Chapter 52. - Investments
It was ironic how easily we, as human beings, got used to the good things in life. For example, it only took me a couple of times with Lukas LaBelle to familiarize myself with the feel of his arms around me. And after I got to experience something so toe-curling and magical, it was hard to accept anything less.
Just as easily, I got used to the easy, relaxed way of life on the little Greek island. There was no traffic, no nine lane freeways to get stuck in during rush hour - and outside of it. There was nowhere else to be but in that moment.
And now, the thought of having a set, stern schedule gave me a headache. Before my newest work project, I had an appointment with the account manager my mother insisted I should hire. It was the same one she and my father used for their estate, and now she felt that it was time I turned to a professional.
As if on cue, my phone rang, my mother’s name flashing on my dashboard. “Morning, mom!”
“London it’s nearly ten am. I’ve already had a hot yoga class and a writing session with my editor before calling you. Are you at Jordan’s office yet?”
I shook my head as if she could see me. “I’m stuck in traffic, but I should be there soon.”
“He’s doing me a favor by taking you on. Normally, he goes for clients with much higher net worths - so please be courteous of his time.”
“You don’t have to tell me that, mom. But I can’t predict the traffic!”
“If there’s one thing, London, that you can predict in Los Angeles, is that there will be traffic.” She sighed. “Call me after to tell me how it went! And remember, London, to take your business to the next level, you need capital. Start saving and investing - that’s what Jordan is here for.”
I rolled my eyes - just because she couldn’t see me. “I’ll talk to you after, mom.”
Ten minutes after hanging up, I pulled up in front of the swanky offices of my parents’ wealth manager. He was already at the door, in a pristine suit, holding a glass of water out as he ushered me into the building.
I suddenly wished I wore something other than my trusty faded denim dungarees, but I supposed it was too late to think about that now. “London Grey, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” He shook my hand, motioning toward the elevator in the back of the lobby. “Adelaide and Richard are two of my favorite clients.”
I lifted a brow at him. “I’m sure you don’t say that to all your client’s relative when they visit.”
To my surprise, Jordan laughed. “And I see you inherited your mother’s good humor. I think we’ll make a great team.”
Once we arrived to the fifth and top floor of the building, he led me between glass desks and state of the art computers, until we reached the office at the far end of the floor, overlooking the city. “Nice view!” I complimented, taking the chair he offered me across the table from him. “I’m going to be honest with you, I’m not sure why my mother wanted me to hire an account manager so bad. Don’t get me wrong, I do well for a young entrepreneur in my field in the age of Pinterest, and Wal-mart wall art - but I just don’t see why I’d need someone like you to manage that money for me.”
As if expecting my question, Jordan slid a folder across the table. “This details all the services me and my firm offer. We don’t just count your money, London. I hope you don’t mind if I call you that?”
I shook my head. “London’s fine.”
“We also set up a plan with you. We’ll meet every month at the beginning, then these meetings will be less and less frequent. We’ll discuss your spending and your monthly needs, then what to do with the rest. I always suggest keeping a portion of it in a safe deposit - such as what you’d get at a bank. Safe stocks and bonds that can withstand the crash of the market. Then, with another portion, we’ll do riskier investments - meaning there is a chance that we can lose that money, but if it pays off, we can easily double or triple that within a year. There’s of course investments in between, yielding a smaller percentage.”
My head was spinning at his words. “Jordan - I hope you don’t mind if I call you that - I dropped out of college, so you’ll have to break it down for me a little further. What you’re telling me is that you want me to hand you my paychecks to divide into categories?”
“Something like that.” He nodded, and if he judged me by my lack of financial knowledge, he didn’t show it. “I don’t want to overwhelm you on the first meeting… What I would like you to know is that your money is in great hands. If you use an account manager, such as myself, you don’t just get the minimum percentage a bank would give you - we grow your money for you. You can leave this amount with me right now for example-”
He pushed a sheet in front of me and pointed at a five-digit figure.
“-and if we use a half and half investment structure, meaning we’ll do safe investments with half of the money, and riskier with the other, you could get this much back in a year.” He pointed to another figure at the bottom.
My eyes bulged out of my head as I glanced down at the numbers.
“In simple terms, this is how the rich get richer, London. Their money isn’t just sitting around, collecting dust. They’re constantly investing it in the next best thing, and it grows itself. Now if you decide you want to reinvest that money you got at the end of next year, this is what you could end up with two years from now.”
His finger hovered over another number, that made my pulse race.
“The more you invest with us, the more returns we can get you. And yes, before you ask, we do take a percentage of that - after all, we gotta keep the lights on.” Jordan smiled, motioning around himself to the luxurious office building we were situated in, in one of the most expensive parts of town.
“Jordan, this all sounds great - too good to be true, in fact.” I took a deep breath, still eyeing the numbers on the sheet he provided for me. “But I’ve been on somewhat of a hiatus for the last couple of months. And then I bought a home and a new security system…” I trailed off. “What I’m telling you is, I don’t have thousands of dollars to give you. I don’t even know how I’m going to keep my lights on if the newest client I’m meeting today doesn’t pay me a portion ahead of time!”
Jordan’s lips quirked up into a small, knowing smile.
I rose to my feet. “Look, I know my parents respect you and think the world of you. And I’m not that dumb to figure out you probably don’t meet clients like me. Your assistant’s assistant does… So I don’t want to waste your time any longer-” I rose from my chair, with him mirroring my movements.
