I wondered if our friendship was continual or continuous.
There was definitely a difference.
They're similar, but there's a difference. "Continual" means something that's always occurring, with obvious lapses in time. "Continuous" means something continues without any stops or gaps in between.
The continual music in the reception hall made it damn near impossible for me to really examine what Bron just told me. I had to take it at face value.
Bron was attempting a hostile takeover of the company.
I lean over to him. Bron is all smiles tonight. The smile is damn near etched out on his face. He looks happy. He looks good when he's happy too. He looks proud. He sips a bit of wine.
"We need to talk about what you just said to me," I state.
We are in the reception hall. If all this wasn't enough of a surprise, Bron has it set up that our table was literally on a pedestal above the rest of the crowd. People were staring at me thanking me for work that I really didn't do. I get that I helped start the company. I drafted that initial paperwork but was it really me who built this company to where it was.
It was the work of all three of them.
"What's there to talk about?" he asks me.
"You're attempting a hostile takeover," I state.
"Companies do it all the time."
"Friends don't do it all the time. You going to get rid of Romelo first, then Clapper and then who...me?"
"Don't be ridiculous," he states, " I need your shares to do this."
For now, he needed me. Hell, for now, he needed Clapper, yet he planned on getting rid of him too.
"OK, I get Romelo has been hard to work with. I get him suing has put a huge distaste in your mouth, but what about Clapper. He really thinks we are all in this together. Just help me understand."
I wasn't throwing Romelo under the bus. I didn't agree with any of it, but I needed to understand why Bron was doing the things he was doing.
"Clapper fucked my wife."
There it is.
it was damn near an admittance.
"So this is personal?" I ask.
"Exactly, it's personal. The same reason I would never play you. You're safe in this company Nile. I promise you that. I...I love you. And I'm not saying that as a friend.'
He kisses me at that moment. It's a full-blown kiss. I'm taken back a little bit. I have to get used to this new Bron. He's a brave Bron who didn't mind showing me affection but he's also a new Bron who was willing to backstab his way to the top.
Still...damn...what a kiss. His lips smack up against mine. There is emotion in there whether I wanted to believe it or not.
"Why do I feel like you're kissing me to shut me up?" I ask.
"Don't be ridiculous," he responds, "But I would like you to stop talking about this here."
"I'm the figurehead of the company Nile. I have to go greet people. We both do. We didn't get where we were by coming to public events and arguing all night. We have to socialize."
With that, he gets up off the table. I just feel so disrespected. This was something that was serious to me. This was something that meant something to me and Bron was just going to walk away in the middle of it as though there was nothing to discuss. The old Bron would never have played me like that. He would never have just dismissed me like that.
I watch as he gets up and starts socializing. He's shaking hands. He looks so much like Romelo from back in the day now. The guy has this snide little smile and he was working the room as though it was nothing. It was hard to get Bron to focus on explaining what was in his lotion bottle back in the day and now he was this gregarious socializer.
I get up from the table, navigating my way through a chorus of greetings from people I don't know or care about.
Some of them look important. Others don't. It didn't matter. Right now I just wasn't interested in any of it. Not even a little bit.
I turn at that moment and notice who it is. It's Clapper. My best friend. I'm so pissed at Bron right now and I think it's showing all over my face. I've never really been good at hiding my emotions and right now I'm just that...emotional.
And like a child who can't hold his piss when he's going to sleep, I just wet the bed.
"He's trying to do a Hostile takeover."
The words just spill out of my mouth. I don't mean to. It just happens. It's not very business savy of me.
Clapper is standing there with a white tux on looking like a million dollars. He has another girl in his arms. A pretty exotic looking girl who he tells to run along. Knowing my best friend he's probably spending way more money on the girl than he should. That's been the thing with Clapper. He's always been really dumb when it came to money.
We all knew that...including Bron. That's why this was so easy for Bron to use Clapper until he didn't need him anymore.
"Labron. He's moving against Romelo," I state.
I look over at Clapper. I try to gauge his interest level at the news.
"Well, I guess Romelo had a point in trying to sue," He shrugs.
"You don't care?"
"Listen. Romelo is a sneaky little bastard," Clapper states crossing his arms, "He should never have been in this. You were right from the beginning. Do you think him marrying Waverly was out of love? Get out of here. He did it for a power play. Good riddance."
"Seems like there is a lot of power plays going on," I state.
Clapper has no idea.
And I can't stand it anymore. He looks over at me and I know Clapper. Like always Clapper can read my face. He can read my emotion. He thinks this is just a move against Romelo. He has no idea.
"You're next. First Romelo and then you," I state.
Clapper has never been the sharpest tool in the shed but there is no way in hell he could confuse what I'm trying to tell him in this situation. What I'm trying to say to him is as clear as day.
I see him breathe slowly at that moment. He takes in the air. He lets it out. He sits there for a second really trying to understand what the hell was happening. I can see him making mental connections. Connections that he'd always suspected, but just hadn't put them together. Then he drinks his champagne.
