Inital Public Offerings Ch. 01byFD45©
This story is dedicated to the Makers: those who throw their hats in the ring and take a chance making something that others judge without taking any risks.
I would also like to thank mikothebaby for her efforts on this piece and all the other editors on Literotica. That is a tedious and frequently thankless job, but like Angelina Jolie's make up artists, they make us writers look good. They are the refiners.
Any remaining errors are my fault. I hope you enjoy the story. This is the first part.
There is little sex in this story, but a lot of passion.
Outside of my office, my secretary of all of 6 months was yelling at a man who was trying to burst into my office. From the sounds of it, security was there as well. And yet Mindy, a temp that I happened to take a shine to, was loyally stopping all of them. But I don't know how long she could do it.
If I had a future in the company, I'd give her a raise.
It was decision time. The actions I took were going to change my life immensely. I carefully punched in the number I had to look up on my iPhone. "Hello? Hi Randy. My name is Jim Reynolds. I need you to process an order for me..."
This isn't where my story started. It really started about a week back.
"Just sign the damned paper, Jim." Andrew said to me. "I've already vetted it. It's standard boilerplate for an IPO. Just don't sell until I tell you to."
I looked keenly at Andrew Schwartz, our business asshole. His face seemed distracted and a little put out. This seemed to be the ten thousandth document that I'd signed in the last week and all of our nerves were getting on edge. Harry Loeb, our unfortunately named lawyer, gave me a nod. Both of them had been with me when we started Ipswitch Inc. a bunch of years ago so I signed.
Finally, Gordon Jenkins broke out a bottle of champagne and poured as the four of us toasted finally getting on the NASDAQ as the newest IPO starting Monday. Ipswitch Inc does custom designed software for router systems and, if I do say so myself, we have some innovative work. Andrew was the business maven, Gordon oversaw installation and product development, Harry was our lawyer, and I designed the code. Yes, it was more complicated then that. We had a hundred employees and wanted to get the money to hire more. A lot of businesses had expressed interest in our work and our numbers were good enough for Andrew to shop our company to a bunch of underwriting banks. We were nowhere near big enough to touch a Goldman Sachs, though they had a tiny piece of us through some complicated money wrangling that I really didn't bother to understand. I mean, my job was code and making sure my code writers were organized and pulling in the same direction. That's why we had Andrew. He handled the business side of the deal.
We had finished our toasts when Andrew came up and put his hand on my shoulder. "So what's happening with the Nerd Herd? The new version churning along?"
I sighed. "Please don't let them hear you say that. Yes, we're on schedule and it should be done soon." It was a bit of contention between the two of us. Andrew was pushing for new product for his sales team to sell, while I wanted to make sure that the product was of very high quality without under servicing our current customers. I'd been doing code and IT for a long time before we started our own company, and I knew that customers who weren't serviced became ex-customers. Obviously we were at loggerheads frequently, but with Harry and Gordon acting as referees, we had a good working relationship and had come to a balance. He pushed me to perform and I restrained his over exuberance.
"You're going to have a problem with this IPO and the shares thing." Andrew was referring to my stance on the board. I was finishing school in 2000 and had joined up with a tech company. My new bride Allie and I were buoyant at my future prospects, and my first job had included a generous package of company shares.
Anyone who remembers that time knows how many tech companies imploded. While we hadn't been one of those 'paper millionaires', racking up a large amount of debt, our compensation left us nothing when my first job crashed and it was a very cold and lonely time to be a software designer. Most of my fellow classmates were in similar predicaments.
Based on my experience, I made sure that we paid money to our designers, not just shares of a private company. Andrew thought it would be cheaper and add more incentives to give them shares. Having eaten my fair share of post collegiate ramen noodles, I disagreed. It came to our 'board', the four of us. Gordon was with me on this, being similar in age, but Andrew showed us the financials until Harry hammered out a compromise: everyone got a base salary, but they had the option of getting shares in lieu of bonuses and other compensation. It must have been a good agreement because Andrew and I were both deeply dissatisfied.
