Today is Désirée’s engagement party, and I decided that I need to finally go and meet with my brothers beforehand. I don’t need to be having personal conversations at the party and someone overhearing what they shouldn’t. I’m not sure if I’m ready to face my brothers but it’s got to be done. Having been with Poppy lately has helped in my healing in a lot of ways. I’m not sure what will happen with talking to them. I don’t know what they’ll say or do. Hell, I can only hope they don’t look at me with their pity or sympathy. It would be too much. All I want is for them to not think any less of me because of what happened to me. They don’t even know all of it.

I park in front of my brother’s office building and turn the ignition off. I climb out from behind the wheel and make my way into the building. Inside getting out of the humidity of the day, I head up to Félix’s office and find him, Rémy and Nicholas are there talking when I step inside.

All talk ceases when they see me and their bodies all tense briefly.

“Hey,” I say as I look at them and shove my hands in my pockets.

“Look what the cat dragged in. Glad to see you,” Félix states being the first to step forward and hugs me to him but keeps it short and pulls back to meet my gaze once more. “About damn time you come around. We’ve all missed your ass.”

Emotions clog my throat from his words but I’m still nervous about being here. “Good to see you too. I thought it was time to come in and talk to you about returning to work before the party tonight.”

Félix and Rémy look at me, waiting for me to say what I need to say, but Nicholas cuts me off before I can continue.

“I’m going to beat the shit out of you if you ever push us away again, Tristan. We’re family and we have to stay together,” he rushes out, anguish filling his eyes.

“I get it, I’m sorry.” I nod realizing they’ve been through their own form of hell right alongside me. I’m close with Nicholas. Closer than he lets anyone else, and I can see why he says we’ve got to stay together. My two older brothers are more reserved . . . it’s the way Delano raised them to be, cold and calculating, though they’re only this way when needed. At the moment I know they’re simply waiting on me to say my piece before they decide what they’ll say next. “After everything with Dimitri.” I take a heavy breath and force myself to meet their gazes. “I’ve done a lot of thinking and I don’t know if I want to go back to managing the brothel part of Diamond Dancers. My head isn’t in that game anymore. What happened to me changed everything. I don’t think I’ll ever know how much it has affected me. I’ve thought about it and I want to start up a new business.”

“What are you thinking about doing?” Rémy asks, his brow furrowing.

“I want to get into legit work, something that would keep us in good graces. I love real estate and development. I want to have housing available for survivors of abuse. A place they can go to get the help that they need and back on their feet. Not everyone has a family like ours that is supportive and understanding. I want to give that to people who need it.”

“Sounds like a damn good idea,” Nicholas says, nodding. I’m sure his mind is already at work on how it would be done. It’s the way he works and why he’s in charge of getting the casinos we own.

“Do you have a business plan?” Felix asks, crossing his arms.

“Yes,” I answer with a jerky nod. “I worked on it the other day and I have enough startup capital that I can get started on my first property as soon as I set up a team that will provide services for the people who use the house.”

“Sounds like you’ve thought everything out,” Nicholas states.

“I have. I just can’t return to Diamond Dancers . . . I hope you guys don’t hate me for that.”

“Not at all. You have to do what you need to do to heal. We all get what you went through. We might not know the details, but we get you, Tristan,” Rémy states, his voice thick with emotions he’s been keeping at bay. “We will support you in whatever you decide to do.”

“Thanks, guys. It means a lot to me.”

“Don’t shut us out . . . we are here for you.” Nicholas reminds me. “You can’t close us out like that again. We’re all we have, and we’ve got to stick together. Now more than ever.”

“Promise, I won’t.” I nod and clear my throat. “I’m going to head back home and work on getting my team lined up. I want to make this happen sooner, rather than later. I’ll see you all tonight at the party.” They give me a hug.

“Later,” Rémy says and steps toward me and pulls me into a hug and whispers only for me to hear. “Love you little brother. No matter what. We all do. Thinking we buried you gutted us all.”

I nod close my eyes pushing back the emotions that want to tear through me. I walk out of the office, feeling much lighter than I did when I walked in. Coming today was definitely the right decision. I now have my brothers back and I have their support. They don’t judge me for the demean acts done against me.

It feels good having the support of my family in my new adventure. I was ready to get out of there and be home, because I wanted to talk to Poppy. I don’t know if she has to work tonight or not, but I hope she’s at the house, because I want to see her.

Making it home I walk through the door to find Poppy is already here.

“Hey, I was hoping you would be here,” I greet her more than happy to see her smile.

“Well, you did ask me to stay so here I am.” She holds her arms out to her sides and twirls around in a circle.

I close the distance between us and pull her to me and kiss her. “Thank you.” I lean my forehead against hers and sigh. “The conversation with my brothers wasn’t easy but mainly because I was worried over how they would react to my wanting to pursue my new business venture.”

“I knew you were going to talk to them and I’m sure they’ve been worried about you as well. I mean you’re their brother. Did everything go well? You’re not tense so it had to have been good at least.” She rambles and guides me to the couch and straddles my waist as I sit.

Tags: E.C. Land Crime