Luke Perry
Casey Cott
Home > Tycoon(14)

Tycoon(14)
Author: Katy Evans

Been breaking my back, day in and day out. Sweat and tears…well, sweat and blood, to be more exact.

“What the devil is this?” I laugh at Oswald during our sandwich break under the sparse shade in the construction site. He has a contraption on his ears that he never lets go of.

“I call it the headphone cave.”

“What is it for?” I grab it and examine the design. It’s awkward and not quite pleasant to the eye, but clearly Oswald likes something about it. “Seems to be a soundproof headset?” I say before I put it on, and all the noise from the construction turns off. Impressed, I pull them off and study them again. “It’s pretty genius.”

“Right? If only someone could see it.”

Someone. I look at him, the word resonating. I shoot him a daredevil look. “Let’s play around with it. Make it smaller, more visibly palatable.”

“Christ, man.”

“What? You don’t think we can mass produce and sell this?”

“No. I don’t. I don’t know shit about that.”

“All right. Give me this for a week. You own it. I market it. But we split the profits in half.”

“Half of nothing.” He chuckles.

“We’ll see.” Scowling, I toss my can in the trashcan and store the rest of my food away. “You think the guys who made Coca-Cola would’ve gone anywhere with black water? They fed us all the crap about happiness, life, and good times, sold it and now they’re intertwined. Public will buy anything if it’s well marketed.”

From my old Chevelle, I grab my pen and paper and start to sketch on top of the hood, tearing page after page. “We’ll make some stickers, contacting local retailers. It’ll take off.”

“Come on, I’ve got a woman and two kids, I can’t push something like this.”

“I can,” I tell him.

I’ve got nothing holding me back. Just myself. On one side, who I think I am, who I think I deserve to be. On the other, who I know I am, and who I want to be.

I think of Bryn—push the thought away. I cannot do this for her, not even for her. I need to do this for me.

Bryn

I spot a group of homeless people on my way to Christos and Co. on Monday. One of the women among the small group and I make eye contact. She’s hauling a cart with recycling cans, her hair is a mess, but her eyes are bright with anticipation when she spots me and asks me for money.

“Sorry, I can’t now. But if this goes well, I’ll invite you to a meal.” I pat my briefcase with all my folders.

“Good luck.” She grins.

I head inside, and I meet Aaric at his office again, this time a bit more prepared. This time, I steer clear of the ladies’ to avoid any distractions.

With a belly full of nerves and clammy hands, I show him my business plan.

Christos reviews it for ten minutes then nods and hands it back.

He levels me a look that makes my heart skip. How the hell did a boy with an interesting face become the guy with the hottest face in the world?

I wait for him to speak.

And wait and wait.

Until…

“Think bigger. The only way to make money is to take on a certain amount of risk. The higher the risk, the higher the reward,” Christos says.

“But it’s your money I’m risking.”

He nods, very slowly, and then equally slowly—nerve-wrackingly—he stands. He walks over, tips my chin. And tells me, trapping my gaze with his, “Don’t worry about the money. I don’t care if I lose it. I have plenty. Think bigger, Bryn.”

A ghost of a smile touches his mouth as he holds my gaze, and I nod dumbly like that waitress, shaking in my shoes because of his smile. It’s gone all too soon, and he drops his hand, back to business, and heads to his desk.

“Expand your concept. I’d be giving you the biggest safety net you could ever have in investing. I’m telling you it’s okay if you lose all my money. I want you to think big.”

“This is big,” I mumble, absently brushing my hand across the lingering tingles on my chin. “This is all I want to do, Aaric.”

I hate that I sound defeated and pleading, but I’m at a loss as to what else to say at this point.

He leans forward, his tone of voice almost intimate. Low. “See, bit, that’s the thing. The world doesn’t care how you personally feel about what you’re doing. You can hate it, and be good at it, and that’s all that matters to them. So in order for us to get you doing what you want to do, you need to give your potential customers what they want. Even, what they don’t know they want…because no one has given it to them yet.”

“But I…will?” I say, reading his train of thought and feeling inspired by it.

His lips curl in quiet male pride.

I gather my things and silently walk away. Hating how hard my heart is pounding—not because of his momentary rejection, but because of HIM.

The way it felt to have his thumb and forefinger on my chin.

The way I wanted the rest of his hand on my face, for everything to miraculously go poof and go away, including the briefcase I’d had on my lap, and for the warmth of his body to be flush against mine. Or rather, mine against his.

Crazy that Aaric only embraced me once when we were kids, but my body cannot seem to forget (and admittedly and uncomfortably, long for a repeat). Even when he was skinnier, he was warm and comforting.

Yet also a little bit too exciting.

“What the fuck, he said it’s okay to lose his money? He never does that. He’s always threatening and he never makes investments he knows he will lose—he always knows he’ll win back something,” Jensen says, confused.

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