Chapter One of Extradition: Mobsters + Billionaires
Hello! For my inaugural blog post, I wanted to share with you the first chapter of Extradition, the first book in my Mobsters + Billionaires series. This is the same chapter I shared at the end of the Navarro Bonus Scene, but I'm trying to make my content more accessible for all MM romance readers!
Please note: this is not the final, edited version.
I understand that the purpose of these all-hands-on-deck meetings is to shake up our day, maybe even pump us up a little, but somebody forgot to tell the CEO that. Jesus Christ, this pompous asshole hasn't taken a breath in over thirty minutes. At this point, he's just talking to hear himself speak.
"And that is why we have been successful. Each of us is willing to go above and beyond, work the fourteen-hour days, work the weekends, miss the soccer games… Because what we are doing is important. I would dare say it's the most important thing you've done in your entire life."
Is he fucking serious?
"Bullshit," I bark out, shaking my head.
The entire ballroom, over a thousand people, goes silent as frozen air. I realize, belatedly, that I am the reason for the lack of oxygen in the room.
"Who said that?" he asks, scanning the audience.
Jason, my buddy, elbows me. "Shit, dude. I can't believe you said that. Make it better," he hisses.
I can't, though. His entire speech has been a nightmare from top to bottom, and I'm sick of it. Expecting free labor just because everybody is salaried is preposterous. Fuck, even my horrible father, an actual mobster, pays people for the work they do.
I think about all that money and time I spent getting my MBA, and I want to vomit. I can't believe I worked so hard to leave mob life behind, only to end up working for another crook.
I think about my student loans and…fuck it.
"Not gonna do that, Jase. Not gonna make it better. I can do poor. I can't do whatever the fuck this is,” I whisper back
Rand Wolfe, our illustrious CEO, puts his hands on his hips. “I’ll ask again—who said that?" He looks flushed, like he's about to jump into the audience and start interrogating people.
Might as well go out with a bang.
I raise my hand. "I did. Because it is, in fact, bullshit."
Wolfe's eyes finally land on me, and I stuff down the nerves that threaten to run riot.
Squinting at me, he asks, "How can working for a common goal over something so essential be bullshit?"
Essential, my hairy Italian ass.
"We're not feeding the hungry here. We're making expensive cross-training shoes for elite athletes. Our entry point is three hundred dollars a pair. There is nothing noble about three-hundred-dollar shoes. Certainly not something so important as to put aside family responsibilities. Certainly not so important as to give a billionaire time which he has not paid for."
"Only someone with so little vision could think of it that way. When this company does better, we all do better. We get better raises. We get better benefits. There's a swimming pool at the top of this building. A monument to our success."
I snort. "Quick show of hands. How many of you have actually been to the pool? Put on a pair of swim trunks or a swimsuit and gotten into the water and enjoyed the goddamn pool at the top of the building?"
I look around at the vast conference room, and not a single hand goes up. Not surprising. I gesture to the lack of response in the room, making sure our esteemed robber-baron CEO can see the point.
"It's not a perk if people are so overrun and so overworked that they can't use it."
Jason smacks me. "Shut. Up."
Yeah, not gonna happen.
Wolfe stands to his full height, as though being marginally taller than most people is some grand achievement. “Only small minds think of limitations. Great minds, the alpha wolves of the pack know to think beyond their limitations."
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, not this shit again.
Swear to the Holy Mother, this man cannot get over the fact that his last name is Wolfe. He's made it an entire personality. He loves talking about the alpha wolf mentality, how everyone who's ever succeeded displays the same raw virility.
I read his book on the subject and eye-rolled my way through the entire thing. This is what happens when you don't have enough people willing to say no to your face.
My psych 101 professor would've had a field day with the fake-posturing-parading-as-masculinity in those pages. Hell, I should just mulch the fucking thing—at least then the book could do something useful, like grow a garden.
"You know that concept is bullshit, too, right?" I ask, standing up. "That there is no such thing as an alpha wolf, just like there is no such thing as an ethical billionaire."
