Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.
02-Things can ALWAYS get worse
When Alexis woke up, Wisp was pacing around the bedroom, the knee-length silk of her fresh robe thrashing in the air behind her.She looked really upset. Something had happened while he was out that made her lost all the color in her face.
“You’re up! That’s good. I just cleaned your vomit from the floor, there’s some water on the side table. Drink it.”
Alexis shivered and noticed he was only in his pants. He felt his throat burn and swallowed three glasses of water before turning to talk to her. “I’m sorry if I put you in trouble, but I need my shirt.” The alcohol was definitely out of his system, for now he saw her for the first time, from toes to head.Her long body embraced by silk, the gentle curves, the white long neck curving to stare at him.
“If you were dead I would be in trouble. You just passed out, nothing new in eighteen’s parties. Most of the boys don’t know how to drink. Your shirt was ruined so I threw it in the trash”. She sat on the edge of the bed staring the floor.
Alexis was a little offended being called a boy, but remembered something Wisp said before he passed out. “You know Grascov? I mean, you said our sponsor.”
The girl took a deep breath, her chest rising high. “How do you think he became important and rich?Not sponsoring boys for studying. He sponsors young ladies with talents to please men, to please his future business partners, his friends and even enemies. He is a dangerous man. You shouldn’t have accepted his offer. He works with more things than just banks. More… dangerous things.”
Alexis felt a different kind of shudder, not from cold. What could he offer to an important man like Grascov? The gaps in the law, moron! Was it worthy to be involved with Grascov only to study Politics in Wohgran?
“We become slaves without even knowing it”, the girl continued. “The Lady of this club is in Carli, buying clothing for the girls, but she won’t come back. There is an ambush for her in the way back. Grascov wants me to take her place, just because they argued a few months ago. It’s like an endless nightmare. The ones who tried to leave this place, to leave Grascov claws, just disappeared, things left behind.”
She sat closer to him, crossed her legs, the robe opening a little and exposing a shining white long thigh under it, “Aren’t you aware of the spy that followed you?”
“Excuse me? A spy?” Alexis was surprised with such nonsense, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He tried to concentrate but she was coming closer.
“He was a thin man. He was stalking you when I brought you all to the party room.” Her green eyes shone under the candles light. “He’s not a Grascov’s man. Maybe he could help you.”
“Why did you tell me this? If Grascov is that dangerous you could have problems saying things like these.”
“It’s been a while since Grascov last visited me. One can grow tired of waiting. I’m not allowed to have any other clients than him, but sometimes I simply don’t care about what he thinks. Why do you think I brought you to a bedroom and ripped off half of your clothes?” Her lips curved in a corner smile and she drank in the sight of him.
He knew he was handsome, but never a girl had looked at him with desire. But this was not a regular girl, she was a whore. He could do anything without guilt and she would even like. She hugged him and whispered in his ears, “You know Grascov paid us for you to choose a girl to be with the whole night.” She put her hand around his neck, so tight he hugged her back, pressing her body against his with firm hands. A shudder spread on Alexis’ body, but he felt warm.
Then everything happened really fast. One moment they were kissing, in another Alexis was fighting his thoughts of how this would complicate even more his situation, while she undressed him with no ceremonies.
It was almost noon when a shirtless Alexis knocked on his best friend’s door, Vinicius. For his surprise it was Vinicius who attended.
“Hey you!!! Great party last night, by the way. You disappeared!”
“Shhh… Can I come in and take a shower? I really need to talk to you.”
“Haven’t you got home yet? No way! Saint Alexis spent a night in the whorehouse and didn’t take a shower after it? You’re growing fast man.”
“Stop mocking me. I’m serious. I’m in trouble, maybe my family too.”
Vinicius blue eyes opened two inches and he let Alexis get in.
“Where are your parents?”Alexis scanned the living room apprehensive. He put his hat on a peg and followed Vinicius to the kitchen.
