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Authors: Stephen Frey

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“Sign here,” the young woman behind the desk instructed, holding out a pen.

“Certainement,”
Savoy answered in perfect French, taking the pen and scribbling the alias of the day on the withdrawal order.

“All right, now this is yours.” The young woman held out a small box.

“Merci.”
Inside the box were fifteen million Swiss francs—about ten million dollars—in large bills. He took the box and placed it in his jacket pocket, then stood up, leaned over the desk, shook the woman’s hand, and walked calmly through the bank’s ornate lobby.

When he had made it through the revolving doors and out to the street, Savoy checked his watch. It was ten of three. There was still plenty of time to redeposit the money. He turned right, hurried a hundred yards down the Paradeplatz to the entrance of the Bank of Zurich, and hustled inside. He was carrying a massive amount of money, and though he prided himself on maintaining total control over his body in any situation, he could feel that his pulse rate was slightly above normal. For a few minutes—while he was on the sidewalk between banks— the money had been vulnerable to anyone on the street, including a common thief with a gun. But now that he was once again inside, it and he were safe. Better still, the money was almost certainly beyond the reach of the authorities. Even if they had somehow been able to follow the maze of wire transfers to Bank Suisse—U.S. regulators could now pierce Switzerland’s once-impenetrable veil of secrecy—the trail ended at that account like footprints in the middle of a snowy field.

At the Bank of Zurich, Savoy deposited the fifteen million francs into two separate accounts in unlike amounts— so that authorities wouldn’t see the same amount coming out of Bank Suisse and being deposited minutes later at the Bank of Zurich—on top of fifty million already amassed in accounts that bore names different from the one at Bank Suisse. Now there was but one more transaction to execute. He would withdraw the money from the Bank of Zurich in the form of certified drafts, in odd amounts, and take them to a bank in Liechtenstein, where other accounts were waiting. At that point he would feel

completely certain that no governmental authority could possibly have traced the movement of money that had originated in New York City.

Finished with the deposit, Savoy walked out of the bank and back into the sun-scorched afternoon. He watched a trolley roll past, relieved that he no longer had the massive amount of cash on his person. He would execute the last transaction the next day in Liechtenstein, before flying to Afghanistan.

Now he had to contact the team training on the farm in Virginia to make certain all was proceeding on schedule. For the last week they’d been practicing under the direction of his second in command, an able man who knew his craft well. However, Savoy always worried when he wasn’t in direct control of everything. As he hurried past the many shops lining the street leading to his hotel, the Baur au Lac, he remembered something his mother had said many times during his childhood: If you want something done right, do it yourself. She would be so proud of him for following her advice.

 

Jay stood leaning against the arbitrage desk talking on the phone. It had been fifteen minutes since he had returned from the storage room. He spotted Abby returning to the arbitrage desk. It seemed to him that her dress was wrinkled and that she was upset, but perhaps it was simply his imagination, fueled by what he knew had happened within the walls of the storage room.

He ended the call abruptly as Abby neared him. “Hey there.”

“Hi,” she answered curtly, collapsing into her chair.

Jay picked up his soda and took a sip. “Are you okay?”

“Fine.” She leaned down, opened a drawer, and pulled out her pocketbook.

“So what kind of presentation is Oliver making to McCarthy this afternoon?” he asked, noticing that she didn’t have the manila folder.

“It concerns a company he’s thinking about buying into.”

“Since when did Oliver have to ask for McCarthy’s permission to take a position?”

“It’s a big purchase. Maybe up to two hundred million dollars.”

Jay whistled. “That is big. Still, I—”

“Listen, I’ve got to go to the ladies’ room,” Abby interrupted, pushing her chair back and heading past him.

Jay caught her gently by the arm. “Anything you want to talk about?” he asked. Her dark red lipstick was smudged and he noticed blotches on her neck.

She hesitated, glaring at him, her chin pushed out defiantly. Then her expression softened and her eyes glazed over. Finally she opened her mouth, about to say something, when her gaze flickered past Jay. Instantly she shook free from his grasp and darted away.

Jay turned and saw Oliver walking toward the arbitrage desk. As Oliver made his way through the traders, Jay heard Bullock call out loudly from the open corridor paralleling the floor. Bullock’s voice was like a foghorn, and it easily cut through the noise of the large room. Oliver stopped and waited while Bullock trotted across the floor. They were only twenty feet away, but now Bullock was speaking quietly, his words masked by the roar, one hand over his mouth so his lips were hidden.

