Bremeerson knew about it, because his accountants did their jobs well. The legal team was alerted in quick succession. His assistant was privy to all of it, and because of my close proximity to everything, I was too.
Selwin couldn’t keep much of anything from me, anyway. I’ve made myself indispensable…
That’s just me being funny. Everyone is replaceable in business.
Someone had gone to a great deal of trouble to make me look worse than I already did. Bonus insult: the thief funneled just enough of the company’s earnings into–what the gossip writers liked to call–my “wishing well” to be noticed, but not nearly enough to do any real good.
The wishing well was actually the investments Bremeerson made into the companies he acquired through our personal merger. Honestly, I liked the pet name, if not the people who coined it. I didn’t own any of them prior, but that wasn’t how the clans necessarily worked.
Without drawing the episode out longer than needed, let me just say that I was made to look like an idiot, stealing from the company I worked for to finance ventures that were already being funded. It made me look like an impatient, disrespectful, idiot.
All for what? To sew discord, lessen credibility, lower my wishing well’s reputation… And get me into trouble with the beast.
“No, my little thief, don’t go in there yet.”
Selwin thought he was being funny as I got up from my desk. Bremeerson had told me to meet him in his office at noon.
“You, of all people, shouldn’t harass me like that!”
Annoyingly, I was hurt.
“Sorry, but you should wait. I just put a call through from one of the lawyers, and he’s still on the line. Sit, you’re trembling.”
So I sat down, as casually as I could–faking unruffled feathers–trying to maintain my professional regard for Bremeerson’s assistant. I liked Selwin, just not then.
Everyone knew about the theft by that point. I hadn’t won everyone over yet, obviously, and personnel still liked to discuss my demise. There was a strange loyalty towards the Beast of Bremeer, one that I was beginning to understand and emulate. It’s why I felt… fearful and anxious. I didn’t want to lose the fledgling regard he’d developed towards me. So when Selwin broke my reverie to say the boss was ready to see me, I almost lost my nerve.
As soon as the door closed behind me, I kept my voice admirably steady, though, and told him before he could get a word in edgewise, “I earn my wages. I do not steal them. I bound myself through contract…”
My knees wanted to give out, and my skin became clammy. So I sat in the chair by his desk and continued, “You’ve been patient and… kind.”
Although, kindness wasn’t exactly the motivation, I think… more a sense of moral decorum, really high standards, and a necessary detachment.
“I know I haven’t yet fulfilled all the stipulations of our binding contract… Please.”
Believe that I’m not that stupid or that greedy.
I didn’t get to finish, though.
His voice quietly cut through my speech, saying, “Stop.”
I eyed him warily when he proceeded to come near me.
“All you wanted was to read my library… a surprisingly illuminating request. Then you asked for a job interview.” He took a slow and assessing pause. “You are no thief.”
The breath I’d been holding huffed out disjointedly.
“You’re shaking. Why are you shaking?”
He asked all sorts of questions after that, but I’m not quite sure which ones. What I truly remember is that it was the first time I saw him lose his temper. My blood pressure had plummeted, and the unmistakable taint of curse magiks filtered through my pores.
He launched himself at me, when I slid off the chair and began writhing.
“They are not taking you!”
Selwin heard the shouting and came racing through the office door.
Then Bremeerson became the beast everyone feared. His eyes went pearlescent, the irisis rimmed in red. Meanwhile, my guts began twisting upon themselves, turning me into another kind of monster. The sounds coming from my mouth… Had I fangs, I would have torn at my wrists to get to the veins. I’m very glad there was only one beast in the room, though. I didn’t account for my husband being a Red Magus.
Our enemies hadn’t either…
It proved a very, very unfortunate enterprise–framing him for my murder.