Perfect Bait – Flash Fiction


The business world is full of sharks like Marion Anderson.

Wearing a gold silk dress, her bronze hair up, away from her delicately chiseled face, she was surrounded by staff, like a shark by cleaner fish. She had graceful lines, fluid movements, a keen mind, and a nose that could smell blood a mile away. She ran a security investment exchange; a corporate raider preying on little companies, like mine.

Somehow she’d bought stock in my company. One of the stock holders in my closely held company had sold out.

We had a niche market, greenhouse heat & watering systems. The heart was a program that read sensors and controlled switches. It worked well in greenhouses or for security.

Which is why I, Doug Haskell, was at a fund raising benefit for an old Theatre, scoping her out. She caught me staring, and smiled. I smiled back, then turned away, pretending to study one of Remington’s breathtaking landscape paintings.

Like a good predator, she followed sedately. I saw her out of the corner of my eye. It was an eerie, hair-standing-on-end feeling I’d had hunting once when a curious bear had stalked me. A million years of evolution had kicked in, I’d known it was after me. Just like now.

Where was the music from Jaws when you needed it?

“That is a very nice Remington.” Low, husky, that voice was pitched for my ears only. I looked down at her. Beautiful, warm gold-flecked brown eyes smiled up at me. She barely reached my shoulder.

“I’ve always liked Remington,” I replied, truthfully, “a raw style for a raw life.”

“I have one of his sculptures.” She glanced at the print.

I noticed something in her hair.

“Hold still,” I said. My fingers plucked it from her bronze hair. I examined the proof of her humanity: a fragment of timothy hay. “How did that get there?”

Only one hay-eating animal was expensive enough for her: a horse. I suspected her enthusiasm for the sport rivaled her inclination for corporate bloodletting.

“I thought I’d gotten it all.” Long dark gold nails on a small, strong hand plucked the hay from my palm. I was satisfied to see her blush, retreat in confusion, from a fragment of timothy.

“Do you always feed your horse yourself?” I asked.

“Yes,” Her social mask slipped; there was genuine fondness in her eyes. “He was playful tonight.”

“I’ve got a horse, had him for years.” The old gelding wandering around my place belonged to my sister’s kids. “There’s nothing like a long trail ride.” I hadn’t ridden a horse in years, but I would say anything to save my company. “We should ride some time.”

“I’d like that.” Her eyes lit up.

The perfect opening was ruined when a member of her staff claimed her. She excused herself and walked away. I knew that I wouldn’t be forgotten.

Now, I had an edge, bait to reel in my shark.

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