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King of Wall Street

By:Louise Bay

in Manhattan and that was all I cared about. I wasn’t about to be a New Yorker who lived in Brooklyn. I wanted to milk this experience for everything it was worth, so I’d sacrificed space for location—a small Victorian building on the corner of Rivington and Clinton in Lower Manhattan. The buildings on either side were covered with graffiti, but this place had been recently refurbished and I’d been assured it was full of young professionals, being so close to Wall Street. Professional what? Hitmen?

“It’s going to be . . . cozy,” Grace said. “Are you sure you don’t want me to ask about the one bedroom across the hall from me?”

My apartment at Berkeley had been at least twice the size of my new place. Grace’s place in Brooklyn was a palace in comparison, but I was okay with small. “I’m sure. It’s all part of the New York experience, isn’t it?”

“So are roaches, but you don’t have to seek them out. The idea is to avoid them.” Grace was the person who tried to make everyone else’s lives a little bit better, and that was one of the reasons I loved her.

“Yeah, but I want to be in the center of things. Besides, there’s a gym in the basement, so I’m saving money there. And on the commute. I can walk to work from here. Hell, I can practically see the office from my bedroom window.”

“I thought you hated work. Wouldn’t it be better to be further away?” she asked as the elevator pinged open at my floor.

I reached for the bottom of the wooden box. “I don’t hate work. I hate my boss.”

“The hot one?” Grace asked.

“Can you pick up your end?” I asked. I didn’t want to be reminded about my boss’s score on the hot-o-meter. I stuck out my leg to try to stop the closing elevator doors. “Crap. Have you got it?” We lurched forward, turning left toward my apartment door.

“We need a man for this shit,” Grace said as I struggled with my keys.

“We need men for sex and foot rubs,” I replied. “We can carry our own furniture.”

“In the future, you can carry your furniture. I’ll find a man.”

I opened the door and we slid the box into the living space. “Just leave it here until I decide whether or not it should go at the end of the bed.”

“Where’s that wine you promised me?” Grace pushed past me and collapsed on my small two-seater couch.

Despite my protestations, the only things my refrigerator did contain were two bottles of wine and a slab of parmesan cheese.

“What were you saying about your hot boss? I thought you’d changed religion to the Church of King while you were at Berkeley. What’s changed?”

I handed Grace a glass of wine, sat down, and kicked off my sneakers. I didn’t want to think about Max or the way he made me feel so inadequate, so out of place and uncomfortable. “I think I need to update my work wardrobe.” The more I thought about what I’d worn for my meeting with Max, the more I realized I must stick out like a sore thumb against all the Max Mara and Prada of Wall Street.

“You look fine. You’re always super polished. Are you trying to impress your hot boss?”

I rolled my eyes. “That would be impossible. He’s the most arrogant man you’ll ever meet. Nothing’s ever good enough.”

My conversation with Donna at lunch yesterday had temporarily dampened my fury at Max, but it was back in full swing today. He might be the best at what he did and look so hot you’d get a tan if you stood too close, but that didn’t excuse his assholyness. But I wasn’t about to let him beat me. I hated him. Determined to show him he had me wrong, I’d brought home the Bangladesh report to work on over the weekend. A lot of the comments he’d made indicated he knew much more about the textile industry in Bangladesh than I did, even after my research. Had this whole project just been a test? Whether it was or not, I was going to spend the rest of the weekend making my work the best thing he’d ever seen.

“Nothing’s ever good enough?” Grace asked. “Sounds familiar.”

“I might be a bit of a perfectionist, but I’ve got nothing on this guy. Believe me. I worked my heart out on a piece of work he gave me, and then he just ripped it to shreds. He had nothing good to say about it at all.”

“Why are you letting it bother you? Shrug it off.”

Why wouldn’t I let it bother me? I wanted to be good at my job. I wanted Max to see I was good at my job.

“But I worked really hard on it and it was a good piece of work. He’s an asshole.”

“So? If he’s a total wanker then why does his opinion count for anything?” Grace had lived in the US since she was five, but she still retained some key Britishisms from her family. Her use of wanker was one of my favorites. Especially as it suited Max King perfectly.

“I’m not saying it matters. Just that I’m pissed about it.” Except that it did matter, however much I denied it.

“What did you expect? A man that rich and good looking is bound to have a downside.” She shrugged and took a sip of wine. “You can’t let it affect you so much. Your expectations of men are way too high. You’re going to spend your whole life disappointed.”

My cell began to ring. “Speaking of being disappointed.” I showed the screen to Grace. It was my father’s lawyer.

“Harper speaking,” I answered.

“Ms. Jayne. It’s Kenneth Bray.” Why was he calling me at the weekend?

“Yes, Mr. Bray. How can I help?” I rolled my eyes at Grace.

Apparently my father had set me up a trust fund. The letters I’d received about it were stuffed into the chest that we’d just lugged up from the truck. I hadn’t answered any of them. I didn’t want my father’s money. I started accepting his money in college. I figured he owed me that much but after a year, I took a job and stopped cashing his checks. I couldn’t accept money from a stranger, even if he was genetically related to me.

“I want to arrange for you to come into the office so I can talk you through the details of the money your father has set aside for you.”

“I appreciate your persistence, but I’m not interested in my father