Encore – Chapter 15 – Aftermath


Leo Melikian, a smart but naïve 25-year old stuck in a lowly white-collar job in the South of France, finds himself living each day twice. When riots explode in the South, his power is the only thing he can rely on to save the ones he loves.

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Chapter 15: Aftermath

 

I was the first to wake the next day. I slowly extracted myself from under Hanaa’s legs, and silently moved to the window to check on the scene outside. All seemed calm. I decided to go out by myself. Since I was back in Day A, if anything happened to me, I hoped I would simply wake up safely in Day B.

I took my keys and eased myself through the main door, shutting it with a faint click. I took the stairs slowly, my ears alert for any warning sounds from outside. There was nothing: no bells, no voices and no cars. Just an eerie, deafening silence.

I shielded my eyes from the bright light as I walked out. It was just a little after 8 a.m., and already the summer sun was beating down heavily. It felt so out of place. After the horror of yesterday, I expected pouring rain, dark clouds and thunder. Instead, facing me was a perfectly blue sky devoid of clouds. It felt like one of those days where Hanaa, Cedric and I would go eat a panini on the beach and do absolutely nothing.

But the illusion was broken in an instant. I turned to my left, and dropped against a wall, bent backwards like a disarticulated puppet, was a body. Our attacker. He was exactly where we had left him when we ran home.

Cedric had killed someone. Cedric, the friend with whom I had smoked my first cigarette hidden in the forest behind our school while he looked on with disapproval. Cedric, who had been at my side while we cowered under our principal’s screams after having thrown cream-cheese packs onto other students from three stories up. That Cedric, my Cedric, had used his hands to end someone’s life. That Cedric was gone.

And somehow, worse than the horror of a corpse 20 meters away from me, or of knowing that my friend would never be the same, came an unexpected and unbidden thought: They didn’t even bother to come back for him. They left him for dead.

I shook my head slowly and set out towards Place Masséna. Whether it was to see if the center of yesterday’s hurricane had calmed down, or out of morbid curiosity, I wasn’t sure. All around me, shops were either closed behind heavy metals grills or smashed open, their goods spilling out onto the street. Not a soul walked the usually busy shopping avenues. I felt like I was living a post-apocalyptic nightmare and I was the only human left on earth.

I stopped at the entrance of the underground parking I had a monthly subscription for, and decided to go check on my Benz first. From there, I would simply walk to the corner exit that gave directly onto Place Masséna. I opened the small metal door with a creak and slowly stepped down the big cement slabs that led to the floor below.

The parking looked like an earthquake had hit it. Half the lights were broken, while the others flickered on and off randomly. I took a step forward, and immediately felt the crunch of glass under my shoes. Almost every single car had some kind of damage: smashed windshields and windows, dented doors and hoods, snapped-off side view mirrors. A whole row of cars at the back had gone up in flames, leaving only black husks and an acrid smell in the air.

I pressed my key and heard the familiar beep of my Mercedes in the corner. My beautiful AR HUD was nothing but shards of glass spread across the front seats. Craters and deep grooves marred its silver coat. But, I smiled faintly, it still seemed to work. Good to know.

I carefully walked to the exit on the other side and climbed up to Place Masséna. The sight that greeted me as I came back out into the sunlight locked me into place.

At the center of the square, standing like a monument on the black and white checkered stones, was an armored military jeep. It was covered in camo-paint, and two men stood inside, one manning a rotating turret while the other scanned around.

I counted ten soldiers in all, decked out in full battle gear. They walked around the mock periphery that had been built with fences to the north, east and west, and CRS armored vans to the south. Place Masséna was completely cordoned off. I walked up to the makeshift palisade.

The checkered stones of the square were all chipped and broken. Cans, rocks and other projectiles littered the ground. Everywhere I looked, dark brown splatters of what I could only assume was dried blood stained the stones.

“Sir, please move away from the fence,” said a deep voice beside me. I turned around in surprise, and came face to face with one of the soldiers. I hadn’t seen or heard him approach. From up close I couldn’t help but focus on the shiny machine gun he held in his hands. I immediately stepped back.

“Sorry, I’m just trying to-”

“-Please return to your home,” the soldier cut me off, “It’s not safe here.”

“It seems pretty safe,” I answered, before mentally kicking myself for being a smartass in front of a man holding a machinegun.

“Sir,” he said, with a perfectly flat tone, “The situation is not yet fully under control. Unless you require urgent assistance, please return home.”

