It was the highlight of my career thus far. I took a moment to admire the beautiful building standing tall before me in all its glory. It was a masterpiece, if I did say so myself.
I did that. I made that. Obviously, not with my own two hands, but it was my baby. I conceived it and worked with the architects and engineers every step of the way. Our baby was almost ready for her big reveal.
“Sir! Reese Bancroft!”
I turned when I heard my name being shrieked from just beyond the tape keeping the excited press on the other side. I smiled and waved and hoped it would be enough. I wasn’t ready for questions from the peanut gallery just yet. I had a selected group of press I was going to be meeting with for the ribbon cutting. They were handpicked by me because they tended to give me good press.
“Reese, did you do it? Are you the father of Jana’s child?”
I rolled my eyes and walked away. The rumors would not stop. Every morning I woke up, I was being accused of something else with a woman I took to dinner one time. One time and I couldn’t get away from the gossip that surrounded the A-list actress.
I wasn’t going to let that nonsense ruin this moment. “Have you seen my father?” I asked Josh. He was my pseudo-assistant. I told myself I didn’t need someone assisting me, but I did. I was not Superman. I had a full plate and I seemed to be adding more to it.
“Not yet,” he answered. “I’ve got the press in the lounge. I’m making sure they’re kept happy with free drinks, but we need to get started.”
“I’ll call him again,” I said. “And can’t we do anything about that mob out there? They are killing the vibe.”
“Sorry.” He shook his head. “The best I could do was keep them behind the line.”
I shook my head and waved my hand around the massive, grand lobby of the Sky North Tower. “This is the story. Not me. Not a girlfriend I had a couple months ago. This is why my dad needs to be here. This is his arena. They aren’t going to ask him about who he did or didn’t fuck.”
I walked away with my phone to my ear. After several rings, it went to voicemail. “Dad, it’s me again. I’m at the tower. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was supposed to start five minutes ago. I’ve got a lounge full of press getting drunk. Are you on the way? Call me ASAP!”
I slipped my phone back into my pocket. I couldn’t delay much longer. This project had been a long time in the making. There was a lot of hype surrounding it. This was my baby. Yes, I had my father’s backing, but this project was really the first one I could call my own.
It was also the first of four. If this one went as well as I hoped it would, we were going to break ground on another tower very soon. It was unfortunate my brief time with a beautiful woman was overshadowing this moment. This was exactly why my dad, Armand Bancroft, was supposed to be here. I couldn’t let the current rumors detract from the project.
I made my way to the lounge where the reporters we handpicked were enjoying some of the cocktails we would be serving. “Hello, everyone,” I greeted. “Are you enjoying our specialty cocktails?”
“Too much,” one of them said. Everyone laughed. “Are we ready to start the tour?”
“I’m ready if you are,” I said with my friendliest smile. “We’ve got a lot of ground to cover.”
“Will Mr. Bancroft be here?”
“I am Mr. Bancroft,” I said with a wink. I knew what they were asking, but I was going to play it off. “Shall we get started?”
I led them into the lobby they had already been spending a lot of time in. Too much. This ribbon-cutting ceremony was already off on the wrong foot. “This area is for the residents to collaborate and create. They don’t have to be in the same business or work together. It’s a space for people to relax and be inspired. Our designer went with an open space concept.”
“Have you talked to Jana today?” a reporter asked.
I ignored the question. “The ballroom is this way,” I said. “The acoustics are amazing. The lighting is phenomenal. The ballroom leads into the gardens that were designed by one of the top landscape designers in the world. This will be a one-stop shop for weddings and luxurious parties.”
I led them around the grounds and stayed out of the way while the photographers snapped photos. I took them downstairs to the full gym, indoor pool, and dance studio. I felt their appreciation with the looks on their faces. I knew it was pretty fucking awesome. It was an entire community in one building. Our residents never had to leave the safety and security of the building.
“We’ll have a full concierge service around the clock,” I explained while we walked.
“Have you sold all of the residential units?”
I was pleased to have a question related to the tower. “Not yet, but next week when we officially open the doors for those that have already bought, there will be some marketing in place.”
“What will the price point be?”
I knew how to deflect from the steep price on each unit. “We’ll have a variety of options. We have one and two-bedroom units. Different floorplans and finishes will have different prices. Those that are interested will be given a list of options when they meet with our in-house team.”
“Luxury costs money,” someone said.
“Imagine the convenience of being able to have everything you need right here,” I said. “Don’t feel like getting a cab or fighting traffic? You don’t have to. If you don’t want to be gone long, you don’t have to. It’s all right here. Our building is the future. People don’t want to brave the weather. They want to stick close to home without sacrificing the perks of what is out there.”
