“So we go for the jugular.”
It was more a statement than a question as Cameron spread his hands on the boardroom table. I studied them for a moment; milky-pale, square finger tips, clipped nails. The hands of a ruthless businessman. Behind his head, an ancient Samurai sword hung on a rack. To me it symbolised what he had become over the years.
Miles cleared his throat and murmured assent.
“Good.” Cameron formed his fingers into a steeple “We publicly expose Ted, seize his home and assets, leak the news to the press ... in other words we slaughter him.”
“We need to act quickly.” Miles confirmed.
“That’s it settled then.” Cameron pushed his chair back and half stood as I interjected.
“Actually, I disagree.”
Both men swivelled to look at me.
“I can understand you’re angry but aggression is not the answer.”
Cameron fell back into his chair, a cynical glint in his eye. “So what do you think, James?”
“I think the four of us have been partners for a decade. We started the company together and we’ve grown it to what it is today.” I tapped a folder in front of me. “I’ve written up a proposal of how to handle the situation. It contains evidence of the fraud, a repayment plan, mandatory counselling with a financial expert, sessions with a therapist ...”
Cameron snickered. “You’ve lost it James.”
“Do you even know why he took the money, Cam?”
“Something to do with his baby I suppose.”
“The baby is now a little boy and has already broken over thirty bones. Ted’s medical bills are astronomical and his insurance ran out months ago. Brittle bone disease is incurable and life’s not going to get any easier for them.”
“Doesn’t make it right to steal.”
“It doesn’t, but he’s our friend. He deserves better than this.” I looked at Miles who was expressionless. “We always said we wouldn’t let the business destroy our friendship and yet here we are, planning to destroy Ted’s life. If you go ahead, Cameron, Ted will be ruined. His home is kitted out with special equipment for the child and his wife only gets a break when he hires a nurse for the day. He’s worn himself ragged trying to cope.” I pushed the folder forward. “If we all sign this and he adds his name, we’ll work with him to get him back on track. I’m not saying it’ll be easy but it’s right.”
Cameron glared at me and Miles dropped his eyes.
“Come on guys. This is Ted we’re talking about, not some stranger off the street.” My eyes drifted over Cameron’s head to the sword and an idea struck me. I strode around the table and took it down from the rack.
Cameron flinched as I laid it in front of him, its curved blade glinting like an evil smile. “That’s what Ted is facing.” I said. Then I pushed my folder next to it and laid my pen on top. “This is our choice gentlemen. The sword or the pen, destruction or healing, weakness or strength.”
Miles looked up and Cameron ran a finger across the blade, a sliver of indecision creasing his face. I leaned across the table and made firm eye contact with both of them. “My vote is cast. The final decision is yours.”
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