The way he's grinning, I can tell he thinks he's got one over on me.
"You could not be more wrong," he says, smug as shit. "There was a scientific study done, and the wolves who got it done, the ones who lead the pack were the alpha wolves. But maybe you're just content to be a lonely little beta. And by the way, I lead the industry in manufacturing ethics, and I’ve shut down deals with problematic practices."
I snort, shaking my head. Motherfucker. This is why all those fucking night classes were worth it. This moment right here.
"That study you're misquoting is from the seventies. Are you aware that the original scientist later recanted the study?"
"What are you talking about?" Wolfe walks to the edge of the stage, shielding his eyes. "Stand in the middle so I can see you."
I comply, if only because it'll make my exit easier. I make my way out to the aisle, excuse myself past the twenty people, and face him.
He looks like the gods themselves bestowed leadership upon him as some kind of birthright. He’s refined; a sharp dresser with a full head of hair and cheekbones sharp enough to slice through the opinions of those less than him.
Meanwhile, I'm wearing a wrinkled button-down that I borrowed from the guy I fucked last night.
I go in before he can open his trap again. "Much to the chagrin of you and the online neckbeards spouting this shit from their mother’s basement, the scientist recanted that study. Turns out, he was studying wolves in captivity. Wolves in captivity take on alpha and beta roles because the resources are restricted to nearly nothing, and they have to fight for every scrap. You might be on to something, actually. Because it sounds exactly like working for a company owned by a multi-mega billionaire who can somehow only afford to pay entry-level wages."
Looking like he swallowed something sour, Wolfe starts pacing the stage. "I own the company. That's how it works. I pay you a salary, and you do the work. I get an average of four hours of sleep a night. I bet you can't even function with less than eight."
"Well, you've got me there. I guess that means you're better than me. But back to the bad science you keep going on about. When that man looked at those wolves in the wild, when he saw how wolf packs actually work? He retracted everything he had to say. You know why? Because wolves in the wild don't have to compete for scraps. They have an equitable system, one that is good for everyone. Wolves use their strengths in the way that best serve the pack, and the hierarchy that you talk about all but disappears."
"Well, guess what? In the business world, it works just fine."
He’s so fucking right and so fucking wrong at the same time that it makes me want to scream. I wish I’d know what a racket this corporate life was before I started college. I should have gone into plumbing. Those motherfuckers make a killing.
The fact of the matter is, I’m about to get escorted out of the building. I’ll be blackballed in Manhattan, if not the entire state, and tonight I’ll be calling my father, begging for a job back on the docks, at least until I can figure out what to do next.
But that’s tonight’s problem.
“The only reason it works in business is because we are, by definition, in captivity. Look at all of us in this room sitting so quietly and paying rapt attention to you as you spew the same bullshit.”
“Bullshit, huh? As you pointed out, I’m a billionaire. Who the hell are you?” he asks, puffing his chest out.
“Who am I? Motherfucker, you don’t wanna know who I am, but I’ll tell you this: if you think that you escaped captivity because you're the top dog, you could not be more wrong. If I'm in captivity, you're in captivity with me. The only thing that alpha bullshit ever got you was a prettier cage."
He opens his mouth to say something, then closes it. He blinks a few times, then points at the door. "I don't suppose I need to tell you what your next steps will be."
"No, you should. Because it's the last fucking order you'll ever give me."
Turning on my heel, I walk out the door, middle finger as high as it’ll go. I'm joined by two security guys who walk me to my desk and stand guard as I gather my few sad things and my one dying plant.
One of the guys leans in just as he’s about to airlock me. "Sorry that you lost your job, man, but thank you for saying what needed to be said. We ain't cogs in a machine, we're people. We're his human resource, and he keeps on forgetting the human part."
I give him a quiet fist bump and make my way to the street. This next part is going to suck salty balls, but lesson fucking learned. At least I’ll never have to deal with that asshole ever again.