Demands, Offers, and Bluffs

Odette's

From the outside, Odette's looks like a rather bland, boring location. Inside is an entirely different story. It's secluded and cosy, with several small tables and plush gray armchairs at each. The indoor portion features two private alcoves with curved low-ceilings which are ideal for more intimate conversations.

The terrace outside features comfortable cushioned banquettes which rest along the redbrick walls that encompass the garden and are complemented by ornate cast iron chairs and white cloth-covered tables.


Characters

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Corrie Rhys

Thursday, one o'clock in the afternoon.

After thoroughly checking the restaurant several days prior, Corrie ensured that she would arrive early on the day of the meeting so that she would not receive any surprises. As the temperature outside is still too chilly to enjoy the garden, she has secured them the smaller of the two alcoves so that they can discuss their business uninterrupted. Sitting in a bucket on the table is a bottle of Castello di Banfi Pinot Grigio.

"No, mum. It's a business meeting." Cue the exasperated sigh. "I'll be coming for the weekend, but I really must go now, it's nearly one." There is a slight roll of her eyes before she disconnects the call and slips the phone back into her pocket.

-

Rhys left the chauffeur at home, today. Or, rather, he left the poor fellow back at the office. The first thing he did, upon receiving the location from the witch was scope the place out. A little bit of an investigation into the owners of the place, the neighbourhood, goes a long way. Thus, wearing jeans and a heavy woolen cable-knit sweater over a pair of brown hikers, he strolls casually along the street from the corner father along. The clothing is the sort that, at first glance, seems pretty middle-class and unthreatening. Only those with an eye for detail will note the fact that the cut and materials are of too fine a quality to be thrift-store chic.

Upon reaching the door to the little hole-in-the-wall, he pushes inside and glances around. It's a promising transition, to be sure. He smiles at the decor and the way the interior presents itself.

"Can I help you, sir?" the hostess asks, advancing.

Rhys' eyes scan the room. He spots red hair in the far corner booth. "No," he says, giving the woman a warm smile, brown eyes twinkling. He gestures lightly toward Corie in the corner. "I see my date's already here."

Moving easily away from one woman towards the other, then, Rhys ambles casually through the tables until he reaches Corrie's side. "This place gets great reviews, I'm told." he says, sliding into the seat opposite her. "I'm glad you chose it."

-

It is, perhaps, an exceedingly good thing that the telephone call was ended and the 'date' comment made far enough away that Corrie can't hear it. Especially after the daydream and her mother once again hounding her to finally settle down. It saves her from the conversation of…

'I thought you said it was a business luncheon, dear?'
'It is, mum.'
'Then why did the nice gentleman call it a date?'
'Because he's a nice gentleman, mum, I have to go.'

The conversation is heard very clearly in her mind and distracts her from his approach though she is well aware that he is there. When he speaks, she is about to gracefully slide out of the booth seat, but he's seating himself. Instead her right hand is held out to him across the table, and this time she has no issues meeting his eyes, although there is a bit of turmoil seen within them as she does. It's the racial thing rearing its ugly head.

"It does, and the chef is absolutely amazing." A bit more upscale than she would have chosen were the business meeting with anyone else, but necessary if she wants to impress Reese Entertainment Media.

-

Rhys extends his hand across the table to talk Corrie's. His touch is dry and firm, and confident. If he holds her hand an extra second long than she expects, it's not longer than is polite. And he meets her gaze evenly. There is nothing about him that's unsettled.

"I'll take your word for it," he smiles congenially, glancing down at the menu at his elbow. "Is there a dish you recommend."

He leans back and picks it up, glancing at the entries listed there for a moment before he looks up again and gives Corrie another smile.

"You look very well, today."

-

Corrie keeps her gaze on him until her hand is released, at which point she seems to force herself to relax a little. Had he wanted to do her ill, he would have at that point.

"The Welsh venison is amazing, really, although the rabbit lasagne is wonderful as well." Her head slowly tilts to the side as she attempts to recall her favorite dishes — though truthfully she's only been here a handful of times. "Should you prefer pasta, there is always the butternut tortellini or the wild mushroom risotto." Once the verbal menu of favored foods is complete, she actually blinks at him. Rather, the compliment.

"As do you. Far more comfortable than at the launch."

-

Rhys laughs, now. "That doesn't take much, Ms. Kavanaugh. Don't believe everything you read in the press. I've never been all that rabid about monkey suits." Funny, that.

Again, he glances to the menu. The venison captures his attention, however. That will do.

