The Morrow Family Saga, Book Three: Laughing,Chapter Twenty-Two

Toffer sat in the holding cell at the thirteenth precinct. He hoped Joey would bring the bail. If not, they were without their figurehead for at least thirty days or until the trial was set. He had been booked at five that morning and it was now noon. Where was his not-so-benevolent benefactor?

As usual, Joey was fashionably late. He seemed to always wait until the very last minute before bailing anyone out and the wait felt like an eternity. Like always, there was a sadistic gleam in his eye and a malicious smile on his lips as he waited for the bailiff to open the cell and let Toffer out. Toffer knew he was in for some hell.

Joey gazed at him. “Come along, jail bird. let’s get you home. Guess we’ll have to put some guards near your door so we know ya won’t flee, won’t we?”

Toffer smiled sadly and shook his head. “No. I ain’t going anywhere. I don’t have anywhere I can go.”

Joey sneered. “I hafta give ya a hard time, ya know. Johnny wants to see ya. He comin’ ta town in a couple days and wants ta talk business.”

Toffer shrunk in defeat. Gianni was coming to talk to him. Gianni making a personal appearance anywhere was never a good thing. “I’m lookin’ forward to it.” His words sounded empty. Almost tinny.

Joey slapped him on the back. “Good. He’ll be happy ta hear that.”

The Italian ushered him out of the police department and into a waiting sedan. He sunk down in the seat, hoping to make himself as invisible as possible. It never worked, but he didn’t care. It made him feel better.

***

Michael got his family home safely. New York had been just the ideal thing where the girls were concerned. But the girls seemed to enjoy the sights in DC as well, which had surprised him. He hadn’t expected Natalia to like the museums and monuments. Still, there had been theaters as well. And Nattie loved theaters.

They had arrived at Des Moines at five o’clock in the evening, and they had caught a meal at Mustard’s Restaurant before finally returning home. It had been a fine end to a long adventure. Now, the girls were tired. Hell. He was tired.

DC had worn him out. He was glad it was over and done. It marked an end to his part in the scandal. Now, he and his company could move forward with no more obstacles.

He felt bad for Toffer, though. Even though old man French deserved to be brought to justice, he didn’t deserve what he was about to go through. But, then, Michael was more compassionate than most. More forgiving.

He knew once the papers and television got hold of the story, Toffer would suffer a fate worse than death. Not that the media was bad. They gave the news as it was. They did have, however, a tendency to make it grander or darker than it really was. Still, the backlash would be horrendous for Toffer.

It was sure to destroy French Industries. Or, at least, what was left of the company’s reputation. But just how much of the company did Toffer still own? Did he own any of it?

Michael had heard that there had been a massive shakeup at French Industries, but not what it was. He’d heard that it had something to do with money owed by Toffer to a creditor, but he had no clue whether the creditor had taken over the company or not. Whatever it was, it’d had a profound effect upon the man. So profound that he had dropped over fifty pounds over just one year.

Whatever had been going on, it had quieted down Tobias as well. There had been fewer sexual assaults with the boy’s name attached to them, not to mention fewer robberies. The fights and small thefts remained a shadowy area of the boy’s life. Toby seemed inclined to cause  some sort of trouble, even when he was trying not to.

Whatever the case, he was just relieved that the boy’s crime spree had been slowed to a trickle. Perhaps the boy was worried that his father’s fate would also be his own. Or perhaps there were other reasons. It really didn’t matter at the moment.

Right now, only his girls mattered and Michael was a devoted father. Not to mention a devoted husband. He loved his family and they loved him. But, then, family had always been the most important thing in his life.

Morrow Mill Works was last of all on his list of priorities.   But, then, success had never been central to his being. Neither had wealth or power. Only being happily married, being a good father, and a good husband had ever been his desire. And he had succeeded.

He saw everything else as a reward for doing what he knew to be right. Diligence and hard work always paid off, as did being able to see need and fill it. Business didn’t matter. Being of a generous heart, kind soul, and unconditionally loving spirit did. Taking care of those around  him was his business.

These were the mores he tried to impart to his daughters. He hoped that at least one would listen and take up his path. He felt that it was the only path to peace, not that many of his fellow Americans shared that view. Still, he was a man of peace. A man of goodness.

He watched as his girls headed for their rooms once they were inside the house. He had given them their obligatory good night kisses and sent them on their way. There would be no bedtime story tonight, just sleep. And he knew that they bother were ready for that.

They would drift off to sleep without any problems. Valeria, his beloved wife, would probably do the same once the two of them were in bed as well. But he would not. He had too much worry. He was too keyed up. He would have a terrible time getting to sleep.

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