A second letter arrived by the end of the week, this one to his home mailbox. It seemed as though it might have come by courier; there was no stamp. It was exactly the same as the first. Nice cotton paper with nice crisp folds, and smart sharp type. Presumably it even smelled of lemon just as the first one had, but Kyle refused to sniff the traitorous thing so he was only guessing on that point. The only thing that had changed was the offer on his spell. They’d doubled it. One hundred twenty thousand dollars cash in hand and a hint of a job offer.
He considered it for a good thirty seconds before he crumpled it up and tossed it in the trash. He’d never been an angry or proud person, but the letter made him so mad he felt like lighting it on fire. It was clear what they were trying to do. Kyle had never played poker, but he thought the offer was probably what it felt when someone tried to bluff with a terrible hand. His spell wasn’t just good, it was revolutionary, and Thomas Illusions was scared.
With that in mind, he decided to go all in. He had savings and the severance check Magical Materials had cut him had been decent. That was probably because they knew how shady his termination had been and they wanted a hedge against him suing them. Taken together enough to go into business making magic.
* * *
It was perfect.
Kyle stood outside his new storefront and surveyed it. The glass front of the building was one of the coolest things he’d ever seen. Objectively it was a simple building. There was no sign above the door, and nothing on the window, even the lines in the parking lot were faded to near illegibility. But it was all his as long as he paid the rent, and he was certain he’d eventually remember it as “where he got his start.”
The shop was between a hydroponics store, and a store selling fertilizer. The fertilizer was of the chemical variety and didn’t have, as the Realtor had explained, “any unpleasant organic odors.” Standing in the parking lot he realized that didn’t mean it had no scent whatsoever. There was a sharp, almost acid, but somehow still earthy smell on the breeze. Still, it wasn’t so bad, after a minute or two he stopped noticing it and the nice thing about a fertilizer store was they didn’t exactly fill the parking lot with traffic.
The hydroponics store was, if anything, an even more benign neighbor. Kyle wouldn’t have known that storefront was occupied if the Realtor hadn’t told him. They had no sign up, and there were only two cars parked some distance away from the store. The windows were mirrored over such that no one could see in. He wondered about the lack of signage, but perhaps hydroponics was enough of a niche market that they didn’t really worry about drive by traffic.
Whistling happily he opened the door and stepped inside. The interior space was as unimposing, and wonderful, as the exterior. It was a simple floor plan, there was a large and somewhat narrow room, then a hallway leading to several offices and an even larger open area that had once been a storeroom. He didn’t know exactly how he was going to use a building like that, but he wasn’t worried. He only really needed an address and a place to meet with people. He thought maybe he could make a waiting room with a receptionist’s desk up front, then use one office in back for himself, and the storage room for storage. He’d just leave the other offices empty.
Would people be put off by a large waiting room? Probably not, at least not if it were decorated nicely, but then again the odd proportions might be a bit off-putting for some people. Perhaps he could eventually put up two walls, making the waiting room space smaller and hiding the rest of it as a dead area. No one would have to see he didn’t have anything in there. Actually, he thought, why not put doors in the wall and label them with office names? People would see it and think the firm had dozens of employees! It wouldn’t be totally honest, but surely it wouldn’t be illegal. Sort of advertising. He decided he’d have to give that more thought and decide if it was lying or advertising. He couldn’t really renovate at the moment anyway.
Kyle grinned at the ideas. For the moment his needs were far more mundane. He made a mental checklist. He’d get a few potted plants, a sofa or two. Actually, he thought, his home furniture was pretty nice so he might just move that in. He would need a couple of desks, office chairs, and phones. That reminded him, the power was on because it was on to the whole building, but he’d need to get phone service, some sort of internet access, and magical current. The water probably wasn’t connected, and it certainly wasn’t in his name, so he’d have to call the city about that. Part of his rent covered a dumpster in back so that was taken care of.
But still, he had a lot to do. The first part of that was lining up some marketing visits.