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The Start-Up Part 9

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He heard the door crack open and turned, startled.

"Adam, this better be really important." The temporary calm he'd felt seeing Lisa's things melted and he felt his purpose and his anger return.

"The University took away Amelia's and my financial aid today. Do you know what that means? I'm out. We're out. No more Stanford. No more California. No more chances. We're back on the street." Lisa's shoulders sank and her eyes closed in disappointment. "Oh, G.o.d," she said "Was it your Dad?"

She looked down at her hands and then said, weakly, "He's a trustee of the University."

"So, he did it?"

"He gives a lot of money to the school. They'd do it if he asked them to." "Your father's a dirty-"

Her eyes sprung open. "Hey!"

"What kind of a person goes around picking on eighteen-year-old foster kids?"

"Oh, please! Don't you dare play that sympathy card with me. Do you have any idea what that little e-mail of Amelia's did to him? To our family?

The deal's probably off, Adam. And, more importantly, he's on the hook for it. He didn't catch it, Adam, and that means his a.s.s and his reputation are on the line. Do you have any idea how many people-how many friends-invested in Gibly? Do you have any idea how much money was just lost?" He'd never seen her so animated. "He's breaking the law, Lisa. Doesn't that mean anything?"

"He's breaking the law? And what was Amelia doing when she hacked into the system? She broke the law, and then brought down this company with speculation based on the confidential information she found."

Now Adam was getting protective. "She did the right thing, Lisa. The site was totally corrupt. The deal was totally corrupt."

"That is an a.s.sumption that you cannot prove."

"She did! She did prove it; she found the database. She found the rotten money trail."

"She thinks that's what she found. Does she have any way of proving it?

That that's what it was? That whoever was paying Lloyd's was a bad guy?" Lisa was repeating the lines she'd heard repeated over and over in the house since the news broke.

"If it wasn't true, why would your father have offered her a hundred grand to keep her mouth shut?"

"I don't know, Adam. Maybe he was trying to help you poor, pathetic foster kids?"

Adam felt his teeth clench. He glared at her.

"You little, disrespectful, stuck-up . . . How dare you?"

"How dare I?" She laughed. "You, the brother of the girl who is bringing down my family's reputation as we speak, who sneaks into my house with my father downstairs? How dare you yell at me!" Lisa stood up and charged at Adam with every ounce of anger and frustration. She swung her hand, meaning to slap him hard enough to make him feel what she was feeling.

He blocked her arm with his and forced it to her side.

And then Adam pulled her face into his hands and kissed her.

For a moment their lips were pressed hard against each other, then he felt her mouth open against his and her hands slide behind his shoulders.

They stood pressed against each other, kissing with pa.s.sion and force for long enough to forget about Gibly and Ted Bristol. They kissed until all they knew in the world was each other. She finally pulled away and rested her head against his shoulder while he enveloped her slender body in his arms.

"Oh, Adam. I am so, so sorry," she whimpered into his sleeve.

"It'll work out," he said, trying to convince himself as well as her. "And it's better knowing we've got each other."

Chapter 18.

For the Greater Good.

Amelia took a deep breath, gathering her strength, and pushed open the gla.s.s door. The area was all new, the s.p.a.ce to the right still draped in plastic from construction. The receptionist desk was empty, but there were two workers drilling in a room to the side. Amelia stuck her head in.

"Excuse me?" she said. "Excuse me, do you know where Tom Fenway is?" The men stopped drilling. "Sure thing, kid. Try the office at the end of the hall on the left."

Amelia had tried to focus after Adam left the Gates building last night, but she hadn't been successful. She'd walked back to her dorm via Stanford's main quad. The quad was empty and silent, save the faint sound of a piano coming from Memorial Church, the majestic centerpiece of the campus, whose tile mosaic entry glistened in the low moonlight. Without thinking, she followed the music and took a seat in a back pew.

She'd only been in a church once before, when she was very young and their social worker had dragged her and Adam to a Baptist revival. She remembered being terrified and had decided G.o.d wasn't for her. It was nothing like this, though; Memorial Church was a cathedral with a high-crested ceiling of dark wood, the walls covered in sweeping multi-color mosaics. Candles were lit on the altar, creating a glow that bounced off the stained-gla.s.s windows and painted the church a beautifully eerie yellow.

The pianist was at the front, seated at a long concert grand piano to the left of the pulpit, practicing a dark and dramatic piece. Beethoven, maybe?

