ALEXANDER SMILED PLEASANTLY as he finished scanning the final documents. A couple of signatures, and his family would own the controlling interest in one of the world’s largest law firms. A couple of signatures, and he would own a girl. Specifically, he would own Siobhan McIver. He glanced up and smiled at the row of McIver men sitting across the table from him. What a bunch of assholes. “Everything appears in order.”
Leland McIver smiled back. “Excellent.”
The papers didn’t mean shit. They were a redundancy, a necessary fiction. The important sections of the contract, the ones involving Siobhan and her future, weren’t written down. Those parts were illegal, unenforceable, and void against public policy. No court of law would uphold it. Worse, if it ever got out, all parties involved would lose their licenses to practice law. Some would even go to jail.
Alexander turned his attention to Leland. “To reiterate. Cosetino Industries bails you out of your financial crisis. We will match the funds in your reported books so that the IRS believes you have what you say you have. In return, you will act as sole legal counsel for Cosetino Industries for as long as our mutual corporate entities exist.” Alex smiled. “Which is forever, of course.”
Leland nodded. “Because of your investment, both of our organizations are poised to withstand the tests of time.”
Self-righteous prick. Alexander refrained from rolling his eyes. “Thank you, Leland. Now, moving on to the addendum.”
Leland smiled thinly. “Ah yes. The addendum. The family has considered the additional clauses, Alexander.” He leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers. “Our actuaries have determined that Siobhan has the potential of being a lucrative asset. They suggest that there is more profit in… leasing…. her to different interests than in an outright sale. Our counter offer is first rights.”
Alexander raised an eyebrow. “Are you suggesting what I think you’re suggesting?”
Leland shrugged. “It’s fair. We’re giving you first rights. We ask only that you take her now. Her value is in her youth.”
Alexander’s stomach heaved. “This is your niece. You’re talking about your niece.”
“We are aware.” Leland smiled turned into a leer. “She’s quite provocative for one so young. We feel she has great potential.
Alexander stared at him one second longer. “The addendum reads as is or the agreement is void.”
“Oh now, don’t be rash.” Leland’s smile dimmed. “We are not refusing you the girl.” He tapped his fingertips. “It’s profit. You understand.”
Leland was bullshit. The McIvers needed the cash. The IRS was sniffing around, and if they couldn’t prove that there was the cash to back up their reports, everyone was out of a job. As for Leland, should their fiscal malfeasance come to light, he would go to jail.
The thought of Leland in an orange jumpsuit brightened Alexander’s smile. “Of course,” he replied as he gathered up the documents. “Dad? Shall we?” He nodded at Leland. “Good luck in the new age.”
Leland shifted in his chair. The other McIvers began murmuring. “Have you considered that her value will diminish as she ages?” Leland added, his tone disbelieving. “I would think these terms are more favorable to you… you wouldn’t have to keep her.”
“What I think is that this agreement is void.” Alexander stuck the file in his briefcase and pushed in his chair. “Leland.” He nodded at the rest of the McIvers and walked over to his father. “Dad? Shall we?”
Alexander’s father, Salvatore Cosetino, sat at the foot of the table, a look of scorn on his face. “You know, Leland, I’ve always liked you, but if you want my money, you will give my son the girl.”
“This is ridiculous.” Leland’s eyes narrowed. “You’re being obtuse, Salvatore.”
“Give him the girl,” Salvatore interrupted. “Those are our terms. Give him the girl, or there’s no deal.”
“You’re both being obtuse,” Leland declared. “There are certain… interests in the girl whose payments over time will total more than the flat fee in the addendum.” He glanced over towards Patrick and Sean. “We aren’t denying you the girl, Alexander. You’re getting first rights.” He sat back up. “First rights. Think about it.”
“Let’s go, dad,” Alexander urged. “These degenerates make me want to puke.”
Salvatore smiled and stood up. “My son has a point. I would never treat family like this. You have no soul, Leland.” He patted Alex’s shoulder, and the pair walked to the door. One. Two. Three.
