The Wrong Thing To Do Ch. 03


"Thanks, you look amazing, too" she said with a smile. It didn't take long after they got into the room before her hands went straight to his neck and she rectified his error. Mark looked into her blue eyes, not saying a word, as if she was performing surgery on him.

When she finished, Mark moved over to the mirror, looking at his bowtie. "Wow, great job, thanks."

Blushing, Abbey responded with, "I didn't do much. Happy birthday. I brought you a present, but they put it with the others."

"Thanks, you didn't have to do that."

"I wanted to. By the way, it looks like all your guests have arrived. It looks like you've got half of Wall Street down there."

"Are you joking? It wouldn't be a party without you. Fuck Wall Street!" Abbey laughed awkwardly as Mark noticed she was holding something back.

"Do you want to talk?" Mark asked, looking at the pair of leather chairs in his bedroom's inner living room. Instead Abbey pulled him to the bed.

She brushed back her long blonde hair before she spoke. "I was thinking about what I said this morning..."

"Yeah? Me too."

"I'm not ok with just hooking up with you. I know we don't know each other that well, and it's not just because you're the first guy I had sex with. I like you," Abbey looked into his eyes before finishing off with, "a lot."

Mark wrapped his arm around her as they leaned into each other.

"You just pretty much said it all," Mark stated as he embraced her tighter.

"What did you want to say?" she asked, once again brushing her long hair from her hopeful face.

"You know what I wanted to say," Mark stated. Abbey just smiled, knowing full well what he meant.

"I want to hear you say the words, Mark," she said, now crawling on top of him, her lower lip smoothly pressed into his upper lip, her blue eyes staring into his.

"I like you. There, okay? I like you!" Mark yelled.

Abbey smiled as the phone rang.

"They need me for this inheritance, will thing."

"I'll meet you outside," Abbey said. They left each other with a lingering French kiss.

As Mark left, Casper was behind him with two other suits. Mark assumed they were bodyguards, and he was right. "Why the muscle?"

"The estate is crawling with unknowns right now. They've been screened, but it creates a breach. Plus, we both know that after you meet with the lawyers downstairs you're going to become one of the biggest targets in the world. In a few minutes you'll take your dad's spot as the fourth richest person in the world."

"How'd you know that? And don't reply with 'it's my job to know'," Mark said with air quotes. One of the suits walking with Casper snickered at Mark's remark. He knew Casper said that a lot.

"It's public record that your father married into the Bryce fortune. But yes, it's my job to know that it was all in a trust waiting for you."

Mark arrived at the boardroom on the second floor of the west wing. There were at least thirteen people in the room, most of them board members of the Bryce Corporation.

Casper and his guys stayed outside at the entry doors. "Mr. Bryce, I'm Robert Peirce. I'm a partner at Peirce--Rosenberg. We're the law firm your mother entrusted with her will before she passed."

"You're Robert Peirce the second or third, right? For my sanity I'm hoping you're not the first, unless you're that good a lawyer?" As Mark said this, the room erupted with cigar-puffing laughter from the good old boys.

The room reflected the men and singular woman that sat around its aged leather brushed elegance. "Actually I just won the name lottery. I'm not related to the long past Mr. Peirce; I'm just a small town Illinois boy who worked hard enough to squeak into Harvard Law." Saying this, he pulled out some documents followed by some 'hear hears' from the Crimson boys in the room.

A man at the back of the room spoke up as the documents were put on the table. "Mark, my boy, will your father be joining us soon?"

Mark knew Edgar. He'd worked for the company longer than his mother, probably longer than his grandfather. "I think he's attending to something. I don't think he'll be here in time," Mark said, knowing the truth of his dad's absence.

The room erupted slightly with comments such as, "Shameful. It's the boy's birthday," "He's mad, he's lost control," "Shhhh, not so loud," and "Don't worry, you're with family."

In five minutes it was all done. Mark was given the power and financial control entrusted to his father for years, although he had every intention of entrusting it to his dad once more, so he could run the company. That was Mark's thought before and still after the helicopter ride.

As Mark began to leave, the room went abuzz. What looked to be the only female in the room clutched her blackberry, yelling, "Shit." The room began to echo, buzzing and beeping all at once, with phones being put to ears.

Mark looked her way. "What is it? I'm assuming it's Bryce business?"

The room fell silent as she spoke, the men in the room content to allow the young female exec to take the fall. "Lintex Computers, Inc. will be announcing a recall tomorrow of thirty million laptops, millions of tablets, and that might just be the beginning... it seems like there's a malfunction with the chips that destroy the entire device."

