I looked at him. "So you won't be making any partners this year, then?"
"Well, no, we'll be making Maier and Mako partners. They're excellent lawyers.
"And have penises."
"How are their penises irrelevant but Valentina and Janet's ovaries are a total deal breaker?" My voice trembled, and I suddenly felt myself wanting to cry with anger, which is so not my favorite feeling. I'd love to become enraged without getting emotional, but that's just not how I work. If I'm not emotional, I don't lose my temper. You see the problem? Unfortunately, as I said earlier, John can smell salt water a mile away.
He got up and came around the desk. "Jess, don't get all upset." He patted me on the shoulder, as if I were a horse. A short horse sitting in a chair, but it was that kind of reassuring touch he was going for.
"I'm not upset, John, I'm furious."
"Well, you look upset." He got up to go back to his chair. "Why don't you take the rest of the day off? We'll be telling Valentina and Janet the news later, and I know it would be hard for you to be here."
I swear to you I felt my tears getting sucked back into my tear ducts. "You're telling them last thing on a Friday? That's kind of a dick move."
He shrugged. "It's just business, Jess."
"No, John, it's blatant sexism and total bullshit."
"You're entitled to your opinion."
I stood up. "It's more than an opinion, it's the truth. You had Jackson working here for months after rumors started, and it was only when there were male witnesses that you started paying attention. Now you're literally not promoting someone because of their gender, which is illegal
." I could feel my heart pounding.
John laughed, "What, you're going to sue me now? You're a partner, too, Jessica, you have a responsibility to the firm. And to yourself—your share of the corporate profits this year will pay for several years of college." He smiled at me and said, "Aren't you going on a college tour with Emma next week? Just wait till those tuition bills start rolling in, you'll soon stop worrying about anyone else's salary."
I stared at him, and while I hate to use a cliché, the blood was literally rushing in my ears. Tears were pricking my eyes again—traitors—but I knew what I wanted to say.
"John, it's not about salary. It's about equity."
"Jessica, their time will come. I promise."
"Their time is now, John, or I walk."
He shook his head at me. "Don't be silly, Jessica. Don't let your emotions get the better of you, you're too good for that."
"Are you going to make them partners?"
"Then I quit." I turned and walked to the door.
"Jessica, don't be so childish."
I paused and turned on my heel like a boss. "Why don't you go and say that to the board, John, then give me a call. I'm out next week, as you say, and I won't announce my resignation until I'm back. Fix it, John."
I opened the door. "And by the way, my daughter's name is Emily, not Emma." I walked out, closing the door behind me.
This excerpt ends on page 12 of the paperback edition.
Monday we begin the book What You Wish For by Katherine Center.