Golden Ring

Chapter 5 Horns of a Dilemma

Confidential Concerns

Griff got up from the light table as he turned it off. He looked down at the Aztec piece that was sitting on the table. A stone mask with a hideous leer stared back up at him. It was one of the few pieces of the Tammish collection that had a rather clouded past. The paperwork suggested it had arrived in the collection sometime around 1915 but its original origin was still quite murky. Griff sat at his desk then wrote a quick email to Collection Control to come pick up the piece so it could be returned to the vault. Griff turned to see her standing in his door.

She had on black form fitting pants that disappeared into black knee high boots with a 3 inch wedge heel. Griff followed the legs upward to a black silk sweater over a light blue top to the woman's face. Griff tried to gauge her height quickly with heels she was just short of six foot tall. That would make her about 5' 8" more or less. The next thing he noticed was her hair in a ponytail that lay over her left shoulder. Her hair was exceptionally long and golden blonde. The thick ponytail of hair reached five or six inches below her waist. Griff stared at the face trying to remember to smile and not let his mouth drop open. She had a long straight nose that sat above her rather full lips. The lipstick she wore was a mauve that seemed to suit her somehow. The rest of her face had a thin layer of makeup or none at all. She was tan to a dark golden bronze color. It was her eyes that finally intrigued him. They were a very dark green with just a hint of gold. Webb made himself smile.

"Hi what can I do for you?"

She stepped further into his office a file folder in her hand, "Hello Dr. McEntire I'm Emily Wilson the head of the archive."

Griff motioned to a seat in front of his desk. Emily stepped to the chair and took a seat. She finally smiled back at Griff, just a grin really but there was a playful nuisance at the edge of her lips. Griff returned his gaze to her eyes. He felt his heartbeat quicken. This woman has amazing eyes.

Emily slid the file folder across his desk, "This is your confidentiality agreement. I need you to sign it then I'll witness your signature."

Griff opened the folder and started to read the several pages of the document within. Each page had a place for him to initial and the final page a signature line. The document was very specific and the penalties for disclosures were very severe. In fact the monetary penalty was twice his current contracted salary and there were additional financial burdens depending on the disclosure. Griff read the document twice. The second time through he initialed each page as he went. He got to the last page and looked back up at Emily.

"This is a pretty strong document did you have to sign something similar?"

Emily nodded the smile still on her face, "Pretty much the exact same document actually."

Griff grinned back at her, he knew it was that goofy grin he had sometimes. He'd seen pictures of it, a slightly crooked looking smile, what he thought of as his dorky grin. Griff also knew he just couldn't help it. It showed up whenever he was nervous.

"Has it been worth it?"

Emily stopped smiling, "Yes, it's a remarkable archive."

Griff looked at he face the lovely bronze color and her eyes again, "You're not from New York are you?"

Emily chuckled the smile returned, "Oh I grew up here when I was very young but I've been in San Diego for quite a few years. I came back to take this position."

Griff smiled brightly, "Keeping your tan up?"

Emily sat back still smiling, "I just came back from vacation, the Cayman Islands for two weeks."

Griff smiled brightly, "It suits you."

He signed the last page then slid the folder back to Emily who signed the witness line then dated the document.

Emily took the folder but continued to sit and look at Griff. He felt that she was evaluating him and suddenly felt a little self-conscious. There was something there he knew. A connection of some kind but he couldn't tell what it was. He overcame his reservations.

"We're going to be working together on something. I'm going to want to review Oscar's journals have you had the chance to look at them yet."

Emily looked surprised, "No I just received them."

Griff seized the opportunity, "Well what time do you get in we could have coffee and talk about what I'm looking for tomorrow morning?"

Emily seemed to consider it for a moment, "How about 8:00 in the cafeteria?"

Griff was pleased and little hesitant but elated, "I'll see you then."

Emily nodded then picked up the folder, rose and started to walk toward the door, "See you tomorrow then", she said over her shoulder.

Griff was still staring at her behind as she left. He managed, "See you then.", but his thoughts were elsewhere. It was something about her smile and her eyes. Griff shook his head. He tried to return to his work but it was hopeless. He was smitten and just continued to think about her eyes.

Positional Adjustments

Bernie hung up the conference call with his attorneys and sat back into the plush black leather of his office chair. He looked across his desk at the banks in-house council who also handled all of Bernie's funds. Maynard Malloy was older than Bernie by over twenty years. He was pushing 66 now and he showed it. What was left of his wispy white hair was in a comb over to hide the bald spot on the back of his head. Bernie would not like to see Maynard with his hair down. He held Bernie's gaze steadily.

"So Maynard she's counter suing me and the other four board members. I think at least two of them will drop out of the suit. Do you think she will start restructuring the investments?"

