Book One: The Davenports: A Battle of Wills
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Book One Prologue
Cale Davenport glanced across the room one last time. He wanted to ensure there was nothing forgotten that he would need for his impending trip. He was only a few hours away from absolute freedom. His father, Makhail Davenport, Jr, had spent the last several months denying Cale this long overdue vacation. The torturous hours and arduous demands of running one of the world’s largest conglomerates had taken its toll on Cale. His nights were restless and his appetite almost nonexistent. His gaunt features and pale complexion of late were definitely creating a recipe for disaster. It was no secret, his health was in detriment; causing the Davenport dark and mysterious good looks to start to become a faint memory for Cale.
Cale knew if he did not make immediate changes in his life, his entire well-being was at stake. He needed to pull himself together, refocus and re-evaluate his life. His father was continually disappointed in his performance at the office. It remained to be seen whether or not Cale would ever live up to the impossible standards set by his father and grandfather. The Davenport way was to never stop at simply exceeding expectations, a Davenport man operated solely from the element of surprise and made the term overachiever equate to mediocrity. Words like impossible, hard and maybe were taboo phrases in his family and were never, ever to be used in the presence of Makhail or Makhail, Sr. As a child, Cale suffered harsh punishments for learning this fact too slowly. He was raised to believe that there was nothing on earth that proved impossible for a true Davenport. If that was so, why was it a continual struggle for Cale to overcome his shortcomings?
His father, Makhail, was a tireless, well-disciplined and nonstop workaholic. Makhail’s sole purpose in life was to continue the elevation and solidification of the Davenport legacy. If he were truly honest, his father was a downright tyrant and made carrying the burdens of the Davenport legacy look like a stroll in the park. He expected nothing less from Cale; and often times he demanded a lot more of his only son.
Makhail was well known for his complete devotion to the company and his full emersion into every aspect of operating the family business. After the death of Cale’s mother, Caterina Davenport, Makhail lost all interest in life outside of Davenport Industries. The only time Cale regularly engaged with Makhail, is when they were working side by side on an advantageous deal. While Cale took little, if any, issue in functioning without a normal father figure, he continually worried how Makhail’s lack of parenting ability affected his baby sister, Alessandra. She was being raised by Cale and a team of hired personnel, and this just did not sit well with him.
Just the thought of his sister made Cale smile fondly to himself. His little Alessandra was beginning to emerge and blossom into a gorgeous young lady. Guilt overcame Cale every time he thought about the upcoming week away from her, but Cale needed this break before he broke. He wanted to be alone with his thoughts and escape the chaos of Brookville, New York.
He was booked at the Morningside Ocean Estate on Vancouver Island. His itinerary allowed for a much needed mental escape, physical pleasures and the indulgences in all the fine wine and dining he could muster. The majestic retreat was well known for its rock and glass structure that projected a perfect view of a serene waterfront. A little kayaking, sunbathing, and swimming was on his immediate agenda; if only he could wrap up the last few loose ends at the office. His destination awaited him, no, it beckoned to him.
He would have preferred a more low-key resort, but his father insisted, since the owner was a former business partner. Makhail was working on a new business proposal that the owner of the estate could prove useful in solidifying and he needed Cale to smooth past tensions that could negatively affect the upcoming contract. It was always business with his father; even vacations were strategically planned to further the future of the Davenports.
It was beyond frustrating how much control Makhail, exerted over his son; with anyone for that matter. Cale’s entire existence encompassed living up to the impossible standards set by Makhail. His father’s plans for his life took precedence over everything and everyone. Cale was left with little choice but to follow suit or experience the torment of his father’s disappointment. He wasn’t even allowed to date without Makhail’s approval. His father was adamant that Cale not focus on settling down until he was officially head of Davenport Industries. Makhail trusted no one with the family’s legacy and this left Cale in the middle of unnecessary plots, manipulations, and schemes. These actions were often against the board members of Davenport Industries, and most of them were Cale’s closest friends and confidantes. When you spend your life as a hostage in the corporate office, there left little room to make close relationships with anyone outside of that entity.
Cale often wondered if his mother’s death had not left his father mentally unstable. There were several moments of each day where Makhail appeared to be living in delusions of grandeur. Of course it was not something Cale would dare to share with anyone else; he kept his suspicions to himself. If his father ever got wind of his thoughts, it would be viewed as the ultimate sign of weakness for him; not to mention a betrayal to the family dynasty. Makhail made it no secret he considered himself a god and the prodigal son, Cale Davenport, should act accordingly.
