Release date
June 2010

-2nd book in series


- Chapter One
- Chapter Two
- Chapter Three


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Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three

Chapter 1

Adrenaline charged through his veins threatening to explode. Don was woozy standing in the lobby. When he landed in South Africa three years ago, he was determined never to step foot in DMI again, maybe Detroit, but definitely not in the doors of his father's precious company. The twenty-two hour flight to Detroit, with a brief stop in France, hadn't settled his nerves. He was humbled reflecting on the renewed faith God had given him. The compelling mix of purpose, forgiveness, and unconditional love brewed a powerful but delicate concoction. Against every fiber in his body, he was standing in the lobby. Any tension would threaten to knock the concoction out of balance and cause an eruption, driving him back to the sanctum of home, away from here.

"Are you sure you're ready to do this?" he asked his sister.

"I'm not sure, but I'm willing to do this for you," she said, "so long as I don't have to see Mother. I'm definitely not ready for a family reunion."

"She'd love to see you Tamara, you understand that."

"Maybe one day, but not today. If it's okay with you, I'd like to sign my stock over to you and jump on the first flight back to Monaco. I'd like to be home tomorrow morning."

Don shook his head in affirmation but refused to accept a response of no to his hug. They embraced, regrouped and approached the security desk. "Don Mitchell and Tamara Mitchell are here to see Attorney Ryan."

"Of course Mr. Mitchell, it's good to see you," the guard said. "You don't have to sign in with us. Feel free to go right up." "I don't want to go upstairs," Tamara said frantically waving her hands, "I don't want to run into Mother. I can't," she said. Don gently pulled her away from the desk and off to the side. "One look at me and she'll feel guilty about the rape. She'll want to yank me back to seventeen and relive those days to fix what's unfixable."

"You know mother and how much she loves us. Sometimes she goes overboard, but she means well."

"I don't deny that, but I can't take the smothering. Those four years after the rape were the worst days of my life. I couldn't breathe with mother hovering. If I'd stayed, I would have died too. That's why I'm on one continent and she's on another. That works best for my sanity," she said in rapid fire.

"How much more time do you think you'll need?"

"Don't know. I'm taking a minute at a time. That's the most I can handle," she said appearing to get agitated again. "Believe it or not, I live a full life over there. I'm pursuing my writing, my art, and my music. I'm a totally different person there, alive. In Michigan, I'm a dead bird waiting for the shameful vultures of the past to pick my bones. No thank you. I'm staying here." Don appreciated her candor and resilience too. She could have gotten lost in the darkness after being attacked in the safest place on earth, her home. She deserved time and distance to rebuild, but fourteen years was a long time. He'd only used three, but he certainly wasn't going to stand in judgment. Her reality wasn't his. "Okay, okay, it's all right," he assured her. Don stepped back over to the guard desk. "Can you please call Attorney Ryan and ask him to meet us in the lobby?"

"I'll let him know you're here."

"This is your last chance. You can take your stock and run back to Europe and Mother won't ever know you were here," he told her, not really wanting her to take him up on the offer.

"I'm tempted, believe me, I'm very tempted, but honestly this isn't quite as awful as I was expecting." She initiated the hug this time not as shaken as she was a minute ago.

"Excuse me Mr. Mitchell, Attorney Ryan will be right down," the guard told them.

Don spun around the lobby in slow motion.

"And to think, you will be the new CEO before the day is over," Tamara said.

"Hopefully as soon as the board meeting is over, which is in about three hours," Don said peering at his watch. "But as crazy as this family is, I'm not counting my chickens before they're hatched. This whole plan that Mother has concocted could fall apart at the last minute like the countless other failed tactics she's tried ever since father made Joel CEO. She refuses to let Joel have the company. With the questionable business decisions he's made recently, I guess she was right all along in questioning his ability to run the company."

"Quite frankly, I couldn't care less about DMI, or," she said and stopped.

