Chapter 1 | Wade
What would happen if Wade deliberately missed the flight? It would allow him to extend his visit, as he wanted, and not feel too guilty about it.
No one had to know.
His accommodation on this business trip had been a small room with a double bed, instead of the king size typically found in the States. Easy to forgive when accompanied by such a spectacular view, though. He stepped out of his room right on to the sandy beach. Wade found himself regretting that he hadn’t called home and come up with some excuse to stay.
When Wade’s uncle had sent him to the tropical island to look into a building opportunity, Wade jumped at the chance. Anything to get him out of the sleepy little town of his childhood, and away from his overbearing family.
While he wasn’t exactly a fan of flying, he did enjoy the travel. Enjoyed it as much as he could, at any rate. He’d sat through the standard business pitch. Several investors were looking to build a small resort on this little, out-of-the-way island at the southernmost tip of a long line of tiny islands in the Caribbean.
The timing was perfect, they’d said. They were right. The island was small enough that the real estate would be prime pickings to build on if they could snap up the land before the landowners grew wise to the value. The company negotiating the rights from the government said it was only a matter of time.
The investor group hired a car to take Wade back to the airport. The clouds hung low over the island, ready to unleash its payload of rain, but Wade wasn’t paying the weather much attention. His mind circled around and around. Situated at the southernmost tip of an archipelago of islands, Maona was the least built up regarding amenities.
It was probably for the best that he was heading back. He hadn’t packed for an extended stay on a tropical island or a vacation.
And there was a fair amount of guilt because he'd never taken a girlfriend on any such trips. Despite pressure from his family to find the right woman and settle down, he'd not visited any beautiful places with a lovely woman. He'd had girlfriends but had never felt close enough to any of them to want to actually go on vacation with them. He preferred his own company.
His parents wouldn’t admit it, but he knew they were trying to match him up with Irene. Every time he told them Irene was a girl who was a friend but not a girlfriend, either they didn’t hear him or they couldn’t accept it.
Girl—he really meant woman. She had a brilliant mind which she put to good use as one of the top paralegals in Dreamer’s Folly.
She was as smart as she was lovely and knew how to dress to show off her incredible figure to its best advantage. Not that it worked on Wade. He wasn’t attracted to her physically. Despite not having a deep attraction to her, Wade did think highly of her. She was a good match and would make a good wife one day.
To someone else.
To shake himself out of that disastrous train of thought, he turned his attention to the view outside the window. The pristine white sands of the island were everywhere, and a small part of Wade wanted desperately to stop the car so he could get out and walk.
To walk and keep walking and maybe just… keep walking some more.
But life would never let him go. No matter how much he ran from it, it would find a way to drag him back.
He didn't necessarily like it.
Correction, he didn't like it.
But he knew how to cope.
He pulled his leather attaché case to him and teased out the business cards of the investment group looking to develop the resort. Making a note on the card with the name of the island. When he got back stateside, he would give them a call.
Perhaps he could get in on the ground floor. Finally owning a small place in this serene paradise for himself. To have a place to escape to when life overwhelmed. That wasn’t so bad, right?
Surely no one would begrudge him that little bit of selfish happiness?
But as the airport came into view, reality settled heavily on him again. Of course, it was selfish. And it wouldn't be encouraged in his family.
Blood always came first. No matter how difficult, the expectation of family loyalty was primary. Failing to close ranks for the family was tantamount to treachery. Planning an escape, however fleeting, equaled treachery.
Wade dealt with enough misery on a daily basis; he wasn’t about to start rocking the boat further.
The driver pulled up to the curb and helped Wade unload his few bags with still enough time before boarding to visit the small gift shop that he'd spied on his way through earlier in the week. He’d pick up a magazine to keep him entertained until the plane went through the unpleasantness of climbing to cruising altitude.
Once the fear of crashing subsided, he’d be able to sleep on the flight. At Miami International, he'd catch a bite to eat while waiting for his connection and be home not long after dinner.
He wondered, for just a brief moment, could he miss the fight, Wade pushed the thought aside and headed in the terminal for his flight back home.
Duty to his job and to his family won out.
All things considered, Wade was good at what he did, taking the lead on new business ventures and expanding the customer base of the company. He made good money. And, of course, the traveling was a bonus.
He certainly hadn’t counted on working for his uncle of all people, the domineering family patriarch; the man who was the source of some of his worst childhood memories. Working for his uncle’s business, every day at work he confronted reminders of what happened—the ugly scenes he’d witnessed while still a child.