No Accounting For Chaos Ch. 03byElRoylk©
As she drove away she pulled out her cell phone and made a call.
"Carole? How are you? I know...I know...I've been really busy these past few weeks. I was thinking, though...do you have time for dinner tonight? I wanted to catch up with you on some things. Yes? Great -- you choose the place, I'll see you there...around 6:30 work? Super. 6:30...The Grill...on 5th. See you then."
She was falling in love and she wasn't completely happy about it. It was time to get serious and figure out what was going on in this relationship.
* - * - *
"Hey Marcie! What is going on?" Carole swept into the restaurant her arms open ready for a hug. Marcie was always a little embarrassed at the hyperbolic display of friendship; she knew Carole really meant it, but it never failed to feel a little forced.
They found their seats, making small talk about the weather, the latest accessory purchase and other inconsequential facts of the week.
Carole got down to business, right after she placed her Martini order. "Okay, Marcie. Fess up. Where have you been hiding? I checked, and it's been almost six weeks since we had dinner at Margories...I still never got that phone number you promised. And last I checked, we spoke on the phone briefly last week. What is going on?"
She smiled coyly, taking a sip of water to hide her excitement. "Has it been that long?" She looked surprised. "I guess time flies when you're having fun..."
"Stop it! You've found someone! I can tell. I was worried, but I can see you've landed a big one." Carole clapped her hands softly and leaned forward. "Okay. Tell me all about it. I can't wait!"
"Now you stop it," Marcie laughed. "I have been dating a guy. I literally bumped into him at the office...No..." she held up a hand to stop her from interrupting, "not from the office, in the office. He almost sent me to the emergency room, but instead took me to lunch. It's been practically non-stop since then."
"Who is he?" Carole dropped her voice conspiratorially.
"You'd never heard of him. His name is Montrose Green...Monty. Weird name, I know. But he's very sweet, amazingly smart, and loves great food and wine."
Their drinks came, momentarily interrupting her narrative.
"Client of Samuelson's?"
"Then he's got to be loaded. Weren't you telling me the firm doesn't take clients who can't afford them?"
"Yeah..." Marcie looked a little distant for a moment before looking at her companion directly. "I can't believe how lucky I am..."
"Really? How lucky?" Carole raised her eyebrows.
"Pretty fucking lucky...the guy is loaded and he's fantastic in bed...and on the couch...and the bean bag...and the massage table..." She giggled and took a drink.
"Mmmmm...sounds nice. You deserve it, honey. After all the sad sacks you've been through. It's about time you landed a sweety. Loaded, huh?"
"Carole! Ladies don't discuss such things! But, since you insist...yes. Loaded. To. The. Gills."
"Okay, thanks for the executive summary, now give me the details.."
Marcie related the past several weeks -- the whirlwind of nights out, the eating, entertainment, and his incredible house. As she thought about it, she couldn't believe her good fortune...or as Monty would have her believe, the strange attractors that brought them together.
"He's not without his peculiarities," she began, raising another eyebrow from Carole.
"Okay, this sounds juicy...go on."
They both placed their orders, including another round.
"That's just it. He doesn't...umm...ejaculate?"
Carole jerked her head down slightly at the unexpected turn to the conversation. "You mean he's impotent...like, he does it with Viagra?"
"Oh, no. Not at all!" Marcie laughed. "He gets hard alright. Very very hard." She squirmed a little unconsciously at the memory of his cock inside her.
Carole was completely bewildered. "He doesn't have an orgasm?"
"Nope. I'm telling you it's really weird. It's the weirdest thing I've ever experienced. He is an amazing lover -- I am the most satisfied I've been this side of a cucumber..." they both smiled at the private joke "...but he just doesn't come. Period. No juice."
They both sat silently, staring into their drinks. Carole looked up to confirm she wasn't pulling her leg, and they both laughed.
"I think I'm falling for him."
"You're shitting me, right? You're falling in love with this guy? After a few weeks? A few nights out, some great rolls in the hay, and you're ready for wedding bells?"