Decision made, he lays the menu down and glances to the bucket. Reaching for the bottle, he takes it out, reads the label and arches a brow. "Very nice choice." His eyes twinkle lightly, almost mischievously. "If I didn't know better, I'd think I was being wooed."

-

"It is a business luncheon," Corrie points out with a soft laugh. "As I want what is best for my boys, I figured that upping the ante might help a little." Another brief glance to the menu, and she decides as well.

"Truthfully, I rarely believe much of what's in the media. After all, I work in public relations. I'm well aware of the spin the media, and certain PR firms, like to put on situations." Beat. "Whatever sells."

-

"Whatever sells," Rhys echoes, laughing. The bottle already uncorked, to breathe, he reaches for the pair of flutes set near by and pours half a cup for each of them. "We might as well enjoy, then, don't you think? There's no harm in mixing a little pleasure with business." He winks briefly. "The trick is simply not getting carried away."

Presently, a waitress arrives to take their order. Rhys lets Corrie place her order first, as would be polite, before ordering the venison for himself. When the waitress has retreated, he raises his glass. "Though neither one of us is foolish enough to consider ourselves anywhere near a deal, a toast, nonetheless, to each of us, for being willing to set aside familial prejudices and work towards mutually beneficial interests."

-

Corrie herself goes for the mushroom risotto, as it is something she can pick at while they discuss the potential deal. Once the ordering is taken care of, she lifts her wine glass and smiles, "To keeping family and business separate." Gently tilting her glass to clink it against his, she lowers it slowly and allows herself only a small sip.

Settling the glass upon the table, she reaches for the napkin and settles it upon her lap. "As for the deal itself there are several things that need addressing. My hope is that we can address at least a few of these over lunch so that you can better decide whether you wish to invest Reese Entertainment Media resources into Dumnonia or not."

-

Rhys takes a sip of his wine, in response to the toast and sits it down. He has no problem with focusing on business over the meal. His career has been built on such meetings. "That sounds an excellent idea," he agrees, settling back comfortably, now, and watching his companion as she settles into the discussion. "Why don't we start with your list of things you'd like to see addressed." Might as well get that out on the table. "Let's address them first, and then we'll look at my list, hm?"

-

Before delving into the business side of things, Corrie allows herself another small sip of the wine.

"Truly, I only have two requests for myself, though the band has their own rider to address as well." Slowly, she brings her eyes up to his once more. "The first you are already aware of — minimal interaction between Gideon Reese, and the band. I want good things for my boys, and I have a feeling that Mr. Reese will only tend to spark Tristan's ire, and thus be more apt to fight himself out of a deal."

The second is perhaps a little more complicated, so far as she's concerned. "Other than that, I should, if at all possible, like to retain the position as their Public Relations Manager until such a time as they grow to trust and become comfortable with whomever Reese Entertainment Media sees fit to take over the position."

-

Rhys nods to that, none of that a surprise. A smile touches his lips. "I see. Well, as I said before, Mr. Reese isn't something I can negotiate. If you wish to file a civil suit against him, that's your choice, but I can't make it company policy — not even for one contract." Not even for one band. He'll sacrifice Dumnonia, if he needs to. They're not worth The Family.

"As for you, continuing on, it's possible some sort of arrangement can be made. I'm certainly open to negotiating it, at any rate." He gives a warm smile, but his eyes remain level and firm.

-

"I will if it becomes necessary, though I am well aware it will do little good." Corrie is no fool, and the request is not made lightly in the least. She knows her boys well enough to know that should Tristan find himself insulted he'll become ornery and difficult to work with, which will lose him the deal. "While it may not be placed in the contract it is my hope that you can at least deter him from undue harassment. After all, once a contract is signed any undue harassment that could lead to dismissal or a breaking of the contract would be far more difficult to dismiss in the courts."

It is hardly a threat, just an honest, earnest assessment of potential outcomes.

Lowering her voice, she returns the smile, "Though I am well aware that you would have little control over a sibling, I am from a rather large family."

Which reminds her of a third point. "I should also, if possible, like to keep my family out of all of this. This is a business deal, and should it be necessary for Reese Internationa as a whole to harass anyone in regards to this, it should be me. They are absolutely innocent in all of this." Beat. "Though I am well aware that this will also be difficult to add to the contract."

