tagErotic CouplingsLady Gambler Ch. 02

Lady Gambler Ch. 02


It was still dark when I got back to the college. I slept most of the day, not waking up till late afternoon. I figured Phillip and Marla were probably back in Phoenix by now. They were supposed to fly out sometime mid-morning. I walked across to the student cafeteria and got myself something to eat. I was getting tired of pizza and fast food. I ate alone, not really wanting anyone to interrupt my thoughts.

After eating I headed back to my dorm room and booted up my computer. My roommate was on her bed studying for one of her final exams. We didn’t bother each other. I didn’t tell her about me getting the job in Phoenix. I checked out the apartment complexes in the greater Phoenix area. There was a bunch and in all price ranges. I looked at the surrounding cities figuring I might not want to live right in Phoenix, maybe on the outskirts somewhere. Scottsdale sounded good so I checked apartments there. I bookmarked a few for later reference.

I checked out the accounting firm where I’d be working. They had a website and I studied it carefully. It all looked great. There were pictures of the major staff members. Phillip and Marla’s pictures and bios were listed. I discovered Phillip was the grandson of one of the owners of the firm and had worked there since he graduated college. He was also married with two young children. Marla had been with the firm only a few years. She had a very strong background in finance. All in all, I was very impressed with the firm and its staff.

I surfed some of the automobile websites shopping for a new car. The prices were discouraging so I figured maybe I’d find something a couple of years older at a better price. I needed to manage my money so I’d have plenty to play poker with. I could use my winnings to buy something new down the road. I perused the casinos and hotels in Las Vegas. Many of the casinos offered packages, which included flight transportation. It would be a lot quicker to fly from Phoenix to Vegas, not to mention being less stressful. I surfed the Internet till late in the evening and then grabbed a quick shower before bed.

The next two weeks dragged by slowly. I talked with Marla by phone several times. We sent each other emails every day. My parents attended my graduation. They were elated that I was finally graduating and getting my degree. Mom wasn’t too happy about me moving out to Phoenix for the new job. Dad made mention of it not being far from Las Vegas. I told him that was one reason I took the job. Dad loved gambling in general, I stuck strictly to poker. That was where my skill and luck was. I hoped my luck wouldn’t run out.

The next morning after graduation I packed everything in my car and headed west towards Phoenix. I couldn’t wait to get out there. I’d rented a nice apartment on the north side of Scottsdale. The trip took me two days to drive the distance.

I arrived at the apartment complex on East Mountainview and checked in at the rental office. The guy at the office had all the papers ready for me to sign. It took about fifteen minutes to complete everything. He handed me the keys and a packet of information and maps of the area so I could find about anything or any place. He showed me the location of the apartment on the grid map so I could find it easily. He was very helpful, not to mention cute.

I called the accounting firm to let Marla know I’d finally made it to Phoenix. Her secretary informed me she was in a late meeting but she’d leave a message that I’d called. I left my new phone number so she could contact me. The phone rang about an hour later. It was Marla, we chatted for awhile. She was excited as me that I was finally out here. She said she’d stop by tomorrow evening after work for a visit and to let me in on some more good news.

I had almost a full week to get my furniture and finish getting settled in. I was done by the weekend so I could relax before starting my new job on Monday. Marla and I went out for dinner Friday evening to celebrate and to relax. We had a good time and talked about the evening we’d spent together a few weeks previous. We talked about Phillip of course. She and Phillip had a thing going for the past year. It wasn’t anything serious, just casual sex. Marla thought it would eventually end hoping they‘d still be friends.

Monday morning finally arrived. My first day at work. I left the apartment early allowing myself plenty of time to drive into Phoenix. I wasn’t sure how the traffic situation might be. I got to the office building almost thirty minutes early so I waited in my car for awhile. I saw Marla pull into the parking lot so I got out and walked towards her. She spotted me and waited on me to catch up with her. The office building was multi-story. The accounting firm had the entire third floor, lots of office space. Marla introduced me to the receptionists and several of the people standing around one of the coffee counters. The all seemed pretty friendly for it being a Monday morning. Marla showed me to my office. It had a window, which was great. At least I wouldn’t feel like I was working in a box. The view overlooked the side street, nothing interesting but it was a window. I sure wasn’t going to complain. The desk was cleaned off except for the computer monitor. There were several matching chairs around a small conference table in the corner. It was a really nice office. I sat down in the high back leather desk chair getting used to its feel. My work would be financial planning and investments. I wouldn’t be involved with accounting, as I‘d originally thought. Marla would be my boss. I had a hunch she done some fast-talking to get me into her group.

