Arriving at 'Crowned Enterprise agency, Wolf headed to the cafe in the lobby. He'd been called in by the boss, which, for most people would spell the end, but Wolf was confident in his irreplaceability. Even if there was someone out there who thought they could take his place, they'd be greatly mistaken. No, there was definitely no way he was being let go. Not today anyways.
"Hello, Mr. Trroublefield, what may I get for you today?" a frail looking boy, who had to be at least 16, if not younger asked. His brown eyes scanning over every inch of him.
"The usual. A spiced cinnamon latte, with a shot of hazelnut and a splash of cream. Light on the syrup. I don't know what type of syrup you're using here, but I had a major break out after my last drink from here. I can't afford to have a blemish, Horace. I work entirely too hard to have my career tarnished by a zit. Do you understand?" he asked, flicking his peridot gaze at the young boy.
"Y-yes sir! Umm, by the way, my name is Howard..."
"Who?" Wolf asked, looking him up and down, leaning his weight on one leg as he rested his arm firmly on the counter.
"My name, it's Howard Nishikawa. You come to the cafe every time you come in, and never get my name right. But it's ok. I know you're busy." he said, preparing his drink.
"Do you like your job, kid?"
"Yes. Of course I do."
"Good... Then a lesson of advice, don't correct your elders. Especially ones with more money than you." he said, swiping his card.
"Even about my name?" he asked, pumping several extra sweet shots of syrup.
"Especially about your name. If someone renamed you, you should consider it an honor on your part, instead of a mistake on someone else's part. But anyway, please be quick with my drink. I have a meeting to get to." he said, hurrying him along.
"Here you go. I hope it's too you're liking." he said, handing him his drink.
"Thanks, kid. Remember what I said." Wolf said, taking a sip of his drink as he headed up to the boss's office. Howard watch him, with a contemptuous look. He'd never met someone more full of themselves, nor had he ever wished so much for someone to fail at life. He hated him, like most of the people who worked with him. He was vain, narsscitic and an all around jerk. The only thing that made him tolerable was he was pretty to look at. But even that grew old quickly, once he opened his mouth. He was a spoiled brat who everyone had to treat with respect, even when they knew he thought of himself as paramount. Deeming those around him as commoners. Sadly for him, his golden crown would soon crack and down would fall that high and mighty attitude.
Reaching the top floor, he swung the doors open in a melodramatic flare that announced without a single word the king had arrived.
"You're late, Wolfgang... Mr. Crowne has been waiting for over an hour." The secretary said, looking at her watch.
"There was traffic. I'm here now." he said, rolling his eyes at her. He took another sip of latte, wondering where she got off time checking him. First the barista corrected him about his name and now this townie was clocking him.
"You should be more considerate, young man! The world doesn't revolve around you. We all have things to do, but I will tell you one of those things is not babysitting a spoiled, rich brat!" she said, chastising him. Her index finger pointed at him like a parent lecturing a child.
Wolf scoffed, "Are you finished?" he laughed, narrowing his eyes at her, "I don't know who you think you're speaking to, Ms. Wicker, but I would implore you to remember which model/actor it is that receives the highest pay here. I keep this place in the news, which in turn keeps you having a job. So don't speak to me as if I'm your child. I have a mother."
"You may be one of this agencies biggest names, but you still need to respect people and their time." she said, pulling her brunette hair into a tight bun, "Please take a seat, I'll let Mr. Crowne know you're here."
"You should've done that instead of lecturing me." he said, in his smart alecky way.
She cut him a look, which he knew meant he had one more time to speak to her like that before she flew over her dusk and beat him senseless. Although, he was clearly already senseless. So that might've possibly made him worse...
"Mr. Crowne is ready for you." she said, hanging up the phone.
"Thanks..." he said, pushing himself up from one of the burgundy ballon chairs that lined the long rectangular room.
Walking over to the massive titanium door, that had a crown etched into it with the name of the agency underneath, he pulled it open and headed inside. The office area was huge. The scent of sandalwood and leather filled the space. Taking a deep breath, he looked ahead at the floor to ceiling windows that were slightly blinding him. Before them sat a fair-skinned man with wavy white hair, grayish-blue eyes, dressed in a dark gray suit with citron and silver accents. A pile of papers tucked in between some red folders sat before him, that looked to be resumes and portfolios.
