Chapter 98:

The rise of Anna Lyst [Vol.2 End]

The Y-files [GL]

Even though I got home late last night, I woke up early. All the emotions and excitement of yesterday evening and all that was planned for today had made me wake up by myself 15 minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off. I sighed when I noticed the time displayed on my alarm clock. I would have loved to sleep a little longer but it was already too late to go back to sleep.Bookmark here

Today was going to be super busy. Not only did we have last night's case to confront, but Fien's case was also hanging over us, and Kath was visiting us today with her plans for our apprenticeships. Who knows what she was going to make me support. I hoped she realized, that if it was too outrageous, I would still refuse. That whole favor thing might be a Lyst family thing, but I am not a Lyst.Bookmark here

And if all of that wasn't enough already, on top of the play, the whole idol thing would start today. Something I wasn't really looking too much forward to. We had an appointment with Thea for our costumes. I had no idea how to face her after seeing her leave the brasserie with Ms. Stick on a leash. I think Frank escaped something there, to be honest. The worst part of having to face her was that she did not know that Anna and I saw her leave like that, so I would have to act like I did not see it.Bookmark here

When I left the bathroom and got to the kitchen, everything was still dark. That's right, mom went to spend the night at Ms. Lourdes' place after that whole Elizabeth thing. Well, at least she was looking for comfort from her best friend, and not from another man.Bookmark here

I put on the percolator and made myself toast with marmalade for breakfast. While I was enjoying breakfast by myself, Frank shuffled in and sat down at the table. He looked tired. Yesterday had been stressful in more than one way for him. “Morning” he mumbled.Bookmark here

Sam was next to arrive. Apparently, she was a morning person and acted all happy and chipper. When she saw Frank she said. “Early bird catches the worm! Don't act like getting up is a punishment.”Bookmark here

Oh no... Frank had Diesel engines, and he could get into a really bad mood if you did not let him start up slowly. “Leave me alone. I'm just a little tired.” He said rather cold. Those two really were like fire and ice.Bookmark here

“You're probably tired because you aren't eating right.” she then said. No, don't go there.Bookmark here

“I eat the same thing as mom and Claire!” he answered. I could tell he was getting annoyed. Mom would have deflected the conversation by now, but I had no idea how to do this in this situation.Bookmark here

“It sure does not look like it! Hmph!” Sam bit back.Bookmark here

No, don't comment on his overweight. He is sensitive to that!Bookmark here

I saw Frank getting prepared to get really angry, so I decided to intervene. “There there, let's just enjoy our breakfasts. No need to take it out on each other, starting from the morning.” I had really hoped they would get along better after yesterday's events, but nothing seemed to have changed. I could sense by the atmosphere that they really hated each other's guts.Bookmark here

Quiet breakfasts were something from the past. I hoped it would be better again when mom was here to mitigate.Bookmark here

At that point, the doorbell rang. I went to open it, and let Anna in. I gave her a good morning kiss and we went back to the kitchen where the situation had escalated.Bookmark here

Sam and Frank were having a flaming row. “Mom, please come back soon!” I prayed in my head.Bookmark here

Anna stepped forward and shouted “Stop!” with a rather authoritative voice. Even I went silent from that. I was a bit surprised by the strength she projected. “If you are going to act like that, I will put the two of you into a corner. You are behaving like children!”Bookmark here

I was impressed with how fierce Anna stopped their fight. The both of them looked ashamed of themselves. Frank held out his hand to shake and make up and said “I'm sorry. I'm just a little slow and grumpy in the morning. No hard feelings.”Bookmark here

Sam started blushing and looked away. She reached slowly for his hand and shook it. “No hard feelings. But don't think I'm letting it go. I'm getting back to this later. Hmph!”Bookmark here

It was pretty clear that this would not be the end of this.Bookmark here

After that, the two of them sat quietly at the breakfast table. I went to the kitchen to get Anna a cup of coffee and some breakfast. I was sure she had not eaten yet. When I brought it to her, she looked at me really grateful. I felt myself blushing. That look just wasn't fair. “I'll go prepare our lunches,” I said, to give me time to recover.Bookmark here

