Jack smiled, his courtesy slightly tainted by disdain. “Don’t mind if I do, Konstantin. What do we have today?”
“Well, you know the Fruinians. In love with their wine,” Konstantin replied. Jack grimaced slightly. Bogliq’s CEO waved dismissively and continued. “But I know you, Jack. Always a man for the hard stuff. So I think you might enjoy the grappa.”
Jack nodded and took a seat at the table inside the tent. He waited for a moment for Bogliq’s underlings to clear out. “See, that’s what I like about you. You know me, and I know you. Almost like we’re friends.”
Konstantin grinned as he poured a small glass of grappa and placed it in front of his rival. “See, you say that like we’re not, Jack. And that hurts me.”
Jack chuckled. He raised the pungent glass of grape-brandy to his nose and took in an intoxicating whiff. His host finished pouring himself a glass of Verdicchio, and raised in a toast.
“To our eternal friendship, Jack,” Konstantin grinned as they tapped glasses.
Jack took a hearty sip of grappa. It had a bold, complex taste, and went down with only a little less fire than his beloved bourbon. “Shall we cut to the chase, then, my friend? You’ve no doubt heard about the tragedy that has befallen the Townsend family.”
“I have. A shame. The brothers were true pioneers in motoring.”
“Oh, spare me the eulogy, Konstantin. We both know why you’re here. You’ve got your eyes on a bid for merger.”
Konstantin clicked his tongue in disapproval. “Are you so callous, Jack? That you can’t even listen to a few kind words about the Townsend family?” He sniffed, took a sip of wine, and leaned back slightly in the wooden folding chair. “Fine, what of it? A Bogliq-Townsend merger would be a fantastic thing for the automobile industry.”
“Well, I wouldn’t get too used to the idea. I’m sure you’ve put two and two together by now.”
“Yes, yes,” Konstantin again waved his hand dismissively. “Jack Chancellor is going to buy Townsend in an attempt to save his company’s failing reputation. Makes a charming story, doesn’t it? Only the only people who care are the residents of Ohio. Don’t forget, Jack, that Ohio isn’t the whole industry. Outside of your little state there, Ardent’s not as well loved. And you always have to worry about those pesky watchdogs in Washington. Oh how dreadful it would look if someone were trying to make a monopoly.”
Jack narrowed his eyes. “See, this, right here is why we’re not friends. Trying to threaten me with what, a little bureaucratic red tape? It’s no wonder your company stays so small. You’re afraid of Senators. You should try buying one at some point. Does wonders for the soul.”
“You don’t have a soul, Jack. Not exactly sure when you sold it, but God knows you don’t have one.”
Jack downed the remainder of his grappa, placed his Stetson hat back on his head, and tossed a 10 down on the table, mocking his host’s graciousness. “Thanks for the drink, Konstantin. A pleasure to see you, as always.”
@HighOctaneLove - feel free to take it farther if you wish.