I’ve had a few questions/comments regarding Appius’s childhood. Some of you have posited that Appius must have been somehow abused. As I write a story, I also write little “biographies” for characters so that I can keep things straight. I thought I’d share with you the “backgrounds” of Appius’s parents in case you are interested.
If you are finding this before you read Chapter 49, I’d suggest you avoid it for now—as there are spoilers.
John is already deceased by the time this story begins. He died when Eric was 17. John was a good father—though certainly a little distant. In his quest to build his family’s wealth, John didn’t spend a lot of “quality time” at home during Appius’s childhood. John was of the generation of men that wasn’t really comfortable with sharing emotions outwardly. But he tried to be a good husband and father nonetheless. He worked hard to enlarge the Northman family fortune.
John was a man of diverse interests. He had many investments in real estate and the media (first newspapers and then later television) in addition to publishing. By the time Appius was ready to take over Northman Publishing (a few years before Eric was born), John was ready to “slow down,” and he and his wife, Grace, spent most of his last twenty years of life traveling the world—as Grace had always wanted to do.
John sold off a lot of his assets once Appius took over Northman Publishing. A generous man, John set up large trust funds for all of his grandchildren, including Nora, whom he thought of as a granddaughter. Believing that Eric would one day be the head of the family, however, John built up Eric’s trust fund the most. Though Eric is not aware of the trust fund’s contents, Appius certainly is and resents the hell out of the fact that Eric will be an instant billionaire if he ever gets access to it.
John was devoted and faithful to his wife throughout their married life, except for one short-lived affair with a secretary during the early years of his and Grace’s marriage. After breaking off the relationship and giving the secretary a gracious severance package, John confessed to Grace, who never quite let John “forget” his indiscretion even though she said that she forgave him. Due to his guilt, John let Grace have the upper hand in the marriage; thus, he avoided questioning her actions at times.
Being somewhat conservative and old fashioned, John didn’t really “get” his son when it came to Appius’s sexuality. He was confused that Appius seemed to prefer men, but wanted a wife as well. John tried to accept Appius as he was, but regretted the fact that he and his son didn’t have much common ground.
In the months before he died of cancer, John discovered that he had a lot more to regret. He and Grace had traveled so much that he had missed out on the lives of his grandchildren. He’d always thought that there would be “more time.” He especially regretted things when he discovered by accident just how cruel Appius had been to Eric. He learned that Appius didn’t think that Eric was his son, but John was always confident that Eric was indeed his biological grandson. And John tried to convince Appius of this. There was something in Eric that reminded John so much of his own father. In addition, John tried to convince Appius that it didn’t matter if Eric was his “real” son—that he could choose to love him no matter what.
Once John realized that Appius had such spite for Eric, John did what he could to help the boy, including leaving him a sizeable legacy above and beyond the trust fund, which he’d begun to fear that Appius would withhold.
His final wish was that Appius would reconcile with Eric.
Grace Northman comes from a family that illustrates the concept of “blueblood.” On her mother’s side, she is related to the Rockefellers. Her father’s mother was an Astor. Though Grace didn’t have a huge fortune of her own, she was raised in high society.
She considered herself entitled to the husband of her choice, and she chose John Northman, whose family’s money was “newer” but more substantial than some of her other suitors’ money. Grace had some true affection for John; however, she felt much less of it following John’s affair.
She was always a good society wife to John. She participated in all the “right” charities and made sure he went to the “right” events. She approved—initially—of Appius’s choice of Stella for a wife. While Grace was never a “star” in society due to her somewhat snobbish demeanor, Stella was beloved. Grace was slightly jealous of her daughter-in-law, but was happy that Stella was helping Appius rise even higher in society.
Despite any flaws that she might have had, Grace was a good mother and very supportive of Appius. The only critique that could be made was that she had the tendency to overlook Appius’s flaws. She is still apt to do this, thinking that Appius is “right” in all that he does.
When Appius confided in his mother when he learned of Stella’s affair, Grace’s opinion of Stella did a 180 degree turn. She began to blame Stella for what she thought of as Appius’s “confused” sexuality. She is also of the opinion that Eric has carried on his mother’s “torment” of her son. She believes that Eric should show appreciation for his education and the place that Appius has “graced him with” in the family. She is not shy about showing Eric her disdain.
Following the death of her husband, Grace settled comfortably into the home that John bought in the 1960s, which is one of the great New York estates. Though she is what some might consider “elderly”—approaching 80 too quickly for her taste—she is still quite “active” in many ways. Though no one could “prove” that Grace had had affairs before her husband died, she certainly had many afterwards. Currently, she has liaisons going on with Stan Davis and one of her household staff members, a 35-year-old named Luther.
I hope this was useful!