“They work for a living, you know. Not everybody can spend a night in a club, like us.” Vinicius called one of the maids to serve them strong coffee. “Do you want to have lunch with me? It’s boring being on vacation alone in here.”
“Yes. But I really need to shower first. Something really weird happened last night.”
“It’s called erection and you shouldn’t be so terrified. It’s going to happen a lot from now on. Soap will do it.”
“Very funny! Just ‘cause I was virgin it didn’t mean a have never had one before. I’m talking about Grascov. And why is this maid only in underwear? What the hell were you doing? Vin, you could’ve warned me we were not alone.”
Alexis looked at the maid from head to toe, her pink undies deliciously remembering a remaining gift wrap. Vinicius said something to the maid in a language Alexis did not know and she laughed, her round boobs nearly jumping from her lacy bra.
“Okay. I should be going home. Bye Vinicius.”
“Waaait Lex! I just said you were embarrassed for seeing her like this. She is going to get dressed. Go take your shower, grab some of my clothes and then we talk, right?”
Alexis took ten minutes before climbing down the stairs to the kitchen again. The maid was dressed and was serving lunch. Alexis told him that a girl had eavesdropped on them and about a possible spy stalking him, carefully not to tell Vinicius what happened later. When they finished lunch, Vinicius was tapping the table with the tips of his fingers nervously.
“So she said Grascov was going to kill the Club’s Lady? Mrs. Rose? And people were getting killed? Okay. What about proofs? If he really wants to have you as his puppet in the future, how could this girl know? This story is weak. How much wine did you drink last night?”
“I’m serious. The girl was out of color when she told me this. And there’s this man she said was stalking on me.”
“How could a simple whore know so much about Grascov’s plans? Use your reason, mate! She’s lying to you. Maybe she is jealous Grascov sponsored you to study and not her. I don’t know. How old was she again?”
“She was in her twenties. I don’t think this is the case. But I’m really concerned. What if I really get stuck on Grascov plans? What would he do to my family if I denied help to him? And there’s a man chasing me. Chasing! I have to think this straight. Maybe I should talk to Wisp again, this time sober.”
“I didn’t see anyone after you, so why bother? Let it go.”
The maid started to talk nervously to Vinicius in that weird tongue, but Alexis understood Grascov and Wisp in the same sentence. After a minute of talking, Vinicius turned to Alexis with a heavy expression on his face. “Tell me this Wisp was not the reddish who guided us. Please!”
“Why not? I told you she was in the group with us.”
“There were three red-haired in the group yesterday…”, “I didn’t notice” Alexis cut him, “… so why you had to talk to Grascov’s maid?”
“What?” Alexis pretended not to understand his friend. Shit!
“My maid already worked in Gentlemen Clubs before coming to Vuoren and she told me she knew only one Grascov and one Wisp. She said the Wisp she knew was red-haired, always looked like she was in her twenties and was Grascov’s private whore. Like a toy no one else would ever touch but him. She asked me how you knew this name and said you should be with serious issues if you had slept with her. I told her you’re not idiot to nail Grascov’s sponsored whore and she said you did, because your eyes were wide like the only thing you had done in the last five hours was fucking.”
Alexis stared at the maid, who really was with an accusatory look at him. Vinicius looked from the maid to Alexis, gasped and with a high pitched voice continued. “YOU DID WHAT?”
Alexis tried petulantly to change the subject, “Where is this maid from? I can’t understand a word she says.”
“Lex! Don’t try to dodge me! Everyone in Vuoren knows Grascov has a private lady, so why in the burning hell would you DO HIS WHORE?” Vinicius yelled in exasperation.
“I didn’t know, ok? I was really drunk, woke up in a bedroom, she told me what I told you and then she attacked me. And come on! Have you seen her? I am not gay! And even our gay friends would have nailed her. You know Carl would have.”
“Carl is bi. But this is not the point, the point is: you are a dead man! If Grascov wanted you for favors in the future, now he wants to skin you like a bear and make a nice carpet!”
