she’d inherit the better part of a billion dollars, that she already had enough money to buy an entire
Reacts to criticism with rage? Well, what do you do when you’re mistreated? Shy away from conflict and go snuffle into a Kleenex? Hell no: you get up in their face, straighten them out.
Takes advantage of other people? You don’t get anywhere in this world by being a cupcake, cupcake.
Disregards the feelings of others? Look: half the people in the world were below average, and “average” isn’t anything to brag about. We should pay attention to the dumbasses in life?
How about, “Preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, and intelligence”? Hey, had he taken a good look at her and her CV? She was in the running for class valedictorian; she looked like Marilyn Monroe, without the black spot on her cheek; and she had, at age twenty-two, thirty million dollars of her own, with twenty or thirty times more than that, yet to come. What fantasies? Welcome to my world, bub.
• • •
T HAT HAD BEEN more than a decade ago.
Taryn was now thirty-four. She still had those major assets—she was blond, good-looking, with interesting places in all the interesting places. She’d graduated from Wharton in Entrepreneurial Management, and then from the London School of Economics in finance. Until four years earlier, she’d worked in the finance department at Grant Mills, the family’s much-diversified agricultural products business, the fifth largest closely held company in the U.S.
She’d spent six years with Grant Mills, six years of snarling combat with a list of parents, uncles, and cousins, about who was going to run what. She might have won that fight, eventually, but she’d opted out. There was a lot of money there, but she couldn’t see spending her life with corn, wheat, beans, and rice.
She’d quit to start Digital Pen LLC, which wrote apps for smartphones and tablets. She employed two hundred people in Minneapolis, and another hundred out on the Coast, and had stacked up a few more tens of millions, on top of the three-quarters of a billion in the Grant Mills trust.
But even with Digital Pen, she’d grown bored. She’d turned the company over to a hired CEO, told him not to screw it up, and turned her eyes to politics.
Taryn had watched the incumbent U.S. senator, a Republican named Porter Smalls, stepping on his political dick for five consecutive years. She thought,
. She had an interest in the Senate, as a stepping-stone, and it was clear from early on that the main Democratic candidates would be the usual bunch of stooges, clowns, buffoons, apparatchiks, and small-town wannabees—and a witch—who couldn’t have found Washington, D.C., with a Cadillac’s navigation system and a Seeing Eye dog.
Taryn had everything she needed to buy a good, solid Senate seat, and start looking to move up. She’d pounded the field in the Democratic primary, taking fifty-one percent of the vote in a four-way race; the witch had finished third. She’d been a weekly visitor on both local and national talk shows, was good at it, and people started referring to her as a “rising star.”
She liked that. A lot. As anyone with narcissistic personality disorder would.
There was one large, juicy fly in the ointment. Three weeks before the election, she was losing. The thing about Smalls was, he was
. Okay, he’d screw anything that moved, and in one case, allegedly, a woman who said she’d been too drunk to move. But then, what did that mean, anymore?
• • •
S O T ARYN, WORKING ANONYMOUSLY through the shadow campaign, had hired Bob Tubbs to do his thing, to win the election for her. Tubbs didn’t know the man who passed him the 100K in twenties and fifties.
But Tubbs was a political, and had been around a long time, and knew how to follow a trail. It took a while, but he eventually followed it back to Dannon and thus to Taryn.
Skeleton Key, Ali Winters