"You wanted to see me, Mr. Crowne?" Wolf asked, taking a seat in the red faux snake skin chair.
Mr. Crowne looked up at him, as he leaned back in his chair. He clasped his hands together, his index fingers pointed up against his lips.
"How many times have I told you I expect my models to be on time? As soon as I called you, you should've arrived?" he said, in a half Irish and half German accent, "I don't know what I'm supposed to do with you. You're a talented young man. From the first day your parents brought you to me, I was so apprehensive to let you work for me. But I'd never met a child who was so natural in front of the camera and/or film. You had more of a professional maturity than you do now. Hell, you're the reason there's a children's division here. You opened the doors up to an entire roster who wouldn't have been seen had you not been who you are. You're quickly turning into what I detest the most; an arrogant prick who thinks he's above anyone who doesn't do what he does, and I won't accept it! Do I make myself clear!?" he said, locking his sharp glare on him. Wolfgang stared at him, temporarily casting off his ego.
"I-I'm sorry..." he said, lowering his head to the true alpha wolf around here.
"That's all well and good, but I need you to straighten up." he said, "Especially before I send you off to work for three months."
"Three months?" Wolf asked, his eyes glowing with excitement, "Where to? A tropical island?"
"Something like that... You've been cast in a new soap drama. They liked your audition and want you to began filming ASAP. They want you as one of the main leads. Remember this is an ensemble cast, which means there will be plenty of rotation between you and others. It may be months before they circle around to you."
"I've worked with an ensemble cast before. I got it. I'm just happy I'm one of the leads. I mean, who else would they have chosen?"
"I'm just reminding you. Anyway, I had your scripts forwarded to your house. Read over them, and they're giving you room to adlib to add more personality to your character. Give them more depth if you will. Your character name, and bio are in that package as well."
"This sounds exciting. Is this a teen drama or--"
"It's a teen drama. But those do pretty well. I trust that you'll behave yourself."
"Yes, sir. I plan to steal the show. Like I always do." he said, tossing his hand up like it was sure to happen. Which, it usually did.
"Uh-huh... Anyway, I booked your flight, you leave Wednesday at 5 AM. I can't stress to you enough the importance of being on time. If you feel the need to sass someone, do it in your head, and keep your mouth shut. You don't want to go around pissing people off. You have a promising career that, albeit still in it's early stages, is doing miraculously well. I believe in you more than anyone here, do not let me down. Most importantly, don't let yourself down."
"I'll make you proud, Mr. Crowne. I appreciate you taking a chance on me. You've changed mine and my family's lives tremendously. I know I may come off cocky..."
"May?" he asked, arching a thick white eyebrow at him, suggesting there was no 'may' about his cockiness.
"I do come off cocky and spoiled, but I don't mean to."
"Yes... It seems like more of a defense mechanism than your actual personality. This side of you didn't emerge until you were I believe 12 going on 13. I don't know what happened, but I certainly hope you rein in your attitude."
"I'll do my best... Sometimes it just slips out." he said, sipping the last of his latte with a cocky grin.
"Yes, I've heard. Do better than your best." Mr. Crowne said, giving him a light smile, "Anyway, the director is Calvin Salvotore. He was actually insistent to work with you again. Seems as though you made a vast impression on him from that short film you did when you were 12."
"Mr. Salvotore?!" Wolf asked, searching his eyes with a terrified look on his face.
"Yes..." Mr. Crowne said, his eyebrows turning down in concern, "Is that a problem?" he asked, cocking his head to look at his face.
Wolf lowered his head, his breathing becoming non-existent as a flashback shot through his head. He didn't want to work with Mr. Salvotore, but he knew he'd have no choice in the matter.
Mr. Crowne pushed himself up and walked around the desk to Wolf, who looked like he'd just seem a ghost.
"Wolfgang? Wolf?" he said, grabbing his face between his hands, "Hey, look at me! What's wrong?" he asked, searching his fern gaze that had lost it's usual confident glow, having been replaced with fear. Wolf snatched his hands down from his face, and tried to fight back the tears in his eyes.
"DON'T TOUCH ME!" he snapped, jumping up from his chair.
"Hey, what's wrong?" he asked, looking up at him concernedly.