I nodded and walked back to my flat.

I found Cedric and Hanaa already up and watching TV while my mom made tea and laid out bread, jam and butter on the bar counter.

“Where were you?” asked Cedric.

“I went to look around. My car’s smashed,” I said, “I made it to Place Masséna but I was turned back by the Army. The Army.”

“Yeah, the news said they had to bring in a contingent of Marine Infantry from Fréjus,” said Cedric.

“The Army…” I said in disbelief. The only time I had ever seen soldiers in real life was at the airport, and even then it was rarely more than two at a time.

“Hasn’t happened since World War II,” added Cedric, “Army forces deployed on the mainland.”

I gave Hanaa a quizzical look – I expected this type of factoid coming from her, much less so from Cedric. She rolled her eyes. “They just said so on TV.”

The day passed by quick. We mostly stuck to the TV, trying to understand how the incomprehensible had come to be. We fielded calls from various friends and family, and reassured them that we were all ok. We politely pretended to not hear Hanaa’s parents yelling at her to return home to Casablanca and her yelling back that the airport probably wasn’t working and that her exams still held priority. Thierry was fine, as were most of our friends. It seemed we had escaped from this relatively unscathed.

Glued to the TV, we learnt that the CRS and the police had been completely overtaken by the riots, especially when they had started to spread from Nice to the neighboring towns. Valbonne, Cannes, Antibes and Mandelieu had all been hit hard. When the police forces had been forced to fall back, president Macron had stepped in and called in the army.

It hadn’t been without casualties. Preliminary statistics estimated that in Nice alone, over 150 people had died, with 3,000 wounded. Of those, a quarter were police or military. I shuddered at the number. Somewhere in there was one casualty that lay 20 meters from my front door.

The bigger picture started to appear in the afternoon, as the president delivered a live speech to the country. He announced that he had had to invoke the State of Emergency. It was the first time this had happened since the Nice terrorist attacks. A 10 p.m. curfew was to be initiated in what he coined ‘sensitive zones’, and enforced by the army. He reassured the French population that the situation was temporary, fully confined to the South of France with no risk of spreading, and entirely under control.

“Government control,” muttered Cedric half-heartedly. The government mistrust was still there, but he clearly had something else on his mind.

Then, to our surprise, the president brought out Mr. Perret, the Minister of Finance. His recent tan glistened with beads of sweat, and it was with a slightly shaky voice that he began to explain that the French government had had to knock 20% off of the large family allowance to be able to cover its expenses. He repeatedly reinforced the fact that this was a temporary situation that applied to everyone, both French natives and immigrants. Apparently, they had finally realized that it was the spread of rumors and fake news that had caused this situation in the first place.

I looked to my dad, who blankly stared at the screen as one of France’s most powerful men went on to explain, just like Hanaa had to me a few days ago, that this horrible tragedy had all started with the bankruptcy of AGRCOC, my father’s defunct retirement plan.

When AGRCOC had gone belly up, it had forced the French government to act. The government had hesitated, but to avoid social unrest, had finally given in and tried to bail them out. The only problem was that bailing out AGRCOC required 80 billion euros, of which the government had exactly none.

To try to cover the cost, France therefore went to its usual source of cash: the public markets. It issued bonds, or loans to the state. For decades, banks and consumers around the world had readily bought them up, and due to the high perceived safety of the French state, been satisfied with the tiny interest of less than a percentage point they had received in return. France’s prestige had allowed it to borrow cheaply.

An extra 80 billion should have seemed inconsequential compared to the total size of France’s public debt: a whopping 2.4 trillion euros. Unfortunately, the bankruptcy of one of France’s main pension funds was a gigantic red flag, alerting the entire world to their crumbling retirement system. It had suddenly become incredibly risky to lend France any money.

When AGRCOC imploded, the world began to doubt France’s ability to pay back its debts. For one of the first times since World War II, France’s bond issuances failed. No one wanted to buy bonds with a ticket of only 1%. It didn’t seem worth the risk. Before anyone could truly realize what was happening, France’s bonds were only being picked up at a 10% ticket, then 15% and finally 20%. France couldn’t raise money at those rates. It would have driven itself to bankruptcy in under a year.

So it turned to the EU for help, looking for emergency loans from other member states, or EU collateral to the bonds, meaning that if France defaulted, the other member states would pick up the bill. The strategy had successfully worked in the past for Greece. Unfortunately, France took this step too late.

