Eli left Walk On Design almost immediately after Mei did. He caught a cab outside the building and made his way straight for his father’s office building.
His father’s secretary stood up at her desk when she saw him enter. “Eli! I didn’t expect to see you here today.” It was evident from her expression and tone that she could tell his visit was not a happy one.
“I have some important matters to discuss with my father,” Eli said curtly.
“Unfortunately, I’m not sure he is available right now. Office time requires an appointment. You know that.”
Madeline had been his father’s secretary since Eli had been in high school. It was frustrating the way she still spoke to him like he was a child, telling him he needed to be fit into the schedule before he could see his father. He was old enough to know better than to bend to his father’s ridiculous rules by now.
“I’m sure he will find it in his heart to make time for me,” Eli informed her. He moved past her, amid her protests and let himself into his father’s office.
Russell Walker was sitting behind his desk, document in hand. When he looked up and saw Eli standing in the doorway, he didn’t seem at all surprised.
“What do you want?” he asked his son.
“How dare you arrange my marriage without even mentioning it to me!” Eli burst out before he could stop himself.
Russell put down the document he was holding and folded his hands on his desk. “And what would you have done differently if I had discussed this matter with you beforehand?” he asked.
“I would have said no,” Eli admitted. “I’m still saying no.”
Russell seemed content with this response. “Then there was no reason to involve you in the decision, if the outcome was going to be the same either way.”
Eli stared at his father. “So that is it. I say no and the matter is over with?” It seemed too easy.
“Oh no, the matter is surely not over with,” Russell informed him. “I suggest you spend some time with Ms. Chen and learn to accept the fact that she is going to be a part of your future, which is exactly what I would have said if we had had this conversation earlier.”
As much as his father was business minded, Eli couldn’t believe he would be this crass toward such an important aspect of Eli’s life. Surely he had to understand that Eli was something more than a bargaining chip for business gain. “And if I refuse?”
“You won’t,” his father said. “You will resist. That is expected. It is how you have always been. But you have known from the time you were very young that your life would be determined by the state of this company. I never hid that from you or from your brother. For all your complaining, you have both been well aware of the situation since you were old enough to understand it. So go ahead, get your complaining and resistance out of your system. And once you have come to terms with this, we will begin to discuss the detail of the marriage with Ms. Chen and her father.”
Eli felt his rage boiling inside of him. He pointed a finger accusingly at his father. “I won’t let you win this,” he declared. “This is something too important to let you take control of.” He turned and stormed out of the office, past Madeline at her desk and toward the elevator before any of them could stop him.
When the elevator door opened, Eli was surprised to see Russ staring back at him. His younger brother stepped out of the elevator and looked him over, obviously sensing Eli’s agitation.
“What’s going on?” Russ asked.
Eli snorted his contempt. “It looks like yours isn’t the only life our father is out to ruin,” he said. “But believe me, we are going to fight this.” He stepped into the elevator and pressed the button for the ground floor before Russ could ask him any other questions. It really wasn’t something he felt like talking about right now. He needed to put together a plan first.