I quickly made some tuna sandwiches with homemade tuna salad and egg salad. We always had plenty of hard-boiled eggs at the ready. After all, salads are yummy and easy to make. You just need to add the right fresh herbs. Just as last time I cut out Anna's sandwiches with cookie shapes. I noticed Anna loved those cherry tomatoes last time, so I added some extra.Bookmark here

When I got back to the kitchen, Anna was having a light conversation with Frank, while Sam was eating. I thought I saw her looking envious and a bit mad at Anna, but I think must have misread that, because she smiled as soon as Anna noticed me, and put her attention on me.Bookmark here

I told Anna I was ready to go. Anna made Frank and Sam promise not to fight while we were gone. Luckily mom would be home soon. I was sure she would be able to handle them.Bookmark here

Anna and I drove to school and made way for the FBY office where we would be having the meeting with all the girls, Kath and Ms. Lyst. The girls were aware that there would be a proposition, but nobody had any idea what that proposition would be exactly. All I knew, was that Ms. Lourdes worked hard on it all weekend.Bookmark here

When we arrived in the FBY room, the other girls were already there. We made our rounds to greet and kiss everyone and joined them in waiting for Kath and Ms. Lourdes.Bookmark here

The girls asked if we knew anything more, so I told them that all I knew was that they were going to be offered an apprenticeship like me. Before they could lay on the heat even more Ms. Lourdes, Ms. Odes, Bookmark here

Kath, and another woman entered the door. Maura looked a bit stunned as I heard her whisper “Mom's here.”Bookmark here

Everyone became silent on the spot. Ms. Lourdes took the lead and said “Well, let me introduce our guests. This is Kath Lyst, the head of the Lyst corporation and this is Maxima Lyst, the chief of the Lyst Group's Financial and juridical department. You might also know them as Anna's and Maura's moms. They made time for you girls this morning, which is a rare privilege, and together with the school, they have an offer to make to you girls. As you probably already know, all of your parents have agreed to our offer, provided that you girls agree too. You will get the time to read your contracts, if you have any questions, Maxima and I are ready to answer anything in more detail.”Bookmark here

Then Kath took over. She spoke with a voice that projected confidence and did not fail to mention that she already helped us with a case. Of course, she did not mention all the trouble she caused us, but I was sure, that was all the other girls and I could think of at the moment.Bookmark here

She presented this as a test project to scout and create great talents by taking their education into their hands at a young age. Everyone that finished their trajectory with four additional years after high school, would receive a master's degree in their own area of expertise. We were also promised a minimum 5-year contract to a relevant job at the Lyst group afterward.Bookmark here

It was a great offer. But four additional years after high school? I wanted to get my chef license after high school! Then I remembered my promise. I had to be supportive about this. It was not just my own happiness that was dependent on my attitude here. All the other girls and Fien especially would be dragged through the mud and lose their chance at this very good offer, if I did not keep my word.Bookmark here

Then she started offering everyone their specific job offer. The atmosphere was rather ceremonial.Bookmark here

They started off with Valerie. She was offered a position as the CYA's head of security, due to her training in martial arts and her character to protect the weak. She would be receiving training from the Lyst group's head of security and IT. Since protecting IP was a battle often fought over the internet. She would get a role working closely together with the laboratory since that was where the CYA needed the most security. She looked at the contract and started reading it. Ms. Lourdes looked approving at how seriously she was taking this. After all, this would determine her future.Bookmark here

Then came Mia. Everyone was surprised to hear she was offered a job in the yuriology department and would be receiving direct training from Ms. Odes. “Did you know she was good in science?” I heard Elodie ask Gazette. But Gazette looked a bit stupefied at this development too. Ms. Odes smiled at a weary Mia and said, “We'll get to discuss Sinsin-sensei's work more often now. I look forward to working with a fellow fan!”Bookmark here

Ms. Lourdes facepalmed. Ms. Odes made the whole thing look like a joke. But Ms. Odes seemed to have calmed Mia down, who then said “You really didn't know? I thought you were just being friendly.”Bookmark here

“What do you mean?” Ms. Odes asked.Bookmark here

“Well, I am Sinsin-sensei. I thought you were just being friendly to avoid me from straying.”Bookmark here

Ms. Odes looked a bit baffled at the new information. Kath Lyst interrupted their conversation and was suddenly acting like a fangirl “You are the BL goddess Sinsin-sensei?! You better not be pulling my leg!”Bookmark here

