The background noise of computer keys echoes throughout the hallways of my family's expansive building. My office is much like a suite at a major hotel; windows line the walls and pictures frame the only visible concrete walls.
My carpet is a ruby red that can easily mask any hints of my extra-curricular activities. It is outlined near the center, where my desk sits waiting, with gold-like embroidery signaling the wealth that my father had created. I briefly picture myself at the age of six bowing to my father's second-in-command as my mother and I had entered the room.
She is the same woman that I look at everyday in a small picture frame that emphasizes a happy family on my oak-wood desk. Her pearls complimented her long neck and her waves of soft red curls fall like feathers on her slim shoulders. The jewel green dress that she is wearing trails at her feet, covering them, as she sits on the small, black stool that had been offered to her.
My father, looking like the happiest man in the world, holds a protective arm around my mother and a soft hand sits on my shoulder. I was only four in the picture.
At home, my father made certain that no time was lost between us. He may have been responsible for much of the world's economy, but he had just been a dad to me. Baseball games, video games, hunting—my father loved them all and did not fear making me familiar to them as well.
Shortly before he died, I had learned something from him: his life was deadly intertwined with his underground business ventures.
Though he would have fought for any of my family members, he could not protect them. He would have loved them, raised them, taught them in every way possible, but he would not regret what he had done. No.
Such a word had not existed in his vocabulary.
No regret, no failure; no life would have been ruined.
But inevitably, all cards must be let go, all hands must be lost—there was no perfect hand of poker and, as he found out too late, no bluff was one hundred percent fool proof.
I reread the papers in front of me, ignoring the secretary who has let herself in. I sign my name at the bottom of the large bundle of sheets and mark my T with a strange loop that my father had always done. "To make it harder for the unworthy to duplicate our name" he had told me.
Helena, my assistant, clears her throat in the same way a headmaster used to do to me during high school in England when my head had been elsewhere in her company. I look up at Helena’s hour glass figure and smirk.
"So you liked the skirt." I comment as I take in the figure-fitting skirt that I had picked out for her as a birthday present. She had once been very fond of me, as most women are. I usually ignore the stares and whispers; they all are part of the heir package.
When you inherit billions of dollars at a young age, groupies tend to form.
"Er," she blushes, making her sharp cheekbones shine a bright red under her natural makeup and her forehead becomes strained from a suppressed insult that she is mentally screaming at me. "Eric Zouman just called with details about the venture that you were enquiring about last week; he says that he can offer you an estimate as of present, but nothing more."
She pauses to look over the calls list of the day and I let my eyes wander. She had dyed her hair to a darker shade of brown not too long ago, and her eyes are lined with new makeup. Her lips are glossy and their scent offers me a hint. "Hot date tonight?"
"What's it to you?" She snaps and then, just as quick, recovers herself. "Liam Baker and Joyce Newmarket also called, but to secure the plans that the company had prepared for their respective companies. Gillian Holts wants you to call her and—"
"I have to say, I hope he is a good one this time, I didn't like the last one very much." I say knowing very well that the last one had been me.
"—notify her of any changes to the schedule for the upcoming Ball that McHalt Industries is hosting." She finishes, ignoring me altogether.
I don't blame her. She had been the only one to get close enough to me to guess that something was not right, and for that, I had to lose her.
"That is all for today sir—"
"Come on Helena, don't call me that—"
"—I will be leaving for the day—"
"—what is his name at least? Maybe I can run a check on him?"
"—and I will see you on Monday."
My office is silent as the heavy, wooden doors close behind her.
I close my eyes and rub my temples, they are always so sore with the sound of gunshots and bloody messes. I open them quickly and turn in my swivel leather chair so that I am now facing the scenery that welcomes me every morning, afternoon, and evening.
The city is massive and darkened, marked by the end of the day. Lights spot the several offices and apartments that are visible to me; though I know that business is continuous on the streets, no sound can be heard in my office.
I put my hands behind my head and prepare myself for the weekend.
When I took over the business several years ago (it had been run by my father's second-in-command as stated in the Will until I was of proper age and had sufficient knowledge) I had established a rule with the world: McHalt Industries would not run on Saturdays and Sundays. This would be suicide for any other company, but ours was not only rich enough for such a plan, but it was also powerful enough; too many people depended on us to screw us over.
My cell-phone begins to ring as I am entering my trance of thought that usually enamors me at the end of a long Friday.
"Clay." I say simply. Not only is the world alert of my weekend plans, but they also know to not call me outside of business hours; these were strictly my recreational hours, to put it lightly.
"I have information for you." A voice slithers through my Blackberry and into my curious ear.
I become alert at once and stare down at my heavy watch. It's still early; true businessmen never sleep. "Your price?"
I can almost hear the person thinking through the line. "You are not the only one to lose a family to them."
"Your price?" I am not one of the many who find pity as a personality trait.
"Their lives." The person finally states.