Reaching into her handbag, she extracts a small manilla envelope and hands it over to him. "Dumnonia's rider is the typical. A number of 'comp' tickets when they hold concerts, their own PA system, etcetera. Nothing too out of the ordinary, with the exception that for every one song that Reese requires of them, they would like to also record one of their own."

-

Rhys chuckles now. "Your roots are showing, I think, Corrie — may I call you Corrie? You're more than welcome to call me Rhys." He takes another sip of his wine. "Contrary to obvious opinion and, I concede, my half-brother's illustration, Reese Entertainment Media is not in the business of harassing its artists, employees, business partners, stakeholders, or their related families."

Of course, he's not talking about the Reese Dynasty — just Reese Entertainment Media. But, he doesn't say that.

"Thus we cannot — and will not — include clauses in any contract that specifically place such needless interdictions. Those sorts of matters are best left to civil judicial authorities. And, of course, you are most welcome to pursue whatever such avenues as you feel are necessary in that regard." His smile doesn't falter, but neither does his firmness on the point. "Unofficially and off the record, however, I am more than willing to speak to Gideon and ask him to pull back from the deal for the good of our business. I won't, however, promise it will have any affect on matters."

Considering the rest of her requests, however, he takes another sip of wine and sets the glass down. "As for the matter of artistic independence, I have always, personally, been most supportive of those artists that are able to produce the most unique and marketable materials. Dumnonia has a unique sound. I wouldn't be here at all if I didn't think it was a sound worth sharing with a broader community of listeners. That said, there is a certain amount of polish that will be required. The goal of Reese Entertainment Media would be package their sound and unique selling point into something that will have both broad appeal and yet remain true to the niche sensibilities that have shaped and supported them thus far. It doesn't do, after all, to bite the hand that feeds you. But, it should be a two-way street, don't you think?"

-

Her right eyebrow arches up when he gets so… informal with her. Enough so that it causes her to laugh at her reaction to it. "Please do. It is far easier to dispense with all the Miss and Mistering when we're hoping to have a pleasant conversation."

Again though, Corrie is no fool. "Reese Entertainment Media is a subsidiary of Reese International, so far as I'm aware. It is those within the parent company that I am concerned about, not you." Though that's not to say she isn't wary of him.

"I would appreciate it, at least in so far as my family is concerned." Which means when she wanders home for the weekend, she'll have to own up to her business dealings and expect a lecture from her mother — after the heart attack. There is a slight sigh, which is interrupted by the arrival of the food. After polite thank yous have been meted out, she gently prods the risotto with her fork.

"As I stated, any civil suits would be fruitless. I am well aware of exactly the type of reach Reese International has in those particular circles." Which means short of bankrupting herself on the best lawyer possible…

"Tristan will appreciate that, and I'm well aware that they are in desperate need of some polish. They're a bit rough around the edges, though it has suited them well enough until now. They are willing to put up with the necessary clean up in order to reach a wider market, and their rider is really fairly simplistic." Tristan Pryce is not an overly complicated man.

"Which I do believe brings us to your list?"

-

Rhys leans back now, one hand extended to pinch the stem of his wine glass, thumb rubbing the crystal lightly. He smiles. "I'm prepared to offer Dumnonia a provisional 3-record deal. It's a fairly standard contract: We produce their first record, and if it sells the numbers we expect, we'll pick up two more albums after that. If the first recording doesn't sell the quantities we require, we'll release our option on the next recordings and the artists will be free to search for label representation elsewhere. Of course, I have no reason to believe that the artists won't meet our expectations. My people work very hard to ensure strong sales numbers."

He sips the wine briefly and sets the glass back down again, continuing. "We'll also want first option to renew the contract and continue the relationship after the release of the three albums. After all, if it's proven to be a profitable relationship up until that point, there's no reason it shouldn't continue to be mutually beneficial. The artists will, of course, be free to renegotiate the contract at that time — we simply want to ensure that we have right of first refusal."

-

Corrie cannot help the easy laugh that comes when he issues his list. Immediately afterward, she sets the fingers of her right hand to her lips, and clears her throat. "I apologize. I was figuring that your list would actually be rather different."

Remaining silent for a few moments while she sips the wine and prods at her meal once more, she mulls over what he's said.

"That seems beyond reasonable, actually. Granted, once the contract has been signed and Dumnonia becomes part of Reese Entertainment Media, any further negotiations will have to be done with their manager." Of which they do not yet have beyond her. "Though I truly can't see that being an issue."