"I don't get it. Why's that our problem? Yeah, I know it's bad, that's most likely the end of one of the world's largest computer manufacturers, but that's not our problem. Plus, we're a private company so we're insulated from the market. What's the problem? Are we invested in them or something?" Mark asked, feeling like the least informed person in the room.

Once more none of the men said anything, putting the full weight of this on their female contemporary. "I doubt we're invested with them. If we are it's peanuts," she said, starting to feel she had said enough, hoping someone else would finish the story.

"Then why...?" Mark began to ask before being cut off by the reenergized girl.

"We built the chips," the woman shot out, the room now going abuzz after the young executive was left to take the heat

"What are you saying?" Mark asked, his shoulders feeling heavier by the second.

"We had a worldwide contract to build certain hardware for Lintex. Their chips are all from Bryce's entertainment division. Lintex is done. There's no way they'll survive this, but they want to wound us on their way down. Tomorrow they're telling the press we're culpable."

Just as she finished speaking, Casper opened the door. One of the overstuffed men around the boardroom table attempted to verbally expel him as he entered, but he stood his ground.

Casper whispered in Mark's ear, increasing the weight he now felt on his shoulders. Mark was beginning to feel increasingly lonely as he fought back tears. Nonetheless, he fought them winningly.

"What's your name?" Mark asked the female exec.

"It's Catherine Porter, sir."

Mark whispered to Catherine, "Ms. Porter, my dad just had a heart attack and he's in critical condition. I'm putting you in charge. As of now you're acting CEO. Can you handle that?"

"Yes." She nodded as Mark called over firm directors and lawyers to make it official. Mark could tell most of the men in the room were pissed at his decision, but he couldn't care less.

Mark left the mansion, ignoring his guests, escorted by Casper and a gang of eight guards. His mind attempted to deal with the weight of the personal problems that now faced him. At least he didn't have to worry about the business problems now.

---- Mark sat in the waiting area of the hospital as the doctor came to tell him the news. He walked in, moving beyond the wall of men in suits that now surrounded Mark.

"Mr. Bryce?" the doctor called out.

"Yes?" Mark replied, jumping up and walking toward the front of the room, now followed by his armored shadow.

"Your father suffered a severe heart attack. He fell into a coma after arrival. Your moth... stepmother is with him if you want to go in now."

Mark shook the doctor's hand, thanking him as he walked down the hall to the private room. Mark walked into the room to find his father hooked up to a thousand and one machines. It hit him that the last time that they had talked his father most likely hated him.

Then Mark looked across the room.

"Are you okay?" he asked, going over to his shaken stepmom. She raised her body from where she sat to hug him.

Both were dressed for the party they most likely would not be attending. Tiffany cried into his shoulder as they looked at the man that had been angry with both of them before he fell into his near-death slumber.

They took seats beside each other as Tiffany spoke, "Happy birthday."

Mark's only reply was, "I'm so sorry but I had to tell him."

Tiffany said nothing for a while. She simply stared at her motionless husband that had most likely intended to leave her before his massive coronary.

"This isn't your fault," Tiffany said, with a hand on Mark's knee.

Mark looked into her swelling green eyes, feeling her layered pain. That was the most motherly thing he felt Tiffany had ever done.

"It isn't your fault either," Mark stated in an attempting reassuring manner.

"Mark, don't kid yourself. I started all this and I'm so sorry."

"No, if anything, every last one of us has to take some of the blame in this. We all made poor decisions."

"I hope he wakes up soon, but I know at the same time he's going to banish me into poverty when he does," Tiffany exclaimed, her eyes set ablaze with tears.

"No, he's not."

"Sure he will. He was about to before this happened," Tiffany said through her tears.

"I guess he told you about the significance of my twenty-second birthday."

"Yeah," Tiffany stated, brushing away tears.

"Well, as long as I'm not impoverished, neither will you," Mark stated, embracing his stepmother.

An hour went by, Tiffany fell asleep and Mark's eyes began to feel heavy. Suddenly he saw something wrapped in blue fast approaching.

It was Abbey. She moved toward Mark and he joined her in the hallway. They sat together in the waiting area as she consoled him.

They took turns listening to each other's truths, and Abbey reassured her boyfriend that everything would be fine as they gripped hand in hand, topped off with a reassuring peck.

To be continued if you'd like...

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