Clawback

Clawback by Mike Cooper Read Free Book Online

Book: Clawback by Mike Cooper Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mike Cooper
had a right to be angry at Marlett.”
    “Maybe.” I pushed beans around on my plate. “You know, every trade that Marlett lost money on had a counterparty. Someone else got rich off his bad picks.”
    “True.” She put down her cup. “So what did you do for him?”
    That was an abrupt transition. She’d had practice interviewing.
    “Tax advice,” I said.
    “Oh. You’re like, what, H&R Block for plutocrats?”
    I counted to three. “I help out with certain arcane issues in estate planning and tax management. In Marlett’s case, well, I’m afraid client privilege survives his demise. But it wasn’t anything you’d find useful.”
    We went back and forth for a few minutes. I could see Amir watching from his perch down the counter—watching Clara, probably. I wasn’t nearly as eye-catching.
    “So who do you write for?” I asked, finally.
    “Well,…” She hesitated, twisting a band of hair around one finger. It was the first uncertain gesture I’d seen her make. “I used to freelance articles to the financial press, but now I’m trying to publish an online weekly. Original analysis, investigations, sourced commentary. A finblog with depth.”
    It’s not like I’ve heard many elevator pitches, but even to me that sounded weak. “How’s it going?”
    “Slow.” Clara sighed, and looked directly at me. Her eyes were an unusually dark blue, and unblinking. “Real slow.”
    “I think I’m getting the picture. Marlett’s your ticket to fame, right?”
    “One good story is all it takes.”
    “And Marlett’s got it all.”
    She nodded. “Scandal, greed, a spectacular Wall Street crash and burn—and then the guy’s
assassinated
? By some sort of avenging ninja? Reporters would
kill
for this opportunity.”
    “So to speak.”
    She smiled. “I’m three-fourths there, because I’ve been working it so long already. If I get the entire story…that’s it, I’m
made
.”
    We’d both finished our plates. The coffee cups were cold. Amir was in the kitchen, yelling cheerfully in some foreign language at the dishwasher, who kept interrupting him.
    “I’m not part of your scoop,” I said. “I had some small businesswith Marlett, and it wasn’t interesting at all.” Clara started to talk, and I held up my hand. “No, I know you don’t believe me, even though it’s true. So here’s what we can do. I’ll help you dig up the real dirt.”
    “And in exchange, I leave you out.”
    “You don’t want to waste your time looking at me.” There was another entendre there, which I tried to ignore. “Just by convincing you not to, I’m helping you close in on the Pulitzer.”
    “Pulitzer? That is so dead tree.”
    “Well, then, synflood–level traffic monetization. Whatever you want.”
    “Okay.” Clara held out her hand. This time her grip seemed warmer, and I admit I held it a few seconds longer than was strictly necessary. “Deal.”
    “Good,” I said. “What’s it called?”
    “What?”
    “Your blog.”
    “I like to think of it as a journal. ‘Blog’ sounds amateurish.”
    “Sorry.”
    “
Event Risk
.”
    A phrase from bond-prospectus boilerplate. “I like that.”
    “Thanks.”
    I dropped a twenty on the table and we scooted out of the booth.
    “Stay in touch,” she said.
    “You, too.” I gave her the number of another of the so-far unused prepaid cellphones. “Those other digits—don’t use them.”
    “Why not?”
    “They won’t be working.”
    “Uh-huh.” She gave me a knowing smile and started out.
    “Hey,” I said. “I hope I hear before you write about it.”
    “About what?”
    “Whatever happens next.” I held the door open for her. “It’s sure to be interesting.”

CHAPTER SIX
    “A bandit,” said Johnny, generously giving me about a third of his attention. It was next morning, early in the business day. His eyes stayed on the five monitors—no, six, he’d added another flat-panel since I last visited—that were streaming market data, news,

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