Because it was running out of money, France had to take drastic measures to ensure that it could cover all of its expenses. Other states who had faced this problem, such as the US and Greece, had simply chosen not to pay state employees. But the French government came to the conclusion that this would paralyze the country. They predicted massive strikes of all public transportation workers, customs officials and law enforcement. The economic impact of these strikes would only have made a tough situation worse, as state revenue would have shrunk drastically, and confidence in France’s economy plunged further. And cash was something that France needed more than anything else.

So, in a completely unprecedented act, France cut the large family allowance. Meant to stimulate population growth, the allowance was given to any family with over two children. It was universally granted to any French resident, regardless of nationality. The FN saw an opportunity and pounced, and before anyone could realize what was happening, had stirred up its supporters with fake rumors.

“Why didn’t they go to the EU faster?” asked my sister when Mr. Perret’s speech came to a close.

“They didn’t realize how bad the situation was until it was too late,” explained Hanaa.

“Everything bureaucratic is slow,” I added, “It takes ages to get anything done at BNP. Everything requires an approval from a billion people. When you get to EU-levels it’s even worse.”

“So what happens now?” asked Lara.

“Well you heard him,” said Hanaa, “The EU money should be received within the next two weeks, at which point the allowance will be paid back in full, and everything will go back to normal.”

“But…” My sister was from a medical background, and I could tell that these economic concepts were difficult for her to grasp. It wasn’t surprising. They were difficult for me to grasp, and I had a Masters from a business school.

“How does that solve the problem? Isn’t France still losing money?” she asked.

We all stayed silent. She might not fully get it, but she had just cut straight to the core of the problem.

“It doesn’t solve the problem,” said Hanaa, “It just kicks the can down the road.”

I shut off the TV and went to get a beer.

 

 

No one left the apartment that day, especially since I had enough supplies to last a full week. I knew it wouldn’t come to that, given what we were seeing on TV, but I was thankful for it anyways. Nice might have been an erupting volcano yesterday, but today the dust had settled, and all that was left was ash and smoke.

When I woke up the next morning, on Day B, I jumped to my feet. There was something I needed to do before anyone woke up. I quietly let myself out, and scampered down the stairs as quickly as I could. Yesterday, I had managed to convince Cedric not to step outside. I knew I could probably repeat the performance, but I thought it just as well not take any chances.

I approached the body cautiously. Even knowing that it wouldn’t move, I couldn’t help but feel a certain apprehension. This was the first time I had ever seen a dead person. He was bunched up against the wall, so I rolled him onto his back. He plopped around and his glazed eyes stared straight up at the sky. His bandana had come loose, and dried blood clotted his mouth and nose. From the patchy beard he had been trying to grow, I could tell he wasn’t a day over twenty. I couldn’t help but wonder. Didn’t he have a family? Brothers, sisters, cousins? What would push someone to go out and try to violently hurt and kill his fellow man? Anger and sadness at the waste his life had been slowly grew within me.

I grabbed him by his arms and dragged him up the street. I had read about how the body stiffens in just a few hours after death, but I hadn’t been expecting this. His arms wouldn’t fold out straight and stayed bent at awkward angles. He was heavier than I expected. It was like pulling along an uneven boulder: his feet kept catching on the cobblestones and I would have to jerk him hard to dislodge them.

A few years ago, Cedric had sent me a funny quote that read: “A good friend will help you move a couch, but your best friend will help you move a body”. We had laughed. “I’ll be there no matter what man,” I had joked. Well, the joke was on me. I just hadn’t imagined that Cedric wouldn’t even be here to help me with the feet.

No matter how I looked at it, I simply couldn’t let Cedric know. He would wonder, of course. He would likely think about it until the end of his life. But knowing was different. Knowing would leave a scar from which he might not recover. The mind has a way of snapping back, and I had witnessed that in Hanaa the day before. It took her only a night’s sleep to get over the sobbing, and rebuild her confident, queen-of-the-world facade. The trauma was still there, but she had it under control. Cedric, on the other hand, was a world away. His eyes were off in the distance, his responses slow and beside the point. I needed to do this for him.

I dumped the body between two green recycling bins a few streets away. Standing there in front of it, I didn’t know if I should say anything. I kept thinking that if this had been a movie, I would come up with a badass phrase like ‘You went too far and paid the price, now rest in peace asshole’. Instead, I just stood there, sad and fearful and angry. I looked at the broken body for a few more seconds, turned around, and went home.