Amelia sat in the back pew and closed her eyes. There was something magical about this scene, and she tried to absorb it as she searched for . . .

She didn't know what she was searching for. She also didn't know how long she sat there before the pianist stopped playing and blew out the candles.

As he did, she blinked open her eyes and said out loud, "Okay, I'll do it."

She'd tried not to give it any more thought when she woke up; she just got up and went before she could talk herself out of it.

Now the office door was open and Tom was bent over his desk, scribbling something on a notepad.

She knocked gently on the door. "Mr. Fenway?" Tom looked up, startled, then grinned. "Amelia! Amelia Dory! h.e.l.lo!

What a wonderful surprise!" He stood up and shook her hand, using his other arm to usher her in. "Have a seat. Can I get you coffee or juice or anything?"

She sat down. "Oh no, I'm fine. I just wanted to say I'm in. I mean, I'll do it. I'll join your incubator."

Tom laughed, his eyes bright. "Just like that? Just like that, you're in?"

"Well, it's true you're covering our college expenses, right? And we get a salary?"

"Yes. That's the deal. But who is 'we'? Do you have a partner?"

"Yes. My twin brother, Adam. I want him to be my partner."

"Cool," Tom said. This was a surprise, but if Adam was anything like her, he'd take it. "Sounds great. I can't wait to meet him."

"Okay. That's great, then." She stood up to leave.

Tom laughed at her expediency. "Wait, Amelia, this is what you want to do, right? You seemed pretty adamant about refusing me before. Am I allowed to ask what changed? This isn't something your parents are forcing you into to save tuition money, is it?"

"I don't have parents. They died before I met them. So, no."

"I'm sorry," Tom said.

"It's not your fault." Amelia responded unemotionally, as though she'd given that response several times before. She didn't offer any more explanation.

"Okay, well . . . Let me show you the s.p.a.ce at least? Do you have time for that?"

"Yeah," she said. "Okay."

Tom walked Amelia back to the front. "Let's start from the beginning," he said, proudly. There were ten offices: his, plus nine for the incubator's companies. Each had floor-to-ceiling windows facing the hall, a sofa, two desks with computers, a printer, and a large white monitor on the wall.

"Have you seen these smart boards?" he asked excitedly, picking up a marker and drawing directly onto the monitor. "They're like white boards, but without the chemical markers and the mess. Plus, they take a digital image of everything you write, so you can store all your great ideas." She had to admit, it was pretty cool.

Next Tom showed her two large conference rooms, "For investor meetings, when you start having them. Once you've got a good working prototype, I'll make sure you get the right investors. People you can trust, who can add ideas and not just money."

After that, Tom led her to the kitchen. "The office coordinator is on vacation but you'll meet her soon. Anyway, she went ahead and stocked the kitchen, but just let us know what you like and we'll make sure to have it on hand." He opened the cabinet, which was fully stocked with Cliff bars, bags of fancy potato chips, Haribo gummies, dried fruit and trail mixes, and six full-size candy dispensers. The fridge made the Gates drink selection look drab; it was filled with sodas in gla.s.s bottles, organic juices, and cans of Starbucks Frappuccino.

Amelia couldn't contain her surprise. "Wow," she said, and smiled at Tom. He chuckled. "There's the smile! It's always the food that gets you engineers." He patted her playfully on the shoulder.

"And finally," he said, as he led her to one last room behind the kitchen, "the playroom. I think that's what we'll call it. What do you think?" They stepped into a large, all-gla.s.s, enclosed room full of oversized bean bags, a large-screen TV with a Wii hooked up to it, and a low table stacked with puzzles and Rubix cubes. "I really want this to be the room where everyone who is part of the incubator gathers and feels safe to share ideas. You can write on all the walls." He took out a marker and drew on one of the gla.s.s panes. "And you can take a break or help each other with concepts. I want this to be the energy center of the office, you know? I want you to view this as a community."

Tom's eyes shone with pride for the s.p.a.ce, and, as much as she tried to resist it, his energy was contagious.

He smiled at Amelia. He could see her sh.e.l.l starting to crack. "Listen, Amelia, I know you're hesitant about all this, and I want you to know that you can trust me. I know it's going to take time to prove that to you, but I will. You've got real talent, Amelia, and helping you cultivate it is the most important thing, okay?"

