Daze in the Valley
Copyright© 2010 by Jay Cantrell
Drama Sex Story: Chapter 94 - Adam Walters is a 19-year-old farm boy going to college in the big city. Reeling from the deaths of his parents and struggling with the financial hardship those deaths bring, he takes the advice of a friend and enters the porn world. With the aid of his pals - and some exceptional young women - Adam helps to transform a business known for wicked excess and questionable integrity into a stable, profitable enterprise. Note: Codes represent only physical acts between main characters
Mary sat looking at the group in front her. She was starting to feel embarrassment about how she had acted. She had considered leaving Subarctic only a moment after she hung up the phone from talking to Celina.
"The patent has been given expedited preliminary investigation," Mary said after a sigh. "That means we'll – I'll – have to defend it in the coming months. We can market it now as 'patent pending.' But there is more. As soon as the patent was taken under consideration, a company contacted Celina about purchasing it from us."
"And you didn't mention this?" Walt asked tightly. He wasn't enjoying the side of his girlfriend that had emerged in the last hour.
"I'm mentioning it now," Mary said with another sigh. "I actually considered asking Celina to pull the patent then making a few alterations and trying sell it to the company myself."
"Your windfall would have been short lived," Sean said. "Because we would have tracked you down. Mary, we offered at least twice and probably more than that to give you the sole rights to this. You always said no. Now you not only considered stealing from us but you tried to drive a wedge in this company for your own benefit. Is money really worth what you would have lost?"
"No," Mary said. "But I thought for a minute it might be. The kind of money they're talking clouded my judgment. I was already pissed about the fees for the web sites. I thought people were putting up roadblocks to keep me from doing what I really want to do. I had a lot of fun coming up with novel ideas for the sites. I can see myself doing that for years to come. But I could also see how the fees we charge for credit cards will cut into the amount I can charge them for designing their sites."
"We can charge them, not I can charge them," Walt clarified. "Mary, there is no you or me when it comes to this business. There is no Sean or Rachelle or Adam or Shelly or Sarah or Allie. It's us. It's all of us. The fees for the web sites will be set by the group – after input from you. But it is not an arbitrary decision."
"It should be," Mary said. "I'm the only one who knows how much time it took me to do those sites. I should be the one to set the price we charge and I should be in charge of making sure the sites work the way I want them to. That's what I'm talking about. None of you know anything about what I do. I could do what Adam is doing. Well, the Subarctic part. I could do what Allie and Sarah are doing. I could do what Rachelle and Sean are doing. Walt, we're the only ones who no one else can do what we do."
"What do you think Adam does?" Rachelle asked. Adam was glad it hadn't been directed at him because he couldn't have answered.
"I know what you're going to say," Mary said. "He holds everything together. Well I don't buy it."
"Buy this," Walt said with real anger in his voice. "Think of every person you're hoping to do a web site for. Then think about how you met them. Think about the person who put the idea of internet piracy in the front of your brain. Think about the person who no longer needs to do what he's doing but he's doing it because it helps us – not just Allie, Sarah and Shelly. He is doing it to help me and to help you and to help Sean and to help Rachelle. Adam could leave the industry and you know it. But if he does, we all lose. So he's still in it and he's still doing what he can to make this work."
"It isn't like he doesn't like the job," Mary said with a smirk.
"He doesn't need the job to get that," Rachelle pointed out. "You might be right about some of us. You can do what I do – maybe. You can do what Sean does – maybe. You might be able to write a story or a movie script but I doubt it. You might be able to do lighting for a scene but I doubt it. You might be able recreate with a computer what Allie does by hand – but I doubt it. But you obviously can't do what Adam does. He puts his own goals to the back and puts everyone else's interests first. If you think you can do what he does, think about today."
Mary sat back, stunned at the vehemence she heard first from Walt and then from Rachelle.
"I guess someone should ask," Sean said, a frown on his face. "Who offered the bid and how much money are we talking?"
"A Japanese tech company," Mary answered. "Two-hundred-fifty million dollars. PlayCo is its name."
"Owned by Yoshi Yamamura," Adam said. "You realize what they'll do, right?"
"They'll pay me – us a hell of a lot of money," Mary said.