 

 

“Mom, Dad,” I said, “I think it’s ok to go check up on the house.”

“Are you sure?” asked my mom, worried.

“Yeah it’ll be fine. My car’s pretty bashed up and we’ll need to clean it up a bit, but it should work.”

“Can we come?” asked Lara, her arm around Florian, “If it’s safe I want to check in on the residents at the retirement home.”

I cringed. It would take a particular type of sadist to hurt old people, but after the unimaginable events that had taken place, nothing was a sure thing anymore.

“Yeah,” I said, “Let’s leave in half an hour?”

Cedric and Hanaa walked out with us. Hanaa insisted on going back home to her student residence, and Cedric and I only agreed if she took him with her. Based on yesterday’s news, I knew it was safer today, but there was no point in trying our luck. As we stepped out, I noticed Cedric’s eyes darting up the street, and saw him breathe a small and silent sigh of relief. I slapped him on the shoulder.

“Be safe. Anything goes wrong, call me.”

“We’ll be fine,” he said with a small grin, “If we run into anyone I’ll just let Hanaa scream at them until they run away.”

Hanaa punched him in the shoulder.

“See! She doesn’t even need me.”

My dad and Florian helped me clear out the glass from the seats. The AR display had been made from a special type of material, and none of the shards were particularly pointy. Much to my sister’s dismay, who clearly wanted to be more helpful and involved, none of us cut ourselves.

I drove out onto empty streets, taking the exit that bypassed Place Masséna and landed us straight on the Prom’. I folded the car’s roof down, and cringed at the loud screech of broken glass as it slowly retracted, but suddenly the missing windows were much less noticeable. It was a perfect day for a ride in a cabriolet car. The sun was shining off of the emerald blue sea, and we were driving with the wind in our faces under rows of bright green palm trees. The only cue that this was anything but a joyride was the morbidly silent atmosphere and the fact that I was getting so much wind in my face from the absence of my windshield that I had to slow down.

Twice, we passed military jeeps heading the opposite way. On the Route de Nice I overtook a fire truck in one of the double lane curves that climbed up a giant hill. As far as signs of human life went, that was all we saw.

Five minutes away from Valbonne, my phone rang. I instinctively swiped my hand in the air to pick it up, and nothing happened. Obviously, I thought. The motion-detecting cameras in the windshield had been smashed as well. My Benz had gone from smart-car to dumb-car. I picked up the call on my phone and lodged it between my shoulder and ear.

“Hey,” said Cedric, “Listen… can Hanaa sleep at your place for a few days?”

“What happened?” I asked, suddenly worried.

“She’s fine, don’t worry,” he said, picking up on the anxiety in my voice, “We’re on our way to the hospital to see if Sarah is there. One of her friends. Not sure which one. No one knows where she is.”

“Okay…?” I asked, confused.

“The residence was bad, man. It got hit hard. The students inside barricaded the door with desks, chairs and anything they could find when they realized what was going on. Problem was, there were still a ton of students who hadn’t gotten back in time.”

“Fuck…”

“Yeah, they got stuck between the guys from l’Ariane and locked doors. Everyone is in shock. The students inside saw their friends get beat to a pulp from their windows. There was blood everywhere on the ground.”

“Everyone we know okay?” I asked.

“Yeah… Well, except Sarah. Maybe. I don’t know. It was a close call. Some girls outside got raped. I don’t think anyone died but… man it’s fucked up.”

“Leo?” Cedric asked after a moment of silence.

I had just arrived in Valbonne. Everyone in the car had gone deathly still.

“Uh,” I said, distracted, “Yeah, bring Hanaa back to my place. No problem. I… I gotta go.”

I remembered the photo I had seen in Greece of Valbonne burning. That fire had spread from house to house, driving straight through the entire row of identical sandstone houses where I had once lived. Each and every one was a black and charred ruin. Dark traces of soot rose from every window, doorway and opening. Roofs had crumbled in as rafters burnt down. Our entire block was gone.

I stopped the car in the middle of the deserted street. We all stepped out and looked at the house. I could only tell it was ours by the two black husks in front, the remnants of my dad and my sister’s cars. My mom let out a gasp and started to sob in loud heavy hiccups, and my sister took her in her arms. My dad silently walked towards the entrance, without looking back. I followed him.

