"Whoa!" Art said and looked at Tony in shock.
"Hey! Keep your eyes on the road, man." Tony commanded.
Art looked back at the road, but he could still see Tony smiling out of the corner of his eye.
"Seriously?" Art asked in surprise. "Like I can choose the one I want?"
"No, goofball. You can't choose one. I'm giving you all three cars. I'm tired of the Ferarri and the Aston. BMW sent me their newest model as a beta tester and as a gift for being a valued client, but I didn't really like the way they made the steering wheel. Besides, I'll never drive it anyway."
"Wow! Thanks." Art said. He tried to think of something else to say, but nothing came to mind. He started to look back at Tony, but the old man scowled at him and told him to keep his eyes on the road.
They drove down the road a way before Tony had him turn into a gated community. Art pulled up, and Tony introduced him to the guard on security duty. Art was amazed at the beauty of the place. Lush green grass growing over low rolling hills.
"There's a golf course right over along that side. Pools are down there by the clubhouse. And that's your gym."
Art paused to let a golf cart and several people cross.
"Busy tonight. Huh?" Art said.
"Nah, just wait till Friday. Then you'll see this place hopping." Bill answered.
"You play golf?" Art asked.
"Yeah, since when did you start playing golf?" Tony asked. "You told me you didn't play last time I invited you along."
"I have a friend who lives down here. I come over once in a while for a barbecue. We just sit on the front porch and watch the babes." Bill half-giggled and half-snorted to himself.
Art and Tony just looked at each other and rolled their eyes.
"Seriously, Bill? You're such a loser. I keep telling you that you gotta get a life. Tell me you at least go hit on some of them. Right?" Tony said.
"C'mon, Tony. I'm just a working man. I only drive a Toyota. All these girls come down here with their millionaire boyfriends in Lambos. What chance do I got with them? They see me with my old clunker and won't give me the time of day." Bill whined.
"What are you talking about. You're a hotshot ex-military guy who does security for a high-tech firm. You're not some hobo on the street. Suck it up, man. Some of these girls are bored out of their minds with these fat, old geezers. Give them five minutes, and they'll fall head over heels in love with you." Tony shot back.
"Nah, man! That's not how it works around here. You have never been rejected by one of these gold diggers." Bill complained.
"I'll loan you one of my new cars," Art said. "You can borrow one on a Friday night and drive down here to visit me."
"Really? You'd do that for me?" Bill asked.
"Sure." Art replied. "Freely you have received, freely you shall give. It'll be fun. You can be my wingman."
Bill brightened up and thanked Art profusely several times while patting him on the back each time. After about the third time, Tony lost it and slapped his hand off of Art's shoulder.
"For crying out loud, man. Leave the dude alone and let him drive. You sound like the guy just saved your life, not loaned you a car so you could pick a chick. Sheesh. You sound like such a douchebag. You should listen to yourself. You're never gonna get a decent girl that way. It's not about the money or the car. It's about the self-confidence. You just got act like you're the man." Tony ranted.
Art glanced back at Bill, and they both rolled their eyes.
"Yes, Tony. That may be so. But in this case, I have to agree with Bill. Having a nice car will definitely help him get his foot in the door. He's not as good looking as me." Art said laughingly.
Bill took a swipe at him and landed a light punch on his arm. "Watch it. Yo! I'm the man with the gun in a uniform, and chicks dig that too."
Art just shook his head and rolled his eyes once again. Tony pointed to a huge house off to the side and directed him to pull up the drive. Art paused the car at the entrance and leaned closer over the wheel. He looked at Tony wide-eyed.
"What are you waiting for? Step on it. I'm more anxious than you to see this place too." Tony said with a grin.
Art looked back at Bill for a brief second. Then he eased his way up the hill towards the house. The house looked like a massive, three-story mansion with a bit of Mexican flair to it. There was a wide veranda that looked like it went around most of the house.
He parked the car and stepped out into the shadows under the light of the moon. It was a beautiful night. Art listened to the sounds of nature coming from the trees. He heard the sound of frogs chirping in the background and a cicada humming. They were loud, but they were all natural sounds. He realized that there as no sound of cars or humans.
This was a massive difference from the house he lived in Brazil. His home was right next to the main highway where he heard cars and trucks rolling by all night, and motorcycles racing each other till the crack of dawn. He breathed deeply of the fresh night air.
Tony had the door open and was waiting for him. Bill waited till they were safely inside until coming in after them.
The house was even more delightful than Art had imagined. They entered right into a small foyer that then led into a large living room. He could see the patio and pool out beyond that. There was a large kitchen to the left and a hall that looked like it led to several bedrooms to the right. The stairs led on up into the other parts of the house.
