Chapter 23 by Rebecca Khan

Somewhere high above the cityscape of Matana, warm yellow lights shone out of the windows of the penthouse suite. Tessellated window shutters and sheer flowing drapes reveal luxuriously appointed quarters, white fur throws on couches, covered gold silken upholstery, displays of expensive pottery and in the middle of the room, a large desk made of solid black granite that featured crystal glasses and a decanter filled with liquor that glinted invitingly in the firelight.

From behind a large screen, one slender hand with long fingers covered in rings reached into the desk top drawer to pull out a pack of menthol cigarettes. Icy green eyes framed by long wavy blond hair glowed as a match stick flared and a long plume of smoke enveloped the screen. Bracelets tinkled as Charlotte resumed typing, the screen covered in financial figures and calculations.

Heavy wooden doors pushed open and a smiling maître de walked in carrying a plate of food under a silver cloche and set it down next to Charlotte, “compliments from the chef, Miss Yoss, a new shipment of abalone was just flown in from Javar, very popular this time of year.” Without waiting for a response, he glided out of the room, leaving Charlotte to ruminate over her figures, “...and net profit is estimated to be...?” She said, clicking the mouse and smiling as the bottom line filled with zeros.

Staring out the window at the skyline, she stepped into a white pant suit then poured herself a glass from the decanter, “this cesspool city, so sleepy, so peaceful...they won’t know what hit them”. She sighed with contentment and sipped, “this backwater town, it’s people, the world...they all thought I couldn’t make it. Now look at them, writhing in their own filth while the government bungles around trying to contain this beautiful chaos. May it all burn to the ground.”

Charlotte walked out onto the balcony and continued to stare downwards, eyes falling on the private driveway that lead directly to a hidden entrance to the building, a direct line to the elevator in her suite. The path was suddenly illuminated by multiple headlights. Charlotte felt her phone buzz and answered a call from her assistant, “Miss Yoss, your prospective clients have arrived, they’re being shown to the board room now on the floor below...shall I tell them you’ll be with them shortly?” Charlotte replied, “Yes Shaun, thank you I’ll make my way down now.”

Quickly snatching up papers in a folder marked, “Seeker, Cure” she made her way to the private elevators down to the floor where the meeting was being held. Elevator doors opened into a long hallway with warm colours on the walls, hanging art and wooden floors, and Shaun, carrying a neat set of folders meant for the clients to follow during the meeting. Heels clacking down the hallway without hesitation, Shaun running ahead of her to open the boardroom doors, Charlotte stepped confidently in and greeted her clients, an array of fat men with ugly jewellery and expensive suits and wreaking of cigar smoke and cologne. Shaun quickly began passing out the folders setting them down on each mans right side,

“Welcome gentlemen, to LifaLabs...”, she said smiling widely “...my name is Charlotte Yoss sole benefactor of LifaLabs and I have the big bad toys you boys want to play war games with.” She snuggly grinned, seeing their bulging eyes light up. “What say we make a start on negations? Bidding starts at one billion US dollars, do I have any takers? “ she smiled as the room erupted with offers and counter offers and started counting the number of islands she could buy.

About the author:
Rebecca Khan, 59, lives in Perth and enjoys red wine on the couch and a good Bollywood film. Her favourite shows on Netflix are Outlander and Mindhunter and she loves all things cheese.