Ethan paced, then stopped short, briefly glaring at Blake, who had started leafing through a magazine on the table before him, but now placed it back, while Eli just stood by stoically. Ethan turned his back to his sons, then stated
“Well, Eli, you will have to try and convince your daughter otherwise. At least she has to stay until we had enough time to sort this out. She cannot just drop everything and run. And I would like you, Blake, to seriously consider contributing to the company as well.”
“Dad, how am I supposed to convince Bri? You know how stubborn she is. And what in the world is Blake supposed to do at EC Architects? He has literally no skills relevant to the company, just music and such. You gonna have him play his guitar in the lobby for money or what?”
“Blake can hit you over the head with his guitar for free. No skills, my ass!” Blake told his brother.
“Boys, not now! This is serious! We are talking about the future of the family business, a legacy, many generations deep. We need to start training someone to run this. I am 75 years old. I should be long retired, Eli should be in my chair and Bri in his. Not only has it always been painfully obvious – not only to me – that her heart wasn’t in this, now she wants to drop out entirely to .. well… to do what exactly, Eli? Play house with that tattooed rebel whose biggest accomplishment to date is to keep out of prison long enough to knock her up for the second time now while they are STILL not even engaged, let alone married?! And Eli, you are so distracted, constantly taking time off to do whatever with Sarah, I would never be able to rest easy knowing the CEO is absent in mind, body or both half the time.” Ethan claimed.
“I am not doing ‘whatever’ with Sarah, I am being there for my wife to make sure she continues to heal. Plus, a pregnancy at 43 is to be handled with care, dad!” Eli defended himself.
“Should have thought about that BEFOREHAND!” Ethan told Eli angrily.
“Can’t you just hire a CEO?” Blake suggested, trying to avert a fight between the two others.
“Blake, this is the Cameron legacy, has been a family business ever since Everett Cameron founded it and it should remain in Cameron hands, not a stranger we hire in. Take some pride in your family, will you?” Ethan’s upset was now directed at Blake.
“Well, even if I burst into pretty fireworks for family pride, still doesn’t give you an heir, except the one Sarah will hatch in a little over half a year or so. Groom him or her.” Blake shrugged unimpressed.
“Blake, son, I know Math has never been your strong suit, but even if that child turns out to be less stubborn than the rest, it would take at least 22 years for them to even as much as begin getting their feet wet at EC Architects. Still a far cry from being able to hand over the reins completely to them, that would on average add at least 3 – 5 years. Would you like an abacus to calculate out how old that would make me? I am doing all I can to stay fit and healthy, but I have no fountain of youth in my backyard.” Ethan growled.
“Fine dad, so why am I here? Hailey and I cannot bake you a fully developed and trained heir either.” Blake asked seriously.
“Duh, he wants you to work here.” Elias said.
“No Eli, I do not. I want him to get Chase to reconsider my offer.” Ethan corrected him.
“Chase?! What is Chase supposed to do here? Dad, he’s not an architect. Remember, he wears that sexy lab coat and goes to a high security lab somewhere in no-mans-land to juggle test tubes. He does not know the first thing about architecture. I don’t get it, dad.” Blake shook his head.
“Well, Blake. Your son is a genius, whereever he got that from is beyond me, but he could learn the ropes in no time. He does not have to be an architect to run this firm one day, just needs to be a Cameron and have integrity, stamina to see things through to the end, drive and the necessary intelligence. Chase fits that bill to the T.” Ethan spoke, using hand gestures to enforce the weight of his statement.
“So, let me get this straight: You already had a million talks about this with him and he already – and repetetively – has told you ‘no’ each and every single time. Why would you think I would get a different answer? Do you expect me to hold my own son at gunpoint until he agrees? Hailey would skin me alive if I tried to force our son into something he doesn’t want, no matter how I did it. That’s his decision, not mine to make. It’s his life.”
“I do not care how you approach this with him, but make clear to him that this is also his family and his legacy, just as it is yours and mine. You are his father. You need to speak to him, talk some sense into him, and make sure he knows how important this is to you.”
“To me? It is? Don’t feel that important from where I sit.”
“Yes, Blake it is important to me, and by extension to you.” Ethan’s tone was determined.
“Why does my son have to be the sacrificial lamb, when his daughter gets to bow out? She’s the one who went to college for this kind of shit.” Blake complained, pointing as Eli, who had been standing by silently.
“Because I love Bri, but her loyalties clearly lie elsewhere and she does not have the right personality to deal with what I have to deal with on a daily basis. Too … explosive of a temper, probably gets that from her mother and fraternizing with that Jake did not help it. Plus, she barely graduated college and if we are really honest here, she does a mediocre job at best, no offense Eli, but you know I am right. This may do for now, in her current position in the design department, but we need someone to back up Eli when he can’t be here. Which apparently is often these days. We cannot have this company sit without a CEO or right hand for hours on end, nor can we risk her having a bad day and scaring off all clients with her outbursts. Until we find that someone, I cannot retire. Think of your mother, boys. This is not how she – or I – imagined our golden years.” Ethan elaborated.
