"I appreciate your coming, Mr. Lewis."  Nicholas sat down cornered to the big man.  "This is, of course, a secure room, but for legal reasons all meetings are recorded by video,"  Nicholas pointed a pen at one of the surveillance cameras in the corner of the meeting room.  He offered a thready smile.  "and audio.  For legal reasons.  I'm sure you understand."

Lewis scowled, his eyes scrunched up as he reassessed Nicholas' resolve.  "Go on."  he said in a low, menacing voice.

Nicholas set his valise on the table and withdrew a delicate notebook.  "Over the past year, you've made several personal transactions using company funds.  While this is not a major issue, it does look suspicious to shareholders.  Should the IRS investigate, it could become a major issue.  Of particular concern are the five wire-transfers to a numbered account in the Cayman Islands.  Can you explain these, Mr. Lewis?"

Mr. Lewis remained silent, his scowl deepened.

"Listen to me, Mr. Lewis."  Nicholas said, turning one razor-thin page after another, "Listen very carefully.  As your tax attorney, I'm the one hope you've got to 'cut off the head of the dragon.'  From these records, it appears as though the one who's been burning your reputation is yourself.  Your debt-load is piling up, your stocks are falling and your wifes' recent appearance in the tabloids--fantastic photographs, by the way--has the shareholders concerned about the state of your personal life. Now, there is a way out of this.  But you're going to need to make certain concessions."

Lewis narrowed his eyes and growled. "You want Juliet  How long do you think you'll hold on to my daughter?"

"That's not a part of the equation, Mr. Lewis."  Nicholas smiled, his eyes wild with mirth.

"Then what is it?"

"I'm not concerned with what might be.  I'm concerned with what might have been.  The future will sort itself out.  If you were to have invested in an off-shore tax shelter in, say, the Cayman Islands, it would avoid scrutiny by the IRS.  However, your shareholders will still need to see the results of that investment.  I can provide that for you.  But, of course, there's a price."

Lewis stood, a self-satisfied smile brightened his face.  "You've just hanged yourself, boy."

"On the contrary, Mr. Lewis."  Nicholas also stood.  "I can prove that you've defrauded the company shareholders in excess of fifteen million dollars over the past five years.  But, if we come to an understanding, it will be as if none of your sneaky little personal transactions ever happened. "

"And what do you want in return?"  Lewis growled.

"All we want is to be left alone."  Nicholas said.  "Leave us out of your clandestine political power-plays."  Nicholas took a breath and relished the words, "Do we have an understanding... sir?”

Lewis nodded.

“Then say it.” Nicholas grinned.

The End

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