Heartstopper(4)

By: Lauren Landish


I shift again in my cushioned seat, messing with the cufflink of my shirt. I can’t deny the excitement in Nathan’s words, but I know you can do all the right things and still have a business fail. So I’m not getting my hopes up too much yet.

The nightclub was his idea, developed right about the time the rumors started about Graham Holdings, the company I work for, buying out Franklin Consolidated. I’d been reluctant to invest at first. But when Nathan laid out the numbers, I was sold. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” I say.

“Damn, man, can you be any more excited?” Nathan says, peering at me with a scowl. “This is a big day for us.”

It’s not that I’m not excited, and I usually consider myself calm and collected under pressure, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sweating bullets. We poured a lot of money in this thing. In fact, I poured everything I’ve saved into this.

I need this to succeed.

Especially when I have Sophie depending on me to take care of her, I think to myself. Sophie’s my sixteen-year-old sister who was orphaned six years ago when our parents were taken in a car accident.

She wanted to come with me tonight. Of course, she knew she couldn’t since she’s underage. “You can let me in. I don’t even need a fake ID,” she’d said, bouncing up and down and trying to look her cutest. Maybe that works when she wants me to let her buy a new skirt on my credit card, but this isn’t the same thing.

Still, it makes me smile. I’d done the same shit when I was younger, but I’m not going to let her break off into bad habits.

“See it?” Nathan asks as I’m still silent in my thoughts, his Bronx accent coming on full as he pulls my mind back to the limo. “The fuck? It’s all right in front of you. We got the whole fucking world at our feet.”

Nathan's lucky that he works independently because he curses like a sailor.

I adjust my collar, rolling my neck. I’m not in a full-on tux, but I’m in a designer suit that I bought just for the club. It’s a slightly brighter blue than I’d wear for my day job with a pristine white dress shirt and metallic red tie. Nathan insisted I wear something that ‘pops’. “I was just saying there’s a still lot of work to do, that’s all.”

It’s easy for Nathan to feel more nonchalant about the whole project. He’s a stockbroker who’s gotten rich with other people’s money, whereas I’ve had to work for mine. My grandfather lent me a name and a legacy that got me into a good school, but Mom’s love of Dad meant a middle-class life. Climbing the corporate ladder has been grueling. I’ve busted my ass and more than once pulled eighteen-hour days to make sure that I’m in a place of power. I’m going to be the Regional President for the Franklin Consolidated subsidiary, and I plan to do great things with the role.

Still, I’ve got responsibilities, Sophie being the chief one. The five million I sank into this club could set her up for life. Could being the operative word. “We have a long way to go,” I say.

“And I have every confidence we’ll make back every red cent,” Nathan says. “You do too. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have signed on.”

It's hard to argue. I knew this was a risk, but I don’t mind that. I’ve always been guided by my instincts, and when something looks good, I go for it.

I shrug. “You’re right. It’s just a helluva few days—our grand opening and this merger. I start in my new position on Monday.”

“Oh, what’s up with that?”

“I’m being sent to kick a little ass for an underperforming unit.” To say it’s been underperforming is a mild way of putting it. “I’ve been told to cut the fat or burn the place down if I have to. I’m not looking forward to being ‘that’ guy. I know some of the in-house employees are going to hate me.”

“Oh, well. Fuck ‘em is what I’d say,” Nathan says. “You do you.”

“Too bad I love my job,” I say. “They might hate me for a little while because I’m new, but trust me, they’re gonna respect me by next quarter. Those who are left.”

“If you say so,” Nathan says. “Glad I don’t have to do that shit. Making money with other people's money is my specialty. I don’t have to work on someone’s job. Which is why you should be jumping for this club to succeed. If it goes right, you can retire off all the Benjamins we bank.”

I chuckle. “That’s the plan,” I say, not wanting to tell him what I’m thinking. Truth is, I don’t think I’ll be satisfied even if this does turn into a huge income generating machine. I can’t imagine just retiring right now. I work too much to even imagine what that would be like.

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