William sighed heavily, pulling at his black bow tie. He was finally able to take a few seconds to breath. He put his hands underneath the faucet before running his fingers through his blonde locks. During the war, he never thought that he would long to be fighting again, but here he was feeling completely suffocated once again. He took a long look at himself in the mirror, gazing at the stranger that looked back at him. He groaned, pulling at his white suit jacket, as he turned on his heels.
He walked slowly back into the main dining hall, where dishes clattered and people chattered. The noise was driveling. He pulled out his seat, unbuttoning his jacket as he sat. “Mr. Boisclair I heard recently though the grape vine that you purchased the Cirque Medrano after the current owner died...” One of his fathers associates cleared his throat, raising his eyes at the man.
“Yes...” His father sighed heavily, playing with his wine glass. “They provide my business with so much money, and the idea of losing that money completely was very concerning. I also learned that they turn quite a profit traveling around Europe, which seemed equitable. But this is no talk to have around the ladies.” His father reached out to his mother, who took his hand, smiling softly.
Something interesting comes up, and, of course, his father changes the topic. Will found himself heavily hoping that his father’s associate would bring up the cirque again. He remembered going with his mother as a child to the traveling show, and it seemed like magic. Their were people quite literally soaring through the air, which seemed like the most freeing sensation in the world. It was why when he joined the aerial war efforts for the great war. He had also been able to convince his father to buy him a plane to use for his own person use, which he loved.
He wondered what his father had planned for the cirque because he hadn’t heard of any business on that front yet. He was curious if his father had gotten someone to lead the project yet.
Dinner slowly shifted to the segregation of males and females. He sighed contently, leaning against his father’s bar, as he lit up a cigarette. The older men took out their cigars, and their servers brought out glasses of the finest brandy. He had to admit that this was definitely a perk of this part of his life. He may be trapped inside of the expectations of his wealth and social standing, but it had good booze and good tobacco.
Before the war, he felt very stiff in this room, like all the older men were judging him and feeling boisterous. As he got older, he learned this was a place for the men to go and let their hair down a little. It was an informal place to discuss business, as well as gossip and complain. Will loosened his bow tie and tussled his hair, as he took a seat in his smoking chair. He puffed out smoke, before taking another satisfying breath of the burning tobacco in his lungs. He let his shoulders drop, and he started to attempt to actually pay attention.
“So, Boisclair what are your plans for the cirque?” Making William instantly perk up.
“I have to find someone to run it for me. I don’t have the time or the interest to do it myself.” His father rolled his eyes, tapping his cigar on the ashtray. His father continued on about it, but he found himself not really paying attention anymore. He could run a cirque. How hard could it be? His father had also been breathing down his neck about getting more involved with their businesses, and this was finally something he was interested in. He also saw it as a way to escape this confining lifestyle. He would be able to travel Europe, get his hands dirty, and be around exotic people.
“I could do it.” William cleared his throat, causing all of the men in the room to look at him.
“You?” His father’s eyes narrowed, which made him suppress gulping thickly.
“That is a great idea.” One of his father’s friends clapped him on the shoulder, jostling him in a supposedly encouraging and excited manor.
The look in his fathers eyes told William that the man thought differently than his friend, but he could see that his father wasn’t about to combat him here in public. “Maybe...” His father trailed off playing with his glass. “We’ll have to discuss this in some more depth tomorrow.” He father took a long pull of his cigar, seeming as if he was trying to relieve his frustration with the smoke currently filling his mouth.
William told the wait staff to keep his glass full because there was going to be a reckoning on the morn, but he was going to enjoy tonight.
William woke up with a ringing in his ears. He peaked his eyes open, praying that it was still dark, but light flooded his vision. He groaned heavily, rolling over, as he roughly dragged a pillow over his face. He had no idea how he got into bed last night, but at least he didn’t pass out in the hall like he had a week before. His mouth felt incredibly dry and coarse. He creaked his eyes open again, seeing a glass a water and a pill on his nightstand. He had never been more thankful to Jerry in his life. He shifted slowly, rubbing the back of his neck before reaching for the water. After taking the medicine, he quickly collapsed back on the bed, resting his eyes. If only he could stay in bed all day... If only he could be back in the small wrecked town his squad stumbled upon...
