I had envisioned more muted tones, perhaps an endless stream of mahogany, to characterize the lair of one of the most powerful and now officially menacing men in the business world. In effect, whatever Lex Luthor’s office looked like. (Certainly, a dark and intimidating wood finish.) As I studied the colossal office, however, the abundance of white furniture stood out, including the enormous white oak desk at the front of the room where Jupiter sat. He watched me from afar; the distance from the door to his desk was lengthy, but I was undoubtedly aware of his attention.
The young woman left us alone, but not without another hard glare in my direction. With a deep breath, I began the journey toward Jupiter’s desk, marveling at the dichotomy of so much white with the almost jarringly colorful artwork that crowded the wall space.
“What do you want?” Jupiter growled when I reached the platform that led to his desk. As employees, one thing we had repeatedly discussed about the man, having only seen him in video, was the perpetual bark that coated his voice; everything he said, whether it was praising quarterly profits or reminding us to give our all to the company, sounded like a roar. Even seated in his chair, it was obvious that he was a solid, robust man. His upper half, clad in a gray suit that likely cost more than my annual salary, was all muscle.
“You already know who I am and how I feel about Cassiopeia,” I said, my voice clearer and firmer than how I felt, which could be best described as gelatinous. “I want to marry her and live our lives without the fear of reprisal.” State your case, Spall had instructed during our planning. Don’t sugarcoat it.
Zachary Jupiter threw his head back and laughed. It sounded like a cannon.
“You have five seconds to get out of my sight,” he barked. “On the sixth second, the men that will enter this office won’t have a problem removing you by throwing you off my balcony.”
That image temporarily replaced Cassiopeia’s. Nevertheless, I remained resolute despite the bile quickly rising in my system. “I know she’s your daughter,” I said.
Jupiter leaned back in his chair, one eyebrow ascendant. “Do you now?”
“And I suppose she told you that piece of information.”
Jupiter nodded. “Did she also inform you that, daughter or not, everyone in this little scenario will be severely punished? Including you and most certainly her?” he questioned, leaning forward in his desk.
“I don’t think you’ll punish everyone, Mr. Jupiter.”
With that, the door to the right of his desk opened. We both watched Timothy Spall enter the office with Laura Benson by his side.
Jupiter shot up from his chair, peering at me and then Spall. “How did you two get in here?” he roared.
“I worked for you for ten years,” Spall replied, “so your private entrance isn’t new information.”
Jupiter’s eyes then rested on Laura. “You’re risking your life by coming here,” he said coldly.
“Oh, please, Zachary,” Laura replied, waving her hand in dismissal. “You’ve got all these people in this building living in fear. I don’t work for you.”
Jupiter pressed a button on his desk phone. “Waylon, I need you in my office.”
Spall glanced at me. Clearly, Waylon was an enforcer. We didn’t have much time. I caught Laura’s eye and nodded.
“Have it your way,” Laura said. “If my daughter and Elliott can’t live freely—if you don’t abolish this ridiculous anti-fraternization policy that came from your mistakes—you’ll never see her again.”
“What are you talking about?” Jupiter hissed.
“Your daughter. You’ll never see her again. Simple as that.”
He laughed again. “And how do you plan on arranging that?”
It was Laura’s turn to laugh. “She was out of sight for several weeks from your minions, my dear. No one knew where she was. You couldn’t find her. You don’t think she can disappear? Give her more credit than that.”
I felt the rush of air on my back. Someone had entered the office. If it was Waylon, we were all goners. Turning around slightly, however, I saw that it was most certainly not Waylon.