"Or the family is what you were going to say." She winced. "It's okay," he said placing his arms around her shoulders. "Like I said, this family is crazy. Our father definitely has to be put in that category. Why would he require you to physically be in this building in order to sign over your stock? I don't know what that's about?" Don wouldn't dare raise the topic, but he knew Tamara's distance had been equally directed towards both parents. Mother seemed to get the brunt because she did more pushing. Dave Mitchell had an irritating way of accepting what he couldn't change and shifting his focus to what he could. A noble gesture in theory wasn't so great for those on the other end, which Don learned firsthand. "Well, Dad may have gotten me here, but I'm not staying," she said peering out the plate-glass windows and honing in on the cab waiting out front.

Having his sister within arm's reach was going to be short lived, but no less gratifying. "Mother is going to burst a blood vessel when she finds out you're home."

"I'm not home," Tamara said shaking her index finger at him, "Monaco is home."

"Un-huh, I said the exact same thing when I moved to South Africa and look where I am," he said stretching his arms wide. "I'm not sure where my heart is, but this is where I am for now."

A couple of jovial people from the training team and one from the mailroom got off the elevator. Don immediately recognized them.

"We heard you were in the building. Welcome back, it's good to see you," they told Don, each offering their own greeting and vigorous handshake. Tamara had been gone so long that the employees didn't recognize her as Dave Mitchell's only daughter, but when the people swarmed, Don sensed her discomfort. In the midst of the well wishes, Don extracted a phone from his pocket. "It's Mother," Don told Tamara. A cloud of panic hovered over his sister, ready to erupt. He took her hand and answered the phone with the other.

"Where are you," Mother asked, "I've been trying to get in touch with you for hours. You know the board meeting is in less than three hours? Please tell me that your plane has landed and that you're in Detroit?"

As they talked, Attorney Ryan arrived in the lobby and extended greetings. "I have a room reserved upstairs. Please come with me."

"No," Tamara belted out. Her hands were moving faster than her words. "I'd like to sign the papers right here if it's okay with you. I have a cab waiting and a plane to catch."

"This is too open. There are too many employees around."

"It's right here or no where," she demanded.

"No problem," their father's estate attorney said commandeering a coffee table and small sitting area with the documents, using the folder to cover eighty-five percent of the legal sized paper. Not much more than the signature line was exposed. Don juggled Madeline on the phone while staying engaged in the dialogue between Tamara and Attorney Ryan. They were within minutes of completing what seemed like two impossible feats a month ago, having Tamara in the U.S. and assuming the CEO role. Don was overwhelmed and woozy again.

"Who is that in the background?"

"Attorney Ryan and Tamara are signing the papers."

"Are you here in the building?" Madeline shouted with excitement impossible to contain.

"Yes, we are Mother," he said keeping an eye on Tamara.

"I'm on my way. Are you in one of the guest offices on the third floor?"

"No, we're in the lobby, but don't come down here."

"What do you mean don't come down there. My children are in the building. I haven't seen my daughter since she was twenty one and you tell me not to come down there. Only death could keep me from lugging these bones down there, do you understand?"

Don knew any further discussion on the matter was a waste of time. Her mind was set and deep down he understood, but wasn't sure Tamara could be as accommodating. She was fragile and couldn't handle much more attention. He excused himself from the growing crowd of employees and found his way to Tamara. Maybe it was the look on his face or the lack of confidence that he expressed. Whatever the hint, Tamara figured out the jest of the conversation he'd had with Madeline. "She's on her way down isn't she?"

He wouldn't lie to his sister. At his request, she'd made the sacrifice of leaving her sanctity, far from the strife of DMI, to help him. He owed her honesty and that's what she got. "Yes, she's on her way to the lobby."

Tamara's gaze scoured the document and then the floor. In a split second she leapt to her feet and bolted towards the door. "I have to go."

"Tamara wait, I can stop Mother at the elevator." This close to easily becoming CEO without having to wage a war, how could he let her walk right out the door with his mission trapped in her fingertips? Yet, he'd clamored back to sanity, purging the anger and rejection heaped onto him from his father. He could appreciate her need to be away from this situation, from these people, from the agony until her healing was realized. Half of him wanted to plead with her to stay and the other half was willing to let her fly away like a wounded sparrow seeking refuge.

