When his phone beeped, Matthias found the least expected reply. There was a possibility that he gave the wrong impression, so he was genuinely surprised when Jodie’s message read, ‘Ok. Time and place?’
‘7pm, you pick,’ Matthias replied.
‘La Petite Café.’
‘Nice choice! See you then :)’
After he had hit sent, he wondered why Jodie agreed to dine with him. He hoped she did not take his messages the wrong way. The only reason why Matthias wanted to meet up with her was because he was curious. Richard did not update him on what happened after the meeting and not wanting to seem like a busybody, he decided to find out by himself. Part of him also knew that he did not give Richard the right advice, and he hoped that Jodie was still oblivious to it. If she wasn’t, the best he could do was offer his services.
The following morning, Matthias woke up to a series of doorbells. He rarely had visitors and it took him a while to realise he wasn’t dreaming. When he finally greeted the guest at his door, he was more than happy to find his younger sister smiling widely at him.
“Miss me?” she asked.
“Nah,” Matthias jokingly replied as he began to shut the door.
His sister immediately pushed her way into his home and plopped onto the couch.
“Good morning to you too,” she said, placing a doughnut box on the coffee table.
“So, how are classes? Did you push up your CGPA?” Matthias habitually asked. He knew it annoyed her, but he could not help it. Since he was paying for her education, he had to act like an overbearing parent.
“Classes are ok. And the semester isn’t even over yet.”
“No problems then?”
“Nope. Can you make me coffee?” she asked, as she opened the box of doughnuts. “I bought your favourites, so you better eat them.”
“How nice of you, bringing breakfast for your big brother,” Matthias replied sarcastically. “You’re not going to make me pay for it, are you?”
“Aw, come on. Of course not!” she said with grin.
Maddie was the person Matthias loved the most in the world. When she was born, he decided he would give up everything for her. Growing up, he looked out for the two of them without the help of his parents. They had disappointed him one too many times, that he stopped expecting anything from them since the age of twelve.
As Matthias filled up two cups of coffee, he asked, “What’s with the surprise visit?”
“Well…” Maddie trailed off.
“I hope you’re not asking me for money.”
“When was the last time I asked you for money?”
Matthias thought for a while, and then said, “Hmm, I can’t remember.”
“Exactly. I’m here because I’ve got good news,” Maddie said with excitement.
“What good news?”
“I’ve been offered a scholarship!”
Matthias quickly walked over, and just as he placed the cups on the table, Maddie handed him a letter. Reading it through, one name stood out.
“Wilhelm Group?” Matthias thought out loud.
“Yup! They’ll be covering all my fees and they’ll even return the money you paid for the first two semesters! How cool is that?” Maddie answered for him.
“Pretty cool,” Matthias replied. “Let me hold on to this. It seems they want you to work for them after you graduate.”
“I don’t mind. Sounds like a good deal to me.”
“Did you respond to them already?”
“Yup! I mean, it’s a no brainer, right?” Maddie paused before adding, “you’re not against it, are you?”
“No, of course not,” Matthias said with a chuckle.
Matthias wanted to celebrate wholeheartedly, but the company behind it and Richard’s recent find in their subsidiary law firm rested a strange uneasiness upon him; the kind that stubbornly lingered. When night arrived, he unintentionally brought it up during his dinner with Jodie.
“So my sister told me she got a scholarship today,” Matthias randomly stated.
“That’s great news. From where?”
“Oh. Their name keeps popping up everywhere these days.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Don’t you work for their subsidiary?”
“I do, but I don’t know much about them. Wish I did, you know.”
“If I’m not mistaken, Zach was a recipient of the Wilhelm Group Scholarship Fund.”
“Yea, and wasn’t Richard too? I heard him mention he was on scholarship. As though it’s something to boast about when he doesn’t actually need it. But I think, you would know better?”
Matthias thought about his few years with Richard and his memory brought him back to a conversation they had as freshmen. Richard told him he was offered a scholarship without having to apply for it, because his family had connections. Obviously they did, but it was strange to offer scholarship to someone like Richard, whose family had no financial problems.
“You’re right. He did tell me about it.”
And then seeing the opportunity to slip in the question he had been dying to ask all night, he said, “Speaking of Richard, you have not spoken to him since the task briefing, right?”
“I did, but it wasn’t a conversation.”
“What do you mean?” Matthias asked.
“It was like a ‘hi’ and ‘bye’ thing. Why?”
It was a good thing Richard did not spill the beans. Matthias did not know how serious it was but revealing information prematurely could have made things worse for Jodie. Silently sighing in relief, his mind went back to his sister and the scholarship.
Matthias wanted to ask both Zach and Richard about it, but it was either one or the other. The offer letter stated that any decision changes should be notified by Monday noon, hence there was not much time left. Matthias had to choose.