Nestled on fifty acres near a secluded forest, set the Braxton mansion, an epitome of celebrity houses. For over forty years, patriarch Clayton Braxton, a world-renowned publisher, whose company had a vast fortune of over one billion, called the place home. A man of elegant taste, Clayton’s home had all the necessities; ten bedrooms, five baths, a guesthouse, library, plus the pool, and the tennis/basketball court; every person’s dream. From the outside it seemed marvelous, but on the inside reaped a place filled with family tragedies including; many fights, the ‘supposed’ murder of matriarch Alexis, and the death of Clayton.
Ten years ago after his death, Clayton’s eldest son Andrew and his family moved into the mega mansion. The family loved living in the luxurious palace; Andrew’s children enjoyed exploring the wonders of the estate, having no idea of its history and the foreboding events that were to come.
Elizabeth sat in the dining room, enjoying her breakfast of eggs, toast, and tea, while catching up on the current events in The Westmore Gazette. Her attention switched from the paper to her husband who entered the room, sharply dressed in a navy suit and his silver hair slicked back, the way he fixed it every morning. As each day passed, he started to resemble his father; Clayton always had his hair slicked back and wore finely tailored suits. He said “in order to run a successful company, you’ve got to dress successfully and be powerful,” something Andrew took to heart.
Noticing her husband’s stiff posture, she knew he was in a bad mood and the reason why.
“Where’s Wayne?” Andrew asked.
“He’s still asleep,” her eyes shifted back to an article in the paper.
“Why is he still sleeping?” he poured a cup of coffee.
“He came in late last night.”
“Let me guess. He stayed out partying with his friends,” he joined his beautiful wife at the table; and could tell by her expression she wasn’t in a pleasant mood either.
“They celebrated Wayne getting his diploma;” she sipped on her honey spiked tea, “besides you shouldn’t chastise Wayne. I’ve heard stories about your younger days.” She smirked as she stared at Andrew, who fidgeted, she was proud of herself, making her husband uncomfortable. He knew better than to criticize their son, if there was one thing she didn’t tolerate; Andrew messing with one of their kids. He was always the criticizing and controlling type, just like his father. Elizabeth didn’t like his style of parenting and the kids didn’t like it either. But luckily for them and unfortunately for Andrew, she wasn’t the type of woman who let someone walk all over her; she stood up for herself and her kids.
She waited for him to make a snappy comeback, nothing. He didn’t say anything and didn’t even look at her; he hanged his head down low and concentrated on the breakfast plate in front of him. Often she wondered how they survived twenty-five years of marriage; they had a tumultuous relationship, knowing how to push each others’ buttons. They both didn’t know what they were getting into when they said their vows that summer afternoon. Andrew thought he was getting a wife who would bore him children and just sit idly while he ruled the roost. Little did he know Elizabeth wasn’t that type of gal.
“That boy should concentrate on starting a career, not bar-hopping.”
“Andrew!” Elizabeth slammed her hands on the table. “We’ve talked about this, remember?” she gently cradled her sore hands in her lap, “Wayne said he wanted to take some time off, so we should obey his wishes.”
“How much time does he need?”
“I’d say a month or two.”
“That’s great,” he threw his cloth napkin on the table, “by the time he’s finished discovering himself or—whatever it is he’s going to do during his little break there won’t be any positions left for him.” Andrew rose from his chair and walked to a round mahogany table in the hallway. “Why does he need a break?”
“He’s burnt out from school,” she stared at her husband, “four years is a long time.”
“I don’t want to see him waste his life,” Andrew sifted through some papers in his briefcase. “He should come work…”
“Don’t even start,” she raised her voice.
“Come on, it’d be wonderful having Wayne work at the family company.”
“Yes, it would be wonderful.” Elizabeth stood and made her way to the breakfast cart, to pour herself another cup of tea. “But if Wayne’s going to work for you, it will be of his own choosing. I don’t want him to be forced into something he doesn’t want to do.”
Andrew walked to his wife and whispered in her ear, “at least I’m looking after our son, unlike you I care about his future.”
She bit her bottom lip and felt like slapping him across the face. How dare he insult my parenting skills?Angrily she glared at her husband, then her gaze shifted towards the dining room entrance. Wayne stood there in a pair of gray sweatpants and a navy shirt, his dark brown hair messy from a restless night.
He knew his parents were having an argument about him. “Am I interrupting?” He asked in a hoarse voice.
“No, come on in,”
Wayne took a seat at the head of the table, while his mom poured him some coffee.
Andrew stood beside his son. “Did you have a fun night?”
“Yeah, Gary Thomas had a party at his house.” He didn’t say anything else; he knew
if he went into any further details his father would throw a fit, especially if he mentioned how the guys did tequila shots, and then jumped into the pool.
“Well, isn’t that lovely,” Andrew put his hand on his son’s shoulder. “So how long do you plan on being a party animal?”
“Andrew,” Elizabeth exclaimed, “you’re going to be late,” she pointed to the diamond and platinum watch on her wrist.
He looked at his Rolex watch, “you’re right. I should be going,” he grabbed his briefcase. “Unlike some people, I have a job to go to.”
Meanwhile, across town, Jeff Braxton was having a more calming and relaxing morning than his older brother. Sharply dressed in a pair of tan pants and white buttoned down shirt, he sat in the living room of his brick Colonial. While not as big as Andrew’s mansion, it was just as elegant, thanks to his wife’s interior decorating skills. Sure he could afford a mansion if he wanted to, but Jeff and Marie were happy in their cozy, little home. Since their daughter Vanessa left, and only the two of them at home, they didn’t need all the extra necessities and rooms that came with one of those mega mansions.
Jeff read the business section of the newspaper when Marie entered the room, talking on the phone.
“Take care, honey. I’ll talk to you later.” She hung up the phone.
“Were you talking to Vanessa again?”
“Yes,” she took a seat on the couch next to her husband; “I miss her so much.”
“I do too,” Jeff put his arm around his wife and caressed her shoulder. “But you’ve got to realize she’s a grown woman, who’s married…”
“And lives far away,” she pulled her brown highlighted hair behind her ears. “Why did she have to move?”
“Will had a great job offer. What did you want him to do? Turn it down?”
“He should have.”
Jeff stood and put on his matching suit jacket, “You’ve got to let this go, Marie.”
“I can’t help it, she’s our only child,” Marie sighed.
He ran his fingers through his dark hair, streaked with gray at the temples. It upset him when Marie constantly mentioned the fact Vanessa was their only child; she never got over the reality they didn’t have more children, neither did he. He always blamed himself for costing his wife a second child and he still felt the remorse every time she bought up the subject.
He picked up his briefcase and headed towards the foyer; he turned to Marie before he left. “I’ll see you tonight,” then he made a dash for the front door.