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Chapter 2

Securing financing, a drop in sales, Abigail's betrayal, and Madeline's schemes. Joel was juggling a list of issues with no support, except from his mother. He left his car in the company's circular entrance. Approaching the entryway, his eyes were fixated on a woman fleeing the building. A natural hair style framed her caramel colored face. She blazed past him in a whirlwind, but not before his gaze zoomed in on her beauty during a fleeting glance. A sense of familiarity overcame him but Joel shook it off. Between DMI and the exhaustive media attention he'd claimed over the past three years, there was no telling where he'd met the woman. He was prepared to squeak out a hello but she didn't allow a single second for socializing. In a swoop she was in the cab barreling off the complex. Joel shrugged his shoulders, thankful for the brief distraction while equally intrigued about why she looked so familiar. Madeline came tearing out the building running smack into Joel.

"Get out of my way," she told him practically plowing him down. "Where is she?" she belted.

"Where is who?"

"Never mind," she said appearing worked up and went back inside.

Today wasn't making much sense for Joel. He walked through the revolving door and stopped. The lobby was filled with employees, but his gaze was drawn to Abigail, Attorney Ryan, and Don. That's when it clicked, the lady outside was Tamara, his half-sister. His knees buckled understanding the significance of her visit. She'd left Detroit when he was twelve. With the strain between his father's two sets of children, he didn't have much interaction with Madeline's four children, and it wasn't from lack of interest on his part. He remembered the fantasy of having a real relationship with his siblings. He recalled going so far as to create fictional events with them which never came true. Honestly, he never knew the two older brothers before they died. He knew Don best, but Tamara was pretty much in name only, except for a few family photos his father kept. In all these years, she'd never returned to Detroit, not to his knowledge, not for their father's funeral or for the reading of his will. Reflecting on the specific terms outlined by his father, there was only one reason for her to show up now, signing her stock ownership over to somebody. It didn't really matter who, if it wasn't him. Joel wanted to panic but beat down the notion. He needed answers. Business had to be handled first, and then he could deal with his fears in private later.

Don approached Joel and extended a hand. When he came for the reading of their father's will, Joel reached out in an effort to make amends. Don was cordial but not receptive about fostering too much brotherly love. Their attitudes were reversed. Joel wasn't in a friendly mood and shrugged Don's handshake.

"What's going on here?" he asked Don.

"We have a board meeting."

"Come on man, you can do better than that. I know we have a board meeting, but you haven't shown up since I've been CEO for any other meeting and all of a sudden I'm supposed to believe that you and Tamara just happen to be here on the same day for an emergency board meeting." Joel's blood was pumping, fast, racing through his veins. His thoughts wanted to get ahead of his words, overcome with the massive number of possibilities threatening his position in the company. They were out to get him, to undermine his ability to lead. He knew it. He had to think quickly. He couldn't be discounted, otherwise they might get another chance to validate his illegitimacy. Who could he trust? The security guard was in on the sneak attack, he could tell. He panned the room logging the face of each employee lining the lobby. They were to be watched too. No one was going to blindly knock him out of the CEO position, not without a serious duel to the death. The job was his. He was chosen for the role.

Joel pushed past Don and Madeline in search of Abigail. He found her and aggressively grabbed her arm, "What's going on here?" "Joel," she cried out startling him back into the moment. He let her arm go. For a tad bit, his thoughts had carried him far off into a state of confusion, a place he was frequenting more often.

"Are you turning on me?" he demanded.

"Joel, get a hold of yourself. This is a lobby full of your employees," she whispered. Don't make a scene down here. This isn't like you at all," she said, pulling her jacket down on both sides.

Don flew into the conversation with Madeline in tow. The day was already a bust without having to deal with Madeline and her mouth, but there didn't seem to be an escapable route.

