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Authors: Stephen Frey

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BOOK: The Insider
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“That doesn’t sound very exciting,” McCarthy observed between puffs. “A sleepy company in a boring industry. Have we purchased any shares?”

Jay shook his head, feeling Oliver’s wrath like heat from an open oven. “Not yet.”

“What’s the other situation?”

“A company called TurboTec in Nashua, New Hampshire.” Oliver had nixed the idea, but here was a chance to resurrect what Jay still believed was an excellent opportunity. “Their engineers design intraoffice computer networks for medium-sized businesses. Few Wall Street analysts follow TurboTec, so its stock price has lagged behind the performance of the NASDAQ index. But it’s a great company.”

“I like the idea.” McCarthy’s voice was animated. “How’d you find out about it?”

“A friend of mine from college works in the marketing department. His name is Jack Trainer.”

“Any external factors that make the company attractive from our standpoint?”

Jay understood what that meant. McCarthy wanted his arbitrage desk in and out of a company’s shares quickly. TurboTec might be a nice firm, but if the share price wasn’t going to pop quickly, he didn’t want to bother with it. “A Japanese company is accumulating shares.”

“How do you know that?” McCarthy asked suspiciously. “Look, I realize that you’re new to the firm,” he continued without giving Jay a chance to respond, “but you should appreciate by now that I run an absolutely clean operation. We are ethical to a fault at McCarthy and Lloyd. I don’t want to hear about even a whisper of impropriety on the arbitrage desk. Or any other area of my firm, for that matter.” He pointed his smoking cigar at Jay. “If the Securities and Exchange Commission or the United States attorney’s office came knocking on my door, I would cooperate fully with any investigation. And if they found irregularities, I’d personally assist them in throwing the guilty party in jail.” His voice had risen to such a pitch that Sally and Barbara had stopped talking. “I can’t have that kind of black mark on my firm. I’d lose my access to Washington.”

“I understand,” Jay answered quietly. He caught a glimpse of Bullock’s smug smile. The bastard was enjoying this.

“Good,” McCarthy said adamantly.

“I’d never put you, Oliver, or the firm in that kind of compromising position.”

“Double good.”

“The fact that the Japanese company has accumulated a position in TurboTec is public information,” Jay said calmly. “But the information wasn’t in any U.S. publications, which is probably why the stock hasn’t reacted more quickly. The accumulation announcement was a tiny blurb in an Osaka newspaper. I know that because I have an acquaintance who works in National City’s Tokyo office. National City is the bank I was with before I came to McCarthy and Lloyd.”

“I remember.” The harsh edge in McCarthy’s voice had dissipated.

“My acquaintance in Tokyo thought I’d be interested in the information because she knew I had a friend at TurboTec. She cut out the article, attached an English translation, and sent it to me. The information is certainly important, but it isn’t in any way proprietary. It’s in the public domain.” Jay leaned back, gave Bullock a triumphant narrowing of the eyes, then smiled subtly at Sally before looking back at McCarthy. “I’ve been following the stock for three weeks and in that time the price has risen fifteen percent, but there’s plenty of juice left in it, especially if the Japanese company decides to announce a full-blown takeover.” Jay knew Oliver would be livid, but this was a chance to shine in front of the chairman. He wasn’t going to let the opportunity get away, even at the risk of pissing off Oliver.

“Then why the hell haven’t you bought any shares yet?” McCarthy demanded.

“I wanted to do a bit more work on it before I mentioned it to anyone.” That ought to placate Oliver. Now McCarthy wouldn’t know that he had already passed on the opportunity.

“What’s the share price right now?” McCarthy asked.

“It closed at twenty-two and a quarter yesterday.”

“How many shares does TurboTec have outstanding?”

“About ten million.”

“Buy two hundred thousand shares first thing in the morning,” McCarthy ordered. “Tonight, if you can get them in the off-hours markets. Use three or four brokers. Two hundred thousand is enough to make us a substantial profit if you’re right, but not enough to draw any real attention.”

“I agree.”

“If this TurboTec thing pans out, Jay, I’ll take back everything I’ve been saying to Oliver about how you’ve been doing nothing but taking up space on the arbitrage desk.” McCarthy was beaming. “I’ve got a feeling this kid might make us some money after all,” he said, turning to Oliver. “I guess your instincts were right.”

Oliver nodded coolly.