Jay picked up his phone and dialed distractedly while he peered at Oliver and Bullock. He paid no attention to the recorded message telling him that he had reached a nonworking number. Oliver glanced up, directly into Jay’s eyes, and Jay looked quickly away. When he looked back, Oliver was once again heading toward the arbitrage desk—staring directly at him—and Bullock was walking in the opposite direction.

Jay sat down and pretended to be in conversation with someone at the other end of the phone as Oliver made it to his position on the opposite side of the bulkhead.

Oliver grabbed his phone and dialed. “Jamie, it’s Mason,” he shouted. “I want to buy a hundred thousand shares of Pendex. Right now, you got it? A bid for Pendex just came across the wire.”

Jay glanced up at Oliver, who had his thumb beneath one paisley suspender. Unlike Abby, Oliver seemed his typical, unflappable self.

“I know that’s more than thirty million dollars’ worth, you little puke!” Oliver bellowed. “You think I can’t fucking add?” He pulled on the suspender and then let it snap back against his starched white shirt. “Just execute the trade.” Oliver punched several keys on his computer. “And while you’re at it, buy me ten thousand August calls. The forties… What? Of course I’ve got my approvals. Just do your job, you got that?… Good! And I don’t want to pay more than thirty-one for the shares. Call Badger with a confirm. I’m gonna be off the desk for a while.” Oliver slammed the phone down. “Jay!”

“Yes?”

“You and I need to talk. Let’s go.” Without awaiting a response, Oliver wheeled around and took off.

Jay raised his eyes to the tiled ceiling and recited a quick prayer. Bullock must have said something about the storage room. Perhaps his short stint at McCarthy & Lloyd was about to come to an end.

When Jay reached the conference room, Oliver was already seated with his feet up on the table and a cigar hanging from his mouth. He motioned for Jay to close

the door while he held a lighter to the end of the cigar. “Have a seat.”

As he gazed at the loafer he’d watched Oliver jam between Abby’s legs, Jay heard a friendly tone in Oliver’s voice that hadn’t been there since Jay’s first day at McCarthy & Lloyd.

“Come on, sit down.” With his foot Oliver pushed out the chair next to his and rolled it toward Jay. “Want a cigar?” He pulled his black leather cigar case from his pants pocket, removed the top half, and held it out. Two cigars protruded.

“No, thanks.” Jay sat down slowly, not taking his eyes from Oliver, half expecting an ambush. Oliver’s sudden display of camaraderie could be simply a diversion from the attack that was coming.

“They’re really good, pal. Davidoffs.”

“No, really.”

“Suit yourself.” Oliver replaced the top and jammed the case back in his pocket. “So, how are you?” He took a long puff from the cigar.

“Fine.”

“Sure you are.” Oliver turned his head to the side and coughed. “Look, I know I’ve been kind of preoccupied since you got here. It’s just that we’ve been working on a couple of very big deals like the one I’m going to pitch to Bill this afternoon. We could double our money in a couple of weeks on that one.” Oliver beamed. “It would be a hell of a deal.”

“I agree.” This didn’t sound like the start of a being-fired speech. “You’ve also been working on hiring an addition to the desk, I found out this morning,” Jay said.

“You mean Sally?”

“Yes.”

Oliver waved his cigar. An ash fell to the carpet, but he paid no attention. “Yeah, I should have told you about her, pal, but like I said, I’ve been busy.” He took another long puff. “What are you working on these days?”

Jay shrugged. “A couple of things. I’ve been looking at a company based in Nashua, New Hampshire, called TurboTec. I told you about it two weeks ago. My friend from college works there in the marketing group. His name is Jack Trainer.” Jay didn’t mind telling Oliver about the deal. Oliver had no incentive to steal the idea the way Bullock might. Oliver was compensated on the overall profitability of the desk, no matter who had the idea. “I really think we ought to—”

“I told you, I don’t like that firm,” Oliver interrupted.

“But I found out that a Japanese company has been accumulating shares in the past two weeks. TurboTec’s price is up fifteen percent since we last spoke about it, but there’s still plenty of room for a big pop if the Japanese announce an offer to acquire the whole thing. Which I believe they will.”

“No. You can never count on the Japanese. Just when you think they’re going to do one thing, they do the opposite. They’re smart that way.” Oliver smiled. “Don’t be disappointed, Jay West. I like your thinking, but I’ve got a better idea.”

Jay glanced up. “What?”

“A company called Simons. It’s headquartered in the Midwest somewhere. Green Bay, or maybe Milwaukee— I’m not really sure. Anyway, do some quick research on it. Make certain there aren’t any major problems. No deadly viruses or ticking time bombs. When it checks out, buy fifty thousand shares. Understand?”

“I’ll get right on it.”

