He narrowed his eyes at me. They all did. He knew exactly what I was talking about.
He said, “And if their old customers are at the mercy of their old technology, those customers might be attracted to a different carrier with new technology like fiber optics that offers greater connectivity and faster speeds.”
“Exactly,” I said, nodding. “It’s not a tremendous concern now, but if companies like Charter and Spectrum install fiber optic networks faster than Anderson, well…”
“They could lure away Anderson’s customers, making the company less valuable than it is today.” He gave me a smile that was not filled with tricks or treats. It was one of admiration.
“Very impressive, Miss Carlson,” he said.
“Candice,” I shot back.
He swiveled his chair to face the others and bounced the rubber ball on the floor between his feet. “All right then. Let’s hear what the rest of you have to say.”
I ate the entire honey bun and drank the coffee as I listened to the older, wiser, more-expert members of the team say basically the same things I just did.
Occasionally, Tanner would glance over and smile, as if saying, “You nailed it, girl.”
I found that I couldn’t keep my eyes from drifting over his body as he conducted the meeting.
Such boyish charm in a such a seriously hot and seriously brilliant package.
Maybe Tanner Wright wasn’t such a douchebag after all.
By the time the corporate jet touched down in Tucson, I was certain of three things.
Thing Number One: Henry was wise to hire the Goldman & Stern team to do the final due diligence on the Anderson deal. They were all very sharp and knew the industry well. I was impressed, even though I had to pull Stan’s sharp nose out of my ass a time or two.
Even the angry little woman who looked like she could chew nails, the goofy accountant enamored of the pilot’s cap, and the legal eagle who I think was asleep with his eyes open most of the time, all had good insight and input into the deal.
Thing Number Two: There were red flags in the Anderson P&L’s that clearly Henry didn’t want to discuss in front of the Goldman group. Fine, we’d address those red flags when we were alone.
Sometimes our deals required that we do things, say things, or ignore things in order to keep certain facts and figures out of the public eye. I got the feeling that Stan was caught with his pants down because he underestimated the abilities of their junior consultant.
And finally, Thing Number Three that I was certain of by the time the jet landed in Tucson was that I wanted to get to know Candice Carlson better. Much better. A lot better.
I wasn’t sure exactly what was drawing me to her, but I felt like a moth being lured to a flame. I just didn’t want to get my wings – or other body parts --singed.
Perhaps it was that she was beautiful in an unassuming way. You didn’t have to sandblast the makeup from her face or peel back the layers of her multiple personalities to find the real woman underneath.
She was genuine, sincere, and so unlike the other women I typically spent time with.
She was intelligent, funny, warm, and down to earth. I loved the way her nose crinkled when she laughed at my stupid jokes and how the corners of her lips curled into a smile.
There was no pretense in her eyes. What you saw was what you got. I immediately loved that about her.
Candice Carlson was the real deal.
The genuine article.
The only question was: how do I get someone like her to like someone like me? It was a question asked over the ages by teenage boys, star-crossed lovers, and love struck billionaires used to getting whatever they wanted.
I knew bragging about my cars and jets and money wasn’t going to impress her. No, a woman like Candice Carlson didn’t care about those sorts of things.
I had a winning personality. I was funny and charming and good looking and in great shape. Oh, and modest. I was very modest. And according to dozens of women in the greater Chicago area-- and around the world -- one hell of a great lay.
I could impress her with the size of my dick and my ability to rock and roll all night long, but that was a Phase Two move.
I had to get her to Phase One first.
I had to get her to like me.
Then everything else would fall into place.
A team from Anderson Telecommunications was waiting on the tarmac when we touched down in Tucson. Tanner and Costas climbed into the back of a stretch limo with the Anderson execs and went one way, and the Goldman team was shuffled into a van driven by an assistant and ferried to the Anderson offices in downtown Tucson.
Even though the rest of the country was frozen solid, winter in Tucson felt like spring back in Nebraska. It was nearly seventy-degrees and sunny as we stepped off the plane. We all peeled off our Chicago-winter coats and left them on the plane before getting into the van.