Wines with breed and fitness are those rare newborns in which all elements of structure, flavor, and complexity combined to a peak of almost indescribable perfection.

The blackout shades were drawn, so I had no idea what time it was when the phone rang. I didn’t so much answer as grunt. It was Brenda.

“Hey, sleepyhead, get this. Fifteen people walked out behind you, including your whole food and beverage team. They know your clients will follow you, so you need to take action now and contact your accounts before Bryon does.”

The news brought a smile to my face.

“I’m not starting a new firm, Brenda. We’re going to get this one back.” Even I was surprised at the certainty in my voice. I’d gone straight from that stairwell, after regaining my composure, and filed a report with the police station. Then I called HR in Chicago.

“No offense, smarty pants, but these people need some guarantee of work or we’re going to lose them all,” Brenda huffed. “Including me, Nora, you know I can’t miss a paycheck.”

“Brenda,” I countered. Do you really think I’d ask you to?” Call everyone and tell them the show is going down at ten a.m. tomorrow. I sure hope they will come and watch.

“You never stop surprising me,” Brenda sighed. She hung up and I fell back into a restful sleep. I was on the rack for the moment, but I knew the wine was going to be perfect.

There was an eerie silence in the office when I arrived – not even a receptionist at the desk. Really? The receptionist left too? I rounded the corner and caught sight of Ridley standing behind the chair of the pony-tailed woman at my desk. I was fashioning what to say when that steely cold voice appeared behind me.

“You’re trespassing,” Bryson dripped. I turned and leveled my gaze.

“Actually, I was looking for you.” About that time the elevator door opened. A familiar voice came from the elevator and grew closer as he spoke.

“Mr. Keller, I’ll make two things really clear.” Jack Noble stood in the doorway, alongside an older gentleman who looked vaguely familiar. “If you fire Ms. Jones you will lose my business.” While Bryson and I were locked in eye to eye combat, Ridley Yarborough had slithered around the corner waiting for the right moment to strike.

“Mr. Noble,” Ridley interjected. “We have brought our best staff over from H&K specifically because of your account. You won’t be disapp…”

Jack cut him off sharply. “You lost the account once, Mr. Yarborough, and I guarantee you will lose it again without Nora Jones and her team.”

Bryson stuck his chest out and lowered his voice, “Ms. Jones is no longer on this team. I feel badly for letting her go. When she learned that I’d given the MD job to someone else, she countered with lies about me.”

I was so tempted to correct his grammar that I threw up in my mouth a little, but I bit my lip.

“Sir, she’s not lying. I have it on video.” The voice was new to all of us and it came from the silent partner who walked in with Jack. “I am the limo driver who picked you up from the restaurant. I have a closed-circuit camera in my car to protect me against robberies. The whole conversation in the back seat including your inappropriate behavior toward Ms. Jones is all captured on this tape.”

“Which I plan to release to the press with the explanation about why we’re rescinding our contract with Keller Donohue,” Jack was holding the tape high enough for everyone in the crowd to see. Everyone in the firm had gathered in this room and every ear was waiting for Bryon’s response.

“We have lawyers who will destroy your little winery, Mr. Noble. You are not a force big enough to mess with Keller Donohue.

“But I am.” With alarming swiftness, Bryce Donohue appeared from behind Jack and the limo driver. Bryson’s crimson face betrayed any defense against the principal owner of the firm, who founded Keller Donohue along with Bryson’s father. Everyone knew that when Bryon’s father died, he was not fit to lead the firm but Donohue came to his defense out of loyalty to his friend and colleague of 30 years. The evidence of the past two weeks was all he needed to change his mind.

“Bryson, you have always been a punk.” Donohue spit. “I gave you a chance to run this company out of respect for your father and I made the wrong decision.”

He took the tape from Jack’s hand, nodding his head slightly as Jack release his firm grip on it. “You have betrayed my confidence and your father’s trust.” He kept the tape high in the air. “Mr. Noble has enough respect for the legacy of Keller Donohue to bring me this tape before taking it to the press. For that reason, I flew out here to ask you to pack your bags.”

Bryson looked whipped, then he lifted his head. “You’re right. Yarborough has things under control. I should come back to Chicago.”

“You’re not coming to Chicago and Ridley Yarborough can go back to H&K. I’m promoting Ms. Jones to Managing Director of this office and both of you are fired.”

There was an audible gasp, then a few giggles as the color of Bryon’s face went from red to white to something more green than normal. Bryson was speechless, but Ridley spoke up.

“Mr. Donohue,” and he extended his right arm at a 45-degree angle as he marched forward, “it’s an honor to meet you sir. I have everything under control here. Maybe we should sit down and discuss the strategy we have in place.”

“Mr. Yarborough, your best strategy is to clean out your office before I tell Mr. Noble about the confidential client information you obtained under non-disclosure and leaked to a competing winery.” Ridley stiffened. “Oops, I guess I already did.” He turned to face Ridley head on. “Mr. Yarborough, your name is no longer marketable in this community. I suggest you find your true calling and I suggest you find it before lunch.”

As Ridley and Bryson skulked out of the room, there was an impressive opening in my solar plexus. That knot of string was unraveling, and I felt an amazing level of air rush to my lungs as my team gathered around to congratulate me.

 

DISCUSS

Nora knew that she had to wait for the right moment to forward her plan. Have you ever been on the rack like this, knowing you cannot move forward until different elements align?

What was the response in your body when the moment came to pass, when everything fell into the right place?

How did your finesse bring the right response?