Chad, one of the locals, handed her the phone as soon as she entered. Placing the grungy handset that looked like it had been around for at least thirty years to her ear, she said, “Hello?”
“Cali? Cali, honey, is that you?”
“Yes, Dad, it’s me. Is everything okay?” she asked, worried.
“No, sweetheart, it’s not. I need you to come home.” Cali sat down in the beat up wooden chair Chad had recently vacated.
“Come home? Dad, what’s going on? What’s wrong?” She heard him sigh on the other end, followed by a moan. “Dad?”
“I kind of went and did something stupid.”
“What did you do?” She felt her body tense as it did so often when getting ready to work on an injury that they were ill equipped for. Cali didn’t like being unprepared for anything. People died that way.
“I went waterskiing with Henry.”
“You what!” She yelled, almost falling off her chair.
“I know, I know. Stupid, right? Not something a man my age should be doing. I’ve already heard it all from Jessie.”
“What happened? Are you alright?”
“Dad?” Why was he stalling?
Another sigh and another moan, “The doctors say I broke my hip and a couple of ribs. They say I’m going to be out of commission for about three months.”
“Oh, Dad,” Cali said with disapproval.
“So I need you to come home, Cali. I need to you run the business while I’m away. Look after things.”
“Dad…” She hesitated, not really knowing how to respond.
“Now listen, Cali. I know you’ve told me you don’t want to take over for me when I retire, and although I’m not happy about that, I will respect your wishes. However, at the moment there are some things going on, and I would feel much better with someone I trust watching over my interests.”
“What about Peter? I thought you trusted him. I thought you were grooming him to take over?”
“Peter is very good at what he does, and maybe someday I will feel confident turning the business over to him. But he’s not family. You’re the only family I’ve got, Cali, and I need you for this and only you.”
“I don’t know,” she said, leaning back in the chair, still unsure.
“Please? Your old man needs you.” Cali giggled.
“How soon can you get here?”
“I can get a ride into town tomorrow and catch the bus from there, but it will take me most of the day to reach the airport so…” Cali paused to do the calculations in her head. “I should be able to make it back by Thursday, Friday at the latest.”
“Good girl. Call me when you have your flight information, and I’ll make sure someone picks you up.”
“Okay, Dad,” she answered getting up from her seat.
“I love you, sweetie.”
“I love you, too.”