Charisma is an exciting adventure and challenges what you thought you knew about the world
Liam caught up with Allison just inside the front door. She was passing off Great Uncle Charles to an elderly couple who seemed to know him well.
The entry was grand, everything you’d expect from a fourteen thousand square foot home. Honed Botticino marble flowed down from the two winding staircases located on either side and into the open foyer. The vaulted ceilings extended to the third floor with tiers of windows all the way up. A giant chandelier hung center stage giving the twelve hundred square foot room a sense of imposing elegance.
Two large Indian area rugs, littered with tall tables, covered the room. Guests milled about, drinks in hand, enjoying each other’s company.
Smiling and backing away from the Uncle Charles handoff, Allison turned quickly and stopped inside of Liam’s stance. “We need to talk,” she whispered.
The words all men dread hearing from a woman they care about. In less than twenty-four hours, with the help of Uncle Charlie, he had effectively crashed another relationship. That was a record, even for Liam.
“Sure, come with me,” he said, taking Allison’s arm, he led her to the left side of the foyer to a dark brown heavy door gilded by a thick twelve-inch jamb. It opened to the library.
Spanning almost twenty feet wide, the study still seemed confined compared to the foyer. Soft lamps stretched out from the right wall at about the seven-foot level. Rows of leather bound and hard copy books lined the left wall on floor to ceiling wood shelves. The carpet was a mustard color and comfortable chairs and reading tables lined the right. There was another large door at the other end of the room.
Allison walked ahead of Liam and into the room. Once inside, she spun around and stepped back into Liam. Her hands rested on his chest and her eyes met his. “I was really scared,” she said. Her eyes began to dart from side to side.
Sensing vulnerability, Liam pulled her tight and they kissed passionately.
After the last kiss, Liam cupped his hands around her neck. “I know you were scared but I was there.”
She smiled softly and gave him a long hug. Allison released him and grabbed his hand. “Let’s go meet the family.”
Locking his arm in hers, they left the way they had entered.
It took forty-five minutes for Liam and Allison to work through the crowd and make their way to the other side of the house. Every old uncle, family friend or grandpa had to take moment and comment on Allison’s beauty while patting Liam on the back. Some remembered Liam’s racing career and treated him like a celebrity.
Passing through a hallway, Liam and Allison stepped into a large living area. A massive river rock fireplace covered the entire right wall. The floor was knotty walnut with four groupings of dark leather couches and chairs in combination. A fully stocked bar, complete with stools, sat in an alcove on the left. The far wall was completely glass with a view out to the Willamette River. The solid beam ceiling completed the rustic appearance of the room.
Twenty-five or thirty people filled the room, sitting about in the various sections of seating. Some stood, traveling from group to group, drink in hand. The dull roar of twenty conversations filled the room with the exception of one.
A tall man in his late fifties, standing by the fireplace with a half filled glass of red wine, bellowed out across the room. “The prodigal son has arrived!”
All eyes turned to Liam.
Liam half waved and smiled to the group and then turned his attention to the speaker. Despite the man’s age, he was handsome and he had a magnetic draw, which made a person want to know him. He wore perfectly pleated light Dockers pants with a red v-neck sweater concealing a white button down shirt,
“Hi dad,” Liam said, he didn’t dare call him Ron in front of his friends. Although Ron wasn’t his actual father, Ron always made a point, not to point it out.
“So has Liam joined the family business yet?” An unknown male voice yelled from across the room.
An obvious taunt, as the pressure to come and work for the family business was ever-present when Liam attended any family functions. Ron had never made it a secret.
Ron’s head dropped and he shook it indicating no. “My son has decided to take his Harvard education and follow in the footsteps of his Great Uncle Charlie. As you all know, Charlie retired from Texaco Oil after a distinguished career of thirty years. Although Liam does not work for Texaco, he is working for an oil company. Much to my dismay I might add.”
“Yes but you forgot to mention the great deal your getting on the fuel for the five hundred odd delivery vans you have,” Liam countered Ron’s theatrical display.
“That would be six hundred now boy,” Ron corrected.
“Hmm, how about a kick back?” Liam spoke in a tall voice.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it would give me great pleasure to pay my son any fortune he should desire but I am afraid he won’t take my money,” Ron answered.
Liam laughed, working his way through the room with Allison in tow, he reached his step-dad and gave him a powerful embrace. “Good to see you.” And it was good. Like many others, he did enjoy Ron’s company. If they could ever get past the family business issues, Liam thought they could really connect. His like was genuine.
