Visconti arrived at the office of Iacardi & Sons, just in time for the company’s annual Christmas party. His excuse for being there was to deliver the check for the margin call on his crude oil short. His real reason was to see Kerri Pyper again. He had been unable to forget her. Her youthful beauty intoxicated him, touched him like no other female had. The fact that she was married to a famous athlete made her even more alluring, the challenge of possessing her more exciting.
Miles Dennis approached immediately. “Merry Christmas, Louis. Have a drink with us,” he offered.
“Humbug,” Visconti muttered, then handed a check to Dennis.
“What’s this?” Dennis asked with a puzzled expression.
“Eight and a half big ones,” Visconti replied.
Dennis grinned. “Thanks. What can I pour for you?”
While Dennis poured, Visconti scanned the office until his eyes fixed on Kerri, nursing a clear plastic glass filled with white wine.
Dennis returned with Visconti’s drink. “Drown your sorrows, Louis. It’s the least I can give you for eight and a half million.”
Visconti took a sip, then quickly shifted his focus to Kerri. “Miles, is it my imagination or is the love of my life unhappy?”
Dennis glanced at Kerri, then at Visconti. “You’re as perceptive as ever, Louis. It’s not your imagination. There’s trouble in paradise. She’s been miserable ever since her husband injured his knee in that game in Buffalo.
Visconti flashed a contented smile. “You sure? I mean have you asked her about it?”
Dennis nodded. “Kerri’s an open book. She wears her heart on her sleeve. She told me her husband really took the injury hard. He gets pissed on the couch every day, watching television and wallowing in self-pity.”
“Would you mind if I talked to her?”
Dennis lifted Visconti's drink from the desk. “Take this. You’ll need it to wash down the rejection.”
“You might be surprised,” Visconti said with a confident wink, then turned and headed straight for Kerri. “Merry Christmas,” he said, touching her glass with his.
“Same to you,” Kerri replied in a bored monotone, then quickly looked away.
“Why do I get the feeling you don’t really care if I have a Merry Christmas?”
Kerry conceded a wry grin. “What brings you here?” she asked.
“I just dropped in to deliver a check to your boss...When I saw you looking very depressed, I decided to try to cheer you up. How am I doing?”
Kerri showed a hint of a smile, but refused to answer.
“How’s your job? You still enjoying the commodities business?”
She nodded. “Thanks for asking.”
“Miles still treating you well?”
“Yes. He’s been wonderful.”
“Sorry to hear that. I was hoping you were going to tell me he beats you and works you like a slave. I was hoping you would tell me you wanted to quit your job and come to work for me. Have you forgotten that I offered to double your salary? I was serious you know.”
“No, I haven’t forgotten,” Kerri replied, the corners of her mouth suggesting a smile.
“Are you interested?”
Kerri called Visconti’s bluff. “Did Miles tell you he’s paying me two hundred and fifty thousand a year?”
Visconti accepted the call. “Is that all? Then I’ll triple it.”
Kerri smiled, then laughed. “You really are serious.”
“Very serious about cheering you up...I did a pretty good job, didn’t I?”
Kerri was compelled to concede. Visconti had made her laugh when it was the last thing she wanted to do. “Yes, you did. Thank you.”