The Family Business

The Family Business by Eric Pete, Carl Weber Read Free Book Online

Book: The Family Business by Eric Pete, Carl Weber Read Free Book Online
Authors: Eric Pete, Carl Weber
to mess up,” I said, getting up from my stool and walking around to where she was. I placed my hands on her hips. “That’s why they brought you to me. I love first timers.” I lowered my head and my lips met hers in a polite peck that turned into a passionate kiss.
    I turned off the stove. The food could wait until later. It was time to sample the dessert.

LC
     
    7
     
    I’d been pacing around the dealership for the better part of an hour, contemplating the future of our business and family. Despite her protests, I’d finally sent Chippy home after all the children had gone their separate ways. I wanted her to ride home with Harris and London, but she’d complained so much that I relented, letting her stick around another half hour as I went over paperwork. She needed her rest, though. She’d been suffering from a bad cold that didn’t seem to want to go away, and it wouldn’t get any better with her staying out in the street with me till all hours of the night. It wasn’t like we were twenty-five anymore.
    Besides, I needed time to think. I always thought best late at night, when I walked the showroom floor. No one but me could see it, but times were changing, perhaps for the worse, and it had nothing to do with me appointing Orlando to lead the family. What I was concerned about was the unknown competition I’d been hearing about through the grapevine, and the sudden tightening of shipments from our distributors. Someone was trying to muscle in on our territory and discredit us with our distributors. I couldn’t share what I had heard or felt with my family in front of Paris’s date, but it was important that we were all on the same page and that I flushed out our hidden enemy before the shit hit the fan.
    “You’re doing the right thing, LC. Retirement’s the only way you can make sure this family survives. You’ve got to make them think the family’s weak, while you work from behind the scenes, like Vegas used to,” I spoke aloud to myself.
    I chuckled. Listen to me. Heaven help me if I was turning into a paranoid old man. And heaven help everyone else if I was right and they came after my family or business, because paranoia and power are a dangerous combination.
    “You talking to yourself, Pop?”
    I looked up and saw Junior walking out of the service area. He was carrying a toolbox. “Yeah, son, I guess I am. Why are you still here?”
    “I’m here because you’re here,” Junior replied calmly as he approached from across the darkened showroom floor. He began pacing the tiled floor around me, as if on guard for some unseen threat. Ever since he was little, Junior always thought he had to protect me. “Why didn’t you go home with Momma?”
    “I needed to think,” I replied, adjusting the brim of my hat. “The silence does me good.”
    I glanced at the dealer invoice on the passenger window of the 2006 Maybach, thinking back to how much I’d paid for my first used car. My younger self would’ve died on the spot ... or would’ve been thrown out from a place such as this. But time changes a lot of things. It makes some men wiser and others more foolish. I’d like to think I was one of the wiser ones.
    My hand was still on the car window. I removed it, noticing the fingerprints left behind. Again, my mind went back to that younger man, to a time when my fingerprints were recorded by the NYPD for cause. I swore I would never be locked up again, and thank God I’d delivered on that promise and many more on my way to this point. I had to admit, it wasn’t easy as a black man trying to make it in America, but I’d made it with Chippy’s help.
    “Sooo, any hard feelings that I didn’t pick you to run things? You are the eldest.” I was hoping he’d give me a truthful answer. Knowing where he stood would go a long way to helping me transition Orlando into leadership.
    He shook his head. “Nah. Orlando’s the smart one. He’s a lot like you and Vegas.”
    “You’re saying that as

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