"Nothing! I--I don't want the job. Give it to someone else!"
"Wait, what?! Why? I don't understand."
"Just give it to someone else, dammit! I don't want it. Why do I have to explain myself to you!" he snapped, turning around with tears streaming down his face, "I have to go. Was there anything else you wanted to discuss?" he asked, trying to calm himself down.
"Yes, I want to know why you went from wanting it a minute ago to wanting nothing to do with it now? Come, sit down and relax."
"No! I told you already, I don't want to do it."
"Wolf as your boss..." he paused, "As your friend, please, take a seat. You can leave in a minute. I don't want you driving in this condition." he said, his dusty gray-blue eyes staring at him pleadingly.
"I'm fine. And since when are you and I friends?" he dryly laughed out, "Don't we have a strictly employee boss relationship?" he asked, clearing his throat. He knew he had to get himself in control. He couldn't freakout like this. Not now, and not in front of the boss.
"I don't just think of you as one of my models. You and I have worked together for a while, so I think of you as family. I want you to tell me what's on your mind. Whatever you tell me doesn't leave this room."
"Are you a shrink now? You think I need help or something?"
"Did I say you needed help?" he asked, his voice getting a bit gruff.
"No... Look, if you want to help me, just give the role to somebody else. I... I can't do it."
"I'll consider it... But why were you crying?"
"No reason. I... Please, I don't want to talk. I just want to go home." Wolf said, turning away from him.
Mr. Crowne walked over to him and rested a hand on his shoulder, "Look at me, Wolfgang." he said, his voice melting his fears temporarily. He turned and looked at him, his body resting against the door unsteadily. His eyes tinged red from the tears that relentlessly continued slipping out, "Tell me what's wrong, Wolf. Whatever you want I'll do..." he said, gently caressing his face.
"I can't tell you..." Wolf whispered, his cheeks flushing a cottony pink, as he averted his eyes from Mr. Crowne's caring gaze. He wasn't used to having people concerned about what he wanted or needed. His concern was overwhelming him by the second.
"Why's that?" he asked, turning his face back to his, "Wolf..." he said, grabbing his wrist in his other hand.
"Because... There's nothing to tell. Please, just drop it. Besides, you know I need to talk to my parents before I agree to this role anyway. They'll probably insist I go... But--"
"Listen to me, you're old enough to make your own decisions. If you don't want to go, then we'll pass on this role. Alright?" he said, pulling his hand against his heart, "I care deeply about you and only want the best for you. If this role is making you this unhappy, then don't take it."
"It's not that simple, Wrené." he said, calling him by his first name. He laid his head on his shoulder, crying hysterically. He wished he could tell him why he didn't want to take the role. If only he knew it wasn't so much the role as it was the director. Mr. Crowne wrapped his arms around him and just held him as he cried. He wished he knew what was going through that mind of his. He wanted to help him, but he figured all he could do for now, was be a shoulder for him to cry on.
"We've arrived at your home, Mr. Troublefield." the driver said over the intercom.
Wolf slowly opened his eyes, dreading the thought of going home. He knew his mother had probably opened his package to the scripts and was already packing his bags for him. He sighed, rubbing his eyes as he tried to shake off his distress.
Peering out the window, Fayleen noticed the town car outside. Curious to know who'd arrived, she threw on her heels and quickly dashed out the door.
The driver opened the door for Wolfgang, he climbed out with a sigh.
"Your car will be delivered in the morning." the driver said, relaying the message Mr. Crowne had given him earlier.
"Thank you, Mr. Collins..." Wolf said, noticing his mother skipping down the steps.
"Wolfgang, darling, what happened?" she asked, grabbing him by his face.
"Nothing, mother... I wasn't feeling well, Wrené sent me home in a private car 'cause I was in no condition to drive."
"Oh, darling, do you want me to make you some tea? I could order you some soup from 'Tabloids'. The hot and sour with beef and broccoli, is your favorite."
"I'm fine, mother. I don't want anything. I don't have much of an appetite." he said, taking her hands from his face. He climbed up the steps and headed inside, Fayleen following close behind. Walking upstairs to the kitchen, he grabbed an energy drink and an apple from the fridge and sat them on the bar. Leaning his head back he let out an exhausted sigh.
