Erik stared at the ceiling of his rental apartment, laying in bed with his phone cradled against his ear. “So, with a little luck, I think I can get the bank to waive their loan covenant for the remainder of this quarter.”

Michael’s voice came through the line, sounding distant, “That would buy you some breathing room. God, this Glanox thing is a huge mess.”

“If we can just get through to spring, I think we’ll get to positive cash flow.”

“Yeah, but are you going to make it until spring? Between Glanox and Sunstone, it’s like you’re burning a candle from both ends with a blowtorch. How much longer can you keep this up, before you crash and burn?”

“To tell you the truth, I don’t know. I’ve never felt this stressed.”

“You sorry you took it on?”

After a pause, Erik said dejectedly, “Yes… I should never have left Mel. That was the stupidest thing I’ve done in my life.”

“I think you’re right.”

“What? You, the heartless capitalist running dog? You’re saying I should have turned down millions of dollars for a relationship that might not have lasted beyond the summer?”

“Yeah, well I fucked up my marriage, so I speak from experience. You… had an awesome thing with Mel. Sure, this stint with Glanox is going to at least double your net worth, but at the end of the day, what does more money mean when you’re coming home to an empty house?”

Erik felt deep pain lance through him. He gritted his teeth, forcing back the feelings. Taking a breath, he said, “I don’t know. Maybe, when it’s all over, I can try to put it back together with Mel.”

“Not if the next time the phone rings with another assignment, you’re going to drop everything for year or two more.”

“But people in the military live that way.”

“Only when we’re at war, besides, I don’t think Mel is looking to be that kind of wife.”

“I’m not sure I’m looking for a ‘wife.’ That’s a pretty big jump. And besides, as an archeologist, she’ll be off on digs for months at a time.”

“So, someone’s got to stay home and raise the kids.”

Erik laughed, but at the same time, the image of walking in the meadow holding a toddler’s hand made his heart ache. Finally, he said “Stay-at-home dad – that’s a long way down from CEO of a thousand-person company.”

“I used to think so too. Watching Todd go off to college this year, I’m not so sure anymore. After he left, I realized I’ll probably never have a chance to throw around a ball with him in the backyard again. Is that worth a few million more in the bank? Right now, I’d probably trade that money, to have known Todd and Lisa better. I wasn’t the father I should have been. Sure as hell not the father they deserved.”

Erik heard the rawness of Michael’s emotions through the phone. “I’m sorry Michael. But when things went south between you and Debbie, it must have made being a father much harder.”

“Thanks for offering me the excuse, Erik, but it is just an excuse. Even the time I had with them, I was always distracted, chasing after some deal or other. I don’t want to beat myself up too much – I did have to make a living, but…”

“But my running away from Mel was stupid.”


“Did things get too good? Did I get scared?”

“Tough question to ask. It’s a tough one to answer too. All I know is that it must have been hard – I mean – you lost so many people who were close to you. Your parents. Darcy. And your uncle’s got that heart thing. I’m not a shrink or anything, but it’d make sense that getting close to someone like Mel would be pretty scary for you.”

“Yeah. I thought about it early on, when our relationship was first looking like something more than just a fling. I had to force myself not to clench up. Then, when the Glanox thing came along, I conveniently forgot about all those issues… and I let myself run like hell from the woman I loved. Crap! I completely screwed everything up, by the numbers.”

Michael sighed his agreement. “Can you fix it? I mean, if there’s one thing that I always found amazing about you, when you decide that something you’re doing doesn’t make sense – you change, no matter what your sunk cost, no matter how painful, you change it.”

“Thanks, but I can’t walk away from my responsibility to Glanox now. There’re over a thousand people, and their families, counting on me to turn this thing around. Over the last couple of months, they’ve started to believe in me. But it’s going to be another year or eighteen months before we’re really out of the woods and somebody else can step in as CEO. By then, Mel will have moved on. I can’t ask her to wait. That’s not fair.”

“Shouldn’t that be her decision?”

“Yeah, maybe. Let me think about it. I’ll be back there in another month for a weekend. Maybe I can get together with Mel then.”