“Wait.” Leland snapped. “This is ridiculous. It’s a girl. Only a girl. What does she matter?”
“Everything.” Alexander kept his hand on the door. “She is everything, Leland.”
Leland snorted. “All right. Fine. You can have her. Please. Sit back down.”
“Leland,” Patrick McIver whined, “I’m not okay – ”
“Shut up,” Leland hissed.
Muttering among the McIvers filled the room as Salvatore squeezed Alexander’s shoulder. The two men returned to their seats. “That’s my son. A natural negotiator.”
“I’m glad we can see eye to eye, Leland.” Alexander sat back down. “The addendum stands.”
Leland huffed, then nodded. “Yes. The addendum stands.”
“Do you agree?” Alexander asked his father.
“I do.” His father nodded. “We have a deal.”
“Leland, this is asinine!” Patrick McIver slammed his hand on the table. “I told you, as her father, that I’m not comfortable in releasing her to a single party.”
“You’re not her father,” Alexander interjected. “You’re her brother. By law.”
Patrick scowled at him. “I wasn’t talking to you, Cosetino.”
“I was only correcting a factual error,” Alexander replied with a pleasant smile. One of these days, I’m cutting his throat.
Patrick curled a lip at him. “Leland, please. There are others… I told you. We can get so much more out of her then this…”
“Are we still talking? Why are we still talking?” Salvatore interrupted. “We have an agreement, you disgusting piece of shit. My son gets the girl, you get my money, and we all will live happily fucking after.” He pulled out a cigar from his jacket pocket and unwrapped it. “Let’s go drink to our successful union and move the fuck on.”
“I concur.” Alexander stared at Patrick. “Time to move on. Accept the present circumstances and look towards a bright new age.”
Aidan McIver cleared his throat. “There is still… Siobhan’s adopted father… he will not be pleased, Leland.” He glanced over at Alexander. “He will find the addendum vexing.”
“Whether you tell your father is up to you,” Alexander replied. What was with these McIvers and their strange disrespect for the family? “I would suggest not telling him. He doesn’t need to know.”
“My father is no fool, Alexander,” Aidan answered coolly. “He’s here in Miami because he feels like something’s off.”
“A feeling is not a fact,” Alexander retorted. “Besides, Michael’s malfeasance has garnered more attention than any suspicion of financial impropriety.” Michael McIver was Leland’s son and a world class fuck up. How he had passed the bar, Alexander did not know. “I hear he’s being sanctioned again, Leland.”
“Michael is a disappointment, but then so was his mother.” Leland gave him a pointed look. “One should always be careful who one chooses to be the mother of one’s children.”
“Here here,” muttered Patrick under his breath.
“I agree,” Alexander answered with a small smile. Siobhan McIver had an IQ of 160. She was well on the way to being better looking than Estella. Beyond that, she was violent, calculating, and ruthless. Their children would be conquerors.
Leland strummed his fingers on the table. “Regardless, Ned must be told.” A troubled expression appeared for a moment. “He’ll understand. The Firm comes first.”
“Why am I still here? Who fucking cares about Ned?” Salvatore groaned. “Now let’s go somewhere I can smoke this.”
The conference room doors slammed open. “Alex!” Twelve-year-old Siobhan McIver burst into the room. “You are here! I told Daddy you were, but he said you weren’t.” She ignored her brothers and ran to him. “I missed you!” She wrapped her arms around his neck. “Did you miss me?”
He pulled her onto his lap and kissed her cheek. “Horrifically.”
Patrick snorted. Siobhan glanced over her shoulder. “Oh. Patrick.” She reached for the water pitcher.
“No.” Alexander grabbed her wrist. “Don’t.”
“What? I’m thirsty.” She batted her eyes. “Please?”
“I want to see it.”
“Fine,” she groaned and leaned back on him. “I saw your girlfriend. She looked mad, but I think that’s her face. She doesn’t speak English.” Siobhan glanced up at him. “How do you talk to her if she doesn’t speak English?”