Still, he had a point. Those who bought shares now had the potential of having them ride reasonably high in the next three months. Those who didn't might be resentful. I had several of our workers trying to shift their packages at the last minute.
"We should go back to the party." This bit of final business, of course, had to be celebrated with a party. Andrew had insisted. For one thing we needed to keep our venture capitalists happy. For another, those of us married had to keep our wives happy.
It had been a very rough couple of months, between analysts breathing down our necks and vetting the various underwriters who wanted our business. It was a funny thing, starting an IPO. It was like a delicate teen aged romance, with the both parties checking out if we were 'sexy' enough for the other in terms of immediate share growth and 'stable' enough for long term potential. This meant long hours. Andrew, a bachelor, ate and drank business and it meant nothing to him. Even during the party, he had CNBC on a television somewhere in view, albeit muted.
"How are things going with you and Allie?" he asked as we came to the top of the stairs looking down on his modern living area. It was typical Andrew: modern, open, and designed to be seen with lots of windows everywhere. The entire back wall was a window to the outside.
I looked at my wife of 11 years. She was in her element, talking, glad handing, even flirting with the various friends and business people that were invited. Her blonde hair was nodding as she smiled at some witticism told by an over 60 businessman who invested with us in the early days. His hand was familiarly holding her elbow. She laughed, pressed her hand against his chest, moving him back and held her glass up, showing it empty and headed to the bar. It was a nicely practiced gesture which put up boundaries without offending. In other words, pure Allie.
"Well...you know, Andy. It's like most relationships: a sine wave. It goes up and it goes down." I traced it in the air for him.
"You are such a nerd." He laughed at me.
I pretended to laugh with him. "I'm not a nerd, I'm a fledgling entrepreneur."
"Don't quit your day job."
I looked at him 'Why do you ask?"
"You guys were all bellyaching about your wives and such. I figured I'd ask." he said, studying me.
I frowned. "She hasn't liked the hours of writing code, but I figure when she sees the money the IPO brings in, she'll get over it. If there's anything she likes besides me; it's money." He chuckled in agreement. Allie had wanted to be high maintenance for a long time and had inflicted her desires for a nice life as quickly as our budget allowed. We'd had conflicts on the issue, but nothing out of the ordinary, or so I thought.
I left him and wandered over to where she was talking to a couple, taking a moment to stop at the buffet and load up a plate of noshes. The strange woman was a standard California girl in a green dress and the man with her had rugged good looks and wavy brown hair. Time for me to show the flag. Allie chatted with the two of them merrily, catching my approach out of the corner of her eye.
"...that's funny. And this is Jim." she introduced me, raising her hand and gesturing to me.
"Her husband Jim." I said.
She gave that little pause that meant what I did had tweaked her but she continued like nothing had happened. "Of course you're my husband. We have matching wedding rings, silly." 'Silly' was slightly stressed.
"Well, of course we noticed." the woman said laughingly.
"You're wearing a wedding ring?" the man asked slyly.
The woman smacked his arm, pressing her lips together. "Be nice."
He laughed "Just kidding. I'm Phil and this is Terry, my wife, so don't you go making a play for her, dude." He slid his arm around her waist.
I extended my hand. "Jim Reynolds." We shook.
We had set our boundaries and started chatting. Things were going well. He had a few questions about the business which I didn't totally flub and then some guy who wasn't looking where he was going nudged my elbow, causing me to spill my plate which I was juggling one handed as I stood and talked. "Oops!" The salsa spilled down my shirt.
"Oh Jiiimm" my wife chided. She quickly knelt and started to clean up the mess on the carpet. "This is going to stain. Don't step in it." she said unnecessarily. I hadn't moved.
"I can see why your parents didn't name you 'Grace'." Phil said.
I rolled my eyes at him and Allie grabbed my arm. "Come on. We need to fix that shirt."
"I can get it." I said, dabbing at it with a napkin I had grabbed.
"It's silk!" she said, continuing to drag me to the kitchen. We didn't stop there and went right through a back door into the utility room around a corner where I'd never been before. "Strip off your shirt." she snapped at me.
"I don't know why you're all huffy. It was an accident. The guy ran into me."