Two of the three firm’s owners came walking down the hallway heading towards their respective offices. Marla introduced me to them. The smiled and shook my hand. I guessed them to be in their late fifties. We had a staff meeting with all the other associates at 9:00 every morning. It was 8:30 now. Marla and I sat at my conference table talking about some of the people I’d be working with. One thing she cautioned me about. Don’t trust anyone. There was a lot of backstabbing amongst the associates. Everyone was trying to get ahead and move up the ladder. I took her advice seriously. I wondered if that’s how she attained the position she was in.

Marla and I attending the staff meeting. I was introduced to everyone in the group. The firm’s manager chaired the meeting. It wasn’t very often any of the firm’s owners attended the daily meetings. The manager reviewed some of the company policies and fielded a couple of questions from the staff. He adjourned the meeting, asking Marla and I to come to his office for a brief meeting with him. Jason Price was the firm’s manager, a position he’d held for over fifteen years.

We sat at the conference table in his office. Jason directed his words to Marla as much as he did me. I was going to be picked to take care of a new client’s account. I wondered why he’d pick me, someone new, rather than someone with more experience to work with a new client. He answered the question before I got to ask it. All the other associates had turned the account down, not wanting to work with the people. I was beginning to suspect maybe this client was not one of our most upstanding citizens. What scared me even more was the fact that this account would be one of our largest. If I could make the client happy, the firm would be cashing in big time. I wondered what would happen to me if I didn’t make the client happy. I didn’t really have a choice, I was going to be assigned the account whether I wanted it or not. I told Jason and Marla I’d do my best to see to it this new client happy with us. I don’t think my bold statement had a big impact on Jason’s faith in me but I had to say something encouraging.

Jason gave me a file folder with the client’s basic information. I glanced over it, noticing a lot of blank spaces. Important information was clearly missing. I suspected it was deliberately missing. Jason gave me a few words of encouragement before leading us to his office door. Marla and I walked back to my office in silence. Phillip was coming down the hallway towards us. He was headed for a meeting with Jason. He shook my hand saying he was glad to see I’d made the trip safely. He looked very handsome in his Armani suit. I had to force a smile, trying to overcome my nervousness with this new account.

Marla and I walked into my office. Marla closed the door behind us. I sat down in my chair behind my desk. Marla sat across from me.

“I know I should have warned you ahead of time but Jason didn’t want me to say anything.” She stated. “He wanted to tell you himself.”

“What’s with these people that none of the other associates won’t go near them?” I asked. “Is their money dirty?”

Marla didn’t have any idea how they’d amassed their money. She was confident it wasn’t from drugs or any other illegal activities. No one had been able to track the source of their money so everyone was shying away from getting involved with them. Her statements didn’t make me feel anymore comfortable. I could just picture myself playing poker with my fellow inmates in some federal prison somewhere. I quickly erased that picture from my mind. No sense in thinking the worse of these people. I hadn’t even met them yet. I’d just be cautious as hell. If I thought things were getting out of hand, I’d quit immediately. I told Marla exactly that. I wasn’t going to get involved in any kind of illegal activities. Marla nodded her head, she understood how I felt. The only thing she really knew about these people that was positive, was that they were acquainted with Mr. Henderson.

“Mr. Henderson? I inquired. “Who’s Mr. Henderson?”

Marla informed me he was the other partner in the firm, the third partner. Henderson rarely came to the office. He conducted most of his business at the country clubs and private golf courses. He was a bit of a playboy. Marla had to get back to her other duties so she excused herself. She wished me luck and said to keep her updated on my progress. If I needed any help, I was to ask her for it directly, no one else.

