Conflict of Interest

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“With a love life like yours, I’d still be at work too.”

Mave looked up from the conference room he’d parked himself in ten hours earlier that day. His zombie-like stare proved he’d been going through more than his share of paperwork. He wasn’t too tired to go down without a fight.

“How’s your date with Grace? Oh, wait, I forgot she’s going out with not you. Welcome back to work.”

“I accept your cynicism. How’s it looking?” Luke’s head motioned to the papers lined in stacks down the length of the table. The whiteboard contained Mave’s chicken scratch, and held a scattering of numbers that so far didn’t make any sense.

Mave rubbed his face after finishing a highlight and began, “Keep in mind we’ll never know everything.”

“Got it.”

Mave looked up and down the table and pointed to the left. “This is fifteen years back. They’ve had an increase in profit pretty much every year. But that’s when there’s been a significant increase in profit, year over year. I’m talking like eight to fifteen percent. Every client they get stays with them, and every year, they add more clients. I knew they were good, but this? This is really good.” Mave stood and stretched and went over his notes. “No major debt concerns, no lawsuits, and great financial statements.”

“So?” Luke questioned.

“There are a lot of factors to consider, but, yeah. They are going to need more manpower.”

“Would the man-power be exclusive to their existing business?” Luke asked, knowing Mave would have covered all the bases.

“Thought you might go there,” Mave offered a sly, confident grin. “I think this is where we get them.”

Mave walked to the right side of the whiteboard and circled the bottom number and the number just to the right. Luke’s eyes widened. The number to the right was…large.

“This,” Mave pointed to the first number, “would be our investment into Thomas and Jane to bring tax services into their portfolio. This,” Mave led Luke to the second number, “is the potential profit even if only twenty-five percent of their existing customers used the service.”

“Holy shit.”

“Holy shit, indeed. This,” Mave made his final move by picking up a marker on his way to circle his last detail, “is the overall potential black if we acquire.”

“Dad will be sold on this.”

“Yeah.” It was a simple agreement. “He will.”

Mave stretched his arms and legs. He moved, bent, and twisted. He rubbed his back and realized he hadn’t left the room all day.

“You hungry?” Mave asked.

“Of course. My date ditched me for another dude. How much work do you have left here? Want to go pick something up? Then I’ll join you in the fight against forecasting?”


“Pizza or Chinese?”

“That should never have to be a decision to be made. How can one possibly choose between two perfect choices? What an imperfect ques-”

Luke cut Mave off, “It’s pizza. The answer is always pizza. Who are you?”

“Black Sheep?”

“Never have you spoken a more beautiful name,” Luke all but sang.

Even with the impending chill of winter, they decided walking a few blocks for pizza was worth it. Without a word, they both grabbed their jackets from their temporary desks that sat with the rest of the company’s cubicles. Then they were on their way.

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