“What do you mean, he left it to me?” I ask, leaning forward and pounding my fist on Bernie’s desk. “He knew I didn’t want it!”
Bernie shrugs and sits back in his creaky chair, folds his hands over his round belly and sucks on a peppermint from the jar on his old oak desk. “Doesn’t change that he left the bar and all of its contents to you, Callie.”
“And all of its debt, no doubt,” I mutter and rub my fingertips on my forehead. “I have a life in Colorado, Bernie. What am I supposed to do?” I sit up straight as a brilliant thought occurs to me. “I’ll sell it!”
“Well, here’s the thing.”
“Don’t tell me that there’s a clause in the will that says that I have to marry a virgin and live in a haunted castle for a year in order to inherit,” I reply dryly. “That’s cliché, even for my dad.”
Bernie grins. “No, nothing that dramatic.”
“Your dad tried to sell it a few times over the years, but it never sold. It needs some work, Callie.”
I stare at him, confused. “He never told me he tried to sell.”
Not that I spoke to him often.
“He never even got a nibble.”
“But, it’s located in the heart of the French Quarter. Surely, someone would want to buy it, fix it up and either flip it or run it.”
Bernie’s face transforms into a smug smile. “Perhaps someone would.”
My eyes narrow. “I’m not buying it.”
“No, you’re inheriting it.” He leans forward again, and his brown eyes soften. Eyes just like my dad’s. “I loved your father, despite all of his faults. He loved three things in his life: your mother, The Odyssey, and you.”
I refuse to cry in front of my uncle.
“He was awfully fond of whiskey too,” I reply, but he just narrows his eyes at me. “Uncle Bernie—”
“You’ve been spending all these years up in Denver, running that club and flipping houses, and your dad was real proud of you. But maybe it’s time to come home, darlin’.”
Denver is home.
“I’ll flip it,” I reply and stand to leave his office. “I have savings.”
“Call me if you need me,” he calls as I saunter out of his office and down to my rental car, then swear like a sailor when I see the parking ticket on the windshield.
This isn’t my fucking day.
I pull my phone out of my purse as I pull into traffic and call my long time boyfriend, Keith, who owns Boom, a popular nightclub in Denver that I also happen to manage.
“Babe,” he answers, making me smile.
“Are you coming back yet?” he asks. I can hear voices in the background and check the time. Mid-afternoon. They’re getting ready for tonight at the club, I’m sure.
“So, there might be a snag in that,” I reply and change lanes, headed downtown to the bar. “Turns out that I have some work to do here regarding my dad’s bar.”
“How long will that take?” he asks, his voice calm but hard.
How long will it take to flip a bar and make a profit? Too long.
“Honestly, I might be here a couple of months.” I cringe. “But I can commute back and forth.”
“Actually, Cal, I’ve been wanting to talk to you anyway, and this is as good of a time as any. Remember when I asked you to come in for a meeting last week?”
“The morning my dad died,” I reply, not at all wanting to hear the next words to come out of Keith’s mouth. Because I’m pretty sure it’s not good.
“I think it’s time for you to move on, Callie. You’re a great manager, but I feel like the club has stalled.”
I pull into a parking space, throw the car in park, and stare straight ahead. “Bullshit. You’ve never made a secret that you can be a dick, Keith. That’s something we have in common, and over the two years we’ve been together, we’ve never lied to each other.”
“You’re right.” He sighs and I can picture him loosening his tie. “It’s time for us to move on, Cal.”
“You’re firing me and breaking up with me?” This day just keeps getting better and better.
“I’m going to offer you a very generous severance, Callie.”
I want to tell him to shove the money, but I’m not that stupid. “Why?”
“It’s time,” he replies simply.
“Because you don’t do forever,” I add, remembering all the times he’s warned me of that very fact in the past.
“I’m sorry, Callie. I’ll give you an excellent letter of recommendation. And if you ever need anything, all you have to do is call. In fact, if you decide to relocate to New Orleans, I’ll have your things moved for you.”
“For someone breaking up with me, you’re being very nice.”
“There’s no reason not to be,” he replies and then sighs. “I care about you, Cal. We had a great time together, and you did a good job in my club, but you’re just not my forever girl, and it’s time to move on.”
I nod, swallowing hard.
I end the call and stare at my phone for a long few minutes. My dad is dead, and I just lost a job I love and a man that I tried to talk myself into loving all in one fell swoop.
I guess I’m staying after all.
I climb out of the car and stand on the sidewalk, staring at the outside of The Odyssey. If the inside is as bad as the outside, this is going to be one very expensive project.