“I can’t speak for her, but I don’t doubt that she will. Just remember though, she’s an independent, smart, strong, beautiful woman. The only reason she is with you is because she chooses to be. She doesn’t need or want your money or your family name. If you don’t treat her right, she will eventually stop forgiving you and you will lose the absolute most amazing gift that you ever had in your life.”
I started to say something else, but the front door of the apartment opened. We both turned and watched Erin come in. She had her pretty hair tied back low on her neck and she was wearing a tank top and shorts. Her long, smooth legs and chest were glistening with the sweat from her morning run. She looked surprised to see me and then I saw her exchange a look with Grant. He looked amused and she looked annoyed.
“Hi Seth. What’s going on?”
“Seth and I were just having coffee… getting to know each other. If you two are finished with me though, I think I’ll hop in the shower.” Erin cocked an eyebrow at him and he grinned at her again. He jumped up and held his hand out towards me. I shook it and before he dropped my hand he looked me in the eye with no smirk or traces of amusement and said, “I hope you won’t forget what we talked about.”
I just gave him a nod. Erin watched him leave and she came over and took the seat opposite me where he had been sitting. “What was that about?” she asked. “Was Grant playing nice?”
“He was doing what I should have done last night… standing up for you.” I saw a subtle shift in her eyes. I’m not sure what it meant exactly, but I went on, “My father is not a nice person… obviously. He’s normally not quite so blatant with his insults with someone he doesn’t know, so that confused me but his rudeness didn’t surprise me. I have a very complicated relationship with him. No one intimidates me except him. I can run a multi-national company and talk to anyone in any position anywhere in the world without a quiver of anxiety but that man walks in a room and I’m instantly a sniveling twelve year old boy all over again.”
Erin was just looking at me, listening quietly. Her face was impassive. I had no idea if she was going to be willing to forgive me, or if she was going to kick me out. Either way, I went on.
“All of that is not meant to be an excuse for my own behavior. It’s just my way of hopefully giving you enough of the facts so that you might understand. When he insulted you last night I should have done something. I should have said something. I wanted to. I was furious at him. But the coward in me let you handle it yourself. I told myself you were doing a great job and didn’t need me. You were doing a great job. You always handle yourself with class and it’s obvious that no one walks all over you. But that in no way excuses me for not stepping in and saying something myself. I’m sorry Erin. I’m so sorry. I don’t know if you can find it in your heart to forgive me, but if you can, I promise you that it will never happen again.”
“So, your father treats everyone that way, it wasn’t just me?”
“He treats almost everyone poorly. My mother buffered him a lot when she was here. Once she passed away, his horrible, awful, rude side seemed to completely take over. I can’t apologize enough for him, but I know that doesn’t mean anything. But, if you give me a chance I will show you how much respect I have for you and that I am nothing like my father.”
Erin was quiet. She seemed to be thinking it all over. I was a nervous wreck. I guess it was how I knew that she was truly special. No woman had ever made me worry over whether she wanted to be with me or not. In the past, my arrogance had convinced me that if she didn’t, it was her loss.
After what seemed to me like an eternity she said, “I have a lot of respect for myself and for the things I’ve accomplished in my life at such a young age. I won’t let anyone take that away from me. You seem to have a lot of respect for yourself as well. The way you carry yourself and the way you conduct business… it’s all part of what attracted me to you. I was more shocked than anything last night, because I didn’t even recognize the man you were in front of him. I can forgive you for that because I wasn’t there when you were growing up and I don’t know what experiences you’ve had with him. But Seth, if it happens again… if you let anyone disparage me or you that way again without standing up to them, I’m afraid I won’t be able to continue forgiving you.”