“I want to know what you talk about,” Churchill said.
“His farm. His wife before she died. Nothing earth-shattering.”
“Angie, do you like working here?”
“Would you like to continue working here?”
“Don’t threaten me.”
“Then, don’t bullshit me. What does West want from you?”
Ethan had told her this would happen. He had also told her to tell the truth. It would be easier to handle. “It’s more about what I want from him.” She sketched out the story of her son and husband and her hope that Ethan might be able to contact them.
“Hmm.” Churchill leaned back in his chair. “Great story, but what did he give you last week?”
“What?” A chill ran through the young nurse.
Churchill picked up a folder off his desk, opened it, and tossed an eight by ten photo across the polished wood. “What did he give you?”
Angie examined the photo and her heart fluttered. It showed her under the tree with Ethan, her hand extended to him. Damn! She made a lousy spy.
“I’m waiting Mrs. Warner.”
She noticed that she was no longer Angie. “He didn’t give me anything.”
“Have you ever been in a really nasty lawsuit, Mrs. Warner?”
“Well think about what your life will be like after I fire you and then sue you for trafficking in company secrets. I can pay lawyers to work you over for the next ten years. Imagine spending every penny you can ever earn or borrow to defend yourself against a rabid pack of shysters who just won’t go away. Is that what you want?” Churchill’s syrupy delivery belied the content of his words.
Angie Warner just stared at her tormentor. She had no idea what to say.
“I want you to tell me what he gave you. And any time you speak with him I want to know what he says. Do you understand?”
Angie remained motionless.
Churchill opened the top drawer of his desk and extracted a single sheet of paper. “Here’s your copy of some paperwork that’s sitting in the personnel office. You’re due for a nice raise, I believe. This goes into effect today if you decide to be reasonable. Can I depend on you to be reasonable?” His smile was like a fist in a silk glove.
When she did not immediately answer, Churchill added, “Annie is how old now, eleven? College right around the corner. So many expenses. Or maybe she won’t be able to go?”
Angie’s heart raced. This worm had used her daughter’s name. What else did he know about her?
“Or the lawsuit. Think of having to sell your house, move into a little apartment to save money. But I’m sure your daughter will understand. Children can overcome anything if they are with their parents. But then, what if you’re sent to jail for theft of company secrets? Who will raise the sweet little Annie? And what about the new arrivals?”
Angie squinted hard. “How do you know it’s plural?”
“What kind of employer would I be if I didn’t take an interest in my employees? I’m concerned about how you’ll be able to afford three children. With twins on the way, I think you can use the extra income. Now, why don’t you sign this and be done with it?” Churchill reached inside his jacket for his Cross pen. A momentary frown crossed his face when he didn’t find it. He reached into his top desk drawer and pulled out another pen and set it on the sheet of paper that sat alone on his desk.
Angie took a deep breath, nodded, and reached for the paper. She knew when she was beaten. It happened so often, she had no trouble recognizing it.