Henry threw up his hands. “You’re being ridiculous.”
I patted his knee. “Henry, you have my word that I will not do anything to mess up this deal. Scouts honor. Cross my heart and hope to die.”
“You were never a scout,” Henry said, glancing out the window as if he could no longer stand to look at me. “And honor is something you know nothing about.”
“Ouch,” I said with a smile.
Still facing the window, he said, “I emailed Stan Roberts and told him to leave Candice Carlson in Chicago.”
My eyebrows shot up. “You what?”
He turned to stare me down. I had never seen Henry look more serious. “I told Stan that Candice can remain on the team, but it would be best if she operates from their office in Chicago. So, she will not be coming to Tucson with us.”
Now it was my turn to be sanctimonious.
I asked, “Do you think that’s really fair to Miss Carlson? The poor girl did nothing but show up to a meeting. If anyone should be knocked out of going to Tucson, it’s me, not her.”
“Fairness has nothing to do with it,” he said. “And you have to go. There is no getting out of it.”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“The problem is that she was a distraction to you in the meeting. Therefore, I expect that she would be a distraction to you in Tucson. And we can’t have you distracted.”
I shook my head and gave him the disappointed look he so often gave me. “Henry, I thought you were smarter than that.”
He frowned. “What does that mean?”
I tapped a finger to my chin and made a thoughtful face.
“Would you rather have me distracted and out of the way in Tucson? Or would you rather have me attend all the big meetings and do everything I could to kill the deal?”
Henry’s mouth dropped open as the little lights came on inside his perfectly-coiffed head. He tugged his iPhone from his jacket and found Stan Roberts direct cell number.
“Stan, Henry Costas,” he said, smiling at me. “Please disregard the email I sent you earlier about leaving Candice Carlson in Chicago. After further consideration, I think she will play a vital role in the success of the Anderson acquisition. Yes, that’s correct. Fine. We’ll see you at the airport in an hour.”
The moment I arrived at Goldman on Monday morning, I received a text from Stan to come to his office. I just blew out a long breath and reconciled myself to the fact that I was being booted off the team.
I had cried myself dry over the weekend, so this morning there were no more tears to give. I put on my armor and emerged from my apartment ready to do battle and take whatever hits the day might bring.
Candice Carlson, the girl who wore her heart on her sleeve and cried at the drop of a dime, was left at the apartment.
Candice Carlson, corporate cunt and hard-assed bitch emerged.
In a moment of pure optimism, I had packed a suitcase for the trip and brought it to the office. I dropped it off in my office on the way to see Stan. There was no way I was going to show up at his door with a suitcase and the assumption that everything was just peachy. Everything wasn’t peachy. I could feel it in my bones.
Stan was standing behind his desk neatly stacking papers into his briefcase when I tapped on his door. Juliette, Bob, and Irving were sitting on the couch in Stan’s office like the three monkeys that see, hear, and speak no evil. Bob and Irving stared into their coffee cups. Juliette had her eyes glued on Bob. There was a slight smirk of satisfaction on her face.
“Morning, Stan,” I said, forcing a smile to keep the tears at bay.
“Morning,” Stan said curtly, glancing up at me. He stared into my eyes for a moment, no doubt choosing the words that would let me down the quickest and easiest. I was dumbfounded when the corners of his lips curled into a smile.
“Just wanted to get everyone together to let you know what the itinerary is for the week,” he said. He came around the desk with four pieces of paper and handed them out to the group.
“Henry Costas emailed that to me earlier. I forwarded a copy of the email to each of you, but I wanted to give you a hard copy we can review in the car on the way to the airport.”
“That’s it?” Juliette asked. She cut her eyes at me. They all did. They all seemed a little surprised that I was still on the team. I certainly was.
“That’s it,” Stan said, moving back around the desk to finish packing his briefcase. He held up his wristwatch when nobody moved. “That’s it. Let’s go, people. The car leaves for the airport in twenty minutes. I’ll meet you all downstairs.”
The Wright Enterprises corporate jet was fueled and ready for takeoff when we arrived at the private hangar. We were met by Henry Costas on the tarmac, but I didn’t see Tanner anywhere.