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Chance
Author:Deborah Bladon

"Don't text Gabriel." He gestures towards my phone. "I need him in Milan. If he comes back here, he'll fuck up everything."

I look up into his face. I want to tell him that he's the one who fucked up everything. Having Asher arrested crosses a line that Gabriel won't tolerate. I know that. I've been witness to the shifting dynamics between the three brothers for years. I went to college with Asher and even though he was a year behind me, we spent hours together talking about his family and the unique, and often, volatile connections they all had. It made me feel better about the relationship I share with my own brother, Miles. I thought we had issues when we missed one another's birthdays or failed to connect around the holidays, but being friends with the Fosters has shown me that I have nothing to complain about. I know without question, that Miles would never have me arrested.

"Have you told your parents?" It's a question that I already know the answer to. Caleb and Asher never see eye-to-eye anymore and until a few years ago their parents were the go-to referees. Once they started threatening that they'd hire people from outside the family to run the organization, the brothers hid their battles behind closed doors for the most part. Or they had, until today, when the police were called in.

He scratches his index finger behind his ear. "I'm not telling them. Asher won't either. He knows that his job is gone if they find out he's in trouble."

"What happened?" I rest my smartphone on my lap. "Tell me what happened."

He moves to the left before lowering himself onto the edge of the stainless steel coffee table. He's sitting directly in front of me now. His knees brushing against my calf as he fidgets in place. "He was off when he came into the office this morning. He was late. He's never late."

"How late?" I ask not because it matters in the slightest. It's just habit for me. My logical mind needs to have every piece of available information in front of me in order for me to absorb it.

"He's always in before me." He slides his suit jacket off before tossing it onto the table. "I got in at nine and he wasn't there."

After he completed his therapy, Asher had jumped into his position working alongside his brothers with a ferocity that shocked everyone, including Caleb. He worked late and on weekends to keep the sales force motivated. He didn't trust himself to travel to the boutiques that were located outside Manhattan. He hired regional managers for that. I was impressed with his dedication. I was amazed by his desire to overcome his past so he could prove to his family that he was worthy of the trust they had placed in his potential.

"Rowan." Caleb taps my knee. "Just before noon I could hear him berating one of his assistants. Everyone in the office could hear it."

Asher isn't an aggressive person. I've seen him disappointed and even despondent at times and instead of acting on that, he'll retreat into himself. I've never been witness to who he transforms into when he's using heroine. I've never wanted to see that. It would steal away my memories of the boy who would push me on the swings when we were children or the guy who set me up with his best friend in high school.

I know the dark parts of him creep to the surface when he's pumping himself full of drugs. If he was berating his assistant, he wasn't himself. Asher is kind and soft spoken. His soul is quiet and giving.

"You had him arrested because he was yelling at someone?" I push my back into the chair. "You should have sent him home to cool off."

Caleb rubs his hand over his brow. "If that was all it was, I would have taken him home myself until he calmed down."

"There's more?" I ask, not wanting to sound as desperately eager for details as I am. "What else happened?"

"He was pushing things off of his desk," he says the words calmly. "His assistant was cowering in the corner. She was crying, Rowan. She was terrified of him."

It's futile for me to try and conjure up a mental picture of Asher in the middle of a fit of rage. "That doesn't sound like him."

He rests his hand on the edge of the chair I'm sitting in. "I've never seen him that way. I tried to calm him down but he wouldn't stop."

"So you called the police?" It sounds more accusatory than I intend. Caleb can't handle confrontation, which is one of the reasons why he flakes out on relationships. In the past I've heard the tortured and emotional ramblings of women he's dated after Caleb's gone silent on them. Instead of calling them to meet to end the relationship with grace and respect, he ignored them until they finally gave up on him. Considering the fact that more than a few of those women were also my friends, it pulled at the foundation of my friendship with Caleb. I'd railed on him about it enough that when he decided to end things with his last girlfriend, he found a shred of compassion and called her to wish her well before he told her he never wanted to see her again.