Shaking himself back to reality, Cale quickly glanced at his watch and realized he better hurry before he missed his flight. Grant, his faithful driver, was waiting curbside with all his baggage already secure in the trunk of the limo. “Did father make you upgrade the limo again, Grant?” Cale inquired. “No sir, it was the only one available, and I didn’t have time to get the whys without risking your being late for your trip” Grant explained. “No problem my good man, I was just curious. Off we go, I am anxious to escape my imprisonment” Cale jokingly stated.
Grant was one of the few people he could be completely open and honest with; Grant would never betray his trust. “All set, sir Davenport and I have the temperature just the way you like it. Plus Matilda provided a special vegan surprise for your journey” Grant reported. No matter how much Cale insisted, Grant would never dispense with the formalities. And Matilda, his personnel chef, could always be depended upon to have something delicious and ready for him to eat. She was very concerned about his rapid weight loss. A true mother figure and one of the few women in his life that he could consistently count on to be there for no other reason than pure and sincere love for him.
Comfortably ensconced in the limo, Cale finally allowed himself just to lay back and relax. He was finally on his way to peaceful solitude and just as he was starting to doze off, his phone immediately began to ring, startling Cale back to reality. He decided to turn it off and immediately instructed Grant not to disturb him for the remainder of their commute to the Davenport landing strip. He was on vacation – the world could wait.
Yet, it was at that moment that a strong sense of guilt suddenly hit him. What if it was Alessandra trying to reach him? What if something terrible happened to her? He forced the anxious thoughts from his mind. He certainly didn’t want to start becoming as paranoid as his father. He left Alessandra in very capable hands and knew he didn’t have any worries. Besides, Alessandra was very independent and willful. Cale would be the last person she would try to call for rescue. She would try to solve whatever problem arose on her own, even if it meant dire consequences with their father.
Cale’s thoughts returned to Alessandra. He realized how different their personalities were – she was a true Davenport; much more of a Davenport than he would ever be. Despite the hardships of losing a mother at an early age and enduring a father who virtually ignored her existence, Alessandra took it all in stride. She did not shed a tear when their mother was laid to rest, and Alessandra seemed to enjoy sparring with their father. She never backed down from a fight. The verbal abuse she endured daily from him never seemed to phase her one bit. Cale found it quite exhausting playing the referee between the two and found it best to simply keep them apart as often as he could – which neither seemed to mind in the least.
When their mother Caterina was alive, Alessandra had been idyllic child. She adored her mother with a fierce devotion. Somehow, this devotion never translated to Alessandra’s relationship with Makhail. Even as a small child, it often appeared as if Alessandra bore nothing but hatred for their father. Cale never could figure out the animosity between father and daughter. The times he broached the subject, neither one would say much about the matter. So, Cale quickly learned to leave well enough alone. He loved his sister to distraction and took great pride in helping to raise her into the young lady she was becoming. There was nothing he would not do to please her. He promised himself that he would spend more time with her once he returned from his trip. Alessandra would be graduating from high school soon, and much to Cale’s dismay, she planned to study abroad…far, far away from the Davenport compound.
Cale had pushed for her to study closer to home so that he could keep a close eye on her, but he wasn’t overly surprised with her decision. Alessandra boasted on a daily basis about one day joining Davenport Industries, but Cale knew his father would never allow it. Makhail felt it was a man’s world and a woman’s place at home with the children. His archaic way of thinking was responsible for the many battles with Alessandra, not to mention some pretty hefty lawsuits within the company. Cale hoped to dissuade Alessandra from her ambitions with Davenport Industries and initiated efforts towards a spinoff company that he owned separately from DI. His intent was for Alessandra to manage the company.
It was unfortunate that Alessandra was not the first born and more importantly, a boy. She possessed a great deal of strength, an infernal strength that had missed Cale completely. He adapted to his father’s every whim. He often consented and caved to his father’s desires because it made his life more bearable and afforded him a lifestyle that included little conflict or unnecessary confrontations. Alessandra obviously never received that memo, and spent the majority of her time antagonizing Makhail and provoking his rage.
Still, there were times he genuinely feared for his sister. He often witnessed behaviors in her that were alarming. He did not want to believe Alessandra was destined to grow up and become like their father; cold, heartless, and merciless. He desperately wanted to believe that the darkness he saw in her was merely due to a motherless upbringing and an impossible relationship with their father.
Cale shook off these thoughts as they were beginning to depress him. Right now, he planned to relish the freedom granted to him. Cale closed his eyes and fell into a deep slumber. It was several hours before he awoke, still groggy from his long nap; he realized they should have arrived at the jet by now. He looked at his watch that read 7:05 p.m. and he realized he was four hours late for his flight. Why was the car still in motion?
