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Prodigal Son(6)
Danielle Steel

Peter appeared to be conservative in his looks and demeanor, but his father-in-law was also well aware of the enormous risks he took in business. They had always paid off for him and his investors. His father-in-law had placed a few million dollars with him over the years, and had done well with the investments. Until now. He had lost all of it when Whitman Broadbank declared bankruptcy. It had been only play money to him, so it was going to have no impact on his life, but he had been calling his daughter every day to ask what Peter’s plans were. All she had been able to tell him so far was that Peter was planning to sell everything, which didn’t surprise her father. He knew how heavily Peter’s fortune was involved in the stock of the firm. When that went, Peter would have almost nothing. It was no mystery to him or anyone who knew their business. And no one expected this to happen. Peter had almost no liquidity as a cushion and too few other investments. He had taken better care of his clients.

“Well, that’s it. It’s over,” Peter said as he sat down in a deck chair next to her, looking grim. “I brought all my stuff home. Twenty-one years in six boxes.” He looked pained as he said it. It was an ignominious end to a brilliant career, for now at least. He wanted to go down fighting, but there was no fight here. “I’ve got to go out to Southampton and meet the realtor tomorrow. I’ll leave my car on the lot there. You can follow me in the Bentley and drive me home. I’m going to sell that next week too.” The Ferrari was at the house in the Hamptons, and he was planning to give that up to the dealer too. He had released his time share in the plane earlier in the week, at a huge penalty, which was still better than the expense they could no longer afford.

Alana’s breath caught as she looked at her husband. At thirty-eight, she was just as beautiful as she had been at twenty-three, maybe more so. She knew everything about her father’s business, but very little about Peter’s. And she thought the world of finance was boring. It was a lot more fun being in L.A., when Stevie Wonder or Mick Jagger came to have dinner with her father. She had grown up around all of them. And Peter had always known what his parents would have thought about her, she was spoiled, and she had grown up in a rarified glitzy atmosphere light-years from their conservative small-town world. But Peter knew that there was more to her than his parents would have noticed. She was intelligent as well as beautiful, and she was a good mother to their boys, and had been a good wife to him. She had always been willing to meet his investors and put on a good show when they entertained them. Her father had sent her to boarding school in Europe for two years, and she spoke French and Spanish fluently. She had enrolled their boys at the Lycée, so they spoke French too. And she was on the boards of Juilliard and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Before she had married Peter, she had wanted to become a dramatic agent, but had become Peter’s wife instead. And after fifteen years, he was still in love with her.

Alana was a spectacular-looking woman, immaculately groomed, with a model’s body, and always expensively dressed, thanks to him. Alana was no stranger to luxury or money, and had never been denied anything. All the love Gary had once lavished on his wife before she died, he poured into Alana once he was alone with her. And before Peter had married her, her father had informed him that if Peter ever broke her heart, he would kill him. Peter had no doubt that he meant it, he was a little rough around the edges, but a brilliant businessman, and he had an incredible talent for and insight into the music business, of which he was the indisputable king.

“I’m sorry,” Alana said sadly, as she looked at her husband. She knew how hard all this was for him, but it was for her and the boys too, or it would be, once all the changes in their life became evident. She had no idea where they were going to live, and neither did Peter, which was frightening for all of them. Being poor in New York didn’t sound like fun to her. Alana had never been poor for an instant of her life, and her father had a Midas touch in business. He had never been through anything like what had just happened to Peter. She reached out and touched his hand, and he smiled ruefully at her.

“I’m sorry too. We’ll put Humpty Dumpty back together again sooner or later. I promise. It’s just going to be a little rocky for a while.” He was trying to wrap his mind around it too. “At least we have each other.” That was still what mattered most to him. Alana and their children. This was tough, but it wasn’t a tragedy, just a very trying period to get through, and a whole life to rebuild.

She looked deep into Peter’s eyes then. “I was talking to Daddy today, and I think he had a pretty good idea,” she said, trying to look hopeful. She knew it wasn’t going to be easy to convince Peter. He was a proud man, this was a hard blow for him, and he had never been crazy about L.A. It was a foreign land to him, too far from New York, which had always been the hub of his career. But now everything had changed. And she didn’t want their sons living in poverty while Peter struggled. “He thinks we should come out and stay with him for a while. He says we can have the guest house.” It was a house bigger than most family homes in the Hamptons, and Peter knew what came with it. An army of servants, every luxury imaginable, and a fleet of expensive cars.

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