"You could have moved out of the way." She opened an upper cabinet, glanced inside for a few moments, grabbed a bottle of Shout and started to get the stain out in the utility sink. Now I'd spend the rest of the night with a wet shirt. God forbid we call it an early night.
I sighed. This had plagued my marriage from the beginning. She loved me, but she always thought I was a bit maladroit. I guess it came from my tech education. I mean, I bathed regularly and didn't leer down girls dresses. I had never been to a Star Trek convention. But I had odd hobbies and odder friends. At least they were odd to a girl who was more prone to the social scene then the parent's basement.
You may think that she was cold when we got home and you'd be half right. During the drive, I got the usual 'post game' analysis of what I did to embarrass her. She thought of it as 'helping me grow.' I thought it was just being bitchy.
But when we got home to the bedroom, she immediately stripped her blouse off. "Show me what you got, big guy." she said in a husky voice. You see, she's a very social person. When she goes out into her element, like a party or a gathering or even a political meeting, it lights her fire. So unless I behaved horribly or she was already pissed about something, our nights after a party were quite energetic.
I was barely able to get the soiled shirt open before she was kneeling and working on my belt. "Come on come on!" she said, pulling my fly open and unbuttoning my waistband. Two quick tugs on my boxers and her mouth engulfed my penis, which barely had time to wake up from his slumber. I watched her head bob up and down on Mr. Happy and considered how lucky I was. Sure she was a bitch some of the time and she had a hole in her wallet, but in most other regards, she was a pretty good wife.
She slowly pulled up her skirt and revealed the tops of her stockings. That was another thing we agreed on. She loved high end stockings, not panty hose, and I was more then willing to pay the price. I smiled broadly as she pushed me onto the bed and started stalking up my frame. "I had such a good time tonight. Let me show you how much." She moved the gusset of her thong to the side and impaled herself while moving my hands up to her breasts. They were still magnificent after eleven years. Of course, avoiding kids helped.
I loved to watch her slide up and down on my cock as I lightly pinched and fondled her. She put her head back and made those little sounds which put a shiver down my spine. Normally, we spent the beginning on mutual oral, but occasionally, she decided to forego that and go straight to the fucking. It was traditional of us for her to ride out her orgasm first, though she was less satisfied on top. It helped me last a lot longer and she could get warmed up.
She gave a little shudder and I felt her vagina clench, her head still back. I slid out from under her and positioned myself behind her, pushing her down on all fours. She gasped in appreciation and I slid into her, making my strokes slow and measured as I tried to keep control. This position was always incredibly erotic to me and it was hard for me to keep control. "Jim...now now NOW!" she said in a gasping breath.
This was the signal. I pulled out of her and flipped her on her back and shoved into her hard! Her legs wrapped around me tightly and I started thrusting, no longer caring about lasting at all. She gave two great shudders and bucked a little bit as I once again felt her clench on my cock. I groaned and filled her with my sperm. She liked sex but she LOVED missionary position and we always ended that way.
We laid there panting for a few moments and I was about to reach for her when she rolled out of bed and went to the bathroom. "That was wonderful Jim, but I need to clean up." I watched her golden ass undulate toward our master bathroom and heard the water run. That was one of the things I didn't appreciate so much. Once she was done with sex, she was done with sex. She didn't seem to be appreciating the afterglow as much these days.
Coming back, she stopped at her dresser and slid into a nightgown. I guess seconds weren't in the cards. She tossed me a warm washcloth and climbed into bed, shutting off the light, her clothes still scattered around on the floor.
Bugs in the System
It was the very next day that things started to get odd. We had our signing party on a Friday and I was lounging at home. Our house was at that transition point from 'house' to 'mansion'. It was very well equipped and had been one of the occasional fights we had over money. Allie wanted a place 'befitting our station' and I wanted a place we could afford easily. Granted, I was bringing over a quarter mill a year in salary and company profits, but that wasn't a lot in California. I was uncomfortable with the cost of the place.
I was NOT uncomfortable with the house itself! I had to give Allie credit. It was very nice and homey, nothing like the cement California house that Andrew favored. She had decorated it very well and had even done so under budget, though the occasional knick knack kept showing up.
