Between You and Me(135)

By: Jennifer Gracen

“Nick . . .” Maria’s voice sounded breathless all of a sudden. “You’re going to New York?”

“Yeah, Ma. I leave the day after tomorrow.” Nick watched her as he spoke; she seemed off. He hated for her to worry about him. “On Friday, when I got the promotion, it was amazing, but terrible timing. I’d just talked to the father that morning! So, at work, I explained what happened, and that I feel I need to do this. They were great about it. Better than I thought they’d be, actually.” He ran his hands absently over his knees. “I’m taking an unpaid leave for two weeks. If I have to go a few more times, they’re fine with it. And the time I need off for the surgery and recovery will be paid leave. They were fully supportive. After it’s all done, and I’m back to one hundred percent, I’ll start the new job.”

“New York,” Maria repeated. “Billionaires, you said?”

“Uh-huh. Why?” Nick stared harder now. She looked upset. No, it was different than that. She looked . . . spooked. “Ma, you used to live in New York, you know I’m not going to, like, a war zone or the middle of nowhere.”

“Are they from Long Island?” she asked.

Lew flinched, his head swiveling to look at his wife as his eyes flew wide.

Nick’s gut started humming and clenched, like right before something bad went down on the street. “What’s going on?” he asked, looking from one to the other. “You’re both acting weird.”

“The boy,” she said. “The billionaire father. What’s his name, do you know?”

“Yeah, of course I know. I told you, I talked to him,” Nick said. “The kid’s name is Myles, his father’s name is Charles.” Trying to joke to break the sudden heavy vibe in the room, he added in a mock snooty voice, “Get this for big money pretentious: His full name is Charles Roger Harrison the third, thank you very much.”

Maria gasped sharply, her eyes rolled back in her head, and she fainted, slumping against her husband.