“He will never know. I won’t tell, you won’t, and I hope your maid won’t too.”
The maid started talking again and Vinicius dismissed her. “She said she won’t. She’s an ex-whore. All she wants is to be far from men like Grascov for the rest of her life. But what if he has spies on you? Lots of them? Wisp said you’ve been chased.”
“But not for Grascov. It was some sort of enemy. Can your maid understand us? How could she answer?”
“She knows some words. It was useful to pretend ignorance in her former occupation; she could obtain information to sell. So… What’s the plan? I’m pretty sure men like him have information easily. This won’t be a secret for long.”
Alexis dug his nails on his scalp, trying to force some idea out of it. If he thought he was screwed before, now he was certainly walking to death.
“Why don’t you try sponsorship in another city? There are plenty of places to go far from Vuoren. You could still apply for Politics. I’m going to Annz Helm. You could come along. We could share a place, or live in college. You definitely need to leave Vuoren. Not for good, but for a while.”
“My family can’t afford it, and my father had already done business with Grascov. A house in Lacuri, big deal of money, I can’t do this to my parents. I’m already tied to the man.”
Vinicius exhaled helplessly. They started talking and spent the rest of the day discussing plans and alternatives to keep Alexis safe, but none seemed good enough. Alexis went home at sunset and his mother was waiting for him, with an angry look in her face that made him wish to go back at Vinicius’.
“Alexis Kristoff! Where have you been? I know where you went last night, so do not lie to me.”
“Mother, it was my birthday party. I was at Vinicius’. You can check if you want. We had coffee and lunch together.”
“Vinicius who? Von Nicolai? The Businessman’s son? What were you doing all this time at his house?”
“He’s the closest thing I have for friend, don’t worry. We were talking about plans for the future.”
To this, his mother relaxed. She went back to the kitchen and called a maid giving some orders.
“Your friends might be jealous! Mr. Grascov is an excellent sponsor with a lot of resources. You will live as a prince from now on. I am so proud of you, my son. You are by far the best Kristoff this family already had.”
Alexis felt guilty. She is so naïve… And I am forever lost in Grascov’s criminal net.
He went upstairs and locked his door behind him. He took from a chest an old contraption he had bought in a thrift shop some months ago. It was a gramophone. It was the closest he had to music from old Earth. Even with all technology, some people loved vinyl. There were a lot of bands that had re-recorded in vinyl before the fall, it was the trend in Europe, to bring the vinyl as a form of art and expose in museums. Maybe they were foreboding what was about to happen. Alexis put a disk of an extinct kind of music. It had what they called electric guitars.
There were drums, low pounding sounds and strident male voices. He understood why this music was so loved by teenagers back there. It was as if the lyrics and the rhythm expressed all the anger and frustration he was holding back. He kept changing discs until he was napping with music as a whisper, tickling his ears, “And I will break away, I’ll find myself today…”
He woke with a soft knock on his door. It was his mother. She looked a little paler than usual. “Son, there is a man downstairs who wants to talk to you. He says he is from the capital and is here on private business. He says he will talk only to you. Can you come?”
“Sure. Two minutes.”
Alexis was still groggy from sleeping and the birthday’s hang over. He went downstairs lazily but froze on the last step when he saw the silhouette sat on the couch. A tall thin man was waiting for him: the stalker.
“I guess you were warned of my coming, lad. Can we talk in private? I am sure your mother would not mind. Carli is really far and I have to go back in a few hours.”
The man was not as scary as Alexis first thought. He was dressed as a capital man, black suit with a silver tie, hair neat and combed to the side, silk tissue on the pocket and a top hat in his hand. He held a black briefcase that looked important. His mouth was a line; he was tall and his hard face a marble statue.
“You can use Kristoff’s study. My son will lead you the way.” She said and went back to the kitchen, looking over her shoulder curiously.
Alexis showed the way and locked the door when they entered the room.
