"Windsor Horne Lockwood the third. It's kind of a weird name." Ellie said, after I spilled my guts to her. We lay on my bed looking up as dark clouds dropped heavy rain onto my skylight.
"I googled him," I said blankly. Ellie sat up, her blonde hair whipping me.
"And?" She asked, looking at me eagerly.
"I don't know," I shrugged. "He handles finances or something—and he golfs."
"Boooooring." Ellie flopped back onto the bed. "You know I really can't see your mom with a banker. I always pictured your dad as Mick Jagger."
I thought about it for a second, recalling all the boyfriends Mom had brought home. "Yeah I can see how you could get that impression."
"So maybe he is a Mick Jagger look alike—but in a suit!"
"Not even close."I leaned over to my laptop on the side table and typed in his name. Clicking on a social newsletter sight I brought up his picture along with a hefty article. Ellie leaned over the bed to get a better look.
"Holy beans! Now I can see your mother with a banker." I watched as Ellie continued to ogle the picture. I couldn't blame her—I had done the same thing. The picture was taken at some high society charity ball with my father in a tuxedo and a drop-dead gorgeous woman hanging on his arm.
"I know this must be weird," Ellie said chewing her lip, "but your dad is hot."
It was weird but indisputably true. He was tall, had perfectly cut blonde hair and the kind of blue eyes people kill for. His face looked like it was carefully carved from porcelain with its delicate features and sharp angles. Looking at him you realized his name fit him perfectly. Both were pretentious and screamed of money and entitlement. I tried to find some similarities between us, something that let me know for sure that he was my father. All I could find was that we both had blue eyes. But then again so did 40% of the population. For the first time I was a little upset that I looked so much like my mother.
"So when do you get to meet him?"
"Tonight," I said, my heart suddenly thumping louder. "We're meeting him for dinner."
"That was fast."
But by the time my grandma dressed, combed and criticized me, I began to think the meeting could not have come fast enough. For the occasion she bought me another dress, this one with a floral print and a chokingly high collar. She wanted to braid my hair too but I was gone before she could come a foot near me. Mr. Lockwood was just going to have to accept the fact that his daughter had unruly hair.
Grandma had a town car pick us up at six and by six thirty we were seated in one of the most exclusive restaurants in Manhattan. The whole time Grandma had her nose in the air—which probably would have looked a lot more dignified if there weren't tiny white hairs in her nostril. Despite her calm demeanor I could tell she was a little nervous (she was snapping at me more than usual).
"Madison, stop fidgeting! People will see you," she said horrified. I rolled my eyes and opened up a menu. I couldn't eat all day and now suddenly I was ready to order up an elephant with horse on the side. But of course! Everything was in French.
"What's es-car-got?" I slowly asked.
"It's pronounced escargot, dear," she sighed, looking around impatiently.
That wasn't what I asked but before I could enquire about the dish further we were interrupted by the host with the snobby expression and 1920's tailcoat. My Grandma smiled politely up at him but her anxiety was clear. Good. Maybe they would kick us out and I could convince Grandma to stop at a burger joint.
"Mrs. Solomon? Mr. Lockwood sends his regrets. I'm afraid he is caught up in a meeting and will be unable to dine with you. However, he insists that you put the meal on his tab and enjoy your evening." The man looked quite proud of himself for relaying the message so eloquently. I resisted the urge to applaud.
"I see," Grandma said through pursed lips. The man actually gave a short bow and then walked away. I bit my lip nervously as I watched Grandma got through ten different emotions of anger in three point five seconds. In the end she settled on mudslinging—a personal favorite of mine. This is where she drags who ever has offended her through the mud by listing all of their shortcomings from scandalous affairs to getting a c minus in the fourth grade.
Of course I was just as equally angry. Well maybe not angry. Maybe more disappointed. I wanted to meet him. I really did! Who wouldn't want to see the other half of their DNA donor?
"You know I told Veronica to marry him. I told her she couldn't do any better. But then she goes and sleeps with him. Let me tell you something Madison, no one is going to want to buy the ice cream truck when you are handing out popsicles for free. Of course the Lockwoods like to think they are so squeaky clean but if half the rumors are true they should be locking up their son in an asylum somewhere. Really what Veronica was thinking by giving you to that maniac is beyond me. Not only is he unstable but I've heard he goes through women like tissues. I can't imagine leaving you in that kind of environment."
For probably the first time in my life, I was hanging onto Grandma's every word. This kind of stuff was certainly not in any of the social papers.
"You know I heard he worked for the FBI. Now you tell me why a man of his background would do such a thing. It's really too much. It's a sign of a man who just can't grow up if you ask me."
I just nodded, hoping she would keep talking. She didn't. In my excitement I had forgotten that after mudslinging she switches to silent brooding.
"I still don't know what escargot is."
