Bryon Merridew was a tight-laced, tight-handled commanding sort of man, with an air of absolute and unconditional authority. Whether you were an enemy or an ally, he didn't much care, so long as you knew your place and stayed to his persona. Few had managed to ever escape his presence, and if they had, their nightmares were haunted by his saturated being, looming forever in their minds. Most that had left his business side either disappeared off the face of the market or were simply never heard from again. Even his family, honest as they may be and many just as cruel, avoided his wrath. While there was flaking admiration for his stubbornness, the tint of fear that raced among businesses at the mention of his name or his company was as evident as a black stain on silky white clothes.
With skills like that, Bryon was a shoe-in to be a successful businessman, but a businessman lacking a charisma that normally followed someone trying to sell products. And the idea of people, regular and worthless people, threatening him into bankruptcy by not buying what he had didn't sit at all well with a man like him. So instead of products, at age 20, he set his sights clearly on the oil markets. In his business, he merely needed to hint at a cut in the oil and gas charges to shake stock marketers and frighten citizens as well. Because above all else, Bryan Merridew craved to rule over people, to never allow someone above his own position, never allow someone to be making the decisions for and on him. This attitude rocketed the Merridew Oil Farm to the top of the car dealership list.
The most inducing thing about the stoic man's choice to go for the oil company was his eye on the future. He could see how cars begging for bountiful loads of gas were preferred by the ignorant folks, and how they would run the streets of England very soon. He saw the outburst of the Cold War perking the attention of the British armies and navies, whose weapons and ships required all the natural resources they could get. The idea of being able to grab armies, soldiers even, and churn them into submission was a quite appealing supplement. So the oil business was a sure way for him to attain his most prized wishes. He strived for every goal ruthlessly, leaving behind enemies, opponents and family.
And now such a man was staring Ralph down like a pompous artist would to a particularly hideous piece of artwork. Eyes scanned the skinny blonde in a feverish motion. It was only after those blue eyes finally locked on to his brown that Ralph could tell Bryan Merridew already knew everything he needed to know about the teenager standing shakily, head bowed, hair sticking to his forehead, and standing relatively too close to his son.
Jack was the first among the men in the room to speak, swallowing another wade of saliva. "You're home early, father." Bryon didn't even look up from Ralph to respond. "Mother said you were on a two month business trip to the Bermuda. Your assistant didn't call to tell us you came back."
"We cut it short," the older Merridew answered, finally freeing Ralph of his gaze. "Rates were fixed within a few weeks so I just came back home early." Bryon took one step forward and Ralph felt himself physically flinch. But Jack, having been toughened by years of living under his father's thumb, didn't move a muscle, just met the other's cold gaze with a cooler one. "I see you've used my time out in the usual manner."
For a second, Ralph held his breath in fear, thinking Bryon meant the hug. But when the older man, swiped a hand towards the window, Ralph realized he'd meant the party last night, who's 'souvenirs' still littered the backyard lawn and pool.
"Right, well, I was planning to deal with that," Jack shrugged, and stuffed his hands in his pocket a little too clumsily. "I just got up but I'm planning to call someone to clean it up."
"No need. I covered that. They are on their way," Bryon answered, smoothing a non-existing wrinkle on his collar. "Where is your mother?"
"She left to meet an old friend in Dublin. She said she'd been gone a few days."
Bryon made a small, almost silent sound at the back of his throat but that was about the only clear response he gave. No one could quite put a finger on the kind of relationship he and Amelie Merridew shared. Before, when both were headstrong and stubborn business tycoons, one could see how they were happier keeping out of each other's areas of work, and hardly taking the time to be with each other. Afterwards, however, their relationship took a sharp turn. Instead of respecting each other's business lives, Amelie had tried to talk about her day and her feelings with her husband, suddenly realizing after Jack's return home that she knew very little about Bryon. She'd asked him to come home more often, to see Jack and to see her. But if it was possible Bryon only became more distant with his softer wife. He'd decided that the proper way to accommodate this replacement was to let her do what she wanted with mostly everything; a sense of freedom he'd never allowed before. He was very conservative of gender stereotypes. When Amelie had wanted to renovate the house before, he'd put his foot down almost immediately and she'd kept quiet. Now, when the softer Amelie had once again requested a change to the house's formerly gloomy manor, Bryon had reluctantly agreed to give her free reign.
Not like he came home much anyways, even with a slight shift to make his wife believe he was spending just a bit more time with the family.
