Author:Emma Chase

Two out of three ain’t bad, right?


Even though my dad knows the importance of family and separating business from pleasure, that doesn’t mean I get a free pass at the firm because I’m his son. Actually, I think he rides my ass a lot harder than the other employees’, just to avoid any claims of favoritism. Impropriety at the office is something he would never tolerate. He’d come down on it like Gallagher’s sledgehammer on a watermelon.


Which is another reason my dad and his partners were able to build such a successful business—because each of them brings their own unique talents to the team. John Evans, Drew and Alexandra’s father, is like Face from the A-Team. He’s the charmer, the convincer—he makes sure the clients are happy and the employees are not only content, but enthusiastic. Then there’s George Reinhart—Steven’s dad. George is the brains of the operation. My dad and John aren’t exactly lacking in that department, but George is like Stephen Hawking without the ALS. He’s the only guy I know who actually enjoys the technical, number-punching aspect of investment banking.


Then there’s my father, Frank—he’s the muscle. The intimidator. He’s a man of few words, which means when he speaks, your ears better fucking be listening, because he’s saying something worth hearing. And he has no problem firing people. My dad makes Donald Trump look like a pussy. Doesn’t matter if you’re the sole family breadwinner or a pregnant woman in her last trimester—if you’re not getting the job done, you’re out on your ass. Tears don’t move him, and second chances are rare. Ever since I was a kid, he’d say, “Matthew, family is family, friends are friends, and business is business. Don’t confuse them.”


Even though he’s a hard-ass, he’s always fair. Honest. Keep your i’s dotted and your t’s crossed and there won’t be a problem. I always make sure my i’s are dotted and my t’s are crossed. Not just because I prefer to keep my job, but because . . . I’d never want to disappoint my old man. Sadly, that attitude’s become scarce. So many little assholes running around today give no thought to making their parents proud—but it’s what Drew, Alexandra, Steven, and I were raised on.


Anyway, back to the real story.


After lunch with the guys, I spend the rest of the afternoon at my desk, drafting a contract and making nice with clients on the telephone. Around six o’clock, I’m packing up when Steven comes breezing through my door.


“Guess who spent their lunch break surrounded by rabid gamers in line for the latest fix?”


I slip a folder into my briefcase for some non-enjoyable reading before bed. If you don’t want to live life chained to a desk? Time management is crucial.


I answer, “That would be you?”


He smiles and nods. “Damn straight, brother. And look what I scored.”


He holds up a square cellophane-wrapped package.


Back in my father’s day, guys would occasionally get together for a fishing trip or drinks at the local pub to unwind after a long day’s work. But what Steven holds in his hands is more addictive than alcohol and a hell of a lot more fun that baiting a hook.


It’s the latest edition of Call of Duty.


“Sweet.” I take the disk from his hand and flip it over, checking out the updated real-to-life graphics.


“You up for a mission tonight? Around nine?”


In case you don’t already know—Steven is married. And he’s not just married—he’s married to Alexandra-formerly-Evans, also known as The Bitch. But you didn’t hear that last part from me.


If a regular wife is a ball at the end of a chain? Alexandra’s a Sherman tank. She keeps Steven on a short leash—doesn’t let him come out to the bars on Saturday night, only allows him one poker game a month. Even though Steven’s not the straying kind, Alexandra thinks hanging out with us carefree, single friends would be a bad influence on her husband. And . . . she’s probably right.


But, like any good warden knows, you can only restrict the inmates so much. You can lock them in a cage ten hours a day, ban yard time—but try and take away their cigarettes? You’ve got a major revolt on your hands.


Xbox is Steven’s one permissible vice. As long as his playtime doesn’t disturb their daughter, Mackenzie, after she’s down for the night. One time, Steven got a little too loud during an ambush and woke Mackenzie up. He was on lockdown for a week. Lesson learned.


“Yeah, dude, count me in.”


I hand him the game back and he says, “Cool. See you at twenty-one hundred.” Then he salutes me and heads out the door.


I pick up my briefcase and gym bag and walk out a few minutes later. On the way to the elevator, I swing by Drew’s office.


He’s bent over his paper-covered desk, making notes with a red pen on a document.




He glances up, “Hey.”


“Xbox tonight, nine o’clock. Steven’s got the new Call of Duty.”


With his attention back on the paper, Drew says, “Can’t. I’m gonna be here until ten, at least.”