Chapter Thirty-Three

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I made a ko-fi...which is a platform where supporters (like you) can donate to creators (like me). If you like what I do consider donating. I spend lots of time writing and editing and posting and know that it would mean a lot to me. ❤️ The link is in my bio.

WC:5.5

Back at my apartment, and after Trace dropped me off I turned back on my phone and saw that I had a number of missed calls and texts from Manny.

I called him back right away and he sounded incensed, "Bro, fuck. Why can't you answer your damn phone?"

"I was meeting Trace's parents," I explained, "I told you this."

Manny groaned. "Oh shit, yeah you did. I'm sorry, okay. I'm just— mijo, it's crazy."

"What's wrong?" I asked, beginning to panic. I sat down on my couch in my living room and readied myself for bad news. "Is it Marí? Is it the wedding?"

Manny let out a nearly hysterical strangled laugh. "God, no, Darius. Darius, you need to check your fucking YouTube channel. I'll be honest, I just upload without paying much attention to anything but you need to check it out."

"Is it bad?" I said in a quiet voice. I never watched the videos on YouTube and I didn't read any of the comments. Manny uploaded so I wouldn't have to expose myself to that potential can of worms.

"It's fucking insane. Just search up what you made on your first video."

I searched up some variation of dream cake and the first video that popped up was a thumbnail of me holding what I wished I'd made on Baking Beasts. It was a beast of a cake and when my eyes roved over the view count I choked.

"A million views? Why do I have A MILLION VIEWS on one video?!"

"Dude, the number is just continuing to skyrocket, you're getting so many messages on the account email and people want to sponsor you. Or have you advertise their artisanal spoons or some shit. And some other people on baking YouTube—I can't believe this is a thing but other people on baking YouTube want to collaborate with you. YouTube wants to send you some kind of plaque for getting so many views and that's not even all of it."

"Did all this happen while I was camping?" I groaned, " how did I not even notice?"

Manny sounded embarrassed. "It snuck up on me, too. I was supposed to keep track of this shit. But I've been researching. Like, actual research. I saw what the big channels are doing and I think if you keep this up and keep your fans entertained you can make some serious money."

"Money? When did this become about money?" People who made YouTube videos made money? How? And what was this business about artisanal spoons?

Manny laughed. "Mijo, there's money in everything and if all these people are falling all over you, there will be a way to make money out of it. I could help you manage things for now, but—"

"Couldn't you just be my manager and keep track of things? I don't know that much about social media. You know I try to stay away from it... I would pay you."

"Darius, we're family," Manny said almost furiously, "Why the fuck would I take money from you?" Only Manny could say something so heartfelt in such an aggressive way.

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