Noah shifted in his chair, moving in for the kill. “Could I offer a minority view? I don’t doubt Jonathan has done his homework, but let me ask him to give us his analysis of what Pearson Furniture has done with a few of its other setbacks.” Lee threw a concerned glance at Satterwhite, who shrugged. “Go ahead,” the boss told Noah.

“Jonathan, are you aware of how Fitch handled the lawsuit that almost ruined his first start-up business? Or that he spent Christmas Day a few years ago loading trucks because they were behind on delivering their products after the storm tore through their distribution center?”

Satterwhite lifted his immaculately groomed eyebrows. “No, Noah, I’m not. I’m also not familiar with his psychological profile or his high school grades. But I do understand he is short and therefore may have a Napoleon complex.”

The room roared with laughter. Round one to Satterwhite.

Noah smiled. He was not interested in winning this fight. He merely wanted to position himself as the lone dissenting voice. When the stock soared, he wanted to be remembered as the one who warned against betting the ranch on Pearson Furniture’s decline—the who could have saved the firm a massive amount of money and avoided the wrath of countless investors.

Noah laughed. “I never thought to look at his high school grades, but I will. Until then, I do think that Fitch’s track record in college ought to tell us something. He flunked out of three colleges and finally made it through after seven years. He then started four businesses that were eventually sold to his competitors because he beat the socks off each one of them in their key markets. The man is a wizard, and he thrives on adversity. I’m sure you’re also aware there is no one better at pitching investment bankers. He has the uncanny ability to live with ambiguity until others bolt, then he calmly walks into the bank and takes the largest share of the prize.

Let me play prophet. I think Fitch will . . .”

Noah laid out a scenario of what Pearson Furniture might do in the next six months. “If we want to make any profit,” he concluded, “I think we should sell what we have now and then cover our losses by buying this stock to grow.”

The room fell silent. Sweat gathered on Satterwhite’s forehead, and he clenched
his jaw. Lee gave him a somber look. “Respond.”

Then Noah had the pleasure of watching his slick colleague scramble to defend his proposal. He managed to cover his lack of detailed analysis with a recitation of past successes, and the decision on Pearson eventually swung back to his side. That was fine with Noah. The doubt he’d wished to create sat squarely on the table, and no one would forget it.

On the way out, Noah walked by the kid who had taken his parking spot earlier in the morning. He grinned and complimented the kid’s natty tie.

By the time Noah got home that night, he’d forgotten all about the Bible study. He hadn’t even managed to read the first chapter of Ecclesiastes—and he hated to show up unprepared for anything. But he was stuck. He couldn’t even trot out the “you can’t believe the day I’ve had” excuse to keep from going; he had come home way too happy to pull off that one.

They ate a quick dinner at a restaurant near their house. All through the meal, Joan nattered on about Ecclesiastes. “I just don’t understand why God allowed Solomon to do all the things that he did,” she remarked as she forked up her salad. “I mean, how could he have had that many wives?”

Noah wondered the same thing, but for very different reasons. His mind flitted to the power of having a harem and picking a woman to be intimate with as casually as he would pick out a pair of shoes. He felt his breath quicken, but he knew better than to mention his thoughts to Joan. She would never understand.