Her clammy hand could still feel the heavy wooden handle of the stainless steel butcher knife. Bent on revenge she held the knife high over her head ten plunged it in her sleeping mother’s chest. As her mother’s blue eyes opened briefly blood splattered the murderess in the face. She wiped the blood from her brow like it was sweet, then she drove the knife into her mother’s chest with such force it cut through the bone. The only sound in the room was the scraping of metal against bone and the silent screams of the victim.
Suddenly Raven’s recollection of that night was interrupted “Do you have any last words?” asked the executioner.
Raven Prescott the once beautify daughter of a prominent plastic surgeon laid strapped to a flat metal bed on wheel. Her soft shinny red hair which grabbed the attention of everyone when she entered as it bounced and cascaded down her back now looked like dry tumbleweed. Her healthy curveaious five-foot nine body was gaunt and unappealing. Her flirty green eyes that once sparkled with enthusiasm, love, and dreams for the future appeared vacant of life.
“Ethan,” she whispered as she closed her eyes.
“Is there anything else,” the executioner asked.
She gently shook her head, no.
The warden gave the okay to proceed with the procedure. A doctor with a small syringe approached the table. He looked down at the thirty-five year old woman that was about to die. He administered three separated doses of medicine into small tub attached to her arm. She twitched a little then faded away. The doctor checked her for a pulse. When there was none present he pronounced that she was dead.
As Miles drove through the streets of Atlanta he played over his action of the previous day meeting with Jacks. It was a bitter sweet meeting, but necessary to keep the peace.
Previous day meeting
White Incorporated was located in the heart of downtown Atlanta. It was a medium-sized company that occupied the three top floors of a ten-story brick building. The conservative decor on the executive floor looked like a prestigious law office. The only signs of modernization in the office were the telephone equipment and computers.
Jacks, Peter and Greyson arrived just in time for the meeting. Stepping off the elevator, Jacks realized she was about to be in the presence of the man she loved, the mother she hated, and the sister she couldn’t figure out. But the fate of her father’s company rested in her hands, so she tried to put her personal feelings aside. She took a deep breath and entered the large conference room.
The conference room had the feel of a high-stakes poker game. The cards were on the table, and the jackpot had reached a million dollars. It was a face-off, with Peter, Jacks, and Greyson lining one side of the table, and Mrs. White, Miles, and their attorney on the other side.
“Now, let’s get started, shall we?” said Mrs. White’s attorney. “As you know, this company has fallen on hard times. However, with a financial shot in the arm, Mrs. White will assure you the company will rebound,” he continued, passing out reports.
“How much money are you talking about?” Jacks asked as she flipped through the papers.
“Three million dollars,” answered the attorney like he was asking for only a dollar.
Jacks didn’t let them see her flinch at the enormous dollar amount. She knew she could come up with that amount of money, but it would be a financial strain on her company.
“Now, Mrs. White is willing to allow you to remain president if you don’t participate in the day-to-day operations of the company.”
“What do you mean allow me to be president? I own most of the shares,” protested Jacks.
Mrs. White slammed a piece of paper on the table as if she was killing a bug. “Well not any more.” She smirked. “Maxine gave me her proxy.”
Jacks was stunned by this revelation. She couldn’t believe Maxine had turned completely against her.
Now forced into an uncomfortable position of taking sides, Miles didn’t speak. Unable to look at the woman he loved, he focused on the report in front of him and nervously tapped his pencil eraser on it.
“I want the company,” demanded Jacks.
“You just want me to turn over a company that my husband and I sacrificed for and built from nothing,” snarled Mrs. White.
“No, I want you to turn over a company that my father built and that you are running into bankruptcy. Remember, you called me. I don’t need three million dollars.”
The tempers in the room were escalating as the room’s air was clouded with resentment, hurt, and anger. Suddenly, the door opened, breaking the tension as all eyes turned in the direction of the doorway.
“Maxine,” greeted Mrs. White with a full smile.
Maxine entered the room. “Mother, what is going on here?” Maxine was irritated by the gathering and demanded an answer.
Mrs. White dismissed her like an annoying child. “Just a little meeting,” she answered.
“The meeting I scheduled. Why wasn’t I told the time had changed?”
“You were so busy at home with those beautiful boys, I didn’t think you would care,” she replied like a scheming snake.
“Is it true, Maxine?” asked Jacks.
Maxine snapped at Jacks, “Is what true?”
“You gave your proxy to Mother?”
“Yes. Why should you have controlling interest in a company you don’t oversee?” replied Maxine with an I-got-you-and-there’s-not-a-damn-thing-you-can-do-about-it attitude.
“I thought I had left it in competent hands,” said Jacks as her temper began to flair.
“The company is in the hands of people who want to deal with it,” sneered Maxine.
