Wow apparently I sparked off quite the heated debate. There is a fifth book to this series I am writing as I speak, Andrew's in that one. For now I want to flow with a character that I know will help Will grow a bit internally. I know Graham did the same thing to me in the same ways.
I love this series, sitting in a restaurant yesterday with two of my friends describing it and how it is evolving into this story that is very intricate. I do have plans for the future of this story, but again I do have other written works so if anyone can recommend a good Literary Agent, or failing that a good publishing house I would be eternally grateful.
Some people have asked if this is a real experience, yes and no. Some of the story is embellished for dramatic effect. But yes I did meet a stranger on a city street who changed my life completely. I also broke up with my Matthew and, although we both love each other very much, we are not together. I am writing real love not ideal love, I am sorry. Though Matt would have you know he's not gonna give up just yet. ::chuckles:: but then he's a goof.
As usual Comments or questions direct to firstname.lastname@example.org. Feed back is welcome.
Bruce Weippert hung up the phone with a tense smile as he adjusted his tie, and just like that his acquisition of Rena Allison's stock was completed. It had been a simple negotiation, financial shuffling. He had used the company's accounts to co-sign his purchase.
Gavin Jefferies, Avery-Woods financial officer was sitting nervously watching him, "I don't like this Bruce," he said licking his lips.
Weippert sighed as he rested his hands on the arms of his chair, "It's too late for second thoughts Gavin, the stock has been purchased, now all we do is wait until the take over is announced and watch the stock price climb."
"It's illegal Bruce." Gavin squirmed in his chair, "I could loose my licence for this."
"Yes you could," Bruce agreed coldly, a threat evident in his tone of voice, "but since its your name on the stock and not mine only you will go to jail for it," he examined his nails, as he watched the accountant sweat.
"But you..." Gavin swore, "You son of a bitch..."
Weippert nodded, "Ahh I see you are finally on the same page as I am, excellent. Now then, you are going to sit tight, keep your mouth shut and sell that stock only when I tell you to, do I make myself clear?"
Gavin closed his eyes, sighing, "All right... but this is the last time I get involved in something like this, after those shares sell I'm out, its done."
Bruce shook his head, "Trust me, money will make you change your mind."
* * *
"Hey Buddy!" the voice startled Will awake as he sat up and blearily looked at his friend standing over him.
"What?" he asked through the haze as he struggled back to consciousness, he had an awful headache, if he had been drinking the night before he would have said it was a hang over from the night before at the club, but then he hardly drank. Bits and pieces of memories were surfacing for him, but it would still take time until he was feeling... himself again.
"Get up!" Jared flopped onto the couch and folded his hands behind his head, "you realize its noon right?"
"Noon?" Will rolled himself upright and realized he had fallen asleep still wearing his jacket; he took it off and tossed it on the chair with the pile of his other clothes.
"You know...middle of the day, twelve o'clock..." Jared looked over at his dishevelled roommate and shook his head; "you're a mess bud how much did you have to drink while you were out last night?"
Will shook his head, "Nothing, I was driving and you were with me. I just didn't feel well when I got up this morning," he shifted on the couch careful not to disturb the cat, "I can remember the club and I remember this morning but not much else."
Jared chuckled, "Last I saw you were hitting on some guy, and since you didn't bring him home with you I guess you didn't get any."
Will winced, guy? The flood of memories rushing through his mind and he closed his head against the nausea and disorientation as he felt like he was spiralling back to unconsciousness, "Nah, I don't think so, I mean I didn't even get his number."
"Well I got one," Jared sighed happily, "her name's Becky and she's a student over in the co-ed dorm I think she likes me, she gave me her number and wants to go out tonight. She had this hot little," he made a heart shape with his hands, "You don't know what your missing..."
You have no idea, Will thought dryly as he rested his head against the wall. He hated being sick; it was always an unpleasant sensation for him. And as his head swam he tried to get a grasp on exactly who he was.
"You look sick dude," Jared said as he rolled up onto his elbows, "you want me to get you a coffee or something?"
Will grimaced as he stood up shakily, "I can get it, its okay."
Jared watched him shuffle to the door, and hopped to his feet taking a couple of steps to catch Will as he stumbled, "Well let me at least make sure you get to the dining room."
Will smiled, "Thanks."
The pair entered the kitchen Will balanced heavily as Jared helped him, more that he just felt dizzy than anything else; he would feel better once it wore off. The coffee pot was already brewing something dark and noxious and Will felt his stomach heave. He controlled the urge to vomit as he watched Jared pour him a cup.
