So We Meet Again - Suzanne Park

Chapter One

Jessie! My office. NOW!” Gordon Strauss had a German Shepherd–like bite to his bark. Referring to me as “Jess” or “Jessie” was his way of showing he was enraged, but not necessarily at me. When I did something wrong, he would yell my first and last name, akin to a parent yelling at his or her child. JESSICA KIM, get in here!

But this tirade wasn’t about me. Thank God.

I slammed my laptop closed. The company policy was strict: anyone leaving their laptops unattended without locking their screens would be terminated. Too many leaks to the press about companies’ bankruptcies, mergers, and acquisitions over the years made our higher-ups tighten security. I grabbed a legal pad and pen along with my computer and scurried to his office.

He motioned for me to come inside. “Jess, have you seen Wyatt Jenkins this morning? I’ve been trying to get a hold of him and he’s not answering his phone. Is it acceptable to not answer an MD’s call during work hours?” Gordon liked to ask rhetorical, nonhypothetical questions as his way of “teaching.”

I shook my head.

“Exactly, Jess. It’s unacceptable.”

Good, he was furious with Wyatt, the senior associate. He’d been at the bank six months longer than me, and thanks to the good ol’ boy tenure that relied more on seniority than merit, I reported to Wyatt, even though I knew more about raising money, selling distressed businesses, and cashing out than he did. He was the kind of boss who harangued his junior analysts and associates about deadlines and then claimed ownership of the work.

Deadweight Wyatt. Worthless Wyatt. Wanker Wyatt. That’s what all the junior bankers called him.

I cleared my throat. “It’s Friday, and lately he’s been, um, taking half days for self-care.”

“Half days? For . . . self . . . care?” His right eyebrow rose so high I thought it might lift off his face.

“Yes.” I gulped. “Self-care.”

He frowned. “I see. Well, I’ll have to discuss this bullshit with him at a later time. Is the Beauchamp pitch document ready?”

My stomach lurched. What pitch document? “But I—I’m not staffed on the Beauchamp deal.”

“I need the model updates sent to me by end of day. Plus a color printout so I can look over them while on my Peloton tomorrow morning. Thanks.” He grabbed his wireless headset and slap-motioned his hand, signaling for me to shut the door.

Did he not hear me? Or did he have me confused with someone else, like maybe the other Asian female, who was an analyst in our group? People here always mixed us up, even though we weren’t anything alike. She was tall, svelte, and put-together, and I was . . . not. Beauchamp wasn’t my account though. It was Wyatt’s. He was supposed to work on the pitch document, not me. Where the hell was he?

Wyatt strolled in around lunchtime, sunglasses still on, even though he was indoors. A sunlit glow on his face suggested he’d successfully practiced his on-the-clock self-care. I didn’t want to ask about where he’d been. Whatever came out of his mouth would infuriate me.

“Gordon’s been looking for you all morning.” I glanced at my wristwatch. “He says the Beauchamp pitch is due this afternoon. And, well, it’s afternoon.”

“I was celebrating.” He leaned back in his chair, stretched, then laced his fingers behind his head.

Should I ask? He was baiting me, clearly. But I was curious.

I growled, “Celebrating what?” My computer screen froze, my cursor blinking inside a cell of a complicated Excel macro. It took all my willpower to not throw my laptop across our open workspace. Please autosave, please, please, please.

He jumped forward, nearly springing off his Aeron chair. “Wait, you don’t know? Do you have a meeting on your calendar for this afternoon?”

“Nope.” I’d cleared my entire afternoon in case I needed to work on Wyatt’s stupid deal. There was definitely no new mystery meeting on my calendar.

He grinned. “I heard that Hamilton and Cooper was having layoffs this year, and a friend in HR confirmed it last month.” After all the years he’d worked here, he still called the company by the wrong name. It was just Hamilton Cooper. No “and.” No ampersand.

Wyatt continued. “Pink slips go out this afternoon. I’ve been informational interviewing the last few weeks and I think I might have something lined up at my dad’s friend’s hedge fund. Or I might go out on my own since I’ve made so many connections here. The best part is—we get severance packages!” He tapped down