Four Steps Under 3

Kevin marched into Amber’s office. “Why did you let him come into my office? He didn’t have an appointment.”

She stood up. “I told him not to, but he went in anyway. I’m sorry. I couldn’t stop him, Kevin. What was I supposed to do?”

He took a deep breath and exhaled. “You’re right. It’s not your fault.” He went back into his office, closed the door, walked over to the wall of windows, and stared at the skyline.

Buying the pistol had been a smart move, but he’d never thought he’d actually need it. Given Brandon’s temperament, Kevin had figured he’d get into prison fights and earn himself an indefinite stay.

Amber came into his office. “Are you okay?” She closed the door.

“That was Brandon Broader—the man who assaulted me two years ago and put me in the hospital. I had to have my damn nose reconstructed.”

“Oh, wow! If I had known it was him, I would have—”

He turned to face her. “Called the police?”


“They wouldn’t have been here fast enough.” He walked over to his desk. “That’s why I have this.” He picked up his pistol.

“Oh, baby! Please be careful with that thing.”

He took the gun in both hands and pointed it in the direction where Brandon had been standing, beside his desk. “And if he’d tried to jump me, I would have shot him dead. I’m not playing around with that son of a bitch.” He put the gun in the drawer.

“But what if he comes back with a gun of his own?”

“That’s not going to be a problem because I’m hiring a security company. I’ll have them put a guard in the lobby and install cameras throughout the building, and maybe I’ll even get a metal detector. I can’t be wasting my time worrying about Brandon Boader coming back here and trying to kill me. I’ve got a business to run.”

“That’s a great idea. But how much will all that cost? And what’s Christina gonna say?”

He slammed his fist on the desk. “I don’t give a shit what she says!” He took a deep breath and tried to calm himself.

“What about getting a restraining order?” she asked.

“Yeah, I’ll work on that too, but it won’t necessarily keep him away. It’ll just get him arrested if he comes near me. Maybe send him back to prison. But that won’t do me any good if I’m already dead.”

“Oh, Kevin, don’t talk like that.”

He stepped in close to her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

Amber placed her hands on his cheeks and kissed him. “You’re gonna be okay.”

He looked off to the side.

We’re gonna be okay, aren’t we?” she asked.

He looked into her eyes. “Of course.”

“Are we still on for tonight?”

He took a half step back. “I don’t think so.”

“Why? Because Christina’s in town?”

“She’s getting suspicious, and I have to be careful. If she realizes that you and I are serious, and that I’m about to divorce her, she might fire me.”

“She can’t do that. You’re the CEO.”

“That’s just a title, Amber. It doesn’t mean shit. She and her father own the company. I’m just an employee, remember? That’s how Hans set it up, to make sure I wouldn’t ever divorce his precious daughter and embarrass his family—or that if I ever did divorce her, I’d walk away with nothing.”

“But you outsmarted him.”

“Yeah.” He snickered. “As soon as Christina tells her father I’m divorcing her, Hans will think I’ve worked out a deal to finance my own distribution company, and he’ll figure I’m planning to take our best accounts with me when I leave. So, he’ll try to track down my backer and somehow quash the deal. But of course, there is no backer. I don’t need one.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“The problem is what could come next: they might hire an auditor.”

“Why? They’ve got Bob Kronkle. Wasn’t it their idea for you to hire Bob as CFO? He’s Hans Hempleton’s cousin. So, they shouldn’t be concerned about the books.”

“Still, I don’t want to take any chances. And besides, you know that’s not the only issue. I want joint custody of my son.”

“It’s gonna be okay, baby.” She stepped in close. “Can’t you at least stop for a quickie on the way home?”

“No, I really can’t. I’ve got this situation with Boader. How do I know he’s not gonna come after me with a gun tonight? What if he follows me to the motel? He could break down the door and—”

“Oh, God!”

“We could be in bed, naked, in the middle of it, and suddenly he’s there, spraying us with bullets and—”

“Kevin, stop! You’ve made your point.”

“Sorry, babe. Well, I need to work on that restraining order right now, and hire a security service.” He walked to his desk and sat down. “Might even need to think about hiring a bodyguard.”

“Well…let me know if I can help.” She turned to walk out.

“Wait, Amber.”

She turned around.

“It’s gonna get better, babe. Christina’s making another trip to New York in a couple of days. By then, I’ll have these security issues worked out and then we can get together. Okay?”

She smiled. “Good.” She walked out and closed the door.

Kevin thought about the day two years ago when he was sitting in his hospital bed, signing a complaint against Brandon Boader, struggling to see the papers through the eye holes in his bandages. What if he had refused to file charges against him and instead blamed his injuries on a fall down a flight of stairs? Would the score have been settled?

No. Brandon would never be satisfied until Kevin was in the ground. And besides, it had taken four men to pull Brandon off of him that day. Too many witnesses. No way to deny what had happened.

He picked up his office phone to call his attorney about the restraining order when the burner phone in his desk began to ring. He took it out and answered the call.


“JG calling for KM.”

“KM real. Go ahead, Joe.” It was the agreed-upon protocol for verifying their identities.

“Nothing juicy to report yet, but it’s getting interesting. She’s been spending a lot of time with that Broadway producer.”

“Good,” Kevin said. “I’ll let you know when she’s headed back to New York.”


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