Jared had been a friend to Will since high school in Ottawa. They were a dynamic duo that had battled homework assignments, ex lovers and the occasional bout of homesickness together. They were as close to opposites as nature would allow, Jared was a used car salesman turned financial advisor, neat and tidy, tall and dark haired, and most importantly unwaveringly straight. Triumphant warriors that had carried each other home after a frosh week pub-crawl. There was little they didn't know about each other.
There was a board meeting today and Will needed to think and react quickly, not something he could do when all he could think about was how the room spun above him, and the fact that the coffee reminded him of engine oil.
He sat down at one of the battered tables and wrapped his hands around the mug, looking into it with trepidation. "I'm thinking I'm coming down with the flu or something."
"You look it, did you call into work?" Jared asked tossing him a couple of creamers, "the board meeting?"
"I don't think so," Will shrugged, "I should really call them, but I must have missed the meeting already." He sighed, "I might have to go in later today."
Jared inverted a chair and sat down, looking at his friend, "Nope, you're staying put, I'll call in for you explain your not well and they can deal with it." He tugged out his cell phone and placed a quick call to Will's assistant Alicia.
After a few moments he handed the phone across to Will, "Hello?" he asked after a moment.
"Hey boss," Alicia said sounding tense, "you're safe they put off the meeting till tomorrow something about problem with the Tri-tech acquisition."
Will's mind swam trying to make sense of the names, "Um, okay." He said after a pause, "I should be there in the morning..." he swallowed trying to clear his head, "Thanks Alicia."
"Anytime boss." She said as he hung up the phone.
"Tri-tech?" he murmured as he stared into the mug and he steeled himself to drink it, "My firms buying out a small software company, which means I am going to have a tonne of work to do when I get back."
Jared blew out a sigh, "But you got today off right?"
"Today," Will replied sadly, "I am going to have to go in tomorrow to figure out what is going on and what I need to do."
Jared stood, "Alright, Well do you want some lunch?"
"No thanks." Will said as he felt his stomach rise up in protest at the thought of food.
Jared shrugged as he began to dig in the fridge, assembling the elements of a bologna sandwich. "You remember that Brody's rolling in this afternoon right?"
Will scratched his head and fought for some clarity when his whole head felt like it was stuffed with cotton wool. "What?"
"Brody," Jared stated taking a big bite of the unappetizing sandwich, "He asked last week if he could stay." Jared rolled his eyes, "You really are sick."
Will groaned a little and rubbed his temples, "Well it'll be good to see him, I haven't seen him since the move."
Jared shrugged, "You know Brody, I think he was just disappointed you upped and left like that."
Will sighed, he hated having this conversation with his friends, they all did it. Trying to understand why he made the choices he made. "It was a good job offer, and it was either Toronto or England." Will swallowed another mouthful of coffee, "How come you didn't get any grief when you decided to up and move to Toronto?"
Jared shrugged, "They knew I didn't have much choice. Bay Street's in Toronto, the money's here." He shrugged, "Plus after I broke up with Kerry there wasn't much keeping me in Ottawa." He seemed uncomfortable, "it was different with you and Andrew."
"Yeah," Will took a long sigh setting his mug down reluctantly, "You know I see Lisa every other week at work, she's looking..." Will smiled as he made a pregnant gesture.
"No!" Jared said with a broad grin, "How's Jeff about being a daddy?"
Will shook his head, "They still live in Ottawa, Lisa's Mister Avery's personal assistant now so she's doing a lot of travelling with him." He sniffed, feeling his nose beginning to run, typically he always felt miserable when he had the flu, "She keeps trying to get me to... well you know."
Jared gave him a sympathetic look, "She's just trying to look out for you that's all. Have you talked to him recently?"
Will shook his head, "Life moves on, you know? Any way," He stood up and wavered a little, "I think I'm going to heavily medicate myself if Brody's on his way."
A combination of Dayquil, Neo-citron and enough Tylenol cold and flu tablets to make him rattle each and every time he took a step. He felt like death reheated, which was to say he felt like complete crap.
The pharmacists at Union Station had looked at him strangely when he had stumbled up to the counter with his arm full of anti-cold medication. There may not have been a cure for the flu, but damnit he was going to drug himself so powerfully that he wouldn't feel a thing.
Jared had tried to make him stay home, but Will was resolutely stubborn. If Brody was arriving then it was only right that his friends meet him at the station. So, sufficiently drugged up to the gills and wrapped in an impossible amount of layers he suffered for a friend.
