Family By D.I. Jolly

“I just don’t understand why you all put up with him is all.”

Jacob caught himself in the mirror rolling his eyes and was lucky that his wife Margaret didn’t.

“Isaac… Isaac works too, he just doesn’t work every day, he just does speciality projects.”

“You work special project too, and you go into the office every day. Now I’m not saying he does nothing he just does nothing compared to you and yet your family gives him the same allowance, the same benefits and sometimes, based on his lifestyle I think more money. Which is frankly unfair.”

Jacob finished doing his tie while trying to work out if it was a good idea to let her talk herself out now, or stop her from working herself up before the big family dinner. As he turned to look at her pacing the room only half-dressed, he settled on the latter.

“Look, I don’t think we need to have this argument again. We are still a family business, emphasis on the family, and besides, you know he isn’t suited for the office environment. Plus, he does bring the company a lot of money.”

“So do you, I mean you’re on the verge of closing the Williamson account! Which I shouldn’t have to remind you is why we’re having this dinner in the first place.”

Her tone had flipped midway through her sentence which he recognised as a good sign, but he was, unfortunately, a man of principle and credit where it was due.

“Which… I couldn’t have done without him.”

Her tone changed again but this time it was more direct frustration, and it was being pointed at him.

“Why do you always do that? Just when you’ve got me to calm down you say something stupid like that and remind me that I’m angry.”

Jacob raised his hands in mock surrender.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

“Why do you always stick up for him anyway, you know it’s unfair. You work ten times as hard as he does, and get the same treatment. I’m not suggesting kicking him out of the family, I just think you deserve more. We have our own family to think of and …”

But he cut her off with a gentle touch and a kind smile.

“And we will be able to provide for them for a million generations, no one left out, everyone equal, just like Isaac.” But for an instant his eyes grew distant and forgetting himself he added. “Although hopefully not exactly like him.”

Remembering he smiled again and reached down to kiss her.

“Now, finish getting ready so we can go. Don’t want to be late or we’ll be exactly like the man you’re yelling about. And you wouldn’t want to be a hypocrite my love. It’s very last season.”

She stuck her tongue out at him belligerently but couldn’t keep the smile off her face.

“Don’t worry I’m not going to say anything. And besides, even if I did that bastard is so charming, he’ll make me forget all about it by the end of the night anyway.”

Isaac was, in fact, going to be late for his family dinner as he was, at the same moment, on the other side of the city quietly slipping out of the bedroom of Mrs Williamson. The slightly estranged wife of the businessman he and his family were scheduled to have dinner within an hour. When he did finally arrive at his mother’s house everyone was waiting for him in the smoking-room, and while his mother kissed him, and his brother shook his hand, his sister-in-law made a show of refusing a hug. Then the five of them, the family and Mr Williamson, all sat down to dinner and a few bottles of champagne before business.

“I tell you.” Said Mr Williamson eventually. “If I’m being honest, I’m still not 100% on this deal. I mean, it’s good don’t get me wrong, but therein lies the problem. I was raised to believe that when something like this seems too good to be true, it often is.”

He then took a sip of his drink and meant to continue but was interrupted by a butler.

“Excuse my intrusion but the police are here.”

The announcement silenced the room as everyone looked at each other with curious trepidation and then Jacob spoke up.

“Please bring them in.”

Two very nervous and sombre looking police officers entered and asked to speak to Mr Williamson, who invited them to speak freely.

“Well sir, we’re sorry to have to tell you this, but your wife was found dead in her home less than an hour ago.”

A second silence hit the room but this time it hung heavy on everyone’s shoulders, and Margaret reached out a hand to her mother in law to offer support as the police officers continued.

“There was no sign of a struggle, and there was a letter indicating that the cause was self-inflicted. We are, and on behalf of the chief and the mayor, incredibly sorry for your loss.”

Mr Williamson seemed to fall into his chair as the news hit him. For a moment he felt like his life was flashing before his eyes, desperate to find a solution or hint to prove it not true. Then as his heart rate settled and he returned to the moment his emotions got the better of him and the tears began.

It took some time, some sweet tea and the company of good people to calm Mr Williamson down enough so that he could think, and then he asked for a few moments alone so Jacob led him to their library. No matter which way he thought about it, suicide still seemed so unbelievable, so out of character and he wondered how well he really knew his now late wife, and how bad of a husband he really was. Behind him, the door creaked as Isaac walked in.

“I’m so sorry for your loss, and while I know this is an incredibly difficult time. There is still a contract to sign.”

His voice had lost its charm and its cold delivery sent a shiver down Mr Williamson’s spine.

“You want to do business, now! For the love of God man my wife has just died!”

He had whirled to face Isaac who stood unmoved by his fury.

“Yes, such a shame, such a lovely woman, so sad and alone she felt the urge to take her own life. A tragedy to die so young. But you are still alive and so are your children. But life is still short, no matter which way you cut it. So do the right thing. Take the deal, retire a very rich man and spend some time with the family you have left. While you sir, still have the time.”

Mr Williamson gasped at the coldness not just in Isaacs words, but his tone, his face and his meaning. Thoughts and fears began forming in his mind and his arms began to shake.

“You don’t need to be afraid Mr Williamson, but you should sign the contract.”

Isaac held out a folder and a pen but didn’t even fake a smile. A minute later the deed was done and Williamson Holding became the property if The Family. Mr Williamson then told his driver to take him to the apartment of his secretary. And asked his actual assistant to call the school of his children and explain what was happening and arrange to have them fetched in the morning. Meanwhile, Jacob congratulated Isaac on a job well done, their mother approved a payment roughly twice what Jacob would earn in a year, and, for the sake of peace at home, Margaret was, once again, not informed.

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