Read an Excerpt
Matt Jacobs was not having a good day.
Normally, he would say he was having a bad day-a very bad day-but the new positive thinking course he’d just paid three hundred bucks for forbade the use of the word bad. What would his mentor say if he used the word shitty instead? That had to be allowed, right? He was having a shitty day. Shitty...He turned the word over a few times in his mind. Yeah, that might work.
It wasn’t like Matt had a sixth sense about these things, but from the moment he’d woken up, he’d had a feeling the day was going to suck. It had turned out to be far worse than he could have imagined.
He would have been okay about the boiler finally giving up the ghost if it hadn’t happened in the middle of his shower when he was covered in soap. He might have been okay about the kettle blowing, but, with having no coffee in his system when his crotchety old neighbour Mr Phelps cornered him on the way to his car and informed him that he was taking ownership of Snowy, Matt finally blew his top.
"The hell you are!" he fumed, glaring at Mr Phelps’ snooty-assed face. "You can’t just take my cat!"
Mr Phelps cocked an eyebrow. "Look, let’s be honest here. We both know Snowy likes me better than you."
"You bought him with treats and catnip!"
Mr Phelps sniffed. "I resent that accusation."
"I don’t give a rat’s ass what you resent. You can’t have him-he’s mine."
"When was the last time he spent the night at your house?"
Matt pursed his lips and cocked his head to the side while he tried to think about the answer. It had been a while. "He goes out at night," he said at last.
"No," his neighbour corrected. "He sleeps with me."
Matt gasped. "You... You catnapper!"
Mr Phelps ignored the comment and looked over Matt’s shoulder. "Ah, here he is now. Why don’t we ask him?"
Matt had already agreed before he realised what a really fucking stupid idea that was. But as Snowy strolled in their direction Matt felt the insane desire to get one up on the insufferable old coot that was looking at his cat with a deep sense of satisfaction.
"Snowy!" Matt called. "Come here, boy!"
The white tom padded up the sidewalk and into Mr Phelps’ garden without so much as a sideways glance in Matt’s direction. His jaw hit the ground.
"I think that settles it, don’t you?" Mr Phelps said, turning on his heel and following Snowy into his house, signalling the end of their conversation.
Matt stared after them open-mouthed. He’d be pissed as all hell if he wasn’t so upset. He loved that damn cat.
The day went from bad to worse when Matt arrived at work. He was just about to get up from his desk and finally make his first cup of coffee of the morning when he heard the dreaded words.
"Matt! Get your ass in here and help me clear up this goddamn mess!"
He massaged his temples with his thumb and forefinger, trying to alleviate some of the pressure that had been building all morning. He was going to get a migraine, he just knew it. No. Positive, Matt. Positive.
"I’m coming, sir!"
With a weary sigh, Matt got up from his desk and took the four steps needed to walk the length of his office. He crossed the small hallway and knocked on his boss’ open door, hovering for a few seconds before entering. Jerry tore his gaze from the papers on his desk and glared at Matt.
"Well? What the hell you waiting for? Get your ass in here."
Jerry Gardner was a squat man in his mid-fifties with a comb-over and bad breath. He wore brown, polyester suits that were a size too small and he was always sweating. It could be five below and Jerry would still be wiping his forehead with the same yellowing handkerchief and complaining it was a hot one. You need this job, you need this job, Matt repeated over and over like a mantra as he took a seat in the folding lawn chair opposite the hobbit.
Jerry popped an antacid pill then leant back in his chair, lips pursed.
"We’re fucked," he said succinctly.
Matt didn’t reply. He’d learnt the hard way not to interrupt his boss before he’d said what he had to say.
When the phone on Jerry’s desk starting ringing he reached for it with his chubby, overly hairy fingers and barked into the receiver, "Hello!"
Matt’s shoulders slouched and he leant back in his chair-not too far back because he’d learnt the hard way about doing that, too. Twice the chair had folded and he’d landed flat on his ass. It wouldn’t happen a third time.
"What the fuck? Marge, I’m at work! I don’t give a goddamn what you make for dinner, got it?"
Jerry hung up then turned his cold, beady gaze on Matt. "Where were we?"
"Uh, fucked?" Matt offered.
"Right. And do you know why we’re fucked?"
Matt was fairly certain the question had been rhetorical but he answered it anyway. "Would it have anything to do with the Hugo/Martinez account, sir?"
"You bet your ass it would. When those fuckers backed out on the contract it left us bent over backwards and screwed up the Jacksie. You have any idea what we can do about it?"
Jerry’s face turned puce. "No, we can’t fucking sue-and why not? Because the fuckers didn’t sign anything! Don’t you know a verbal agreement is not worth the paper it’s written on?"
Matt was tempted to point out the inaccuracy in that statement but he valued his life too much. "So what can we do, sir?"
Jerry grinned. The action exposed uneven, yellowing teeth and somehow served to make him look even more unfriendly. "We grab ‘em by the gonads and squeeze, that’s what we do. Get ‘em where it hurts, you got that?"
"Sure, sir-grab ‘em and squeeze. Got it."
"Good, now get to work."
Jerry looked up from his desk and scowled. "You still here?"
"Uh, just what do you want me to squeeze?"
"Are you mentally retarded?" Jerry asked.
Matt was sure he saw a blood vessel in Jerry’s head pop. Just hold it together, Matt. Don’t rise to it.
"I just told you what to do! You have to get ‘em where it hurts. You telling me you don’t know what would hurt Hugo and Martinez?"
Matt didn’t like the sound of that one little bit. "The Hillside account, sir?"
"You’re damn straight." There was another inaccuracy that Matt had no intention of correcting. He didn’t want to be the cause of Jerry’s sudden heart failure. He needed his job to cover his mortgage until he could find something with better pay and prospects, but the search was proving more difficult than he’d anticipated. The job was always supposed to have been temporary, a stopgap. It was meant to have been somewhere he could learn all he could about the investment business then move on. Two years later he was still putting up with Jerry’s shit. He didn’t know how much more he could take.