Maynard put the forefinger of his left hand on his chin, "I would if I was her. Ms. Templeton will look to punish anyone suing the trust as severely as possible. What kind of damage that will have on the bank is probably minimal. The trust owns almost 30% of the bank even more than your family does. She won't want to bring the price down. The hedge funds though could severely damage you financially. The fact is BT if she were to demand to withdraw all the funds at least two of the hedge funds would not be able to cover the calls. The current values of the assets they hold are just too toxic at the moment to bring in enough cash. If the market were to recover another 20% or more then you'd be all right. BT you should negotiate and settle with her. The Tammish trust is liquid to almost three quarter of a billion they will bury us unless we can put the assets of the bank behind you. The bank's board will never allow that risk. If she were to push a proxy fight she might even get you removed as chairman and take control of the bank."

This was not what Bernie had wanted to hear but it was a reasonable assessment. Bernard Trenton Lofton III was well versed in the markets and banking. He was comfortable in the society of the upper classes, business, finance and corporate takeover. He knew his blind spots, family and friends had never been something he could be called accomplished at. His name and what people called him was a good example. Only his close friends called him Bernie and even they were not all that close. Everyone else called him BT or Mr. Lofton even his first wife had started calling him BT when they neared the end of their marriage. Bernie almost laughed, "First Wife", he'd never been married again or even close since maybe just ex-wife was more apropos.

He looked back at Maynard, "Start the negotiations with her attorneys. Let them know that as long as she maintains the status quo on the investments that we'll talk."

Maynard nodded before rising and leaving Bernie's office. Bernie turned to his tablet and checked his schedule for the evening. He had a dinner meeting with two Swiss bankers then a function for the performing arts center. His escort would be waiting in the limo when he left the dinner to accompany him to the event. He hoped it was Roxanne tonight she was beautiful and a good conversationalist. Bernie got up to head into the attached suite and change into his tuxedo for dinner.

Home not Home

Emily pushed her way into her three story brownstone home on the upper west side. The door was dark stained ancient oak and very heavy. She closed the door behind her and set her large maroon shoulder bag on the dark walnut intricately carved table beside the door. Then she heard her.

"Is that you Emily, would you like some dinner dear?"

Emily smiled and slid out of the long tan cashmere coat, "No just a hungry burglar Nana but he'd like some dinner."

Emily turned as the older lady came around the corner and into the hallway. Nana was dressed in a light blue dress covered by a pink and yellow floral apron. Her hair which had been blond when she was younger now fully white though her hairdo was perfect without a hair out of place. Nana's pale blue eyes emphasized the smile she had on her face.

"Sassy and funny just the way someone raised you. Did you have a good day at the museum?"

Nana handed Emily the mail then Emily leaned over and kissed the much smaller woman on the cheek.

"It was fine as usual. I see you got to the hairdresser today, very nice."

Nana grinned then followed Emily into the first room to the left. The parlor it would have been called in the old days. Now it was Emily's office with a large bay window behind her desk that she could turn toward and look out upon the street. Her desk and the whole room were very modern. The desk itself a glass and metal affair with her black webbed chair behind it and her laptop sitting off to one side. The carpet was a light tan and covered the hardwood floor that was original to the home. Opposite the desk was an overstuffed brown worsted leather couch that was angled slightly to face both the desk and the gas fireplace built into the wall.

Emily placed the mail on the desk as she picked her laptop up then moved to the couch followed by Nana.

Emily looked at her companion as Nana sat next to her on the couch. She realized the move to New York had been hard on her old nanny. She had left all her friends in San Diego behind. Nana said she was making new friends here but Emily knew she couldn't wait for her to get home each day. Nana had been with her for the last twenty-five years ever since she was ten. She was as close to a mother as Emily had ever really had. Nana had helped raise her along with her grandmother since she'd been little. Her grandmother was gone but Nana was still there. Nana wasn't even all that old really she had just turned 66 this year.

Though Emily was tired she knew that Nana had gotten her hair done for a reason, "So are you ready for a movie tonight?"

Nana smiled brightly, "There's a new Jennifer Aniston movie we could go to, I always like her movies."

Emily smiled and opened her laptop, "Okay let me know when dinner's ready and we'll go after we eat."

Nana patted her leg as she got up and moved back toward the hall.

Emily opened the laptop and glanced at her email. There was a meeting request for coffee with Dr. McEntire. She accepted the meeting then pulled up her browser. Emily had the Google screen up in a few seconds. She was typing Griffin Robert McEntire into the search line as Nana called out that dinner was ready. Emily hit enter then stood to head for the dining room. She thought about meeting Griff today, what was it about those blue eyes of his?