I waved her away. “I’ll get it done, Alice. Please, just let me breathe for a few minutes.”
She looked at me for a beat, then clicked her tongue and walked out of my office just as Dennis brushed past her and stormed in.
“What the fuck was that, Chance?” he yelled.
I glanced past him and nodded at Alice to close the door. She rolled her eyes at me and left.
“I spent a week setting that up!”
“Really?” I asked, getting up and walking to the mini-bar. “A week? Damn, Dennis, you’re losing it.”
Dennis slammed his hand down on my desk. “I’m serious, Chance.”
“So am I,” I shot back, pouring two shots of bourbon and handing him one.
“It’s seven in the morning,” he said, looking into the glass like it held a turd.
I smiled and downed my bourbon. “Never too early to start drinking.”
Dennis glared at me for a moment, then pushed the drink back into my hand. I carried both drinks with me as I returned to my chair. He let out a frustrated growl, fell into the chair across from me and shook his head. After a few seconds, he finally scoffed and smiled.
“There he is,” I said, pushing his drink towards him.
“You’re a fucking asshole, you know that?”
“Yeah, but you love me for it,” I said. “Are you going to drink that or should I?”
He pushed it back to me. “Go ahead, kill yourself for all I care.”
“Oh, but you do care,” I chuckled, drinking only half the glass before my chest tightened and I had to set the drink aside.
Dennis undid his own tie, pulled it off and tossed it onto my desk. “You can’t keep doing this, Chance,” he said. “We can’t keep shooting down every good idea that comes walking through our doors. If we don’t get these guys, someone else will.”
“Calling that kid’s idea a good one is a bit of an overstatement,” I said, leaning back in my chair and fishing for my cigarettes. I lit one, took a log drag, and let the smoke out in rings. I waited for Dennis to give me shit about smoking—everybody gave me shit about smoking—but he was still harping on about the kid.
“R&D is coming up with nothing we can use,” Dennis said. “We either innovate or we die, you know how this business works.”
“Then fire the whole fucking R&D team,” I replied. “Ask Alan if his high school buddies want a job. Hire the whole fucking twelfth grade if it gets you off my ass.”
“I’m serious,” I laughed. “The guy’s right for the job. He definitely can’t head a project, but we can find some desk for him in a corner where he doesn’t bother anyone. Maybe get him laid as well.”
Dennis clenched his jaw and shook his head. “We’ll leave the women to you,” he said. “They’re already throwing themselves at your feet, Austin’s Most Eligible Bachelor.”
“Speaking of which, how are Barbie numbers one and two?”
“Left them at home,” I smiled, lifting my drink in toast.
“A little present for Pauline?” Dennis laughed.
A knock at my door and Alice walked in. “Three calls, Chance. Three.”