She knew Carole was just horsing around, but the comments stung a little. Didn't she deserve some good fortune? Didn't she deserve a guy who could take care of her, who obviously was considerate, and who had is act together? Why shouldn't she?
"Does he know about your...uhm...problem?" Carole lowered her voice again, to make the message as gentle as possible.
In spite of its soft delivery, the question felt like a punch in the stomach. She wanted to reach across the table and hiss in her face: Hey! I'm so over that! But she knew, in spite of the past year's therapy, that she wasn't over it yet. She could tell from the feelings she had almost every time she'd been with him that her problem was lurking just below the surface, the potential to erupt at any moment.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be so blunt about it. I just don't want you to get hurt." Carole had spent many a night consoling her over a lost lover. They had been friends since college, since the beginning of Marcie's peculiarities and Carole had stuck with her no matter what. But she was getting a little short in the patience department, especially if Marcie wasn't going to be honest with this new guy as soon as possible. "What does Patti have to say about him?"
Marcie set her jaw, thrusting her chin forward slightly. "We've not discussed it recently, thank you."
"Okay. Okay. Don't get all huffy on me. I really am glad for you sweetheart. You really do deserve someone special like this guy." Carole leaned over and offered her an olive branch of a hug. 'Does he have a brother?" She smiled.
"Sorry. Two sisters. Although one of them might be gay. Should I get her phone number for you?"
The two friends continued to talk through dinner, Carole relating her latest gossip, Marcie mostly silent as was their dynamic. It wasn't until they ordered their coffees that the topic of Monty came back up again.
"I'm sorry I reacted so badly, Carole. It's just that this is feeling so good I really don't want to fuck it up."
"I understand. I completely understand. It was stupid of me to say anything. I know you'll figure it out and do whatever you need to do. So what's the trajectory?"
"I don't know. I'm just taking it one day at a time and each one is better than the last, so that works out fine. But we will have to have a chat soon. That's for sure." Suddenly, all of the self-doubt she almost always experienced around men came rushing towards her like a tsunami. Who am I kidding? What could he possibly see in me? Why is he even toying with me? What the fuck is really going on here? And in the short span of a few heartbeats, she suddenly saw her situation from a completely different perspective.
"What's up honey? You look like you just learned your step-mom died. By the way, how is Jane?"
Typical of Carole to make a sick joke. She knew if she said anything at this point, Carole would think she was completely bonkers. "She's...fine...thanks for asking...uhhhm...give me a second I need to think." She closed her eyes, thinking things through and trying to calm her breathing. Why the fuck has he been seeing me? He doesn't need to see me? He could get anyone. Why. Me? And then it hit her. What a fucking fool she'd been. She had to say something before she burst.
"Carole?" She waited until her friend looked her directly in the eyes. "I need to talk to you about this, but I have to trust you. Can I trust you to keep quiet for a few minutes until I get this out? I don't want you to think I'm completely nuts here, but something just occurred to me, and I'm starting to freak out a little." She waited until she was certain she would be quiet and listen.
"This whole thing with Monty? It's been way too good to be true. It just occurred to me. It could just as easily be a setup. What do I really know about him? He's a client at Samuelson's -- that much I'm pretty sure about. He's pretty fucking rich. That much I'm pretty sure about. He doesn't come -- I'm very sure about that. And he lives, or at least he claims to live, in a fucking fantastic house right out of a science-fiction film. The rest of the shit he's been telling me? It's all stories. They could be true, or they could be complete fabrications of a socio-path, or a very cunning con artist. I. Have. No. Idea.
"I haven't met anyone who knows him, other than a waiter at a restaurant or two we've been to. Come to think of it, I don't recall seeing any photographs on the wall or in his den of anyone with him. Not that that would mean anything. Someone with his resources could get those ginned up to support the stories...Nope," she sat back and looked like a deflated hot air balloon. "I don't know Jack-shit about this guy and he could be playing me like an old deck of cards.
"Come to think of it, a guy like him...we've been seeing each other a lot...and it occurs to me, he never gets a phone call. Three times tonight you and I have had messages on our phones. Not once in any of our dates has he been interrupted by a call. Something's definitely not fitting together here. I thought I was falling in love, and now I'm sure of it...blind as a bat..."