"Very well," he nodded, and then placed his trained eyes on Ralph who still stood frozen near the stair's railings. The blonde's voice hitched and he straightened with the new found attention on him. Bryon's mouth twitched a bit at the corner. This boy, clearly close in age to his son, was one of those easy sorts of people to keep unnerved and on their toes. Very few in the business industry would ever allow such vulnerability. But this boy laid his weaknesses out in the open, uncovered and shameless. "And who's your…friend?"
Jackie coughed loudly, now just a bit irritated with his father; no longer shocked, surprised or even relatively frightened. Talking to his father was like a game. If he made a wrong move, said the wrong thing, it would no doubt come back to haunt him in the form of silent glares.
"This is Ralph Falun. He's from school," the red head answered. He came to stand a bit closer to Ralph but not too close. "I was drinking a little too much…and collapsed at the party. He helped me to my room, and watched over me for the night." Ralph made no sound to Jack's lying and preferred to remain quiet.
"I see," Bryon really didn't see. Of all people, Jack was the one person who'd nearly perfected the iron wall that separated his emotions, thoughts and feelings from his father's vicious sight. It had taken a lot of practice, but the young teenager had come to the conclusion that to fight a monster, you'd have to become a monster. He'd made that portion of his personality clear on the island. Now he could face down his father; not as a scared little 12 year old, anymore. This slightly shook Bryon but didn't worry him so much, surprisingly.
Bryon turned his gaze flickeringly towards Ralph. "Thank you, Mr. Falun."
Ralph didn't dare respond. There was a lack of thanks in the depths of those cold blue eyes, too much like Jack's and yet a little more tinted with a darkness no man should have.
"I…was just offering Ralph some breakfast," Jack continued, stepping a little more closely to Ralph. "But I'm sure his parents are sick with worry. I'll drive him home."
"Nonsense. He'll stay for breakfast."
Now Bryon moved. And he was none too graceful, as Ralph could imagine. He walked with purpose, each step heavy on the strong wooden floor, like a marching soldier or a cunning lion approaching its prey. Bryon's long legs made leaps and bounds across the large expansion, coming to stand right up in front of Ralph. When he looked down at the shorter teenager, Ralph was forced to look back up and shuddered obviously, rubbing his arm. "You will, won't you?" Bryon's voice was like a hollow against the blonde's ears. He numbly nodded, unsure of what to say. Now two hunters, vicious men, we're standing on either side of him. Ralph was pretty sure if they'd stood a second longer, he was going to suffocate or cry for mercy. Either or would have been appropriate to him then.
But Jack took several steps back, giving Ralph breathing space and eyed his father angrily. "That's quite alright. We need to get Ralph back home, father. It's not polite to keep him from his parents."
"Nothing a phone call won't fix." Bryon took one last look at Ralph before he, too, stepped back and matched his son's gaze. "Meanwhile, take Ralph into the kitchen and get some eggs ready. I'll be in shortly."
Unable to continue with this argument that would have gone nowhere, Jack grabbed Ralph roughly and he pulled his fellow classmate down the hall, not taking heed of the blonde's stumbling feet. He'd still been frozen in fear where as Jack felt his blood boil. Jack hadn't even told his prying mother of Ralph. He knew Bryon kept tabs on his pack, and Ralph was certainly not a member. For Jack, a drunk Jack at that, to trust the blonde with his health over night was a stretch Bryon surely will take note of. Not to mention the hug…
After a few steps, Ralph felt like he could feel his body again and he kept up to pace with Jack, ripping his shoulder from the boy's death grip a little roughly. The red head seemed not to notice. Ralph gave him a worrying look, than dared to glance back. Bryon was not standing where he'd been before. Probably looking for a phone.
"Jack…" Ralph whispered, paranoid enough to think the older Merridew could pop up at any moment.
"Not a word," Jack hissed. "Answer questions with short answers, but otherwise don't say anything. Not about you, or us." The last part came out reluctantly. Ralph didn't nod, partly because Jack wouldn't have seen the nod anyways, keeping his eyes fixed ahead.
But even after all that, the one most unnerving thing about Bryon was that he was obsessive over anything he wanted, and that was the one emotion anyone could get out of him, if you could call it an emotion. More like an unbearable addition to his terribly cynical attitude. And Bryon was obsessed with control.
Oh hai guys! Wanna know what's so funny? I actually wrote this chapter last year and never posted it…hahaha…anyways sorry this is a shorter chapter! I'm thinking of picking up this story since I've just re-read Lord of the Flies and re-watched some LotF videos so lets see how that goes.