“Good.” Oliver dropped his feet to the floor and leaned toward Jay. “That ought to help you out with what you have to admit has been a slow start here.”

Jay recoiled slightly. He hadn’t been prepared for that.

“I know you bought the Bates shares this morning, but that wasn’t originally your idea.”

“I know.”

“Of course, I’ll kick your ass if you’ve stuck me with five hundred thousand additional shares and that GE offer never materializes.”

Jay said nothing.

“Two more things, pal,” Oliver said quickly. “First, I want you to take tomorrow off and come up to Connecticut for a day of sailing. The weather is supposed to be absolutely beautiful. Hot, but beautiful. I’ll have a car pick you up around eight o’clock in the morning at your apartment.”

“I don’t think Bullock will be too happy about that.”

Oliver flashed a smile. “Fuck Badger. Remember, he takes orders from me.”

“I don’t know….”

“There’ll be no further discussion. It’s a done deal,” Oliver said confidently. “It’ll be a good opportunity for us to get to know each other better. And you can meet my wife.”

“Okay.” He wasn’t looking forward to facing Oliver’s wife. She probably had no idea what Oliver did with Abby in his spare time.

“Bring your swimming trunks and some nice clothes, too. A blazer, khakis, and a tie.” Oliver stood up and headed to the door.

“You said there were two things, Oliver.”

“Oh, right.” He stopped in the doorway. “Tomorrow when you come up to the house, I’m going to lend you a hundred thousand dollars to tide you over until bonus day.”

“What?” Jay wasn’t certain he had heard correctly.

“Yeah.” Oliver nodded. “I know you had to take a cut in salary to come here, and I’m going to help you out personally. I’ll loan you the money. You can repay me on bonus day.”

“You don’t have to—”

Oliver held up a hand. “I don’t want you driving around in that broken-down Taurus anymore.” He flashed another broad smile. “You don’t look good in that thing. You’ll look much better in that Beamer you told Bullock and me you had when we interviewed you.” And then he was gone.

For several moments Jay stared at the vacant doorway. Finally he leaned back, took a deep breath, and rubbed his eyes. Oliver Mason was a man of many surprises.

 

CHAPTER 3

Tony Vogel stood in the foyer of the Plaza Hotel suite, an anxious expression on his face. “Oliver, I’m worried.” Vogel was a short, stout man with thinning hair and puffy purple bags beneath his sad eyes.

Oliver studied the neatly arranged hair plugs in Vogel’s scalp. They resembled rows of newly sprouted corn. “What about, Tony? The new hair’s not taking?” He glanced down at the envelope in Vogel’s hand.

“I think the people downtown know something,” Vogel replied gruffly, ignoring Oliver’s wisecrack.

“No way. I would have heard.”

“Just the same,” Vogel argued, “we need to be careful. Maybe it’s time to curtail this thing for a while. Maybe permanently.”

Oliver laughed loudly. “We’ve been at this for almost five years and nothing’s gone wrong in all that time. Why are you suddenly getting cold feet?”

“The others feel the same way,” Vogel responded, avoiding Oliver’s question.

“All of them?”

“All of them,” Vogel confirmed. “Particularly Torcelli.”

“But there’s no way we can get caught,” Oliver protested. “There’s no money trail. It’s perfect.” He sniffed loudly several times in quick succession. “Besides, we can’t stop. You know that.”

“We can do anything we want.” Vogel hesitated. “It might be time to cash in.”

“What?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you saying—”

“You know exactly what I’m saying.”

Oliver’s jaw clenched involuntarily. “You’ve gone off the deep end this time, Tony. Way off.”

“We think this would be a neat way to wrap up the whole affair and get our money out at the same time. This way we cut all ties and cover our tracks.”

“Give me the envelope, Tony.” Oliver patted Vogel on the shoulder, then snatched the envelope. “Why don’t you go down to the Oak Bar and have a drink on me? A nice stiff one.”

“Oliver, I—”

“You what?” Oliver’s temper suddenly careened out of control. “You fucking what?” he exploded.

Vogel realized he’d pushed too far. “I—I mean we—”

“You little bastard.”

“Look, I’m sorry.” Vogel’s tone turned deferential, then apologetic. “We’re looking out for our best interests. And yours.”

Oliver snorted. “You and the others go behind my back, make a bunch of unilateral decisions, and expect me to fold like a pup tent and go along. I’m the one taking the monster risks. I’m the one dealing with the pressure.” He was talking quickly, like a man possessed. “I set the whole thing up. You four are simply along for the ride. You don’t make the decisions. I do.”

“We provide the information,” Vogel protested.

