“Six, six, six!”
Five left fists pounded the table. Five right hands lifted glasses at the end of the chant. Dan and Alex chased their shots of whiskey with beer, Alice bit into a lime wedge after her tequila, Mike was satisfied with his shot of bourbon and Rina simply took a sip of the bar’s mediocre red.
“Didn’t she say she’d be here?” Dan demanded of Rina.
“She said she’d do a stop by. You know how busy she is and…”
“And she had a meeting, right? Now, what time was that meeting?”
“You said six! Your turn to buy a round.”
The others laughed. Dan had clearly tricked the one light drinker at the table into buying a round and—as the new member of the team and the boss’ administrative assistant—Rina was unlikely to have budgeted for the team’s drunken celebration.
“Don’t let them bully you,” Mike chided her. “This round is on me. It’s my turn anyway.”
Rina helped him carry the drinks to their corner of the bar.
“You gotta speak up for yourself or they’ll walk all over you.”
“You know you remind me of her—not now, but when she got started.”
Rina’s reply was a quizzical expression. She could not imagine that Katherine—the fearless and determined fund manager—had ever been less than supremely confident.
“She was a mouse. A smart mouse, but still a mouse and George was a bear of a boss. Lazy and a little mean and always stealing credit for other people’s ideas—especially Katherine’s ideas—God she was brilliant. Right out of school and what a handle on the market and the psychology and the…Well, I don’t have to tell you. Working for her now, it’s like the business education you didn’t get in school.”
Again Rina just nodded. She was mystified. The team was celebrating six consecutive quarters of record profits. With Katherine at the helm they were now the most successful unit in the company and, if Katherine’s success continued, she’d take them all to the top. And yet, while the rest of the team celebrated, Rina remained uneasy. From her vantage point, each record-breaking quarter seemed to be the result of fantastic streaks of luck. The undergrad lit major in Rina whispered thoughts of “outrageous fortune.”
Everything seemed to break in Katherine’s favor and everyone who appeared on the verge of impeding her success seemed to fall out of the picture. The greedy and corrupt chairman of a company in the midst of a merger suddenly caved to Katherine’s gentle persuasion; a union boss with a prickly agenda switched courses mid negotiation; and the designated heir apparent of a family owned brewery simply disappeared rather than face-off against Katherine.
The investors loved her. The bosses loved her. And clearly her team loved her most of all. The idea that she was once the brilliant but shy sidekick to lazy old George was unbelievable, but that was the story the team told.
“She went to Europe with George. He liked to glad hand—get taken out to dinner at posh cafes—and he’d send her around to scout out the truth about company assets. He was the pioneer in international beverage & food funds; she was the one who really made it happen. They were a pretty good team. And if he’d actually listened to her more often, he might have had even more than six consecutive quarters. But he didn’t. Stubborn old coot!”
“What happened to him? They fire him? He retired?”
“Nope. He died. They were doing one of his grand tours of traditional breweries. Prague, Berlin, Munich and a whole bunch of places in-between. They were in the Bavarian countryside. It was in November. I remember it was November, because we all joked about him missing Oktoberfest…. Anyway, they were driving back from a dinner meeting. Something happened on a country road. Something weird.
“The car skidded off the road and landed in a ditch. It was the night of a full moon and Katherine managed to scramble out of the car. She said that something had startled George and he’d lost control of the rented Mercedes. He was unconscious and she couldn’t rouse him. So she headed down the road on foot. Got herself to a little inn and called for help. By the time they got back to the car George was no longer in it. He was a few yards away and looked like he’d been attacked by a large dog—bite marks, scratches… He was a mess.
“The local police said he must have come to and pulled himself out of the car—despite the pain of a broken elbow and some internal bleeding from the steering wheel impact. The idiot never wore a seat belt. He read somewhere that cops don’t wear ‘em so they can exit a vehicle fast. He was just that kind of arrogant guy.”
“He died from a dog attack after the accident?”
“Yup!” By now Dan was less-than-steady on his feet. “It was awful. I saw the photos. The locals told the U.S. State Department guys that there’d been other wild dog attacks in those woods. Some feral dogs, a pack or something like that. You’d think that Germany would have handle on that kind of thing. That they’d take care of….. Well, old George died on the way to the hospital. He was lucky that Katherine managed to find her way to the inn and back to the accident site. Without the full moon there’d be no way. She’d have wandered around until dawn.”
“Yes, wow! And then Katherine kind of came into her own—it was like a light went on inside her. While she was working with the Ambassador’s folks in Berlin to arrange for George’s body to be shipped back to New York, she was busy making connections for the firm. She stayed there for a while. A month, maybe more—I remember talking to her on the phone every day. She held it together. Held the team together so well that the top brass just let her slide into George’s job.”
“Let me guess, they paid her half of what they were paying George?”
“Only at first.” Dan chuckled. “She negotiated a better deal a month or so later and it’s been one great quarter after another. Six to be exact.”
Dan knocked back another shot of whiskey.
Rina wandered outside the bar. A knot of smokers huddled under the awning. She pushed passed them and around the corner to make a call in relative privacy.
“Grandma,” she said in German. “I’ve found one. Yes. It’s just as you said. The werewolf has risen. Wall Street is the perfect place for her.”
“Do you have your silver bullets?”
“Yes, Grandma, but can I wait until I get my year-end bonus? She’s cleaning up and…”
Rina felt the pressure of a large hand clamping down on hers shoulder from behind. The furry knuckles clenched and Rina’s collarbone crunched like a twig in the beast’s grip. Rina fainted. When she woke up, Katherine’s face was the first thing she saw.
“You’re going to be fine, Rina. Better than fine! You’re going to be my right hand Shewolf. Together we’re going to make millions. One wolf in sheep’s clothing is good. Two is better and the moon is full again tonight.”