Chapter 80:

Lunch with a German shepherd

The Y-files [GL]

After our tour, we were invited to eat lunch at the Bozar cafe. We even got a serious discount to do so. I was sure Anna being the heir of the Lysts, and Ms. Stick being on such friendly terms with Cas must have had something to do with it.Bookmark here

I noticed that Fien was sitting alone at a table doing math exercises. I wanted to make my way to her, to inquire what was going on, but Mia was ahead of me, and Valerie was very soon to follow. I was surprised to see that Valerie's fan club did not seem to mind the attention Fien was getting from the two.Bookmark here

I thought to make my way over there anyway, and have a talk with them to learn what was going on, but was stopped by Elodie.Bookmark here

“I need to talk with you and Anna about Fien without Maura present. Eline is keeping her occupied by discussing the new script with Ms. Stick with her, so maybe we can do it now over lunch.” Elodie's smile was rather compelling and her demeanor came over very strong. Like she turned into a german shepherd guard dog, instead of the cute puppy we otherwise got to see. I could see this was going to be serious so we looked for a secluded table and sat down, just the three of us.Bookmark here

The three of us ordered a sandwich and coffee as lunch and while we were waiting for our food Elodie started talking.Bookmark here

“Fien is very smart. A math genius even. She won a couple of awards and aunt Charlotte likes to show her off as one of her accomplishments everywhere. Because of that, Fien has to spend most of her holidays in educational camps with extra courses in math, informatics, and whatever aunt Charlotte thinks will be useful for her. She is brilliant, but she hates it. She wants to do something with her writing and drawing but her mother won't have that.Bookmark here

Nevertheless, she is constantly being headhunted by major corporations. Her parents protect her from them since she is only twelve, but yesterday one corporation got the better of her parents, and she is being forcibly recruited. If she does not do it, her parents will lose their jobs and any chance for a career in their field of expertise. If she does it, they will get a major promotion.”Bookmark here

Oh no, I think I recognize these antics. I can feel where this is going.Bookmark here

“The person behind this was Anna's mom. Kath Lyst apparently also mentioned putting great importance into the Fien's friendship with her niece, Maura. So Fien does not trust Maura anymore. She is sure she was just put here, to recruit her for the Lyst group.”Bookmark here

What a mess. That damn woman! This mess was ten times worse, no, a hundred times worse than anything Anna ever did. And the worst part was: I put her up to it. This was all my fault.Bookmark here

“First of all, please don't be mad, and listen to the entire story before you judge me, but I think it is all my fault that this is happening.”Bookmark here

“What do you mean, your fault?” Elodie shouted. Several people looked at what was going on at our table.Bookmark here

Anna signaled that we should keep our voices down a little so I started explaining everything in hushed tones.Bookmark here

How Maura had come to our door, told us her story. That we had decided to help her, but that calling Kath Lyst had tremendously backfired, and that basically, I was currently in the same situation as Fien.Bookmark here

I apologized because I had no idea that this would become such a burden for Fien.Bookmark here

“But can we trust Maura? Isn't it a bit too convenient? She seems like a corporate spy, and getting Fien to like her could just be her mission.”Bookmark here

Well, she had a point. I had my doubts about her too at one point “Well, I used Ms. Odes' device on her, and it turned green, so the yuri is real. I decided that she must really like Fien. Of course, she could have an agenda outside of that. I guess we will have to test that out.”Bookmark here

But then Anna interrupted our train of thoughts.Bookmark here

“I don't believe for a moment that Maura was in on this when she came to us. She was raised like a protected princess. She has no idea of specific business deals. No, I am pretty sure that this is my mom's idea of helping. I recognize it all too well. My entire youth was like this. The question is, how involved is Maura at this point. Because I imagine mom called aunt Maxima as well, as she was fervently against Maura spending time with Fien because of the yuri books she found.”Bookmark here

Ugh, I felt really bad for the fact, that I had dragged Fien with me into the abyss. But wait for a second...Bookmark here

“Anna, can't we use that favor Maura owns me?”Bookmark here

Anna seems to be mulling things over.Bookmark here

“If we need something from Maura, that is done unconditionally, yes. But at the moment, I can't really see it.”Bookmark here

Elodie seemed curious about that and asked what I wanted to ask ever since it came up.Bookmark here

“What is all that favor business?”Bookmark here

Anna looked up and answered “In my family when doing business with each other, we deal in favors. Owning a favor of another means you have power over them. At the moment Maura owns Claire a favor, but Claire owns my mom a favor. My mom used her favor to have Claire support whatever idea she will be presenting next week. If you don't keep your word about your favors, it is considered treason to the family.”Bookmark here

I gulped. Seems like I was really in Kath's clutches this time, and in return, I just got a bigger mess to clean up.Bookmark here

“We will discuss this with Ms. Lourdes, this afternoon. Should we invite Fien too?” I asked Elodie.Bookmark here