“Big deal. I could replicate the system with four other people in less than a week.” Oliver smiled. “And where would that leave you, Tony?” His smile faded. “Nowhere. That’s where.” He tilted his head back. “Or maybe you’d take me out, too.”

Vogel held his hands up, palms out. “Never, Oliver.”

“Shit, you wouldn’t even know how to go about it.” Oliver laughed. “Why should I worry? All four of you are from lily-white backgrounds. Where are you going to get the guts to commit murder?”

“I don’t know.” Vogel’s head dropped down.

“Exactly.” Oliver shook his head. “Get out of here right now and I might be willing to forget we had this conversation.”

Vogel swallowed. He was well aware that Oliver wasn’t going to take this well. But he had been instructed to make the sentiments clear. “The others aren’t going to be happy, especially Torcelli.”

“You tell the others to call me,” Oliver said evenly. “Especially Torcelli.”

Vogel glanced at the white powder spread out across the glass-topped coffee table in four six-inch lines. “Okay.”

“Good.” Oliver opened the suite door and gestured toward the hallway. “Don’t let the door smack you in the ass on the way out. And keep your head down. Don’t look anyone straight in the eye.”

“I was just the messenger, Oliver,” Vogel mumbled as he darted through the doorway. “Please remember that.”

Oliver slammed the door, then moved to the couch in front of the coffee table, put the envelope down, picked up a short red straw, leaned over, and inhaled the powder. After finishing the first line, he paused for a breath. When he had finished the second one, he dropped the straw on the coffee table and leaned back slowly until his head came to rest against the couch. He sat there for a few moments until he began to feel the familiar nasal drip at the back of his throat and the medicinal taste in his mouth. Then he shut his eyes, groaned softly, and smiled as euphoric sensations of supreme power, absolute control, and total confidence overtook him. He was a man who controlled vast amounts of money and had many people at his whim, and he loved it. He was bulletproof. He was untouchable.

Oliver picked up the envelope he had taken from Vogel, extracted the single piece of paper, and gazed at the name on the page.
Beautiful,
he thought.

 

Abby lay on her side, naked beneath the covers as Oliver had instructed, her back to the bedroom door. She knew he was out in the living room doing the last of the cocaine. She pulled the covers up over her shoulders and shivered. It was like an ice cube in there because he had turned the air-conditioning up so high.

She had been in there for fifteen minutes waiting and she was barely able to keep still. She was also barely aware that her toe was madly tapping the mattress and that she was grinding her teeth. She thought only about how happy she was.

As they were snorting the cocaine together on the living room couch, Oliver had promised that he would ask his wife for a divorce and leave his Connecticut mansion. He had promised that he and Abby would move into an Upper East Side apartment together and live happily ever after. Abby giggled, then pushed her face into the pillow so Oliver wouldn’t hear. She’d always been such a good girl. Through college and her first few years on Wall Street, she’d never touched drugs or been with a married man. Never even considered things like that. However, Oliver had come on to her like a hurricane, and now she was engaging in sinful acts her Brooklyn parents would be mortified by. But she’d never experienced anything in her life like Oliver. Suddenly she was living on the edge, and every moment was exhilarating. Oliver seemed to know all about the finer things. He was a man who lived each day as if it were his last. He was a god—or more likely the devil—but she didn’t care. She just wanted to be with him. And she had confidence that, given enough time, she could change him. She had already made so much progress.

The door creaked, and Abby’s body tingled as she heard Oliver remove his clothes. She felt the covers pull back and his warm body against hers. She turned to him and for several minutes they kissed wildly, the cocaine pulsing through their systems. Then he moved on top of her, spreading her roughly with his knees. She reached between his legs and her small fingers closed around his huge organ. She arched her back and screamed as he entered her and his lips closed around her dark nipple. He was so large it hurt for the first few seconds, but then the intense excitement of being with this man she idolized brought down her wetness, and she wrapped her arms around him and moved against his body.

“You should be wearing something,” she moaned. “It’s getting close to that time.”

“I don’t wear condoms,” he gasped. “You know that. I hate them.”

“Still.”

Oliver rose up and stared down at her, breathing hard, his chest glistening with perspiration.

“Don’t stop,” Abby begged. “It was feeling so good.”

Oliver smiled. “I’m going to make it feel even better.”

“What do you mean?”

Without answering he reached beneath the pillows and produced two neckties. “Give me your wrists,” he demanded.

“Wh-What?” she stammered.

“Your wrists. Give them to me.”

Abby turned her head to the side. “Oliver, no.”

He curled his fingers around her thin neck. “Don’t say no to me,” he hissed.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she said, holding her hands out obediently.