“Are you going to be inviting Jana to the grand opening next week?”
I kept my smile in place. “She’s welcome to check out all we have to offer here at Sky North Tower.”
“Has she shown any interest in becoming a Canadian citizen?”
I looked at the young woman that asked the stupid question. “You would need to ask her that,” I replied.
“Is that why the two of you broke up?” she asked.
I smiled at her and completely ignored her question. “Let’s go on up to the third floor to check out the two-bedroom model,” I said.
Once again, I was doing my best to sidestep the stupid questions about my love life. I hit the button for the elevator and reconsidered trapping myself in a box with the vultures.
It was too late. The doors opened and we all piled in. I tried like hell to avoid getting near the woman asking the personal questions and ignoring the real reason we were here. She was sneaky and found a way to stand right beside me.
“So, are you and Jana still talking?” she asked.
“I’m not sure why you and the rest of the media are hung up on this. We were friends. We went out a couple times while she was filming here in Vancouver.”
“You’re not the father of her unborn baby?” she pressed.
I practically raced off the elevator. If there had been women and small children in front of me, they would have been knocked to the floor. I was that desperate. I walked across the hall and quickly entered the digital code into the lock. We weren’t using keys. It was all high tech and high-end. I was hoping we were starting a new trend. We were the future.
“Please, come in,” I said to the media filing into two-thousand square feet of luxury living. The unit had been staged by the designer who had put together eight floorplans for us to use. Even I had to admit it was pretty damn sweet. A little small for my particular tastes, but that was because I lived in a sweet little mansion.
The journalists fanned out to inspect the unit. I gave my little spiel, listing out the features that really set our apartments apart from the rest of the buildings in Vancouver. Ours were the best.
“Next week, I hope you will all come back,” I said. “Our full staff will be on hand. The coffee shop will be manned with the best baristas in Vancouver. You’ll get a chance to meet our event coordinator, and some of our personal trainers will also be on hand to provide some free fifteen-minute sessions. Of course, our chef has prepared a tasting menu to sample some of the dishes that will be served in the restaurant on the second floor. One of the restaurants on the second floor.”
“What kind of fees will people have to pay?”
“There is a standard fee that is really nominal when compared to the services available,” I explained. “The special events, restaurants, and other shops in the building will cover a lot of the overhead cost, which makes our apartments even more affordable.”
“Can we see one of the penthouses?”
I smiled and slowly shook my head. “I’m afraid not. We do have the virtual tour of the penthouses, but for security reasons, we’ve opted not to have those included in the tour. Many of them have already been purchased. Our tower is going to be one of the safest buildings in the city. Safe, as well as private. We will have onsite security with surveillance. Only residents will be allowed up to the third floor and beyond.”
I watched as they jotted down everything I was saying. This little tour was a precursor to the big event next week. We wanted to get people excited. If my father was here like he was supposed to be, he could use that natural charm he wielded. I liked to think I had been blessed with the same charm, but he’d had over sixty years to hone his skills. At thirty-eight, I was still developing mine.
“We have one other unit I’d like to show you all,” I said.
We moved on to the fourth floor to one of the units with a better view. It was only one bedroom, but it had an office and perks a single person would appreciate. After the tour, we regrouped in the lobby.
“Does anyone have any questions I can answer?” I asked the group. I caught Josh’s expression. It was one of dread. He shook his head and then covered his face.
That was when I realized what I had done. The reporters all started asking questions at once. None of them were about the tower. It was all about my personal life.
They wanted to know if I was single, dating, or knocking up other women. I didn’t know how the rumors even started. I hadn’t spoken to Jana in weeks. Suddenly, I had read I was the father of her child that she may or may not be pregnant with.
“Thank you all for coming!” Josh jumped into the fray to save me. He ushered the journalists out of the lobby and locked the doors.
“Thanks,” I said. “That was a mistake.”
“I don’t think too much damage was done,” he said.
“Any word from my father?” I asked while looking at my phone screen. There were no missed calls or texts—not that Dad texted much.
“What the hell?” I growled. I called his number once again. It had to be at least the tenth time that day. Again, it went to voicemail.
“I’m going to go by his house, then home to work,” I told him.
“I’ll see you in the morning,” he said.
I drove straight to my dad’s estate. No one answered. I used my key to let myself in. The house was empty and felt like it had been that way for a while. I walked through the house and into his bedroom. The bed was neatly made.
I opened the door to his massive closet. Part of me hoped to find his closet cleaned out. That would mean he’d taken a trip or skipped town. He was supposed to have been back from New York days ago. Even if he had decided to stay in the city, he would answer his phone. Something felt off.
It was like he’d vanished.