Billionaire's Tragedy (Standalone Book) (Billionaire Bad Boy Romance) (9 page)

"Very well,"
she nodded. "Are you ready?"

"Oh, sure," I
said as I sat down across from her and poured myself a cup of coffee.
"Ready when you are; fire away."

"No pun intended,
right?" she said dryly as she looked down at her notes.

"That's a common
expression and you know it," I muttered as I tried to keep my eyes from
drifting below her chin. It was difficult when she was sitting so close,
looking at me with her cat-like eyes and leaning back in her chair so that I
had a full view of her curvy figure. I swallowed hard and looked away.

"How did you get
into guns? I mean, why start working with them in the first place?" she
asked. I was surprised by the question because I figured that someone had told
her about my history. No one, not even Brant, had ever asked me why I'd chosen
to work with guns. They all knew.

"I've always been
fascinated by guns," I said. There was no way I was going to spill my guts
to her, but if she was going to ask direct questions, then I'd figure out a way
to answer them in kind. I needed help getting HR 8212 passed and if this rude
little reporter could help me, then I'd answer all of her questions. "I've
loved them, but I've also noticed just how much damage they can do when they
find their way into the hands of people who aren't responsible, so I thought
I'd try to find a way to stop the madness, as it were."

"So, you’re an
altruist."

"I just don’t want
people getting hurt," I replied. "I’ve seen a lot of bad things
happen at the hands of those who shouldn’t own guns, and I thought that time
would change things. Make the world safer. Unfortunately, that's not been the
case, and as I've watched men like Davis Russo gain more power, I've started
worrying that we're on the road to becoming unsafe as we simultaneously fight
to protect our Second Amendment rights. In response to calls for safer gun
technology, my team and I have engineered a smart grip using technology that we
already have and I'm trying to get Congress to pass a bill that would make
smart grip technology mandatory in all fifty states. Even retroactively."

"What does the smart
grip do?" she asked, softening a bit and leaning forward. "How does
something like that work?"

"It takes the basic
fingerprint identification process and puts it into the grip of a gun, making
each gun an individually owned weapon," I said as I got up to grab a
prototype from my desk drawer. I came back carrying a plastic gun that had a
grip already installed on it. "See here how there are contact points
molded to the grip of the gun? These are used to register the gun to the legal
owner, and once they're set, no one but the legal owner, or people he's
programmed into the gun, will be able to fire it. Watch." I pointed the
gun at my desk and pulled the trigger several times. The gun clicked with each
pull. Then, I turned to Olivia and held it grip out towards her. She took it
and looked at me quizzically.

"Shoot it at my
desk," I laughed. "Grab the grip and then pull the trigger."

"It won't
fire," she observed as she aimed the barrel at my desk and tried to pull
the trigger. "It's jammed."

"No, it's grip
technology working perfectly," I said solemnly as she handed the gun back
to me. I set it on the table with the barrel pointing away from both of us and
continued explaining. "That means that stolen guns will be rendered
unusable and accidents are rendered almost impossible because even when kids
get a hold of the guns, they won't be able to shoot them."

"That's
amazing," she said as she scribbled a few notes on her pad. "But how
would that have prevented your friend’s parents from being killed?"

"That's part of the
bill I'm trying to get Congress to pass," I explained. "I want grip
technology to be part of a standard three-day waiting period. No one can sell a
grip gun without a license and no license can be issued without a background
check – no matter where the gun is sold."

"What about private
sales? Couldn't someone just sell the gun and add the user to their grip
profile?"

"Yes, but then their
own grip profile would still be in the gun, so if anything happened, the
authorities could trace the gun back to the original owner and private sales
without a license would be subject to strict penalties," I said. "The
idea behind this technology is not to eliminate owners, but to keep guns out of
the hands of those who commit crimes and to prevent accidents."

"What are the
statistics on that, though?" she asked. "Is it really enough to warrant
retrofitting every gun in America with it? And how much does that cost,
anyway?"

"The technology
itself isn't terribly expensive. We're talking between three to five hundred
dollars to outfit a gun, depending on what type of gun it is, but GRIPTech is
going to subsidize a large part of the technology for those who already own
guns, so the cost will be lowered to fifty to a hundred dollars per gun,"
I said.

"Bigger guns require
bigger grips. And yes, the stats show that smart grips could go a long way in
preventing accidents among children and teens. In one year in this country,
there are over three thousand children killed by guns. Add to it another two
thousand accidental shootings and we're starting to talk about a significant
number of preventable deaths and injuries."

"What about
illegally obtained weapons?" she asked as she leaned forward and rested
her elbows on her knees. She was intrigued, but I was momentarily thrown off
balance as my eyes were drawn to the tops of her breasts spilling out of her
t-shirt. I quickly averted my eyes, stood up and walked to my desk to look for
the colorful handouts we had made on gun statistics in the U.S. Olivia watched
as a small smile played at the edge of her lips, and for a moment, I wondered
if she had bent over on purpose.

"We've got
statistics somewhere here," I said as I dug into the files in my draw and
pulled out a few sheets of paper. "Here, I found them."

"That's good,"
she said as I crossed the room and handed them to her. She looked up at me as
she took the papers from me, and I was struck by the fact that her eyes had
gone from deep green to a color that now looked more golden. I shook my head,
and she looked down to study the papers I'd given her.

"We don't have
statistics on illegal weapons injuries, yet," I said. "We're working
on that, but no one keeps a database of those numbers, so we have to
extrapolate them ourselves."

"So, would you call
yourself anti-gun, at all?" she asked as she scanned the paper and made a
few notes.

"No way. Look, I
one-hundred percent believe that individuals who pass background checks and are
responsible about their ownership should be the people who own guns in this
country," I said. "I don't want to take anyone's guns away from
them."

