The House Of Crow - Historical Fiction
The heavy armor of the black limousine muted the outside world for its four occupants. The driver and bodyguard rode up front, separated from their two charges in the back by a sliding glass partition. Sixty-year-old William Crow looked over at his nephew, Marine Captain Charles Crow. At twenty-five, Charles was an athletic six feet tall. His thick black hair was clipped high and tight in Marine fashion. Though handsome, the first feature one noticed was his intense blue eyes, a family trait. Charles was gifted, as many of his ancestors had been, with a high degree of intelligence and near perfect hand-eye coordination. Charles had graduated in the top five percent of his class at Annapolis. The Marine Corps' upper echelon had their eye on him.
William silently looked out the window, watching the traffic and buildings of San Francisco pass by. Charles' mother Jennifer had died after a long illness. They had attended her funeral that very morning. It was his duty to inform Charles that he was now a major stockholder of Corvidae Enterprises. One of those enterprises was Corvidae Security, or as one son-of-a-bitch had dubbed them, “The Whores of War.” William thought of Corvidae as peacekeepers for hire. They often protected heads of state in war zones and had stood guard when a new nation went to the ballot box for the first time. At this moment, they were providing protection for American convoys, freeing the US military to fight in Iraq, where Captain Crow had just finished his second tour.
The limo slowed, and then pulled into a drive, moving toward a nineteenth-century Victorian home. Two men, appearing to be gardeners, lay down their tools and walked alongside the car. Stopping at the front entrance, the limo driver got out and moved back to William's door to open it. One of the gardeners opened the door for Charles. William spoke to the bodyguard, waved to the gardeners, and stepped around to Charles. “It's been a long day. Let's get you settled, and then we'll have something to eat.”
Inside the house, Charles followed his uncle to a door at the end a long hallway. William turned the knob, and the heavy door opened smoothly into a suite of three furnished rooms. “This is yours for as long as you wish to use it, Charles. At one time, this was your great grandfather's office. It's gone through many changes since then, but I think you'll find it comfortable.”
Charles walked to a green marble fireplace where a sword with an ivory hilt hung above the mantel. Above it hung a double-barreled shotgun with large hammers. The short ten gauge barrels looked like dual cannons. Inserted into the stock was a carved ebony crow in flight.
“Where did you get these, Uncle Bill? That's a real Mameluke sword! I have a similar one, Marine Corps issue, for parades.”
“Those belonged to your Great Grandpa, Jedadiah Crow. The sword is an original Mameluke given to him by a Marine, and the shotgun belonged to an outlaw.”
Charles turned to his uncle. “An outlaw?”
“Your Grandpa Jed was a lawman back in the 1800s. That shotgun wounded him twice and saved his life a couple of times. Now let's get you settled. Dinner is at six. We can talk after.”
Later, after dinner, they moved to the living room. Uncle Bill lit his pipe and offered Charles a brandy.
“Do you have a beer? I could really go for a cold one.”
Bill pressed a button near the fireplace, and a manservant came into the room, “Sir?”
“Bring Charles a glass of Heineken.”
The beer arrived in an iced glass with a thick head of foam. Charles took an appreciative swallow, saluting his uncle with the glass as he wiped the foam from his lip.
“Charles, I have some things to tell you that will surprise you and may even make you angry. However, I want you to know that what we did, right or wrong, was done out of love for you.”
Charles' blue eyes hardened as he settled back in his seat.
“Charles, you are now a wealthy man. When your mother died, you inherited her wealth; and with those assets come a certain responsibility, should you choose to accept it. As you know, your father died when you were just a baby.”
“Yes, he died at sea,” responded Charles. “Mom told me.”
“Charles, your father was killed while leading an attack against pirates.”
Charles sat quietly, his mind trying to absorb what he had just heard.
“When your father was killed, your mother asked me not to discuss your father or the family with you. Her fear was that you would follow in his footsteps and get yourself killed. Her wish was for you to go to college and become your own man.”
“What was my father involved in that frightened my mother so much that she would lie to me? I grew up thinking he was an executive for a shipping company.”
“Your father and I owned, and now, you and I own, that shipping corporation. It's been in the family for over 120 years. We also own several other enterprises. We've had a business presence in China since before the Boxer Rebellion. Corvidae Enterprises has branches around the world. We've developed great influence here in the States and with several foreign governments over the years. It's time you knew who you are. Then you can make your own decision as to what you want to do.”
“Tell me about my father. Tell me why my mother was so afraid of him.”
“Afraid of him? She loved him with all her heart. She fell in love with him thinking she could deal with who and what he was; she couldn't. She was afraid of what he was. That's why she left him. I think for you to understand, I need to start at the beginning. It all began in Ireland in the early 1800s with a man named Brian Pringle.”