“No, I will try to explain to Fien what happened. I believe you, and I hope she will be understanding, but we need a solution for Maura and we need it quick. Because she will start to notice that we are keeping her away from Fien.”Bookmark here

“I hope Ms. Lourdes will know what to do.”Bookmark here

After that, the seriousness at our table faded and we just chatted a bit about the changes in the script. “Those parts between Juliette and the nurse were smoking hot. I could see you guys added some childhood friend-arc elements. Really brilliant!” Anna said enthusiastically.Bookmark here

Anna was in her complete otaku mode. The shoujo starry eyes were the giveaway, but Elodie did not mind and went enthusiastically with her into that imaginary world.Bookmark here

I felt a little left behind there. I liked yuri novels and thought they were really cute, but I lacked the ability to just go up in my imagination like those two were doing right now.Bookmark here

After lunch, it was time to head to school. Anna and I would go see Ms. Lourdes and the other girls could not be late for class.Bookmark here

We all took the metro together, the atmosphere among the theater troupe was amazing. It appears that this visit did wonders to morale.Bookmark here

Eline and Elodie were still keeping Maura occupied by talking about the footage they shot this morning, and Fien was still enthusiastically hanging with Valerie and Mia. It seemed that they had adopted Fien, and having a cute mascot to mutually care for, seemed to be making things work better between the two of them.Bookmark here

When we arrived at school, Anna and I made our way toward the headmistress' office. We were immediately invited inside. I knew it was selfish of me, but the first thing I asked was “Is mom alright? Frank told me she stayed at your place yesterday.”Bookmark here

Ms. Lourdes looked a bit shaken by my question and answered “She was fine when she left this morning, why would she not be alright?”Bookmark here

That was a relief. “Oh, just because she went on a mystery date yesterday, but then she ended up at your place, so I was afraid something that something had gone wrong. Do you know who her date was, and what happened? I was so worried that she got seduced by some sort of scumbag that would get her into their bed on a first date, but I was so relieved when I heard she ended up at your place.”Bookmark here

For some reason I could Ms. Lourdes became really nervous at my question barrage, before answering me: “I know what happened, but promised your mother not to say anything. She wanted to be the one to tell you. She is fine, rest assured, but I cannot tell you anything more.”Bookmark here

She seemed a bit desperate to end the conversation. Something felt wrong about this picture. Well if she promised mom, I guess I would just have to wait until I got home.Bookmark here

“Well onto business, Ms. Lourdes said. What happened yesterday while I was away?Bookmark here

Ms. Lourdes' eyes turned bigger and bigger while we were explaining. We started with our meeting with the mayor, then talked about our trouble with Maura, how it got me into trouble with Kath, and then about Fien's trouble.Bookmark here

“It feels like I have been gone for over a week. How did you girls manage to gather so many problems in one day?”Bookmark here

Anna and I looked toward the floor in shame.Bookmark here

“Well let us start at the beginning. Claire, I will not be able to help you with the deal you made with Kath. I hope she won't ask you for anything too outrageous. I am sorry but you brought this upon yourself. All I can say is that I do not think she wishes anything bad for you.”Bookmark here

I nodded. I expected as much, but I wasn't asking for help for myself. I wanted to help Fien.Bookmark here

“But what about Fien's problem.”Bookmark here

Ms. Lourdes sighed. “Something like this was bound to happen sooner or later. My suggestion is to continue on the path that we have taken, recruit her with an apprenticeship contract into the FBY, and prepare her for a role at the FBY and CYA. That way we will be able to protect her a little more.”Bookmark here

“But won't she just think it is more of the same?”Bookmark here

“Not if I offer the same contract to all the girls of the FBY. She will just think she got the same thing as everyone. I will call Kath about that. That way she still comes under Kath's wing, but we still keep some amount of control. I will pretend to be unaware of your deal. That way she will have to work this into her plans, but she will have to deal with me, and not just Fien's parents. I also put a clause into the contracts that we will offer a fixed job after the apprenticeship. The only thing I can do nothing about is Fien's parents, and I consider dealing with the Maura situation your job.”Bookmark here

Wow, Ms. Lourdes sure knew how to deal with this stuff. Even as a kid, I always looked up to her for the way she solved all the problems around her. She had the kind of control I always aspired to have.Bookmark here

“Ah, and don't say anything about the job to Fien, I want her to find out when I offer the same deal to all the girls at the same time. That way she won't feel singled out. Just tell Elodie we are working on it.”Bookmark here

I agreed, that in this case, this might be for the best.Bookmark here

“Now, you will have to excuse me. I have work to catch up on, and you just handed me another troublesome task.”Bookmark here

While we were walking away I heard Ms. Lourdes sigh and mumble to herself: “To think that that troublesome woman might become family. Well, I'd better call her immediately.”Bookmark here

I wonder what that was all about?Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.