About a week after the dinner fiasco, Grandma really lost it. Really lost it. Just picture Mount Kilimanjaro exploding while you're eating your Cheerios and it would be like you were sitting in our kitchen.
"I have had it with this man! First he refuses to meet his own daughter and then his lawyers refuse to meet mine! Who the hell does he think he is? You would think that with his billions he wouldn't be so tight about paying child support!"
"You need child support?" I asked, lifting a brow.
"Well of course not! It's the principle of the thing! Obviously he doesn't want you but the least he could do is give a little support," she screeched.
Obviously he doesn't want you
The thought bounced around my head like a pinball. He didn't want? The thought had crossed my mind—in fact it had crossed my mind quite a lot, but to actually here it said, to hear that my one chance of freedom from my grandmother was gone. To hear that my own father did not want me. It was too much. It was…
"I'm going for a walk."
Grandma jerked her head up, looking me over with a suspicious glare over horned rim glasses. "A walk? What for?"
"Just getting a little exercise," I lied. I needed to get away. Have some time to myself before I resigned myself to the fact that I would be stuck with her until the day that she died—and knowing her she'd live to be a hundred and twenty just to spite me.
"I don't want you going out. The paparazzi can be dangerous."
"Grandma, Charlie Sheen is coming into town. I think the paparazzi will be a little more interested in a psycho, then the daughter of a singer who died two weeks ago."
"Who's Charlie Sheen?"
"Never mind. Can I go now?" I had begun to inch the door.
"Be home by six…and don't get dirty. And don't talk to strangers. And—'
If I had stayed, I would have never been able to leave. Her lists are notoriously long. About a block away from our townhouse I hailed a cab.
"Where to honey?"
The split decision to meet my father, head on, in his office was probably not the best idea I have ever acted upon. Standing there in a t-shirt and jeans surrounded by female models dressed in Prada, I was tempted to turn around and run. In fact, I did turn around only to be stopped by a rather tall man.
"Excuse me," I managed to squeak, my muscles tensed to scamper right out of the building.
"Whoops sorry kiddo," the man smiled down, he sidestepped me and began to walk to the elevator but stopped just short of the door. Slowly, he turned back to me, who remained frozen to the marble floor. "I apologize I didn't realize who you were Miss. Hart."
"Esperanza told me you were interested in being represented by MBReps."
He must have noticed my dazed and confused expression because he continued on, "I'm Myron Bolitar. I would represent you."
I think I nodded; I can't be sure because at that point I really couldn't feel anything. All I knew was that walking beside Mr. Bolitar allowed me to scoot past the guard and the snobby receptionists without a second glance.
It was a quiet and incredibly awkward elevator ride. I didn't know what to say to the man who thought I was somebody else and he kept glancing at me curiously and then switching his gaze when I noticed his stare. We played this little game for what felt like hours but the game came to a stop at the ding of the elevator door. This must have been his floor because he immediately stepped out and waited patiently for me to follow. As we walked he discussed his business plan for my career and the possible sponsors he could get. I nodded and smiled when it seemed appropriate but I could see suspicion start to seep into his eyes. When we entered his office he closed the door and I sat down. He leaned against the desk and folded his arms.
"Now who are you really?"
"What?" I managed to croak out, my heart pumping a mile a minute.
"I just asked if ?"
That was it. I was cornered. No place to run. The window would be too high to jump out of but maybe that was for the best—maybe the fall would kill me and I would not have to face the inevitable wrath of my grandmother.
"Listen, I'm sorry," I sputtered. "I didn't know how else to get past security and, well, you were right there—and it was stupid and I'm sorry."
Mr. Bolitar scratched the back of his neck thoughtfully as his eyebrows knitted in confusion. "Well then if you are not my star tennis player then who exactly might you be?"
"Alright Maddie and what urgent business did you have in the Locke-Horne building? Checking up on your stocks?"
"Uh-no I'm here to meet someone."
"Listen I know I am irresistible to women of all ages but why not just wait for them in the lobby?"
"Well he doesn't exactly know I am here," I explain, deciding to ignore the creepy comment.
"Hmm I must have missed Surprise Daddy at Work Day on my calendar," he said.
"Yeah," I laughed nervously. And I was about to high tail it out of there when the office door opened with a bang.
"Why are female accountants so clingy?" A man moaned. I turned around instantly, my eyes widening as I took in the man standing in front of me. He looked just like the pictures I had been poring over for the past weeks. Yet in person Windsor Horne Lockwood III had a more dangerous aura around him. Somehow the camera had failed to capture the menace in his eyes and the coil of his muscles, like a viper ready to strike. With a shiver I looked to the floor as his icy gaze quickly examined me.
"Where is Sasha Hart?" He asked his full attention now on Mr. Bolitar.
