Henry snorted a laugh. “Give me a break, Tanner. You just didn’t want your new girlfriend to have to fly back to Chicago in the back of a plane wedged between those two idiots, Bob and Irving. Very chivalrous of you, my boy. And very out of character.”
I feigned ignorance. Badly. “What new girlfriend?”
“Oh, for petesake, Tanner, the girl you’ve been screwing every night since we got to Tucson.” He crossed his legs and brushed a hand over his knee. “Honestly, I thought she was the one woman who wouldn’t fall for your tricks. I thought she was better than that.” He gave me a sideways glance. “Turns out, she was just another brick in the wall.”
“What does that mean, Pink Floyd?”
“It means that you’ve proven once again that you can get any woman in your bed. Bravo. At least it wasn’t an Anderson stock holder or a member of the executive committee. If you had to fuck someone I’m at least glad that it was a junior analyst from Goldman and not someone who actually matters.”
I turned sideways in the seat to face him. “That’s not what this was.”
“No? That’s what it looked like to me.”
I ground my teeth for a moment. “Wait, how do you know I was with her every night? I was very careful not to… You had me followed?”
Henry blew out a bored sigh and spread his hands. “I had you followed.”
I felt my blood boil as I glanced around the cabin to see who might be witness to the fit I was about to pitch. The flight attendants were milling about as the last passengers got situated. Although I was fit to be tied on the inside, I forced myself to remain calm on the outside.
“Why would you do that?” I quietly asked. “Have me followed?”
He looked at me as if I’d asked a silly question. “You’re seriously asking me that?” He shook his head. “Tanner, I love you like a son, and I think you’re a brilliant guy, but if you spent as much time thinking with your brain as you do with your dick, Wright Enterprises would be a much larger company.”
I blinked at him. I loved Henry like an uncle, but I didn’t much like him at the moment.
“Maybe you think the company would be better off with you in the CEO chair,” I said. “Someone who thinks with their brain because their dick no longer works.”
“This is not about me replacing you, Tanner.”
“Then what is it about, Henry?” I asked, louder than I should have. One of the flight attendants started toward me, but I waved her away.
“You know what it’s about,” he said.
“Let’s pretend I don’t. Tell me.”
Henry tugged his reading glasses from inside his jacket and cleaned them on a handkerchief. He set the glasses on the tip of his nose and picked up the copy of The Wall Street Journal that had been lying in the seat beside him.
“It’s about your inability to see what’s right in front of your face, my boy,” he said, lifting his chin to peer through the glasses as he scanned the front page of the paper. “Your desire to fuck and party and constantly be the bad boy is blinding you from what’s really important. As usual.”
I blinked at him and resisted the urge to rip the goddamn paper from his hands. “What am I not seeing, Henry?”
He looked at me from over the top of the reading glasses and sighed. “I’m just saying that if your girlfriend fucks up this acquisition for us, you have no one to blame but yourself. Now buckle up, son. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”
I hate to admit it, but knowing that Tanner was now thousands of miles away brought a sense of clarity to my brain, which had taken a back seat to the rest of my organs as of late.
It’s hard to focus on mountains of financial data when you’re picturing a guy munching on your rug, if you know what I mean.
I spent the weekend reviewing my findings from the Tucson trip and compiling the data into a report that I’d present to Stan on Monday. Anderson’s fiber optic expansion plan was sound, albeit it a bit ambitious in the current market. It wasn’t something that would affect the deal, just something Wright Enterprises should keep in mind going forward.
As I scanned over the costs associated with the expansion once more (I am a notorious triple-checker), my mind kept going back to the red flags I’d spotted on the older profit & loss reports the first time I’d reviewed them.
Part of the reason Anderson Telecommunications didn’t meet market estimates for revenue during those years was attributed to the cost of replacing older networks in the more rural areas the company served.
If the numbers I saw were indeed correct, and Anderson lost money during those periods, the balance sheet that they were presenting today would be inaccurate.