"Joel, you need to back off of Abigail. If you have a concern, address it to me," Madeline said.

"What is this, you have to protect Abigail from me? Come on, you can't be serious."

"That's not what she meant to do Joel," Abigail said.

"Everybody take a breath and let's go talk," Don butted in to say.

"Okay big brother, since you're speaking for the entourage, you tell me what's going on, as if I don't already know."

"Let's step into the waiting room. Everybody out here doesn't need to know what we're discussing," Don said.

"Oh, and who are you, the new boss giving orders and taking charge." Joel chuckled having no other way to relieve the mounting sense of vulnerability.

"Come on Joel, let's talk," Don offered again and pointed to the waiting room off to the side of the lobby.

"I don't need a private room to hear your lies," Joel told Don. Then he turned to Madeline and said, "I know this is your doing. You just won't give up. When are you going to get this in your head," he said tapping his index finger on his temple, "I'm CEO, not you, not your son, not my father, me. Deal with it," he said and walked away.

"Mistakes can and will be corrected," Madeline said, pouring her rhetoric over Joel like molten lava. He was instantly yanked back into the heat. Before he could hurl a word, Don stepped between Joel and his mother.

"I said back off," Don said. "This is between you and me, leave my mother and Abigail out of this."

"Or what big brother, what are you going to do? You've taken me on before and lost, each time," he said stepping within breathing distance of Don. Joel didn't want to ignite a duel but he couldn't show any signs of weakness. If Tamara had signed her stock ownership to Don or Madeline, then that meant they had controlling interest with 55% and enough weight to oust him from the CEO role at the upcoming board meeting, not counting Abigail's five percent. His thoughts were jumbled, his emotions frantic, but they couldn't know.

"Joel, what's gotten into you? This is not you. Don't you see what's happening?" Abigail said in an emotional tone not easily hidden. "Ever since you started pursuing Harmonious Energy, you've become a different person. You have to see this," she persisted. He didn't want to hear anything she had to say. She was in the other camp, a traitor. Joel stormed up the stairs three at a time, bypassing the elevators. He needed time and space to figure out how to stay the coup d'état that was obviously brewing among these people masquerading as family and friend. Six flights up didn't allow adequate time, but it was a start.

Abigail kept quiet and exited with Sherry.

Chapter 3

"Well that went well," Madeline said tapping the toe of her spiked heels, arms folded, barely able to harness the unbridled anxiety stemming from not catching her daughter in time. "I can't believe Tamara is gone," she said unable to calm the escalating sense of not knowing what to do next. When it came to plowing down Joel or running the east coast division of DMI, she was effective and resolute needing help from no one. Reuniting with her daughter wasn't a task she'd mastered. "That's it. I'm going to the airport. I'm not letting Tamara leave Detroit without me seeing her. I'm not going to let that happen," she said and trotted to the door.

Don called out to her. "Stop, Mother, let her go."

"I can't," she said refusing to break down. She needed to maintain composure and get to the airport. This could be her one and only chance to reach Tamara. If her daughter had come this close to home there was a chance that Tamara was ready to reconcile. Madeline couldn't be deterred. Finally, she had both of her last remaining children in town, a dream come true. Grief sneaked in as she pushed away the crippling demise of her two oldest sons. Tamara was her concern.

"She needs time to figure out her feelings," Don said.

"How much time does she need? None of us are going to live forever. I can't figure out why she hates me, makes no sense. I've done nothing to harm her." Negative thoughts of the brutal attack swooshed in. Madeline threw up the barricade on her soul and kept focus on Tamara.

"Mother, she has her reasons for wanting to keep distance. I'm not going to judge her. You know I've been there."