Quickly he bound her wrists together and lashed them to the headboard. Then he wrapped the second tie around her neck, knotted it, and pulled it tight.

“Oliver, please,” Abby gasped, her voice barely audible. She tried to struggle, but with her hands secured to the bed she was helpless.

Oliver’s upper lip quivered as he saw the veins in her neck bulge. He pushed himself inside her again and began moving, slowly and methodically at first, then hard and fast. As his excitement increased, he pulled the tie around her neck tighter and tighter.

Abby pulled desperately against the tie, panic setting in, but her struggles were useless. Then suddenly, as she gazed up into his dark eyes believing that she would soon lose consciousness, she felt herself beginning to climax. The orgasm began as a spasm as he ground himself against her, then seemed to grow like a tidal wave, swelling higher and higher until it could go no further. The wave curled; perched atop its crest, she contracted uncontrollably around him, biting into his palm, which he had clamped over her mouth. She rose higher and higher as Oliver pulled the tie around her neck tighter and tighter, cutting off her oxygen, until finally the wave came crashing down and overwhelmed her in a sea of pleasure, and she blacked out.

Abby came to a few moments later. Oliver was standing beside the bed, buttoning his shirt. Her throat was on fire, but she felt as if she were floating on a cloud. Her entire body was relaxed. “What happened?” she whispered groggily.

“You passed out.” Oliver sat down in a chair beside the bed to put on his socks.

“I’ve never experienced anything like that.” She could feel his semen inside her. He had finished as she lay unconscious beneath him. “Where did you come up with that?” She tried to move, but her hands remained secured to the headboard.

“I get around,” he answered smugly.

“I’m sure.” She tugged at the tie again, coming to full consciousness. “Undo this, will you?”

“Nope.” He slipped into his loafers. “I want to see how resourceful you are.” He stood up and moved to the bedroom door. “If you don’t make it into work tomorrow, I guess I’ll have my answer.”

“Oliver!”

He put his head back and laughed, then moved to the bed, knelt on the mattress, undid the tie, and dropped it to the floor. “Just kidding.”

She rubbed her wrists for a second, then wrapped her hands around his neck, pulled him close, and kissed him, relieved to be free.

When their lips parted, Oliver gazed into Abby’s eyes. He wasn’t a sentimental man, yet she was making him feel things he had never thought he could. She was having an effect on him, much as he hated to admit it. He stroked her cheek for a moment, then kissed her.

“That was nice,” she murmured. “I wish you would do that more often.”

“What do you mean?” He lay down next to her.

“Kiss me the way you did just now. Gentle like that. It seems like the only time you kiss me is when we’re actually in the act.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” she said softly. “You just haven’t been with a woman who knows how to treat you.”

He stroked her cheek gently, thinking how right she was. “I’m sorry about…” His voice trailed off.

She put a finger to his lips. “It’s okay.”

“I’d never hurt you.”

“I know.” She was changing him, slowly but surely. She had almost given up on him earlier in the day as he groped her in the storage room, but now she knew more than ever that she loved him.

He kissed her again. “I’ve got to go.”

“Where?”

“Home.”

“No. I won’t let you. I don’t want you going home to her.”

“I have to.” Oliver kissed her once more, then stood up, headed to the door, and was gone.

She stared at the doorway for several moments, then pulled a pillow close. When she heard the hallway door open and close, she rolled onto her side. It was only eight o’clock, and McCarthy & Lloyd rented the suite year round. There was no need to hurry out of it. This king-sized bed was so much more comfortable than hers. And her father had a key to the apartment, so he could get in to take a look at the air conditioner without her being there. She closed her eyes and felt herself drifting off.

At first Abby thought she was dreaming, but the feeling around her neck was too intense. She opened her eyes wide and reached for her throat, clawing and tearing at the material now cutting into her neck, scratching herself with her long red fingernails and drawing blood. “Oliver!” she choked. “Not again, please.” But now she felt a great weight on her back—a knee pressing down on her spine, keeping her belly pinned to the bed. She tried to push her attacker away by reaching behind herself, then tried to roll, but to no avail.

She twisted her head from side to side and tried to wedge a finger between her neck and the tie, but she couldn’t. She felt her windpipe closing and she clenched the sheet, ripping it away from the mattress. Then she felt her upper body being lifted off the bed and bent back against the knee still jammed into the small of her back. She struggled, but her strength was fading with the prolonged lack of oxygen. Finally her arms relaxed and her eyes rolled back in her head.

For several minutes the attacker maintained the grip, twisting the tie tighter and tighter even as Abby’s body went limp and she no longer attempted to defend herself. Then her head fell to the pillow and she was gone.

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