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Prodigal Son(8)
Danielle Steel

Alana’s eyes turned to steel then. She was still a daddy’s girl, her father was rescuing her, and she wasn’t going to let Peter stop him. Peter could see that it was what she wanted, even more than she wanted her life with him.

“I’m going home, Peter, and I’m taking the boys with me. We don’t need to be poor. They don’t need to discover what it’s like not to have anything they’re used to. My father wants to be there for us, and take care of us, and you too.”

“I’m a grown man, Alana. I wouldn’t do it even if he were my father. I can’t live in L.A. like a gigolo, while your father pays the bills. I’ll take care of us, and we’ll work it out.”

“I’m not going to live in poverty, and deprive our kids, to feed your ego. We have no other choice. You’re telling me we’re dead broke. My father isn’t. He can afford to support all of us, so our life won’t be affected. I want to go home.” There was iron in her voice.

“What happened to ‘for better or worse, for richer or poorer’?” Peter asked her bleakly. “Or did I miss something? Was it ‘for richer or richer’? Why can’t we just suck it up for a while till I get back on my feet?”

“Why should our kids suffer because you lost your job, if they don’t have to? The kids love L.A., and the Lycée out there is just like the one here. I called them this week, and they’ve got room for both boys. Ben and Ryan will be happy there, happier than they’d be in some mythical small town, or living in poverty here. I won’t do that to them.”

“Or yourself. Is that what you’re saying?” He was starting to look angry, as defeat and frustration welled up in him. He wanted her to stay. “If you have to give up the Bentley, you’re going home to Daddy? That’s pathetic, Alana. No, actually, it’s disgusting. Fuck the Bentley. We need to stay together right now.”

“Then come with us, and forget New York for a while.” Or forever, if she got her way, Peter thought to himself. She had wanted to move back to L.A. for years, and Peter never agreed. Even with his back to the wall now, he didn’t want to. His life was here. But the life she wanted, under her father’s wing, was there. This was the opportunity she had been waiting for, and she didn’t want to miss it. It was now or never.

“I will not be supported by your father,” he said in a voice quavering with emotion. This was a loaded subject for him. It made him feel like an even bigger failure to go to L.A. with her, and have her father take care of them financially. Peter would rather starve. But Alana wouldn’t, and she was also thinking of the boys and their comfort. She didn’t want them deprived, if there was no need for it. Her father had offered to pay for everything. It was the opportunity Gary had been waiting for too, to get his little girl to come home, and even bring her boys. And he was more than willing to support Peter in the bargain. Her father’s fortune hadn’t been impacted by the upheaval on Wall Street, and he had sound investments and an enormous business, owned several oil wells in Southern California, and had huge real estate holdings. The only one who didn’t want to benefit from any of it was Peter, who felt completely emasculated by Alana’s deal with her father, and humiliated to go out to California with his tail between his legs.

“You don’t have any choice,” Alana said as she stood up, and looked at him. “I’m not staying here in these conditions, with no money, nowhere to live, no prospects, and you out of a job, maybe for a hell of a long time.”

“What are you saying?” Peter asked her harshly. This was beginning to sound ugly to him, and he could hear a veiled threat in her voice.

“I’m saying that I’m going back to L.A. You can sell everything you want. My father made us a good offer to live with him, and take care of us. If you’re too stubborn or too proud to take him up on it, I’m not. The boys and I are going out next week, so they can start school there before it gets any later in the school year. I’ve already told them. They’re happy about it. They want to go. I won’t let you stop us.”

“And if I won’t go?” Peter asked her with narrowed eyes, wondering just how far she would take this and what she was really saying.

“Then we’ll go anyway. I’m getting off the Titanic. I’ve watched your whole life, and ours, collapse for the last week. The ship is going down. It already has. If you won’t get in the lifeboat, that’s your decision. But I’m getting off. You can come or not, that’s up to you.”

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