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  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Shadowgod - Almost Home
  • Author
  • 1,427 Words

Colorado Game - 28. Chapter 28


Sofia was a lot calmer, thanks to mom who had taken her home from the party, shortly after Ross and I had gone upstairs. Knowing mom, she'd also given her a shot (or several, because...well, it was mom) of something strong, so by the time we arrived at the house, which was around 9pm, I feared that Sofia would either be all liquored up by now or sleeping it off.

Surprisingly enough, she was in her salon, waiting for us. Mom was still there but she got up as soon as we came in, wishing us good night and good luck. Well, that last was whispered to me alone. I watched her go with regret because I could really use her in this situation; over the past few months, it seemed she and Sofia had formed a close friendship. They visited each other on a weekly bases and they had regular lunch-appointments at the diner. That Ross's mother would even set foot in a diner had been as much a surprise to me as it had been to her son, or even Sofia herself I imagine, but she seemed to enjoy it.

"Well, this was quite some day, wasn't it?" I said, trying to sound cheerful.

"The days of our lives are a lot like the weather," Sofia replied, more than a little peeved, "if you look long enough and hard enough, eventually you'll find an absolutely miserable day on the horizon."

"Right," I said, slowly. "And on that note; I'll take the strongest from the cabinet, there yonder."
Ross hid a smile and shook his head, heading for the cabinet in question.

He had warned me not to be glib but that was like telling someone on a rope wire not to look down. They always look down, right? Right.

"What were you thinking, Mark? At least tell me that," Sofia started.

"He didn't know, mother," Ross said, before I could reply. "All he knew was that it was another paying job. Some people actually work for a living, you know."

"I can answer for myself, Ross," I said, eying Sofia. I thought for a moment and then sighed, pointing to where her son roughly was, behind her pouring drinks. "What he said."

"This is not funny, Mark," she said.

"I know that. And I sure didn't do it on purpose, alright? Had I known everything, I wouldn't have signed the contract."
Sofia sighed and accepted a glass and a small bottle of Evian that Ross offered her.

"Good. Well then, that's settled."
I frowned at her, and accepted my drink as Ross sat beside me.

"What’s settled?"

"Obviously you can't do it," she said. "I'll call our lawyers and have them deal with the situation."

"We can't, mother," Ross said, shaking his head. "The contract is signed, and he can't get out of it. It's a clause." I nodded.

"Yep, it's as tight as an ant's sphincter," I said, taking a sip. Beside me, Ross hiccupped but I didn't look.

"How... colorful," Sofia said, putting down her drink. "But you're sure? Did you see the contract? There's nothing we can do? I don't think it would hurt to have our lawyers take a look at it."

"I'm sure it wouldn't but it's a waste of time. They didn't lure me in under false pretences or something like that. It's a deal as I always make them. I was given several samples of the project before I accepted. I have only one standard and that is that the project should be something that I'd want to play or see. I had a few conversations with the people I would work with, toss some ideas around. The same as I did with FG's game. Had I known the conniving cheat would be heading the department, I wouldn't have accepted."

At the words ‘conniving cheat', Sofia smirked and nodded a silent toast to me, to which I replied the same. Ross only frowned and then finally got it. What can I say; he's thick at times.

"Then maybe it is time you review your way of deal making, wouldn't you say?" Sofia said.

"Why? I always work from what I feel. If it feels right, it feels right. I don't need a pack of lawyers to tell me what to do. Nor do I ever want to. It's my freedom."

"Mark, it's not just you who is at risk here anymore. We all are."
I frowned.

"I don’t follow; what has any of this to do with you guys. It's my work, my reputation... isn't it?"

"Actually... no," Ross said. "What mother is trying to tell you is that because of our relationship, people will see you differently. That's just the way it is. They see us as a whole, not just you as an individual. They will think you can be their way into this family, to our connections, to money and power. What you do now reflects on us as well."
Sofia mimicked my earlier gesture and nodded at her son.

"What he said."
I couldn't help but grin but then I grew curious.

"You're kidding me, right? Come on, seriously? It can't be that bad... can it?"

"Welcome to the world of the rich and famous," Sofia answered, sarcastically. "What did you think that would happen? You and my son get together and live long, happy and carefree for the rest of your lives? I hope you will have the first two, I really do, but the latter you'll never have."

"That's a bit of a bitter outlook, isn't it?" I asked, to no one in particular.

"Maybe so," Ross answered, "but true, believe me. You already experienced some of it; the public scrutiny. But that's just a little part of it. Suddenly, you're news. Suddenly you'll have friends contacting you from way back when, claiming to be your best mates, even if they treated you bad in the past. Suddenly, people want something from you. And some think you have something that they think they should have. You may not have it but that won't stop them from trying."

"Okay, now you're freaking me out. Stop it, okay?"

"I know and I'm sorry," he said, letting his fingers thread through mine. "I should’ve warned you right from the start. But it's not all bad, okay? It's just a way of life; you'll get used to pretty fast."
I frowned at him. He winked.
"Come on, I know how it all sounds, but it's piled up now, because of this ‘problem'. Whenever you pile up the small stuff, it always seems undoable. It doesn't happen all at once, but you now know what to look for if strange things start to happen, like old friends calling, or people you don't know suddenly treat you as your best friend. You'll learn pretty quickly, you'll see."

"Right... so me working at Warner Gaming..." I asked, looking from Sofia to Ross and back.

"...is news, yes," Ross nodded, "It'll probably be in the paper soon. I'm actually surprised it already hasn't."

"I called Jeff and he's running a small article tomorrow," Sofia said, "Nothing big, just an announcement that Mark's next project is to score Warner's latest. I tipped him before Warner tried to gloat about it."

"Wow," I said, "Is this a regular thing?"
Ross nodded again.

"Pretty much. It's like a chess game; your move, their move. Try to beat the other. What, you thought all we do is drive expensive cars, wear designer clothes and party all day?"
He laughed.

"Well, no, of course not," I said, blushing. Because truthfully? That was pretty much what I had actually thought about rich people; folks who didn't have to lift a finger. "I didn't think it would be this... political. Sounds like a lot of work."

"Being rich isn't all that it's cracked up to be," Ross said quasi-sourly. "The cars, houses, jewelry, clothes... people focus on that because it's flashy and out of their reach. But to maintain it, it's a business all in itself. But don't get me wrong; I wouldn't have it any other way."

"Neither do I," I replied. "I mean, I don't want to do all that. I just want to do what I always do."

"You still can," he said, squeezing my hand. "You just have to be careful in what you do and say because one way or another, it'll be a public thing before you know it."

"Great. That's just great," I sighed.

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The pep-talk has the felling of a fore-telling or premonition. Mark would do well to heed the voices of experience. 

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