He hummed softly at the memories of the young woman welcoming him into her bed. They stayed their for a few weeks, and he would find anyway he could to sneak over to her, welcoming her warmth whenever he could. Of course, he never meant to do something so improper, but him and his men would sure that they would die within the next few weeks. A frown slowly made it’s way onto his face because he knew that he wronged her greatly. He feigned promises of marriage and whispered of a future together.
Of course, they were dreams. His father would never accept her into his family, and he couldn’t afford to elope with her. He said his goodbyes, never truly looking back to see the wreckage of what he left behind. He did find himself longing to bed another, but if his father caught him doing such a thing, it was a safe bet that his father would castrate and disown him. He shifted uncomfortably in bed, trying to change his thoughts to something else, but it wasn’t quite working.
There was a loud knock at the door, making William’s head throb even more, and he called for the knocker to come in. “Master William,” Jerry stood up straight in the doorway with his arms fashioned behind his back. “Your father has requested your presence in his office once you can eat breakfast and get ready for the day.” He announced.
“Ah, yes, to talk about the cirque I presume.” He groaned, ruffling his now wild blonde curls.
“It is safe to assume as such.” Jerry confirmed. “I would recommend a bath as well as a omelet for breakfast to help recovering from last nights activities.” The older man bowed his head.
“Yes, prepare a bath and let the kitchen staff know.” He crawled out of bed, stretching as best as he could.
“Yes, sir.” Jerry nodded before exiting the room.
After about an hour, William felt mostly human again, and he finally entered his father’s office. The room was always in pristine condition. There was not a hair out of place. “Father,” William hummed, sitting across from him.
“You are the son of the most wealthy man in Paris. I run the trade of foreign fabrics across the globe, as well as design some of the most fashionable clothes around the world, and you, my boy, wants to run some small pathetic circus?” His father removed his reading glasses, rubbing his temples heavily.
“It’s not pathetic. It bring joy and magic to people.” William defended, feeling a little annoying at his father for saying such a thing.
“It is a bunch of freaks trying to make a quick buck.”
“That’s not fair to say. They are people trying to make an honest living with the abilities they have.”
“They are street rats.” William went to protest, but his father put up his hand. “Since this is the first piece of business you have taken an interest in since you returned from the war, I am willing to strike up a deal with you. I will give you complete autonomy to care for the circus for a year, but if you fail to turn a higher profit or fail in anyway to make the show successful, you will come back home, go to university for business, and take my job when I retire without question, as well as marry Miss Vanderwall.” His father offered, eyeing him carefully.
“You want me to marry Camilla?” William wrinkled his nose at the thought. She was a spoiled brat, who fawned all over him whenever they breathed the same air.
“She is a good match.” His father responded sternly.
“And if the cirque is a success? What do I get then?” He quipped, feeling like his father was setting him up for a lose lose situation.
“What do you want?” He asked, clasping his hands in front of him.
“You sign the circus to me. I don’t have to take your place, but I remain the primary shareholder and continue to collect from our profits, and I can marry who I want.” He declared, knowing that his father probably wouldn’t give into all his demands.
“Fine.” His father shrugged, which made Will lean forward.
“Just like that? You’ll give me everything?” He questioned intently. He thought about it for another long second. “You’re just that sure I’ll fail aren’t you...”
“You know nothing about managing entertainment, as well as you know nothing about management. You have little to no training in anything, which leads me to the logical conclusion that one year from now you’ll be sitting in front of me admitting that you got in over your head.”
“I’m a quick learner.” William got to his feet, turning on his heels. “And this time next year, I will be watching you set me free from your confining grasp.”
“As you say,” His father humored him, pushing himself into a standing position. “The cirque is currently stopped in the outskirts of Paris. I will send you all the paperwork you need, and Jerry can drive you there whenever you wish.” At that William was dismissed from their meeting, and he found his chest filling with overwhelming frustration.