“I don’t, but people have a way of surprising you sometimes.”
I knew all about that, but I had forgotten what Vincent told me about her history. I wondered if he had told her about the situation with Marty. That was a private thing: the only people who knew about it were Vincent and Riley. Well, and Kurt and Bernie. It still upset me that he had done that. That had surprised me. As sweet as he had been all week, I still wasn’t over it.
“I guess that’s true,” I said. “Anyway, we actually met through work. I work for a personal wealth management firm and head up his account.”
She turned and looked at me. “Good for you! I hope you’re reining him in somewhat. Every time he travels I worry he’s going to have some horrible accident with all the risky sports he’s doing.”
“Oh, you too?”
She let out a short laugh and shook her head. “He seems to like you. I haven’t met a girlfriend of his before.”
Here was another surprise. The fact that Vincent had never introduced a girlfriend to his sister, who he was obviously close to, made me feel special. My mind shot to Ariel Diamond. If his sister had never met her, maybe things weren’t as serious between them as I had thought, even if the tattoo was strange.
“Not even Ariel?” I asked, before I knew the words were out of my mouth.
Giselle stopped whisking the frosting for a moment, but continued. “No, not Ariel. That was a different period in Vincent’s life. And mine, really. We didn’t talk much while he was dating her.”
“He’s much more family oriented now than he was then.”
“Ever since our parents died. He grew up after that.”
I stopped in place. Vincent’s parents were dead? He had never talked about them, but then I rarely talked about my parents and they were still alive and kicking back in Texas. How had it never come up that his parents had already passed away? Did he just not care?
I began spreading the frosting again. “I didn’t know your parents had passed,” I said quietly.
It was her turn to put her whisk down. “Oh, sorry. I guess it’s been so long. They passed away nine years ago.”
So Vincent must have been very young. Younger than I was as I stood in that kitchen. Even though I didn’t talk to my parents much and didn’t rely on them financially at all, I couldn’t imagine them being gone.
“Wow, you two were young then.”
“I like to think thirty is still young!” she said, laughing.
My cheeks flushed. “That’s not what I meant!”
“I know, I know. It was way too young to lose our parents. Vincent took it very hard. It actually turned out to be the beginning of his success.”
“What do you mean?”
“After they passed away, he finally got his act together. He developed the camera a few months after the funeral. It was like he was possessed. We were both staying at our parents’ house for awhile after the accident and living on the small inheritance we got. He would be working twenty hours a day for weeks on end, out in the garage and on the computer and on the phone. It was a transformation. He went from being a slacker with potential to someone who was totally obsessed.”
The tone in her voice had changed. Her words took on a strange sharpness, like she was trying to cut them into me and make sure they sunk in. She obviously admired Vincent very deeply. This wasn’t a connection that was for the sake of appearances: Vincent meant the world to her. Listening to her talk about him, I could see why.
She continued. “Any time he wasn’t working he was saying he was going to take care of me and of us. To a twenty year old it’s pretty weird to have your surfer brother tell you that he’s going to take care of the family. It sounds like wishful thinking from a guy who’s just grieving for his parents, but Vincent really changed. He became this very intense person who found success everywhere he looked because he wouldn’t accept failure. He was selling that camera in three months and had it with retailers soon after, and he just built and built. Everyone underestimates him because of his appearance and his hobbies, but he just keeps plowing forward.”
I had researched the story of Vincent’s company from a financial perspective, but I hadn’t given thought to what it meant on a personal level to grind out so much success. Giselle had seen it first hand. In a way, I was almost jealous.
“It sounds like you admire him,” I said, simply because I hadn’t spoken in a while. We had both stopped with our frosting duties.
She nodded. “Then he changed again when Brady was born. Before that, he was on a path where it was nothing but business and intensity, but you can’t be intense with a newborn. Vincent makes sure my son has the best of everything. Vincent set up Brady’s college fund the day after Brady was born, and has done so much research on camps and things to send him to.”
She shrugged, laughing. “I’ll get these emails at two a.m. saying ‘it’s your kid but I just want to tell you I’m happy to pay to send him to this camp when he’s old enough’ or ‘do you think Brady would like this? I can get it delivered this weekend.’ Never mind my son, it’s a full-time job keeping up with Vincent!”
Before today, I would’ve had a hard time imagining Vincent being so focused on a child. He was always so busy either with his business or doing crazy recreational activities. Having a kid was a lot of responsibility. It was almost in complete opposition to his lifestyle. “It sounds like he practically treats Brady as his own kid.”
She shook her head. “He knows the limit. The way he gives me options is always a one-off. He doesn’t argue with me or nag me or anything like that. He cares tremendously about his nephew and has an unusual capacity for helping out, so he’s taking advantage of that. Plus as you’ve seen, his gifts for Brady aren’t outrageous. I think Brady will become conscious of how much money his uncle has very slowly.” She took a taste of the frosting. “Put it this way: it’s a good parenting challenge to have.”
“What does Rob think?”
“He’s supportive. Vincent and him get along well. My brother takes the protective older sibling thing very seriously.”
I knew more about how protective Vincent could be than I wanted to. “I bet.”
Giselle turned and looked at me intently. I did my best to keep a poker face and concentrate on spreading the frosting, though I could see her out of the corner of my eye. To my relief, she finally went back to her own frosting job.