Eek! I’m late today, I know. Blame the heat, or the dogs, or whatever. I’m so easily distracted it doesn’t matter. Just 2 days away from the official launch of THE LEGEND OF JACKSON MURPHY .
So far I’ve shared interviews with the star of the show, Jack Murphy, his wife Jenny, his mistress, Whitney, the business partner, Ray, the tenacious homicide cop, Detective Newman, the conman cousin, James, and Jack’s mob connection, Tony. When you stop by the official Facebook launch party you’ll find that some freebies and fun will include the information I’ve provided in the interviews and excerpts. Katrina Monroe will also be live-tweeting with Jack trivia, offering prizes and fun for Twitter folks too. Follow me (@ReneeMJ) or Kat (@AuthorKatM) or use the hashtag “#WWJMD” to get in on that fun. Yeah, John Mayer fans use the same hashtag, but he’ll have to learn to share.
Twitter folks will get the opportunity to win digital copies of the first 4 books in Darke Conteur’s Watchtower series, and you’ll all have the chance to win books by other authors too, including one of my personal favorites, Maria Zannini.
I’ve made some changes to the times of the virtual launch. I’ll be available all day, beginning at 10 a.m. Give me time to get caffeinated, all right? In the morning, we’ll chat, goof around and if you have questions for any characters, or if you have a burning need to ask me something, this will be your chance. I’ll be giving away digital copies of Jack and IN THE BONES as well, lots of copies, so if you can’t stop by in the afternoon, say hello in the morning.
Today, let’s get to know, Michael Thorne, the pain in the ass competitor that wants to bury Jack. Tune in tomorrow for a look at Jack’s eccentric lawyer, Harvey.
Age: Early 30’s
I come from a wealthy family. In fact, we’re so wealthy, I really don’t have to work. But my parents believed in making things look good, so I founded Michael Thorne & Sons. I have no kids. No wife. But people like that familial link, and in the future I might have children, so it’s not technically misleading. I’ve used money to open doors that are closed to average people, but this man, Jackson Murphy, keeps getting in my way. He’s quite successful, and his bank account is impressive, so buying him out isn’t an easy task. Good thing he’s as dishonest as I am. That I can work with.
I’m extremely intelligent. How could I not be with the best education money can buy? What I don’t know, I pay others to know. So it all works out in the end. Some of my exes call me narcissistic, but they’re jealous of my confidence, money and my obvious good looks. I don’t worry about things that don’t concern me, so I’m relatively stress free.
I believe in the power of money. If you have enough money, you can do anything. Money buys power, love, and whatever else you need to help you sleep at night. Other than that, my faith is in myself. I don’t need an invisible, and likely imagined, being dictating right and wrong. When we leave this earth, we’ll all go to the same place. I’m certain about that. Some of us just have an easier time getting there.
In case you missed it; money. Well…I suppose it’s more power than money. I want to be the guy with all the money and all the power. The top dog. People envy me. They want to BE me. I’d like to keep that trend moving along.
Perfection. My physical appearance is due in part to genetics and good old fashioned hard work. I exercise, eat right, stay away from alcohol, unless of course it’s the best sort of alcohol, and I let my doctor take care of the rest. Not a gray hair on my full head of blond hair and only the most distinguishing of lines on my face.
What do you fear?
Poverty, but then, who doesn’t fear that?
Do you have secrets?
As if I’d share such a thing.
Chez Martine’s was a fancy, pretentious French restaurant. Jack knew the owner, and he couldn’t possibly have been more German.
Dress it like a bistro you’d find in Paris, on a larger scale of course, charge a fortune for crêpes, or fillet of whatever, and watch the rich assholes come running.
Guys born rolling in it made Jack want to puke. They had no clue about money, and spent it as though it grew on a tree in their backyard. If it cost too much they had to have it. Bunch of fucking knobs.
It figured Thorne would eat at Martine’s; he had money to waste. Jack skipped these places unless a client insisted, and certainly never paid. It was robbery plain and simple; like handing them his wallet before bending over.
Thorne had arrived earlier at the restaurant, as Jack expected he would. The first rule he’d learned when he opened his own business was to be one step ahead of his opponent— or customer. Thorne thought he had the advantage, but he was wrong. Jack knew what he knew and Thorne didn’t know that he knew, making him the one ahead. Jack suppressed a smile at the convoluted thought. He’d crush the arrogant prick before this was done. If he couldn’t crush him financially, it would have to be literally.
The maître d led the way to Thorne’s table. Pasting a nervous smile to his face Jack followed. Thorne sat at a table at the back of the restaurant so Jack had to walk past all of the snotty bluebloods on his way through. Heads turned to stare, and Jack stared right back.
Yes, his suit was off the rack. But when they all died, Jack would have more money than they would because he didn’t pay through the nose for a tag on the back of his clothes; a tag no one ever saw until he undressed.
Stare, you stupid freaks, I can afford to eat here every day.
Jack hated these places. He hated the diners’ ugly pinched faces even more.
By the time Jack stood at Thorne’s table, his face hurt from forcing his cheeks to keep the smile in place.
“Jack, you’re late.” He didn’t rise to shake Jack’s hand.
All right then, he wanted no class? Jack could do that.
“Sorry, I had to nail the girlfriend before I left. Gotta get my money’s worth, you know? I put a lot of cash into that piece of ass so I tap it every chance I get.”
