Rick always knew it was time to catalog his sins when Lamaze appeared over his shoulder in the minutes before the market closed.
Lamaze, whose real name was Edgardo Fuente, never moved from his desk unless he felt it was absolutely necessary. When Rick first started working at Coleman-Bradford, Lamaze was already fat. The intervening years of sedentary prosperity had taken him past fat to corpulence until even the simple act of hauling himself out of his chair and walking to the trading floor left him sweating and out of breath, panting like he was about to give birth.
That was how he'd gotten the nickname "Lamaze." The account manager swore he'd fired the guy who gave him that nickname. Since Rick himself had come up with it, he sometimes wondered who that had been.
As he closed out his last trades for the day, the all-too-familiar wheeze over his shoulder had him considering what he could have done to earn this visit. Nothing immediately came to mind, so he started cataloging past misdeeds by category.
He hadn't cost the firm money. That was the only really unforgiveable sin here. He knew his realized profit and loss to the penny and his open positions hadn't the slightest bit of creativity to them. It had been months since he'd even skirted a "regulatory irregularity." So, that wasn't likely to be it.
It almost certainly wasn't a question of "workplace appropriateness." The last settlement had been expensive. Hell, he was still paying a Park Avenue shrink for mandatory counseling sessions that could only be worse if he actually bothered to go. Now, he just didn't talk to the women at Coleman at all. He saved his socializing for after work. Getting slapped was cheaper than getting sued. And even that rarely happened anymore.
That only left personal indiscrections that occurred away from work. Those usually had to be fairly gargantuan for the management at Coleman-Bradford to take notice. While Rick's sins were certainly numerous, they were fairly garden variety for brokers and traders.
Rick glanced at the TV screen over his trading station. The closing bell was being rung. Maria Bartiromo was on-screen, saying something with her soft, pouty blowjob lips, but the TV was muted. It was probably just chatter anyway.
"Mr. Tinco," wheeze Lamaze, levering himself up from the desk he was leaning against. "I need to see you in my office."
Rick raised an eyebrow, but followed. The traders to either side of him gave him a look as if they could figure out what he'd done wrong just by looking at him. Rick wished he knew. As Lamaze shambled down the hall in front of him, heads turned to watch them go. Rick ignored the querying looks and kept his eyes focused on the middle of the account manager's back.
Lamaze lowering himself into his custom-made Steelcase chair was a glacial process and looked like a slow-motion mudslide as rolls of fat settled into place. Even distracted by the awareness of pending disaster, Rick found himself fascinated by the process.
"Chance Colby..." Lamaze wheezed. " ... just took a large cash position in his portfolio."
Rick frowned and sat down in the ordinary-sized chair across the desk from the big man. Lamaze technically wasn't his boss. But, he was the account manager for Chance Colby. Chance was his bread and butter. More than half the money Rick traded with came from Chance's account.
Still, he wasn't impressed, "He does that about once a year ... usually when he's got some new business venture he wants to get involved in."
Lamaze interrupted him, "It's an eight-figure position. Mr. Coleman thinks it's a precursor to moving some or all of his assets to Goldman Sachs."
Rick allowed himself a low whistle. The part about Goldman Sachs was probably pure paranoia. Aaron Coleman had worked at the larger firm for two years at the beginning of his career and been convinced ever since that they were out to get him. This was in spite of a deafening lack of evidence to support the theory.
Still, losing Colby would hurt. Not only was he Rick's biggest client, he was also one of the most generous. The first year of their association, he'd paid the full commission for every trade he made—the same rate every idiot trying to turn a few hundred bucks a month into a nest egg did. Left to his own devices, he might still be paying those rates. The conversation with his then-new assistant had been painful and awkward as everyone from the firm pretended they hadn't noticed the "discrepancy." Not only had she walked away with a better rate, but she'd gotten the firm to kick back roughly half of the "overpayment."
"It would behoove you to meet with Mr. Colby and convince him that he is well-loved and well cared-for at Coleman-Bradford ... at your earliest convenience."