I opened the folder and reviewed it several times. I damn near had what little information there was, memorized. I decided to call the only phone number listed and set up an appointment to meet with these people. I dialed the number but just got a recording. I started to hang up, figuring I’d call again later. I decided to leave my name and phone number, mentioning the accounting firm’s name so they’d know what it was about. My phone rang back in less than a minute. The woman on the other line confirmed by name and asked me to hold while she got transferred the phone call.

“Hello.” A pleasant voice on the other end spoke. “Is this Michelle from Banks, Kellogg and Henderson?”

“Yes, this is Michelle.” I quickly replied.

The man apologized for me having to leave a message on the recorder. His secretary had left her desk briefly and missed answering the call. I told him that I didn’t mind leaving a message. Actually I hate those damn phone recorders. I’m not all that crazy about phone mail either.

“I’m George Ferris. Brant Henderson’s a golf buddy of mine. He suggested I use his firm to do my financial planning.”

I thanked him for giving us the opportunity to work with him. I was calling to set up an appointment so he could come into the office and we could sit down and discuss everything in person. He hesitated at my suggestion, saying he’d prefer to meet at his office.

“We’d be more comfortable and it would be easier to discuss business.” He stated.

I was more than happy to meet him at his office if that’s what he preferred. I had to keep in mind that my goal was to get this important and keep it. Ferris’s office was on the same property as his home. He lived in Fountain Hills, an exclusive neighborhood north east of Scottsdale. It wasn’t all that far from my apartment, probably less than thirty minutes. We set up a time for a meeting the next morning. He gave me his address, which wasn’t mentioned in his file. I thanked him and we said our good-byes. I filled in the address information in Ferris’s file. I hoped to be able to fill in all the blanks after tomorrow morning’s meeting.

I phoned Marla and let her know that I’d made contact with this George Ferris person and set up an appointment to meet with him at his home office tomorrow morning. The news seemed to brighten Marla’s spirits. She gave me a few suggestions but I just made mental notes of them. I spent the rest of the day going over the firm’s investment background so I’d have some ideas to present to Ferris. My first day passed fairly quickly.

Rush hour traffic in downtown Phoenix was slow at best. I finally made him home after fighting traffic for almost an hour. The air conditioner in my car wasn’t working too well. I really needed to look into getting something new. I’d try to do some shopping around this coming weekend. I took a quick dip in the apartment complex pool that evening just about dusk. The pool’s cool water felt refreshing and invigorating. I slept pretty well that evening even though I was slightly worried about the next morning’s meeting with Ferris.

At the office the following morning, I packed all the information along with my laptop in my attaché and headed out to Ferris’s office. The homes in Fountain Hills are gorgeous. I noticed many were southwestern style homes, my favorite style. I drove through the neighborhood’s winding streets finding Ferris’s home at the end of the street. I pulled in the drive and down towards the house. It was magnificent. A southwestern style home, tan stucco with numerous flat rooflines. As I approached the house, a young man stepped out and motioned for me to stop. I didn’t know if it was George Ferris or not. Naturally I stopped.

“Can I help you?“ He asked, leaning on the car.

I told him who I was and that I had an appointment with Mr. Ferris. He opened the door for me and helped me out. He was quite the gentleman. I grabbed my attaché from the seat and the young man escorted me to George Ferris’s office. Ferris’s office was at the end of a winding walkway from the main house. I took a deep breath; you could almost smell money and plenty of it!

We reached the office and the young man opened the door for me. I stepped inside and a woman in her mid-thirties greeted me. She introduced herself. I missed catching her name but I remembered her stating she was Mr. Ferris’s personal secretary. The young man who’d escorted me to the office took a chair in the tiny reception area. I had him pegged as some sort of bodyguard. I didn‘t see any kind of weapon, but I suspected he had one on him somewhere. The woman motioned me towards a set of double wooden doors that led to Ferris’s office. I followed her into the office. Ferris was standing against the far wall. It was almost all glass and overlooked a golf course. He appeared to be watching some golfers off in the distance. He turned as we entered and walked towards us. I introduced myself putting my hand out to shake his.

“Mr. Ferris, I’m Michelle Gray from Banks, Kellogg and Henderson.” I stated, smiling at him.