"You don't feel like you have a fever, but maybe take some tylenol just in case. I'll call the doctor and ask him to come over later on. Better make sure you're in good health, before your trip!" she said, in a singsong voice, "Congratulations on landing one of the lead roles! My son is so brilliant!" she said, hopping up and down.
"Yay me!" he said, in a dry tone feeling unenthusiastic about the whole deal.
"Why aren't you more enthusiastic? The head writer made sure you would have a pivotal role. And they're paying you a good salary."
"No... I am excited. I mean... I-I was..."
"Was? Why aren't you excited now?" she asked, narrowing her fern eyes curiously at him, "Don't you want to be on a successful show?"
"Mother, the pilot hasn't even been shot yet. So, how do you know it'll even get greenlit?"
"Because my son is going to be on it. Everything you touch turns to gold, my love."
"Does it?" he said, not believing it. For the most confident person, he felt like turning things into gold lead him to trouble, "I'm not doing it... So turn your excitement down from one-million to negative zero."
"I'm sorry, you're not doing what?" she asked, looking at him like he was speaking a different language.
"The show... I don't have time. I need to focus on my education. I should be studying... I'm not always going to be able to act or model."
"Honey, your a man, if you want to act and model till your one-hundred you can. You're acting like a little girl, and that's not how your father or I raised you. So snap out of it!" she said, sliding down from the barstool, "Talking some nonsense that you're not going to do it. Child bye... What has gotten in to you?"
"Mother! I said stop it! I don't want to do it. I--" he paused, swallowing a hard gulp, "I just... Mr. Salvotore is going to be there... I don't want to see him. Okay? You know what he did to me."
She stared at him for a moment before she spoke again, "You need to get over that. That happened *six years ago. You're a grown man, so stop it."
"You'd make me go back knowing that he..."
"Did you say anything to Mr. Crowne?"
"No ma'am. I told him I wasn't going to take the role. I'm not doing it."
"Yes you are."
"What? Didn't you hear me? I said Mr. Salvotore is the director. He's going to be there and he's going to be all over me. He's the reason I have the role. He wanted to work with me again. He's going to hurt me again... Don't you get that?" he asked, his eyes filling with tears, "I'm not going... I won't let myself be a victim again. Wrené told me I can make my own descions. I'm making this one, I'm not going."
"You're being unceremonious." she said, slamming her fist down on the counter, "Mr. Crowne means well, but let me remind you, 'cause you seemed to have forgotten. Your father and I made you, we took you to your first audition. We have all we have, because we did all of this. You were just the vessel that harnessed the talent. Your life is not your own. You're selfish to think otherwise.
I didn't spend all we had on photoshoots, acting lessons, dermatologist and dental care, just so you could punk out like a little bitch! Mr. Salvotore wants to work with you, he did something that only you and he were privy to. I don't know what happened—"
"I told you what happened..."
"Did I tell you you could speak?" she asked, in a ^acidic tone, her eyes fixed in a scowl. She snatched him down by his face, her nails embedding themselves into his skin, "You will take this role, you will play your part and continue being what we made you. A star. You won't worry about the director. If he makes advances at you, let him."
Wolf stared at her not knowing what to say to her outrageous demand. He couldn't believe she was telling him to break bread and make nice.
"The answer I'm waiting for is; 'Yes, mother, I'll do it. This is my dream and I will do anything to make it come true. I will not disappoint you.'" she said, squeezing his face tighter, "Say it!"
He stared into her eyes wanting to yell at her and stand his ground, but he knew he couldn't. Closing his eyes, he repeated what she wanted to hear, "Yes, mother, I'll do the role... This... This is my dream and I will do anything to make it come true. I will not disappoint you or father." he said, glowering at her. She tapped his face and kissed his forehead praisingly.
"Very good. Now, let's go pack. You leave in a few days." she said, sauntering off to his room, where, as he'd already guessed, she'd pack several bags of luggage for him. He followed behind her, his head hung low as his mind played up scenes of what had happened to him the last time he'd work with the director-of-hell.