"But you're here," Madeline said gripping Don around his neck. She heaved a deep sigh acknowledging that there was hope. She released the grip feeling slightly less anxious. "At least we accomplished one key goal, getting Tamara's stock signed over to you." She patted Don on the back full of joy, actually bolstering, finding the impossible act to be a pure miracle. Don tried to interject, but she didn't want to lose her train of thought. "Who would have thought that you would be standing here today ready to assume the CEO role after your father appointed Joel close to three years ago? It really is a miracle." Don tried to interject again, but she was almost finished. "I guess God finally decided to have mercy on this old woman and let me have something in life too, finally. Every other time He let me get close to something good and then snatch it away like a mirage. Finally, the mirage has become reality. Finally, my children have come out on top for a change," she said, "It's bittersweet with Tamara leaving the way she did, but I'm thrilled for you. Now, what were you saying?"

He wouldn't make eye contact, which made her nervous.

"I don't have Tamara's stock."

"What do you mean?" Madeline said feeling the anxiety zip up the chart to a nearly unbearable level.

"Tamara left as soon as she realized that you were coming to the lobby. We didn't get her signature on the papers."

"Don't tell me this," she said wanting to pull the strands of hair from her head and let out a shrill that could be heard two continents away. Why was God always doing this to her? "How can we be this close," she said, pinching her thumb and index fingers together, "and lose again. I really don't think I can stand another loss. This is it. If we don't claim this ministry now, there will be nothing left in a few months based on Joel's poor management. If this merger with Harmonious Energy goes through, we can kiss our churches and other religious-based clients good bye. The sacrifice and years of service that I've poured into this ministry with your father will be down the drain. I can't let that happen. Your father was a fool for appointing that inexperienced child in the first place, but I'm not giving up on righting his wrong."


A pound of elation had been crushed for Don with a ton of familiar disappointment. He was baffled trying to put the pieces of the day together, to orchestrate a scenario that justified him leaving the comforts of home and willfully thrusting himself into the family feud again. He wasn't certain that God had led him to Detroit to assume the CEO role. His conviction wavered. "I must be crazy. What was I thinking coming back here?" he said to Abigail, the last remaining person in the lobby besides the security guards. The other employees and people with good sense had left, obviously a better judge at recognizing when it was time to abandon a situation. It was discernment he didn't feel. "I should have stayed in Cape Town and left DMI to crash and burn on its own."

"You're being here right now is not a mistake. God has you here for a reason," Abigail said standing near him.

She was one of the few people Don trusted implicitly, besides Naledi and his mother. There was no question of Abigail's sincerity, yet he had to challenge her perspective on the botched takeover. Maybe the plan was purely a reflection of his exuberance or his desire to honor her cry for help. Whatever the motivation, it wasn't so clear that he should stay? "If this is God's plan, I could sure use some clarity. I was okay with coming here to sign the papers and assuming the role, but with Tamara taking off, I have no purpose here," he said letting the confrontation pinch off a little more of his confidence, the dose he once carried upon entering the building nearly two hours ago left with Tamara. I'm not interested in fighting Joel for DMI, and being here is a reminder of how quickly this environment can zap my inspiration. Somehow the struggle doesn't seem worth the effort.

Abigail drew close to him and placed her hand on his shoulder in an endearing, not romantic way. Her conviction was not easily overlooked. He had to take notice. "Don, some battles are destined to be fought. It can't be avoided."

He wasn't accustomed to seeing Abigail speak against Joel. Surprises of the today were endless. "What happened to your loyalty to Joel or I should say your love for him?"

She removed her hand from Don's shoulder and let her gaze dip before regaining eye contact. "My mind is clear for the first time in three years, no more living in the clouds and hoping for a fairy tale. I'm being practical now. Joel has lost his mind and there's no need for DMI to be put at risk while he gets himself together."

"That's what you say today, but that's your hurt talking. You won't feel that way in a few weeks or maybe months." He slid his hands into his pants pocket but maintained eye contact. "Take it from me, I know. You're mad at Joel, but it's not over. My gut tells me you still want a life with him," he said, gently lifting her chin with his index finger.

She chuckled. "Not everything that I want is good for me and apparently Joel is on that list." Don didn't speak. "What?" Abigail asked. "What's with that look on your face?"

"What look?"

