The Morrow Family Saga, Book Three: Laughing, Chapter Twelve

The flight from Des Moines to New York seemed to be over in a matter of minutes, even though it had taken seven hours. Those seven hours didn’t count the one-hour layover in Chicago, though. But the girls seemed unusually calm for such a long flight that Michael had almost forgotten how finicky Natalia could be.

They had eaten a light meal, almost more like a snack, in Chicago just to keep the complaining down. Once in New York, Cousin Tab treated them to a fabulous meal at 21 Club. It had been a night to remember for Natalia. She had seen at least a dozen celebrities just in the first ten minutes and had counted her fiftieth when she had finally finished her desert.

Jack Kreindler came out briefly and talked with Michael and Tab as if he were talking to two old friends. Many of the celebrities also stopped at their table and talked to the whole family. By the end of the evening, Natalia was as happy-and tired-as a girl could be.

Morning had come too soon, but the girls were both up and eager to head to the Apollo Theater, and then to the Radio City Music Hall. Later, in the evening, they would all head to Broadway and watch a play. Tab had a men’s night out planned for himself and Michael at Toot Stor’s Restaurant afterward, once Valeria and the girls were safely back at the Morrow estate.

***

Toffer’s flight took off at midnight and arrived in DC at six in the morning. He was tired, cranky, and in need of a shower by the time the plane landed. He was lucky that Joey’s boss had allowed him enough money to spend his week in the Willard Intercontinental Hotel and still have enough to buy decadent meals at the restaurants of his choice during his stay.

His first task, once in his suite, was a shower. And he spent two hours just letting the water run over him, allowing it to soothe his weary bones. After his shower, he laid down for a short nap. Three hours later, he rose and began his day…what was left of it.

He made his way, by cab, to La Salle Du Bois, one of DC’s finest restaurants, for lunch. Once he had sampled their legendary pheasant with fois gras and crepe Suzette, He headed back to the hotel to unpack for the week. He dreaded it.

It would be a week of pure hell. Admitting to all the crimes he had committed would expose him for the fraud he had always been. Still, he had no choice. Michael Morrow had started the ball rolling, along with those nameless ex-employees who had vanished as quickly as his records had.

His only regret was that he had allowed himself to let things get this far. This bad. He should have stopped once he had the company, but he hadn’t. He had continued to believe that he could outwit the law by paying them off or pushing for the election of his paid candidates. Deep down, he knew that the ride was going to end at some point even then but had insisted on continuing anyway. How dumb could he have been?

He knew the answer to that. He had been very stupid. Very proud. Very arrogant.Very vain.

But that was part of being selfish and greedy.  It was part of being ruthless. But he had been shown that being selfish,greedy, and ruthless were not where his heart should have been. Everything he cared about was now gone.

It took Toffer a couple hours to unpack. He had stopped a few times as he was doing so to sit and put his head in his hands but had picked himself up, emotionally, and carried on. After he was finished, he went to the window and looked out. It would be so easy to jump and end it all.

Still, he had to finish what had been started. He had to give his deposition. He had to tell the truth. He had no choice. They already had the files that held all the evidence against him. He sighed and looked at his watch. A quarter to five. Just enough time to head for a restaurant to have dinner. The Colony would be perfect. By the time he went home, he would have sampled the food at nearly every restaurant in DC. He smiled sadly.

Something told him that this might be the last time he would ever get to do anything this lavish. Hell. It might be the only time. Leaving his room, he headed to the front desk to have a cab called for him. From there, he would go on to The Colony.

***

Valeria put the girls to bed at around eight. Michael and Tab had gone out for the night, leaving her and the girls to their own desires. She knew that Tab had wanted to talk business without her and the girls around. she couldn’t blame him. The business at hand affected them all, but the girls didn’t need to hear about it all the time. Besides. The men were better equipped to handle it.

At Toot Shor’s, Michael sat across from Tab. The atmosphere was amazing. Celebrities were everywhere. Even Toot came out a couple of times to talk to Tab. Michael knew that Natalia would die to see this. But it wouldn’t be appropriate for someone as young as her.

Tab looked over at Michael. “So tell me more about this case. How did this all start?”

Michael smiled sternly. “Toffer French is the son of Baltus French. Baltus’ father was the man responsible for French Industries. Elron French, Baltus’ father, started as a co-owner in the Midwest division of Morrow Mills. When things soured between Elron and Josiah Morrow, Elron split from the company and started his own.

“At first, French Industries had an exceptional and impeccable  sense of quality, becoming our greatest threat as a company. When the company fell to Baltus to run, quality and ethics went by the wayside and were replaced by greed, taking short cuts, and criminal activities to cover indiscretions. Toffer, rather than wait for his turn, killed Baltus and assumed mantle as CEO and chairman of the board.

“The rest, you know from the files I sent you early on.”

Tab nodded. “Yes. Tax evasion. Tax fraud. Blackmail. Murder. Rape. He had quote a storied career. Ruthless and politically connected. Corrupt beyond anything this country has seen to this point.”

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