“Okay, so you and Blake aren’t trust fund babies. Your point being?” I want to kick myself for being so forward but Mark wants to stroll down memory lane and I simply want to know how I’m getting Lynx back.

“We both went to NYU. We both studied business and finance. Blake was two years ahead of me, so I had the advantage of seeing a lot his books and coursework for classes I ended up taking later. We weren’t any closer then than we are now, but we pretended better and helped each other more. One day a professor asked to see me after class. When I got to his office, he told me I needed to do better and he was surprised I was so much worse than Blake.

“I asked him from clarification. I mean, Blake is not an academic or even a good spreadsheet reader. But, he sure knows his way around the fine print. Anyway, he pulled out a paper Blake had turned in years before and showed it to me because he had been using it as a class model. Blake didn’t write that paper. He cheated. I found out later he had paid someone to write most of his work. So, he got better grades than I did—which made my father trust Blake with a larger share of the company, even though we are both co-presidents. But, I just bit my tongue. Because I knew he cheated, and I knew someday the company would be rightfully mine.”

At this point we had finished with dinner and he walked me over to the couch, refreshing our drinks. I want to speed him up but can’t find the words to ask him to get to the point of this story. I try to prod him along.

“So, what you’ve discovered to help my case is that Blake has always been a lying dickhead?”

“No, Julia,” Mark says with a heavy voice. “I discovered Blake is cheating again. Only this time the stakes are much higher for everyone.”

“Cheating? What do you mean?”

“I’m doing pretty well,” Mark said as he gestured around the lush apartment. “But most of the money I’ve made happened before the economy melted down. I’ve managed to put some of Sandstone Ventures money into good projects, and I’ve kept my investments in low risk stocks until we rebound so I didn’t lose much. But I haven’t made a fortune these last four years—particularly the last two. No one has. Well, no one except one person.”

“Who?”

“Blake. He has increased his tax margin, added a new boathouse to his upstate property and rented an apartment near the park for ‘over-nights’ when he claims he is stuck in the city. He purchased a bunch of high risk stocks and is making big bets on odd things. He’s flush with cash and playing high stakes at a time when the rest of us are holding our cards tight.”

“So you think Blake is involved in investment fraud?”

“I think Blake is embezzling money from Sandstone Ventures and taking funds from the base accounts we use for acquisitions and mergers. It’s the money we’re supposed to use to make money. I think he is gutting our company, and what’s worse, I suspect he is using Lynx to do it.”

“What? Lynx? My Lynx?” I see red the minute Mark suggests it. “He’s using my magazine to f**k his own company over and fired me to do it?”

“It appears there’s some connection between Lynx and the base accounts at Sandstone. I’m not sure what it is yet. I need to do more research and I need some information from the inside. Not just inside Lynx, but inside my own company as well.”

“It’s your company, Mark. How hard can that be?”

“Plenty. Kenneth Allen is into this up to his neck too and I suspect there is a third party involved although I’m not willing to disclose that at this time. So any searching I do needs to be discrete and that takes time. I’m going to need someone at Lynx to do some digging for me.”

“What are you talking about? We don’t need any time. We need to go to the police. Tonight. Blake can be arrested by tomorrow and I’ll be back in my office by the beginning of next week.” I stand up from the couch and walk to the kitchen counter to set my wine glass and grab my purse. Mark just stares at me like I’ve lost my mind.

“Julia, sit back down.”

“No! I will not sit down. This is it, Mark! This is what we’ve waited for. Blake is breaking the law and that’s a matter for the police. Let’s just file charges and get this ball rolling. We don’t need to do all this sneaking around. Get the cops involved and let’s get it on the road.”

“It’s not possible. We do need to do the sneaking around and we do need to protect both companies while we’re doing it.”

“Look. You’re an investor. I’m an editor. Neither one of us are equipped for this kind of thing.” I try to use my best rational argument but I’m also so buzzed by the idea of seeing that f**ker put in cuffs for screwing up my company I can’t sit still. “Cops are trained to do this stuff. So you do the investing, I’ll do the editing and we will let the cops do the copping!”

I turn into a hot-headed manic bulldozer. I’m pacing around his apartment trying to figure out which police station we need to go to, rambling at about ninety miles an hour about all the ways Blake can get arrested and everything we need to do. Suddenly Mark stands up.

“Julia, stop!”

“What?”

“Just stop. Sit down.”

“I’m too excited to sit down, Mark. Let’s go now!”

Mark’s voice takes on the same tone he saves for the moments he is instructing me sexually—clear, severe and commanding.

“I said sit down.”

I plop on the couch with a thud, the memory of his strong passion aching in my womb.

“Look,” he says as he takes a turn pacing around. “First, I don’t have any evidence Blake is cheating, just a gut feeling and some unusual accounting. Second, I don’t have anything tying Blake’s ill-gotten income to Lynx. Because he had to have gotten to that money before he fired you, there’s too much for it to have happened since you were let go. But I don’t know how he’s using Lynx. I just know he must be. Third, no evidence and no explanation means no arrest, and it will tip our hand to him that we are on to it. So, no police.”

“But they can investigate and figure out what you don’t know which frankly, is a lot.”

Mark gives me a thin-lipped grin through the comment as if he is enduring my scrutiny purely for altruistic reasons and he could turn me over and out at any time.

“You have twenty-four days left for the rejoinder. Do you know how long an investigation into financial crimes takes? Two to three years.”


Tags: Priscilla West Billionaire Romance
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