7 – Growth
Back at the office, Janique leapt into Chris's arms and kissed him with fervor. She reeked of sex and happiness.
“Someone had a good day,” he said. “What did you do?”
“Bought a print shop.”
“What a coincidence. I bought you a computer store,” he said, smiling.
She hugged him tighter. “Really?”
“Yep. I had to offer him ten percent over market value, but it's between the lawyers, now.”
“Wow. It's all coming together.” She sighed. “Wait'll I tell the girls.”
But they had already discovered Natalia's completed bedroom set, and were engaged in a giggling pillow fight. Laughter emanated from their room as they began a second, happier childhood.
Chris squeezed her hand. “Mommy,” he said.
“Oh, daddy. Which reminds me. I want to talk to you about something. But let's review this footage, first.”
He threaded the projector, and they cuddled on their new couch, watching each reel in turn.
“So what do you think?” she asked him when they had finished.
“Well, it's hot, I admit. Mostly because of you and the girls. But it's a different sort of hot, in part. I like it, ultimately.”
She beamed at his approval. “I only regret that it's so short. I know we were talking about hour-long tapes.”
“Yeah, but we have four different angles to work with. With a little judicious editing, we can get forty-five minutes out of it.”
“Do you really think so?” Both of them hated camera trickery, like reusing shots or flipping them horizontally to double their length.
“I can already see it in my head. To make up the difference, we'll use previews, and we can film a disclaimer-type intro.”
“That sounds like fun. Can we do do that now?”
“Of course, angel.”
They set up a camera, framed the shot, and then removed their shirts. Then they ad-libbed on the spot.
“Hi, this is Chris.”
“And I'm Janique.”
“We have a lot of wild sex.”
“Crazy, rough, acrobatic sex.”
“But we're also in love.”
“Madly in love.”
“And we're trained professionals.”
“Everything we do is consensual.”
“Even when it looks like it's not.”
“So if you're going to try and do what we do.”
“Do it with someone you love.”
“And if you can't...”
“Please wear a stupid condom.”
“Don't hurt anyone.”
“Unless they ask you to.”
“Most of all.”
Chris grabbed Janique and kissed her with heartfelt passion, then shut off the camera.
“That was sweet,” Janique said. “But it's only a minute long.”
“We'll pad it with legal stuff. Proof of age statement, custodian of records. I have a feeling it will be mandatory in a few years, anyway.”
“Cover your ass.”
“Movie title,” Chris replied, and she laughed. “We don't want another Tokio situation.”
“That's for sure. We should check on Payback's progress.”
“I'm sure he'll let us know if something happens.”
They got dressed with some reluctance, and went to talk to Janice.
“Hey, kids,” she said. “You two look happy.”
“Really happy,” Janique said. “I'm afraid we spent eight-hundred thousand dollars, though.”
“Naughty, naughty. Good investments?”
“The best. They're both solvent, and ideal locations to run girls out of.”
“Let me guess. The print shop?”
“That is shrewd, Janique. Beverly Hills runs on the backs of beautiful young girls.”
“I know, right?”
“On a related note, I ran the ad. You should soon have more clients than you can, uh-”
“Shake your dick at?” Janique said.
"You're the best, Janice.”
“Thank you, ma'am. I know. I also took got the numbers of the three biggest porn distributors in the world, as you asked. The best offers sixty-thousand per finished hour. All three are waiting on footage.”
“Do you mean to tell me that we made, what, almost a quarter million dollars just goofing around this week?” Chris asked.
“Subject to their approval, yes. Although I feel compelled to point out that you spent three times that much on investments. Money well spent, in my opinion. But don't lose sight of the bottom line.”
“Movie title!” Janique said. Janice nearly blushed. “But I think we can do better.”
“I want to work with Payback on the terms. I also want points.”
“Very astute. I'll draft something and pass it along to him. I think we can make that work.”
“The money is obviously going to be a lot to deal with. Can you recommend an accountant and financial planner?”
“I wouldn't do this for anyone else, Janique, but I can give you a referral to my own. They've been in business for over a hundred years, and have never steered me wrong.”
“Are you really that old?” Janique asked with a smirk.
“Janice, I could kiss you,” Chris said.
“No, sir, you cannot. But I'm glad to help. When you incorporate, I should like stock options.”
“You are just full of good advice,” Janique said.
“Anybody here?” said a voice in the hall. Dana and Brad had arrived with the computer delivery.
When Chris entered the corridor, Dana dropped the box of cables he was holding.
“Hey! That's the guy who threatened to pistol-whip me!
“What?” Brad said.
“Oh, Dana. Chris was just playing around. Weren't you, Chris?”
“Oh, sure,” he said.
“Chris would never hurt anyone.”
He tried to smile, but the thought of the people he'd killed, and the arms and kneecaps he'd broken made it more of a pained and unconvincing grimace. The moment was saved by the girls, who swarmed the two computer salesman.
“Hey, Brad and Dana,” said a chorus of voices.
“Girls, I need to talk to Brad. Show Dana your new room,” Janique said pointedly.
“Ooh, come see,” Lateesha said, taking him by the hand.
“Brad, we're buying the store. Would you like to work for us?”
“You mean, at the store?”
“No, silly. I mean here. You're too talented to be a mere shopkeeper. Sure, you can oversee operations, there. But I'm talking about being our technical consultant. And also developing hardware and software.”
Dana walked back out as they were talking, looking flushed and disheveled.
“Janique, I'd be a fool to say no.”
“Especially once you learned that the position pays a quarter-million a year to start...”
“Fuck Brad, what about Dana?” Dana said.
“Not to mention a generous R & D budget...”
“Fuck Brad, what about Dana?” he repeated.
“Dana, go unload the truck, please,” Brad said, annoyed.
When he was out of earshot and into the elevator, Brad said, “Look, my brother's sort of a screw-up. I can't just abandon him. I'm afraid I can't accept if it means he'll lose his job at the store. And without me, he'll never make it, there.”
“Well, what can he do, besides run a cash register and be a goofball?”
“That's the thing. Being a goofball is all he's really good at. He's a comedy writer, and he does a little stand-up and improv.”
“I may be able to use him, then. We'd still have to audition him.”
“Please keep him off camera. No one wants to see that.”
Janique laughed. “Not like that. I mean, he'd have to write a test script for me.”
“Pornos have scripts?”
“I don't want to do bog-standard porn. I want funny, exciting art pieces. At least occasionally.”
“Well, dependent on how he does, I guess, I accept.”
Janique kissed him on the cheek, and he looked nervously to Chris, who, rather than being angry, betrayed a hint of a smile.
“Wonderful,” she said. “Welcome aboard.”
“I'm going to help him unload,” Brad said.
“Great. I'll talk to him about it today. Or, Chris will, rather. They need to be friends for it to work.”
Brad joined Dana downstairs, and Janique said, “Well, can you work with another writer?”
“Yeah, I think I'd like that. Comedy is not my strong suit.”
“And not pistol-whip him?”
Chris smiled. “I'll do my best.”
“You always do. Reason four-hundred and fifty-six of why I love you so much.”