“Deal with it or just use it to get back at me?” said Jacks.
Greyson watched the bickering between the sisters. He felt there was a personal underlying conflict between them.
Jacks glanced around the conference room and saw the uncomfortable expressions on everyone’s faces. They were looking at papers, the walls, and their fingers, pretending not to overhear the family squabble. Wanting to put everyone at ease, Jacks stopped the war of words with her sister. “So, for the money, I remain a figurehead,” she said, quickly changing the subject back to the problem at hand.
“More like an oil painting on the wall, partner,” stated Maxine.
Jacks could feel her blood pressure beginning to elevate. It was as if Maxine was deliberately trying to get underneath her skin. Trying to not stoop to Maxine’s level, Jacks calmly asked, “How can I make sure my father’s life work and my money won’t be destroyed by incompetence?”
“Now, Jacquelyn,” replied the attorney, “we admit the company was poorly managed in the past, but we have rectified the situation with Miles as CEO. As you can see on page ten,” he explained, turning the pages on the financial report, “business is up twenty percent over last year.”
“So if business is up, why do you need me?” she asked, glancing over the report, and then passing it to Greyson.
Miles watched Jacks’s and Greyson’s interaction like a jealous lover.
“Look, I don’t care if business was up fifty percent. This company isn’t being run by people who know or care about it,” said Jacks.
Greyson scanned the report. “And besides, what qualifications does Miles . . . what did you say your last name was?” Greyson asked.
“I didn’t,” replied Miles.
“Don’t I know you from somewhere?” Greyson asked.
“You look familiar. You look like someone I went to boarding school with; as a matter of fact, I’m riding in one of his father’s jets.”
“I don’t know anyone with jets.”
“He used to be Jacks’s chauffeur,” answered Peter with a chuckle. “He wouldn’t have traveled in that circle.”
Jacks didn’t appreciate Peter’s putdown of Miles. “And you did, Peter?” commented Jacks.
Dropping the subject, Greyson said, “Okay, Miles the chauffeur . . . looking at these figures, I’ll say he has been lucky,” said Greyson.
“I have to agree.” Jacks sighed. “Miles, I know you want to own your own company one day, but I can’t let you get on-the-job training with my father’s company,” she said with regret.
Mrs. White wished she could blow Jacks from the face of the earth, but she realized Jacks held all the cards. “Look, Jacks, we both know Maxine isn’t capable of running this company. I’ll make a deal with you: let us keep the company, and upon my death, you can have it,” she snarled.
Hurt and insulted, Maxine sat quietly as her mother’s feelings of her incompetence was revealed.
“I’m not willing to wait for that blessed event,” commented Jacks.
Mrs. White’s jaw clamped down until the vein in her forehead began to show her anger.
“Mother, how do you know Maxine doesn’t want to run the company one day? I’m sure with help she could do it,” said Jacks.
“I know Maxine better than you. I’d rather you have the company than to waste my time training her.”
Talk out about adding insult to injury, Maxine thought. Listen to them bickering. If I shut my eyes, I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.
“I want the company,” Jacks demanded.
“I will set the building ablaze before I let that happen,” declared Mrs. White.
Jacks turned to Peter. “Peter, do you have a match?”
Peter reached into his pocket and pulled out a book of matches.
“Here’s a match,” dared Jacks, throwing them across the table at her.
Miles was unable to watch the family feud any longer. “Jacks, can I see you in the other office?” he calmly requested as he stood up from the table.
Greyson and Peter began to stand.
“Alone,” said Miles, eyeballing the two men.
As Jacks and Miles entered his office, another kind of tension swept through the room—love.
Unable to look upon her face, Miles stood with his back to her as he moved papers on his desk from one pile to another. He asked gently, “Jacks, why are you doing this?”
“I want my father’s company.”
“You have your father’s company,” he said, turning around.
Jacks felt weak as Miles’s hazel-green eyes peeled back the layers of bullshit. There her soul stood in front of him, naked. Her eyes began to glaze over with tears as she thought of what she gave up so many months ago.
Speaking softly, Miles asked, “Now I ask you again, why are you doing this?”
Stripped of her anger, she could not contain her pain. “It’s all of my family that I have left,” she wept.
Miles rushed over to cradle her in his strong loving arms.
He gently pressed his lips to her forehead. “Taking this company will only be a Band-Aid for the real problem.”
Pulling away, they looked into each other’s eyes. Their hearts began to beat a little faster and their bodies became warmer. They both felt the passion that they were desperately trying to suppress.
Miles fought the urge to kiss her and tried to stay focused. He cleared his throat, then said, “And we both know a Band-Aid will not cover a broken heart.”
“Neither will a bad marriage,” replied Jacks.
