"Sit down for this," Dag greets Rainier with an excited grin, "I just got a call from a Bill Arthag, he's this music industry mogul, and he wants to invest in our company. He wanted to set up a meeting today, right away."
Rainier is less enthusiastic about this event than his partner, "Bill Arthag?" he asks, recognizing the name, "Did he say why a wealthy music industry mogul wants to invest in a little start up video game company?"
Dag frowns, "Who cares why? Don't be such a downer. We could use the money."
"No money ever comes for free."
"Well of course not. But it's not like we're being bought out by one of the big game companies who will want to change the way do things. He'll be here in less than hour; we can negotiate a deal that allows us to retain creative control. I'm sure all he wants is his piece of the profits."
Rainier frowns. "Don't be so sure that's all he wants," he says, and pauses to think about to what to tell his partner, or what not to tell. "I've been screwing his daughter. His teenage daughter. His coming here can hardly be a coincidence," he says, opting for full disclosure. If there's going to be a negotiation over the future of their business, his partner needs to know.
"Shit, Rainier, are you ever going to learn to keep it in your pants? A teenager?"
"I didn't know at the time. And I've ended it since."
"So you think she told her father?"
"I don't know, Dag," Rainier says, "But he's coming here himself instead of sending lawyers, or cops, after me. So there's that at least. I'm not sure what he's after, but I'm quite sure he's not all that interested in investing in some small company. We're beneath his notice. I'm going to call Portia, and ask her."
"Are you sure...?' Dag starts to asks, but Rainier has already dialed the number.
"Mom, I hate Nieman Marcus. It's so, I don't know, stuffy and old."
"Well, you said you wanted to be more adult," Mercedes answers.
"Yeah, young adult, not---hang on," Portia says, responding to her phone.
"Hi," she says, making the greeting almost a question. She recognized the incoming number and is more than a little surprised to hear from Rainier so soon.
Just the one word jolts through Rainier like lightning, he imagines himself, arms around her, lips pressed to her neck. Quickly, he shakes himself fro his reverie, "Chère," he says, unconsciously using the endearment, "Your father is on his way to my office to negotiate a deal with my company. Do you know why?"
"Wow, no, I have no clue, Emma," Portia answers, "I'm out having lunch with my mother. We're going shopping today. I'm going to redecorate my whole room. You'll just die when you see it."
Rainier smiles, listening to her deception. Obviously, she can't talk now, in front of her mother. "You didn't tell him about me, did you?"
"Never," Portia assures him, "You totally have to call me later and tell me how your date went."
"If he doesn't have me arrested."
Portia giggles nervously, "I'm sure he wouldn't. Listen, I have to go, lunch is here. Call me later."
The blonde one, Dag, introduced himself with a nervous, guilty smile. At first, Bill thought he had his man, the one that had been sleeping with his daughter. He didn't believe Portia's protestations of innocence for a second. But the dark-haired one, Rainier, gives Bill pause.
Not nervous or guilty at all, he looks Bill directly in the eyes with a stare that's almost challenging, and most definitely suspicious, like he knows Bill has ulterior motives for being here. Now Bill is not so sure that Dag is the one at all.
They sit for negotiations. Bill addresses his proposals to Rainier, obviously the man in charge here, whatever his relation to Portia may or may not be.
"I'm curious as to why you are interested in our company at all, Mr. Arthag." Rainier says, "Does this have anything to do with your daughter?"
Bill is actually taken aback by Rainier's direct approach here. "Why would this have anything to do with my daughter?" he asks, curious to see what this man will admit to in the conference room.
"She runs a fairly popular game blog, Vanguard," Rainier answers, "She's contacted me several times for information about the industry. I thought perhaps your interest in our company was influenced by her."
Bill didn't even know about Portia's blog, and suddenly he's not so sure about the relationship this man has with his daughter. Rainier is certainly confident enough in speaking about her, not like a man talking about an underage girl he'd been sleeping with to her father would be. Maybe it's as Portia claimed, she wants him, be he hasn't taken the bait. "Please, call me Bill," Bill says, stalling for a moment. "So you respond to every teenage girl that contacts you?"
"Not every one, no," Rainier says, "But Portia's blog has a large following, and it would be unwise for a company as small as ours to ignore her."
"The video game industry is hot right now. I could just buy stock in one of the big companies, but I want to get involved with a small, growing company." Bill explains his interest in the company with a lie.
"That's a riskier way to go," Rainier points out.
"I got where I am now by taking risks."
"In any deal we'd make with you, we'd have to retain full creative control over all our work," Rainier says, "And we'd want free access to your music."
"Those licenses are worth millions," Bill protests.
"Yes, and if you are truly interested in the growth of this company, you'll give them to us," Rainier says.
Negotiations conclude without a real decision. Rainier and Dag promise to write up a contract for Bill to consider, and the men all rise to part ways. Bill claps a hand down on Rainier's shoulder, "Listen, why don't you meet me tonight at the Beverly Hills Country Club for drinks."
"I'm not a member," Rainier points out.
"But I am," Bill says, "You'll come as my guest. I insist."
Rainier doesn't have much choice but to agree.
"What did you make of that?" Dag asks as Bill leaves the room, "Do you think he wants in on the company so he has power over you? For revenge or something?"
"He could crush me easily enough without going through so much trouble," Rainier muses, "Still, the idea of giving him any share in our company..."
"We really could use the money. And the music licenses!"
"I know," Rainier says, "I'll see what I can learn from him tonight."
Before he leaves the office, Rainier emails Portia the details of his meeting with her father. In case Bill brings it up with her, she'll know the story Rainier told about how they met. He doesn't dare call her, telling himself she's probably still shopping with her mother. But it's her voice he's avoiding.
"You understand, we've been entirely funded by our own money, and loans," Rainier explains while he and Bill share a drink by the club's pool, "In our industry, what typically happens is, if you've published a successful game or two, a bigger company will offer to buy you out. When that happens, you can either stay on and try to maintain the integrity of your brand while fighting corporate interests, or you can take the money and run, starting over with a new company. What you're proposing is unusual, to say the least. We aren't ready to hand over creative control to an investor."
"You sound just like the bands I work with," Bill laughs, "Always concerned about their creative control. But they don't know the industry like I do, how to sell themselves and their music."
"But I do know my industry, Bill, and you don't. So you can see why I'm so reluctant to engage in this kind of partnership with you. We take your money, and your music licenses, and you wait patiently for us to finish our game and release it, not trying to speed up the process or having any say in how we manage it? For what, uncertain profits? There's no guarantee this game will be a success."
"Then why are you doing it?"
"This is my life, my passion," Rainier says, "I've staked everything I have on it."
"And I'd be staking a few million," Bill says with a shrug, "Money I can easily lose."
"But you don't just throw money out the window for no reason..."
"Are seriously considering not taking my money?" Bill asks.
"I'm very serious, Bill. Unless I know what it is you think you are buying with your money, I won't take it."
"My daughter's 18th birthday is coming up, you know," Bill says, watching Rainier's face for a reaction, but gets nothing, "As you mentioned, she's highly interested in your industry. Being invested in your company would be an excellent gift for her, don't you think?"
Rainier looks down at his drink. His life is getting more complicated by the minute.
"What are you thinking about, darling?" Mercedes asks.
"I was planning on crushing a man, earlier today. Now I'm not so sure."
Mercedes climbs onto his lap, "It turns me on when you take a man down. Why are you changing your mind?"
"Because this one might turn out to be an asset. Never destroy what you can use."
"You're so smart," Mercedes sighs, "Let's go to bed."