They were standing under the large clock near to the information desk, Jared reading a newspaper as he kept one eye scanning the crowd. "You think his train was delayed?" Jared asked returning his gaze to the daily stock report, as was typical with Jared, even when he had a day off, his mind was still on his job. He took his responsibility of investing other people's money very seriously. It made Will smile to know that his own investments were well looked after.
"He'll be here." Will said blowing his nose on a tissue, his eyes were red and his nose swollen but he soldiered on, knowing full well that he should have stayed in bed. "He's probably chatting up one of the ticket clerks knowing him."
Sure enough, the moment he said it the crowd parted slightly to show Brody leaning on the ticket counter, sunglasses in hand as he talked to a beautiful young woman making her giggle in delight as he said something smooth and witty to her in that way of his.
"I don't know how he does it." Jared said in wonder shaking his head, "If I could bottle it and sell it I'd make a fortune."
"Wouldn't work," Will said sagely, "its not about what he's got, its all in how he delivers it."
"On a velvet cushion," Jared said staring at the young woman longingly, "Two beautiful velvet cushions..."
Will coughed and sniffed again, "Yeah well since that's satisfied your masturbation fantasies for the next week perhaps we should go get him?"
The two friends made their way over to Brody, who disentangled himself from the clerk slipping her number into his pocket as he tapped his sunglasses down to get a better look at his two close friends.
"You look like shit." He said with a grin to Will.
Will coughed helplessly and lifted the half finished bottle of Dayquil, "I hate Canadian winters." He offered as a reply.
"That's `cause you're a wimp dude." Brody replied looking up at Jared, who was still staring at the gorgeous ticket clerk, his tongue hanging out and love in his eyes. Brody rolled his eyes and snapped his fingers in front of Jared's eyes to snap him out of it, "Wake up!" he said with a smile, "Jared this is Colleen, Colleen this is Jared."
It was cruel, he stood back to allow Jared to bluster and fumble his way through trying to pick up a girl that was obviously out of his league. Taking personal delight in Jared's pathetic at flirtation.
Once he had failed miserably, Jared shrugged, "Well I tried, guy can dream though," he bent to pick up some of Brody's bags and juggled them about as they set off for the parking lot where the Jeep was parked. The spring air was rapidly melting the remnants of winter, turning once white snow to grey slush that slipped beneath their feet.
Brody strode through the lot, completely oblivious to the state his expensive Italian leather shoes he was wearing. But that was Brody; he enjoyed looking sharp, stylish but didn't associate much material wealth to possessions. Shoes were shoes to him, he either liked them or he didn't.
"So," Will said clambering into he back seat of his jeep, it had been decided that Jared was driving as Will was in no fit condition to manage the Don Valley Parkway dosed up on medication, "What business brings you back to the great white north?"
Brody chuckled, "LA's too hot this time of year, and I have a few meetings to go to."
Will shook his head, vague as ever, no one was exactly sure what it was Brody did to earn his money, but no one could doubt that what ever it was it was highly lucrative and probably just as illegal.
Brody's cell phone rang and he snapped it open as he watched the city streets whisk by the Jeep as Jared drove it carefully out of the downtown core, "go." He said, frowning as he talked in a low voice.
Will didn't pay much heed until Brody closed the phone with a sharp snap, "Not even in town five minutes and she's callin'. Girl's gonna be the death of me."
"Girlfriend?" Jared asked making a left after crossing the queen street bridge and turning onto the Parkway.
"Dude, please!" Brody protested, "She says she's my girlfriend though I'd like to know when I was asked about this arrangement."
Will chuckled as he wiped his nose on another tissue, glad again that some people never changed. It would be good to have Brody back in town for a little while; things always seemed to work better with him around.
The city was soul destroying. It was a slow process, the sheer weight of so many people stacked so close together threatened to crush the life out of a person. Will missed Ottawa, he missed the home he shared with Andrew and the life he had there. But that was the past.
The town house wasn't as big as the one he had shared with Brody when they were roommates back in the day. But it was spacious enough. Comfortable, and once Brody had dumped his suitcases in the guest bedroom; the three old friends were sitting in the living room catching up.
Will was starting to feel better, his feet up on the coffee table talking to Brody about the wonder of working for Avery-Woods. Brody listened with interest chuckling as Will described the transvestite incident.
"Only you," Brody said with a grin, "Would send a Drag Queen to work for a homophobe."
"It really wasn't my fault." Will protested, "I didn't hire him... her...whatever."
