Marks frowns and motions for the football player to dial it back. “It’s no scheme. It’s the real deal, but in order for it to be successful we need better tech infrastructure and that takes money. I went to Weathers because he’s known to be a visionary.”
Wright hoots. “Weathers? A visionary? The only thing he’s got his eye on is his wife’s ass. I’m your man if you want someone forward thinking.”
“Weathers is threatening to shut me down and you’ve invited me to this exclusive club because you want to buy in?” Marks eyes us both skeptically. “Something’s going on.”
He’s suspicious but also smells money, which is why he’s here.
“I don’t want to invest in your shady scheme, but I did receive your gift, so don’t play dumb here. You wanted a response and I’m giving you one.” I clank the ice cubes against the side of the glass. “What’s the ransom for Teddy?”
“Five million. It’s the same as it was before, only I’m not giving you any shares. You just get your man back.” Marks gives me a toothy smile. What an asshole. I’m going to enjoy beating the crap out of him in the locker room.
“That’s good for him, but what about me?” Wright asks. “I want shares.”
Marks is taken aback by the question. By now, the quarterback should’ve understood that there are no shares or company.
“You have family?” Marks asks.
“Moi?” Wright points to himself, eyes wide like a child.
“Yeah. Someone who might object to this? Like a sister or a mom, that sort of thing.”
Wright hangs his head. “Nah, man. I’m a fucking orphan. Ain’t that the shit? I got all this money and no one to share it with.”
It should make Wright the perfect target but Marks hesitates because of the way that Marks’ scheme works, by targeting someone vulnerable. I’m not sure if Marks got this idea from Teddy or if it was Teddy’s plan in the first place. Using Abigail, Teddy has kept himself on my payroll for nearly a decade. Marks has found others like me who have a lot of money and someone that they love who they want to protect. Now he’s using that against us.
At first, I’d thought he had set up a shell company that he would abandon after a few months, but he doesn’t have even that. I had my suspicions but when Marks didn’t jump at Wrights’ money, it confirmed that Marks is engaged in a big blackmail scheme.
There’s only one way to pierce a blackmailer’s bubble and that is to tell the truth. I don’t want to do that. Abigail is going to be hurt when she finds out what I’ve been doing for years, but if I don’t come clean, Teddy will always have me by the balls. Even if I pay the five million to Marks today, there’ll be a new Marks tomorrow wanting a payout in exchange for my silence. And I already think that these secrets are affecting my marriage. Outsiders have sensed a rot there. I wanted to ignore it. I wanted to pretend it was all fine, but it’s not. I have the ability to make it right, though, starting now.
“Marks doesn’t want your money, Wright, because when it turns out that there’s no return on your investment, he can’t blackmail you into silence.”
“Ah, you told me that would be the case,” Wright says, sitting back and stretching out his legs. “Kind of hoped it wasn’t going to be that way.”
“What are you talking about? I’m a businessman,” Marks protests. “I’m not into blackmail or–”
I toss the pictures of the boy on the table. “This was left for me. Are you saying that it’s not from you? That Teddy isn’t in danger?”
“Man, I can’t believe you’re out there doing shit like this to kids. I guess we can’t turn you in because you got a judge’s daughter in your clutches, but we can beat the shit out of you.” Wright cracks his knuckles.
Marks stands up. “I’m not interested in doing business with either of you since all you plan to do is lie about my intentions.”
“Great. Then I expect you’ll let Teddy go.”
Marks doesn’t know what to do. If he doesn’t let Teddy go, he admits to being a brutal blackmailer. If he does, he’s out a good deal of money. He’s also unsure of how much we know. The mention of the judge surprised him. I decide to lay it out on the table. “We know you have five victims, of which I am one. I have met with the other four. We’re going to be honest with our family members rather than paying you any money. We appreciate that you’ve brought us to this point and for that, we won’t kill you, but Wright here is going to beat the shit out of you.”