Second Impressions

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The red bike

P.O.V Darius

“I was 11 years old when I received the most valuable lesson,” I said to the audience in front of me, all of them silently watching my every move.

“We were on a road trip somewhere in The West Coast when a car’s honk alerted us to pull over; we soon found out that our bikes fell and were smashed by the car behind us. Alexander being only six was devastated because that was his favorite bike, and he used to play all day and night with it. He even brought it home, staining my mother’s white Persian carpets with the movement of its little wheels.”

People started laughing, and I smiled at my mother. I was used to this, having control over people, and yes, I could be charismatic when I wanted.

“My father took us to the nearest bike shop and asked the person behind the counter to repair the unique small red bike. As soon as he saw my father’s name, he pulled all his teeth on a fake smile and asked, “Rothschild? Edmund Rothschild? Why repair an old bike when you can buy a new one?”

I quickly glanced at my father and uncle standing together with their usual dark stare, focused on me, but they would not distract me, so I continued with the speech.

“I watched how the salesman pulled a red bike similar to the one we were asking for repair and placed it in front of us. my father shook his head. It is not the same bike, he said. I watched how my father paid double the price of its original price for the repair and we waited until it was ready for pickup.”

“You all might guess how furious Anna was once she saw the new excitement of Alexander as he rolled around the living room with his little repaired bike.” The audience laughed again.

“My father smiled and told me: That is life, son. Your dreams, projects, and expectations are just like that red bike. They can get smashed in a split of a second. So when things get tough, don’t let other people fool you into thinking that changing a bike that needs work for a new one is the solution.”

“I always put the red bike in perspective when it comes to our business. Why? Because the lesson is simple, it’s about problem-solving, and about facing the imminent, standing up for what has value in your eyes. Believing and holding your vision, when no one else does.”

“That’s how we, the Rothschild, have formed our enterprise, through years and years of fixing the emblematic red bike, no matter the circumstances. No. Matter. The circumstances.”

I stopped to watch my hands and took a big breath before what I was about to say.

“Today, a new beginning starts for our family and the future of our business with these announcements. We are delighted to share with all of you the expectancy of a new family member. Congratulations to my brother, Alexander Rothschild, and his beautiful girlfriend Sarah Summer for their baby on the way.”

I waved my hand, showing my brother in the back of the room. A large gasp was heard through the crowd, and my mother choked on her wine, splashing the red liquid on her dress.

I knew how my own family would do anything in their power to stop this baby to come into the world, and by ripping the bandage with this announcement I’ve just made it harder for them.

“And as our family just expanded, so did our business with the acquisition of a promising editorial, led by one of the savviest and intelligent women in the industry. Let’s welcome Seline Monroe, Inkforce´s CEO.”

Everyone started clapping, and I saw Seline’s long legs stepping on the stage. She looked surprised, a genuine expression of astonishment as if she had just received an award.

“You won’t regret this” she whispered in my ear and I pulled away.

Why do I already feel like I do?

Patience is not my strong suit, not when I am used to getting what I want when I want. I swallowed all the bitterness of this moment, feeling all the weight of responsibilities, and the prison I’ve grown to feel comfortable in.

I left the stage releasing the fake smile, pressing my knuckles, giving space to the emptiness inside me. Saionji was waiting at the end of the steps, his eyes flicked once he saw me descend.

“Can you smell it, Darius? The copperish, sweet metallic hint of Rothschild blood?” I heard his sinister laugh filled with a peculiar expression of excitement. “I’ll be pleased to take a bite,” He added.

“Go ahead, make my day,” I said with my chin raised, almost bored, pronouncing every syllable. I acknowledged his threat without showing any trace of fear, and continued my way forward, too tired to deal with him.

Yes, he is powerful, but so am I.

“Oh, and I will. Darius, I’ve been waiting so long to collect your head. Just like that” He snapped his fingers still wearing that sinister smile.

“I’ll only tell you one time. Make one more comment like that again and I’ll forget your father was so nice to me.” I pressed my knuckles firmly, controlling the urge to punch him in the throat.

“Relax Darius, there is no need to cause a scene. Why don’t you save it for tomorrow morning, shall we? We’ll see how the market behaves.” He pauses to laugh a little bit more.

“Oh, I bet it’s going to be a hard day for your family, seeing all your stakeholders give you their back; all the people you trust the most suddenly selling you out once your stocks hit the floor.”

“Get a life Saionji, aren’t you in the wrong continent?” I said with a rehearsed playful smirk, hiding all the hatred I felt inside. I could never show him that his words affected me. We both stared at each other without breaking eye contact.

“Darius. see you around” Saionj finally said before leaving.

Can this night get even worst?

I stood there for a while thinking. I should get back to the event to butter up the stakeholders. I watched the stairs and saw Seline approaching me, she was already done with her speech.

“Seline,” I said while I saw her seductive body. She placed both of her hands on my chest and stopped her lips just an inch closer to mine.

“I knew with time you would realize how good we are for each other. You and me, together, there is nothing we can’t achieve, Darius.” She said while her eyes gleamed in happiness. She was a beautiful woman, I saw how her blonde wavy hair rested on one side of her shoulder.

“What I want to say Darius is…thank you for trusting Inkforce to me, I know how much it means to you. I can’t help to wonder If I mean something to you too”

I felt her soft lips on mine in a passionate kiss that I soon broke, pushing her back delicately.

“There is no us” I spoke blankly.

“Not, yet” She replied showing her determined character.

“There will never be an us, Seline” I muttered back watching her right in the eyes. She needed to understand that.

“I know deep down you care for me, you are just afraid of letting someone in.”

She kissed me again distracting me from my thoughts, grabbing my arms and pressing her whole body against mine. Her hands touched me, demanding more from me.

“I am not afraid of you, Darius,” she said while biting my earlobe.

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