Cale pressed the button to lower the partition so he could speak with Grant and find out what was the problem. The partition wouldn’t respond to his command, so Cale picked up his phone to call Grant, but it went straight to the man’s voicemail. He forgot he told him not to bother him with any calls, but that never prevented Grant from answering his phone before; he always had it readily available no matter what instructions Cale gave him. Cale began to bang on the partition, “Grant, Grant, can you hear me? What is going on? Grantttt?” Cale shouted. It was at that moment that he was slammed back into his seat as the car took off abruptly. Cale felt panic, and an immediate sense of dread crept up his spine. He tried to lower his window to shout for help, but it was locked as well. He realized he was locked in the car with no escape.
He began to pound on the partition again, this time even kicking it but failed to break the barrier between him and whoever was driving. He was thoroughly trapped, and he had no idea why. It was dark outside, and the dark tint of the windows made it impossible to see where they were going. The car once again started to increase in speed. Cale prayed they would be pulled over by the police. By now he knew it wasn’t Grant at the helm of the wheel, he just prayed they had not hurt his friend.
Finally, the car began to come to a halt. Cale became very anxious, he didn’t know what to expect next. Could it be a ransom demand? If that were the case, his father would happily pay it, and Cale could go on with his life; if they didn’t mean to kill him first. It was at that moment that the partition slowly started to lower. Cale sat up and tried to see who was in the driver seat. Two figures came into view, dressed head to toe in black, and Cale could hear them whispering but could not make out what exactly they were saying. Maybe they were open to negotiation right there and then; Cale felt it couldn’t hurt to try. He wanted out of this situation and he wanted out of it sooner than later.
“If it’s money you seek, it’s yours; just let me go. I am Cale Davenport, and my father is a very a wealthy man!” Cale told them immediately. No response. Cale felt a cold chill run throughout his body. Were they going to kill him? Who were these masked men? What did they want?
“Do you know how I am? You will never get away with this!” he screamed. The two figures began to mumble again. Then the driver turned around to slowly look him straight in the eyes with a penetrating stare. His eyes were so light in color they seemed to illuminate in the darkness. Those eyes made Cale’s blood run cold and somehow he knew to make peace with this moment, because it might be his last. The stranger’s gaze became mocking, and Cale became enraged. He began to scream for his life, pounding on the windows in an effort to break free.
Suddenly, there was nothing but an eerie silence, causing Cale to become paralyzed with fear. In a blink of an eye, both kidnappers jumped out of the limo but left it in motion. Cale tried to frantically pull at the door once again, and even tried to push the partition down without success; much to his dismay. All he could see were the headlights shining into pitch blackness. If only he could reach the steering wheel or put the vehicle in park, it would buy him enough time to call for help. Straining to reach the gearshift was no use, the space left in the partition was simply too small for him.
He wasn’t sure but it felt as if the car was starting to tip forward but surely he was mistaken. There was no mistaking, the car was tipping into a sea of blackness and Cale was freefalling into oblivion. His panic ceased and a calm washed over him…his last thought was Alessandra.
Book Two: The Davenports: Crescendo
Book Two Prologue
The court room was silent and the air was ripe with tension. Alessandra Davenport could feel the beads of sweat trickling down her back beneath her black Chanel blazer and Clic C’Est Noue Hermes blouse. Her matching gold plated Chanel belt felt extremely constricting on her abdomen and she longed to remove it and toss it out the nearest window. If she was honest, her entire ensemble was asphyxiating. This was an all-new nightmare for her; she had lived through too many to count at this point. Her role as President of Davenport Industries had been anything but ideal. It was just shy of her dream of chairmanship; the position that would give her enough power to finally avenge her brother Cale Davenport and his untimely death. But heading up Davenport Industries had become an albatross and detriment to her existence and so far had only resulted in more pain and disappointment for her.
Was this what her grandfather, brother and dare she think it…father were trying to protect her from all along? Lately, her confidence in her abilities were sorely lacking. Once the Department of Justice decided that Davenport Industries was largely responsible for the Norway explosion and placed the company under criminal investigation, Alessandra found herself under fire at every turn. The company’s every move was now scrutinized, the board distrusted her and even her grandfather had tucked tail and left her to fend for herself while he focused on taking the company in a new direction without her. And to make matters worse, she was no closer to solving the mysterious death of her beloved brother.
Over the past three years, Alessandra spent every day continually fighting for the rightful control of Davenport Industries. Her grandfather’s sudden resurgence in the industry had been unforeseen and never did she think he would become her adversary. Of course, he was nothing like her father Makhail Davenport and truthfully, she enjoyed a good deal of free reign within the company. But Maki Davenport had made it very clear that he had no intention of retiring the company to her any time soon, especially with the current state of affairs. This trial, if Davenport Industries were found solely at fault, could cost the company billions and this would threaten their position in the industry for many years to come. It would leave them vulnerable to takeovers and they could even lose their current multi-million dollar projects to their competitors.
