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July 2010 ~ (c) Lucy Monroe
The Port of Seattle didn’t look so different from some of the hundreds of other ports Neo Stamos had been in since joining the crew of the cargo ship Hera at the age of fourteen. And yet it was unique from all the others because this is where his life changed. This is where he would walk off the Hera and never walk back onto it.
He and his friend Zephyr Nikos had had to lie about their ages to join the Hera’s crew six years ago, but that had been a small price to pay in order to leave behind the life they’d known in Greece. Neo and Zephyr had been Athens street thugs that found a common desire – that of making something more of their lives than rising to top ranks in their gang.
And they were going to do it, twenty-year-old Neo vowed as the sun broke the eastern horizon.
“You ready for the next step?” Zephyr asked in English.
Neo nodded, his gaze set on the port growing closer by the minute. “No more living in the streets.”
“We haven’t lived in the streets for six years.”
“True. Though some would not consider our bunks here on the Hera much of an improvement.”
Neo agreed, though he didn’t say so. Zephyr knew and shared his feelings. Anything was better than scavenging to eke out an existence that still required living by someone else’s rules. “But what is to come will be even better.”
“Yes. It may have taken six years, but we have the money to take the next step in our new lives.”
Six years of a hell of a lot of hard work and sacrifice. They had saved every drachma possible of their earnings. For two men who had grown up in an orphanage and then the streets when they ran away, that had been a lot. They knew how to come by clothes, books and other necessities through interesting if not necessarily illegal methods. Not unless one considered underage gambling a stumbling block to legality.
When they were not working, or gambling to augment their meager salaries, they had been reading everything they could get their hands on about business and real estate development. Each had become an expert in a different aspect of the field, combining their superior brain power rather than duplicating effort.
They now had a detailed plan to increase their assets through initially flipping houses and eventually full scale, high end real estate developments.
“Next it will be business tycoons Zephyr Nikos and Neo Stamos,” Zephyr said with conviction.
A slow, extremely rare smile curved Neo’s lips. “Before we are thirty.”
“Before we are thirty.” Zephyr’s voice was filled with the same determination Neo felt deep in his gut.
They would succeed.
Failure was not an option.