His father had died before Daniel had come out to his family. He’d kept the gay part of his life a secret from them. He’d hid it when he joined the RCMP but it was there that he knew he’d have to be honest with himself. The family didn’t know until he showed up at the funeral with Trevor, his lover at the time.
His Dad’s will split the business three-ways with Dan getting sixty per cent, his sister thirty-five and, as long as she lived, his mother held the remaining five per cent. Daniel held the controlling interest so that the business would retain the family name. There was an in trust bequest for Daniel’s first born.
At the time Linda was sure his Dad would never have split the business in such a way if he’d known Daniel was gay. After all she was married and already children why should he get the bigger share.
“Jesus, Daniel when will you trust that I know what I’m doing! I am older than you. I was running the business with Daddy when you were running around playing detective at Quantico. Or maybe you were playing with detectives.” She got out of the car and slammed the door shouting at him. “Who do you think was running things while you are off fucking up in Alberta with the RCMP.”
Daniel got out of the car.
“Sorry.” She touched his shoulder. “I didn’t mean to go off on you like that but you always fucking block me at every move even when you do give in. But this is important.”
“It was Dad’s idea I go to Quantico. Done is done. Sis. ”
She glared at him. She hated to be called ‘sis.’
They walked thorough the mall entrance to the store. Linda had convinced him that being here with these high-end, exclusive shops was the best thing for James Family Photographers. Thanks to Daniel they had exclusive North American distribution for Lifend, one of the top manufacturer of cameras and lenses in the world. The camera bodies were hand-crafted and one of a kind. Of course neither of them realized that shoppers at FairVista were more interested in brand names they could wear without needing to know more than how to do up a zipper.
She stopped at a window display that took up half of one of the store’ two front windows. All black except for a lighted box that held one of the hand-crafted Lifend’s. A simple card beside it said ‘The Vista – $250,000.00.”
“Time to give Cartier’s a run for their money.” Linda grinned. “We can’t have people think we only sell inexpensive digital key chain cameras.”
“I gave you the best part of the business. You know that. Mom knows that. So what more is there?”
They went into the store and up to Linda’s office on the second story loft that overlooked the main floor.
“It’s called due diligence Daniel. I’m looking out for our investment while you are frittering your time with stuff like this.” She shoved the newspaper article that mentioned his involvement in busting the porn ring. “This is good work, but associating a family business with child porn is not a good PR move.”
“Linda, it doesn’t directly mention the business.”
“You always try to wriggle out of things.” She smirked. “The folks always gave into you. More than they did to me. The golden boy, right. Name one time when you didn’t ultimately get your way. While you were gone I was holding things together. Remember that.”
“Right. Dad wasn’t working himself to death. Mom wasn’t behind the counter every day, either. It was all you.”
“At least I wasn’t the one bitching about losing all my friends when we moved here. So sad.”She pretend to rub her eyes crying. “Boo fucking hoo.”
“Friends like Timmy Dunlop.” He took the porch photos out and put them on the desk in front of her. “Do you remember him. Stellerton.”
She stared at the pictures then back at him.
“Maybe these will help?” He added a couple of the colour pictures of him and Timmy leap-frogging in the back yard. “The Wickham Arms. Summer of 84.”
She pushed the pictures back toward him. “What of it.”
“The summer we moved to Toronto. What really happened?”
“N … nothing.” she paled a little.
“You know Timmy was one of the children who were abducted that summer. Along with …” he named off the other children.
“Yes, I remember that. Dad was so scared. He didn’t feel either of us were safe.”
“I understand that but to take off just like that. I didn’t know about Timmy until this past week.”
“There’s nothing to tell. What did you expect. A quiet chat about your buddy disappearing. Try telling that to a spoiled brat. That’s the past. Let go of it Daniel. You were a child. I was not that much older than you. I know little more than you do. It was Peggy that was pushing him, you know. Since Christmas, we had planned to move that summer. It was decided already that this was to be Dad’s last year on the road.
“He loved that circuit. It paid pretty well and he felt like it was … a sort of adventure for us all. Mom didn’t. They fought.”
“It didn’t have anything to do with …”
“Joey Martel! Yeah. Mom thought he was too old for me. I guess she was fucking right. What was I, sixteen he was twenty-six. I thought he was such a looker. I found out a few years later he’d been playing around with a couple of other girls. Girls younger than me. He was another sick creep.”
“You are right about him being a looker.” He took another of the old pictures out. It was one she had taken of Joey. He was aiming a gun at a carnival shooting range.
“You took this after we left. I thought you were staying with Aunt Tansy.”
She glanced at the photo, then at him. “Look, I have nothing more to tell you. The past is the fucking past. I’m more concerned about the future. Our future. Even if you aren’t.” She pushed all the photos closer to him and walked away from her desk. “Come here. Look down there.”
He walked over to the railing. There was at least a dozen customers in the store. Some browsing. Others being shown cameras or video equipment by her staff.
“Business is good. This is a Wednesday afternoon. Demographically Wednesday not a hot time for sales of any sort. Yet we draw them in.”
“And you think Cuppa’s will drawn even more in?”
“There isn’t a food court here. Just a couple of overpriced spots that make Zephyrs look like a soup kitchen. So why not an overpriced coffee shop.”
“I’ll think about it.” He took out his cell to check the time. He saw that he had several text messages from the other store. “I have to be going. I do have to show some due diligence to the mother ship.”
“I’ll get Hamid to drive you. To make up for me abducting you?”
“New staff. I think you’ll like him.”
“I am taking you to your home or office?” Hamid asked as he started the car.
“Office. You know where that is.”
“Oh, yes, Mr. James you are … I mean your office is on Queen Street.”
Linda was right in her estimation that he’d like Hamid. He was a Sanjay clone. A little shorter though but with the same solid body type and at 11 a.m. already needed to shave again.
“You’ve been in Canada long?”
“Oh yes sir. Three years and counting. I will be a citizen soon. I have degrees in electronics, computer analysis and cosmetology.”
Hamid had as diverse an educational background as Sanjay.
“Mrs. T is telling me you have a friend from Mumbai.”
“Yes. Sanjay’s family is from there. He was born here and educated there.”
“It is said that every person on the planet has relatives in Mumbai.” Hamid laughed.
“You have children as well?”
“No. The two shops are children enough for me. Besides I’m not the marrying type. Sanjay on the other hand is.”
“I’m gay. Didn’t Linda tell you that when she told you about my Mumbai friend. He’s my lover. We’ve been together for several years.”
“I see. I see.” Hamid smiled widely. “But so many same-sex couple are adopting children, are they not?”
“Not this couple.” He resisted haranguing Hamid with his tirade about heteronormative assimilation by gays. “You can pull over here.”
Hamid pulled over.
“Thanks, Hamid. You made good time.”
“Thank you, sir. I trained in Mumbai. You must ask your Sanjay about driving there. Then I did my tour of duty in Toronto driving taxi for a year before I got the job at your most wonderful store.”
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