“London, please sit down.” He said in a calm, self-assured voice, eyeing me patiently until I complied. “You are correct. My assistant’s assistant, as you put it, would be the one meeting with you were not a favor for your mother.”
Great! I thought as if this wasn’t humiliating enough.
“But you’re wrong about your wealth.” From the top drawer of his fancy desk, Jordan picked out another folder and slid it in front of me.
Unlike the other ones, this was thick, silver, and had my name written on the little tab on the side of it.
“Open it.” He encouraged, that little secret smile playing on his lips.
I lifted the cover, glancing at the first page of the file. It had my name on it, my account number with Jordan’s company and-
“That can’t be. That’s one of your projections, right? If I invest with you for the next zillion years, that’s how much I’ll get back?!” I looked over him, wide-eyed.
But his expression already gave the answer away. “No, London Grey, that is how much you currently have in your account. So as you can see, you have plenty to invest with us.”
I shook my head. “I think you’ve made a mistake.”
Jordan’s brows furrowed. “We don’t make mistakes, London.”
“No offense… But there’s just no way in hell I have that much money. Did my mother put me on her account or something?!”
Jordan laughed. “I assure you, this is entirely your own. Your mother opened an account with us for you when you left for Europe - the money got deposited shortly after.”
I glanced down at the ridiculous amount on top of the paper. I’ve never seen that many zeros in my life - if all my paychecks from my entire career were added together, I still wouldn’t have had a fraction of what was staring back at me. There was simply just no way in hell this was real.
“I assume you’re unsure where this came from?” Jordan guessed as he continued eyeing my horrified expression.
“You’re damn right about that…” I muttered under my breath. “I’m sorry, I think I need some air.”
“Take all the time you need. In fact, this was enough for our first meeting. Let’s schedule another one in the coming weeks - I want you to think about your spending and how much money you need immediate access to. Then, we’ll set up a plan to see what to do with the rest.”
Jordan went on, but I was no longer listening. My mind was in a furious tornado, my thoughts bouncing around with the speed of lighting.
According to the paper he had in front of me, I was rich. No, scratch that. I was filthy, unbelievably, mind-blowingly rich.
How the hell did he expect me to make decisions regarding that money that wasn’t even mine?! That someone, some klutzy billionaire, must have accidentally deposited to my humble little account?!
“Next week, then,” I mumbled, faintly aware that Jordan was still talking, as I grabbed the glass of water and got the hell out of his office.
“What the fuck do you mean there’s nothing on your account?!!??!” Erika’s voice shrieked through my cell, making my lips curl up in a smile. Her anger amused me. “Where the fuck did all your money go?! The houses?! The cars?! The fucking boat Asher owns! All gone!”
“That’s how rock stars are, Erika. Reckless.” I chuckled. “I guess we’re been living more on the edge than you thought.
“Don’t fucking toy with me, Lukas! I gave you four idiots a chance! I made you! And this is how you repay me?!”
“We’ve paid our dues for almost a decade, Erika. Your label made us rich, but we made you just as wealthy. Now that’s over.” I said calmly, reveling in the turn of events as I walked through the large glass doors of my bedroom and sat on the lounge of my balcony. “It’s a shame, though. Wasn’t there something about all our money and possessions going to you if we unlawfully terminated the contract?”
I grinned. We were aware of that section, of course. And thanks to Dom’s expertise, we also noticed the little hidden clause that said this went back to ninety days prior to the contracts’ termination.
Which was why we redistributed our wealth and got rid of everything months ago.
“Where the fuck is the house you’re living in, Lukas?! According to the papers, you don’t even own that! Your car, your precious motorcycles… You don’t own any of it!”
“Weird…” I mused. “It’s nice how people just let us use their things, right? Very unexpected.”
“If I find out your little girlfriend is behind this…” She trailed off, but her threats no longer meant anything.
There was nothing left, nothing at all that she hasn’t already taken from us.
The house I was living in was now under Callie Sanders’ name. So was Ash’s for that matter. And Jesse’s and Brian’s. All our investment portfolios were transferred. The titles on our cars and motorcycles changed.
We’re also donated a lot of it. We created an organization for young, talented musicians who couldn’t afford lessons. But of course, the nonprofit wasn’t our property. We donated to the homeless, to animal shelters, to sick kids.
We gave and gave until one day, our checks bounced. There was nothing left in the bank. According to the books, the four of us - and Nikki - were dirt poor, with not a penny to our names.
“You’re going to regret this, Lukas. If the four of you think I won’t tell everyone about what you did, you’re mistaken! No label, no record company will ever want to work with you after what you’ve done!” She seethed. “You might think you played me, but just you wait! You won’t make music in this town, or any town for that matter, ever again!”
I rolled my eyes, her words no longer affecting me. “I didn’t expect anything else from you, Erika.”
“And if you think I would ever consider letting you play any of your old, precious songs again, you have another thing coming! I hope you weren’t attached to ‘Coffee’, because the only time you’ll ever hear it is going to be on the radio - profiting me.”
From the corner of my eye, I spotted movement on the street. The familiar little car turned the corner that led to my driveway. My heart skipped a beat. “Hang on with your threats for a second. There’s a-”
My voice trailed off as the car parked in front of my house, and a short, dark-haired figure emerged from it, wearing a pair of well-worn dungarees I was so fucking familiar with.
Without another word, I hung up on Erika and slid my phone into my pocket as I rose to my feet.
She was here. I breathed. She came back to me.