"They will," Adam said. "Then they'll bury your idea or incorporate it into their own. It's how PlayCo does business. They don't have a real R&D department. Instead they find people like you and turn their heads with about a tenth of what their idea is worth. PlayCo takes it apart and a year or so later, comes out with its own version and gives all the credit to Yamamura. The original creator gets dry humped because they sign away all rights and sign a confidentiality agreement. Believe me; PlayCo enforces that agreement with vengeance. If you so much as utter a peep about how they stole your idea, you're in court and you wind up paying them more than they paid you."
"How do you know this?" Mary asked. She knew Adam well enough to know he wouldn't lie to her – even after the way she acted.
"A case study in my business ethics class last semester," Adam replied. "Mary, if you want to take the money, I'll make a motion to turn all the proceeds over to you. But I want you to think about what you'd be losing. Think about yesterday and this afternoon for a minute. Think about your vacation in San Francisco with Walt. You'll have money – about $100 million after taxes. But you better hope it can buy happiness because you'll not have a friend left in this world."
Mary was silent then rubbed her eyes. She knew if Adam suggested it, the rest of the group would go along with it. But she also knew he wasn't kidding about the relationships she would be leaving behind – although she wasn't certain that she hadn't already lost them.
"Do you think he'll go higher?" Mary wondered.
Adam didn't answer but nodded slightly. His case study suggested prestige was more important to Yoshi than money. Besides, the man would make a mint off the patent in the U.S. and Japan.
"How much higher?" Sean asked.
"At least double, maybe more," Adam said. "But that's not what bothers me. I would suggest – if Mary agrees – that we make a counter offer. I say we ask for $750 million unless he agrees that every product PlayCo produces that even remotely resembles Polar Power lists Mary Rose as the creator. If he agrees to that stipulation, we can go as low as $500 million."
Mary's mouth dropped. Half a billion dollars for her idea stunned her. Then she thought about the first part of Adam's suggestion. He wanted to make sure she got credit for her work. Damn him, she thought. It would be so much easier to be a mercenary if everyone wasn't such a decent person.
"I think the counter offer is a good idea," Mary said, tilting her head back and looking at the ceiling. She had a wry smile on her face when she looked back. "But I think it should say the creator is Mary Rose of Subarctic Enterprises. I saw dollar signs and things got past me."
"Do we want to sell it at all?" Shelly asked. "If it is worth half a billion without a firm patent how much would it be worth with one? Jesus, we could market this ourselves and make $2 billion. I know enough about business to know Nokahoma or whoever is hedging their bets."
"Nokahoma is the old Atlanta Braves mascot," Sarah pointed out.
"Whatever," Shelly said with a dismissive wave of her hand. "My point is still the same. He's hedging against us getting a patent. Once we get one, he's out of luck."
"True," Adam admitted. "But there is also the possibility Mary pointed out. This program could be obsolete by the time Yamamura gets it to market. It could be obsolete by the time we get it there. Additionally, there are the promises we've made to our partners."
"We need to honor those," Sean said firmly. "If we agree to sell this, it has to be clearly stated that Dazzle, Daystar and Goldwall can use Polar Power without a license."
"I think it should be stated that Subarctic retains the right to distribute 20 copies of Polar Power without regard to the patent," Adam said, running the wording over in his head. "That lets us hold something back to help those who are helping us. Particularly if PlayCo decides not to release it at all. That is a possibility. A few things they've purchased have simply been shelved because the company makes more money with something else. It wouldn't surprise me if PlayCo had a hand in hosting the web sites people use to share files."
"No profit in that," Rachelle said, shaking her head. "Believe me, I looked. It's mostly revenue neutral."
"But it keeps the profits down for others," Shelly said. "At least in theory it does. Still, it is a heck of a lot of money. I'm not sure it wouldn't have turned my head, too."
A half smile graced Mary's face but disappeared quickly. Shelly was being nice but Mary knew no amount of money would make the girl turn her back on her friends and partners. No, that malady belonged solely to Mary.
"So, do you want to think about it for a while?" Adam asked. He knew he had usurped control of the meeting from Sean and he would apologize later.
Mary shook her head.
"Make the counter-offer if you think it is best," Mary said. "I'm out of my element here. I thought a quarter billion was too much to pass up. If we can get more, I think maybe we should try."
"It's also only the first bidder," Sean pointed out. "We'll leak this a little and see who else steps up to the plate. RIAA may make a bid of its own, as might a few other companies."
"Or PlayCo might have another buyer lined up and will agree to the stipulations without a question," Adam added. "Although I doubt that is the case. Who do you want to handle this?"
