Loading... Chapter Thirty Seven
Signing the contract was pretty straight forward. The mess came when everyone fought over the carcass of what was once his private gaming life. It was agreed upon that they'd stream older footage in the style of an episodic recap.
Exclusive scenes with Amilia were to be divided at Andreah's discretion. Who quickly passed it along to Abigail, who passed it along to her boss. It was eerily close what would have happened to the information if Andreah had finished her bone digging job in the first place. At least instead of pieces being torn off like hungry vultures, they stuck to news of the matter rather than sensationalism. Owen wasn't sure how Andreah convinced them to let that happen. Maybe she annoyed everyone into submission.
But it didn't end there. When Owen's boss heard that Abigail's "tacky TMZ wannabe" site was going to scoop a story another big fuss was made. Everyone in the know wanted full claim on the story. Owen sat silently, headache growing as they fought over his story. Kids with a piñata would have been more reasonable. Once boundaries were drawn across character lines everyone seemed content, for the moment at least.
One perk Owen didn't expect was that their little operation was given an office. They were told they could use it however they wished as long as the gaming area stayed consistent for streams. There was already a couch with a laptop lying on the cushion. He wondered whose for only a moment before Andreah walked in with a coffee in hand, and sat down.
Her pressed white blouse was the second surprise of the day. She had left the top buttons open just enough to show off cleavage. Which reminded him he shouldn't be standing gawking at everything. His eyes dropped, catching fitted slacks paired with heels before he cleared his throat. "You look nice. I don't think I ever seen you dressed up like this before," Owen commented, or complimented. He wasn't sure which he was going for.
"Well, I'm single now."
"Right, cameras and all." Owen pushed past the patch of carpet he had been camping out on. There was no literal dividers between the lounge are and streaming area, but you could see where the out of frame area started from the paint and decor.
"Why can't someone else edit this crap? I'll be the producer-director that yells when they cut something important," Andreah complained, gesturing with her cup at the screen in front of her.
"Well, if you need a break I can take over," Owen offered. He leaned into the stations set up for them to play. Shiny new headgear sat waiting with large but remarkably thin screens in front of them to help record every detail. "As long as you don't yell at me."
Owen looped back around to check out a private little office off the main room, and came back to the heels discarded in front of Andreah. "It's a bullshit double standard, huh?" he asked. Andreah glanced up, not realizing that his conversation as had circled back around to her outfit. "It's a gaming company. Guys can wear whatever they want as long as they don't look homeless. But all the ladies, you all have to look professional all the times."
"That isn't exclusive to the workplace."
Owen nodded to himself. Wouldn't argue with that one. His attention soon waned again. The only real desk in the place was in the private corner office, which had a mini fridge where one might expect a filing cabinet. "This is weird, right?" he asked, and glanced back to Andreah. A short while ago, he didn't want, or even expect, to see her again. And now? Now, they were co-workers. Their stories were literally interwoven again.
Andreah watched the screen for a second before she placed the laptop over to the side. "Yeah. If you want to back out I won't blame you."
"No." Owen couldn't hold her gaze. He looked down to his own sneakers, and the new patch of carpet he'd been hovering over. Was that a stain? What was this room used for before? He exhaled shakily, and crossed his arms over his chest like there was a sudden draft. "I mean, I don't know. If I'm going to play anyways might as well get paid, and help at the same time."
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Bone Diggers (Paperback out now!)Science Fiction
When everyone IRL lies, the only person you can trust is an NPC. Dirty little secrets can't be hidden behind player avatars, because Bone Diggers like Owen expose the lives behind the code. When his two worlds blur, he must decide which is more impo...