"Sure," Brody said sounding unconvinced, as his phone rang again. He grimaced checking the call ID before dropping it onto the table where it continued to ring.
"You gonna answer that?" Jared asked curiously.
"Hells no." Brody said with a look of shock, "It's just the girl calling again to check up on me."
"Wow, its like your married." Will said with a smile.
Brody's face was priceless, it was a combination of shock mixed with fear, "Married? Screw that shit. She's just being needy right now, I'll wait a day and call her then."
"One of these days," Will said sounding serious, "you are going to find yourself trapped, and a girl is going to get a ring on your finger."
"That days a long ways away my friend." Brody grinned, "for now I'm gonna keep playing the game."
He fidgeted with the tie and no matter how many times it was tied and retied it still felt uncomfortable. How could someone that wore a tie every day to work suddenly be incapable of tying one? He adjusted it once again and started from scratch as Alicia slipped into the office behind him.
"You're looking smart boss." She said as she walked round to face him and took over tying the tie, in one fluid motion she had the accursed thing tied, tightened and straight. He glanced down at it and up at her.
"I should marry you." He said with a smile of gratitude.
"I think my husband would object to that Will." Alicia said as she folded down his collar and stepped back to admire her handiwork, "I finished preparing the reports you asked for, they are on the edge of your desk." He picked up and leafed through them as she continued, "I also poured you a mug of coffee to take with you."
He shrugged on his suit jacket, collected the reports and picked up his mug, "So..." he said taking a moment to think if he had forgotten anything. Things were sharper for him now that he had slept; he had taken the time he needed to recover from his illness. He breathed a sigh, comfortable in his own skin for the first time.
Alicia smiled at him "Good luck boss."
He nodded to her once again and set out across his department for the elevator, he tried to keep his composure as he walked past his employees negotiating contracts and arranging interviews. He had been to a number of board meetings since he had come to work for Avery-Woods, but each one still felt like his first.
He sighed as he got into the elevator and hit the button for the upper offices taking a long draught from his mug as the doors swept closed on his domain and the elevator shot upwards. He drew one slow breath as he steadied his nerves and walked out of the elevator, a model of composure.
The other board members were assembling, a wide array of personalities from across Avery-Woods departments, they all had one thing in common; they were all at least twenty years older than Will was. Will smiled at their arrogance he simply crossed to his chair, set his notes down and glanced around the table.
"Good morning Campers." He said before he sat down pulling out his glasses and flipping through Alicia's carefully prepared notes. She was beyond efficient; everything was cross-referenced to the reports he had read over the last few days. He glanced at her charts and familiarized himself with the material before he flipped it closed. He was ready.
He looked around the table at the heads of the other departments. Mary Conner was talking on her cell phone, manager of training she took the raw talent he brought into the firm and shaped them into model employees. Ordinarily the two departments would work closely, but Mary had her own ideas about how recruitment and Human Resources should be administered. And Will went out of his way to avoid her as much as possible. She of course knew it and resented him as well. The arrangement worked rather nicely for Will.
Of course Mary had nothing on Bruce, the manager of Canadian operations who was standing over by the great bay windows hands behind his back and staring over the city. He looked every inch a comic book villain, leering over his city drenched in a fever of megalomania. No one could deny his thirst for success, and how he managed it was anyone's guess, but he was responsible for increasing Avery-Wood's distribution across most of North America. He worked his people hard, and got results, it was too bad that he didn't seem to give a damn about anyone other than himself.
As usual Robert Avery's arrival was heralded with neither pomp, ceremony, nor announcement For a man that had been described as a Canadian equivalent to the American Donald Trump or the British Sir Richard Branson he had a less dramatic presence about him. It was one of quiet confidence; in fact he had been able to sway a person with a few choice words and a smile. It was as if he seemed to intrinsically know what to say at the right time.
He had been able to build Avery-Woods into the multinational firm by a sheer force of will, and as a result it relied heavily on his charisma. He had chosen to remain as the company's CEO despite ongoing pressure from the other stockholders. Deeply involved in co-ordinating everything from a head office in Canada, when so many other companies chose to base their operations in America.
It always amused Will when Robert Avery dragged American financiers from their comfortable Wall Street offices and made them travel from that sprawling metropolis to the financial capital of Canada. It seemed to be one of the small pleasures Avery had left, as if he enjoyed reminding other people that there was more to Canada than snow and trees. And so he steadfastly refused to travel to them.
