Graham Warren is a vet, an adventurer, and man who dresses his own way and lives by his own rules. He’s suddenly inherited his own company, and attends a RAW Materials conference to change his personal image, but nothing seems to be working.
Edward Vincent has looks, style, and attitude. He runs RAW, the private coaching and personal enhancement empire targeting wealthy corporate clients. Edward Vincent believes anyone can completely transform to someone entirely different. After all, he’s done it himself.
When Edward Vincent offers Graham Warren some very personalized coaching, he can’t resist. After all, he’s drawn to Edward Vincent and knows there must be secrets behind those cryptic glances and finely pressed suits.
Can both of these men leave personal motivation behind to find the motivation to love each other?
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Raw Materials (Roosters 9)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2018 Echo Ishii
The music began in the background, the sounds of a violin that blended into a guitar riff, which morphed into electronic harmony.
Change. Evolution. The words popped across the stage wide screen of the auditorium. The audience shuffled in their seats and soft whispers of excitement rushed through the crowd.
Edward Vincent watched it all. He fought back the panic that was rising in his throat. It happened often, lately. One misstep that turned into full-blown panic. This was his first attempt in months to get back on that stage. To get back out there. His hands shook.
RAW MATERIALS. The words flashed in large letters across the screen and then the applause began. They were out there. Waiting for Edward Vincent, self-made billionaire, entrepreneur, and now self-help icon. As if his business and tech investments weren’t profitable enough, they came for the self-help. They came to look at him, to believe that they could be Edward Vincent. That they could change. That they all had the raw materials of their own for success.
Nortrice Marlowe, his corporate head, was out there on stage, in her slick cut grey skirt suit and her Afro with golden highlights like flames atop a torch. She was introducing RAW MATERIALS. She was introducing him. And he didn’t even think he’d make it out there.
His visage flickered across the screen. A video montage that even Edward Vincent found slightly over the top. There was one of him shaking hands with the president; there was another of him shaking hands with a Middle East investor; there was another of him posing with Shanghai in the background.
Edward was Edward Vincent. He had to channel that man in the montage. He had to remember that he was him. That he was capable of doing this. That he was the one they were cheering for. He had to get rid of these nagging doubts that plagued him. The unsettling messages that rattled his days. He had to force that out of his mind.
Edward took a deep breath. He straightened his back, he rolled his neck, did a little two-step like a boxer ready to enter the ring. He had this. He was in control.
Nortrice turned and gestured to him, stretching her arms out as if greeting royalty. Edward remembered. This was his kingdom. He was royalty in this room.
Edward Vincent strolled out on that stage with a wave and a smile. He glanced at the audience, repressed the urge to blow kisses, but kept up the smile. He reached Nortrice -- one foot away to indicate intimacy and friendliness -- gave her a handshake. No hugs. This was about professionalism. This was about polish. Nortrice was top notch at her job in making sure RAW got its message across.
Edward grabbed the microphone in one swooping movement. “Welcome,” he said.
The crowd went into defeating applause. Nortrice had worked her magic in getting the crowd pumped up.
“Refinement. Attitude. Wealth,” he said as the crowd repeated, “These are the raw materials of life,” Edward said feeling more confident with each passing second. More like himself.
He scanned the crowd. Nortrice had coached him not to speak to the whole crowd. Speak to one person. Find that one focus that you want to reach. Talk only to them, and the power and intimacy translates in your words.
Edward had the words. He needed the focus. The one.
He scanned the audience.
Eager faces. Pleasant smiles. Well-dressed, business-oriented with nice suits, power ties, power shirts. Good make-up and neat haircuts. At a $3,000 price tag for this conference, this was hardly a surprise. RAW taught that the best investment was an investment in yourself. And these were people who invested in themselves. They had bodies courtesy of personal trainers and faces courtesy of plastic surgeons.
Edward focused on one.
A man he’d seen around the conference, sitting toward the back at lectures, standing aloof at the mixers. He’d been here before. Edward had spotted him briefly at a gay bar in town last night. He was tall and broad-shouldered with a purposeful stance that screamed ex-military and probably not in the distant past, even if his brown hair was cut too long. A tattoo snaked out from the side of his neck. He was dressed in a throwaway suit that didn’t quite fit. And he wasn’t in his seat. He was leaning on the wall to the side, arms crossed.
The name came to him.
Edward fixed on him and at the very moment that man met his gaze. Their eyes were locked on to each other. Edward pushed the other people out of his mind; let their chatter fall away from his notice, and spoke as if he were talking to this man only.
“When we take the power over our own lives, when we mold ourselves, we can reinvent ourselves to be anything we want. A street wise kid becomes a corporate CEO. The pauper becomes the prince. The ugly duckling becomes the swan.”
Who are you? Edward thought, looking at his guest. Who do you want to be?
The man looked up at Edward. He stood away from the wall and unfolded his arms. His face was hard to read in the glare of the lights but somehow Edward felt he was being stared at. Assessed.
Edward Vincent knew at that moment he had to make his acquaintance.