‘Deanna Lewis? Our Deanna Lewis?’ Ronan began to wipe his spectacles, a thing he did when he was feeling anxious.
‘Your Deanna Lewis?’
‘We knew her back in college.’
‘Did you now? Well, her brother’s hedge fund made two point six million dollars on the first day of trading. She alone cleared a hundred and ninety thousand on her personal account.’ They weren’t laughing.
‘Her brother’s hedge fund?’
‘Yes, his hedge fund.’
‘I don’t understand,’ Ronan said. ‘What is this?’
‘I’ll spell it out. Deanna Lewis is on record talking to her brother about Ed telling her about the launch of SFAX. She says Ed said it was going to be enormous. And guess what? Two days later her brother’s fund is among the biggest purchasers of shares. What exactly did you tell her?’
Ronan stared at him. Ed struggled to gather his thoughts. When he swallowed it was shamefully audible. Across the office the development team were peering over the tops of their cubicles. ‘I didn’t tell her anything.’ He blinked. ‘I don’t know. I might have said something. It’s not like it was a state secret.’
‘It was a f**king state secret, Ed. It’s called insider trading. She told him you gave her dates, times. She told him the company was going to make a fortune.’
‘Then she’s lying! Shooting her mouth off. We were … having a thing.’
‘You wanted to bone the girl, so you shot your mouth off to impress her?’
‘It wasn’t like that.’
‘You had sex with Deanna Lewis?’ Ed could feel Ronan’s myopic gaze burning into him.
Sidney lifted his hands, turned to the man behind him. ‘You need to call your lawyer.’
‘But how can I be in trouble? It’s not like I got any benefit from it.’
‘Michael Lewis’s hedge fund was the biggest single investor in Mayfly in the week before SFAX went live.’
‘I didn’t even know her brother had a hedge fund.’
Sidney glanced behind him. The faces suddenly found something interesting to look at on their desks. And he lowered his voice. ‘You have to go now. They want to interview you at the police station.’
‘What? This is nuts. I’ve got a meeting in twenty minutes. I’m not going to any police station.’
‘And obviously we’re suspending you until we’ve got to the bottom of this.’
Ed laughed at him. ‘Are you kidding me? You can’t suspend me. It’s my company.’ He threw the foam ball up in the air and caught it, turning away from them. Nobody moved. ‘I’m not going. This is our company. Tell them, Ronan.’
He looked at Ronan, but Ronan turned away. Ed looked at Sidney, who simply shook his head. Then he looked up at the two uniformed men who had appeared behind him, at his secretary, whose hand was at her mouth, at the carpet path already opening up between him and the office door, and the foam ball dropped silently onto the floor between his feet.
Deanna Lewis. Maybe not the prettiest girl, but definitely the one who scored highest on Ed and Ronan’s campus-wide Girls You’d Give One Without Having To Drink A Fourth Pint First points system. As if she’d look at either of them. He guessed that when she walked through the computer-science centre they had worn the same expressions as a basset hound watching a passing hamburger.
He’d bet she’d never once registered him in the whole three years, apart from that time when it was raining heavily and she was at the station and asked him for a lift back to halls in his Mini. He had been so tongue-tied the whole time she was in the passenger seat he had said barely a word, except a vaguely strangled, ‘No worries,’ when he let her out at the other end. Those two words somehow managed to cover three octaves. She gave him a look that told him he was watching too many Australian soaps, then stooped to peel the empty crisps packet from the sole of her boot, dropping it delicately back into the footwell.
If Ed had it bad, Ronan had it worse. His love weighed him down like a cartoon dumbbell, his hopes for it based on evidence less substantial than dust motes. He wrote her poetry, sent anonymous flowers on Valentine’s Day, smiled hopefully at her in the dinner queue and tried not to look crushed when she failed to notice. He grew philosophical in the end. It only took three years. Ed and he had both understood that someone so pretty, so far up the campus pecking order, wouldn’t make time for either of them. And after they had graduated, set up their company, and swapped thinking about women for thinking about software until software became the thing they actually preferred thinking about, Deanna Lewis fell into that weird pocket of reminiscence you bring out when you’ve had too much to drink and want to show your co-workers you had some kind of social life at university and didn’t spend the entire three years stuck behind a screen. ‘Oh … Deanna Lewis,’ they would say to each other, their eyes distant, like they could see her floating in slo-mo above the other drinkers’ heads. Or occasionally, of some other girl standing at the bar: ‘She’s nice. But she’s no Lewis.’
And then, three months ago, some six months after Lara had left, taking with her the apartment in Rome, half the contents of his stock portfolio, and what remained of Ed’s appetite for relationships, Deanna Lewis had contacted him via Facebook. She had been based in New York for a couple of years, but was coming back and wanted to catch up with some of her old friends from uni. Did he remember Reena? And Sam? Was he around for a drink at all?