Taboo Boss - Natasha L. Black



I scanned the table of investors and cleared my throat. This was going to be a breeze.

Or at least it should be.

“Hello, everyone,” I said, nodding at the eleven people spread out along the oval table in the presentation room.

I’d had this room built for just this purpose, allowing me to comfortably host the investors all while showing off what they were putting their money into without seeming braggy. The tall windows had a terrific view of the bay, and the chairs were high-back leather and extraordinarily comfortable. It was a room designed to say, “you spent your money wisely, so keep giving us more.” It looked like it was working for them, except for one older man in the corner. I made sure to make eye contact with him as much as possible.

“I’m glad to see we were all able to make it in person, and I’m happy with the attendance,” I said.

“It just a mid-quarter meeting. It better be worth my time,” came the rough, cranky voice of the investor in the corner. His name was Robert C. Fuller, and he was clearly unimpressed. Not that I was at all shocked by that because being unimpressed was essentially his perpetual state of being.

“Oh, I assure you, Mr. Fuller, it will be,” I said.

There was a time when I would have liked to think exorbitantly wealthy people building the foundation of powerful companies had at least a modicum of self-control and decorum, but no, that was not the case.

Mr. Fuller was the lesson I had to learn and apparently had to keep on learning. I kept reminding myself my mother would want me to be nice. She always taught me that the smartest and strongest man in the room was usually the quietest. While I wasn’t entirely sure I bought that as a blanket principle, sometimes it helped keep my mouth shut.

In all honesty, it was probably just that thinking about my mother was what kept me from lashing out and telling Mr. Fuller I didn’t need him or his money. Working as hard as I did was for me and my own success, but there was much more than that. The bar I’d bought for my brothers to run in our hometown of Astoria, Oregon, was to make sure they could take care of our parents.

Six months ago, we’d lost our father to cancer, but our mother was still fighting against her own disease and now against her grief as well. The stronger my business position here, the more I could provide for them and the better the life she could have. It was worth an obnoxious investor every now and then.

“Well, get on with it, Tom,” he said.

I snapped out of my thoughts and bristled. Some of the other investors called me by my first name as well, but I considered those people my friends. When it came from Fuller, it made my teeth grind against each other, but I didn’t show it. I gave a professional smile and turned my shoulder toward him to start the presentation.

“Without further delay,” I said, tapping a button on my phone. The wall behind me faded and then brightened, going from what looked like a nondescript light grey wall to a screen I could control. “As you can see, our projections were for a mild increase in spending on research and development, that would be matched and surpassed by projections for sales and licensing.”

In the corner, Mr. Fuller crossed his arms over his chest and made a grunting noise. I glanced his way but pressed on. I brought up the next slide.

There was an audible gasp in the room, and I grinned. Several of the investors’ eyes had lit up, and I could see a few of them punching messages into their phones. Mr. Fuller in the corner seemed to not change his expression too much, but I was used to reading his poker face. Inside, he was at least mildly impressed. For now.

I continued on, giving them the lay of the land with our current deals and partnerships and where our expenses would put us. The numbers were nothing short of fantastic, and I could see where a few of the investors were itching to possibly talk about expansion. I knew it was coming, and I felt like I needed to temper it a little. There was a lot of profit to be made before we started spending hard on growing bigger.

When the meeting finished, the investors gathered around me Copyright 2016 - 2023