Twenty Five - Sweet, Blissful Ignorance

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The walls of his office were as minimal and familiar as they had ever been. His surroundings were the same as they had always been. He was the same as he had always been. So why, then, did he feel as though everything had changed? His reflection came back to him in the mass square metre of window before him. His jaw was tense, the muscles ticking over like clockwork. His eyes were tight and narrow, much like the invisible hand that gripped his chest. He was annoyed. No, he was pissed.

Outside, minuscule shapes zoomed to and fro a number of storeys down, the colours blurring into a swathe of rainbow. It had started to rain, turning the whole scene into fairy lights. Briefly, he entertained the thought that Raquel would enjoy the sight before he remembered that she was in hospital and couldn't enjoy anything right now. He missed her. Though he didn't generally spend as much time with her as he wanted to, he still felt her time in hospital as an absence.

She would have something to say about all of this. She would have told him to get his head out of his arse and take Luis to the cleaners. As gentle as Raquel was, she could be a hard ass when the mood took her. She certainly wouldn't be impressed with her late husband's illegitimate child. The one thing she had always praised Ricardo on was the way he had stepped up to the plate when Ricardo senior died. For a while, no one knew whether Ricardo would take Santos & Santos - not even Ricardo himself. So when he did, she had sung his praises. For Luis to try bulldoze his way in out of the blue was arrogance and foolishness.

And arrogant he was. The meeting had gone the way Ricardo had thought it would. Luis bombarding the board of directors with anecdotes and personal stories, appealing to their better natures. Having grown up with these people, Ricardo knew sentiment wasn't their kryptonite. Luis, having never dealt with the kind of money that sat in those chairs, had yet to learn that. Ricardo had chosen to sit back and watch as their audience took in the information that was being revealed to them. He could see that they were unaffected by it. Money talked to them, money and power. He tried to reign in the smugness that undoubtedly radiated from his every pore.

Luis was way out of his depth here. He strained himself trying to appeal to them. Ricardo watched his little ratty eyes narrow and his fist clench as he himself realised the board didn't care that Ricardo senior had a third child. He could have had a fourth, a fifth, twenty of them for all they cared. They themselves were not strangers to a bit of extra-marital fun. Ricardo could practically hear it in their thoughts.

He was completely amused.

Until Luis slapped a folder onto the table. Jim, Ricardo's least favourite person but someone he respected nonetheless, reached forward and snatched it up. He looked around the table, frowning. "It's Ricardo's will."


Jaimee had been staring at his front door for over ten minutes before he could force his legs to move. He hadn't been home in so long that it felt strange to step over his own doorstep. The keys jangled nervously in his hand as he closed the door quietly behind him. He was a trespasser in his own house. The same house he had learned to walk. The same house he had learned to talk. The same house he had shared with the same people who probably all hated him now. The truth of what he had caused was raw in the back of his throat.

He hadn't told anyone he was coming over - he hadn't even known himself. It had been a last minute decision, a push from his guilty subconscious. Not being allowed into Ricardo's meeting had thrown him - it hadn't even been up for debate. He had known, of course, but that didn't stop him from wanting to be of support. To help. Tessa had offered to keep him company until the meeting was over but that was about as appealing as having her rummage through his personal belongings. She could do so much damage with one sentence; he was still very uneasy around her. There was just something so incredibly untrustworthy about her, not to mention that she had brought Luis into their lives.

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