-

Rhys chuckles in response. "We can certainly hope not," he agrees. "I know you mentioned wanting to stay on with the group in some capacity. I can certainly understand that desire, given how long you've been working with them. However, it is the custom of our company to assign an account executive to work with the artists in an effort to keep things on track. That certainly doesn't preclude your involvement, by any stretch of the imagination. It may, however, temper it. You need to decide, Corrie, how close a relationship you wish to have with Reese — particularly in light of… let's call them 'traditional biases', shall we?"

-

"Therein lies the dilemma," Corrie replies carefully, casting her eyes downward. "Any decision made in such direction involves not only myself but… others." The family, which will be apt to disown her should she involve herself beyond this. "This would be far easier were you an independent contractor."

Quietly, more subdued, she takes another sip of the wine and then slowly peers upward.

-

The sorcerer merely nods as the witch raises her eyes towards him again. He holds her gaze evenly, however — not challenging, but not feinting away, either. Slowly, a smile touches his lips. "Well, I could make an entirely scandalous suggestion for you, if you'd like." Indeed, he chuckles softly even at the thought of it, a bit of an amused, perhaps even mischievous glint in his eye.

"I could, if you wish, accompany you to speak with… the others involved." He knows damn well she means her family — her coven. That doesn't stop him from making the offer, however.

-

Mid-sip, Corrie literally chokes on the wine. The glass is set upon the table, and she tries to clear her throat without actually spitting the mouthful of wine across the table at him. The napkin is lift toward her face and she daubs at her mouth.

"Only if you wish to give my mum a heart attack," she says quietly. Then she lifts her head, shaking it a little. "The… er…. offer, while appreciated… is probably not at all wonderful for your own health either."

-

Pretty much the reaction Rhys expected, and it amuses him nonetheless. He chuckles again. "You can't say I didn't offer." He does figure he'll meet the family someday. For one reason or another, no doubt. It tends to happen, he's noticed. But,he doesn't push the issue, now. He can wait. "In any case, I wouldn't wish your mother any harm." Bad for business, after all.

-

"Why would you offer?" Corrie arches her brow, curious as to the ulterior motive.

Settling the fork to the plate, she places her hands upon her lap and peers across the table. "Though I suppose I should be happy you don't wish my mum any harm. I doubt I could say the same for her in regards to your health."

-

Rhys gives a mild shrug. "Why not offer? Consider it a display of trust… to walk into the proverbial lion's den — lioness' den? — unarmed and open handed? I'm well aware of the culture in most covens against most dynasties. And there's good reason for it, I concede. But, it means that I'm also fully cognizant of the fact that if you associate yourself, even via business proxy, with my family, your family is going to be decidedly less than pleased. I daresay you run the risk of matriarchal reprimand at the very least. Exile at worst, I imagine, depending on just how strong those traditional biases actually are."

He cants his head, watching her reaction. "Do correct me, if I'm wrong."

A brief chuckle. "Now, believe it or not, my offer isn't a ploy to see you expelled from coven and disowned by your family. It's rather a hope that we — you and I, and by extension they — can learn to trust each other. I'm not out to steal your family secrets. I have any number of other resources that can provide me with the same sorts of information your family guards. I don't need to harass them to get anything. What's more, think about it: what profit is there, really, in this day and age, in continuing to allow the old biases to stand? We're well past the Dark Ages — no matter what airs my half-brother may adopt."

-

Further dilemma.

Does she attempt to call his bluff, or does she just shrug it all off and…

When he hits the nail exactly on the head, her smile falters. "Precisely. Less than enthusiastic responses." Exile at the very least. While Corrie herself doesn't put much stock in the whole ritualistic side of things, that doesn't necessarily mean she wants to be ousted from not only her coven, but her family.

"Basically, you wish to end a feud that began sometime in the fifteen hundreds, by meeting my mum?" Her head is given a small shake.

-

Rhys gives his most winning smile. "It was a thought. Perhaps someday I'll introduce you to my mum." But no time too soon. And he's not fool enough to introduce her to his father. He enjoys some of his food, and more of the wine, willing to move the conversation to lighter topics. "I don't suggest you tell the rest of my family about my… what would you call it? Altruism?" He wrinkles his nose. "No. Let's just say my point of view isn't any more popular with my family than it would be with yours."

-

"That's an understatement, I'm guessing." Corrie runs her tongue slowly over her lips before taking another sip from the wineglass.

"Actually, fine." A very slow nod is given, then an impish smile. "You should come with me this weekend." Which will work two-fold. He can attempt to explain himself, which she's certain will just see him forced out of town with a few pitchforks, and he can see the family which his brother would like to see ruined.