“That’s interesting. Weren’t you married?”
“She died,” Jack deadpanned.
Thorne’s mouth opened, but no sound left his throat.
Jack laughed. “She was fucking Ray anyway. You remember Ray don’t you? He was my business partner, and apparently, we partnered out of the office as well. Actually, he saved me a lot of hassle. With him banging her, she wasn’t nagging me for it. Once they have kids, it’s just plain unpleasant to look at. I tell you, Jenny was like the Grand Canyon after the last one. I could hear an echo sometimes, I swear.”
“Okay, so you know about Ray and your wife. I figured you weren’t so stupid you’d let that get by you.” He smiled.
If Thorne loosened up and stopped being such an ass, he could be a nice looking guy. Blond hair and blue eyes, all-American for sure. Jack wondered why he hadn’t married; rich jerks always had a trophy wife.
He’s probably a fanny-bandit.
“Why are we here?” Jack asked. No point in drawing it out.
A waiter slipped a beer stealthily in front of him and vanished.
He didn’t order a drink, but at least it wasn’t some gay man’s cocktail. Jack took a swig and gagged. Piss warm. Mr. Thorne could pay for that. Jack did not pay for piss.
“Some facts have recently come to my attention, and they’re…how do I put this? They’re bits of information you’ll find very interesting.”
“Skip the fucking crap and just tell me what you want.”
“You’re a prick. Did you know that?” Thorne’s voice cracked.
His cool guy image was obviously slipping.
Thorne continued, “I’m trying to be a nice guy and you are making it very hard.”
“Why should you be nice to me? I don’t want any favors. You’re here because you want something so just spit it out.”
“I know about the bidding. How’s that?” He leaned back in his chair, as though he’d just revealed the Coke secret formula.
“I also know about what you’ve been keeping from the IRS. I could crush you right now. You’d do the rest of your life for fraud, tax evasion, bribing officials, and probably a lot more once they begin to dig.”
Jack gazed at him for a minute or two. Should he play the game and act shocked or scared?
“You don’t know anything.” Nervous was the way to go.
“You were very unkind to Ray and he didn’t appreciate it. He might have had second thoughts later, but he came straight to me when you knifed him in the back.”
“Ray was a fucking lunatic. I didn’t do anything to him. He was screwing my wife as you well know. Was I supposed to be best buds with the prick that was nailing my wife? I don’t think so. He didn’t have the balls to do anything like what you’re saying.”
“Okay then, here are a few names, Jonny Tanor, Tom Kemp, Sammy D., and Lou Vito. All of these men cheated out of paying jobs because you stole their bids. You undercut them and I doubt they’ll be pleased. Do you know what they do to cheats in their world?”
“Are you threatening me?”
“Of course not. I just want you to be aware of what I could do with my information. I could go to the IRS, or I could go to the Teamsters. I could go to these guys and whisper in their ears as well, but I haven’t yet. I want to make a deal.”
“A deal?” Here it was.
“I think it’s a fair deal. You get to live, I get everything else.”
“I don’t get it.”
Play dumb, that’s the way to win this.
“If you want this to go away, you give me everything.” He smiled, his perfectly straight, perfectly white, and perfectly expensive teeth sparkling in the candlelight. “Well, I wouldn’t take it without compensation of course. You do have to live somehow. I want you to sell me your business. All of it: client lists, jobs, you know the deal. I will pay fair market value for it. I want you gone. You sell out, leave and never do business again.”
“Do I look stupid?” He had to be a complete nutter if he thought Jack would go for that.
Thorne had nothing that would send Jack to jail. Michelle was fixing the books as they spoke. As for the mob guys, Tony, Jack’s source, was in their organization. It wasn’t like they weren’t doing the same thing all over town.
“Of course you don’t, which is why I came to you before doing anything rash. I thought you were a reasonable man who would see the wise thing to do here. I hope I wasn’t wrong.”
He waved to the waiter for another drink.
Jack stared. What an annoying face he had. He longed to punch those perfect teeth out of his mouth. He wanted to smash his head off the wall until his hundred-dollar haircut was covered in blood and brain. Bastard thought he had Jack by the balls, but he didn’t know anything. “I would need to see a contract and a few days to look it over.”
Thorne reached under the table and brought up a briefcase. It looked as if he’d come prepared for Jack to give in.
“I took the liberty of having my lawyers draw something up. Of course, you have ten business days to look it over and get back to me. I welcome any changes. I’m not so hardheaded that I won’t negotiate. The terms are firm, but the money I can move a little on. Just a little, mind you.”
He handed Jack a stack of papers.
Jack didn’t bother to glance down before folding them. “Don’t think this means I’m going to agree.” Jack stood. “I will consider what you’ve told me before I think it over. How am I supposed to know you can back up your story?”
“I knew you’d ask.” Thorne produced a large brown envelope. “These are just copies. I have the originals.”
“How did you get started in this business?” Jack asked, suddenly curious. “Did you have to work your way in?”
“Work my way in? No, I don’t have the time for that nonsense. I bought it. I bought a little company that was going under and I bought my contracts until I was known.”
Everything just handed to him. The thought made Jack ill.
“My parents wanted me to do something so I chose this. I can sit back, enjoy the money rolling in, and pay lesser people to do the work. My hands don’t even get dirty.”
“That’s what I thought.” Jack walked away with his stack of blackmail.
Two weeks to get rid of Michael Thorne.