The door was burnt to a crisp. Careful not to touch anything, he stepped inside, his feet leaving heavy prints in the layer of ash on the floor. He stopped in front of the black sooty pile that had once been our worn leather couch. I put a hand on his shoulder, and he turned to me with disbelieving eyes.

“It’ll be okay dad,” I said, “Just… You and mom come live with me for a while, ok?”

“It’s…” he couldn’t find the words.

“The important thing is we’re all safe right?” I said, “It’ll be fine.”

He took off his glasses and wiped them on his shirt. When he put them back on, it was with a little more height in his shoulders.

“It will,” he said, “It will.”

We walked out and he took my still sobbing mom in his arms.

“Hush chérie,” he said, “It’ll be ok.”

He was back, in a way. Hurt, but back.

“But Pierre,” said my mom, “What are we going to do?”

“The insurance will cover it. We’ll get an even newer house. A better one! It’ll work out.”

“I was getting pretty sick of the place,” I jumped in, trying to lighten the mood. No one laughed. I kicked myself mentally yet again. So much for the classic French dark humor in the face of tragedy.

“The insurance will cover it and we’ll be back on our feet in no time,” said my dad, repeating it like a mantra, “The insurance will cover it.”

 

 

It didn’t.

Over the next two weeks, insurance companies announced one by one that they wouldn’t cover the damage created by the riots. They unilaterally decided that it was an act of God, a special clause in most insurance contracts that exonerated them from having to pay for unforeseeable and uncontrollable events. Although these were usually only invoked for freak weather incidents, such as hurricanes or floods, they jumped at the opportunity to absolve themselves of any financial responsibility.

Not that they could have paid for the damages even if they had wanted to. The total cost was estimated to be in the billions of euros, and they just didn’t have that kind of funds set aside. The insurance firms, AXA, Allianz and the like were all publicly listed companies. They could have turned to the public markets to raise funds, through loans and share offerings, but they would have met with the exact same problem as the French government had a few weeks before. Aware of the scale of the riots, the market sold off as many of their shares as it could. Their stock tanked, and no one wanted to risk buying their obligations. They couldn’t have covered the damages without simultaneously going bankrupt. So they simply opted not to.

Class-action lawsuits sprung up all over the place. Homeowners grouped together to sue the insurance companies. I took some hope in that, until Hanaa explained that the procedure would likely take years if not decades, and that my father would only receive a fraction of what he was due when all was said and done.

My father broke. I let him and my mom move into what was officially known as “Maxime’s room” until they could get back on their feet. But that somehow made it worse. My father’s lifelong faith in the system, already rattled by the sudden disappearance of half his pension, crumbled completely. He went to bed early, got up late, and spent long hours staring blankly at the TV. He had always been a man of few words, but now he completely shut down. A day when I could get more than a grunt out of him was a good day.

Hanaa stayed a total of three days before declaring that she couldn’t stand the ‘pre-teen man-cave’ anymore, gave me a peck on the cheek and slammed the door. I actually laughed for the first time in what seemed like an eternity at that. We met for coffee with her and Cedric every other day and acted as if nothing had happened, and eventually things started to feel normal again.

Work took up again at BNP, and I went back to delving into data analysis. We started to prepare the upcoming flying pigs campaign, and after all that had happened, it somehow managed to seem even more pointless and stupid than before.

I did get asked, over and over again, how I had known about the riots. I dismissed it evasively every time, explaining that I had overheard conversations in a café, and that living in the Old Nice, I was aware of things before anyone else. After a while, everyone either accepted the explanation or stopped asking.

It took two weeks before I finally cracked. The air in my flat was heavy with things left unsaid. I could feel that my dad hated depending on his son for the roof over his head, and hated himself even more for no longer having the energy to do anything about it. I had been spending my Day As in nearby cafés, reading as much as I could about the French government crisis and the ongoing insurance legal battle. Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore and set my alarm clock for 5:30 a.m. the next day, the 17th of July. I was going travelling again.

I got up, took a shower, and decided that today I would either be going to Tallinn, Estonia, or Riga, Latvia. Whichever had the earlier flight.

I grabbed my pack, threw it onto the little table next to the sofa and checked that it still had everything. Bottle of water, swimming shorts, towel, rain jacket, sunglasses: check. My pack of Barquettes biscuits was missing though. I opened the kitchen cupboards, found it, and walked back to the couch. I sat down and stared at it. Something felt wrong.

I no longer felt the excitement I usually had before I headed over to the airport. It was almost as if I was forcing myself back into this routine rather than genuinely wanting to go out and explore.