I sat in my paneled den, and had just cut a bunch of code when my email announcer dinged. I booted it up and saw it was from my buddy Karl. I hadn't heard from him since I sent him the parameters for our beta version of our new programs and I thought it might be some of the design work I farmed out to him.
It wasn't. Instead, it was this:
Jim, some guy came by my mother's house to talk to me about the Ryleh Beta. Of course I was at Sheila's at the time, so I missed him. He said he wanted to discuss things with me confidentially. He knew the Beta number."
I met Karl back in Middle School. We fell together because my family had moved to an isolated ranch house in the middle of nowhere and the only kid within 10 miles was Karl...and I found out why. Karl had Complex Tourette's Syndrome. This was before Tourettes was particularly well known; certainly before any HBO special. And kids can be cruel. Karl was an angry boy, so his parents moved him to a farming community.
For lack of anyone else, we were thrown together. We initially had our ups and downs as companions. But that first summer, something magical happened: his parents bought him a Sega Genesis.
Within the first week, his mother had to pop the circuit breakers to get us out of the living room. By winter, we were both shoveling driveways, collecting cans and doing any number of chores to be able to buy the next big video game. Castlevania, Mortal Combat and Sonic were our constant companions. Eventually, we got a few more guys into the game. While Karl played, he didn't have his ticks.
Karl got a lot less angry, but he never quite got over his shyness. He let me do the negotiations when we worked, whether it was sitting dogs, mowing lawns, or doing odd jobs.
When I decided to go to college, Karl practically begged me to go to the same school as him and be his roommate. I agreed. We both went into computer science, born of our love of video games and what we thought the future held.
Unfortunately, while most cases of Tourette's diminished with age, Karl's did not. In school, I was his roommate, confidant and sometimes tutor. I had other friends I palled around with, which made me feel guilty, but I also wanted to get laid and Karl was a bit of a buzz kill when it came to cruising chicks. So I split my social life between him and the 'meet' market.
I had met Allie in my Junior year and we started to get very serious in Senior year. She didn't interact with Karl much since I kept those two sides of my life separate. Outside of an occasional movie together, we traveled in different circles. And looking back, my relationship with Allie helped pull me away from my friendship with Karl. I felt bad about it on reflection, but it was something that happens in all relationships, particularly when a girl gets involved.
Allie had always been much more social, and we complemented each other nicely. She was even less fiscally savvy then I was (I have math skills). Once, I had asked her why she accepted my overtures well after we had started dating, and she said quite forthrightly that I was 'the package'.
"The package? What's that?"
She looked at me with that slightly condescending way that girls sometimes do when you say something that they think you should already know. "You know...the package."
"If I knew, I wouldn't be asking, now would I?"
"The package is what a girl wants in a guy. For most girls, it's pretty much the same. You need to be nice. You need to be kind of handsome. Too handsome is no good cause you might play around and ugly is no good at all. You need to be easy to be around. You can't be an asshole. You need to be sporty enough, or in shape enough to be manly. You need to be a bit taller and you need to have good career potential. There's a lot more, but that's the basics."
I blinked at her. "Isn't that a bit calculating?"
"Nor more so then you checking out my cooking, my family and my ass." she said frankly. "That's what dating is all about: finding a suitable mate. Most people don't realize it but they choose who they love. I happened to choose you, big guy!" She wrapped her arms around me and laid a kiss on me hot enough to curl my toes and I thought of better things to do then continue the discussion.
We got married, expecting things to be wonderful. Then the internet bubble popped. We were both scrambling for work, me doing data entry, and she doing retail to make ends meet. Since we had moved to California, we were isolated from most of our old friends.
It was about 6 years after graduation that I ran into him again, when I went home to attend my dad's funeral. After getting some things arranged, I saw him in a red smock in the back of a Pizza Hut. Frankly, I was appalled, and extended my trip by a day so I could talk to him. He was still looking for a good job, but since so many people were also looking, and he had a number of social gaffes and no experience, he was scraping by with menial labor.