“My work isn't that special, I am just having some fun.”Bookmark here

“That is exactly what makes it special in my eyes. You can feel that emanating from your work! Girl, I think that you might go to high places. Keep up the good work!”Bookmark here

It seems that Mia's love for BL was a career move in the Lyst Group. When Mia saw the amount she would be making, she did not bother to read her contract and just signed it. Ms. Lourdes looked a bit shocked and clearly disapproved of how light Mia was taking this. Mia noticed and said to her “This is going to be a lot more fun than regular classes, and I would never have gotten a master's degree or a job with this kind of pay without this contract. What's there to doubt?”Bookmark here

Seeing Mia sign, made Valerie sign too. I got the feeling Valerie just stalled to see what Mia would do.Bookmark here

Then it was Tina, Elsa, Eve, and Therese's turn. “I heard the four of you are starting an idol formation, and luck has it, that we have our own talent agency. We will use everything in our power to get Yuri Blooms to the top, and at the same time we will teach you how to become talent hunters, trainers, or managers, depending on the skills you show during your time there, so you have something to fall back on after your run is over. We can't expect it to last forever, after all.”Bookmark here

The four of them were going out of their minds of happiness. The Lyst's talent agency was known to only produce top-level talents. But then Elsa's penny dropped and she asked “What about Claire? She was going to be our center.”Bookmark here

Kath looked like she was bringing bad news and said “Claire will have other responsibilities. I'm sorry Claire.”Bookmark here

Wait, was I getting out of the idol thing? I won't have to be on the school festival stage. I started to feel elated. Was there actually something good coming out of this? Why did everyone always think the attention things were what I wanted to do?Bookmark here

“But we already announced her participation for this Saturday, and we sold tickets for it.” Anna then intervened with a bit of defeat in her voice. I hated seeing her so sad.Bookmark here

Kath sighed and said “Fine, she can do a single performance this Saturday. But she won't join them anymore afterward. I wouldn't befit her position.” I saw the sparkle in Anna's eyes. I could never tell her I did not want to do the performance! I wasn't getting out of next Saturday, but at least it was turning into a one-time thing.Bookmark here

Elsa looked a little sad at me “I'm sorry Claire, I really wanted to do this together. We will do our best to make the most of it this Saturday!” The disappointment must have been clear on my face. Only it was the disappointment that I wasn't getting out of it completely, and not that I could not become idols with them.Bookmark here

The four girls signed their contracts without thinking much. This was a dream come through for them after all.Bookmark here

I was pretty sure Kath was doing this on purpose. She was making me watch my friends get happy, one by one. That way it would be a lot harder for me to refuse when it was my turn. I would be responsible for taking away that happiness, and I am pretty sure some of them would hate me from then on if I did that. I was being cornered, without any means to fight back.Bookmark here

She went on to the next pair.Bookmark here

“Eline and Elodie, your talents for press releases are already quite formidable, so we will keep you as heads of communications at the CYA. But we will help you bring your talents to the next stage. You will be trained by our press team to know everything there is to know about the media and social media. Where we will focus Eline's training more on press releases, Elodie's training will be more in a marketing direction. When you aren't working for the CYA, you will be working for Claire, and her personal project that we set up for her.”Bookmark here

Personal project? I felt something bothersome was coming.Bookmark here

“I know the two of you also made that beautiful collection of pictures for Thea, and she asked me if she could also train you girls, as photographers. I don't want to take the opportunity away from you, but if you say yes to that, it will mean that you girls will be investing some extra free time, but I guarantee you will learn more from Thea than from that course you are doing now. Thea will surely give you opportunities to do real shoots in the business. I just wanted to include the offer. You can decide for yourselves if you want to sign the last pages of the contract.”Bookmark here

The two of them looked happy and at the same time a bit uncomfortable. I imagine what happened yesterday was a part of it. They sat down and were reading the contract, discussing it with each other. They were also taking their future very seriously. It did not really come as a surprise. Gazette had a clear image of how she wanted her future to look. That became really clear during our conversation yesterday. Not many girls think about their relationship in terms of marriage at the age of 16.Bookmark here

Kath went over to the next pair.Bookmark here

“Fien and Maura, you will be trained by Maxima. Fien will be prepared for an executive function, and Maura will be trained as a juridical and financial expert. Elodie and Mia were watching Fien Argus-eyed.Bookmark here

