difficult, but we’ll make it, you’ll see. And when we do, your shares will be worth a damn sight more than they are at the moment!’
There was silence. Both Karen and I were taken aback. Richard never lost his temper.
He took a deep breath, and turned to Karen. ‘Well? Will you ask around?’
‘OK, I will,’ said Karen soothingly. ‘But it may turn out that people are just selling because they think you’re going bust. I’ll let you know.’
I made some coffee, and we drank it quickly before going to bed. I was angry with my brother. He was going to lose us all a lot of money through financial carelessness as much as anything else. I had believed in his stories of virtual reality. I still had confidence in his technical ability to achieve all that he had set out to, although I was beginning to wonder about ‘big breakthroughs’ that he couldn’t even explain to his own brother. If only he had had the common sense to hang on to some cash while he’d got it.
I was still angry when Richard got up very early the next morning to catch the plane to Edinburgh. What he said at the door only made it worse.
‘Karen is very attractive, isn’t she?’
‘Yes, she is,’ I said, a touch of pride in my voice.
‘Be careful of her, little brother.’ He turned, and walked out into the empty early morning street.
I was stunned. The patronising git! Karen had put up her life savings to bale him out, and he had squandered them. And it wasn’t even she who had got angry with him last night, it was me! I had every right to be cross with him and he had no right at all to talk to me like that about her.
Noisily, I clattered the final debris from the previous night’s dinner into the sink and washed it up. But amidst the anger, something nagged, a truth from which I couldn’t hide. It made me more furious.
You see, ever since I could remember, my brother had always been right.
Karen and I were both busy. Prices were still sliding, but in a slower, more orderly fashion. We were at the beginning of a bear market. That was fine with me, I would adjust my trades accordingly. I made sure all my positions were hedged. For every bond I bought, I sold short a different one. Selling short means selling a bond you don’t own. You are allowed to do that in the bond markets; it’s very useful. It means that in a falling market, the money you lose on the bonds you own is more than compensated for by the money you gain by buying back the bonds you sold short. That is, if you picked the right bonds in the first place, of course.
Well, it was beginning to look like Greg, Ed and I had picked the right bonds. My two-year ten-year trade was only just beginning to work, but I was feeling more confident. Greg’s eights of twenty-one were rocketing up, or at least were falling slower than the bonds he had shorted. But we were both still a long way under water. Bob was still frowning, but he gave us more time.
Karen schmoozed clients. She was out with one on Thursday night, and was due to meet some more on Monday in Paris. She decided to spend the weekend there with a friend with whom she had been on an exchange as a child. The friend had never really learned English successfully, and my French was pathetic, so I wasn’t invited. Our game of tennis was cancelled. Never mind. There was a good race meeting at Newmarket I wanted to go to.
Karen got a late flight back on Monday. She didn’t arrive home till about ten. I poured her a glass of wine, and we sat on the sofa upstairs.
‘Did you have a good trip?’
‘Yes, great,’ she said enthusiastically.
‘How was Nicole?’
‘She’s fine. She thinks Jacques is finally the right one for her.’
‘And what do you think?’
Karen giggled and held her thumb down. ‘Too boring.’
‘What, not as boring as me, I hope?’
‘Oh no, darling, nowhere near as dull. Don’t worry. How was Newmarket?’
‘Not too bad. Only twenty quid down. I’m taking Greg to Ascot next