“Fine. I’ll talk to Hailey and maybe we can tackle Chase together. No promises though. That kid loves his job.”
“Thank you Blake. That is all I ask. He needs to hear this from his own father.”
Granite Falls – The weekend following the discussion at EC Architects.
Sitting next to each other at the campfire, Blake was mentally preparing for the talk he was going to have with his son. A talk he didn’t want to have, one he didn’t feel comfortable having, but one that was needed. For his father’s sake. If Chase could do this and would decide to on his own, then Ethan could finally retire in a few years and just enjoy being a grandfather and great-grandfather with Blythe.
While Blake was contemplating in his mind, Chase was chipper as they come, apparently excited about the weekend away fishing with his dad.
“Man dad, I am so glad you suggested this! I have missed camping and fishing more than I knew! So therapeutical too! Stress melts right off of you.”
“You’ll be more stressed and probably need therapy after this weekend …” Blake mumbled under his non-existent beard.
“What was that, dad?” Chase still sounded way too happy for Blake’s taste, pouring salt in the wound. He needed a diversion, so he got up and said
“Nothing kid. Talking to myself here. Come on, food should be ready. Let’s grab some.”
Dammit dad! What are you making me do?! Blake thought to himself.
The problem with the entire situation, confirmed after his discussion with Hailey, was that both truly understood Ethan’s request. With the way things looked his father would work himself into the grave, and that sooner rather than later. Even Nick Gray had already retired by now, leaving his oldest daughter to run the practice, aided by several of his grandkids. Elias still worked full time, much overtime and was already at capacity as is. With Briar Rose now quitting it would only get worse. As sore as Blake was about getting dragged into this, he knew Eli was right. It was easier to get a mule to fly than change Bri’s mind, as Blake was well aware. And he understood Ethan’s stance on there not being much use pushing her. Would one really want someone running their life’s work, knowing they didn’t want to at all?
While Chase was still chatty as can be, and in a scarily excellent mood, Blake missed most of what his son said, as he was thinking about the task before him.
EC Architects desperatly needed a worthy heir. Bri was out. Kiera was not a good match. Enter Chase. He never started anything that he didn’t see through to the end, so he if were to agree, Ethan could rest assured that EC Architects was in good hands.
Chase wasn’t an architect, but Math was his speciality and he had a good eye for details and problem solving skills. And he would NEVER fly off the handle if someone at work got complicated. He just always kept his calm, knew the right thing to do or say. Well, as long as it wasn’t anything related to dating, Blake thought and chuckled quietly to himself.
Blake was proud of his son and his achievements and would never interfere with his life choices unless there was a risk of harm, but he wasn’t the biggest fan of him working at that science lab. It had higher security and surveillance than St. Quentin, the Crown Jewels and Area 51 combined. That just seemed way overkill for just some research lab, and begged the question what exactly they would be researching that required such security overload. It had always left a bad aftertaste with Blake, just like knowing his son spend so much of his days there, working from early till late every day, even sometimes on the weekends had always worried Blake. Maybe EC Architects would be a better choice for Chase’s wellbeing too. He could also possibly convince him and Shea to move into the Beach House with him and Hailey then.
Blake would never admit that out aloud, but he missed having his son home. Kiera technically moved out, but came over so much, you’d never know. Chase on the other hand worked too much and Newcrest was just too far to just stop by after work during the week. So if Blake and Hailey were lucky, they’d see their son on weekends, if he didn’t have plans with Shea or there were other family events to go to.
Blake inhaled and thought to himself
‘All right, here goes. Now or never. Good luck to myself.’
“Uh – Chase? There was something I wanted to discuss with you. I’d like for you to hear me out before you say anything, as this is a bit … complex.”
“Oh, don’t worry, dad. I already know what you are going to say. Pretty tough to swallow, but I get it. I mean, I would do the same.”
“You do? And you would?”
“Oh, dad, the Cameron grapevine. Of course I heard. And of course I would.”
“Huh!” Blake made, then thought about it. No, that was too easy. Something was off here.
“What exactly do you know?”
“Well, you know … that! It’s a whammy.”
“Christ on a bicycle – use words kid! What do you think you know?”
“Okay dad, relax. About Stryker’s ‘dead’ family and all the babies. Wow. Wish they sold greeting cards that just said ‘DAMN!'” Chase laughed.
“Tell me about it! If I bought myself one every time I thought that about this family, I could have built three lifesize models of the Beach House with all the cards by now. But Chase, that is not it. I have something serious to discuss with you, something affecting you directly. And Shea. And all of us, really.”
“Oh my God – you too?” Chase looked shocked.
“What me too?” Blake was confused.
“You and mom … are you …?”
