Home > The Dealmaker (Sex & Bonds #1)

The Dealmaker (Sex & Bonds #1)
Author: Jessica Peterson



Chapter One






Fighting and fucking.

I had no idea they’re two sides of the same coin until I meet him. Theo Morgan, aka the Bull. It’s a nickname Wall Street doesn’t hand out lightly; you have to have exceptionally large balls and be an exceptionally giant asshole to earn it.

And oh, does Theo earn it.

The morning we meet, I wake up before my 4:45 a.m. alarm. It’s unusual for me—I love to sleep—but it’s notification day, and my heart is popping around my chest like a pinball. I’m always excited to get my bonus number and review; bonuses make up the lion’s share of my compensation. But today I’m extra excited. Or maybe just anxious, because my boss is handing out exactly one promotion this year, and I’m in the running to get it.

If I did, I’d be one of fifteen female managing directors on Atlas & Teton Bank’s thousand-person trading floor. One of them being my idol Paula Fernandez, my boss’s boss and global head of sales and trading. MD is the highest title in the banking world aside from CEO, and it’s one I’ve been after since I started my career in sales and trading at twenty-two, fresh out of college.

I check my phone to see if my dad responded to the text I sent him yesterday. He had a successful career in finance too, so I asked him for any advice he might have. I smile when I see he did respond, but my excitement fades when I see he just said: Good luck. Not even an exclamation point. I don’t know why I’m disappointed by his disinterest after all this time, but the impersonal reply still stings.

I refuse to let him ruin my day before it even begins, so I hop on my Peloton in an effort to sweat out my jitters. It works. By the time I’m done showering, I’m blow-drying my hair with a steady hand. If I can survive a decade in the male-dominated world of investment banking, who’s to say I can’t thrive in it too, despite some (very big) missteps along the way?

I still need a pep talk from my patron saint Glennon Doyle on my ten-minute drive to the office. She tells me I’m a goddamn cheetah, and I decide the idea tracks since I’m wearing my lucky cheetah print pumps (medium-height heel, rounded toe, sexy but not too sexy) and a swipe of my favorite lipstick (Yves Saint Laurent Number 19, a bright, glam fuchsia). Only thing that’s missing is my daily Twitter doom scroll; I typically check out Wall Street Bathroom’s latest gossip. Today, though, I want to keep a clear head, so I skip social media altogether.

It’s only half past six when I walk onto the trading floor, but seats in the soaring, brightly lit space are already filling up. Colin from money market sales, otherwise known as Danish, holds up his first two fingers in greeting as I pass, eyes flicking down my body, then back up.

“Nice suit, Nora.”

All that’s missing is a whistle. I force the friendly-but-not-too-friendly grin I’ve perfected over the years, taking note of his khakis and short-sleeved golf shirt. The bank changed its dress code to business casual over the past few years, which means guys get to dress comfortably, like Danish, while women like me still largely show up dressed to impress.

“Thanks,” I say.

“Good luck today. I know you must be excited.”

“Don’t you dare jinx me, Danish.” This guy took a bet as a newbie analyst from his boss that he could eat a Costco-sized box of cheese Danishes without puking. He lost the bet five pastries in, but the unfortunate nickname stuck.

I head for my seat on the far side of the floor. In a surprise to exactly no one, my sales partner George (aka George Walton Fieldstone IV, aka Porgeous, a nickname that is apparently some kind of perverted bastardization of Georgy Porgy his friends from college came up with) is not in yet, but our analyst, Nicky, is. At twenty-three, he’s the youngest member of our team, and started in sales a year ago after he graduated from Duke. As the new guy, he’s always the first one on the desk in the mornings, and typically the last to leave in the evenings.

He offers me his usual lopsided smile. “Double or triple?”

“Just a double shot this morning, thanks.” I dig a twenty out of my wallet. “Get something—”

“For myself too.” Nicky’s dimples pop. “Thanks.”

I drop my tote bag onto my chair. “My pleasure. You ready for today?”

Nicky grins. “I went over what we talked about last night and again this morning. I wrote down what I want to say and memorized the talking points. Thanks again for your insight—I really appreciate it, Nora.”

I grin too as I shrug out of my jacket. “I’ll make an associate of you yet. Good luck.”

Nicky is hoping to land some new accounts that were given to our desk after a smaller sales group was recently dissolved. He asked for my help coming up with a game plan for when he approached our boss with the idea today. I was happy to lend a hand. Establishing solid relationships with important clients is what will eventually get Nicky promoted from analyst to associate to vice president and beyond—even director (that’s my current title) and managing director.

“With your help, I don’t think I’ll need it,” Nicky replies.

Brooks, a nearby quantitative analyst (or “quant”), groans. “Will somebody make the ass kissing stop? Some of us have work to do.”

Still smiling, Nicky rolls his eyes. “Grumpy even on the best day of the year.”

“Of course I’m grumpy,” Brooks says. “We may get paid today, but we still have to work tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow’s Saturday.”


Brooks has a point. Face time—showing up at the office so you can see and be seen—is still incredibly important in our business. Whether that means being the first person in every day, the last person to leave at night, or one of the weekend warriors who comes in on Saturday, working long hours is a badge of honor. It’s one of the many things that frustrates me about finance, and definitely something I’d like to change if—when—I get promoted.

I drape my jacket across the back of my chair. “Can I get that coffee, Nicky? I was up early and I’m starting to get a headache.”

“Done.” He claps his hands together and rises, all business. “I’ll grab it while you talk to Aiden. He’s looking for you.”

My heart does a backflip and lands somewhere in my stomach at the mention of our boss’s name. “Aiden’s already looking for me?”

A couple guys nearby look up, their gazes sharp with unabashed curiosity. It’s been three months since Aiden and I . . . well, stopped doing whatever we were doing, but my face still burns. We never told anyone about our relationship—in fact, we went to great lengths to keep it under wraps—but people found out anyway. I know they wonder if I’m up for this promotion not because I bust my ass, but because I slept with the boss.

It is not a good feeling. Neither is knowing I’d probably do it again, despite the fallout.

“First thing Aiden said when he got in was to send you to the conference room,” Nicky continues. “The one in the back.”

“Great. Okay. Thanks.”

I let out a breath as I smooth my pencil skirt over my thighs. Wearing my favorite suit seemed like a good idea this morning, but now I wish I’d gone with something more subdued. It’s a deep pink color, fitted within an inch of its life through my hips and torso. In Meghan Markle style, I’ve paired it with a silk blouse a shade lighter than the suit and my grandmother’s diamond stud earrings.

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