Carole winced and finally broke in. "I'm sorry, Marcie, but I have to interrupt. Are you serious? A few minutes ago you were so heading into love, and now you're suggesting he's some kind of master criminal? Don't you think this is another topic you should bring up with your therapist before you go off shooting your chances with what sounds like the greatest catch of the 21st century?"
She knew Carole was right. She didn't feel at all confident in her suspicions, but at the same time, what did she really know about the guy? As usual, in the space of a few heartbeats she had dumped a bucket of cold water on her own head; she was relishing the feeling for a moment. It was a good thing. Why should she be rushing so fast into a relationship with this guy? She didn't need him -- she had a great job, a bright future, a good head on a great body that would last a few more years. Maybe she should slow it down a little.
And yet, there was nothing specifically setting off alarms in her head -- an early warning system she'd learned to listen to over the past several years. It was just his weirdness that kept her from feeling completely comfortable. His insistence on disbelieving luck or coincidence may be just the thing a naïve young woman would love to hear. But why her? What could he possibly want from her. No phone calls? Really? That was enough to make her suspect him of something?
"You're right, Carole. Of course you're right. I'm...I'm just...I don't know...how could it be possible?. It's just too good to believe, right?. Fairy tales don't happen to me, and here it is, unfolding around me...it makes me suspicious."
"That's why you're in the job you're in, baby. Your bullshit detector is way more sensitive than mine'll ever be."
And then it hit her: If she really wanted to find out about this guy, she could do a little investigating on her own. It was a tricky thought -- investigating a client for personal reasons would get her fired, and likely lose the client for Samuelson, not to say lose him as her big fish -- but she could keep it light and frothy, and still likely find out enough to settle her concerns.
* - * - *
The next morning, she arrived at the office a little early, nervously anticipating what she could find out about the good Montrose Green. She settled in, looked at some email, returned a phone call, and by 8:45 decided to get started. First things first -- what was his account number with the company. Armed with that, she called Jamison over in Personal.
"Hey, Jimmy, how was the weekend?"
"Marcie. It was good -- got off to the lake with the boat finally. How 'bout yours?"
"'Sall good. Listen...I don't want to take much of your time, but a random number came up and I was wondering if you could get me a single-sheeter on this account?" It was a simple request -- nothing too deep, just a quick overview of an account that had been randomly flagged. Happened all the time.
"No problem -- send it over to me...I can get to it a little later this week."
"Yeah...I was wondering if you might be able to run it this morning? I've got an open slot today, and my schedule just collapses starting tonight. If I gave you the number over the phone, would that work?"
"Uh...yeah...sure. I don't have anything pressing -- shoot."
She read off the nine digit number, realizing Monty had been with the firm for several years. Odd she didn't remember seeing him before a few months ago.
"Got it. Hold on a sec....yep. It's coming up right now..." Jamison gave a low whistle. "Uhh...this is going to be a little bigger than...okay...here it comes...here you go Marcie, I'm sending it right now. You should be getting it in a minute. When you look at it, if you have any questions, don't call me, yeah? I never knew you were looking..."
She didn't know what he was referring to, but it raised the hairs on her arms at the tone he had taken. A moment later the report came into her mail system and she popped it open. 'Single sheeter' was a colloquial name for an abstract of the firm's accounts. For some of the older retirees, it really was close to a single sheet, but for the corporate accounts it could stretch to a small magazine. She looked at the size of the PDF and realized this was not a simple abstract.
Every abstract had a summary sheet that gave the reviewer a lay of the land. Her eyes dropped to his 'assessed worth' and she practically fell out of her chair. She had estimated 9 figures for sure, but she wasn't prepared for 11. $10 Billion dollars...with a B. A big B. Billion. She sat back from the screen and considered what it meant. On the one hand it meant he was telling the truth. He'd never denied being rich. On the other, it fanned the flame of her paranoia -- why would someone with that much money want to spend any time with her? And just as important, how did he avoid getting phone calls? Regardless of how this turned out, she wanted an answer to that mystery.
