Home > Because We Belong (Because You Are Mine #3)(9)

Because We Belong (Because You Are Mine #3)(9)
Author: Beth Kery

“So as you can see,” Gerard was saying in summation, “we are poised to make the necessary move to purchase Tyake. Fast action is required, though. Given the Japanese financial crisis, the owner is desperate to sell. He values quick cash even more than a good deal at this point. I understand from Lucien that you’re aware of how much Ian wanted Tyake?” he asked, brown eyes focusing on Francesca.

She nodded. “He made several offers, but they refused him every time. He was always envious of their programming talent. He said Tyake had contracted the most exceptional men and women on the planet before the business community in the West even understood the market. I assume the employment contracts will transfer to Noble Enterprises in the deal?”

“Absolutely,” Lucien said, leaning forward, his elbows on the table. “That was a crucial element of the proposed deal.”

She transferred her attention to him. Lucien had the benefit of knowledge of his adoptive father’s hotel and entertainment conglomerate, and had made his own mark in the hospitality and restaurant industry.

“What do you think, Lucien?” she asked.

“I think we should do whatever we can to acquire Tyake. I think it’s what Ian would want. But I’d advise against getting the capital for the purchase through this acquisition loan fund. Their contracts can be trickier than banks, and if Noble should default on the smallest item, there could be a risk of—”

“Noble Enterprises is enjoying robust financial health,” Gerard said. “There’s no reason it should default on anything.” He turned his attention to Francesca. “Time is of the essence here. It could be weeks, even months, before we get enough money by liquidating assets. This acquisition loan fund is willing and ready to give us the capital to buy Tyake now. As soon as we have your word, that is, Francesca.” Gerard added with a polite nod and a warm smile. She attempted to smile back, but her lips felt stiff and frozen.

“And I suppose no one sitting here will admit to being in contact with Ian?” she asked, her voice sounding stronger than she’d expected saying Ian’s name. She examined each face at the table in turn. “Because that would be the simplest solution: to merely ascertain from Ian what he’d like us to do.”

“Francesca—” Anne Noble began, a wretched expression on her lined, but still lovely face.

“We’re telling the truth when we say we have no idea where Ian is,” James finished for her. He covered his wife’s hand with his own in a comforting gesture. “We haven’t heard a word from him. Gerard and Lucien are as much in the dark as us. We’re all—each and every once of us—both ignorant of his location and well-being, and sick about it.”

She sensed the truth of what they’d said, intuiting the couple’s misery. With a sharp pain, she realized this was the second time in the couple’s lives that a loved one had vanished. Helen, Ian’s mother, had gone missing for over a decade before they finally discovered her, weak and psychotic, being cared for by a boy with the manner of an adult, a child forced to grow up far before his time.

“I’m sorry,” Francesca said, recognizing she’d lashed out on the undeserving in her anguish. Perhaps she’d even been hopeful someone would confess to speaking with Ian. She looked away from Anne’s eyes because the pain she saw there was too much of a reflection of her own. “What do you two think of the purchase proposal?” she asked, valuing not only James’s long lifetime of experience managing his own extensive holdings, but also Anne’s acute business understanding that came from wisely managing some of the richest charity funds in the world.

“I know how much Ian coveted Tyake, and I agree time is of the essence,” James said.

“As do I,” Anne seconded.

“Even you would have to agree that quick action is necessary, isn’t that right, Lucien?” James asked.

“Yes, but prudence is always just as crucial,” Lucien replied quietly.

“We’ve used this acquisition loan fund before when we needed to make a quick purchase in our own ventures,” Anne told Francesca. “They have always been dependable. Gerard has been working nonstop for the past four days to hammer out this deal.”

“Thank you for all the hard work,” Francesca told Gerard.

“It was nothing. I was more than glad to do it for Ian.”

James gave a half smile and glanced at his nephew. “Gerard has always been willing to sacrifice his valuable time for Ian. Remember that motorcycle the three of us put together when Ian first came to us as a boy? You were right about that. It really did help us to bond with Ian . . . make him a little more comfortable in a strange land with strange people,” James mused, his expression faraway and a little sad.

Gerard smiled. “If only we could do something as simple now to connect with him. He needs his family now more than ever,” he said, nodding in Lucien’s direction as if to include him. It confirmed Francesca’s suspicion that Gerard knew Lucien and Ian were half brothers. How much else he knew about their father, Trevor Gaines, and Gaines’s unsavory history, she didn’t know. Anne and James knew the entire truth, but she wasn’t sure where they would stand as far as telling Gerard.

Lucien shifted in his chair at Gerard’s words. Was he as uncomfortable with all this talk of Ian’s family as Francesca was? She was the biggest outsider here, but perhaps Lucien was a close second. True, the Nobles had accepted the painful fate that linked Lucien and Ian as blood relatives, but neither Lucien nor she could claim the intimate bonds of family history that only years of experience and love provided.

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