Maxima then took over “Fien, you wanted to become a director at the FBY, we kept the more permanent position in mind, and will make you ready to become the CYA director eventually. We will start out with a course that enlarges your knowledge of finances and law. Claire and Maura will join you in these courses, but we will expect that little extra effort from you if you truly want to become an executive. Both of you will be supporting Claire's project when you aren't working to get you some practical experience. Fien, I hope we aren't disappointing you, and sending you in the direction you wanted to go?Bookmark here

Fien stared in disbelieve at the contract that was offered to her. “So I get to keep spreading yuri around, and will be trained to do it better?”Bookmark here

“That will be a big part of it,” Maxima answered. “But there will also be a lot of broad knowledge that you will need to take up a leadership position and to specialize in finance. You will also get an offer at the Lyst group if you ever quit your function at the CYA. We made sure Claire and Maura will be with you in your lessons, so you won't be alone.”Bookmark here

Ugh. So I already found out, I would be learning about finances. Well, at least I could use that if I ever had my own restaurant.Bookmark here

Fien looked at Elodie. Elodie had already signed her contract which meant they would be working together at least some of the time. Then she noticed Mia and Valerie, that had also signed their contracts. A smile formed on Fien's face, and she signed her contract. She had a look on her face like she did something naughty. “Mom has no idea what she agreed to!” She said with a huge smile.Bookmark here

How could I ever take that smile away again? After she had been so unhappy last week. I realized I would just have to do whatever Kath said. I realized I would probably never see my kitchen again. I felt myself shake a little by how professionally Kath had cornered me, by being amiable, and generous to my friends. She really was a sneaky Machiavellian.Bookmark here

Finally, Claire, you already heard part of it. But your training will be something special. You are the current leader of the FBY, so to give you better all-round leadership skills, I will have you create a new branch for the Lyst group. Your first payment for the yuridium will be 60% stocks of that firm. You can do whatever you want, but you are to prove that you can run a profit, worthy of the investment. The other girls will have to support you in your endeavor.”Bookmark here

I looked a bit shocked. This was a huge responsibility. I was only 16 years old. There was no way I could do this in 8 hours a week as my contract stipulated. This would take over all of my free time. There was no way I could make it a restaurant. The investment sum was way too large for that. I felt my legs start to shake. This would be the end of my kitchen days. Wouldn't it? But then a voice sounded fiercely opposing what was being said.Bookmark here

“No!” I was surprised Anna interfered like that. “You are not bullying Claire into becoming the new leader of the Lyst group over time. I can see what you are doing. She wants to be a chef. There is no way she will ever become one like this.”Bookmark here

Kath Lyst looked surprised at Anna's fierceness. Well, everyone in the room did...Bookmark here

“Then what do you suggest daughter dear?”Bookmark here

“Offer me a contract too. I will take her place. In the end, that is what this is really about, isn’t it? Me not taking up my duties and responsibilities as the heir. We will start a high-class restaurant chain together. She will create recipes and manage the kitchens. I will do the rest.”Bookmark here

Anna looked at me and whispered “You would be happier that way, won't you? It's all I could come up with on the spot.” I looked at her and felt a tear running down my eye. Anna was saving me? Would I really get to be in my kitchen?Bookmark here

Kath looked baffled, and then said to me “You even got Anna to take up her rightful position in the group. I had given up on that, you know. You really are something special, girl. Yes, you can have that. If Anna takes up her rightful position and can be strong like this with you by her side, you can have your restaurant chain.”Bookmark here

“I will do it next to my job at the CYA, mom. As long as Claire works here, I will do too.”Bookmark here

Kath was still baffled, by her daughter asserting herself like that, she had been stubborn before, but never asserted her will like that. She was so shaken by it, that she agreed on the spot.Bookmark here

I hugged Anna and looked at her with upturned eyes and said, “You sacrificed yourself for me.”Bookmark here

“It’s not a sacrifice if it makes you happy, Claire. I am sure that we can face anything they throw at us, as long as we face it together. You taught me that you know, back at the TV studio.”Bookmark here

I did say something like that on TV, didn’t I?Bookmark here

Then she kissed me. I heard a lot of squeals around us, but I did not care, I let myself bask in the embrace and kisses of my savior.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.