Love Awakened

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Four years after a barbaric attack from her betrothed, Skye Ballantyne was left a shell of her former sell; suffering from PTSD, flashbacks and migraines. Skye has not been able to leave the house for those four years, only trusting her parents, a handful of household staff and her therapist. The Ballantyne Whisky Company needs a new Chief as Skye’s parents are looking to retire. Skye is unable to take over, so her father is trying to make arrangements to secure both the safety and future for Skye and the business. The family orientated Abercrombie’s, headed by eldest son Blake, may be just what Brodric Ballantyne is looking for. Can Skye learn to trust and love again?

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I was standing in the bright 1st floor library of Brodric Ballantyne. The room was filled floor to ceiling with books old and new, soft aged leather sofas dotted around the room, a few tables here and there. The two large picture windows, letting in the natural light, I wonder why I am here. Why did Ballantyne write to my father, asking both of us to attend his home, that he had a business proposal.

Although we were occasionally in the same company, usually at charity fundraisers, we were in completely different circles. The Ballantynes owned numerous whisky distilleries around the world, 20 in Scotland alone. My family: my three brothers and I, headed by my father, ran a successful property development and management company, building affordable housing as well as having a portfolio of homes around the world to rent.

The door opened and in walked Ballantyne, in his early sixties with salt and pepper hair, he didn’t look old, but weary. Tall with a medium build and a kind smile.

Shaking his hand, he thanked us for coming. He walked over to a cabinet bringing out a bottle of his gold label whisky. He offered us a dram which we both accepted.

“Please gentlemen,” motioning to one of the sofas, “take a seat,” he offers, sitting down at one opposite to my father and me.

“You are likely wondering why I have invited you here with a business proposal, when our businesses are very different.” Continuing, “I have come of age where I want to relax more with my family, with my wife and daughter, however I have no heir in which I can leave my whisky empire,” he explains.

Wait, Ballantyne has a daughter. Why has she never accompanied her parents to events, she can’t be that young. And why would he not leave his legacy to his daughter, he doesn’t seem the type to be sexist. I catch the surprise in my father’s face too.

“I can see you are surprised by my revelation that I have a daughter,” he looks sad, but it is fleeting. Clearing his throat, he continues, “My daughter Skye is 21, I wish I could pass everything to her, but it is not possible.” He pours himself another dram.

“Why would you wish us to take over your empire Mr Ballantyne?” I ask.

Smiling and nodding, “I have known for a few years now that I needed to find a successor. I researched and found Abercrombie Enterprises. I have been in your company over the years, you are sound businessmen, a good family. Worked from the bottom, up. No scandals. You, sir,” pointing at my father, “are a good head of the family and role model, which in turn means you will be able to follow my conditions when I hand over the majority share of my business.” He finishes.

“Before I explain everything, I need your promise as a father, as a brother,” looking at me, “that you will not discuss these conditions I set out regarding my daughter.” His eyes bore into mine. I look at my father, he holds out his hand. “Brodric, I swear on my family, we will not divulge anything about this. May I confirm I can tell my wife and other son’s? The business does belong to them too.”

“Of course, if you agree to my terms, they you will all be involved in keeping her safe.” Shaking both our hands again, we sit to await what he has to say. I wondered what was going on with his daughter, was she possibly disabled or couldn’t look after herself.

*(Mention of rape)

“My daughter was betrothed, to marry at the age of 21, to the son, six years her senior, of a long-standing family friend. She knew this since the age of 10 and was happy to accept. We allowed them to meet a handful of times over the years. When she was 16, we allowed them to converse and meet monthly.

All seemed well, although one of the last times they met, she seemed quiet. Her mother spoke with her and she shared with us for the first time that she felt uncomfortable with him on their date. We put it down to nerves as she seemed happy to meet again the following month. I now wish we pushed to get more details from her, but well, I cannot turn back time.” He took a large gulp of his drink.

“Their last date, just the two of them, was just after her 17th birthday. His family had been at her party, he treated her like a princess, in front of the guests,” he continued.

I could feel my stomach drop, something I didn’t want to hear was about to become known.

“My daughter is lucky to be alive, that bastard, Fraser Tavis, took her out to the woods, saying he had arranged a picnic. He started to touch her and she told him no, she wanted to wait for their wedding night. He didn’t take no for an answer. He forced himself on her and beat her to an inch of her life.

He left her there, running away to supposedly get help. He stabbed himself to make it look real, he didn’t think my daughter would live. She was in a coma for two weeks with swelling on the brain, he played the loving fiancé.” He snarled.

“Something didn’t sit right; I got a private detective to look into his medical notes from the hospital and follow him. It became obvious that he had several women, I use the term lightly, who he received favours from, and his wound was self-inflicted.”