“Where the hell was Abby today?” McCarthy asked suddenly, taking a sip of coffee.

Jay’s eyes shot to Oliver, then to Barbara. For a brief moment he thought he detected the same sadness in her face he had seen at the estate. Then she lowered her head and fidgeted with her napkin.

“I left Abby a message on her voice mail early this morning. I wanted her to get me some information, but she never called back,” McCarthy went on. “That’s very unlike her.”

“I believe she was ill today,” Oliver said. “Something about a stomach virus,” he said, motioning to Bullock. “Isn’t that right, Badger?”

“Yes,” Bullock answered firmly. “Apparently it was pretty bad, but she thinks she’ll be in tomorrow morning.”

“I see.” McCarthy took another sip of coffee, then grinned lewdly. “I've always thought I’d like to get a piece of her tail,” he said.

Just as he made the remark, an uncomfortable hush fell over the table. McCarthy had uttered the comment loudly enough for everyone to hear.

Jay picked up his water glass, took a large gulp, and began to cough loudly, as though he had swallowed the wrong way. That broke the painful silence and deflected people’s attention away from McCarthy.

McCarthy leaned toward Jay, handed him a napkin, and slapped him gently on the back.

“Bill, whatever happened to your partner, Graham Lloyd?” Jay asked, still coughing. He’d wanted to ask that question since coming to the firm. Now seemed like a good time.

McCarthy put his coffee cup down slowly and shook his head, glad to have been rescued from his embarrassing situation. “He was lost in a boating accident in the Caribbean.” McCarthy’s voice was sad. “He was sailing from New Orleans to the Bahamas, and his boat was capsized by a rogue wave. One of those huge waves that comes from nowhere, you know?”

Jay nodded. “I’ve read about them.”

“Awful thing,” McCarthy said ruefully. “The Coast Guard confirmed that he never had a chance. They found the boat floating upside down. Never did find his body.”

“That’s terrible.”

“It is.” McCarthy’s voice cracked slightly. “And what makes it worse is that it didn’t have to happen. I pleaded with him not to go. I told him it was too dangerous. But he was a stubborn son of a bitch. He rarely took advice from anyone. Said he had faith in himself and his own instincts. Ultimately that attitude cost him his life.”

Jay stared at McCarthy. The memories seemed difficult. “It must have been tough on you when all of that happened.”

“It was.” McCarthy’s expression remained grim for a few moments, then he forced a smile. “But there’s no need to dwell on all this talk about Graham’s death. That might put a damper on what has been a most enjoyable evening.”

“I agree,” Oliver spoke up quickly, lifting his wine-glass. “Here’s to Graham, the old son of a bitch.” He took a long drink. “Now, how about those Yankees?”

McCarthy chuckled as Oliver and Bullock began arguing about the team’s prospects for winning another World Series at the end of the summer. “Not much seems to dampen Oliver’s spirits,” he said to Jay.

“That’s very true.” Jay hesitated. “Would you excuse me?”

“Got to use the facilities?”

“Yes.”

“They’re that way”—McCarthy pointed toward the door—“then down the hall and to your right.”

“Thanks.” Jay rose and walked through the dining room to the men’s room. It was almost ten o’clock, and they’d been drinking steadily for almost three hours. He stared straight ahead, trying to determine how much the alcohol was affecting him. He felt only slightly dizzy— the room didn’t seem to be spinning too fast—but suddenly he could think of nothing but Sally. The more wine he consumed, the more often he found himself stealing glances at her. He’d been disappointed that she hadn’t been able to sit beside him at dinner, but Oliver had organized the seating, making certain that Sally sat next to him, and as far away from Jay as possible. It seemed that Oliver had noticed on the porch that there was something going on between them.

Jay zipped up, walked to a sink, and began washing his hands. He hadn’t had a steady girlfriend since college, and that relationship had died when he had come to New York City. In New York he’d immersed himself in his work, soaking up everything he could about Wall Street and finance, and he hadn’t found time to date seriously. Now, after all this time, he was interested in someone at the same firm—in the same department, for Christ’s sake. At a time when he should be working harder than ever. He shut off the water, grabbed a towel, and dried his hands. He was interested in Sally Lane. There was no point in denying it. But pursuing her was out of the question. No good could come of dating someone you worked closely with, particularly the competition. And if they did try to see each other and Oliver ever found out, both he and Sally would probably be fired. Much as he wanted to see where it would lead, he’d have to ignore his attraction to her. He pulled open the bathroom door.

