Read The Mentor (Necessary Lies Book 1) Online
Authors: Alison Ryan
By Alison Ryan
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person with whom you share it.
Copyright © 2016 Alison Ryan
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Cover designer: Shayne Rutherford at
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“Forbid Us Something and That Thing We Desire.”
- Geoffrey Chaucer
My father died on a Tuesday.
The day I found out is a recollection I wish I could repress, but it sits on the very front of my memory, always. There’s a distinct split in the timeline of my life. Before I knew, and after I knew.
So before I knew, I was in class at the University of Virginia. Chaucer. It was my second semester studying him and it was proving to be just as arduous as the first semester had been. I sat in the back of the room, looking down, pretending to be furiously writing notes. But I wasn’t writing notes, I was writing plans. Adding up figures, writing down ideas and dreams.
I was ready to graduate, to get out of Charlottesville. I’d turned twenty-one in November and as soon as I had a degree I would also have my trust; the one my mother had set up for me before she passed away from brain cancer when I was thirteen years old.
With that money I would travel the world. I would see things, meet people, have an adventure. My life had been a strange sort of childhood prison up until that point. I had been in boarding school since my mother died, and before that I had been kept in a mansion away from the rest of the world, only seeing my nannies and tutors most days.
My mother was an anxious person, constantly afraid of bad things happening to me. I never understood why and it was never explained, not even in the end. I supposed that the fear she’d held had been her intuition speaking to her. But it wasn’t me she needed to worry about. It ended up being Mom who had the black cloud of fate over her head. She’d been diagnosed a mere six months before her death.
And now my father was gone. Although I didn’t know it yet.
I’d never known him, at least not how most daughters know their fathers. He was practically mythical. I saw him once every few years and received gifts on my birthdays and Christmases without fail. But he was more like a distant uncle than a father. There wasn’t a single photo of us together, just he and I. And now there never would be.
I could hear my iPhone buzzing in my bag which rested against my leg. I glanced up at my professor to make sure he couldn’t hear it, which, fortunately, over the sound of his droning was impossible.
I rarely got texts during class, most of the few friends I had were in classes of their own, so I was curious who it might be.
I feigned needing a restroom break and slipped out of class with my phone in the back pocket of my Levi’s. As soon as I was outside the classroom and down the hallway, I pulled it out and stared at the screen.
It was a text from my Aunt Beth, my mother’s sister. She texted me at least once a week to check up on me but it was always on the weekends, usually Sundays.
Call me ASAP.
I dialed her number, wondering what could be wrong. Aunt Beth didn’t have kids and was going through a messy divorce at the moment. I couldn’t imagine…
“Cami,” she answered on the first ring. “Cami, where are you right now?”
“In class,” I said. “Where else would I be?”
“I didn’t know if you were in your dorm,” she said, her voice flat. “I don’t know how to tell you this, so I’ll just say it. Your father has passed away.”
The news smacked me hard. Despite our lack of a relationship, it was one of those things I always knew was there. I had figured maybe once I was older I would have time to get to know him. But even after losing my mother, I still assumed too much.
“How?” I managed to ask.
“Not sure,” Aunt Beth said. “I only know that he died, I’m sorry I can’t give you more than that. They’ve been trying to get in contact with you, but I requested you hear it from me first and not some strange asshole attorney.”
?” I asked. I leaned against the wall and slowly slid down it until I was sitting, my knees pulled to my chest. No tears were coming. I just felt numb.
“His firm,” she said. “They’re in charge of his estate. You’re his only remaining living family member.”
“Oh,” I said. “So what does that mean?”
“It means you might want to take some time off,” she said. “And if you need me, I can come for the funeral, help you with arrangements. I can’t stay gone too long, but I can do whatever I can. There’s going to be estate stuff, probate. It’s going to be overwhelming.”
I shook my head. I wouldn’t make her do that. I was old enough to handle this.
“No,” I said. “I can handle it. Where is he?”
“Tahoe,” she said. “He died at his home in Tahoe.”
“He has so many homes, I lose track,” I said. “I haven’t been to the Tahoe one before.”
“Well, I hate that your first visit has to be like this,” Aunt Beth said. I could hear her exhaling. She was smoking a cigarette. Normally I would lambast her for it, but I didn’t have it in me at the moment.
“He died at his house?” I asked. “Heart attack?”
“Maybe,” she said. “I wish I knew more, but I don’t, baby. But I have a number for you to call. You have a pen?”
“No, I’m outside my classroom, my pen and paper are inside,” I replied. “Just text it to me.”
