Magic Shifts(Kate Daniels,book 8)(53) by Ilona Andrews
Everyone looked at Barabas. Bob Carver had the expression of a man who was feverishly calculating his odds.
“I’m invoking the Donations and Charitable Contributions provision,” I said. “The last entry under Membership Powers in the Manual.”
Everyone looked at me.
I raised my bag. “I am donating twenty thousand dollars to the Guild to be used only to fund the Clerk’s salary and the salary for an assistant of his choice for the next two months, if the Guild is willing to reinstate him.”
“You can’t do that,” Bob sputtered. “You can’t just buy your way in.”
“Yes, she can,” Rigan said. “Hell, yes, she completely can.”
Bob turned to him. “We had a deal.”
“Your deal didn’t mention her donating money. What the devil do you think this is, the Order?” Rigan turned to the crowd. “Raise your hand if you work here for free.”
“Who here wants to get paid?”
A forest of hands went up. It’s nice when they do your work for you.
“Three of my last paychecks were short,” Sonia said. “Three! I’m sick of it.”
Bob turned to Ivera. She shrugged.
“Why are we still talking about this?” Rigan asked. “I move to reinstate the Clerk. All in favor?”
He thrust his hand up. Sonia joined him. Ivera raised her hand. Bob hesitated, but his hand went up. Voting against the Clerk in front of the whole Guild would slam the lid on the coffin of his leadership.
“Majority,” Rigan announced. “You’re reinstated, Clerk.”
Someone in the back clapped. The crowd caught it, and the hall erupted with stomps, applause, and whistles.
The Clerk made a little bow.
“Alright, alright,” Bob yelled. ‘We have bigger problems. Like no damn roof.”
“Under the corporation provision, I request to enroll three people as my auxiliaries,” I said.
“This can wait.” Bob glared at me.
“No, it can’t,” I told him.
“Last time I checked, Daniels . . .” Bob started.
“She killed the giant,” a woman called out. “She cut his neck. Lago took the credit, but I saw her do it.”
Lago took the credit? Sounded like something he would do. And I didn’t remember a bit of it. Must’ve happened between the giant falling and the lizards Curran told me about.
“What does that have to do with anything?” Bob yelled.
“If it weren’t for her, the Guild wouldn’t be standing,” the woman answered. “Let her do her thing.”
“Where were you, Bob?” another merc called out.
“I was on the job,” Bob barked.
“Let her talk.” Alix Simos stepped forward. That was unexpected. I barely knew him.
“Who are you enrolling?” Sonia asked me.
“Him, him, and him.” I pointed to Curran, Derek, and Barabas.
“No,” Bob said. “Don’t you see? She’s using it to avoid the stopgap.”
Barabas opened his mouth. I shook my head. It would be better if I said it.
“Bob, it’s not up to you. I’ve been registered as a corporate member for over a year. I can enroll my auxiliaries any time.”
“She’s right,” the Clerk said.
“You’ll be liable if they screw up,” Bob said.
“Fine, you’re enrolled,” Sonia said. “The Clerk will do the paperwork.”
Bob spread his arms.
“What?” Sonia gave him a look. “I want to see where this is going. The three of you are in.”
I stepped back. Barabas stepped forward. “Cutting Edge invokes the Donations and Charitable Contributions provision. In accordance with financial limits, Cutting Edge donates $150,000 to the Guild, $50,000 per auxiliary member, to be earmarked as follows: $18,000 for the repair of the roof, $10,000 for the repair of the interior, $12,000 to settle the outstanding balances on utility bills . . .”
He kept going. How had he even managed to figure out all of this in less than forty-eight hours? With each item Bob’s expression darkened a little more.
“. . . and finally the remaining $16,000 to restock the supply of ammunition for the weapons room. In the interests of making sure the money is distributed as assigned, Cutting Edge designates me as the treasurer for these funds.”
“All in favor of grabbing this money before they change their mind and appointing that guy to handle all the admin crap with it?” Rigan asked.
“Don’t you see?” Bob pointed at Curran, who loomed next to Barabas in his dark cloak. “It’s him. He’s bankrolling it.”
“I don’t give a flying snake who is bankrolling it,” Sonia told him. “It’s money, Bob! Money in hand!”
Bob ground his teeth. “We all fought for this spot. We earned it. You can’t just let an outsider come in and take it over. He’s buying his way in.”
“Would you care to explain how exactly I am an outsider?” I asked. “That’s mean of you, Bob. My feelings are all injured.”
The crowd snickered.
Rigan turned to Bob. “He isn’t asking for anything.”
Bob opened his mouth and clamped it shut.
Yep, you’ve just been outmaneuvered. Curran didn’t ask for any position in the Guild except for that of an ordinary merc.
“The man is giving us magic money with no strings attached,” Rigan said. “He hasn’t asked for any special power. He isn’t bargaining with us. He’s just offering us money. Do you have money, Bob? If you want to give us 150K, I’ll use yours instead. Hell, I’ll use anybody’s money to get gigs coming into the Guild again.”
“Let’s vote,” Sonia said, and raised her hand.
Rigan put his hand up. Ivera hesitated.
“Ivera, shit, piss, or get off the pot,” Rigan said.
Mercs, people of genteel disposition and refined manners.
Ivera raised her hand. Bob shot her an injured look.
“We need the money,” Ivera said quietly.
“Done.” Rigan rubbed his hands together. “We just passed the budget for the next two months.”
Bob spat on the floor and walked out. Ivera followed him. Wrong move. He’d just given Curran the run of the field, and Curran wouldn’t waste the opportunity.
Curran pondered Bob’s spit. “We need to clean this place up. Grab a shovel or a broom, and let’s go.”
“I’m not a janitor,” Paula, one of the mercs, called out.
Curran turned to her. “Funny, I’m not a janitor either. Although that depends on who you ask. Sometimes I end up cleaning up other people’s messes. But we’ve all been there. That’s what being a merc is, right?”
“You wouldn’t know,” Paula said.
Curran glanced at her. “I take it you come to us from a privileged background.”
Paula drew back. “That’s none of your business.”
“I don’t come from money,” Curran said. His voice rolled, filling the space. “Everything I have I made with my own two hands, and I have to work hard every day for it.”
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