The year is 2020.  Neil Manley, MBA, barely thirty and unwitting instrument of his parents’ death, returns from his Boston job to California to care for his off-the-rails sister McKenzie and her two kids, Thunder and Lightning.  Now VP for tiny Malibu Bank & Trust, Manley moves himself, Kenzie, and the kids into a rented house in Oxnard, a town where romantic prospects for a young man are as common as cupcakes on the moon.

Manley and his former colleague Clint Elstrom have been discussing a banking bill from Congresswoman Anita Mitchell, Clint’s boss.  Friction over this bubbles up between Manley and Christophe Santoni, his current boss, but MB&T is soon bought by two big hitters from Manley’s past as they launch APEX, a new $160 billion bank.  Manley gets a huge promotion and income to match, solving most of his life’s dilemmas.  Out celebrating, he meets Tina Perez, possibly the woman of his dreams, and chief of cyber-security for a national tech firm.  Then, his guard down, Manley has a one-night fling with coworker Ali Scott; it seems innocuous, and ends quickly—or so he thinks. 

The bankers, Julian Gossard and David Ashley-Brown, are scheming with Anita Mitchell on new legislation: federal loans to install renewable energy production at home, revolutionizing power generation in the US as fossil fuels fail and electricity demand soars.  Manley is shocked to be assigned to write the bill’s first draft, but his new job and the legislation trot ahead, as he gains prestige, power, and a new car—while being lured to the edge of a dangerous personal and financial pitfall.

Financial projections for the new legislation, HJ 462, are huge, with enormous bonuses on the horizon for Manley.  He buys a luxurious house with a $1 mil. mortgage, moves in Kenzie and the kids, and proposes to Tina.  Then, following a corporate dinner in Washington, Manley repeats his carnal blunder with Ali Scott at his hotel.

Brewing unseen, though, behind the Congressional bill, behind Manley’s career, and behind his sexual missteps, is an international conspiracy of banking corruption that will, before long, propel him into a world of entrapment, blackmail, kidnapping, and murder, where he must rely on his instincts, his brains—and Tina’s taste for combat.

Enter Senator Gabriel Padgett, directly opposed to Mitchell politically, but she needs his support for HJ 462, and plans to enlist supra-lobbyist Ivan Cotter in the battle.  As HJ 462 moves forward, Gossard and Ashley-Brown steep Manley in compliments, Tina moves into the house and soon falls pregnant, and Manley begins secret meetings with former boss Santoni for his off-the-record opinions on the bill’s details.  Critical point: the loans carry federal guarantees—very valuable for the banks, but with one serious risk that Manley eliminates in his careful wording of the bill.

Mitchell pitches 462 in the halls of Congress, while recruiting the big banks into her run for the White House, and Gossard and Ashley-Brown are chasing huge profits for their bank.  But the three reach a major conflict with Manley: his language in 462 blocks the US guarantee for any loans packaged (bundled) and sold overseas, preventing illegal foreign profits being laundered via the purchase of home loans guaranteed by the US taxpayer.  However, Gossard and Ashley-Brown, with Mitchell’s nod, are already making deals with corrupt banks and criminal groups around the world, with hundreds of billions on the table.  In addition to huge profits for APEX, these criminal enterprises will be de facto collaborators in Mitchell’s Presidential campaign. 

Clint is duped into removing Manley’s protective language from HJ 462.  When Manley finds out, he upbraids Clint and confronts Gossard over the conflict.  But, leaving work, he finds a DVD on his car seat, a video of his first liaison with Ali Scott, which threatens his entire “new life.”  It’s soon clear Scott didn’t plant the DVD, but less clear if she knew it existed.  Manley confesses the first affair (but not the DVD or second affair) to Gossard, who promises to resolve the mess.  When the video falls into Tina’s hands, Manley apologizes and explains, also explains the conflicts and his stress over HJ 462, and a brittle truce is agreed.

As a week passes, Tina and Manley discuss the mystery behind the DVD, and he and Gossard debate the overseas ban in 462; Gossard seems to win, i.e. the ban is out, but Manley begins a long, vacillating argument inside himself, pitting his pragmatism (increase his gains)  against his principles (protect the country).  Then another DVD turns up in his car—his second episode with Scott, in Washington—magnifying his fear and stress over who is behind the plot against him. 

Then, at a Chicago bachelor party, Manley is stunned to see a porn film starring Ali Scott.  The wheels of his brain are churning as he steps up his covert meetings with Santoni, looking for secrets within the structure of Apex.  Manley also has a dream that moves him closer to the answers.  Confiding in Tina, and putting everything together, he realizes that Gossard, Mitchell, and Ashley-Brown are conspiring against him to block the overseas ban, but can he find the courage to put his whole new life at risk by going to war with them over the legislation?

