Fury lit his father’s dark brown eyes. “You have no business gallivanting around the world on a voyage of discovery. You are needed here! The miners are revolting and the continent-wide expansion of the bank is at a delicate stage.”
He knew all of this. Had counted on leverage it might give him. “Fine. If you want me to stay, put me in charge of one branch. Make me CEO of one of the businesses. The bank is your desired project, so I’ll take the mining concern if need be. I would prefer the resorts but I can start with the miners, negotiate with them to reach an agreeable settlement.”
His father’s eyes narrowed. “Are you trying to tell me how to manage this family’s business?” He clipped out the words.
Atu sighed inwardly, still attempting to hold the hurt at bay. “No, Dad. You know best, of course. But I’m afraid your best is not good enough for me anymore.”
Shock mingled with the fury in his father’s eyes. “What did you say to me?” he grated.
Atu tensed his spine, while inside him something screamed. This is your chance. Show me a little…acceptance. That I mean something to you.
A moment ticked by, then two. Five. His spirits sagged as his father’s rigid expression remained. “You heard me. I’m done playing a supporting role. I’m going into business on my own.”
“Mboasem.” He tossed out the word for nonsense. “You won’t get to the end of the street. I’ll cut you off before I let you disrespect me and our family name like this. You want to claim the black sheep title you’ve been toying with? Go ahead. See how far you get out there in the world without me.”
The vice around Atu’s chest tightened so much he couldn’t breathe. But he powered through it. Even managed a shrug. “Do what you must. You always do, anyway.” He left the study, his father’s condemnation ringing in his ears.
Downstairs, several friends tried to greet him.
He ignored them all, heading to the nearest liquor cabinet and pouring himself two fingers of whisky and tossing it back before slamming the crystal on the shiny countertop.
The bracing liquor seemed to melt the knot inside him, leaving him vulnerable to other emotions. Dejection. Even a hint of self-loathing for his inability to fall in line.
He gave a low laugh.
His father had asked him to claim his black sheep title. Little did he know, Atu had felt like that for years now. Had felt as if he didn’t belong in this family.
Fiifi and his younger brother, Ekow, seemed to understand how to navigate their relationships with their father, while he…
Grabbing the bottle, he poured himself another drink but didn’t drink it immediately. While getting drunk held a tempting appeal, he couldn’t succumb tonight.
Spinning around, he searched amongst the guests for his older brother, the conversation they’d had a few times now swirling through his brain.
Instead, he looked straight into the eyes of the woman who continued to plague his waking moments.
An unnerving hunger that had awakened inside him when he’d seen her a few weeks ago blazed as shockingly bright now. The shy, introverted girl he remembered had undergone a transformation his body didn’t want him to forget.
He gave a grim smile as he watched her.
He was the black sheep. The son who dared to ask for more and was being tossed out because his father had no use for him save for bolstering his brother’s accomplishments.
Tangling with Amelie Hayford was as good as tossing a vat of kerosene on an already-raging inferno.
He had to remember that…
And yet he couldn’t take his eyes off her.
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