I grimaced as I heard the details, how could his daughter survive this! And Tavis, I had heard that name before, but couldn’t remember when.

“Black and blue, weak and broken, yet so strong, my daughter woke and managed to tell us and the police what happened. They had DNA from the rape kit, but we had not thought to run it against that bastard. He was found out.

His family tried to get him out the country, however one of his whores, who had a conscience phoned the police and he was arrested. He swore he didn’t do anything, then when told his DNA was found, he changed his story saying she wanted it. Needless to say, he went behind bars. I managed to keep it out the news. While in prison, he pissed off some drug lord, who killed him.”

My father just shook his head sadly, not knowing what to say. I looked at my feet uncomfortably. How could someone hurt a child, a young woman like that.

“Did your daughter make a full recovery Brodric?” I asked, surprising myself.

He paused before answering, making me think he wouldn’t answer. “Yes and no. Physically yes she did. She was many weeks in the hospital and to this day still gets migraines, but mentally she struggles. She has PTSD. She will not leave the house. On good days we can have a walk in the garden, but she is always weary, jumpy. She doesn’t trust anyone, especially males.”

“Let me make clear gentlemen, the PTDS effects my daughter socially, making friends, trusting people. She is bright, well-educated and is happy, for the most part. If not for this, I’d have no worries that she could run the business, but she cannot network, which is a must in this job, to makes deals, visit the distilleries and what not. I even tried to employ someone to be the Marketing Director, like a partnership. Male or female, Skye could not cope having to speak with them, even over the phone or conference video. It is with her consent I offer this proposal.”

I now understood what the conditions were likely to be. He needed his daughter taken care of, protected, nurtured. There was a silence around the room, all three of us reconciling our thoughts on what was shared.

Brodric continued. “I will give you the majority share of my business, however, 25% will be left in Skye’s name, so that she has an income for life, along with my other investments. My daughter will live in this house for the rest of her life, although after the death of both her mother and me, the deed will be transferred to the company. Anything my daughter needs, must be provided for. These are the main points, but I have my solicitor writing the contract for your solicitor to go over.”

“Well son,” my father begins. “You are the eldest of the four, I am already beginning to take a back seat, it will be you and your brothers that will have to maintain this contract and stable living for Miss Ballantyne. The choice is for you to make.”

I don’t hesitate, I can’t let this woman down. Sure, I’ve been a bit of a playboy, a couple of short-term relationships, however I have never intentionally hurt someone and well anyone that rapes a child in my eyes deserves death. My mother always wanted a daughter and it was very likely Miss Ballantyne would become the daughter she never had.

“Mr Ballantyne, I am happy to accept your business proposition, with the terms stated. Obviously, our solicitors will have to go over the contract, however I am confident that we can come to an arrangement that everyone is happy with, that secures your daughter’s future.” I tell him. “My brothers and I will continue with your whisky legacy and ensure your daughter is safe.” Smiling, I stand to shake his hand.

My father and Brodric stand, shaking hands too. “Great, this is a weight off my mind. I will get my secretary to arrange with yours, some dates so that I can show you round some of the distilleries nearby and begin showing you accounts and other boring things,” he chuckles. “I run most of the business here, but that can be moved in time if you so wish.”

“Come let me introduce my wife to you both, she is in the ladies lounge, as she calls it, off the gardens. On sunny days such as this, is where she and Skye can be found.”

“Mr Ballantyne,” I interrupt, “will your daughter not be scared of us being here?”

“Skye knows that I was meeting with people today, so she will have gone to her own private space. I hope that sometime soon she will agree to meet, with her mother and me being there, she might allow it.”

Wondering down to the garden lounge, I am introduced to a small, shapely woman, with shoulder length grey hair and a freckly face, Caroline Ballantyne.

“Aren’t you a handsome young man, Mr Abercrombie,” she smiles at me, shaking my hand. I smile at her; I feel my cheeks heat a little.

My father is speaking with both Ballantynes, as I look out the window at the beautiful garden.

“Excuse me, can I use the rest room?” I ask. My father and I will have to head home soon so better to go now.

“Yes, son. Down the hall and to the left,” Caroline tells me.

I finish in the rest room. As I leave, I can hear faint singing. No one is around, so I slowly walk further down the hall to a room. I hesitate to turn the handle, there is only one other person that this can be, as I don’t think the staff would be in here. But I don’t want to scare her. I can’t help but slowly turn the handle and open the door.

In the middle of the room, is a white piano with a beautiful young woman playing and singing. She has golden hair with a red hew, which falls to the middle of her back in soft waves. She has creamy ivory skin and I think her face is peppered in freckles, just like her mother. This is Skye Ballantyne.

I close the door quietly, so that I do not interrupt or scare her. She is beautiful, so pure. How could anyone hurt her. I feel even more protective of her. My brothers and I will make sure no harm comes to her.

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