But I needed to change something. The sour mood around me was slowly eating me up. Something was wrong, but I wasn’t so sure that travelling was going to fix it. Ever since the riots, I just hadn’t felt the urge anymore.

Over the last two weeks, the few moments when I felt relaxed and at peace were the most insignificant ones, like when Hanaa laughed and I knew she was safe, or having breakfast with my mom every morning, even though I heard everything twice. Even Lara’s rants over the phone about how nothing had changed at the retirement home sometimes seemed like music to my ears.

The only real unhappiness I was facing was coming from my dad. It was awkward around him. Well, that and my job, which was taking ages to get anywhere. Two steps forward, two steps back.

No wonder travelling had lost its luster. It felt like running away from my problems instead of facing them. But as much as I wanted to help my parents out, there was only so much I could do.

My finances had been destroyed by the French crisis. The stock market had completely crashed, and my investment portfolio with Crédit Suisse had gone from 1 million euros to slightly under 350,000. My banker assured me it would rise back up again, but in the meantime my current account was ironically doing better than my savings. Even after my spending sprees for my car and my apartment, I still had over 700,000 euros available. Total assets of 1.05 million.

Not bad, but not nearly good enough. It was barely enough to afford a nice house in the South. And then I would have nothing left. What if the rest of the pension system crashed? I wouldn’t be able to bail them out on my crappy BNP salary. Not to mention that I would have to move out of my apartment and back in with them.

And what about Cedric, who hated his job and feared for his life every time he took off in one of those Cessnas? What about Lara, who would probably collapse from work exhaustion one of these days? What about Hanaa who… well, when I really thought about it, Hanaa was actually the one person I didn’t have to worry about. Except during riots.

The horrible truth, I realized, was that the riots had changed me. I had never felt more alive than during that day. I had been taking care of my friends and family. I had protected them. But as Lara had unwittingly pointed out, nothing had really changed. France was still a powder keg about to explode. What if I needed to protect them again?

I took the pack of Barquettes and opened it. I grabbed one and set it back on the table, next to the latest issue of the magazine Le Point.

At the heart of the problem was that my hefty bank account and my nifty little power weren’t enough to take care of everyone. I needed more.

My eyes shifted towards the magazine cover: ‘Crashing Stocks and Soaring Oil – France’s New Reality‘. I stared at it for a while. Had I been aiming too low? Had I been so focused on the fun that the Day A/B split offered me that I hadn’t actually built anything with it?

What if my power stopped tomorrow? All I would have to show for the past 3 months was a bulgier bank account. It wasn’t anywhere near ‘fuck you‘ money. I would still need to work for a living. I hadn’t accomplished or built anything durable. I had selfishly played around, bought myself a bunch of toys, and gone travelling.

I took a bite of the Barquette in my hand, and almost spit it out. It was dry and hard and left a terrible taste in my mouth. I took the box and checked the expiry date: 4/7/2019. It had expired three days after the riots. I put the half-eaten Barquette back into the box and looked at it.

I had taken that box to a total of 16 countries. I had visited over 30 cities, and met an astounding number of people who now had no recollection of me. Some of those memories were sweet, like the couple in Prague who gave me a night tour of the city, or the rowdy Scots who made me drink like I was one of their own. Some were bitter, like the image of Chiara getting into that cab and driving away. I had destroyed a priceless work of art and gone to jail. I had ridden sports cars, jet skis, helicopters, Vespas and more. I had eaten more local specialties than I knew existed, or cared to remember. It had been, if nothing else, immensely fun.

But just like that pack of Barquettes, I realized, that time was past. I needed to build something that would grant me the power to protect those I cared about. The French system had failed my dad. It had failed Cedric and my sister. One day, it would fail again. It would be much worse.

But I wouldn’t fail. Next time, I would be ready.

I picked up my travel bag and threw it away in a corner. I took off my shoes, grabbed Le Point and started to read. Maybe the French stock exchange was something I needed to study up on.

It was time to take care of my own.

 

~ End of Book 1 ~

And that wraps up Book 1! I’ll be taking 3 months off to research book 2, so make sure to stay tuned by following me on my Facebook page here!

As a bonus, I’m also going to be starting a new story in 2-3 weeks while the research for Encore 2 is on-going – and I’m sure you’ll like it every bit as much as Encore. So definitely keep your eyes out for that one!

Thanks everyone for following – it’s been a hell of a ride 🙂