The sense of healing and reconciliation started to influence my thinking more than I might have anticipated, and still on the high of having Lila accept me back into her arms, I wondered if it might be possible to reconcile with my dad. We had long been at odds and not for no reason. Conrad left a lot to be desired in terms of personal morals and hadn’t done much to make my childhood any easier, though it could be time to put that aside. I wasn’t a child anymore, and it was just possible that we could meet on the field of adulthood, a much more even plain, and find some common ground.
It would have been best to do it in person, though he would only insist that I meet him in his office, and there was no way I was going down to the strip. There was just far too much attention to everything I was trying to leave behind. I had already broken my celibacy with Lila. Though that had been mostly self-imposed for the purpose of focus and I was also determined to be faithful to her. She was the last woman I had fucked, in both senses of the word, and the last I ever planned to fuck. I was confident that I loved her.
The gambling and the booze were still waiting at the casinos for me, though, like panthers crouched to pounce, and there was no way that I was giving them the satisfaction. I had left all that behind me two years ago.
In addition to the temptation of vice, there was also a chance, small as it might be, that I might just punch my dad as soon as I saw him. I didn’t think so, but human psychology is a strange and volatile thing, and I might just lay him out before either of us knew what was happening. I had no doubt I could, with little risk of recourse except by his goons. The fact was I had been physically capable of kicking his ass since I finished my growth spurt at about sixteen. I just didn’t. Most likely out of a sense of respect for my mother, who still loved him for some as yet unexplained reason.
The phone was definitely the safest way. Lucky jumped up onto the couch beside me as I got my phone out to make the call. The pup was likely sensing my distress. He put his little head on my lap, and I scratched him behind the ear as I dialed.
I was on the fifth ring and about to hang up when suddenly my ear was filled with Dad’s deep, aggressive voice that could make someone wet their pants in terror just by saying ‘happy birthday.’ I know, it happened when I was five.
“Conrad Willcox,” Dad boomed, making my ears ring.
“Hey, Dad,” I said.
“Who is this?” Conrad asked in confusion.
“No, the one you don’t like,” I clarified.
“You accidentally pushed me off the roof while we were putting new shingles down.”
“Oh! Jinx! Where have you been, my boy?”
“Here, I mean, I’m in Vegas. I moved over into advertising.”
“Advertising! Sounds like a real conman,” he said with a chuckle.
Dad was always the sort to laugh at his own jokes. Though to be fair, if he didn’t, no one would.
“So, I’m told. Though you would know about that better than me.”
“That and everything else, Sonny boy. What are you doing back in my town, anyway?”
I sighed. “Just couldn’t stay away.”
“Try harder,” Dad said, the line going dead.
Coming from anyone else, I might have thought it was a threat. Coming from Dad, I had a strong suspicion that it was more of a polite suggestion. His version of one anyway.
So much for that idea.
Getting Lucky set up for the day, I got dressed and headed to work, stopping off at Lila’s office on the way. It was probably going overboard, but something in me just kept telling me to go talk to her, to make sure everything was okay. We’d had a perfectly pleasant morning after the day before. I just wanted to make sure my love didn’t have any regrets. I could almost hear the doubts hitting her after we had finished fucking.
“Hey,” she said, as I walked through the door at Desert Protect.
“Hey,” I replied, and we shared a soft peck on the lips.
“Everything okay? With everything?”
“Everything is fine,” she said, gently squeezing my hand.
“Billy is with Irene, that’s Aria’s grandma, as usual. How are you?”
I nearly told her about my moment of madness and calling my dad but decided better of it, not wanting to ruin her relatively good mood. I also wasn’t quite sure where we stood or if we were back together enough to burden her with such family drama.
The role of the advisor was filled by Cooper during the customary lull following lunch. We never really plan it, it just always seems to work out that way, the busiest hours always seeming to come in the three-hour block between nine and eleven. Then again, I was such a freak I tended to have the main bulk of my actual work done before going into the office in the morning. I really was that good at what I did, and there were advantages to only sleeping six hours a night. Like if I was asleep by ten, I managed to be awake and working by five.