As Henry so aptly pointed out, the financial news media would have a field day. “I can see the headlines now,” he said, holding his hands in their air with thumbs touching. “Billionaire playboy fucks management consultant doing due diligence on a major acquisition. Click here for all the juicy details.”
“You’re overexaggerating,” I said, sitting next to him as the plane circled the Atlanta airport. “That won’t happen.”
“Don’t kid yourself. The financial press loved this sort of dirt. They call it hot sex and cold hard cash.” He blew out a long breath and gave me a sideways look. “Tanner, you know I’m right.”
I knew he was right, but that didn’t make things any easier.
“So, what do you want me to do?” I finally asked in defeat.
“First, you have to break off all communications with her. You can’t text her, you can’t call her, you can’t Facebook her, and you sure as hell can’t send her Anthony Weiner dick pics. None of your usual stuff.”
“And if she tries to contact you, you have to ignore her. Do you understand? Block her from your phone and have no further contact with her.”
I had my phone in my hand. I had been holding it in anticipation of the plane landing. The first call I had intended to make was to Candice. It was a call I wouldn’t be making. I glanced at Henry and gave him a nod. “Okay.”
He put a hand on my shoulder and gave it a shake. “Don’t look so down, Tanner. After we close the Anderson deal you can go back to fucking anyone you like. Well, anyone except Candice Carlson.”
I couldn’t bring myself to immediately block Candice’s number, nor could I just instantly banish her from my mind. I replied to a few innocent texts, claiming to be too busy to chat.
Then Henry caught me reading a text during a meeting while he was speaking. He simply reached down and plucked the phone from my hands without skipping a beat. He tucked the phone in his jacket pocket and went on with the meeting as if nothing had happened.
I felt like a child who’d had his favorite toy taken away in front of the whole class.
And without Candice in my bed and in my arms, it was a very lonely, sleepless week.
We arrived back in Chicago on Friday morning. The Goldman team – without Candice – was waiting in the conference room for us after lunch.
“Stan, how are you,” Henry said as we entered the room. He shook hands with Stan and the other three stooges. I took a seat and squeezed the red rubber ball between my hands.
“We’re all good, Henry, thanks,” Stan said in his obnoxious, over-eager manner. “And I think you’ll be very pleased with our report.” Christ, this guy needed a fulltime assistant just to keep the brown wiped off his nose.
“We’re eager to see the report,” Henry said, rubbing his hands together eagerly. “This is the last box to be checked before we sign the final acquisition papers on Monday. If Anderson gets a clean bill of health from you, we’re all set.”
Stan leaned over the table to pass out the perfectly-bound copies of Goldman’s report. He sat down and opened his copy, and waited for the rest of us to do the same. I didn’t bother looking at it. I didn’t want to touch the fucking thing.
That report, and my own actions, had ruined Candice’s life. And there was no one to blame but me.
If I had just listened to Henry, if I had just kept my dick in my pants, Candice would be sitting across from me now, pretending to ignore me.
“So, let’s begin with our review of the financials,” Stan said, flipping through the report. “That starts on page 5.”
Before he could continue, the conference room door opened and a large black man wearing a dark suit and tie appeared. Behind him were two other men who sported equally-serious looks on their faces. Behind them was a woman with a short-cropped haircut and a pinched face. I immediately took her as someone from the government.
“What the hell is this?” Henry asked.
The first man held up a badge that made Henry’s mouth clap shut. “I’m Agent Richter with the FBI. These are my associates, Agents Brent and Kline. And this is Helen Walters from the Securities & Exchange Commission. We’re looking for Henry Costas and Tanner Wright.”
“I’m Henry Costas,” he said. Henry glanced at me. “This is Mr. Wright. What’s this about?”
The FBI agent pulled a folded sheet of paper from inside his jacket and handed it to Henry. Henry opened the paper and scanned it without his glasses. The color drained from his face.
The G-man said, “Gentleman, we have a warrant to seize all files and documentation from these offices and your personal possession pertaining to the pending acquisition of Anderson Telecommunications by Wright Enterprises.”