As the day faded into night, Wolf laid in his bed wondering how he could get out of doing this show. He hated the director, and he hated Fayleen for making him do it. He wished he could talk to someone who had common sense. He sighed, turning over he snatched his phone from the nightstand and scrolled through his contacts which were few and none. It literally was, his barber, Mr. Crowne, Holden, Euless, Greg, Estrella, his parents and Leo. He knew he didn't want to talk to Holden at the moment. They hadn't spoken in a while anyways. And he wouldn't be able to offer any real advice, unless he consulted Starry. He rolled his eyes and scrolled to Leo's number. Though he loved watching his parents berate him, he secretly wished they were closer. But he'd done his best to push him away. He'd accused Leo of being jealous of him, but in all actuality, he was beyond jealous of him. He had freedom, which he envied. He'd give up everything; the fame, the lights and the money for what his brother had. He had a real life. Friends, love... Actual dreams. Not just fabricated things made up by his parents. He hated being a puppet for them. He just couldn't break the chains they had him locked in. Though he desperately wished he could. Working up the nerve to call Leo, he clicked his number and placed his phone on speaker next to him. The phone rang three times before his voicemail picked up. He let out a sharp sigh, figuring he was either busy, or avoiding his calls. Which wouldn't be a real surprise... He hung up and stared up at the bare ceiling, watching the fan whirl round and round. He wanted to scream, but he couldn't work up the nerve to do it. He was tired of being the reserved child. Tired of being the one who had to abide by the rules and tip toe on fucking egg-shells around his psychotic parents. As he floated on his thoughts, his phone started vibrating out. He glanced down at the caller ID to see Leo was calling him back. He quickly answered, wanting to distract his thoughts.
"Yo, what do you want, Wolfe?" Leo asked, in an annoyed tone.
"Umm.. Nothing... What are you up to?"
"Nothing. I'm laying up in bed. Which you'd know why if you or are shit parents bothered to come see me... I mean, damn, I almost died and none of you even bothered to check on me. No one's asking for y'all to have sat up there the few days I was in a micro coma, but shit, no one should've even have had to ask. Ms. Hernandez, Lamb and Rex stayed up there without even being forced. There was no thinking about it. They just did it..." he paused, "Look, what did you want? You don't ever call me... Must've been important?"
"I'm sorry none of us came to check on you. Dad said you were in the hospital, but he didn't mention how serious it was."
"I call bullshit on that... But that's somethin' his bitchass would do. Typical."
"Our parents are something else... That's for sure." Wolf said, laughing dryly, "Umm... Anyway, I uh, I... I just wanted to see what you were up to, that's all. I hope I didn't wake you?"
"Nah, ya didn't. For someone who's been forced to be on bed rest, I'm literally not doing any resting. Yesterday, Rex, Lamb, Fish and I went to meet Rex's dad and sister. That was fun. Got a job doing some carpentry stuff... Should be exciting I suppose. Don't know much about wood, but I should be able to learn."
"Wow! I still can't believe he was kidnapped. I heard about it through the grapevine. Also saw his interview on the late news. He handled himself well. He's certainly articulate. I'm happy for him..."
"He is for sure. He's a twin like us... So that's pretty cool."
"You don't say? Hmm... So, he's a fraternal twin?" Wolf asked, curiously.
"Yeah, something like that. But eh, are you alright? You seem kinda melancholy... Call it twin-tuition... Which we really don't have, but at the moment you're giving me a total ESP vibe through the phone. What's up?"
Wolf was silent for a moment, as he reasoned with how to ask him for some advice without sounding too in need.
"Wolfe?" he said, in a concerned tone, "You still there?"
"Yeah... Nothing's up. I mean, I have a new role coming up. I've been cast as one of the lead characters. I'm supposed to have a pivotal storyline. So, yeah, I have some exciting things going on." he chuckled, trying to let his cocky attitude take over.
"Did you call to gloat?"
"No... I'm sorry. I don't know what's wrong with me. Ignore that. I'm not really excited about it. But that's not important."
"Sounds like it must be a suck ass role if you sound like you'd rather jump off something than play the part."
"It's not the role... I hate the director. Despise in fact..."
"Why's that? He wouldn't let you have your way?" he asked, thinking that had to be it.
"If only it were that simple and harmless..." Wolf scoffed.
"Harmless? Yo, what do you mean? This dude put his hands on you?"
"Sort of..." he said, hesitantly.
"Sort of?" Leo asked, in a confused voice, "Wolf, he either did or didn't? Don't you know? What happened?"
