“Nicky, love, I know it’s you. They’ve invented this new thing called caller ID, perhaps you’ve heard of it. It puts your name right there on the phone for me to see, along with your phone number. And what ex-con did I send you? Because I do believe I’d remember even that in my dotage.”
It was a good thing he loved her, he thought, or he’d seriously have to consider parenticide.
“Becky Morgan. And don’t try to deny it, because she told me that you told me to call you when she left.” He had to stop on the stairs and catch his breath.
He ran eighteen miles a day on the treadmill. What was wrong with him? he wondered.
“First of all, her name is not Becky Morgan. Don’t you read anything anymore? Secondly...hang on; I have to take this call.”
He pulled the phone from his ear and looked at it. She put him on hold! He started walking down the steps again, a little slower. Just three more flights to go. After five minutes, she came back on the line.
“Nicky, darling, did you have that poor man David try to detain your so called ex-con?”
He was almost afraid to answer that. He could hear that tone in her voice, the Mom tone. It said, “Don’t even try lying because I already know the truth.”
“I might have. Why?” He was at the door at the lobby now, but didn’t go through it. If he had to grovel to his mom, he was not going to let everyone in the lobby hear it.
“Well, they’ve just called the paramedics for him. He is bleeding on the ugly carpet I told you not to put in. It’s much too sedate and boring. You should have gone with the royal blue one—”
“Mom! I need you to focus here. Why are the paramedics on their way for David?” He pushed the door open with a bang. He was three feet from a crowd gathered around what he could only assume was his security guard.
“She said that she asked him several times not to touch her, and she also warned him that she could and would defend herself if he did. She said that he grabbed her arm and ripped her shirt—a borrowed shirt I might add. What is wrong with you? Are you actually telling your employees to accost young women now? Nicholas Patrick Grant, I’m very angry with you right now.” He could hear it too.
Nickolas could hear her voice get just a tad more pitch behind it with every word until she got to his full name. A kid always knew when he was in trouble because his mom would use his entire name to yell for him. It didn’t change much as an adult either.
“Are you saying that Becky attacked David? That just doesn’t sound—”
“Her name is Morgan Becky, not Becky Morgan, you jackass. And why would I lie to you, I ask you? I sent her in there in good faith to get a job. And what do you do? You—”
“Mom she’s an ex-con, I can’t—”
“You will not interrupt your mother again, young man. She is not an ex-con.
She was acquitted of all charges and released. I am not her parole officer; I’m her counselor and friend. Well, probably not after this. How could you?”
He could hear the hurt in her voice and felt bad that he had put it there.
Nickolas didn’t know what to say. He felt like he was six years old again and had just broken the cookie jar. Or rather, his brother Jamie had broken it—he’d just dared him to it. Of course ,Jamie had done it; he never could turn down a dare.
“Mom, I’m sorry. Let me see to David, and then I’ll find Ms. Mor ... Becky, and make it up to her. I’m really sorry.”
“See that you do. And I want you to call me as soon as you have apologized to her. Apologized to her several times, I mean. Nickolas, if you don’t make this right, I’ll go back to setting you up with potential wives again. I swear. And I won’t be as choosy this time.”
“God, no! Please don’t do that. I beg you, please. I’ll make it up to her, I swear. You can depend on me.” That was a promise he would follow through on even if he had to buy the little twit all of Tiffany’s.to make her happy.
Nick walked over to the scene and, in a glance, could see that David was indeed in need of paramedics. His head was bleeding quite profusely from the open wound on the back. One of the girls from his brother Damon’s office—he had an office in the building too—was holding a pad over it and talking quietly to him. And there stood Ms. Mor ... Becky, nearly vibrating in her anger.
“You all right, David? Did anyone call your wife?” He decided to ignore the beautiful woman for now, at least until he got a better control on his temper.
“Yes, sir. Roger called her. She’s gonna meet me there. It’s all my fault, Mr.
Grant. Miss Becky told me to let her go and she said that she’d hurt me if I didn’t.
I should have just let her go like she said. My missus is gonna be pissed about this. I ripped her shirt too. Miss Becky’s, I mean.” David handed the small strip of material over to Nick that he still had clutched in his hand. Nick looked up at Morgan.
“Don’t you have something to say to David, Ms. Becky? I mean, was it really necessary to hit him in the head?” Her hands were trembling when she took the material from him. Snatched would have been a better word, but he let it go. He was in enough trouble with his mother without adding insult to injury.
“You mean I should apologize? I don’t think so. I’m sorry he was hurt. I never meant for him to hit his head. If anyone should apologize, it should be you.”
“Me? What the hell did I do? You’re the one who knocked him over. I wasn’t finished talking to you and you left.”
“Screw you.” And with that, she turned on her heel and stormed out of the building. Nick would have given chase, but the ambulance showed up just then and, as David’s employer, he felt it was his duty to go with him.
David Tulle was fine after a quick trip to the hospital and fifteen stitches later. When he had grabbed at Morgan’s arm as she moved to pass him, she countered with a sweep of her leg under his and threw him to the floor. Falling down, he had hit his head on the corner of the front desk, grabbing at her borrowed shirt and ripping it.
Of course, the firm paid for the entire thing and even sprang for lunch for David and his obviously pregnant wife, who had met them at the hospital. Nick then made the trip back to the office to pick up Ms. Becky’s file and make everything all right with his mom. No way was he letting her set him up on blind dates again.
Nick was okay with being single. He dated when he wanted to, which wasn’t really that often. At twenty-nine, he was a widower of nearly eight years now.
His wife Nancy had been killed in a car crash about a year into their marriage, along with his dad on their way back from dropping him off at the airport. He had been on his way to a conference in Milan when slick roads and a drunk driver had crashed into them.