer with a hard on for my girls.
Sitting in a small café across from our apartment, Mama and I waited for Emil. Stephen and Brock insisted on letting us have our time with the man but would be sitting elsewhere. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t know this man who called himself my father. When I spoke to him briefly on the phone, I wanted a shower after because I felt so slimy. I had no idea what my sweet mama ever saw in him but I guess I was going to find out.
The door opened and a tall lean man in an expensive suit came strolling in. His red hair was slicked back, the same color as mine. His wide toothy smile settled on me as he made his way over to our table. He pulled me up out of my seat in an awkward hug.
“Oh ma belle fille, look at you all grown up. You’re just as beautiful as your mother.” I extracted myself from his arms and returned to my seat. I had yet to say anything. He made his way around to Mama who held her hand up.
“Don’t even think about it, Emil.” She stopped him right in his tracks. He just took her hand and kissed her knuckles.
“I’ve missed your fire, Addy,” he purred. Mama snatched her hand away and placed it in her lap. If looks could kill, I’m sure Emil Stone would be long dead by now.
“Interesting to hear what your wife has to say about that,” she snapped. “Now get on with it. What do you want?” I couldn’t bring myself to speak yet. He settled across from us, his smile not quite reaching his eyes.
“I’m no longer married to Yvonne, Addy. I thought you knew that.” Mama snorted.
“Now why would I know that, Emil? That would imply I still give a damn about you.” Her eyes were flashing dangerously. He just smiled, his dark eyes trailing down Mama in desire. I knew that look and I didn’t like it.
“It doesn’t matter, cherie. Somewhere along the line I realized I lost the two best things that ever happened to me and I’d like to get them back.” I thought Mama was going to come unglued. But she surprised me with her devious smile.
“I’m not interested, Emil. As a matter of fact, I’ve found someone who treats me like a queen. I sure as hell ain’t about to trade my Rolls in for a Chevette.” I ducked my head to hide my smile, trying my best to smother my laugh. Emil’s smile slipped just a bit but he recovered quickly.
“I only have one question,” I finally found my voice. Emil dropped his gaze from Mama and smiled sweetly at me. “Why now?” Sighing deeply, he leaned back in his chair.
“Why not?” he answered. “I want a chance, Amber. That’s all I’m asking for. I know I don’t deserve it but I’m asking anyway.” His eyes implored me but I knew it was all an act. There was something else he wanted and bonding with his long lost daughter wasn’t it.
“Uh huh,” I said. “You do know who raised me, don’t you? I can smell a lie, Emil. So, I’m only going ask you again and if I don’t get the truth this time, we are walking out that door never to see you again. Why. Now.” He looked at me in surprise as if he expected a wilting daisy. What he got was a fierce tiger lily. I am my mother’s daughter through and through.
“Okay,” he huffed. “I do want to get to know you, mon chou, but there is something else. I want to put my name as your manager. I have connections all over the world and can make you famous, more famous than you could ever imagine. I can put you on the map, dahlin’. It’s the least I can do for all the years I was gone.” And there it was. “I’ve heard you sing, baby girl and it brings chills you’re so good. Let me do this for you. Bring peace to your daddy’s heart.” He’d clasped my hand, squeezing it as if to emphasize his words. I gently patted his hand and extracted mine.