"You," Mary said without hesitation. "I mean, if it is OK with everyone else. You seem to have the most info about Yamamura. Should we go back in session or is this formal enough?"
"That's up to you," Sean said. "You're the only one who has an issue with the way things have been decided."
"I am sorry I acted that way," Mary apologized. "You know that's not the real me. But I'll offer to resign from the board if you think I should."
Everyone looked to Adam and that made him uncomfortable. He didn't want to decide Mary's fate but it was evident no one else did either.
"The motion to remove you is tabled," he said. "If it becomes necessary to call it back to a vote, you'll be offered the chance to resign first. Outside of that, I think we should consider this little issue behind us and look to the future."
Mary nodded her acceptance – but she knew it would be a while before anyone had much to do with her.
"Fuck!" Allie swore when the group was in the safety of their own apartment. "She would have totally thrown us under the bus. No one else would have done that. That pisses me off."
"They might have if the situation came up," Adam said.
"Oh, bullshit," Sarah interjected. "If someone came up to me tomorrow and offered me a million dollars to do a scene with them I'd turn them down. If someone came up to Walt and offered him that amount to plant drugs in your car, he'd do the same thing. If you think any different, you're absolutely full of shit."
"Yeah, probably," Adam admitted. "But we need her so we'll have to try to get along with her. She admitted she was wrong and that money turned her head. At least the only damage she did was to our feelings."
"And to her relationship with Walt," Shelly pointed out. "She threw him under the bus, too. Hell, she would have slipped away like a thief in the night. It was only after we braced her that she tried to convince him she wanted him along, too. Besides, she's not indispensible. None of us are and we need to accept that. Mary did good work but she also got lucky. She hit on a theory that happened to pan out. She never would have thought up her idea without us. Hell, she probably wouldn't have considered it without what we brought to her attention."
"So you don't ever plan to forgive her for making a mistake?" Adam asked. He wasn't sure he wanted an answer.
"If I find out she's really sorry, I'll start," Sarah said. "But so far it's all lip service. She got caught out and called on it. You threatened to give her the boot and Sean threatened to make it stick by suing the shit right out of her. She did the only thing she could. She backtracked and issued her mea culpa. So I might forgive her but it will be a hell of a long time before I trust her not to screw me over if it helps her out."
Adam sighed. Maybe it would have been a better idea to simply boot Mary out and bring in someone else. Subarctic owned the patent. There was no question about that. Celina had explained it to Mary in painstaking detail that she was signing away all rights to the product. At this point, there was nothing Mary was working on that couldn't be done by someone else. Adam decided he needed some advice. He called Mike Cunningham. Mike deserved to know the facts anyway.
Mike answered on the first ring. Rachelle had already called and bent his ear. He knew Adam would be less emotional. Adam gave a recitation of facts and even pulled Allie's laptop from her hands to read the official minutes of the meeting.
"Jesus," Mike said when Adam had finished. "I've seen it before, I'm sorry to say. It will take her a long time to return to everyone's good graces. It's a double-edged sword. She feels taken advantage of. That is evident. I know everyone explained this to her but, when reality came, she fucked it up. If people isolate her, she'll feel even less a part of the group. In my opinion, the only way this works out is for everyone to at least pretend to forget it and not let it affect your friendships."
"Yeah, I know, the world doesn't work that way," Mike admitted. "But the only way this doesn't blow up in everyone's face is to either sever ties amicably or let it go. If people keep bringing it up, it will never die and the distrust will fester until no one trusts anyone. Adam, this very thing is how I wound up owning my first dealership. The owner and his wife split. One of them was having an affair. They both worked at the dealership and it divided into two camps. By the time they finally divorced, their business was worth a fraction of what it was the year before."
"So you think we should can her?" Adam asked.
"No, I think you should forget about it and move on," Mike advised. "I think you should remember that friends sometimes do really stupid things. It's the nice part about dealing with people you like, Adam. You forgive them easier than people you don't. Mary is a good person. I think you'll agree with that. She also is a talented person. If I were you, outwardly I would act as though everything was still solid between you as individuals. But professionally, I would make sure that every one of her projects had a lot of backstops. I know you set up Subarctic so people could work on outside projects. If she starts to feel devalued, she'll do that and products that Subarctic could market will go somewhere else. You need to consider that."