Chapter 16

 

Sara Wolff stared at the revolving doors of Crystal Towers. She had made her way to the entrance of the building complex three times in the past few weeks, but had never found the courage to go in. As strange as it was, it was the advice she had given Black Torrent that had finally pushed her to come back again.

Sometimes, even though you’re alone, you have to believe there are people out there who care. And you have to be brave enough to let them in.

Taking a deep breath, she headed into the building.

The lobby looked far different than it had the first time she had visited. All of the tables and party settings were gone. It was a large open space with dozens of people walking through. A small convenience store and tailor filled up the far end of the lobby. On the upper mezzanine level, there was a series of small shops, including a beauty salon, book store, and insurance agency.

Sara’s fingers trembled as her stomach tied in knots. Walking up to the large security desk, she waited for the woman behind the counter to glance up.

“I’m here to see Michael Bruce.”

The guard pressed a few buttons on her computer screen. “Is he expecting you?”

Sara paused for a moment. The private eye had said she would be welcomed anytime. “Yes, he is.”

Printing out a visitor’s pass, the clerk handed it to her. “22nd floor.”

Staring at the badge, she took a deep breath and headed for the elevator.

 

*          *          *          *          *

 

Michael flipped through the manila folder, shuffling through each of the documents. Frustrated, he rose and headed out into the secretarial area.

“Grace, I can’t find the signed copy of that disclosure. Did Marcus ever fax it over?”

“I’m pretty sure he did. Isn’t it in the file?”

“I’ve looked through it three times.”

The older woman grimaced, searching through the stacks next to her computer. “I know I saw it here.”

Michael started looking through the papers on the desk as the phone rang. Grace grabbed the receiver. “Yes, what is it?” Her eyes narrowed. “What? Michael doesn’t have a sister. I don’t know who that is. Tell her to leave or we’ll call security.”

Michael felt his heart skip. “Wait! Don’t!” He yanked the phone from the woman’s hand. “Brittany? What does she look like? Red hair? Yes, that’s her. Tell her I’ll be out in just a minute. Don’t let her leave, okay?” He handed the phone back to his secretary, his fingers shaking.

Despite his desire to call her, Michael had listened to Ravenswood’s advice and had waited for Sara to come to him. With so much information thrown at her and the fantastic nature of it all, they decided it was best to give her some space, to assure she didn’t feel pressured. Michael had figured it would take a few days for her to process everything and contact him. But when two weeks had gone by and he still hadn’t heard from her, he was convinced she either didn’t believe they were related, or worse yet, didn’t want anything to do with him. The thought of her rejection had sent him into a deep depression.

But all that was gone now.

“What’s this all about?” Grace demanded.

“My sister’s here.”

Michael hurried down the long hallway that led to the main reception area. Sara was seated on one of the couches, her complexion gray with worry. Though Michael didn’t like to see her so upset, it made him feel better to know she was just as nervous as he was.

“Sara?”

“Hi.” The woman stood up. “I hope it’s okay. I didn’t make an appointment. I happened to be in the area and...”

“It’s fine,” he said, hoping to sound reassuring. “Why don’t we go back to my office.”

Placing a hand on her shoulder, he guided her back through the corridor he had just come from. Grace was standing next to her desk, arms folded and eyebrow arched high. Michael realized the woman probably thought Sara was a secret girlfriend or something, but he didn’t care. He just gave her a quick nod before disappearing through the door behind her desk.

“Have a seat,” he said, returning to his chair. The two were silent for a few moments.

“I don’t know what to say,” Sara finally managed.

Michael leaned forward. He had rehearsed their meeting over and over, but it was all so different now. He wanted to say something poignant or witty. He wanted to say something to make her smile or laugh. Instead, what came out was stoic and technical. “If you want, we can do blood testing, to prove everything.”

“No, no,” she said with a wave of her hand. “I mean, we probably should, eventually. But, I don’t need that to believe everything.” She glanced down, her face flushing. “I ended up calling my foster father and he pretty much verified everything your detective friend told me. Apparently, he knew about it all these years, but never said anything because he felt there might be some danger to me.” Her face darkened. “It’s kinda funny. There have been so many things in my life that never made sense, but now they do.”

That much Michael could relate to. “Sara, I know this whole thing has been crazy. I don’t know how or why we were led to each other, but fate has a funny way of working. I’m just happy we found each other.” He leaned towards her. “I know this is going to sound corny, but I want to be a part of your life. I want you to be a part of my life.” His voice broke slightly. “I want to be your brother.”

The redhead smiled, a tear rolling down her cheek. She grabbed his hand. “When I first met you, it was so strange. I felt like I knew you, like I had known you forever. I couldn’t explain it.”

“I didn’t feel anything like that,” Michael admitted. “But after that night at the condo, after we talked, I knew we had a special connection... that there was something deeper between us. I had never felt that before, not even when my dad came back.”

Sara’s eyes widened, her face losing all color. “Our father’s alive?”

Michael cringed, clenching his fists. “Did I just say that?”

She nodded weakly.

Hoping to hide his embarrassment, he rose and gestured. “Would you like to go get some coffee or something?”

“I would love some coffee.”

Grabbing his suit jacket, he headed for the door, but noticed the redhead holding back.

“What is it?”

“I just...” Sara moved towards him, wrapping her arms around him in a hug.

It took Michael a moment to get his bearings, but he smiled and pulled his sister close.

I am the Black Torrent, he thought. I promise to always protect you.

Afraid he wouldn’t be able to contain his emotions much longer, he pushed her back. “C’mon, let’s get that coffee. I know just the place to go.”