Jacks knew Miles was telling the truth. She laid her head back against his chest and held him so tight she could feel his heart pounding against it.
“I can feel your heartbeat,” she confessed.
“So it’s not completely broken,” he said, squeezing her tighter.
Suddenly the unspoken words “I love you” took over their actions. Pulling back from Miles, Jacks gazed into his loving eyes. Swept up in the moment of truth, their lips met like cold water on a hot cast-iron skillet. No one else mattered as they melted into one ball of passion.
“Miles, I—” gasped Jacks between hot breathy kisses.
“I know,” he uttered, silencing her with a kiss.
For ten minutes, the conference room was silent, and everyone was becoming restless.
Maxine stared at a clock on the wall and was becoming impatient. “How long are we supposed to sit here?”
“Sit down, Max. I’m sure Miles knows what he’s doing,” said Mrs. White with a smirk.
Maxine knew what her mother was doing by making that comment, planting the seed of distrust. She knew Miles loved her, and she trusted him, but she also wasn’t a fool. She knew he had only a few weak spots and that Jacks was one of them.
“Well, I’m going to see what is taking them so long,” said Maxine, getting up to investigate the holdup.
Peter was getting a bad feeling about what Maxine could possibly discover in the next room, so he rushed to intervene. “No, let me,” he quickly offered, shoving Maxine aside.
Kicking the door when he touched the doorknob, Peter entered the room. Just as he suspected, they were in a warm embrace.
Peter closed the door behind him. “What are you two doing?” he whispered like a spy. “You could at least have locked the door.”
They broke their hold like two teenagers caught by their parents.
“We were just discussing the problem,” replied Jacks.
“Well, Maxine was about the walk in on the negotiations.”
“Peter, nothing was going on,” reassured Jacks.
“From where I stood, it didn’t appear that way.”
“Appearances can be deceiving,” said Miles.
“Only to those wearing rose-colored glasses, which I’m not,” replied Peter.
Feeling a war of words about to erupt, Jacks interrupted, “Peter, tell them we will be right out.”
Peter left the room to deliver the message.
“So, do we have an agreement?” asked Miles.
“I want my father’s company,” Jacks stated firmly.
“And you will have it. But not now and not in this way.”
“Mother will ruin it.”
“Not as long as I’m here,” promised Miles. “Jacks, you must trust me. I know how much this company means to you. Now I’m asking you to trust me, because I know what I’m doing.”
Greyson’s words “Miles the chauffeur” echoed in the back of Jacks’ mind. “He really doesn’t have the experience,” she thought. But she knew his heart, and she knew he wouldn’t let her down. “Okay, Miles, I will remain a silent partner as long as we show a profit.”
Miles smiled at Jacks’s business excuse for not totally surrendering. “Okay, boss lady.”
Jacks and Miles emerged from his office with smiles on their faces.
“Mrs. White, we have come to an agreement,” said Miles. “Jacks will allow us to run the company under the condition that upon your death the control interest will be split between your two remaining daughters.”
“I—” Jacks started to correct him, but she realized he was trying to keep peace in a dysfunctional family.
Maxine made a beeline for Miles to give him a congratulatory hug and to rub their relationship in Jacks’s face. Embarrassed, Miles accepted Maxine’s hug but turned away when she tried to kiss him on the lips.
Maxine’s performance made Jacks uncomfortable. “I guess I will be going now. Peter, will you stay and read over the contract and hammer out any problems? I’ll meet you at the hotel later.”
Miles looked at Jacks as if to say, “I’m sorry for Maxine’s performance.” Jacks just rolled her eyes and walked out of the conference room.
Miles arrived home after a hard day office. He parked his black Mercedes in the driveway and walked towards the front door. As he approached the front door he noticed a large padded manila envelop leaning against the door. The mysterious envelope was address to him and had not return address on it. After a brief examination of the package he opened the front door. He went inside and laid his keys the table in the foyer.
Miles Stallone was in his early thirties. He worked out, so his physical appearance was toned and muscular. His olive complexion, coal black hair, kiwi green eyes, and thick eyelashes gave him an exotic islander’s appearance. His boyish smile was charming, alluring, and ignited thoughts of passion.
He called out, “Maxine I’m home.”
Maxine quickly came from the kitchen to greet her future husband.
“Miles, honey, how was your day at work?” she asked with a loving smile. She tried to kiss him on the lips, but he looked down at the package in his hands. Maxine tried to ignore the fact that Miles internally obverted her kiss by smiling.
“It was good,” he replied as he looked at package once more for clues about where it could have come from.
“And how wash your drive home?” asked Maxine.
“Okay,” he answered with very little interest with starting a conversation with her. “I found this package at the front door. Did you see anyone leave it?”
