“Fancy choice for a time like this,” Matthias said.
Richard called him to his presidential suite mid week. At first, Matthias thought he’d heard the location wrong, but it didn’t take him long to figure out what had happened.
“Curious, aren’t you?” Richard asked, as he ushered Matthias in.
“No, not really.”
“I was handed a truckload of money.”
“I think I know from whom,” Matthias said, taking a quick look around. There was a wide glass window overlooking the night-lit city, and he strode toward it.
“Want to know how much?”
“No. I’m just glad you’re no longer sleeping on my couch.”
Richard chuckled and handed Matthias a glass of whiskey. “Thanks for the hospitality.”
“Don’t mention it. What did you want to tell me?”
“I learned something new about Wilhelm Group. I thought you might be able to find out more with my intel.”
“You think too highly of me, but I’ll try.”
If Matthias was being honest, he’d been thinking about discontinuing the clubhouse challenge since last weekend. The only reason why he hadn’t back out was because he didn’t want the rest to think he was abandoning ship.
“Well, you’re the man with the contacts. Anyway, I was told that Gabriel is the new owner of Wilhelm Group.”
Matthias turned to Richard, with eyebrows narrowed.
“Surprise, aren’t you? It would’ve been me if Gabriel wasn’t born,” Richard added.
“You seem to have more contacts than me, Richard. But I’ll see what I can do.”
After Matthias thanked Richard for the drink, he excused himself and headed home. Despite not wanting to delve in the whole scandal, he found himself researching on the infamous Gabriel Lee. There was little information about him, but not a single picture. By sunrise, Matthias decided to have a little chat with his boss.
Clocking-in 10-minutes before the rest, Matthias headed straight to his boss’ office. It was part of his daily routine. That day, he decided to survey his boss’ condition first, before bringing up Gabriel. But upon his arrival, Matthias found only one person in the office – the very person he did not want to see.
“Good morning,” the man greeted. It was the same man that threatened him to get Jodie’s case files.
“It’s nice seeing you again,” Matthias simply replied.
“Vice versa. I have a message for you.”
“My boss wants to meet with you.”
“He does? Well, tell him I’m busy.”
“He has an offer for you. One I’m sure you’d like,” the man insisted.
Then without waiting for Matthias’ reply, he handed him a card with an address and time scribbled on it – it wasn’t an obscure location, but the jogging path by the city river.
“Don’t be late,” the man added, before strolling out.
Matthias’ first instinct was to call his sister. When she told him she was fine, he heaved a sigh of relief. Knowing that he wasn’t being threatened again, he wondered about the motive behind the meet. It was at a public place and right during the evening rush – it was pretty safe. Since there was nothing to lose, he decided to go and ask questions.
By the time evening rolled around, Matthias excused himself earlier with no questions asked. He reached the car park before the working class started on their commute home, and found the jogging path before the designated time. The card itself did not specify where they were to meet, so he took a stroll – crossing paths with mothers and their children, young couples, and evening joggers. When he finally reached the wide bridge arcing over the river, he spotted a young man in a suit, leaning against the handrail. Matthias somehow knew that was the person he was to meet.
Walking up to the young man, Matthias pulled out the card he was given and handed it to him. The young man smiled as he took it. Up close, he didn’t look a day over twenty, which was quite a surprise.
“How did you know it was me?” he asked.
“We’re the only two people out of place,” Matthias replied.
“And that’s why I like you. You’re very observant.”
“Who are you and what do you want?”
“My name is Gabriel. And I want you to work for me.”
Matthias stared blankly at the introduction, failing to formulate a reply. Just the night before, he’d learned who Gabriel was. And to meet him the next day, let alone be offered a job, felt unreal.
“You’ve heard of me, I assume,” Gabriel said.
“I have, from Richard.”
“Ah, then he must have told you about Skypeak too. And the unbeatable challenge.”
“He has,” Matthias lied without a second thought.
“I’m guessing, you’ve considered quitting the challenge. Am I right?”
He had only just met Gabriel and he was starting to dislike him. The way the boy was able to predict his moves made Matthias extremely uneasy.
“Quit it, Matthias, and then come work with me. If you think that’s betraying your friends, it’s not like you’ve never done it before.”
Holding back whatever reply he had, Matthias turned to look down the river.
“Think about it. I don’t hurt my own.”
Leaving him with what sounded like a threat, Matthias watched as Gabriel strolled down the bridge. When Gabriel was no longer in sight, Matthias sighed and pushed himself away from the handrail. He was ready to head home and think over Gabriel’s offer, when he heard someone clearing their throat behind him.
Looking over his shoulder, he saw Guinevere standing with her arms crossed. Matthias unconsciously held his breath. She was in her jogging attire, and had seemingly stood there long enough to have caught her breath.
“Who was that?” Guinevere asked calmly. “And what did he mean by betraying your friends?”
Rarely was Matthias in such a situation. He was always careful not to let his guard down. That day, felt like a set up to have him exposed. At that very moment, Matthias could only do one of two things: come clean or lie. He could tell her what was going on, or he could simply shrug it off and drop out of the clubhouse challenge – never to see her again. There weren’t any other options, and Matthias had to choose.
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The Clubhouse © 2014 – 2015 by Jeyna Grace.
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