Facing an irate Rosalind, I felt my own anger starting to bubble forth, to grow. It had been going so well – I had Bainel cornered. Then she had to ruin it by shouting some nonsense about not wanting to sell. In retrospect, her anger was entirely understandable – I had, after all, just attempted to sell her shop without consulting her beforehand. But in the heat of the moment, burning from letting the deal slip through our fingers, I ended up being the first one shouting.
“What the fuck, Ros?! I had him – he was on board, he was going to agree! Why’d you have to go and say something like that?!”
“You know bloody well why, Ely. Sell the Ezov? Are you serious? The entire point of these business deals, of the changes we’ve made, was to keep the Ezov afloat. And now you say you want to throw it away?!”
“You just said it – it’s seen changes. The Ezov isn’t the same as it was a year ago. So why are you clinging to it so hard?!”
“It’s changed because of what you’ve done to it, Ely! I’ve allowed the changes in the past, but that was because they were necessary for theEzov to survive. But this – this is too far. I refuse to sell the Ezov.”
“You said you would leave the negotiations to me, that you would trust me. So why change that now?”
“Because you just tried to sell my shop! The Ezov is my last inheritance from my parents – it’s the place I grew up in, it’s been my home my whole life. I’m the owner, not you! You have no right to sell this shop!”
My blood ran cold, dousing the flames of anger within me with a cool sensation of indignance.
“No right? No right?! I’ve spent the last year constantly thinking about the Ezov, thinking aboout how to increase our profits, how to make ourselves more successful, how to keep us alive. I may not have the legal rights to the place, but the Ezov in its current state is just as much mine as it is yours. Making this sale tears me apart just as much as it does you!”
“So why are you attempting it?!”
“Because that’s the only way you’ll be able to travel!”
Rosalind, who seemed about to dispense a prepared response, froze when she heard my shout. Understanding that I had her attention, I continued speaking, clarifying my intention.
“You told me before – you said you wished to travel the world, to see the world beyond this small town. You told me you wanted to go, and you told me what was holding you back – the danger, and the need to take care of the shop. I can handle the danger, but that leaves the problem of the shop. Can’t you see? This is our chance to solve that problem!”
“Even if we hired someone to watch over the shop in our absence, if the patrons who visit can’t hear your voice, they’ll stop coming. That’s why we need the Resound Jewel – that’s why we need Bainel. It’s all so that you can travel while still allowing your customers to hear your voice by visiting the shop. I had intended to negotiate a deal with Bainel to give us a portion of the profits from the shop, but the management of the shop itself would be taken over by him – allowing us leave to travel. Don’t you see? If we sell the shop, we get to travel around the world, and the shop itself, by the guidance of Bainel’s experience, will grow and flourish. It’s the best solution!”
“…Even so, I don’t understand the necessity of selling the shop. Could we not simply pay him to manage the Ezov for us?”
I growled, my exasperation leaking out.
“No. We could not. He is not some simple accountant – he is a renowned merchant with numerous businesses across the country. He would not spare a thought toward managing a business in which he had no stake – and therefore we needed to grant him a stake, by letting him take ownership of the shop. This way, he has the incentive to make the business flourish, and he’ll have more reason to put his experience and intellect to use in the management of the Ezov.”
Rosalind fell silent, the anger in her eyes fading away. I kept mine focused on hers, however, and she responded in kind by keeping eye contact.
“So… it was all so that we could travel?”
I nodded. I hoped that she now understood why I felt it necessary to sell the shop – if she would simply acquiesce to it, I would immediately run to find Bainel and confirm the deal. However, when she next spoke, it was with a tone that was slow and exceedingly gentle.
“You weren’t just thinking about the shop, but about my dream as well… that’s… I’m grateful. I’m truly blessed to have found a friend like you. I now understand why you felt the need to sell the shop – and I’m glad for the intentions behind it.”
She turned her lips in a resigned smile.
“Be that as it may, I’m not selling the Ezov. Call it stubbornness if you will, but I have no desire to pawn off this place – this shop filled with memories – for the sake of fulfilling this dream. I’d like you to consider that dream abandoned – I care more for what I have in my grasp now, what I hold in the present, than for something uncertain that lies in the future. Continue negotiating with Bainel, or don’t – I’ll leave that decision to you. But I will not sell this shop.”
With that, Rosalind turned away from me and ascended the stairs, indicating that she had no more to say on the matter.
I kicked a nearby chair, sending it flying. Then I ran after it and caught it before it could slam into anything else – incurring a maintenance cost due to a fit of rage would be foolish.
I sat down on the displaced chair and rested my head on my arms.
“So she refuses to the end…”
Now that Rosalind had made clear to me her refusal to budge on this matter, I had three courses of action open to me: the first, I could go ahead with the deal anyway behind Rosalind’s back – I knew where the title deed was kept. However, I immediately discarded this option. Rosalind had placed trust in me, and I would not betray that. The second option was to give up on the deal with Bainel. The Ezov was doing very well, and even without his assistance, we would likely be able to thrive if we simply kept to what we were doing, and avoided taking unnecessary risks. The third option was to come up with a new proposal that somehow granted Bainel a stake in our future, while retaining ownership of the shop.
Between the second and third options, the second was far more tempting. It was easier by far, and would not cause us to lose much – though it would not result in any gain, either. It was the simpler choice, and the safer one. However, even with the allure of the second choice, my mind kept coming back to the third – a proposal that could give Bainel a stake while we retained ownership. I would need to construct the model from scratch, but I felt convinced that this was the route to maximum profit. As far as I knew, there was no model for joint ownership in this world, but I had the advantage of experiencing two other worlds, with their own models. If there was anyone who could develop a new model of ownership in this world, it was likely me.
Resolved, I grabbed a set of pen and paper, and began scribbling.