“Okay,” she said. “I’m so sorry, Cami. This isn’t right.”
“It’s okay,” I said, now ready for the conversation to be over. “I’ll be fine.”
I sat for a long while, just staring. There was a chip in the floor a few feet in front of where I sat. I’d probably walked over it a thousand times or more during my four years at UVA, but I’d never before noticed it. How could it have happened, I wondered? I just stared at it a long while, thinking about how it was probably here before I ever arrived from Choate and how it would be here long after and never miss me for a moment. That it would go on being walked over by Wahoos in perpetuity, no matter how many mothers and fathers died. The world was still spinning, professors were still droning on, students were still fighting to stay awake. Nothing had changed. Yet everything was different. Because after I knew, nothing would ever be the same.
I’d slipped back into class, my professor staring me down, clearly unhappy about how long I’d been gone.
He’s going to feel like such an asshole when I tell him why,
Twenty minutes later when class was finished, I explained what had happened. And I was right, his haughtiness immediately turned to sympathy.
“You’ll need to talk to the dean. Make sure they get you withdrawn from your classes since you’ll be gone the rest of the semester,” he said.
I looked at him, confused, “Why would I need to withdraw? I’ll be gone a week max.”
He looked at me, clearly befuddled. “I just assumed you’d need time to grieve…”
“My father wouldn’t want me to dwell on this,” I explained. “And it’s my last semester. I graduate in May.” It was the end of January. The semester had just begun. There was no way I was withdrawing from school. Not that I wasn’t sad about my father, but what would missing school accomplish? It wouldn’t bring him back.
“Well,” he replied. “I can get your coursework together and email it to you later during my office hours.”
“I would appreciate that,” I said, slinging my bag over my shoulder. “Thank you.”
“And I’m sorry for your loss, Miss Hunt,” he said.
I was already walking away when he said it. I didn’t bother looking back. The tears had started, finally. No need for him to see them.
As a 4
year at UVA, I was fortunate enough to have a dorm room to myself. My roommate from fall semester was traveling abroad. Her side of the room was where I piled all my dirty laundry.
As soon as I was in my room I was able to let go a little bit, emotionally. I lay in my bed for a while, staring at the ceiling, tears sliding down the sides of my face and into my long, now tangled, hair.
“What happened?” I said out loud to no one. “I barely got to know you at all. And now you’re dead?”
I looked at my phone. Aunt Beth had texted me the name and number of the contact at Dad’s firm.
NOLAN WESTON 202-555-7895
I sat up. I guessed I should call him. I wasn’t in the mood for it, but I needed to at least know the details of what had happened. And figure out what my next move was. If I was going to miss school, I needed to figure out how long I’d be away so I could email my professors and my adviser. I dialed.
The phone rang for so long that I almost hung up; finally, he answered.
“This is Nolan Weston,” he said, his voice clipped and professional. He sounded like an attorney.
“Hi,” I said, suddenly not sure what to say. “I’m Cami Hunt. The daughter of Richard Hunt. My aunt gave me your number.”
There was a long pause. For a moment I wasn’t sure if he knew my father or if I’d somehow lost the call. I pulled the phone away from my ear and looked at the screen. We were still connected.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” he said. But he sounded cold and disinterested. Not sorry at all.
“I’m sure you are,” I snapped. “What happened? My aunt was told nothing.”
“That’s because she’s not a relative,” Nolan replied. “Your father suffered a stroke in his home. I found him this morning after he failed to appear at a meeting.”
“Did you call 911?” I asked, my voice shaking.
“He was already gone by the time I found him.” Nolan’s voice had softened, but only slightly.
“I see,” I said. “Well, where is he now?”
“He’s being taken care of. Your father was prepared for this kind of event, though of course none of us expected it this soon,” Nolan said. “You need to get here as soon as possible. I’ve sent a plane for you. It should be touching down in Charlottesville within the hour.”
A plane? He sent a plane for me?
“How did you know where I was?” I asked, realizing it was a stupid question.
“Your father has very clear instructions on how something like this is to be handled,” Nolan replied. “Obviously the firm is aware of where the owner’s daughter attends school. Do you need me to send a car for you? To get you to the airport?”
“Yes. I don’t have a car here, it’s at my aunt’s house in Richmond,” I said.
“Very well. I’ll give the driver your number. He’ll text you when he’s there. Pack what you can as quickly as you can. I’d like you in the air as soon as possible.”
“I’m sure you would,” I muttered.
If Nolan noticed my anger, he didn’t let on. Or he just didn’t care.
“See you soon, Camilla.” He hung up.
Camilla? Only my father called me that.