There was a ripple of excitement from the other board members as Robert Avery leaned forward, "Alright," he said as he held up his hands to quiet the room. Those not in their seats quickly sat down to give him their attention. Even Mary turned off her cell phone.
He stared at each of them and as his eyes passed Will's he winked paternally. "Lets try to make this meeting as painless as possible shall we?"
There was the murmur of agreement around the table, and Will reached out to drink from his mug. It was a nice sentiment, but board meetings were rarely short. And if they were to run by the established pattern for those meetings, then he would be giving his presentation on the hiring situation in an hour or so, a third of the way into the meeting. Some time after the sales reports, and before Mary gave her training reports.
Will always detested the unnecessary waste of time that composed a business meeting. Absently he played with his pen while he stared out of the window, half listening to the sales presentations. The regional managers talking about sales projections they couldn't accurately predict. It was a best guess, always padded to make them look better.
That was something Will knew all too well when hiring a Salesman. The better they were at sales, the bigger liar they were. He found it especially enjoyable when, on the rare occasion he participated in an interview, he could burst the bubble of their ego and bring them crashing back to earth with a well-timed question or observation.
Bruce was delivering his report, detailing as usual nothing of any interest, till he suddenly shifted to the imminent Tri-Tech merger. He was talking about one of the staffing concerns brought up by the Tri-tech board.
"I already have my staff working on that." Will interjected when Bruce made mention of the staffing integration, "I will be able to give you the full details when I deliver my report, but my department is prepared for the surplus of talent."
"In future," Bruce adopted a lecturing tone, "I think I should receive a copy of your projections before a board meeting."
Will glanced over the table towards him, something about Bruce's tone irritated him, "The moment your department sees fit to share its figures so that I have an accurate growth projection, I will be able to do that. However, for the time being my department runs on the more practical day by day assessment."
Bruce appeared taken aback, "Excuse me?"
Will nodded, "I can give you the hiring and attendance data for the last five years, I can even give you our turn over rate and why the numbers are they way they were for any given day. But to use this data to accurately project what is going to happen tomorrow," he shook his head, "I have no idea what resumes are going to cross my desk in the next few days."
"You don't scout talent?" Bruce asked.
"This isn't the NHL Mr. Weippert, I don't sit at the back of University lecture halls and watch to see the best and the brightest of those graduating next year. I also don't get together with the other companies in Canada and participate in a Draft, hoping that Avery-Woods is the first ball pulled out of the bingo machine so that I get to pick who I want." He closed the file folder in front of him, "by necessity my department produces tangible results as opposed to inaccurate projections."
"He has you there Bruce," Avery chuckled as he leaned forward, "Now we should move on to operations, before we start touching on our budget."
Mary held up her hand, "Excuse me Robert... Mister Avery I would request a ten minute break so that I can make a few calls."
Avery nodded, "Alright then, very well." He stood, "I'd like to see you all back here in ten minutes."
Will rubbed his temples, as he remained seated watching the other board member's file out of the room. Robert Avery stood and rested his hands on the back of his chair as he smiled.
The old man reached out to pour himself a tall glass of water. "You did that deliberately." he said as the last board member closed the door on them.
"He's an arrogant son of a bitch." Will replied removing his glasses and setting them down on the table, "I needed to remind him that I am not one of his employees."
"Mission accomplished," Avery chuckled, "I respect the fact that you stand up for yourself, just don't piss off too many people Mister Carter."
Will glanced into his empty coffee cup, "I do my job sir," he looked up again, "but my job isn't sitting in my office writing reports that would be useless the very next day. Bruce should know that."
Avery waved a hand dismissively, "Bruce is trying to mark his territory, he wants a VP title and he wants to show everyone he is capable for the job. He feels that by singling you out, he can show he is tough enough to run things on a larger scale."
"You know," Will responded, "I never liked school yard bullies. My Dad taught me, knock `em down once and if they get back up, put them down again."
"Smart man," Avery nodded, "but Bruce Weippert isn't some one who appreciates that philosophy. I just ask that the next time he starts, take one for the team."
Will chuckled, "I'll play nice," he stood, "I should go and copy my notes to give him a copy for my presentation."
"Now that's playing the game," Avery said with a smile. "Because when Bruce pulls off the Tri-Tech acquisition he will be a VP."
"Delightful," Will sighed as he stood and tucked his notes under his arm, "I'm still not calling him sir."
Robert Avery chuckled, "You don't call me sir either."
Will looked at him, "My father also taught me: a real man only answers to two people in his life, his wife and the lord God in heaven, and God doesn't cook you supper.