Hard Sell (21 Wall Street Book 2)

By: Lauren Layne



Monday Morning, September 18

“You’re an angel, and I love you,” I say with a reverence usually reserved for people in church.

My assistant lifts an eyebrow and holds out two aspirin. “Are you talking to me or the bagel sandwich?”

“Both,” I say around a bite, holding out my free hand for the pills.

Kate waits until I swallow, then holds out a Venti Starbucks cup that I use to wash down the pills.

“How’d you know?” I ask, picking up the egg and Swiss on sesame bagel once more.

“That you were hungover as crap? I get your flight change notifications. Taking an unplanned Sunday red-eye from Vegas to New York after a bachelor party pretty much says it all.”

I wince. “Can we not say the word Vegas? Or bachelor party? And until further notice, all references to alcohol are hereby banned.”

She smirks. “It sucks getting old, huh?”

“I’m not old,” I say automatically. The very suggestion’s an affront. After all, I’m Matt Cannon, Wall Street’s legendary wunderkind.

And yeah, only douchebags would call themselves legendary, but in my case? It’s kind of true. I graduated from high school when I was sixteen, college when I was nineteen, and got hired on at Wolfe Investments just days after my twenty-second birthday, back when my liver was basically a virgin (though I was definitely not) and more than ready to take on the booze-fest that is Wall Street.

Whoops. I just remembered we’re not talking about alcohol. Not until the aspirin, caffeine, and this sandwich work their sweet magic on my hangover.

Anyway, the point is I’m only twenty-eight. Not exactly a boy wonder anymore, but to be one of the Wolfes before thirty is brag-worthy. It’s hard enough to get hired by the company in the first place, even harder to move up the ranks at such a young age, and . . .

Oh hell, who am I kidding?

I can’t drink like I could when I was twenty-two, and I am officially feeling the effects of the forty-eight-hour rager that was my cousin’s bachelor party.

“How are you feeling, for real?” Kate asks, giving me a critical once-over.

Kate Henley’s one of those assistants who you guard more closely than your wallet, Pappy Van Winkle, or bank account password. She’s that valuable.

Sure, she’s got the petite, pretty, doe-eyed look of a 1950s debutante, but she’s obscenely competent at her job. So competent, in fact, she works for not one demanding boss but three. A couple of years ago, I got promoted to director the same month as my two best friends and Wolfe colleagues, Ian Bradley and Kennedy Dawson. The promotion meant we each got our own assistant instead of sharing one like the junior guys. We couldn’t decide who got Kate, so she took on all three of us and does it twice as well as any of the other assistants who support only one investment broker.

Our arrangement also means we made a pact to keep our playboy wiles far away from her, though truth be told, I don’t know that she was ever really at risk. I’m pretty sure Kate’s too smart to fall for one of us because she knows us all too well, though her gaze does seem to linger on Kennedy at times.

I grin at her. “Better. Thanks. Headache’s already receding.”

“Good. Because The Sams want to see you.”

My grin disappears. “Now?” I check my Rolex. “It’s barely eight on Monday morning.”

“Yeah, well, this is Wall Street. Everyone’s day started four hours ago. Speaking of which, I’ve called you, like, ten times.”

I rub my forehead. “I lost my cell phone . . . somewhere. The Sams say what they wanted?”

“Nope,” she says, bending to pull something out of a garment bag. “But they came by my desk themselves instead of sending Carla, which is never good. Put this on.”

She hands me a skinny blue tie, and I obediently tug off the striped one I put on in the airport bathroom at baggage claim. At best, it smells like the smoke of a Vegas casino. At worst . . .

The way Kate wrinkles her nose when she takes it tells me it’s in the unnamed “worse” category.

I put the fresh tie around my neck, but she holds up a finger and waves it in a circle. “Hmm, nope. You’re worse off than I thought.” She holds up a white dress shirt. “Wardrobe change. Where the hell’d you sleep last night, a barroom floor?”

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