Page 60 of Coercion

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“Get out of my office.”His hands are in fists on the desk.

“Or else you’ll punch me?If that’s how you want to have this conversation, then let’s go down to the warehouse and get in the ring.The floor’s softer.It’ll hurt less when I kick your ass.”

Finn stares at me, and I stare back.My heart beats faster.Theoretically, he could have security escort me out of the building.He could also fire me on the spot.It’s a risky move, saying that to him.

The next sound that comes out of his mouth is a short bark of a laugh.He drops his head back into his hands and laughs harder.

“Oh, fuck.”After a minute, he looks at me over his fingers.“You don’t have any proof that—”

“I saw your dad at the retirement party.Even if he did sign the documents himself, he wasn’t in any state to be agreeing to the terms on behalf of Hughes Industries.And I know for a fact that you didn’t force him to sign anything.”

“How?”Finn sits up straighter.Shakes his head.“How do you know that?”

“Because that’s not the kind of man you are.”

“What kind of man am I, then?”

“The kind that protects his dad at all costs.And I mean every fucking cost.You were never going to stress him out by forcing a pen into his hand, and you’d be damned if you took anybody else down with you.That’s where you went wrong, just so you know.”

Finn lets out a mostly silent laugh.“Tell me more about running a multibillion-dollar international corporation.”

I relax into the chair and look him in the eye.“Fair.You’re the one with the massive company, not me.But we can still trade stories.My mom walked out on my dad when I was two, and up until a week ago, I thought she was dead.Turns out she’s not.”

That’s not what he was expecting to hear, but his surprise only shows in a single raised eyebrow.

“So my brothers and I grew up with my dad, who’s a prick of monumental proportions.He’d beat the shit out of us all the time, and when he wasn’t doing that, he liked to lock us up in closets.”

“What the fuck.”

“Anyway, my oldest brother Sinclair spent the better part of his life keeping Emerson alive.I’ll be honest with you, Finn.It wasn’t pretty.Lots of near misses.But the ugliest thing about it was how jealous I was.I wanted to be the one who got saved.Just once.I didn’t understand that saving someone’s ass doesn’t always look like a flying tackle off the guardrail on an overpass.”

Finn’s fingers are splayed on the desk.No more fists.“And now?”

“I wasted a long time pretending I didn’t need either of them, and it’s just not true.Now I know that.”

He tips his head back on his executive chair and looks at the ceiling.“How does this apply to the situation I’m in?”

“You’re not going to solve any of this by being a martyr.”

Finn’s head comes back up.“Excuse me?”

“You’re Finn fucking Hughes.You’ve got a billion employees riding on this company.You can’t go out to shareholders and investors, alone and on the defensive.That’s going to make it look like everybody bailed on you.”

He scowls.“Didn’t they?”

“I’m here.”

“There’s a lawsuit draft with your name on it.”

Lawyers are all gossips.“I had to understand all my options.”

“And now that you do?”

“Would I be here on a Sunday afternoon when I could be doing some weird collaborative art project with my family if I was going to bail?”

His brow furrows.“Collaborative art project?”

“I have no idea, okay?I came here instead.Because I’m not going to bail, and you’re not going to fire me, even if you want to.”