“Welcome to my home.” He said in a very pleasant voice as he shook my hand. His hand was soft but his grip was firm.

“Please call me George.” He added, smiling. The soothing tone of his voice had a relaxing effect.

He motioned me towards his desk. It was more like a big table rather than a desk. I sat down in one of the large, swivel, leather chairs putting my attaché and purse on the floor next to me. Ferris sat behind his desk putting his hands together on the top. I pulled out the file folder and asked if he minded if I filled in some of the blank spaces.

“Certainly. Whatever information I can give you, I will.” He stated in a pleasant voice.

His manner of speech caused me to smile. I was surprised at how easy he seemed to talk with. I asked him questions, skipping some I thought he wouldn’t answer, even under oath. I came to the area of the form dealing with investment amounts. All the spaces were blank. I’d have to ask, so I tried to make the questions sound casual. I asked him how much he thought he would be investing initially. I looked at him, gritting my teeth. Ferris leaned back in his chair for a moment and then leaned back on the desk.

“Let’s say something seven figures to start. More, much more if things look like they’re going well later on.” Ferris stated.

I just made seven “x‘s” in the first space, eight “x‘s” in the next blank space. I tried not to look surprised but inside I was dumbfounded. The rest of the blanks, I’d leave till later to fill in.

“What do you feel you’d like to invest your money in?” I asked. “Remember we want to make sure you diversify so we reduce any amount of risk.”

My question seemed to stump Ferris a little. I could see him waiting for me to make some suggestions. I pulled out an information sheet listing some of the firm’s current and past investments. I started naming them off slowly, raising my eyes toward him to see if I hit on anything. I didn’t seem to strike a nerve on anything except medical stock investments and real estate investments. Everything else seemed to get a very disinterested look from him.

“Actually Miss Gray, I’m looking for something…………… let’s say…………. a sure thing!” He stated. A faint grin appearing on his face.

I smiled at his remark, trying not to laugh. Ferris realized he’d made a funny remark.

“I wish I could predict a sure thing, but I can’t.” I said. “There always seems to be a higher risk with a sure thing. You might be better off going with something secure with a good track record and staying in for the long haul”

I know that sounded a little too cliché but it was better than not saying anything at all. I didn’t want him to know he was my very first client. I had to act professional. I was starting to get a little nervous.

“What about a quick turn around on my money, even if there is more risk involved?” He asked.

I was stumped for an answer. My mind went completely blank. I had a “brain fart.” I looked down at the investment sheet looking for an answer. My eyes couldn’t focus.

“I know that probably sounds stupid of me, I realize that.” He stated, breaking the silence. “I’m a bit of a gambler. Just not a very good gambler.”

His casual remark brought a smile to my face. I reminded him that an important part of any kind of investment was risk management. I didn’t want to make it sound like I was lecturing him so I kept the tone of my voice soft, maybe even a little sexy. It seemed to work. I again suggested he consider investing in the medical stocks and real estate. It seemed the least risky for the amount of return he might expect.

“If this were your money, is that the way you’d go with it?” He asked wanting me to tell the truth.

“Yes. I’d think I’d lean heavier towards the real estate investment, more towards residential and industrial. I wouldn’t think too much about commercial real estate. The medical stock investments seem stable with a steady rise in earnings.” I stated truthfully.

“OK, let’s talk about it more after lunch. I’m hungry and I’m sure you could eat something too.” He stated.

I nodded my head. I was hungry, not having eaten anything all day. I felt confident that I had convinced Ferris to see things my way. I sincerely felt it was in his best interest to keep risk as low as we possibly could. Ferris got up from his chair, briefly glancing out onto the golf course.

“You don’t play golf by chance do you?” He inquired.

“No, I’ve never played, never really had the time I guess.” I stated, casually.

Ferris motioned me towards the door. I reached down for my purse but Ferris said that his “man” would stay at the office so my personal belongings would be safe. I smiled and nodded. Ferris opened the door for me and I walked back out into the reception area. The young man sitting in the chair started to get up. Ferris made a gesture with his hand and the man quickly sat back down.

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