Pushing him back and holding Liam by the shoulders, Ron looked him up and down. “You're looking good my boy.” Ron tilted Liam to the right for a better view of Allison. “Now who might this be?”
“Dad, this is Allison, Allison, my dad Ron,” Liam said.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Allison offered her hand gracefully.
Taking her hand and holding it gingerly, Ron said, “always a pleasure to meet a friend of my son.” He released her hand.
“Is that Liam over there?” A female voice called out from across the room.
“Yes, It’s me, mom, over by the fireplace,” Liam called back. He was glad to hear her voice. He supposed every man had a soft spot for his mom.
Diane Fortinac came into view, an elegant woman in her early fifties. She crossed the room. Her hair was shoulder length with an expensive blond die and style. She wore a black evening gown that flowed off her slender body. She made her way over to the fireplace with a mixed drink in hand. “I’m so happy you could make it darling,” she said, wrapping her arms around Liam. Diane kissed him on the cheek.
“Mom, I come every Sunday,” Liam said. In truth, he missed her too and it had been a few missed dinners.
“Yes I know, but we’re only here for six months and then I don’t see you until we come back,” she said and then leaned over to Allison. “We only stay here until October you know and then it’s off to Bell Air.”
“Yes Ma’am,” Allison answered.
“Are you going to introduce me to your young actress friend?” Diane asked Liam.
Stepping aside to provide a full view of Allison, Liam replied, “Mom this is Allison, Allison, this is my mom, Diane. And mom, she’s an accountant, not a starlet.” It was getting a little annoying how everyone mistook her for an actress. In fairness, many of the other girls he used to date were some kind of actress or model but he didn’t think it was enough to assume this was the case. It felt shallow and made him feel profiled. She was an accountant. Albeit, a beautiful accountant.
“Oh well dear, I thought all of you race car drivers hung out with Hollywood types,” Diane said.
“I’m not a race car driver anymore. I work for an Oil company now,” Liam said. He regretted saying it as fast as it came out. Now the guilt trip would come.
“But you don’t work for you father and that just breaks my heart,” she said, right on cue.
Diane Fortinac took Allison by the hand. “Come on sweetie, let me show you around and we’ll let the men talk,” she said, pulling Allison away, which left Liam and Ron alone.
“Walk with me,” Ron stated rather than asked, leading Liam across the room and out through the back door. They headed down a cobblestone walkway leading to the river.
They stopped at a small out building just before a pier that jutted out over the water.
“Wait here a second.” Ron opened the door and stepped inside. A moment later, he re-emerged carrying two large cigars. He offered one to Liam who accepted. They bit the ends and spit simultaneously. They lit their cigars from a book of matches supplied by Ron.
“So Allison is a cutie. How many hours have you known this one?” Ron asked.
“Great, here we go. I didn’t come for the guilt and bullshit. Maybe Tommy and Jim put up with your shit, but you know better with me,” Liam chided. Tommy and Jim were his stepbrothers. They were nice guys but did not inherit their father’s charm or wit. It was probably due to a lifetime of their father’s dominance. They were submissive and lacked any form of free thought.
Ron had a classic square chin, bright blue eyes and wavy blonde hair. He developed a habit over time of saying things most people wouldn’t. He knew his good looks and abundance of money would let him get away with it. Of course, it was different with Liam. “Well I’m not exactly Sherlock Holmes but she wasn’t here three weeks ago.”
“Well if you include when I was too drunk to know who she was, I’d say about eighteen hours,” Liam confided. “Otherwise it would be seven coherent hours.”
“I guess I wasn’t any better. Until I met your mother, women were just something you played with. Like all toys, they rather lose their luster after awhile. Your mother on the other hand, she’s just different from all the others. It’s been the best eighteen years of my life. I know you’re not my blood, but regardless of what you think, you’re my son. I need you. Forget about this oil shit and come home son,” Ron said.
“I’m not ready yet Ron.”
“Dammit son! You gotta get ready. I love my other boys but they don’t have what you got. If I ever want to retire and enjoy some of the good life, it’ll only be because you came on board.”
“Every time I see you, we have this same conversation. It always ends the same way.” Liam tossed down the cigar and walked away. Surprisingly, Liam didn’t feel anger. Usually he did in these circumstances. He just didn’t want to discuss it anymore so leaving was the best option.
“You don’t want my money? You don’t want my business? You don’t want my life? Then screw you! And don’t bother coming around anymore. Not until you start thinking with the right head!” Ron yelled after Liam.
Liam just kept walking away. He knew Ron would regret his words, he always did.