"Someone's been buying me out," he states, "I had a little debt that I was going to pay off. I was going to try to buy the shares back later but...it was him wasn't it."
I nod, "It's Bron."
"I'm fucked," he states and then seems to realize some things I don't even know, "I'm FUCKED!"
God knows how many shares Clapper was selling. Maybe it had something to do with supporting his kids. Clapper was a giving person. He gave to Jr. He was probably very giving to Athena. He probably gave a little bit of himself to every girl that entered in his life. That was the kind of person Clapper was. He just gave shit away. Little did he know this whole time he'd also been giving part of his company away to Bron.
"Clapper, I'm going to need you to calm down," I state.
He's causing a scene. People look our way. Clapper isn't calming down though. He must have really done a number financially. I could only imagine what kind of deals he had set up in the future because right now he is on 10! He grabs me by my hand. I can see the old Clapper at this moment. Not this fancy millionaire who had it all. It was the desperate friend who always looked to me for help.
"You have to talk to him. You have to stop this."
"He listens to you. Besides this is your fault."
I can only laugh at this. He must be joking.
"Clapper. I understand you are desperate right now, but you sound stupid. As FUCK! I've been in a coma for 5 years."
"Business before pleasure. That's what we said. Business before pleasure. What are you guys going to be some type of power couple or something now? Bron couldn't do this without you. I know how this works."
I'm shocked. The look in Clapper's eyes makes me think he really believes that I had something to do with this.
"If I wanted you gone, why would I be warning you right now? You fucked his wife."
He looks confused, "Why get romantically involved with them? C`mon. First Romelo, and then Clapper? It's a clear conflict of interest here. I could have said fuck the company and stayed with Zima but I didn't. Because it was bad business. I didn't just fuck Zima I cared about her. I didn't do shit when Bron pretended to take that girl back. I knew he was doing it for vengeance. He made her completely reliant on him and then he dumped her. Straight up dumped her. She was so reliant on him she didn't know how to tie her own fucking shoe strings anymore. I just watched. I just bore it. For the company. It's like I'm the only one who gives a fuck about the company anymore."
Clapper was going on a tirade at this point.
"Clapper, please calm down."
"No. I'm asking you to fix this. I'm telling you that I'm fucked. Please. I need your help."
The desperation in his voice sounds crazy. Just at that moment, I hear Bron on the loudspeaker. He's about to make a serious announcement. I look up and he's signaling for me to come on stage with him. I'm reluctant to do so. I don't want to move. I want to fix things with Clapper.
Clapper's eyes look so hurt.
"Go ahead, man. Go to your little boyfriend," Clapper states.
"We need to talk about this. This conversation isn't over," I tell Clapper.
Clapper's pissed. I walk up to the stage at that moment and meet up with Bron. All these eyes are set on me. Bron doesn't hesitate to hold my hand on the stage. I look over at him and feel his fingers intertwining with mine. He smiles a little bit. Our eyes gleam at one another. He looks so happy that I'm here. He looks so happy that I'm on stage with him. When I look at Bron, it seems as though no one else exists but us right now.
"The new year is slowly coming on us and as you all know we're making a lot of changes in the company. I wanted to make it clear that I couldn't have done anything I've done without this man standing right beside me."
It's clear at that point what he means. There is no mention of Clapper. There is no mention of Romelo. Bron is making it clear what direction the company is going in.
I watch as it just seems too much for Clapper. Clapper turns and leaves the banquet, storming off as quickly as he came and no one seems to notice but me.
I look back at Bron. He has a smile on his face.
"I want to offer you a gift. A token of my love for you."
I realize that he says, love. He leans over and kisses me. As he does I hear a car driving right into the banquet hall. People make way for the vehicle. I watch as I see this amazing Rolls Royce Wraith pulls up. It has a huge bow on it.
That's when I see Bron. He digs in his pockets.
I'm standing on the balcony of Bron's apartment later. From the street, I can see the new car he bought me. I've been out here way too long. The cold air is sending shivers down my spine but I don't really care. I just feel lost out here. I just don't understand what's happening to my life.
I should be happy.
I should be more than happy.
But I'm not.
I pull out the new phone that Bron just got me. It was only one of the slew of gifts he gave me for no apparent reason but existing. I take it out and text Romelo. I don't know why I have Romelo on my mind right now.
I pick up the phone and dial the only person I can think of.
There is on a pause on the line before he responds.
<I was just thinking about you. Notice you didn't attend the ceremony for me today.>
<Your boyfriend didn't invite me.>
It sucks that things have gotten so bad between Romelo and the others that he wasn't even getting an invite. I am watching our friendship that we grew up with go right down the rail.
<He's not my boyfriend.>
There is more of a pause. Maybe Romelo doesn't believe me. Maybe he doesn't care. There is a coldness to him.