Tina expands her suspicions about the plot against her fiancé—until the second DVD shows up on her desk.  After arriving home to find Tina has left him, Manley reaches her and pleads for a talk.  She grudgingly agrees, and he explains the entire story—the affair, his conflicts with Clint, his capitulation to Gossard on 462, his fears about his—and their—future.  She weighs her options, including a solo career with her dominant tech skills. 

Through the Washington night, 462 moves from the House committee to a vote, passes, and goes to the Senate.  Mitchell conspires with the lobbyist Cotter to push her ambitions.  Manley struggles for the guts to pursue his ideals.  Formidable Sen. Padgett wades into the fray over 462 as Mitchell maneuvers for national attention.  Finding more secrets about Ali Scott and Gossard, Manley covertly tapes Gossard lying about the videos.  Scott disappears from work and her e-mail and phone have been cut off.  Manley meets Tina again and brings her up to date, including the Gossard tape.

Ali Scott is found murdered, her car and house burned to the ground.  Manley applies brutal if wild logic: He could be a suspect; as a senior official exploiting a junior staffer, Scott threatened his job and reputation, a sexual harassment risk proven in the DVDs.  So he must keep the DVDs secret.  Could that have been Gossard’s intent, since he has proof that Gossard had them recorded?  Was Gossard behind the murder?

Tina sees that murder points to a much bigger conspiracy than just crooked legislation.  She takes herself, Kenzie, and the children north to Guadalupe, California, where her extended family can protect them.  Meanwhile, she hacks into the personal devices of Clint Elstrom, Anita Mitchell, Julian Gossard, and his henchmen. 

Manley creates a secret folder with all his evidence and suspicions, and decides to take the fight to Mitchell, Gossard, and Ashley-Brown.  He then disappears, only to turn up in Washington, where he meets with Clint and explains everything.  Gossard traces Tina and the others to Guadalupe, and tries to run Manley to ground in DC before he can meet Gabriel Padgett.  Through pressure and a ruse, though, Manley gets to Padgett, who sees the evidence and initiates an official investigation.  Manley flies home.

Gossard orders the men who killed Ali Scott to kidnap Kenzie and the kids; Ashley-Brown is cutting deals in Eastern Europe on the promise of HJ 462 being signed into law.  His foreign collaborators, highly motivated but unforgiving, understand there are political threats to their access to extreme wealth, and prepare to act on that.  As they focus on Washington, the hard-edged fringe of Tina’s family conduct a rescue of Kenzie and the kids, who are returned safely, though no kidnappers survive.  Tina picks Manley up at the airport, and they hatch a plan: Gossard doesn’t know his criminal crew are dead, and believes Manley’s sister and the children are still captives.  Manley sets up a meeting for the next night outside of LA, from where Tina’s gangland homeboys snatch Gossard.

At a low-key restaurant in Washington, with senior DOJ officials, Padgett discusses wiretaps on Gossard, Mitchell, and Ashley-Brown.  As they leave the restaurant, Belarusian assassins launch an attack.  In a small suburban garage in Southern California, Neil Manley brings Julian Gossard up to speed on Kenzie’s rescue, the deaths of his crew, the Washington assassination attempt, and the deal Gossard will have to cut with Manley if he wants to walk out of the garage.  Tina records it all.

The next day, Tina and Manley fly to Washington and meet with the wounded Senator Padgett, the FBI, and Clint.  Manley and Clint explain modifications to HJ 462 that will allow it to meet the interests of all.  Hours of frenetic negotiations move it to the White House for signing. 

On the steps of Julian Gossard’s grand SoCal home, a box arrives.  Inside is the head of David Ashley-Brown, a demonstration of his foreign partners’ disappointment.  Gossard, panicked, and without street support, hides the head in the garage freezer.  On Manley and Tina’s evidence, the FBI arrive to arrest Gossard—and find the head.

Publicly humiliated, Anita Mitchell reaches the end of her presidential aspirations.  She is arrested attempting to put a contract hit on Neil Manley.  She pulls legal strings, makes bail, and is back on the street—where she buys a gun to kill Manley herself.  She tracks down Tina, Manley, and Clint at Clint’s Georgetown apartment and, as a possible murder scene unfolds, the FBI agent who saved Padgett’s life draws down on Mitchell.  Outraged and disappointed, and clearly deranged, Mitchell puts the gun in her own mouth and pulls the trigger.

In the final scenes, we discover that Mitchell isn’t dead—the gun she bought wasn’t loaded—but is back in jail.  Gabriel Padgett hires Clint Elstrom.  Manley and Tina are you reunited, but the FBI want to hire Tina for her tech skills.  Manley and Santoni, with outside backing, turn APEX into a successful, if smaller, venture.  HJ 462 produces successful outcomes, but the fly in the ointment is in Minsk.  The people who lost out when Gossard and Ashley-Brown failed to fleece the American taxpayer are still looking to get whole.  They decide they’ll give Neil Manley a few years to become very wealthy, and then they’ll come knocking.