"Behoove" wasn't a word Lamaze would have chosen for himself. It wasn't particularly vulgar and the "b" at the beginning made his jowls vibrate, mushing the sound. "Behoove" was an Aaron Coleman word. The boss had almost certainly told Lamaze to have the meeting, but Lamaze had decided that Rick would be better suited to the task. Since Rick agreed with that assessment, he didn't bother to argue.
When Lin glanced up from her desk and saw Rick approaching, her placid, professional demeanor seemed to slip for a half-second. She made a face as if some particularly unwholesome scent had wafted up from the sewers. The look was gone before Rick could comment or even be sure he'd really seen it.
"Mr. Tinco." Her tone was clipped and precise. "Do you have an appointment to see Mr. Colby?"
Rick gave her his most winning smile, knowing it was wasted. Lin Bao might be a hot, little Chinese number. But, she was enough of a tight-ass to turn coal into diamonds, "I talked to him on the phone. He said I could come right over."
Lin's gaze swept over him. Rick held his ground. Unlike most women, Lin was a couple of inches shorter than him, but she could make him feel even smaller than he already was, "Let me confirm that he's available."
After a brief conversation over the intercom, Lin waved Rick into her boss's office. Chance sat a dented, gunmetal gray desk. Three walls of the office had wide, glass windows. With the shades pulled up, they looked down on the main floor of the gym. Hundreds of machines and free-weights were lined up in neat rows, most of them waiting for one of the maybe two dozen patrons to use them.
"What's with working out of the gym?" asked Rick. "Aside from the obvious, I mean."
Chance had gotten up from his desk and half-extended his hand to shake. He paused, "What's 'the obvious?'"
Rick shrugged, "You know ... sweaty women in leotards, hot tubs..." He waved his hands in a vague gesture that might have been an hourglass, "Don't get me wrong. If I could trade from here, I probably would. But ... It's kind of low rent."
Chance's laugh was derisive, "I wish. It's actually pretty expensive to run. I'm ... trying to get it to the point where it's actually making money."
"Is that what you need so much cash for?" Rick knew he was probably being too unsubtle again. He couldn't help it. Every time he tried to be subtle, people seemed to assume he was making a double entendre or just high.
Chance shook his head, "Not this time. When it started losing money, I put in a lot of capital improvements. They ... didn't help. Membership is down. We ... lost our number one personal trainer. A lot of people went with him."
"Dante Freeman. Right?" Rick walked over to a window, "I see him on Fit TV all the time. Good stuff."
Chance's scowl suggested that Rick had said exactly the wrong thing, "Right. Anyway, he had some ... minor celebrities for clients. Apparently, people like the idea that they're working out with ... or at least near minor celebrities. I need to find something that will fill the vacuum he created."
"You have anybody on staff good enough?" Rick asked idly. His attention was on a woman using a stationary bicycle almost directly beneath his feet or, more specifically, her cleavage. "Somebody that could make videos or something."
Chance seemed to think about that for a few seconds before answering, "Maybe. There's somebody here I worked with for a few months. She's really good. It would be ... complicated, though."
Rick nodded thoughtfully, "Boning her?"
Chance came to stand next to his broker, "Not anymore."
Rick shrugged, "Could be a good way to get back into her pants--kill two birds with one stone."
Chance shook his head, "That bird has flown. And it's definitely for the best." He looked over, "What brings you here anyway, Rick? It's been a while."
"My boss thinks you're about to move your money to another firm. He wants me to convince you not to."
"I'm not," said Chance immediately. "There's nothing to worry about."
Rick took a deep breath. He should leave it at that. In spite of his wealth, Chance expected no special treatment. It would be best, not to mention most profitable, to leave it that way ... at least in the short term.
But he would eventually figure out that he could do better elsewhere. If he didn't figure it out. Lin would. She probably already had. She probably told him regularly. It would just be a matter of time before he listened.
"You really shouldn't say that," said Rick quietly. "My boss is convinced you're going to bolt. He's willing to spend money to keep that from happening. You should take advantage of that. I could ... I don't know, take you to Vegas for the weekend on their dime or something."
.... There is more of this story ...