I made a sour face at him. The only thing I hated more than reading lengthy reports from expensive consultants was actually meeting with them.
I hated consultants.
Especially management consultants.
They were all so arrogant and smug, like they knew some horrible secret that could fuck up your business and they wouldn’t share it with you until you wrote them a fat check.
They were like leeches, sucking the blood from real businesses because they weren’t smart enough to start their own.
They were like the little fish that swam behind sharks so they could eat their scraps rather than fend for themselves.
They were all just so… consulting.
You get the point.
I hated fucking consultants.
And I was using fucking as an adjective, not a verb…
Hmmm… had I ever fucked a consultant? I didn’t think so, but there was a first time for everything.
I leaned back in the chair and brought my bare feet up to rest on the desk. Henry winced at the dirty bottoms of my feet.
He was second in command and dressed in three-piece suits.
I was the boss and I typically came to work in ratty jeans, tennis shoes, and t-shirts.
I picked up my phone and wiggled my toes at him. “You deal with the Goldman people. I’m waiting on the call about the Ferrari.”
“Tanner, they’re here to meet with the both of us,” he said, shoving my feet to the floor. He dusted off his hands and growled at me. “Now put on your fucking shoes and let’s go. And behave yourself.”
“God, you’re such a kill joy,” I said, looking under my desk for my tennis shoes. By the time I found my shoes and put them on, Henry was already out the door.
I picked up the stress ball and took my time catching up.
“Okay, let me do the talking when they get here,” Stan Robbins said, lowering his voice and waving his hand at the rest of us seated at the table next to him.
Stan was in his fifties, tall and gaunt, with thinning hair and a tendency to stick his sharp nose squarely up the client’s ass. Stan was the senior telecom consultant at Goldman & Stern and my immediate boss.
Juliette Ruiz, a sour-looking woman in her forties, was Stan’s second in charge. Juliette, who was so thin her clothes hung off her like a hanger, hated everyone except Stan. And if she hadn’t reported to Stan, she would have hated him, too. They were Goldman’s power couple when it came to telecom. Together, they had over fifty years of telecom experience, and were leading the team conducting the final due diligence for Wright Enterprises’ acquisition of Anderson Telecommunications.
Bob Gaines sat next to Juliette with his hands folded neatly on the table in front of him. Bob was a balding forensic accountant who had the look and pallor of a mortician. It was a fitting comparison because Bob could find financial skeletons in even the darkest of corporate closets. He not only looked like a mortician, he had the personality to match.
Between Bob and I sat Irving Hunt, Goldman’s legal expert in the telecom sector. Irving was a head shorter than me and several times my age. Rumor around Goldman was that Irving could sleep with his eyes open during meetings. I kept watching him from the corner of my eye, waiting for any sign that he was nodding off.
I was there because I’d been on several telecom teams in the last year and had a good handle on the industry. My input was valuable, but I wasn’t fooling myself. I was the low girl on the totem pole. I would be the one getting coffee and donuts and making copies of documents. And I would be the recipient of most of Juliette’s angry stares.
That was just fine with me. A few years from now I’d be sitting in Stan’s chair pulling down half a mill a year, and some other slab of fresh meat would be fetching my coffee.
A tall, distinguished-looking man with salt and pepper hair entered the room and Stan jumped up to shake his hand. I recognized him from my Google research as Henry Costas, Tanner Wright’s former professor at MIT, and for the last ten years, his right-hand man at Wright Enterprises. He would be our primary point of contact for the project.
Stan introduced Costas to the team. Costas leaned across to give everyone a welcoming smile and a handshake. I noticed his eyes lingered just a bit longer on me than they did on anyone else.
I immediately wondered if I should have put my long hair up in a more business-like bun rather than letting it fall naturally around my shoulders.
God, I hated how self-conscious men could make me feel with just a casual glance.
I was dressed professionally in a dark blue suit and grey top. My big boobs were squeezed into a bra that was supposed to make them look smaller and I was barely wearing any makeup or jewelry.
Still, Costas continued to glance at me as if I were a fox trying to get into his hen house. He took the chair at the end of the table across from Stan and finally released me from his gaze.