"Of course I know!..." Wolf snapped, calming himself down before he went completely off, "I thought I knew. I was only 12 when it happened... Mom says I probably imagined it, that what happened was all a misunderstanding. Maybe--"
"Whoa, whoa?! Wolfe, eh, what happened? If you feel like something happened, then it did. Was mom there to know if whatever it is happened or there after the fact?"
"After...Look... I'm sorry I called. I'm sure you're busy... I need to get some rest. I leave on Wednesday at 5 in the morning."
"I'm not busy... I told you. That's besides the point, what happened? You're acting like this guy put his hands on you in a sexual..." he paused, feeling in his gut that was what had happened, "Did... Did he molest you, Wolf?"
Wolf's eyes began to water before tears rolled down his face. He sniffed, trying to stop himself from crying.
"Don't be absurd! I didn't say any such thing about him raping me... I... Why would you suggest that? I'm not some faggot who wanted it. Not like you! You're the one who wants that kind of thing!!"
"First, turn down son. I'm gonna let that snide remark ride for the time being, 'cause I feel like I just hit on something sensitive. You need to talk to someone who can get you off this set. If this guy sexually assaulted you, you need to tell the authorities. The status of limitations is still in play here."
"Gah!! Stop! Stop it! He didn't touch me like that... Just stop saying that. That's not what happened."
"Did he put his hands somewhere you didn't want? Did he force himself on you?"
"I don't want to talk about this. I need to get some more packing done."
"Fine... Don't talk about it! Let it eat away at you from the inside out. I'm here to lean on. You piss me off, and I know we're not close... at all.... but shit, you're my brother, and if there's something I can do to help you, let me. I love you, despite our past and present."
"...What do you know?! You're assuming this man forced himself on me... Th-That he did it to me over and over again, not giving a damn about my feelings. Not caring that he hurt me... That..." he started to say, as tears overtook him.
"Wolfe, don't take this role. It's not going to be good for you. Hell, it already isn't good for you. You need to call the police. Does our mother know?"
Pulling himself together halfway, Wolf started laughing. He couldn't believe he was actually telling him what happened. Fayleen had forbidden him from speaking about it, but yet, here he was telling the most unlikely person the story.
"What's so funny?"
"The fact you brought my little performance... It's laughable. Your so gullible, Leo. As if I'd ever let something like that happen to me. I'm a man. Men don't get raped. I was rehearsing some lines, and I see they're believable. It's been a minute since I've stepped on a film set, so I wanted to make sure I still had it. And looks like I do. Thank you for playing along." he said, trying to play off his confession.
"WHAT THE FUCK, dude! That's sick! Why would you joke about something like that? If I'd of known you called me to play fucking theater, I'd of ignored you. I should block your effing number from my phone!"
"Go ahead... What do I care? I'm about to explode into an even bigger star than I already am. Mom says I have the Midas touch, and I do. I'm the golden child. So it must be true." he laughed, building himself up to believe his own lies, "You're the easiest person to fool. Why else would I call you, if not for my own benefit? Seriously... You're just a stupid, confused queer... The only thing you're good for is running lines by. You're not worth my actual time."
"You're something else. A real loony-tune. Wow..." Leo said, with a scoff, "Don't call me again, since I'm such a worthless person to you. I thought maybe we could try and be real brothers, 'cause for the first time in forever, I really enjoyed talking to you. That would be like our parents being actual parents to me though. Code for, NEVER-IN-A-MILLION-YEARS-GONNA-HAPPEN!!! You're a bastard! Enjoy your fleeting career." he snapped out, hanging up on him before he could insult his concern and love for him again.
Wolf looked at the phone with a smug smile, getting that proud feeling that was really guilt and anger masquerading as satisfaction for hurting his brother, once again. His smile quickly faded as he burst out into a fit of hysteric tears. He buried his face in his hands and just wailed out, cursing himself for being so stupid. He had enjoyed their conversation too. It was the second real conversation he'd had today, where someone was genuinely concerned about him. He knew he wouldn't be able to call him again, after what he'd just done. Telling the truth would've set him free, he thought, but he honestly didn't want to face that kind of truth. What was the point, when he was practically bring pushed back into bed with a sadistic monster?