“Anything to drink sir…?” Alexis started with the formalities, but the man went straight to the point.
“I’m Mr. Columbus from Security and Safes in Carli. My company sent me to deliver you an heirloom registered in your name. But before reading the contract, I have some instruction to you. May I?
“I’m sorry sir, but I don’t know who could possibly have done this.”
“Actually, it was your biological parents who did.”
Alexis froze again. Few people knew he was adopted, since he looked like his stepmother, and he never heard a word about his biological parents. They were only ghosts or myths to him.
Alexis’ Adam-apple moved tensely while he swallowed “My biological parents?”
“The contract is sealed in extreme privacy, so I had to talk to you in private, I am sorry about that. Your family name would cause you some discomfort if revealed so easily. The instructions are: this will remain a secret as long as you want, you can only receive the heirloom if you accept all the terms in the contract and you will never reveal all the content of the contract to anyone but the ones you would die for or vice-versa. I can wait while you consider the offer. But I warn you, once you take it, there is no coming back.”
Alexis had turmoil of thoughts swirling around his mind. Biological parents? Instructions? No coming back? What is this man talking about? The Kristoffs had never mentioned anything about his parents before. It took ten minutes to Alexis to recover his voice.
“I agree. Who are they? Why did they abandon me? Where were they all this time? Why they never reached me but now?” Alexis felt his eyes burn, anticipating tears, and his throat was paper dry.
“Sir, I just have the contract. Read it and then some of these questions can be answered.”
The man seemed emotionless. Alexis received the envelope with trembling hands, broke the wax seal and started reading with a blurred vision.
“It was declared as an heirloom to the lad some items, properties and books that belonged to his parents. These were kept under private insurance property until his eighteenth birthday, to be restored to him as the rightful owner. In the case he is dead before receiving the heirloom, the contract must be delivered to the government and its secrecy be cancelled. He has right to:
1.A property in the region of Caleen. A field house with an enclosed garden and all the items inside.
2.The private library built in the underground of this same property in Caleen.
3.The family’s bank account based on Bank of Carli and all the interest produced in these years of application.
4.A sponsorship to any advanced course desired in the Institution of the city of Melklai, Melkaham, with all the costs afforded by this insurance company.
5.Private protection by guards, if necessary, during his first years under obligatory self-protection education.
Before claiming his heirloom, he has the obligation to:
1.Keep the information a secret from popular knowledge while signing the papers.
2.Take residence in Melklai as soon as possible to start his studies.
3.Start a hard self-protection education, instructed with fighting skills and weaponry.
4.Keep contact with stepparents, as much as possible, and to be registered under his real family name: Alexis Carl Aemygdius.
Otherwise, this contract is annulled.
You must be kidding me…, he thought. Carl is my middle name?
The instructions were not so bad. It was a safe escape from Vuoren, and Grascov, as he wanted, but better. Melkaham was the best institution of the country and he would have all his costs afforded. He would have a house, some money and a new life ready to be lived. Fighting classes and private protection? It was as if his biological parents knew he would be in trouble.
Suddenly he was not so angry about the past years of silence. They should have had some reason to give up on raising him. He could feel his parents had thought in everything. He still had some questions in mind, but he looked at the handwriting at the bottom of the contract and his heart skipped a beat.
The names of his biological parents were Ruödrik and Madjane Aemygdius. His new last name was… Aemygdius. Aemygdius!
Now he remembered where he had seen this name before. That must be a mistake or another family called Aemygdius. No, no, no, no… This was not his family name at all. The only Aemygdius he had heard of were the ones who started the Great War some years ago.
There were no despised people as the ones who took side to Aemygdius and Griffin, the leaders of the Ungrateful. If his memory was right, they were exiled to the forbidden islands and few were forgiven. The leaders were captured and killed before going to public trial, to avoid a possible rescue. Aemygdius and Griffin became a curse on people’s lips since the end of the Great War, until nowadays. No one with any of these names would ever have a social life in the world of living.