"The one that's saying, sure. I know you don't believe that I'm moving on without Joel. Besides, I don't have a choice. He's already moved on. But it's different for you. You have a choice. You can choose to go back to South Africa, ignoring God's calling or stay and fight this battle that you were probably created to win."

"Probably isn't exactly convincing."

"You know what I mean. I know the Lord, but I'm not prophetic. I can tell you what I feel in my heart and in my spirit, but you have to hear God on your own. That much I learned with Joel."

Don took a seat in one of the cozy sitting areas. "So I should stay according to the great Ms. Abigail Gerard." She followed him to the seats. "If you ask me, it's your destiny. I truly believe that you were destined to run DMI at this point in time. This is your season."

"What about Joel?" A continuous loop of images played – wanting his father's vintage Porsche that of course went to Joel, being passed over as CEO for Joel, getting fired by Joel, and kicked out of the family estate, the one his mother built and lived in before Sherry moved in." He'd come to terms with a degree of the past, forgiven his father, God, and his half-brother, or so he hoped, but the truth was undeniable. "God and my father chose him to run the company. Do you believe they were wrong?"

"No, I don't. Joel was appointed first, and I trust your father and God. They must have made the right decision, but it's like anything in life. We have choices with every gift and blessing that comes our way. We either take care of it or we don't." Abigail scooted to the edge of the seat and rested her elbow on the chair's arm. "Joel messed up. He has everything and he's letting it slip away. Don't get me wrong, he has been an amazing leader until recently. It's like he's on another planet. I can't talk any sense into him, no one can, not even God. He's not listening to anybody and that terrifies me because that's not the Joel that I," she said and looked away.

Don understood. "Go ahead and finish, it's not the Joel that you love."

Abigail returned her gaze to Don, gently wiping her finger across her eyelid and clearing her throat. "It's your time now to run this company. If there's any hope for DMI, we need you, I need you here."

He leaned forward in the chair. "You, my friend, are asking a lot. You really want me to give up the peace that I've finally found, to push my company and Naledi to the side, to put my life on hold and come here to fight Joel over a position that he legally inherited?"

"It sounds bad when you put it like that, but basically yes."

Abigail had an aura that boosted Don's enthusiasm. There wasn't anything in particular that she did, it was just her. The feelings he harbored for her years ago pricked below the surface but weren't strong enough to overpower his intent on making the right professional and spiritual decision. Besides, history reminded him that Abigail might not be with Joel physically, but her soul was married to him, eliminating her as a viable romantic option. Then again being CEO of DMI didn't appear to be a viable option several years ago either. What a difference time and circumstance made, turning the impossible into probable. "I don't know who is more determined to get me here, you or my mother?"

Abigail reached across the tiny decorative table and patted his hand which was situated on the armrest. "It doesn't matter so long as you stay."

Her argument was compelling. In spite of Abigail's appeal, Don couldn't emphatically bear witness in his spirit that he was meant to be in Detroit at DMI. It was satisfying having Abigail's encouragement and Madeline's unconditional support, but to sacrifice his hard-earned contentment residing on the other side of the world required a deeper cause, one that would give him the endurance to withstand the fireworks that was sure to come with his play on the CEO role. Despite his desire to avoid engaging in a new battle with Joel, his calling from God had to supersede his personal feelings and doubts. Perhaps Joel's unexpected and arguably unwarranted rise to power had to happen in order for Don to search his own heart, deal with the demons binding him to hate and contempt for his deceased father, and forcing him to grow up and be ready to lead the company with wisdom, compassion, strength, and an ability to forgive. He might not have wisdom seemingly infused overnight like Joel had early in his tenure, but he was willing to seek God and obey his call, something Joel was choosing to abandon. Don meditated on the idea a while longer before giving Abigail a controlled nod.

"Is that a yes," she said gripping his hand but not leaping for joy. He understood that this couldn't be easy for her, bittersweet to see the man she was in love with ousted from a company he was chosen to lead and failed.

"Yes," he said relaxing into the seat, anticipating that his moments of calm would soon be a distant memory.


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