Friday, March 23, 11:52 AM . . .

Jim Barton sat motionless in a blue leather chair, one of several positioned around an elegant glass table at one end of the CEO’s corner office. At the other end of the room, Carl Williams stood looking out a window. The silence lengthened. Finally, Williams turned to look at Barton. “Speechless” was not a word most people could imagine applying to Jim Barton. His energy and outspokenness as head of the Loan Operations department had made him one of IVK’s most dynamic executives, a key player and a likely CEO someday—of a different company, if not this one.

But the news Williams had delivered moments before had left Barton dumbfounded.

A few minutes earlier, Barton had rushed to Williams’s ...

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