A few days later, Jonathan found himself at the Wheeling corporate offices. Nothing much of a personal nature for him was in the office that he claimed as his for the past couple of years, despite the fact that he was there at least twice a month. He’d just finished the last update on the Fantasy Hotel and laid it on top of a stack of reports he had yet to give his father who had planned to drop by sometime that morning to meet with him. Now he was building up his courage to share his latest decision. He looked up expectantly at the brisk knock. The door opened and Jonathan was momentarily speechless as he stared in the face of his twin brother Tyrone.
“Don’t get up—I know you’re in a state of shock right?” Tyrone swaggered into the office and eased into one of the leather armchairs that sat before the desk. Turning to the side, he let his leg swing off of the armrest of the chair as he plucked one of the peppermints from the crystal bowl that sat on the table beside him. Jonathan still hadn’t been able to pull together a single sentence. It was all he could do to quell the sudden anger that had ignited within upon the mere sight of him and his nonchalant attitude that was the epitome of his brother. Not a care in the world-that was good old Ty.
“So what’s been going on with you lately Jon? I normally have a few checkup calls from you in the span of time since we last spoke. What’s been occupying your time? Maybe I should ask who? Are you finally dating bro?”
“No time for dating Ty. I’m wa-aay too busy taking care of the family business and looking out for you baby boy.”
“Looking out for me? I been keeping my nose clean. I thought I’d give you a little break. Nah—I think it’s a woman. In fact, I dropped by your place not too long ago and saw a cute little chica—“
Jonathan jumped from around the desk and grabbed him by his suit lapels. “What did you do Ty? Did you touch her? Did you hurt her?”
Tyrone fought to loosen Jonathan’s hands. “Man! What’s gotten into you? I didn’t bother her man! I wouldn’t hurt her!”
Jonathan shoved him away from him while he stared daggers into his brother. “Oh you wouldn’t huh. You mean any more than you’ve done already right?”
Tyrone eased back into the chair looking up at his brother perplexed. He and Jonathan had never fought in all their lives. To see his brother so angry at him was troubling to him. He swallowed. What did he mean by any more than he’d done already? What did he know? “Look Jon—I don’t know what she told you. But man I was into her. I saw her on campus and persuaded her roommate to bring her to the party. Everything was supposed to be on the up and up. She was so different . . . so sweet!” His voice veered off as he remembered the earlier part of that evening. “The evening was supposed to end different man. I was a complete gentleman to her and I wanted to be that for her. Then we were dancing and kissing and it all got out of control from there.”
“Out of control?” Jonathan gripped the edge of the desk he was sitting on. He had to hold onto the desk to keep from giving his brother a beat down.
“Yeah . . . I –I can’t explain Jon. I meet women all the time that –well they just need an excuse.” Ty was swallowing tightly. He didn’t know how to find the words. “Okay you know how Jaime Foxx sang in Blame It—It’s sorta like that. They want an excuse—they claim they don’t want to when really they just want someone to get them past themselves. I guess when things got out of hand I thought it was like that.”
“Even when she said no Ty? Even when she screamed stop?”
“You weren’t there Jon! We were kissing each other!”
Jon slammed his fist down on the desk. “You’re so used to women trying to get celebrity by being connected to you that when you met a genuine lady–an innocent young woman, you couldn’t even appreciate her when she graced you with her beauty. Instead you violated her and instead of being accountable for your actions you want to excuse them with a Jaime Foxx song?” Jonathan shook his head. “Pathetic man!”
Jonathan got up and walked away from his brother mainly to keep from jumping on him again. To his credit he did look ashamed. Maybe something was actually getting through to him. “You know what? I’ve been trying to protect you your whole life because God forbid you were made responsible for your own actions. Even now Cherise has decided not to press charges. Do you know why?”
Tyrone held his head in his hand and shook his head. Jonathan leveled his intense gaze at him. “It’s because she has this amazing faith. When she has doubts you know what she does? She prays and reads the bible to see where she can make changes. I’ve never seen a woman go through so much and still radiate such sunshine without a bitter bone in her body.”
“I’m sorry man! I wanted to make it up to her. I went looking for her the next day Jon. I went with flowers and a ring. I knew she was special. I wanted to lock her down man, but she was gone.”
“Ty are you listening to yourself? Marry her? After you raped her and practically destroyed her life you were going to ask her to marry you? Wow! Ty did you know she was so traumatized she dropped out of school? That’s how scared she was to run into you again. She later lost her job and her home and she has no one she can depend on.”