"There was some furniture that the old owner left behind. You can keep anything you like. The rest you can chuck. I'll have Rhonda come over tomorrow to redecorate the place for you. Once that's ready, you can stay here."
Art whistled as they continued to walk around the house.
"Delta Two will be your personal bodyguard and lead on your security team. We'll keep guards on site twenty-four-seven until we've eliminated all threats and make sure your safe. And Joanna will be your personal chef cooking breakfast and supper. You can eat lunch at the office cafeteria with us, or eat out at one of Brimhill's fine restaurants. There will also be a maid and a maintenance man to keep the place up." Tony continued.
"This is way too much, Tony." Art said. "I can't take all of this."
"No, Art. Listen to me. You have a much bigger priority right now. You're gonna save the world. The world can't wait for you to clean the toilets and mow the lawn. I expect you to spend every working hour focused one hundred and fifty percent on implementing your technology to our needs. No one else can do what you can. Besides, these guys are all pros and can do these jobs much more efficiently than you could. You play to your strengths and let them play to theirs. This is a win-win situation for everybody."
"Okay, Tony. Since you put it that way, it makes sense." Art replied. "I would normally feel guilty paying someone to do something that I could do myself. My momma always taught me to be self-reliant and independent."
"I'm sure you're momma is a smart Brazilian lady. So, I'm not gonna knock the lessons she taught you. But I'll bet she didn't realize that she was raising a billionaire genius that was developing a global cure for all disease who needs to focus on achieving one, single thing." Tony said.
He slapped Art on the back at the very end as they finished walking back down the stairs towards the living room.
"I could just have the rest of my team help out here. You know. There's lots of room and we can all pitch in together." Art said as he pointed to the rooms upstairs.
Tony grimaced and shook his head. He turned Art to face him squarely.
"This is your house, Art. Your team will have their own houses somewhere else. They will have their own cleaning and maintenance crew. They'll get all their meals too, just like you. Don't worry about them. Let me take care of you, and them, and everything you need. Just keep them focused on implementing your technology to our needs. That's the only thing I need you to do. Can you understand that." Tony said as he lowered his head and raised his eyebrows to look into Art's eyes.
Art nodded dumbly. This was all happening too fast. It was almost more than he could take in. He nodded and again and slapped Tony on the shoulder.
"I'll do my best to make you proud of us, Tony. Thank you. I really appreciate your generosity." Art said.
"Good. Good, man." Tony replied.
Art walked over to the large, glass door and slid it open. He stepped back outside onto the patio and breathed in the fresh night air. Tony flipped on the lights to the pool area. It was absolutely gorgeous. Art sat down at the picnic table to soak it all in.
Off in the distance, he could see the golf course. There was a sand pit to the side. To the other, there was a small lake. And in the center of the green, he could see the flag waving brightly as it reflected the light of the moon.
Art smiled to himself in the dark. This was beyond anything he had ever dreamed of. It was a fantastic house. Better than he ever imagined living in, and he couldn't wait until his mother arrived to see it.
He held the image in his mind of his mother sitting at this table and drinking a fresh pot of coffee as he drove them all back to the office building. Art couldn't wait for tomorrow to get here so he could see what other amazing things, life had in store for him.
Tony's driver picked him up soon after they got back, and Bill drove home in his Toyota. He didn't ask to borrow the Ferrari yet, although Art could tell that he was dying to. After they left, Art went into the kitchen and cut himself a large slice of the pecan pie that Joanna had left him.
Art didn't bother taking a bath. He was too tired. He fell back into the same bed where he had napped that day. The bed had been made, and the sheets changed which reminded Art of Carla. Who was she? And why had she come to see him?
He continued mulling all these crazy events and questions over in his head until he fell asleep. The last thing he remembered thinking about was driving into his new house with the Ferrari on Friday for a barbecue with Bill. He had just drifted off to sleep when his new cell phone beeped to announce an incoming message.
"What did you do? I told you not to sign the contract. You're a dead man now, Arthur Costa."
Art ignored the message and rolled back over. There was nothing he could do about this tonight. He would let Tony handle it in the morning. Either Tony would be able to explain all these things to his satisfaction over the next two weeks, or else Art would leave. Either way, he got to keep the money Tony paid him in this first deposit. He smiled and drifted off easily into a dream world filled with fast cars, beautiful women, and huge feasts in exotic mansions.
Tomorrow was a new day!
The End of Episode I – Rise!
Episode II – Release! will be officially available on December 1, 2018, but you can read an advanced copy that I'm still editing by via the link below…
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I'm currently writing the end of Episode IV already. I average one or two chapters per day. I post my daily writing on my Patreon Page.
You can follow along with the most current chapters there, although they are subject to change by time they get reread and edited.
However, I also post a lot of stories and chapters relating to the Edge of the Universe series that never get published. You can read them all here.
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