“Hi.” Oliver stood a few feet away.

“Hi yourself.” Jay held open the door, assuming Oliver was headed inside. “Here.”

Oliver glanced over his shoulder. “Take a walk with me.”

“Okay.” Oliver seemed affable enough, but he had to be steamed about the impromptu TurboTec presentation. “Thanks for tonight. Dinner was delicious.”

“My pleasure.” Oliver guided Jay into a small room off the main hallway and closed the door.

“Listen,” Jay began, “about TurboTec, I’m—”

“Don’t worry,” Oliver interrupted. “I didn’t realize you had such good information. You should have told me about your contact in Tokyo. Do as Bill directed, buy the shares.”

“All right.”

Oliver cleared his throat. “Listen, there’s something I want to talk to you about.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah.” Oliver tapped his thigh.

“What is it?” Jay prodded gently. He could see that Oliver was having a difficult time.

“It’s about Barbara… and me.”

“What?”

“We’re having problems.” Oliver met Jay’s stare halfway. “Marital problems.”

“I see.” Jay glanced away, instantly uncomfortable. “That’s too bad.”

“You’re right. It is.” Oliver rubbed his chin for a moment. “I really do love her. I want you to understand that.” He laughed nervously. “I love her enough that I’m going to attend counseling sessions with her starting next week. I never thought I’d do that.”

“It’s good that you’re willing to make the commitment.”

“It is, isn’t it?”

Jay detected an unsteadiness in Oliver’s voice. “Yes.”

“I just wanted you to know. You probably figured it out while we were on the boat.”

“I didn’t.” It had been obvious, but it seemed better not to let Oliver know that.

“It’s better that you know,” Oliver said firmly. “Because there can’t be any secrets on a trading floor. We work together so closely.”

“We do.”

“Besides, I consider you a friend. Someone I can talk to.” Oliver’s gaze dropped to the floor. “I know I’m hard on you sometimes, Jay, but it’s my nature. I’m not singling you out. It’s just that our business is tough. Kill or be killed and all that crap. It’s trite, but there is truth to it. Despite the money we make on the arbitrage desk, McCarthy’s on me all the time. As he said, he’s been riding me constantly about hiring you. And that’s just one example of the pressure. Sometimes it gets to me and I take out my anger on exactly the people I shouldn’t,” he said quietly.

“I can see where McCarthy could be difficult to work for.”

Oliver exhaled loudly. “When you’re going through something like this with your wife, the stress can cause you to do things you shouldn’t. Like seek companionship from other women.”

“Uh-huh.” Jay stared at Oliver. Bullock had to have said something about the storage room incident.

“At least, that’s what I’ve heard.” Oliver raised his eyes to Jay’s. “I hope it doesn’t happen to me.”

“I’m sure it won’t.” The message had been relayed and received. He was to tell no one about the marital problems.

Oliver smiled. “Enough of this.” He reached into his blazer and produced an envelope. “Here.”

“What’s this?” Jay asked.

“The money I said I was going to loan you. A hundred thousand dollars. I want you to buy that BMW. I don’t want you driving around in that beat-up piece of junk anymore.”

Jay thought of asking Oliver how he knew about the Taurus, but that seemed obvious. He shook his head. “I can’t accept this.”

“You can and you will,” Oliver said firmly.

Jay glanced at the check, made out to him for one hundred thousand dollars.

“It’s a loan,” Oliver said. “Like I said, you can repay me in January.”

Jay swallowed. He didn’t want to accept the money, but his checking account balance had dipped dangerously close to zero in the past few days. The cut in salary he had accepted to join McCarthy & Lloyd was having its effect. It didn’t feel completely right to accept the charity, but there didn’t seem to be any real harm in it. “Thanks.”

“You’re a friend. I like to help my friends.” Oliver produced the keys to the Austin Healey. “Speaking of which, why don’t you drive the Healey back into the city tonight?”

Jay glanced up from the check. “I can take the train.”

Oliver shook his head. “Nah, trains suck. Take the Healey. Park it in a garage, give me the keys tomorrow, and I’ll have Barbara pick it up the next time she’s in New York. She’s in the city every few days.” He smiled. “Besides, this way you can give Sally a ride back to the city and have some time alone with her.”

BOOK: The Insider
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ads

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