Page 61 of Coercion

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“Oh, yeah?What am I going to do?”

“Promote me.”

Finn’s eyebrows go up.“Is that so?”


“Why would I give you a promotion?”

“So I can go to bat for you.”

A few seconds of stunned silence.“With who?”

“With everyone.Shareholders.Investors.Anybody who’s thinking about jumping ship because of the secret you kept.Some of them are going to leave, but most of them are going to stay.I’m not the only person who’s thinking Hughes is a heavyweight who’s going to bounce back.You’ve built up a lot of goodwill.A lot of loyalty.People are shocked, but most of them will stay.”

“You can’t know that.”

“I do know that.”I stand up and brush off my clothes.“Because I’m good at coming up with ideas for making money, but I’m even better in a knock-down, drag-out fight, and I almost never lose.”

Finn stands up, too.“That’s what it’s going to be.A fight.”

“Yeah.Because you fucked up.If I had to guess, you did it because your dad told you that keeping this quiet was the only way.”I gesture around us at the rest of the building.“If the people here are angry, it’s not because your dad’s dealing with this thing, it’s because you lied about it.”

Finn’s jaw works.“I was born into that lie.”

“Did you like it there?”

“Sometimes.”He looks out the window.It’s all concrete and gold out there.Millions of lives are represented in those buildings, all of us living through the same Sunday afternoon.“And sometimes I think…I’m glad it’s finally out.”

“You did a pretty good job of hiding it.”

Hazel eyes flash.“I did whatever I could do to make sure my father was okay.Whatever I had to do.The shareholders never complained about their checks.You didn’t mind the payout, either.”

“Yeah, that’s the problem with rich people.They think money solves everything.I used to think that, too.”

Then I met Bristol.She couldn’t be bought.

She had to be earned.

Finn, apparently, knows this.He gives me a direct look.“I apologize.For the dishonesty.If you want to stay, I’ll be straight with you.”

“Thank you.And I’m sorry for being a sanctimonious ass.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Not really, no.”Finn laughs, and it sounds slightly less despairing than before.“Sorry for barging in here on a Sunday and telling you things you didn’t want to hear.I’m not a big fan of it myself.You’ll get over it when we’ve worked together for a while.”

A softer sigh.“Are you sure you want to do that for me?”

“It’s not for you.It’s for the money.”Finn doesn’t buy it.“I’m just kidding.I want a high-stakes challenge, not a bunch of boring corporate bullshit.And I’m not that interested in watching you get screwed over.You’re like family.Speaking of, you should be with yours, not sitting in here worrying yourself to death.I say we call it a day.And Monday morning?We hit them with everything we have.Together.Deal?”

I stick out my hand.

Finn takes it, and we shake.



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