"Not even after your
friend's parents were killed by a guy with a gun?" she asked with a
surprised look. "That seems really controversial in and of itself, doesn't
it? I mean, don't the anti-gun folks want you and your friend on their side as
a testament to the fact that guns kill people?"

"Hell no; why would
I ever want to punish responsible gun owners for the idiotic mistakes of people
who are not responsible? It's like telling people that because someone crashed
their car after drinking and driving that we should take cars away from
everyone," I protested. "It's ludicrous. Why should people who do the
right thing be punished because of a few bad apples? I simply want to make it
less likely that the bad apples can get their hands on weapons without proper
checks. And as for the anti-gun groups, well, let's just say that they have
their own brand of propaganda that I don't buy, either. In some ways, they're
just as bad as the pro-gun folks."

"This is very
interesting," she said thoughtfully. "How so? And, what about Davis
Russo? Why is he out to get you?"

"He's not out to get
me," I lied. I couldn't afford to have my plans being laid bare in the
newspaper just yet. I needed the secrecy for the time being, and then once we'd
figured out how to tap into the power in Congress, I'd give her the scoop.
"He's just an old blowhard who wants to protect the AWN. And, the anti-gun
folks are the ones who are pushing people's backs against the wall with their
no tolerance calls. It’s not helpful. What we need in this country are laws
that help keep the guns out of the hands of those we know will do harm and will
prevent accidents. That's why I'm pushing so hard for the HR 8212. I believe
that we can make a huge dent in the accident figures in the first year."

"Davis said some
pretty inflammatory things about you," she observed. "Why?"

"His job is to
protect the membership of his organization and whip up support against anything
that they think threatens their Second Amendment rights," I said, feeling
like I was back on truthful ground. "He's a man who is solid in his
convictions and sometimes uses inflammatory rhetoric to rally the troops."

"He seems like an
ass to me," she said as she scribbled a few notes on her pad. "I'm
just curious why he wouldn't buy into the safety issue. Is there some kind of
money issue at play here?"

"He's concerned that
his constituency won't be able to afford all of the retrofitting required, but
we've written the allowance for each owner into the bill we're putting before
Congress, so that should help ease his worries a bit," I said. She knew
more about this than I'd expected and I was afraid that she'd inadvertently
stumble on something I didn't yet want to let out of the bag, so I began trying
to wrap up the conversation. "I'm sure there are other, personal reasons
Mr. Russo does what he does, but you'd have to interview him and find out those
things."

"This is
interesting," she said, scribbling notes on her pad. "There doesn't
seem to be any real reason for opposing your bill, and yet Russo is hell-bent
on making sure it doesn't make it to the floor. Do you think he had anything to
do with the shootings of the senators on the Hill last weekend?"

"Davis Russo?"
I said trying to keep my voice even and calm. My gut told me that he had
everything to do with the shootings, but my common sense told me not to make
that speculation unless I had cold hard evidence to back it up. "Why would
he want to kill senators?"

"I am sure I have no
idea," Olivia said, eyeing me suspiciously. I suddenly felt like I had
back in grade school when the teacher had caught me hiding a candy in my desk.
She knew I knew something, but she wasn't going to force me to admit it – yet.
"There's something you're not telling me, Redding."

"Linc, call me
Linc," I said in a stern voice. I was irritated that she was trying to get
me to spill information that I didn't want to share. "I've answered your
questions, I'm not sure what else there is."

"Well, in my line of
work, I deal with a lot of people who lie," she said with a raised
eyebrow. "And right now, you are exhibiting some of the classic signs of
someone who is not telling the truth."

"So, you come into
my office, ask me all the questions you want, and then accuse me of lying to
you?" I snapped. "Some reporter you are. I was expecting something a
bit more professional."

"Oh, really? I'm not
professional?" she said, narrowing her eyes. "You're looking down my
shirt while I'm asking you questions and I'm the one who gets called
unprofessional. Interesting. You rich boys really are full of yourselves,
aren't you? And as far as the money issue goes, I'd say you're forgetting to mention
a huge part of the issue, which is that if you get the bill passed, you stand
to make billions in profits over the next few years since you hold the patent
for the smart technology that would be fitted to every gun. I'd say that was a
huge motivation, wouldn't you?"

"I didn't...
I
...it was..." I sputtered, furious that she'd caught
me and even more pissed that she hadn't just let it go. "No, profit has
never been a motivation for me, Ms. Moore."

"Oh, right, sure. I
totally believe that," she said rolling her eyes as she gathered her
things. "You know, after all the rudeness on the street, I decided to give
you one more shot after the flowers – which were very nice, thank you. But you
really aren't a very nice guy, are you?"

"Me? I'm not a nice guy?"
I shot back. I was fighting not to lose my temper, but she was poking all the
wrong places and it was firing me up. "Lady, I've been nothing but nice to
you considering the fact that you had appallingly bad manners at the coffee
shop and then failed to pay attention to where you were going and ran into me
like a bulldozer on the sidewalk. I was simply trying to be the bigger person
about the collision and... Oh, forget it, you're just a stubborn redhead."

"I'm rude? I'm
stubborn? Guess again, buddy!" Red splotches appeared on her cheeks as she
said, "I did not do anything wrong in the coffee shop or on the sidewalk.
You, on the other hand, think the world should step aside for your little
special snowflake self and bow down! I came over here to do an interview, not
get judged by some little Richie Rich boy who has a chip on his shoulder and lies!"

"I don't have a chip
on my shoulder!" I yelled as she quickly shoved her recorder and notebook
into her bag and yanked it up off the chair. "And, I am not lying! You are
an absolutely impossible woman! You're pig headed and stubborn and I'm
seriously starting to question whether I should have entrusted you with all of
the information I've given you!"

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