After her father was removed from the line of succession, Maki surprisingly rekindled a passion for Davenport Industries. He had not realized how much he wanted his son Makhail pushed aside and how much of a dark cloud that relationship had been over DI. He was free once again to run the company as he saw fit, and he was enjoying his second chance at controlling the very empire he worked tirelessly to build. At first, Alessandra did not take Maki’s revelation seriously but as time progressed, and she started to be excluded from major decisions, an inner fury started to build within her.
She felt betrayed, slighted and ashamed of herself for the thoughts she was beginning to have towards Maki. No one could have predicted this sudden change of events, least of all her and she was at a loss at how to rectify it. It had been easy to sabotage Makhail, but her grandfather was a different story. She loved the man fiercely and she could not find it in her to betray him. Yet, he was blocking her deepest desire and Alessandra was finding it harder and harder to hold back her sinister nature.
Alessandra had expected a period of mentoring from him and even anticipated that it would take a few years for the knowledge transfer from her grandfather to be complete. Unfortunately, she did not plan for Maki’s reluctance to make her CEO of Davenport Industries. She had no choice but to accept his offer of President and his new plans to remain Chairman until his last breath. Death…Alessandra pushed the thought away. It was an unspeakable thought but it continued to reverberate through her.
Her presidency within the company would have been an acceptable start for her at DI but Alessandra’s past dealings were dependent on her repaying debts that could only be repaid inconspicuously as CEO of Davenport Industries. Maki could never gain knowledge of her secret agreements; those deals held promises she had to figure out how to fulfill. Out of sheer desperation, she had already taken several risky measures over the last three years and it was those very underhanded dealings that landed her in her current situation – facing a grand jury in a court room full of powerful enemies that wanted nothing more than to see the downfall of a Davenport.
Alessandra searched the room for a friendly face, willing herself to remain unreadable in a sea full of sharks. They were out for blood, her blood, and she would be damned if she let them beat her. Her attorneys were in a huddle furiously arguing amongst themselves. She almost laughed at the absurdity of them arguing about her future. Could they save her? Well that remained to be seen but the outlook was grim. There was a mountain of circumstantial evidence against her but they were missing the coup de gras – actual proof that she was responsible for the arson that caused the Norway oil rig explosion.
When her father was blamed by their board of directors for the catastrophe, Alessandra foolishly believed her troubles were behind her. She had underestimated her father’s vengeance and his partnership with Blake Kane had proven detrimental to her and Davenport Industries. She could not prove it but she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt her father was behind the anonymous reports to the DOJ. No one had connections like her father and she knew she had been betrayed by someone within Davenport Industries but she had yet to discover the actual mole. Luckily, the Colt family had as much to lose as she did and remained firmly in her corner. If they turned on her, Alessandra could kiss her freedom goodbye. But she wouldn’t allow that to happen. The Colts would continue to be handsomely taken care of well beyond their initial undocumented agreements.
A wave of nausea suddenly hit her with that last thought and Alessandra motioned to her attorneys. “I need to excuse myself for a minute, I am not feeling quite well” Alessandra explained. “Is there anything I can get you Miss Davenport?” Daniel Goldblatt, DI’s chief counsel asked immediately with a concerned look on his face. “No, no, I just need a minute to gather myself. I only had coffee this morning and should have stopped for a bite to eat. I will be fine, thank you” Alessandra stated. This seemed to pacify Daniel somewhat and he turned back to consult with his team of counsels.
Alessandra pushed herself back from the table and stood but had to quickly grasp the table to steady herself. Her feet were unsteady and her head was swimming. She could not allow anyone to see her in this state, so she willed herself to move quickly from the room to the ladies room down the hall. She avoided eye contact with everyone and kept her gaze straight ahead and pushed through the doors of the courtroom. Once outside the room, she picked up her pace and almost ran the last few feet to the restroom. She barely made it to the stall before she hunched over and started retching into the toilet.
After several moments, she backed away and propped herself against the wall. Waves upon waves of nausea and cold chills continued to ripple through her system. She knew she had to pull herself together and fast. They only had a short period of time before the break was up and she was back under persecution. She reached into her purse and furiously began to dig around for her towelettes and makeup attaché’. When she grasped what felt like a useful cosmetic, she quickly pulled it out and gasped. How could she have forgotten? It had been days but it still should have been at the forefront of her mind. She could feel all the color draining from her body.
As if her life wasn’t tumultuous enough, she now had a new concern due to one night that occurred exactly seven weeks ago of reckless behavior. Alessandra looked down at the positive pregnancy test in her grip. She was pregnant with Steven Kane’s child.