The Lion's Heir

By: Lilly Pink

Namely, building his own empire separate from his father’s. It wasn’t exactly a secret—and his father pretended not to notice—but only a very few people knew to what extent Kyle had actually gained affluence. He’d started small, trading with a few Japanese and Spanish companies. Just enough to give him a steady flow of capital into his own bank account that wouldn’t pop up on anyone else’s radar. But soon, he’d have to expand.

“I have a meeting with one of my investors, a teleconference,” he said over his coffee to Miriam. “I’ll take it in the cabin. And… have someone bring the car around. It sounds like Alan was really serious about whatever it is he wants to talk about. What do you suppose?”

Miriam shrugged. “I haven’t the slightest. But you’re right, his voice sounded… hm, more grave than usual.”

Kyle checked his watch and did a quick mental tabulation of the current local time in Tokyo, where a number of his private clients resided. He’d decided to invest in computers, and was well on the way to developing his own brand of wrist-band types. By the time he’d sped-walked to the cabin, there was already a blinking light on the far LCD panel indicating someone was trying to call him. He hit the switch, and sat down behind his desk as Director Yamamato’s pudgy face appeared on the screen.

“Konbanwa,” Kyle said. “Sorry about that, I was just eating.”

“No problem at all,” the man replied in perfect Japanese. “I was just finishing my own meal as well.” Kyle fidgeted on his desk and held up a prototype of the computer-watch, and Yamamoto’s eyes widened. “Is that it?”

“More or less; it arrived yesterday from the shop.”

“Looks ‘cool,’” Yamamoto laughed, “and you’ll definitely have a market for it here. As you know, I’m already on board with this. But you know, once you go public with this, it’ll be hard to keep it a secret. And that does seem to be what you’re trying to do…”

The billionaire grinned. “A secret for now. In any case, I knew you’d want to get a glimpse of it as soon as possible. When do you expect you can start producing more?”

Yamamoto rubbed his chin. “Kyle-san, you get me the plans and prototype to my distribution facility, I’ll start churning them out in a week.”

He thought about this and finally nodded. “I still have some contracts and other investors to convince, but I’m happy to hear you’re already committed,” he said. “I’ll keep in touch.”

Yamamoto gave a polite nod and the screen died. Kyle held the computer-watch up at eye-level. It had been hard enough to manufacture the thing without attracting undue supervision, but now that it was complete, he felt a sense of rejuvenation. It was the key to his own emancipation from his Clan. He rubbed the bridge of his nose and set the watch back down on the desk. As he left the cabin again, he noticed that Miriam had already had the steward bring his favorite car around.

The black Miata was a thing of a beauty, specially furnished to his specifications. As much as he felt he had grown—both in age and demeanor—since coming to Cedarhaven, there were certain vices that he could not shake. One of them was a fondness of nice things, and the Miata was the paragon of this obsession.

He straightened his tie and took the keys from the steward, and slammed the gas. The car peeled out smoothly, hardly drawing any dust. It was just thrust, pure and liminal. It reminded him of being in form—the way the wind felt when he was a lion hurtling on four strong legs.

This is the closest thing to being in my true shape without actually transforming, he reflected, cruising out of the gates and down the paved drive onto the main road. The main road itself was just a stretch of highway that entered into Cedarhaven—one street, with a number of shops, a post office, gas station, a diner, and boutique shops. Quaint, if there ever was a word to describe it.

He slowed down, tossing a casual wave at the gas station clerk, Manuel, who nodded at him as he passed. His wealth had set him apart from the rest of the community and, in a way, alienated him. He didn’t mind. He could sympathize with them, and in their place he’d probably be suspicious as well. He knew that being rich also meant paying a price.

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