KERRI'S WAR (Volume 3 of The King Trilogy)

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Chapter 60

Houston. Saturday, March 9, 2002.

Ken Layton’s River Oaks mansion was the scene of a lavish victory party. The guest list, long and star studded, included Peter Tavaris, Walter Deaks, Billy Dukes, Sydney Mortimer, and their wives and significant others. The party, ostensibly to celebrate Enerco’s successful acquisition of Iacardi & Sons, was also designed to reward the main combatants and to expose them to Houston society. All eight had been flown in style to Houston via Enerco’s G-5 and booked into the five star St. Regis.

Prior to any serious partying, Layton invited Tavaris into his den and closed the door. He removed two Arturo Fuente cigars from his desk top humidor and handed one to Tavaris. “Please accept this as a token of my gratitude, Peter. Enerco could not have done this without you. The company is in your debt,” he said, then lifted a gold plated lighter from his desk and lit both cigars.

Layton’s comments were like a souped up tonic to Tavaris, maybe even better than sex. At last he had made it to where he had wanted to be for so long. He was on top of the world. He had wealth and power. He was now the president and chief executive officer of a wholly owned subsidiary of Enerco, one of the most successful companies in the world. Its acquisition of his Iacardi stock had increased his net worth by slightly over fifteen million dollars. His salary was now in the stratosphere. “Thanks, Ken,” he said, struggling to contain his excitement and avoid saying anything stupid. “It’s an honor to receive a compliment like that from such an esteemed gentleman as yourself.”

Layton took a long pull on his cigar. “You deserve it,” he said, then blew smoke in Tavaris’ direction. “Now tell me how Kerri King responded to our offer of continued employment.”

“She didn’t reject it, but I think she will...On a personal note, I’d be delighted if I never saw her again. I think we can all get along quite nicely without her,” Tavaris replied, delighted to have been given an opportunity to stick his knife into his nemesis.

“Give me your opinion on the Iacardi Shareholders’ Lawsuit. Should we continue it and bankrupt Miss King, or drop it?”

Tavaris chuckled. Now he could really turn the knife. “No brainer. We’ve got to finish her off. She deserves it. She’s given us far too much trouble.”

Layton smiled. “I like the way you think, Peter. You’re going to fit very nicely into the Enerco team... I’ve already instructed Sydney to go for the kill.”

Tavaris clenched his teeth and his fists. His irrepressible need to crush his opposition had, at long last, led him to the promised land, in plain sight of the power and glory. “Thanks, Ken. You’re very kind.”

“No, Peter. I’m very practical...Let’s join the party.”

“Wait. There’s one more thing. You should know that our former president has called her hundred million dollar loan. She wants cash in thirty days.”

“Chump change,” Layton scoffed, deliberately neglecting to inform Tavaris that Enerco’s credit lines had been stretched close to their limits, and that raising a hundred million would be painful.

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