Elon Musk is running out of ways to evade his original $44 billion contract to buy Twitter.

The world’s richest man, who was in a rush to acquire the social network in April and then abruptly soured on the deal, spent months trying to exit the obligation entirely. In recent weeks, both sides discussed a price that was about $4 below the $54.20 per-share accord, but couldn’t agree on additional terms, according to people familiar with the matter.

On Oct. 3, Musk applied public pressure by formally re-offering to buy the company at the original price, aiming to avoid an Oct. 17 fight in Delaware Chancery Court. Twitter’s stock shot up, with investors sensing the drama was nearly over. But the company’s lawyers, suspicious of conditions in Musk’s letter, including the stipulation that Twitter drop its lawsuit, called it "an invitation to further mischief.”