“No,” replied Maxine looking at the package in his hand.
“Well, I guess I should open it,” replied Miles as he pulled the package open.
Inside was a video tape with no label. He shrugged his shoulders.
“Where are the boys?” he asked.
“They’re upstairs asleep.”
Miles started in the direction of the stairs. “Well, I’m going to look in on them then watch this tape.”
Maxine had been in the house all day and wanted to talk to Miles, so she was disappointed that he wasn’t in the mood to talk. Reluctantly she said okay as she watched him go upstairs.
Miles walked upstairs to the boy’s bedroom and opened the door. The large nursery was decorated in bright blues and yellows. The three babies’ beds were lined along the Mother Goose–themed wall. And it was obvious by the lavish surroundings that the boys would want for no material possessions.
Mrs. White was gently putting Nicolas down in his crib.
Margaret White was an attractive and very proud woman in her mid-fifties. She felt like she had sacrificed her life away with no appreciation, so she hardly ever smiled. Appearance meant everything to her, so she was never without her makeup, and her short graying brown hair was always in place.
“Margaret,” he whispered.
Mrs. White quickly shushed him and rushed t the door. She gently pushed him back into the hallway.
“I just wanted t see the boys,” he explained.
Nicholas, Neal, and Nathaniel are three identical eight month old baby boys. They had straight dark brown hair, hazel brown eyes, and a creamy brown complexion. They have been unofficially adopted by Maxine from her sister, Jacks.
“I just go them all t sleep.”
“Can’t I just go in and look at them?”
“Nathaniel is a light sleep, if you wake him up then he is going to be up the rest of them. Now might not bother you, but Maxine and I rip and run with these boys all day. And I don’t want to wake them up. I’m too old to be raising small children.”
“You know if they are too much for you two to handle, you can always hire another nanny.”
“I suggested that to Maxine. But after the problem we had with the other nanny Maxine doesn’t want anyone in the house.
“The help stealing from can be expected,” stated Miles as if he had personal experience with domestic help.
“So Miles, you’re had “help” steal from you before or were you the help doing the stealing?”
Miles realized he just said something he didn’t want to be known, so he quickly tried to change the subject.
“I think Jacks told me she had a made that stole form her.
When Mrs. White heard Jacks’ name her face went cold as if her arch enemy had just walked into the room. “Just don’t wake those boys,” she stated like a dare as she walked.
Miles had had a long day and was in no mood to argue with Mrs. White he accidentally woke up the boys, so he went into his bedroom. He entered the spacious room and turned on the 6 o’clock news.
“Our top story tonight a beautify sociality Raven Prescott was executed by lethal injection today,” announced the anchorman. “She was the daughter of David Prescott a prominent plastic surgeon. Ten years ago she was found in the family vacation home in Virginia with the murder weapon in still in her hand sleeping beside her dead mother’s body. She claim that she was framed but she failed to convince the jury. We’ll be right back.” And the news went to a commercial.
As Miles watched the news of Raven’s execution he felt a great sense of loss. A chapter his life that he thought he would never read again replied in his mind like a bitter sweet epic novel. Raven was his first love. Now she was gone. He didn’t know whether to morn or feel relived. But what he did know that his past life was finally over.
Maxine entered the bedroom. She noticed Miles was just sitting and staring at the TV.
“Miles are you alright?”
The news come back on so Miles didn’t respond.
“Back to our top story Raven Prescott was executed to day. Her last words or word was Ethan and not a confession.”
Miles felt lightheaded and turn white as a ghost. Maxine noticed his pale appearance.
“Miles are you alright,” she asked, touching him on the shoulder.
Maxine’s touch startled him.
“Max, I’m sorry did you say something.”
“Are you alright? You look like you have just seen a ghost.”
“No, I just a little tired. I’ve had a long day.”
“Well, dinner is ready. Will you be joining mother and me at the kitchen table?”
“I’ll be right down I just need to take a quick shower and change.”
“Would you like some company?”
“Max, I would love for you to join me some other time.”
“You always say that!”
Miles wasn’t in the mood for Maxine smart comment. “Max, I really had a bad day.”
“Okay, Miles but your perfect gentlemen act is getting a little old. I’ve been throwing myself at you for months. I’m beginning to think you’re gay.”
Miles didn’t react to Maxine’s comment.
“Well, I hope that your little friend is getting plenty of rest, because on our wedding night I want to make love to you until sun up then sun down.”
Miles smiled. “Max, I’ll be down in about five minutes, is that okay?”
Maxine gave Miles a quick peck on the cheek and he didn’t respond. Maxine felt insulted. She gave him a dirty look and began to walk away.
Suddenly Miles realized what he had done. He called out to her, “Max, it’s not you,” he said in an apologetic tone. “I’m just tired.