"Though I would suggest booking a hotel in Ilfracombe, as the more distance you can give yourself the better."

-

"I can do that," Rhys agrees easily enough. Truthfully, he's a little surprised she took him up on the offer. "I do recall you mentioned Ilfracombe as an excellent place to 'get away'. Sounds like just the thing." He considers whether to drive the Aston or take the train. The train would probably be more relaxing… and he can always rent a car when he's out there.

-

"It is. Perhaps a bit chilly yet to enjoy the beaches but a great get away regardless." Corrie only blinks once, somewhat surprised that he actually agreed. So much for calling his bluff.

"I can email the directions to you once I return to the office." Beat. "Perhaps suggest a few of the more upscale hotels in the area."

-

"That, or a decent bed-and-breakfast will be fine," the man replies. The artisan in him is peeking through, apparently. He finishes his glass of wine and mops a little of the sauce on his plate up with a bit of roll. "I'm also thinking we may wish to schedule a meeting for sometime near the end of the month to setup the paperwork. I'll have a draft contract drawn up over the next couple of days that I'll have my assistant email you so you can take to your counsel for evaluation and amendment."

-

A bed-and-breakfast? Corrie quirks her brow at that, but makes a quiet note of it. "Hmm? Oh, yes. End of the month will be fine. Once my counsel has gone over the paperwork, and I've spoken with the band." They are her number one priority. The whole reason she was willing to associate with Reese Entertainment Media to begin with.

Reaching toward her purse she draws out a small notebook and pen. Jotting her cellular number on it, she slides it across the table. "Call me here once you've settled in Ilfracombe then, and I'll let you know when to come over."

-

Rhys takes the number, glancing at it briefly. He nods, then and reaches into his back pocket for his wallet. From it, he pulls a Reece business card. On the back of it, he scrawls a number of his own. "My personal mobile," he says simply. Then he chuckles. "Just in case you screen your calls."

-

Taking the card, she tucks it into the notebook and slips everything back into her purse. With the food completed, the business taken care of, and the invitation (bluffed or not) offered, Corrie mentally tallies the bill. She's about to reach for the money when the waitress returns.

"Would either of you care for dessert then?"

-

Rhys puts out a hand to stop Corrie from pulling her credit card. "It seems to me I suggested we meet over lunch. It's only fair I cover this." Unless, of course, she insists.

As the waitress asks about dessert, he glances back again to Corrie. "Lady's choice," he says congenially. "If you'd care for something sweet, I'm more than happy to oblige. Otherwise, we can consider ourselves done as it is now."

-

"Are you certain? You only suggested it due to my concerns…" It's a weak protestation, and normally she would insist but she's not going to argue the semantics with the waitress hovering nearby.

While she'd kill for the white chocolate mousse, blackberries and Madeleines, she demurs, "Nothing for me, thanks." Beat. "It was a lovely meal though. Compliments to the chef."

The waitress nods, and wanders away from the alcove to check on her next table.

-

Rhys nods to that, gives the waitress a smile and pulls out his corporate card to cover the bill. As she wanders off to attend to the other table and, presumably, to fetch their bill, he leans back in his seat. "I'm certain," he nods. "Might as well let the company pay for it, eh? Why take it out of either of our pockets." A beat. That warm chuckle again. "You're hardly the first independent publicist I've had a lunch meeting with. That's what expense accounts are for."

-

Corrie flashes a quick smile. "Normally I would argue that I don't want anything from Reese International, but I suppose they can pay for lunch." Reaching out to take hold of her wine glass, she finishes it off silently. There is a mental debate as to whether she should warn him about his impending arrival at the Kavanaugh homestead. With a sly smile, she decides against it.

Shortly thereafter the waitress returns with the bill. "There you go, luv."

-

"Ta," Rhys says by way of thanks to the woman. As she runs the card through the machine, he waits. Then, he signs the printout and places the copy and the card back in his wallet.

"Have a nice day, now," the waitress bids them.

"You, too." Rhys replies. She should. He left her enough of a tip.

He looks, then, to his dining companion. "That's always been my feeling," he says, picking up the thread of her comment. He picks the napkin up off his lap, wipes his mouth with it, more as a formality for the end of the meal, and lays it on the table. He then gives Corrie an easy smile. "It's been an absolute pleasure, Corrie," he says lightly. "I do look forward to what I hope will be a mutually beneficial relationship in the future."

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