At Samuelson they used 'assessed worth' to help identify the broadest source of their clients' income. It wasn't the same as 'net worth,' nor was it the figure Forbes magazine came up with for their top-100 richest people. But it was a good figure for identifying relative worth among the Samuelson clients. And 11 digits was a big deal.
Her head was bursting with conflicting thoughts. Had he investigated her? People with that kind of money can afford to be discretely finding out about anyone they come in contact with. Had he checked her out before he bumped into her, or afterwards? She shook her head to clear that train of thought and went down another track: was he hoping to use her for something? To get at a deal Samuelson was running for him?
There was plenty in the report to help her learn more, and she knew fantasizing about his motives was stupid in comparison to just reading more facts about him. She put up her do not disturb signs and hunkered down to reading the 25-page 'single sheeter.'
By the time lunch had rolled around, she had mapped out an amazing network of connections with Monty sitting in the middle. She imagined him sitting there feeling the vibrations of his network like a spider ready to pounce when its prey struggled. According to the report, Monty had acquired over 15 businesses in a wide range of markets over the past three years. In addition, he sat on the board of 7 other businesses and had large stock holdings in 12 others. These were all in addition to the two private companies he owned outright.
She had opened a spreadsheet to start documenting all of his interests, looking up the companies' financials, identifying their corporate officers. She started noting their primary products and services and their recent sales activities.
She saw a total of 15 news reports about him, going back 10 years. He had a PR group...Jones, Wyatt and Miller out of NY -- they handled personal PR, she noted in an industry write up -- and they were doing a bang up job keeping his name out of the limelight.
She saw the standard charitable organizations for which he was a benefactor. He sat on this or that committee each responsible for directing 10s of millions of dollars of donations to needy causes.
Notably, he wasn't on any of the museum boards, but she did take note of his interests in several restaurants, both locally and across the country.
In between her fascination with this guy's holdings, she attempted to get some of her real work done. She thanked whatever gods there were that her schedule was light, so that by 5PM she had mapped out enough information to get a pretty clear idea of Monty's situation. Given how rich he really was, and given how important a client he was to Samuelson, she didn't dare print the material out. She password protected the sheet and filed it in a locked directory on her personal machine. It wasn't the highest form of security, but it was as good as she was going to get working there.
She left the office not any better informed about what lay ahead in her future, in spite of megabytes of data she'd culled through. As she was leaving the building, her cell phone indicated a text message.
Hey there! I just wanted to let you know I'm having a small party on Friday and I would love it if you could be there. Call me when you get a chance. -- Monty, and a link to a web invitation.
A cold shiver went down her spine, not only at the timing of the email, but at the prospect of attending a party at his house with all of his friends.
* - * - *
The enormity of what she had done slammed into her only after she had gotten home. "Oh my god," she shouted at the refrigerator. "I have fucked myself royally!" She slammed her hand on the counter and winced in pain. "What an idiot, what an idiot, shit, shit, shit!"
It was a bone-ass move by any analysis, and she knew it. It was a mistake even a freshman wouldn't have made. What was I thinking?
The likelihood of her being fired was huge if anyone found out. She had violated all sorts of professional ethics not to mention fucking up her relationship with Monty.
At the same time, she couldn't forget what she had learned about him. She'd found nothing warranting further investigation, nothing out of the ordinary for someone with that many connections and that much money. She lost herself in what kind of life he must lead, and what kind of life she could lead with him...assuming he didn't bring her up on criminal charges.
She poured herself a glass of wine and considered her next moves. Her daddy had always said "The best defense is a strong offense..." and maybe this was the time to consider that strategy. As the alcohol hit her brain she relaxed. Maybe it would be a good idea to talk frankly with him...to downplay her "audit" and just discuss their relationship a little more. It was going on six weeks since they first met.
She decided to act before she lost her nerve.
"Monty!" She was surprised to catch him on his cell, expecting to leave a message. Hey, he answered his phone! "How are you doing?" She thanked him for the wonderful weekend and confirmed she would love to attend his party. "Hey, I thought maybe I could return the favor."