“Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please,” the voice over the speaker was recognized by everyone, causing all the heads in the room to rise almost simultaneously. There were a few whispers behind where Marcus was seated. It was certainly a beautiful day. A day everyone was hoping would not be devastated by heartbreak and crying.
“What is he doing here?” one voice said, attempting not to bring too much attention to the fact that he was talking while the CEO, Bobby Royal was standing right there at the front of the room with a mic in his hand and a fake smile on his face. The 30 something year old was the fairly new CEO after his father was far too old to continue running Royal Financial.
“I don’t know,” another voice replied. “I hope no one else is getting axed.” The anxiety level rose ten fold in only a matter of seconds. You could cut the tension in the room with a knife. Eyes widened as they saw him. Some started to sit up straight others shifted in their seats attempting to make it seem as though they were doing something important. It would seem that many of them stopped breathing for a few moments before catching their breath again. It was only a few weeks ago that the branch manager Mike Rolando got sacked. Nerves were to be expected, especially when Bobby was around sport that ridiculously expensive suit. He did not seem like the cocky type, but he sure did like to dress well. He was definitely type A though. Totally anal which made him ruthless. The board of trustees and investors all agreed that he was fit to run the company. But no one hardly saw him, unless it was a big event like firing the branch manager. What Mike did, placed the entire company under heavy scrutiny by the government. The IRS started doing investigations and it did not take long before Mike was found funneling money into off shore accounts in addition to messing with interest rates.
“I’ve never seen him this many times in a month, hell in a year. What the heck is going on,” a third voice whispered.
“Yeah what now?” the first voice questioned. “Was there someone else involved in the scandal.”
“No need to be alarmed,” he said with a smile and a drawl in his voice which left an uneasy feeling in everyone’s gut. “I am simply here to announce some amazing news,” emphasis on news. “One of your very own has shown exemplary performance during his time here at Royal Financial and has been selected as new branch manager. So everyone please raise your glasses for Marcus Warren, our new branch manager.” Marcus was already sitting at the front of the room. The anxiety in the room changed instantly to confusion. Marcus was one of the newest members to the team. Apart from Becky, Brandon, and Justin, who had left the company and returned, Marcus was only hired about eight months ago. How could he possibly be the new branch manager. There were murmurs swirling around in the room. “I know, I know, you guys are so excited to finally have a new branch manager, in only what, two weeks? And I want to personally thank you for your patience in this selection process. But we believe that Marcus has what it takes to run the Atlanta office of Royal financial. Well Marcus, is there anything you would like to say?” Bobby literally shoved the mic in his hand and took one step away.
“Well, ahh, thank you so much Mr. Royal for this amazing opportunity,” he turned to Bobby gave him a slight nod then turned his attention back to the rest of the room. “It is indeed an honor to be branch manager here at Royal financial. I promise you that I will do my absolute best not to let anyone here down. I know that I’ve been here only a mere eight or nine months, but I believe this and my previous experience at other financial institutions have prepared me for this position.” His voice started to rise, as he felt his wind coming. “And…”
“Well thank you Marcus for that arousing speech,” Bobby stepped forward again and took the mic from this hand before he could even start the next sentence. “Everyone please put your hands together for your new branch manager Marcus Warren,” there were more murmurs throughout the room mixed with a few people clapping. “Marcus will begin his new position in the coming month, as he will be going through training with us in New York to become more familiarized with his position.” Bobby dropped to the microphone from his mouth and whispered, “and you better not screw this up.” He placed the microphone to his mouth one more time, “thank you everyone, have a great rest of your day.” And with that Bobby put the microphone back in its stand and walked out the room leaving him standing there looking into the wide eyes of his other coworkers.
“Well, I’m glad we got that out of the way,” he awkwardly said while attempting to put a smile on his face. And with that he walked over to his desk sat down and continued working. The sheer shock and surprise of what just transpired left the room quiet for a few minutes. But the murmurs would not stop. What sounded like curiosity and surprise was becoming jealous anger.
“Who do you think he slept with to get that position?” Some of them weren’t even trying to hide the the fact that they were talking badly behind his back. Hell he was still in the room, “this is pure bull. Who are they kidding.” A female voice spoke, “this is so not fair to any of us.”
It was not long before he got frustrated, picked up his things and left the office. As soon as he was outside the building, he picked up his phone and called his best friend. The other voice on the line answered, “did it work?”
“I suppose it did,” his smile shining through the phone. “I don’t think the other people in the office are too happy with me, but don’t hate the player in the game.”
“Yo, we have to celebrate. Tonight Uncle Louie’s, we are going to drink our brains out,” his friend insisted.
“Simon, you are one crazy piece of you know what. How did you know something like that would work,” Marcus replied.
