by Susan R. Part One: The Pawns
Chapter One: Max
Max Townsend loved going to work at the university newspaper. Writing stories had become his true passion, and one day he knew he was going to be a great reporter. His favorite type of stories where the ones that he had to investigate. His most famous story dealt with a fraternity party that had invited high school girls. Max had gotten the scoop from his old roommate and had exposed that party through the paper.
He dreamed that one day he would use the press to bring down Alexander Lucard and his evil empire. Max knew that the press could destroy him more than a hundred O.J. Simpsons. He was already getting a head start by keeping tabs on Lucard Industries through his best friend, Charlie. Charlie was dating a business major, Bridget, who always gave Max any new information she could find.
"Hey Charlie," said Max as he sat down at the tiny desk the two shared.
"Max! Well, I have some bad and good news."
"Give me the bad, first."
"There aren't any good stories around campus today. I'm sure you heard about the trash fire in the student union, but Kyle Bayson wrote about it already."
Max smiled. "Let him have it, he has only two weeks before graduation. So, what's the good news?"
Charlie pushed his sandy blond hair back behind his ears and smiled. "Bridget was working on the Internet and found a press release concerning Lucard Industries."
"It appears Alexander Lucard turned the company over to a young man by the name of Cardulla. Cardulla is in his late twenties and working under Lucard for the past couple of years. Rumor has it that Lucard is dying and wanted to give his company away before he passed away."
"Fat chance," Max muttered.
"What?" asked Charlie.
"Nothing. What else did it say about Card..."
"Cardulla. He's young and handsome, although there is no photo of him."
"This is interesting. Is Bridget going to play pool with us on Friday?"
"Yes, and she wants to tell you more then."
"Max, what is it about Lucard Industries that fascinates you?"
"My mom worked for a summer in Europe. We lived near the main headquarters of Lucard Industries. Let's just say I know for a fact that there is more illegal business to it than legit. I can't go into the details."
Charlie looked at his friend. "Just be careful."
"Don't worry about me, Charlie," Max said as he glanced down at the gold cross around his neck. "I've seen how dangerous Lucard can be."
Chapter Two: Chris
Chris Townsend sat in his mother's office. He was tired after a long day of work, but he was glad to work in his mother's bank. He only wished she hadn't given him the job after he dropped out of college. Chris and Sophie both majored in music, but she was the one with all the passion for music. Chris started failing his classes and dropped out, unsure what he wanted to do. He had given up his dreams of being a rock star, although he still wanted to be rich some day.
"Chris, I'm so glad you stopped by," said Eileen Townsend as she walked in the room.
"You said it had to do with some new job?" asked Chris.
"Yes. I told you that I've been dealing with a new client from Europe who wants to purchase some companies here in America. Well, I told him all about you and he says he has the perfect job for you with great pay."
"Oh really? What?"
"He purchased a chain of record stores around Pennsylvania and wants you to be in charge of them. He knows how much you love rock music."
"Really? But I have no business experience."
"He told me that he would have his people train you. Pay is twenty-dollars an hour."
"No way!!" said Chris as he jumped out of his chair. "Is this guy nuts?"
"No. He's very young and he just acquired a large international corporation."
"So, what's his name?"
"Lexavier Cardulla. He likes to be called Lex."
"When do I meet him?"
"I think in a couple of months. He's very busy in Europe right now. But, he wants you to start on Monday."
"Cool!" Chris couldn't believe how great his life had turned. It was like Lex knew about his dreams of getting rich. And best of all, Chris would get to enjoy his favorite music.
Chapter Three: Sophie
Sophie Metternich was tired after a long day of teaching music to a bunch of middle school kids. She was glad that she could relax at her private rehearsal in the auditorium. She was a violinist for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and she loved it. She could play for hours before she wanted to go home. It was usually because she was hungry for dinner.
She opened her music folder only to find a red rose with a note. "My secret admirer," she whispered, wondering if he might still be around. She unfolded the note and read it:
Sophie,"Oh Lex, how could I not love you," she said, talking to the empty room. You love all the same things that I do. Art, music. It is like you know me. I feel I know you, too."
My beautiful angel of music, you have stolen this Phantom's heart. I will love you for all eternity. I only pray that one day you will love me.
Continued in Part Two: The Rook, Lex.