Amelia nodded, not sure what to say. As wonderful as all these perks were, they just felt like reminders of her moral sacrifice, of giving up her ideals for money. As much as she appreciated the interest Tom was taking in her, she still felt like a sell-out.

But Adam would love it. She knew that. And she needed his happiness, now. She owed that to him.

"Do you mind if I take a photo?" she asked Tom.

"Of course not."

She took a picture of the room with her iPhone and texted it to Adam.

"Welcome 2 our new office. Officially a part of Fenway Ventures." Tom took her back to his office, where she signed a contract and a few other legal forms. "I'm guessing you haven't got a name, yet? That can wait."

"Doreye," she said. "I want to call it Doreye." Tom smiled. "Doreye? Like your name plus the device's eye? I like it.

We should be able to get the URL for that pretty easily, too. Excellent choice."

Chapter 19.

A Late Night Snack.

Patty couldn't sleep. Finals were next week and she'd temporarily moved back in with her parents to study and avoid the distraction of campus.

She glanced at the clock: 2:37 a.m.

She lay in bed, eyes wide open and head spinning with economics theories. Maybe she'd overdone it on the caffeine and Adderall. Suddenly, she remembered the ice cream Felicia had made. She threw off the covers and padded down the stairs to the freezer, where she found the container of ice cream waiting for her.

She sat at the kitchen counter with a spoon and ate straight from the carton. Delicious. The full moon was shining through the French doors that led from the kitchen onto the patio, casting enough light for her reflection to show on the stainless steel refrigerator door. She studied her figure as she spooned the ice cream into her mouth and couldn't help but feel very pretty in the moonlight. She felt natural, her hair twisted back in a simple bun, her cleavage showing in the pink Juicy tank top that matched her pink plaid boxer shorts. She c.o.c.ked her head to one side and puckered her lips a little, squeezing her cheeks in. Yes, that was a good angle for photos. She needed to remember that one.

She almost jumped out of her skin when a shadow crossed her reflection in the fridge. She spun quickly in the chair and found herself facing Chad.

"Oh!" she said, but he put his finger to her lip, a grin spreading across his face. How long had he been there? Had he been watching her?

He sat on the stool next to her and reached over to pull a spoon from the dish rack. Then he dipped it into the carton and took a bite of the ice cream. He closed his eyes and savored the taste. Patty sat there, spoon suspended in mid air. Why was he awake?

Chad was wearing pajama pants and no shirt; his toned chest and shoulders looked like something out of a magazine. He scooped out another spoonful of ice cream, looked at it, and smiled as he directed it toward Patty's open mouth. Their eyes stayed locked as she licked the spoon clean.

"Do it again," she thought to herself, her heart racing. And he did, but as he pulled the spoon away, a drop fell onto her bare thigh and began to melt. They both looked down and he let out the tiniest little laugh. He used his forefinger to wipe the spill and place it between her lips. He held his finger against her tongue for a moment, staring deep into her eyes, and then silently withdrew it. And then, without a word, he stood up from the stool and left the room, leaving her, mouth still agape, studying his magnificently chiseled back.

Chapter 20.

The Dorii.

It was their first day in the office, and Adam could hardly contain his excitement. Amelia was dreading it but forced a smile as she and Adam pulled their bikes into the Sand Hill Road parking lot, where they met Tom, who was pulling up in his Tesla Roadster.

"The Dorii!" he called out as he walked up to greet them. "You must be Adam," he said, and stuck out his hand.

"Mr. Fenway! It is so excellent to meet you, sir." Adam's face beamed.

"And you as well. Come on in, we'll get you all set up." Tom gave Adam the same tour he'd given Amelia, smiling proudly as Adam practically drooled in reaction.

"Doreye is the first company in the incubator, so it'll be a little quiet until the other groups join later in the summer. In the meantime, I've hired a recent Stanford grad to run the day-to-day operations; to help keep you on track and make sure you've got what you need. He's on his way over, so you can meet him."

Adam nodded eagerly. Everything Tom said sounded great to him.

Amelia had moved to her desk and logged into the computer. Tom glanced over at her. "Open your browser," he instructed.

Amelia clicked the Google Chrome icon and smiled as the homepage popped up: www.doreye.com. A simple logo had been constructed, with the text "Adam and Amelia Dory, Co-Founders" in bold typeface underneath, plus the address on Sand Hill Road and a phone number.

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The Start-Up Part 9 summary

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