“Trust me, all those big shots have something to hide and we’re just here to reap the benefits. Alright I’ll see you tonight, I got some fine honeys at the crib who need some attention if you know what I mean,” the phone went dead before Marcus could even say goodbye. He was right, Bobby did have something to hide. During the time he’d visited the Atlanta office, he’d consistently been having sex with the office manager. Marcus walked in on the two in the mail room one afternoon. Simon had advised Marcus to follow Bobby closely. Marcus finally found out where he had disappeared to and caught the whole thing on his iPhone’s camera. Now it wouldn’t have been so bad if he were single. But too bad for Bobby, because he is married with kids and is worth some 25 million dollars. And that was before his promotion to CEO some 9 months ago. So it was either give Marcus a promotion to Branch Manager or face a messy divorce. Thankfully, a messy divorce was not in Bobby’s best interest. Their plan had worked and Marcus was on his way to a new tax bracket. It was time to celebrate.
Marcus wasted no time in calling his parents and letting them in on the amazing news. How he secured the position was not that important to their conversation, but he was excited to update them on the latest development in his world. His parents, especially his mother, were happy to hear that he’d got a promotion and he was slowly moving up. He was probably more happy to tell them than they were happy to hear it. They had hinted at him taking over the family business if this finance thing didn’t work out, but producing and selling wine was far from what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
“But baby you’re a free spirit, you shouldn’t be couped up in a lousy office,” Martha, Marcus’ mother said in her best attempt at dissuading him. They were the proud owners of Warren Vineyards, the producers of award-winning dry, semi sweet, and sparkling wines. The vineyard was the love child of his parents. And they sincerely wanted the business to stay in the family, something that Marcus had considered. But the whole idea of simply taking over from his parents did not appeal to him. He wanted to test himself. He wanted to see if he could really go out on his own and make something of himself. He supposed some of his thirst for adventure was a result of his sister.
She was determined to go her own route, never looking back. She was the wild child who was there when the Warrens were attempting to first get the vineyard going. Of course, like any other business / love children, they require time and attention. All the time spent with the business was time away from an attention hungry little girl. Emilia resented the vineyard for that reason. For her, it was the thing which stole her parents and consequently her childhood. Emilia was quite adamant about leaving the vineyard to never return. Mom and dad probably felt guilty and agreed to allow her to go to any school she wanted, which they had no problems paying for. Emilia moved to the city and attended UCLA and studied to become a veterinarian.
Uncle Louie’s was one of those bars that had been around for over 20 years. It was a staple in the community and in that city. About seven years ago the owner died and his son took over. And from that moment the bar took on new life. It went from being your neighborhood hole in the wall fantastic place to hang out to this upscale venue for all the bigwigs in town. Not really the type of place you want to be if you’re trying to lay low for a while, but if you are trying to meet the right people, it was the perfect place.
Simon was already at Uncle Louie’s when Marcus arrived. Simon probably saw him step out of the cab, because he met him at the door with two bottles of Corona Light in tow, “here you go Buddy. We’re on our way up,” Simon said with a huge smile on his face and swinging one of his huge musclebound arms around his neck. Marcus took the drink and they clinked their bottles together.
“Come on, I have two friends I’d like you to meet.” There were two tall blond girls standing at the bar staring in their direction. They were both in super high heels, short black dresses and they both had cocktails in their hands, “you know I like em in pairs.” Simon nudged him in the side with his free hand.
It was only 7PM and the bar was bustling with local patrons. Young business men and women on their way from work stopped by to unwind from their busy day. The bar had the feel of a old Irish pub, modernized to fit the busy metropolitan. Lots of wood and bronze colored metals. Wine glasses hung from the ceiling behind the bartender, flanked by floor to ceiling bottles of wine. All of which are back lit for effect. Marcus took in the scene and his attention drew to the television as breaking news flew around the screen in catchy bold letters. “The police are working on a missing person’s case tonight. 25 year old Nicole Sinclare was last seen after leaving work at the Pink Pony Gentleman’s Club on Monday. Mangers of the club said ‘she was suppose to show up to work on Tuesday’ but went missing. Sinclare’s black mustang was parked in the back corner of the parking lot outside the club. The cameras show a man approaching her, he gets in the car, and they drive out of view. Concerned friends and family have not heard from Sinclare in over 36 hours. If you, our viewers, have information concerning this missing persons case, please call the Atlanta crime stoppers at: 770-555-0055.” Marcus shook his head in sad disbelief. The missing girl was beautiful; she had long blonde hair, piercing blue eyes, and thin pink lips. Wouldn’t be surprised if her stage name was Barbie because she could sure pass as one, Marcus thought.
“All right big Baller, I see how you roll,” Marcus said enthusiastically as his attention returned to Simon and the ladies he entertained. He was so giddy from the excitement he could barely contain himself. Both men started to walk over to the ladies, but Simon dropped his head as though to whisper something in Marcus’s ear.
