Chapman Financial, Boston
“Pick a lane.”
Jake Chapman turned from the wide window framing the gray fall day to face his father across the plush office. “What?”
“Pick a lane, damn it,” Bill Chapman said.
Jake shook his head. “Who’s Elaine?”
Bill slammed the door and stalked closer. “A lane, Jake. Make a decision for once in your life.”
Jake swallowed a grin. This again. He settled into the big leather chair behind the desk and placed his hands behind his head. As he toyed with the small gold ring on his left earlobe, he watched his father’s face turn red.
“Is this about grad school?” he asked.
Bill threw up his hands, wrinkling the sleeves of his expensive suit jacket. “Yes, it’s about grad school. It’s about work. It’s about everything, for Christ’s sake. You never finish anything.”
Jake shrugged. “So I only work at Chapman Financial a few months out of the year. What do you care? I bring in more money with my projects than any other exec.”
“It’s not about…” Bill’s gaze slid to one corner of the room as his words trailed off.
“Ha! Don’t say it’s not about the money, Dad.” Jake straightened, placing his palms flat on the desk. “It’s always about the money and you know it.”
Jake thought he saw a flicker of something in the old man’s eyes, gone in an instant. It had to be nothing. Bill Chapman didn’t do emotion and even he admitted to worshipping at the altar of the almighty dollar.
“Look.” Bill took a breath and blew it out. “You’re almost thirty. School isn’t doing it for you. Chapman obviously isn’t doing it for you. You need to decide what you want.”
Bill looked as perplexed with Jake’s question as Jake was with his statement.
Why pick a lane, as his father put it? He should make a choice and then live with the consequences? No friggin’ way.
Bill settled across from him and wiped his hand over his face. His father was built like both Jake and his brother Rick. Tall and broad and athletic. The years had been good to Bill, too. Years Jake and his siblings had been without their mother while Bill dedicated his every waking moment to making money.
Jake could read his father and knew the conversation would soon turn. He folded his hands as he waited and fingered a callous on his thumb, the result of the past weekend’s climb upstate. Another challenge, another rush. Maybe it was time to try something new. He’d been at Chapman for two months now, and that was about as long as he could stand being cooped up in an office.
“I want you to go to Cypress,” Bill said.
“Cypress?” Jake felt the familiar tingle of anticipation go through him. “The courses are a go?”
Bill nodded. Jake had pitched his idea to the investors last month, detailing his plan for adventure trails in the middle of a wild, lush property set in Central Florida.
Cypress Corners—pricey homes, championship golf course and secluded resort—was the perfect setting for his “Adventure Excursions.” Bike trails, rock walls, lake obstacles, rope bridges. The place would have it all and bring in a ton of money for the developers and Chapman Financial’s investors.
As part of the deal Jake would be the one to design it, then he would test it so that the out-of-shape executives it was made for wouldn’t hurt themselves while they enjoyed their managed thrills and careful excitement. But man, would Jake have a blast testing it himself. To its, and his, limits.
“The investors gave it a go,” Bill said. “And they agree that you’re the one to spearhead the project. God knows you can use some direction over the next couple of months setting it up.”
Jake ignored that last dig and took the faith of the investors at face value. “They won’t regret it. And I’ll get to see Rick and his family.”
Bill’s lips thinned but he said nothing. Jake’s big brother Rick hadn’t talked to the old man for almost four years now. Not since he told Bill to take his job at Chapman and shove it. Bill should be relieved in that respect. At least Rick had made a choice.
Rick and his wife Harmony lived in Cypress Corners with their son, and Jake couldn’t wait to see them again. Jake wouldn’t let Rick’s choice to stay out of the family business drive a wedge between the brothers.
Jake stood. “When do you want me there?”
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