“Tanner will be right in,” Costas said with a quick smile. He looked at the three of them and held out his hands. He didn’t look my way again. “Would anyone like coffee or tea?”
“We’re all good,” Stan said, answering for the group. He glanced at the thick folder Costas had brought into the meeting with him. “I trust our proposal is in good order?”
Costas nodded as he opened the folder. “Yes, my team went through your proposal and we believe you have a good handle on everything that requires further verification at Anderson.” He glanced up and smiled at Stan. “As I told you over the phone, telecom is not normally in our wheelhouse, so we’re looking to you to make sure everything is good to go before we sign the final acquisition documents next week.”
“No worries,” Stan said, patting the air with his hands. “If anything is out of order, my team will find it.”
“Very good,” Costas said with a curt nod. He flipped through a few more pages and took out what looked like a contract. There were two copies. He slid one in front of Stan and kept one for himself.
“The contract is good to go,” Costas said, reaching inside his suit jacket for a pen. “It’s been vetted by our legal department and yours, so I’m ready to sign if you are.”
“I am ready,” Stan said eagerly. Stan already had the expensive Monte Blanc pen Goldman had awarded him for twenty years of service in his hand. He knew he’d be signing this contract today, so he’d probably had the pen in his hand for hours.
He twisted off the cap and with great flourish, scratched his signature on the signature line on behalf of Goldman & Stern.
Costas signed on behalf of Wright Enterprises. I noticed he was using a disposable Bic pen with the company name on the side. That said something about him to me. He was either so humble that he didn’t feel the need to show off by using a thousand-dollar pen, or he was so rich that he didn’t give a shit about impressing the likes of us.
My money was on the latter.
They swapped contracts and signed again.
“Very good,” Stan said, taking his copy of the contract and quickly sliding it into his briefcase as if he were worried Costas might change his mind. He reached across the table and shook Costas’ hand. “We’ll get started first thing Monday morning.”
“You must be the Goldman party,” a cheery voice said from the doorway. I looked up to see Tanner Wright leaning against the doorframe with a red rubber ball in his right hand.
Unlike Henry Costas, who was impeccably dressed and perfectly put together, Tanner Wright was wearing a pair of tight jeans with the knees torn out, a pair of dingy tennis shoes, and a faded black t-shirt with the Metallica logo on the front.
He looked like someone who was there delivering pizzas rather than the billionaire entrepreneur who ran the place.
His photos on Google did not do him justice. He had a dark summer tan, even in winter. He had shaggy blonde hair that hung over his forehead. He had bright blue eyes and an easy smile that made me want to smile back, though I resisted the urge to do so.
I knew he had played soccer and rugby in college. He had maintained his physique. His round shoulders and chest pushed against the t-shirt as his waist tapered into the tight jeans. I could see lean ropes of muscle in his forearm as he squeezed the ball. I could also see a bulge in the front of the tight jeans that made the breath catch in my throat.
I swallowed hard and forced myself to look down at the table.
You couldn’t tell by looking at him that he was one of the richest men on the planet. Maybe that was the point. Maybe it was a disguise. He was so rich that he tried not to look rich. It was like Brad Pitt, who did his best to look unattractive when he wasn’t starring in a movie.
Jesus, nice bulge or not, he was definitely a douchebag.
Tanner tossed the ball between his hands and said, “I took as much time as I could getting here. I hope I’m too late for the meeting.”
“You’re not late at all,” Stan said, totally missing the joke. He shot to his feet and stuck out his hand. “Stan Robbins, Mr. Wright,” he said. “Goldman & Stern.”
“Whoa, I don’t shake hands, Stan,” Tanner said quickly, taking a step back. He held up his hands as if Stan were brandishing a gun and demanding his wallet. He wrinkled his nose at Stan’s hand like it was covered in dog poop.
He said, “Too many germs in the world, Stan. Plus, I have no idea where that hand has been.”
Stan’s hand dangled in the air for a moment, then he let it drop to his side and lowered himself into the chair. He had a look on his face like a puppy that had just been kicked by an abusive owner. Or a balloon that someone had just seen fit to pop. I almost felt sorry for him. Almost.