“You know what bro, I’ve been thinking of a little getaway vacation celebration. I got this new investment property down on Miami Beach and I don’t have a renter for it yet. I’m thinking we should go take a little trip to Miami and have ourselves a good old time. Now what do you say to that,” he spoke with an air of confidence which bordered on arrogance. Any spectators, seated at any location in the bar could clearly tell that Simon was a little more into himself than the normal man should be. He made such big to-do about the simplest things. He was the type who would laugh for days about crazy talking bird videos on YouTube. Based on personality alone, no one would take him serious. But Simon did have a knack for real estate and a truly special gift for negotiations. One can easily say that Beethoven was born to play the piano and write music. In the same way, Simon was born to sell and buy real estate. He always seemed to know a good property when he sees one. Something natural that could not have been taught. Some say he got lucky choosing the right properties during the market crash some years back. Of course, he attributes it to a gut feeling. Or it could be that he just hid his true knowledge and outsmarted them all.
“Man, you are crazy. Of course I’m down,” Marcus laughed, ecstatic at the idea. Marcus paused for a second, “Next week Bobby is trying to get me to New York to do this ridiculous company training, so I can only stay for the weekend.”
“Don’t sweat it, we can leave tomorrow and party all weekend,” Simon said again with an assured confidence in his voice.
“Alright let’s do it,” Marcus replied with little hesitation. Marcus always wondered how Simon is able to just pick up and go. When did he find time to work when he was always playing. Marcus could almost hear his friend say the words, life is easy when play is your work and work is your play, in that smug voice he uses when attempting to sound intellectual. Simon and Marcus grew up together in Sonoma Valley, California. Their parents knew each other and were very close. And despite their varied personalities, Marcus the more quiet computer nerd and Simon the adventurer, they got along quite fine. Simon was an only child and Marcus, though he had a sister, was the only boy; it was safe to say they were like brothers and they felt as such. They helped each other in tough times, they fought each other, they got in trouble together, everything a good brother could be Simon was it. Marcus trusted the word of his brother over any other girl and only dated the ones who had Simon’s blessings. They did not attend the same University. Simon went to UCLA and Marcus at Georgia Tech University, but Simon moved to Atlanta after graduation. He’d visited Marcus and liked the city. Now Marcus was about to step into his new role as Branch Manager at an investment firm, while Simon was a Real Estate Broker and Investor at Keller Williams Realty.
The next morning Marcus felt rays of sun shine beaming through the window of their high rise apartment. Marcus awoke to a headache and a foot jabbing him in the side. He looked over to his right and saw the source of his discomfort who just happened to be the joy of his night. Was that Becky or Julie, who knows. His surroundings seemed familiar but not quite his, this was Simon’s apartment. Nice, he really knows how to live, the thoughts ran through his mind. I’ll be in Miami today. The sun, beaches, and beautiful ladies was a welcomed change before being dragged to New York for company training. And last night, what happened last night? He looked over to his left where there was a glass table with some white powder. Wild parties were a norm with Simon, a little blow was to be expected. The woman whose foot was firmly planted in his side began to stir. He tried to move quickly but the after-effects of last night’s late night was like a ball and chain on his arms and legs. His movements stirred another feeling in the lower part of his stomach and nature could not be denied. So he rolled out of bed, made his way to his feet and as quickly as he could headed for the restroom.
“Is that you Marcus,” Simon’s voice echoed from the living room. It was now apparent that he was in the kitchen doing something. He was not known for his cooking, so breakfast was out of the question.
“Yeah,” Marcus tiredly replied. His voice sounded like a creaky old door.
“Bro, come to the kitchen to get some coffee, we got to get going,” Simon spoke as though absolutely nothing happened last night. This was sort of a normal routine for him, the way he started and ended every single day. Moments later he walked into the room and pulled the sheets off the naked woman laying there and firmly said, “wake up! Get your stuff and go. Come on, wake up. Get your stuff and leave now.” Marcus quite stunned by the remarks peeked out from the bathroom into the face of the girl now sitting up. She was cute, more cute than he remembered. She looks young, more young than he remembered. He wondered, 21 years old maybe. Whatever the age was, she was far too young to be living this type of lifestyle. But nowadays what is too young. The girl hazily tried to gather her things. Marcus saw a few articles of clothing littered throughout the room and proceeded to help her get it together.
“Can I get you a glass of water,” he asked.
“Yeah, that would be nice,” the girl replied.
“All right stay here I’ll be right back,” Marcus stepped out of the room and went to the kitchen. The other girl that was with them last night was already at the kitchen table having a cup of coffee. Marcus grabbed two mugs, filled them with coffee and a bottle water from the refrigerator door. Simon was never out of bottled water. He quickly returned to the room with water and coffee. “I wasn’t sure which one would be better. How are you feeling?”
“I’ll be fine. I’ll just go,” she said with a sad made up smile.
“Please let me walk you downstairs and get you a cab,” Marcus pleaded. Once she was finally dressed they went out the room together and about 10 minutes later he returned alone. By the time he was back in the room the other woman had already left, he probably missed her on the elevator.
“Alright bro, we’ve got a flight leaving out of ATL 2 PM. You better get home and get ready for this. This is going to be on another level,” Simon said as soon as he walked through the door.
“Let’s do it!”
This has been the fourth chapter of “Do You Think Your Mother Would Like Me?” Read Chapter 5 – The Plan (coming soon)
or go back and read Chapter 3: Teacher’s Note
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