“And so you rode in on your white horse and rescued her like mom and dad had you do for me over and over again?”
Jonathan remained silent, his heart breaking at the bitterness spewed from his brother. His other half, the one he’d given so much of himself to. “Yeah.” He said, his voice thick with unshed tears. “I guess I did Ty. I had to because she was literally left alone under desperate circumstances.”
“Did you do that for me Jon or for you?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“It just seems to me that maybe you did it because you want her for yourself.”
“I did it at first for you Ty. I tried to do something to redeem your sorry tail of the damage you’d inflicted on her.” Jonathan walked slowly toward Ty and got unexpected satisfaction at Ty unconsciously flinching.
He eased down on the corner of his desk and faced him. “You see Ty, your actions that night caused long-term effects. You raped her and now she’s pregnant. So tell me what was I supposed to do?”
“Wait a minute! Are you trying to tell me she is pregnant with my child?”
“Well Ty what do you think? Was the girl a virgin or what?”
Ty looked away from his brother. “Yeah, she was.”
“So I ask again, what was I supposed to do? Just abandon her? In the beginning it was about trying to make up for you and then it became about this scared woman without anyone else in the world she could count on. And you know what Ty?”
He asked with tears flowing down his face, “She decided she won’t press charges as long as you promise never to try to see her or the child. She doesn’t want anything from you. Now how do you think I feel knowing that my own brother has a child on the way that no one can celebrate? That he isn’t going to be allowed to see? Ty I have tried and I’m tired. I can’t—do this anymore. I just don’t have it in me, not for you and not for mom and dad. I’m sorry that they can’t accept you for who you are and I’m sorry that what I am is not good enough for anyone.” He stood and walked to the window to regain his composure.
Tyrone looked at his brother in shock. He’d always felt like the one that wasn’t enough. To hear his brother so bereft shook him to his core. Jon didn’t deserve to feel like this. He walked over to his brother and pulled him into a tight embrace. “I’m sorry for what I’ve done to this woman and to you and mom and dad. None of you deserve to be suffering because of my actions. I’m going to take steps to fix this Jon–to fix me. I promise. I love you man. I love you. And you’re off the hook do you hear me? From now on it’s between me and God. I’ve got to get myself straight and next time you hear from me I’ll be on the right path.”
Jonathan stepped back, looking at his twin. He wanted to believe him. But his heart was tired. Ty had made promises to get his act together before. But in the end he realized he wasn’t ready to give up on him yet. “Okay Ty. I believe you will get it together. I look forward to seeing the man I know you can be. I love you man.” He reached for his wallet and pulled out a business card giving it to him. “I took the liberty of talking to this therapist. You don’t have to see him—but please seek counsel with someone. You can’t work things out alone.”
Tyrone reached over and took the card from him. “I’ll get some help. In the meanwhile, you’ll be receiving a check from me for Cherise and for the child.”
He waved away the expression of resistance displayed on Jonathan’s face. “No Jon listen, she doesn’t have to know it’s from me. Let it go toward the nursery or the child’s college fund, whatever man I don’t care; but from here on out you will receive a monthly stipend from me for her. That’s my first act of redemption and I need to do it for them as much as for me. Okay?”
Jonathan finally nodded. “Okay Ty—keep me up to date with your progress. But Ty?” He waited for his brother’s gaze to lock with his. “You’re not allowed to visit. I promised to make her feel safe. And right now seeing you takes away her peace. Heck, almost every time she sees me there’s fear in her eyes. I’m trying to do all I can to take that away from her.”
Ty nodded silently. “I just wish I could apologize to her Jon.”
“I understand and maybe you can one day, but not now. Are we clear?”
“Yeah man. I hear you.” He looked away and down at his shoes. “Does dad know?”
“No. He doesn’t. He won’t hear it from me until Cherise agrees she wants to announce it. In fact I made the decision to resign effective today. I need a break from the expectations from mom and dad—and you Ty. I need a break to heal myself.”
Tyrone placed his hand on his brother’s shoulder. “Take care of yourself and thanks for taking care of Cherise and my . . . child.”
Out in the hallway, their father listened with a saddened heart. He lifted his hand to knock to pretend as if he’d just arrived and then decided against it. His shoulders sagged and he slowly walked away from the office before his sons discovered he’d heard any of their discussion.
Moments later when alone again, Jonathan left his letter of resignation on his desk and decided he didn’t feel like facing his dad after all. He was still too raw after facing Tyrone. No, he thought as he packed up his briefcase. He needed to get back to Cherise. He paused, took one last look around the office and left out shutting the door quietly behind him.