“Sebastian I – “
“You goddamn son of a bitch! What the hell was that? What in the fucking hell was that?”
Sebastian had his father up against the now closed door of his office, his fists white with rage as they held him up by the lapels of his jacket.
“Unhand me immediately, Sebastian David Roth. Regardless of your feelings about me right now, I am still your father and you will treat me with respect.”
Sebastian pushed away from his father shaking his hands like he had just touched the worst kind of dirt.
“You’re not my father. My father wouldn’t do what you just did. My father stopped existing the day you decided to let money dictate your sense of justice.”
Nathan Roth cut his son with a withering gaze, before walking away from the door to pour himself a glass of water from the decanter on Sebastian’s desk.
“Idealistic young fool.” He breathed as he sipped the water. “You think justice is what builds the kinds of structures we have? You think “doing the right thing” is what got this family to where were are today? You think even your sainted Grandpa Moses didn’t screw over people to achieve the things he did? I can’t believe how goddamn naive you’re being about this, Sebastian. I should never have allowed your friendship with that woman or even allowed her to come work here. She’s been a weight dragging us down all these years and it just got worse because now Morrison has that video of you two. You couldn’t wait to get into a room before shoving your dick down her throat? Jesus Christ.”
“You sure enjoyed the fact that you had something to hold Bob Hammond by the balls with didn’t you, dad? You covered for him, so he owed you. And you kept her with the company because she was your cash cow. He knew that as long as we sort of had her loyalty, she would be quiet. You used my relationship with her to your advantage even though you refused to help her. How many contracts were eased for M & R in foreign countries because of your connection to the State Department, dad?”
“I saw an opportunity and I took it, son. It is what business men do. You stand there talking about justice yet you also kept quiet, knowing all you did. You could have convinced her to go to the cops and forced all of our hands, but you also knew we would not have won against the kind of money and power the Hammonds have so you paid for all of our sins by nursing her back to life, with a little benefit for your trouble.” Nathan Roth’s lips curled “And then you left her too didn’t you? Even you couldn’t bring yourself to tie yourself to her because you knew she was dead weight. Doesn’t belong. Didn’t belong to start with. And her usefulness is over because Bob wants her gone, refuses to do business until that happens.”
“I don’t give a shit what Bob Hammond wants.” Sebastian said through gritted teeth. “If she leaves, I leave.”
Nathan raised his eye brows at his son then chuckled.
“You overestimate your importance to this company, kid.”
“And I go to the press with my story.” Sebastian continued. “Think they’ll believe me? Oh and I have the rape kit Carol Hammond tried to destroy. The moment Iya told me she’d been to the hospital, I had Jake go down to the lab and exchange the kit. Cost two grand but the lab tech was more than happy to hand it over. I paid for my own analysis and it was easy enough getting Kyle’s hair for DNA analysis and matching. Jake is also willing to testify. He was there that night. He helped me get Iya to the hospital. Ever wonder why he no longer visits? The only thing keeping me from speaking is Iya’s silence, but as you so rightly pointed out, I could convince her to come forward right?”
Nathan Roth was pale, his jaw clenched so hard the veins stood out on his face.
“You wouldn’t dare…”
“Try me, Dad. Try me.” Sebastian laughed mirthlessly “You will tell Bob Hammond this arrangement is over. You will tell Kyle Hammond to watch his step. You will tell the whole bucket of slime that is that family to back the fuck off and leave Iya alone. And you will pray the stunt you just pulled isn’t the last straw for her or we are all going down. Every single one of us.”
Sebastian left his father in his office and made his way over to Iya’s office, hoping she was in there and that she was alright. His watch told him the company lunch would be starting in about ten minutes but he had no intention of attending.
The first thing he noticed when he stepped into her office was the glass on the floor.
He saw her jacket tossed over the back of her chair, her pearls on the floor, her shoes. Then he heard sounds from her bathroom and walked in that direction.
Blood on the floor. Deep red globs in a scattered line towards the bathroom.
“Babe?” He rushed to the door, knocking even though he wanted to push it open. “Can I come in?”
“Go away Sebastian.” The rawness in her voice was evident even through the closed doors.
“I can’t. You need to let me in. I saw the blood. I need to know you’re OK.”
No response. He tried the handle. The door was locked.
“Go away, Sebastian.” She repeated.
“I’m not leaving this door until I know you are fine, Iya.”
He stood there quietly.
Minutes later, the door opened. Iya stepped out wearing a different suit than she’d been wearing earlier. She smelled like lavender which meant she’s just showered. Her make up was freshly applied. It didn’t hide her red swollen eyes. In her hands she held a bath towel. Cradled it almost reverently.
“Have you come to ask for forgiveness, Sebastian? Or perhaps to explain why you didn’t tell me this was going to happen today, because there is no way you didn’t know.”
“I only found out this morning, Iya, and I wanted to tell you in person but I never got the chance.”
Her shoulders fell a little as if someone had taken the air out of her.
“You knew…” She whispered. “You knew he was going to do that, bring them here but you couldn’t even text or call me?”
“Wait! What? No!” He sputtered. “I didn’t know about the Hammonds. I knew about your promotion but everything else took me by surprise too. I can’t believe you thought I’d do that to you.”
He took a step towards her and tried to pull her into his arms. She shrank away from him.
“Did you know he went after other girls? Black girls?”
Sebastian’s eyes widened in shock, his face went pale. She saw his shock and knew that this was news to him too. She nodded shakily.
“He must have covered his tracks well then. Made sure none of them ever tried to come forward.”
They were both silent as they processed the information. She stared down at the towel in her hands, her eyes haunted.
“He went after them because of me.” Her voice broke as she struggled with tears. “Because they reminded him of me. He raped all those women because of me. They protected him and he just kept right on at it. They destroyed those women’s lives. “
“Iya…Baby… I am so fucking sorry…”
“Are you? Well you should be.”
A sense of deja vu swept over Sebastian. He felt like he was in the hospital again with Iya standing before him in her hospital gown.
“I’m leaving M & R. I cannot work for your family after this. It’s been made clear to me whose side they are on. And I’m calling my lawyer to figure out what I need to do have charges filed again against Kyle Hammond. I read somewhere that there is no statute of limitation but I don’t know what will happen since I dropped the charges back then. I also need to find these other women, perhaps I can get them to file reports if I offer them some protection.”
She lifted the bundled up towel towards him and reflexively he reached out to take it. “Maybe it was going to happen, anyway or maybe the stress got to me. But I lost the baby today. Our baby.”
Sebastian’s heart broke into hundreds of tiny pieces.