<Then why aren't you in my bed. Why are you in his?>
<Aren't you married to Waverly?>
<If you could let me explain This thing with Waverly was an agreement. We never even had sex. It looked good for the company. Me getting with Waverly helped build the company in more ways than you know. It gave us clout. Our marriage was a business deal. That's all.>
It made sense. We were young unknown entities in the business world just five years ago. For us to grow we needed a big name behind us. What better name then Waverly Kingston's? A marriage was the quickest way to do it. Everyone would benefit.
<Romelo I feel like things are getting out of hand here.>
<You seem comfortable to me Nile. I'm confused why you're on my line.>
<I miss you.>
There is even more of a pause. I can tell this is a hard conversation for him to be having. It's a conversation neither of us wants to be having.
<I miss you too. Which is why I think you're choosing the wrong side.>
<I'm not choosing any side.>
<Don't think I'm an idiot. You approached me. You wanted me to stop my lawsuit so your boyfriend can move forward with the hostile takeover.>
I feel the heat through the phone.
<That wasn't the case. I had no idea. I just want peace. That's all I want. Isn't there any way for us to get peace.>
Romelo pauses yet again. This time for two whole minutes without responding. I listen to his breathing. I listen to him thinking.
<It's either him or me. I want to be with you. Me and you can take over the company at this point. Cut Bron off. I was with you before him. I was with you when he was straight. Don't you think it's weird that all of a sudden he needs you for business so he's showing an emotional connection to you?>
I don't like how Romelo states.
<You're telling me he's faking it.>
<I'm telling you that you chose the wrong guy. I'm the one who loves you, Nile. All you said was a word and I forfeit everything. That's love. What he's doing...it's not love. And hopefully, you get to see that.>
With that Romelo just hangs up the phone on me.
It's a slap to the face of our friendship. I guess Romelo was completely backing off even from being close to me. Knowing that Romelo was backing off like this is really making me feel like shit. I don't know how I ended up in this situation but I hate it.
I feel his arms around me. Bron comes up from behind me. He's shirtless. I can feel his manhood hard up against my ass. He's hard. He's turned on immediately. I can tell he is.
"Who were you talking to?"
"What?" I ask, "I'm confused. Romelo just assumed we were in a relationship. Did that happen without me knowing?"
Bron looks over at me and shrugs, "I guess Romelo is finally coming to reality about things."
Bron laughs. He turns around and gives me a kiss. He is confused when I don't kiss him back. I just watch him kiss me. I am like a wooden plank when he kisses me. I don't even return it. I can't. I know he realizes something is wrong when I don't kiss him back.
"Is this you trying to be romantic?"
He looks at me hard.
"Nile, what's the problem here?"
"The problem is you have a problem with me texting my friend," I state, "The problem is we did this all together. But this was your plan wasn't it?"
"What does that even mean?"
"You don't want to be with me. You're doing this so I can help you with your hostile takeover," I state.
Just seeing how Clapper described the term "power couple" sends chills down my spine.
"You think I would do that to you?" he asks.
"I don't know you anymore."
I think I hurt Bron's feelings at that moment. I can just tell he isn't the same. I watch how he backs away from me. It's almost as though he doesn't know me. Maybe that's the problem. It's almost as though we don't know each other.
"Really? I just got you a 5 hundred thousand dollar car. This is an amazing time to act like we're strangers..."
"It's not about the car. What did you do with Zima?"
"Since when do you care about the welfare of Zima?"
"Answer my question."
"I sent her to get some professional help," he states, "Some private professional help. Why? Did you think I did something to her? Did you think I hurt her?"
"Look, Bron, I'm sorry if it sounded like I was on some other stuff just now. It's not that. I just don't know what happened. You turning on Clapper and Romelo the way you did."
"Romelo filed his lawsuit first. He was using Waverly's money to try to do the exact same thing I was. Clapper slept with my wife. My friends betrayed me. I didn't betray them. But now all of a sudden I'm the bad guy?"
"I'm not calling you the bad guy..."
"Really because it sounds like you were about to accuse me of hurting Zima...or worse."
He's pissed. Beyond pissed. Right now he looks really mad.
I want to bring the energy down. Way back down. Bron was getting in his feelings and it's getting really bad. I feel like my entire friendship with him was crumbling right before my eyes and I'm struggling to see if there is anything I can do to stop it.
"Fuck listening. Maybe you should leave."
"You don't mean that."
Bron shakes his head, "I do. My friends have been turning on me for a while now. I should be used to it. I just always held out thinking that you were different."
Bron leaves the balcony at that point. It's clear he is kicking me out of his place. I can see the look on his face and I know he's serious. It just sucks it comes down to this.
And there's nothing I can do, but leave.
I get back to Jr.'s house. It's been raining outside so I'm drenched in rain.
Things have just gone from bad to worse.
Jr. meets me back at the steps.
"You weren't lying about how bad things were."
Jr. seems to know exactly what I'm talking about, "You are going to have to choose a side, Uncle Nile. Sooner or later. I don't think there is a way to fix this."
Choose a side.
Clapper, Romelo or Bron.
"Jr. can you reach out to all of them? Let them know I'd like to have a board meeting with just the three of us."
To read the next chapter go to www.crushedcrown.com