Alexander struggled not to smile. “There are other ways. Where’s your father?”
“He’s coming. You’re in a meeting, but Daddy said there wasn’t one on the schedule.” She cast Patrick a dirty look, then scanned across the table. “Hi Sean. Hi Aidan.”
Sean waved. Aidan smiled at her and stood up. “Hello, Siobhan. I have a client conference.” He nodded at Alexander and Salvatore on his way out. “Gentlemen.”
Alexander nodded in reply as Siobhan lifted his arm and played with his cuff link. “What were you guys talking about?”
“We were talking about Santa Claus,” he whispered in her ear. “China’s slapped him with a restraining order. We’re looking to get it thrown out before Christmas.”
“Christmas is forever away. That’s silly. You’re silly.” She giggled and slipped off his cuff link. “Alex, is this a diamond?”
She put it between her fingers. “It’s big. When I get married, I want a big diamond.”
Another muffled laugh. “You sure you don’t want to rethink the addendum?” Sean smirked.
Siobhan gazed over at Sean. “What addendum?”
“We’re getting Rudolph some insurance to cover his pre-existing red nose condition.” Alexander beeped her nose. He shot a look at Sean as Siobhan burst into giggles. “Right, Sean?”
“Absolutely,” Sean quickly answered. “Rudolph shouldn’t be denied insurance because of is red nose… well, then… Dad. Hey. There you are.”
Ned McIver strolled into the room, dressed in a rumbled looking suit, and holding a glass filled with an amber colored liquid. “Salvatore. Nice to see you. Siobhan. Off Alexander’s lap, please. Lucy’s looking for you.”
“Daddy!” Siobhan waved her hand. “Look at my diamond ring.”
“Return Alexander’s cuff link and get off his lap. Now.” Ned dropped the smile. “Siobhan.”
Alexander moved her off his lap. “Listen to your father, principessa.”
“Listen. To. Your. Father.”
“Fine,” she groaned and slid off his lap. “Lucy’s boring. Booorrrringggg. Boring.”
“Siobhan?” Alexander called after her.
She stopped without looking back. “Hmm?”
“My cuff link.”
“Oh.” A small smile crossed her face as she stomped back and dropped the cuff link in his hand. “Sorry.”
“Sorry you got caught. Now go.” He pointed at the door.
Siobhan smirked and instead skipped to Salvatore. “Hi, Uncle Sal.”
“Principessa.” Salvatore liked Siobhan. He called her the cutest little thief he had ever seen. “Stealing from my son, are you?”
Siobhan smiled at him and twirled a lock of hair. “No.”
“Lying, too.” Salvatore glanced up at Ned. “What kind of child are you raising, Ned?”
“A delinquent,” Ned answered. “A delinquent that’s about to not go to the Speakeasy Under the Stars.”
“Daddy!” she gasped. “What?”
“You know,” he replied. “Go.”
She quickly pecked Salvatore on the cheek and ran out as Ned took a seat. “So, Leland. What are you and my sons discussing with Cosetino Shipping?”
“We’re looking at purchasing long-term investment property in the downtown area.” Alexander stood up and buttoned his jacket. “Gentlemen. Dad and I have to get back to Palm Beach. We look forward to seeing everyone at the party.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Sal gestured with his unlit cigar as he stood up. “Ned. You look great. Leland, everyone.” He saluted the room with his cigar. “See you all in Palm Beach.”
Alexander ignored Ned’s stare and quickly followed his father out of the room.
“What a bunch of fucking degenerates,” Salvatore snarled once they were out of ear-shot. “Who sells their own flesh and blood like that? I’ve got to say this, son, it’s a decent thing you’re doing. Decent.” He patted Alexander’s back hard. “The kid’s a crazy little shit, but you know what they say… wait a minute. Is that Carlos? Carlos, you sleazy son of a bitch, you owe me money!”
Alexander watched his father confront the Colombian over a debt, lost in thought about the look on Ned’s face.