Executive Perks(6)

By: Angela Claire

With Virginia’s nod of assent, Brendan rose to turn on the speaker phone on her desk. “What now?” Brendan began the conversation. “Did Winston dig up some Beckett second cousin in Peoria that wants to sell him some shares?”

Virginia smiled, grateful that Brendan made such an easy joke of Aaron Winston. She had the feeling he was becoming less and less laughable to her.

“On the contrary, my boy,” James Minlow boomed. “Virginia, are you there too?”

“I’m here, James.”

“I was a little skeptical, I must say, when you walked out after your informal meeting with Winston.”

Virginia ignored her brother’s raised eyebrow in inquiry.

“But whatever you said to him privately must have been quite convincing since I’m holding in my hands a very respectable draft of a six month standstill that Rye and I have worked up and Winston has agreed to sign. My secretary is emailing it to you as we speak.”

Just as Minlow finished his sentence, Virginia’s secretary brought in a single-page document that Virginia and Brendan immediately hovered over, scanning, as Minlow continued. “There’s a right of first refusal, as well, so if he tries to sell he has to offer it to us first.”

Virginia and Brendan rolled their eyes at the lawyer’s pedantic tendency to explain things to them that they already knew.

“I must say, I’m very pleased with it.” A master of understatement, Minlow was positively beaming over the telephone wires.

Brendan, done with the document quicker than Virginia—a testimony to his less intense scrutiny of most legal documents—exhibited the unrestrained enthusiasm that Minlow could only hint at in his decorous manner. “Wow!” Brendan clapped his hands and gave an exuberant fist-up sign. “This is fantastic!” He turned to his sister who was still poring over the document. “I thought you said the meeting wasn’t productive? You are so humble.” He gave her an affectionate bear hug which she didn’t allow to interrupt her engrossed examination of the document.

She shrugged him off. “I was exaggerating by even calling it a meeting, frankly. I had one heated conversation with him at the Coke machine and then walked out and texted James to carry on. I thought Winston would walk out as well. I assume this means he didn’t?”

“No, he did,” Minlow’s voice confirmed, “but he’d given Rye authority to negotiate this, apparently.”

“I wonder why.” Long a proponent of not looking a gift horse in the mouth, though, Virginia dropped the subject. “Fine. Okay, let’s get it signed up. Then I, for one, plan to forget about Aaron Winston for a little while.”

The mechanics of getting the standstill signed required a few more minutes of conversation. They decided that Brendan would journey over to Minlow’s offices later in the day to sign on behalf of the company.

“Winston’s team seemed to assume that you would be coming over to sign, Virginia, but I guess it doesn’t matter,” Minlow said.

Not on your life, Virginia thought even as she said diplomatically, “I’m going to get out of town this afternoon in light of this development. I could use a break.”

“You going to Bransport?” Brendan asked as they hung up. Bransport, the hundred-acre Beckett family estate, was located in Connecticut, only an hour and a half from Manhattan.

“Yes. You can call me there if any of this changes. Otherwise I’ll be back in the office on Monday.”

“No problem. I was going to mention something to you that IT found, though. It’s sort of weird. They said it was some kind of patch to, I don’t know, spy on our emails or dupe them or something. I’m foggy on the details.”

As on most things sometimes.

“Did they fix it?”

“Yeah, no damage done, they said. But it was weird. I thought you should hear more about it directly from the source.”

“Do they suspect it’s a competitor or something? It apparently happens.”

Though never to BFD so far.

“Or, God forbid, it wasn’t Winston, was it?” As if that guy could go any lower in her estimation.

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