I shouldn’t have listened, but my curiosity beat out the entire feline population of Dallas. Who was I to fight it? It hadn’t killed me yet.
If the voices hadn’t been raised and full of discord, I might have resisted temptation. Perhaps . . . but probably not if I were being honest.
“You can’t possibly sign off, Bob. We found too many blatant errors and even more questionable treatments,” a woman’s voice said. Marilyn. The voice of reason—my mentor if I could impress her enough to take me on.
“Duly noted, but you’re overruled. It’s a done deal,” Bob said.
I pulled away from the door and scanned my surroundings to double check that no one would catch me spying.
My heart pounded as I considered the implications of what I’d heard. Why would a partner, a leader in our accounting firm, do something so obviously wrong? Why would he put its reputation, his reputation, at risk?
“Aphrodite is showing missing cash, two luxury cars and a jet no one can seem to produce, to name a few things we’ve found. You can’t ignore this, Bob.”
I mouthed, ‘Don’t forget the overvalued inventories and past due payroll taxes,’ as if I might somehow prompt Marilyn through the door.
“What about the overvalued inventories?” Marilyn added.
Exactly! I checked my watch, needing to get our lunches. Another few minutes wouldn’t hurt.
“That’s not an Aphrodite issue,” Bob said. “Gayle and Jon royally botched the counts.”
What? No friggin’ way! Where’d he even get that idea from?
“We can’t hold Aphrodite’s audit hostage because of our own abysmal staff,” Bob said. “You should have replaced those two PUREs at the beginning of the project like I suggested.”
My heart sank to my feet. I waited for Marilyn to come to my defense.
“You said you had everything under control, Marilyn.” His tone took on a steely, accusatory edge. “The cost to redo the entire count is out of our budget. We’re just going to have to take the risk and sign off.”
I drew back as my stomach knotted. Abysmal? Bob thought my work was abysmal? Jon’s too? PUREs? Partners never called staff Previously Undetected Recruiting Errors unless they were one step away from the unemployment office. I did a good job, and so did Jon. Marilyn had even complimented our work.
How could Bob be so glib in front of our client?
Private conversation or not, I needed to hear more. My hoop earring clanked against the door as I returned my ear to its station.
I froze. Should have worn studs. Hoops were so much less professional. Of course, eavesdropping was too.
Listening for signs I’d betrayed my presence and hearing none, I pressed closer.
“. . . a lawsuit waiting to happen.” Marilyn said. “Your costs’ll look like loose change in comparison. You can’t possibly sign your name to those financial statements, Kenneth. Consider the implications to this company, to your reputation, your license.”
If Kenneth commented, he spoke so I couldn’t hear. “You could go to jail. We could all go to jail,” Marilyn said.