“No! Your mother is not pregnant, at least she wasn’t when I left. Chase, focus, kid. Stick with me here for a moment, will ya? Quit jumping to conclusions about what I will say. You will never guess it, might was well let me get it out.”
“Wanna bet I could guess it though?”
“No, I do not want to bet. But out of curiosity, what else you got?”
“EC Architects – more specifically, me working there.”
“Now you are starting to scare me, son. How in the world did you come up with that?”
“Wasn’t that hard to guess. I knew it would be just a matter of time that grandpa would roll that pile of BS in front of your door. He has been on me about that since I was still in college. No matter how many times I tell him no, like a bad fungus, it always comes back up again. Apparently he has you on it now.”
“He has. And initially I told him to take it and shove it too, but the long and short of it is, he does have a valid point. I talked it over with your mom, she confirmed my thoughts. He’s pretty desperate now. And he is your grandfather and my father, he works too hard as is and I worry about him.”
“I know. When Bri called me and told me she wants out, I just knew this was coming. Didn’t think you’d treat me like a cheap date and tried to butter me up by taking me camping, but at least we get to have some fun in between.” Chase chuckled.
“Damn, you are scary smart. I am going to seriously consider a paternity test, because you don’t have that from me and I love your mother, she may be a helluva lot smarter than me, but she is too ditsy to make up for my stupidity enough to breed some super-human like you.”
“Funny dad. Maybe I should have done what I always do and play dumb until you finally land that plane but you were simply taking too long.”
“You know what they say, dad, better a smartass than a …”
“I am going to ignore your insolence. Instead let me – as you put it – land my plane right on top of you. So where do you stand on the EC Architects thing?”
“Where I always stood. I am a scientist, not an architect. The only thing I draw are specimen up a syringe, not houses onto paper. I do not know the first thing about buildings and design, nor do I frankly care one iota. Decorating and all that is Shea’s thing, not mine. Why aren’t you being reeled in?”
“Because I am the dumbass contrasting your smarts and completely skill-free apart from plucking on a guitar, as I was reassured by my lovely baby brother. The only way I could ever be useful to EC Architects if by trying to convince you to reconsider. Look, Chase, you know I never meddled into your life before, nor would I normally, but truth be told, I think this may be good for you. And for Shea. And for your grandfather, your mother and me. I would really like to ask you to seriously think about it. You kids, plus pooches, could even move back into the Beach House with your mom and me to cut the commute to work for you down to almost nothing, and it’s gonna be a wash for Shea. Sleep on it tonight and tomorrow at breakfast we’ll talk about.”
The rest of the evening was spent on a higher note, playing the guitar by the campfire until they both turned in.
The next morning Chase crawled from his tent only to see his father already up, standing by the lake, gazing into the distance.
Chase joined him.
Father and son stood next to each other, in silence, for a while.
“Morning kiddo.” Blake finally said.
“Sleep all right?” Blake asked as he watched Chase pick up a few rocks to skip them across the lake.
“I slept like a baby. How about you dad?” Chase was still way too upbeat for Chase’s taste.
“Guilty conscience does not make for a good night’s rest. I am having second thoughts, kid. I should have never brought this up to you. I have no right to interfere in your life. You know what is going on in our family and with the company and if you felt behooved to do something, knowing what you know, you would. Last thing I would want is for you to feel like I am trying to guilt you into something you do not want and … ”
“Dad!” Chase cut off his father, turning towards him. Smiling.
“I’ll do it. EC Architects. When we get back, I’ll go straight to grandpa and talk to him about how we can go about this. If we agree on something, I’ll hand in my resignation at the lab on Monday. That will give everyone the obligatory two weeks to sort things out.”
“Don’t you want to talk to Shea about this first?”
“No need. She and I have had this very discussion a million times – especially recently – and she always told me that if I ever changed my mind, she would support me hook, line and sinker, just like I have supported her about going back to school, despite everything.”
“Despite everything? Oh please, don’t tell me you guys have some drama too. I can’t take anymore. Please do not tell you you two are at odds with each other.”
“Well, depends on what you count as drama, dad. And no, we have never been closer than we are now, so don’t worry. You know what really made me change my mind about everything you said? The part where you want Shea and me to move back home, to the Beach House. I have been bouncing ideas around in my head about how to elegantly put that idea into your and mom’s head without looking like a fool. Shea and I love our home, but it is just not going to be big enough for five of us there.” Chase gave Blake a certain type of smirk.
“Yeah. That place is tight as a tuna can for you and the two pups. What a sec. Five? I know I suck at Math but … are you saying what I think you are?”
“Yeah. You are the first to hear, dad, hot off the presses. Too early still to announce to everyone yet, so it’s still a bit of a secret between us, okay? See, I had ulterior motives to go camping with you too … wanted to talk to you about a wedding we’ll have to plan and what better place to tell you that I am going to make you a grandpa in about 7 months than the place you used to love spending time at with your grandpa?”
-to be continued-