"That is an excellent question. I grabbed Maddie here by mistake." Mr. Bolitar said turning back to me. Maybe if I knew him better and was about a foot closer I would have kicked him. As it were I just tried to make myself look as small as possible. I did not even try to make eye contact with him when his attention returned to me. Suddenly my sneakers were incredibly interesting.
I tried to convince myself that he didn't know who I was. There had to be thousands of Maddies in Manhattan alone. For all he knew I was just a kid looking for my white collar dad who worked ten floors below his top floor office.
"What is she doing here?" He said finally. Apparently he was not the clueless, self-absorbed playboy portrayed in all the magazines. It seemed in a matter of second he managed to connect me to the daughter he has been avoiding.
"You know her?" Mr. Bolitar said, surprised.
"This was the problem I was telling you about a few weeks ago," he said.
Mr. Bolitar looked at me for a moment and then at my father. His gaze then returned to mine and in an instant his face had contorted into a fit of laughter. I jumped at the unexpected sound, my nerves already shot. My father just looked at the man as if he suggested they jump out the window together.
"I fail to see the humor," my father said dryly, crossing his arms.
"It's funny because I've been waiting for this moment for years. The day your philandering finally catches up with you."
"By all means take a picture," he said, his voice strangely dead.
"Don't think I won't," Mr. Bolitar smirked, leaning contently back in his executive chair.
In those few moments my voice seemed to return, albeit weaker then usual.
"Ahem," I coughed, forcing my words past my lips. "Do you think it's possible we could start over?"
"Meaning?" He arched a perfectly shaped eyebrow, making me suddenly conscious that I had not plucked mine in weeks. My courage was starting to back away again but I nudged it forward.
I stuck out my hand. "Hi I'm Madison Solomon. Your daughter."
He looked at my hand for a moment then slowly back up again, an exasperated look whittled on his porcelain face. Somehow this scene played out differently in my head-less cold.
We sat across from each other in a dark lounge. I tried to look casual while soaking in my surroundings and the man in front of me but the unimpressed look of the waiter told me I was failing.
"And what can I get you Mr. Lockwood," the waiter asked a lived to please smile plastered on his face.
"Two scotches," he said without looking up.
"But I don't drink," I protested without thinking. He and the waiter starred back at me like I grew another head. My father looked at me with a grimace then turned to the waiter. "Two scotches and a coke."
His icy gaze turned on me and despite my best efforts I squirmed a little, feeling more like I was in an interrogation room then in a lounge.
"And exactly how old are you, Madison," he asked finally, when the waiter had brought the drinks.
"Fifteen," I said guardedly, but he only nodded and took a deep gulp of scotch, so I pressed on. "Which makes sense seeing as you left my mom fifteen years ago."
If I had hit a nerve, he certainly didn't show it, but I now understood that second scotch was never intended for me. He gulped it down like water.
After setting the empty glass down, he stared at me for a long moment before asking, "And what pray tell struck you with the notion to come to my office?"
"Well how else was I going to meet you," I said, exasperated by the obvious answer.
"Surely your mother has met someone to cover the father figure role," he replied. "This is what this whole escapade is about, isn't it?"
I scrunched my nose, disgusted by the very thought of my mother's boyfriend, Miller Haunt, coming anywhere close to the title of father figure. An immature bad boy with sociel skill issues and an apparent fear of bathing had no business even throwing around the idea of being a dad. Although, to be fair, neither did Mr. Lockwood.
"Listen," I bit back, my pride smarting from his condescension. "Whether you like it or not my mother placed me under your guardianship."
"And what if I don't want you under my guardianship," he snapped.
I must have looked like an idiot with my mouth gaping open, I certainly felt like one. My father leaned farther back in his chair, something like regret lowering the corners of his mouth.
He cleared his throat. "I apologize, but believe me when I say this is really for your own good. I certainly have no business raising a child."
"I'm not a child," I said, immediately regretting the words that made me sound all the more childish. "I mean I don't need you to raise me. I just need you to take me away from my grandmother."
"I can think of a lot worse than living with Lucille," he said skeptically.
"I can't," I shot back sullenly. "If I have to live with her one more week, I'll runaway."
"And go where exactly."
"Anywhere and everywhere. Anything to escape."
"Does she beat you?" He asked, a note of concern peeking through.
"Only with her tongue," I said, suddenly embarrassed. Was I whining? Did he think I was complaining just so I could get my way? It seemed impossible to get across the misery of being around her.
He leaned farther back in his chair, steepling his fingers, giving him a pensive look.
"I will discuss with your grandmother."
I would just like to apologize for the long wait. Life has gotten pretty hectic and the urge to write left me for a couple months. As a way of apology I made this chapter the longest chapter I have ever written in my entire life. I hope you can appreciate the mental willpower it took for me to write this much : )
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