After the funeral Ellen returned to work and poured herself into assignments, keeping to herself except for necessary interaction at the office. She was rewarded for her efforts through salary increases and bonuses and was marked by top management for future management positions. To prepare her for work at a higher level she was given travel assignments to test her negotiating and people management skills.
And now two years after the funeral Ellen had visited her Grandmother’s grave and checked out her childhood home. She’d hardened herself to the fact she was alone without a family but determined to follow through on her promise to make Grandmother proud of her achievements in life. She would look forward, not backward from now on.
The following day back at the office Dennis called her into his office. They talked about their work assignments for a while. Dennis studied her as they talked and Ellen wondered where this was leading.
Finally Dennis decided to take the plunge.
“I’ll be leaving this company to set up my own company Ellen and thought of asking you to check out my strategies and plans. I’ve done all the marketing research and have lined up financing to make this a venture I feel cannot fail. It would be inappropriate for me to ask you to look at this on company time so would you be prepared to have me come over this evening to get your comments and counsel? In the meantime here’s a folder with the essence of what we’ll discuss for you to take home with you and we could discuss it there if you’re willing later?”
Ellen nodded here head and took the folder. “OK Dennis, I could do it at 7pm if that’s OK with you, I’ll buy some pizza on the way home and we could eat that as we check out your proposals.”
Ellen thought it strange Dennis would confide in her this way and while she knew it was possibly not ethical to use company time to check on a project not related to her work she had to take a peep anyway. What she saw surprised here. The proposal was a brilliant one and Ellen felt a little envious she’d not be a part of it. She felt complemented nevertheless Dennis would think of asking for her counsel. Then a thought stuck her, was Dennis interested in her not only for her expertise but for other reasons? The thought made her apprehensive about the planned evening meeting but she decided to go ahead with it anyway.
That evening Ellen noticed Dennis studying her carefully as she gave her opinions and suggestions. He nodded in approval on some of her ideas and explained why not when he disagreed with her assessment.
Finally curiosity aroused she turned to Dennis. “I notice you’ve been watching me all evening Dennis, do I have my make up on crooked?” She laughed nervously.
“Have you ever thought it strange your name is Ellen Cunningham, isn’t that your Grandmother’s name?”
Ellen recoiled in surprise at the question. “That’s a personal question Dennis, I suppose my Father’s name was Cunningham, wouldn’t that be a logical reason?” She was becoming uncomfortable and a little annoyed.
“Not a strange question if your Mother was a Cunningham” said Dennis still watching her closely.
“I think you’d better leave Dennis!”
“I think you’d better hear me out first” Dennis also looked uncomfortable but stood his ground.
“Your father was Jason Cook Ellen, and my name is ……..”
“Dennis Cook,” said Ellen weakly.
Dennis turned away so Ellen couldn’t see the emotion on his face.
“Why didn’t you tell me you were my brother, all the time we’ve been working together and you never even gave me a hint that we were brother and sister?” Ellen rushed across to his chair and began slapping him, then fell into her chair again and burst into tears.
Dennis looked wretched. “You’ve no idea what kind of life I’ve had, from an early age thrown from foster home to foster home, adopted and discarded. My brother who knows where, my parents in jail. When I found out who you were I was furious. Why were you nurtured and loved by Grandma and I was rejected by her. I had to fight my way through an education and work hard to get into the job I have today. But seeing your grief when Grannie died I realized it wasn’t your fault, both of us are victims. I’ve watched you over the last two years. You’re a good person and I don’t hate you any more, I want us to be family.
“Grandma didn’t reject you, the government wouldn’t let you and my other brother live with us because Grannie didn’t have enough money to support us all. It’s not her fault!” Ellen sobbed softly. She stood uncertainly and moved toward her brother putting out her hand tentatively.
Dennis stood and looked tentatively toward the door. “I suppose I better go,” he whispered.
Alarmed Ellen ran and hugged him. “There’s no way I letting my brother go,” she said.
Dennis brightened at her reaction. “Actually I’ve come to ask you to come and work with me in my new venture, that’s the real reason I came to see you tonight. You won’t work for me, we’ll own the company together. We are family after all, and I’ve seen the quality of your work and know we can make it a success together.
“I won’t let you down,” Ellen said joyously.
Later when all the tears were over and they were enjoying their mutual discovery Ellen asked Dennis if he knew what happened to the rest of the family. Dennis said he had no idea what happened to his elder brother. He knew their Father was dead but their Mother was still living and had remarried and moved interstate to start a new life. It appeared she’d been remorseful and had found him just before she left. She’d mentioned how happy she’d been to see you graduate with honours and was sorry for the mess she and Father had caused in our family. She deeply regretted the sadness she’d caused Grandma Cunningham.
“Let’s start life over as family,” said Dennis hopefully.
Ellen smiled happily and gave him a playful push. “I’ve always wanted a brother to tease so watch out!!
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