7 Isn“t a Joke
# Drew #
(TEN YEARS LATER)
THERE WAS NOTHING DREW hated more than disappointing his father, especially when it came to business, but this—this new condition his dad just dumped on him was unacceptable and frankly, fucking insulting.
He lived and breathed Montgomery Industries, the tech security company his dad had founded out of a dump of an apartment. Over the past ten years, Drew had expanded their reach, doubled profits, and secured contracts with foreign entities that had previously turned up their proverbial noses at an American company.
That had to count for something. That had to show a level of commitment that was unheard of for Drew.
Hell, the only thing he had ever been able to commit to was MI—just ask his previous girlfriends. The majority of them hated him and had no problem telling the world what an unmitigated asshole he was.
However, his reputation only served to draw more women to him, in the hopes to be the one to change his mind, so they could spend all his fucking money as the new Mrs. Montgomery.
Fuck that bullshit.
And now, now his dad wanted to control that part of his life by forcing another condition on him. He'd already stopped fucking around with random women; he played nice with shareholders and no longer associated himself with anything his manwhore of a brother endorsed—no matter how much he missed that connection with his sibling, or the trouble they got into.
"I have to get married," Drew repeated. "What in the hell does that have to do with taking over Montgomery Industries?"
"Plenty." His dad smiled and picked up a cup of coffee. He took a sip, and his time, while Drew stewed.
"I'm all ears," he said, eager to get this farce of a meeting over with.
"It's simple, Andrew. You need a permanent fix to your reputation. You need to be seen as a family man, one who won't go back to his old ways. Shareholders want solid. Stable. They want someone they can count on."
"Then they should hire a golden retriever to do my job."
His dad set the coffee cup down. "This isn't a joke."
"No, it's a farce," Drew countered. "A tragedy. Something out of the eighteenth century."
"Either you want the company or not. I'm sure one of your siblings could be persuaded."
"And if they're not?"
"I'll sell the majority of stock I own and give the proceeds to charity. You will own nothing, but your brother and sister will be set for life, so that'll be nice for them.
"Who will run MI?"
"The board will find someone else to run the company."
His dad was deranged. Hell, he'd always been a little ... off, but Drew had always chalked that up to his genius-level brain. "You're serious about this, aren't you?" Drew asked.
"Absolutely. A wedding would be wonderful."
"It makes no difference at all that I've sacrificed everything to make MI what it is today?"
"I want grandchildren."
"You can get those without marriage."
His dad's mouth thinned. "Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer they come after marriage."
There were many things Drew would have liked to call his dad in that moment, but old-fashioned wasn't on the list. "This is blackmail. Plain and simple."
"It's what's best. Plain and simple."
"Why don't you remarry, then?" Drew asked, already knowing the answer.
"Because there will never be another woman like your mother for me," his dad said, getting that familiar, faraway look in his eye. "Cecelia was one of a kind. When I started this company, we were living in a one-bedroom studio apartment with you and Connor, and eating ramen noodles for dinner every night, so I could pour all our extra money into MI. She loved me before the money and success. And she loved me after, too."
Drew didn't have memories of that apartment, mostly because he had been two years old at the time. Six months after his dad started Montgomery Industries, he had landed the deal of a lifetime with the federal government. Nothing like a security breach at Area 51 to get them scrambling for private contractors.
"You have until the end of the month and then you're fired," he added.
Fired? His jaw clenched, as did his fists. Damn his father for putting him in this position. "You can't retire in less than a month, and I sure as hell can't be married that quickly." Damn it. Who in the hell did his dad expect him to marry—if he were to agree to this ridiculous condition in the first place? "Besides, who else will close the Stratford contract?"
"Contracts can wait. Family is more important than money." His dad picked up the phone, letting Drew know that their meeting was over. "Either you want to run MI bad enough to make a real change, or your pride is more important and you'll be left with nothing but your past accomplishments."