Authors: Camille Oster
By Camille Oster
Copyright 2012 Camille Oster
All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the work of the author's imagination, or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
To Tina, Milette and Moira for their help.
Camille Oster - Author
Auckland, New Zealand
“I’ll be two minutes,” Jane said to the bored girl standing next to her desk twirling a pen between her fingers. “I just have to send this email.”
“Don’t be late,” she said and walked off
teetering on high heels. Dress standards were high at their firm, and more so of late as everyone seemed to want to put their best foot forward with all the changes going on, including the invariable jostling for positions that came with a merger. Jane tucked her blond hair behind her ear and typed as fast as she could.
It was the opportunity of a lifetime for Jane
Burrows, to be assigned as a performance monitor for the merger between Symax and Contil corporations. This kind of promotion didn’t come along for everyone. It had been her good relationship with her boss Edmund Carmichael that had led to it. She had gone from his assistant to an analyst role, not just any analyst role, a role that had a bit of clout. Edmund Carmichael had placed her in the new organisation to be his eyes and ears, to ensure the merger was going as planned and that the family business and name was being treated in the way he wanted.
been hired as the elderly man’s assistant two years ago, shortly after she graduated with her Masters in Communications and after a rather distressing stint as an entry level planning officer at the local council. Entering the corporate world of Contil had been quite a readjustment, but her boss had been kind and he appreciated the effort she put into her work.
Now she was running late for a meeting with
the department heads to discuss one of their main accounts. She wasn’t a main player in the meeting, but she would be there in the background listening and observing on behalf of her old boss who still had a prominent position on the Board.
Everyone knew of her special relationship with
Mr. Carmichael, but officially her job was to be a Corporate Performance Monitor. She smoothed out the creases on her skirt as she rushed into the elevator that zipped her upstairs to the floor where the department heads met.
The meeting was just
starting and she gingerly slid into the room as the door was closing. She took a seat down the table, in the place that she determined was as unobtrusive as possible. She felt the eyes of Damon D’Arth on her as she quietly folded back the cover on her iPad. He stood in front of the meeting, commanding the attention of everyone.
She briefly met
the eyes of the handsome dark blond man before returning her attention to the tablet in front of her. His look was stoic. “Glad you could join us,” he said in a matching tone. She blushed because she knew full well that he wasn’t glad. He had never been glad about her presence. It was just a consequence of her position; she tried not to take it personally.
knew full well that there were meetings that she was not invited to because of who she reported to. She also knew that she would not have been invited to this meeting either if Mr. Carmichael had not insisted on her inclusion.
“Now let’s talk about Singapore,”
Damon said and started the meeting. There was a new opportunity developing in Singapore - a bridge linking one of the small islands to the main island. An important project for the land sparse country and there was fierce competition for the contract to build this substantial bridge. Being responsible for the business development for the entire South East Asian region, Damon was in charge of winning this project.
meeting went on for two hours before they broke for lunch. Jane had been so busy this morning she hadn’t even had time to eat breakfast, which meant she could not skip lunch even if she wanted to.
“Want to get some Japanese with me?” Angelica asked standing up to look over the partition that separated their desks.
“Sure, let’s go now, I’m starving.” Jane said and put her things down on her desk. There was a little Japanese restaurant down the road which they sometimes went to. It was tiny, but the food was fantastic if you could get a seat.
They walked briskly down the street as the last of the summer warmth
left the city.
“Were you in the Singapore meeting?” Angelica asked.
“Yes, just about all morning.”
“He is so hot.” Angelica said. Jane knew ex
actly who she was talking about - Damon D’Arth. He had features that would make a modelling agent drool, along with most of the office girls. Probably because he dressed really well, with clothes that screamed of success and confidence. Actually everything about him screamed of confidence, the way he walked, his deep voice, and probably even his car which was some fancy model Jane hadn’t really bothered looking too close at. Everything about him spelled successful city type.
Jane could see why
the office girls liked him, he was attractive, she guessed. Maybe she’d even like him too if it wasn’t for the fact that he definitely didn’t like her. She might even go so far as to say he loathed her.
Sure, he was attractive if you were into that type, but not in the way that made her go weak in the knees. Not that the office girls had a chance with him, he dated society girls
or models. He was often pictured in the society news looking bored with some gorgeous girl from the right background draped on his arm.
“He’s alright,” she conceded quietly
, more in an effort to not engage on the subject. They ordered and squeezed into two seats at the bar looking out the window of the tiny restaurant.
“This is how most restaurants are in Japan,” Angelica said. “I went there when I was backpacking around Asia a couple of years ago.
Would you believe that a can of coke cost me five dollars? It was so expensive there, but worth it. I’d love to go again some time.”
“I’ve never been,” Jane said. She hadn’t actua
lly travelled much other than to Australia and Fiji with her family when she was twelve.
go, it’s a mind blowing experience. You don’t quite realize how different a culture can be until you go somewhere like Japan,” Angelica said. “So are you going to be working on the Singapore thing?”
“Probably, in some capacity.
I’m not quite sure.”
“That would be so
cool. I’m still on the Blenheim account, the most boring account in the company. I swear I’m going to be working on that bloody project until I retire. It’s not like there’s anything to do, the school is already built, I’m just stuck cleaning up the mess that everyone else left behind. It’s dull, dull, dull,” she confided. Angelica could talk anyone’s ear off, which is why Jane couldn’t handle going to lunch with her every day. “Maybe you’ll get to go to Singapore. That would be so awesome. The shopping is the best. Well maybe not for you as you’re quite tall. Everything fit me, it was great.”
“I doubt they’ll send me
,” Jane said.
“I wouldn’t mind spending a week in Singapore with
Damon D’Arth,” Angelica continued almost singing his name. “Did you see who he’s dating? Gabrielle Swanson. She is stunning.”
Jane rolled her
eyes, wishing they could talk about something else. Even Angelica’s backpacking adventures were better than this. “He’d better hang onto this one, he’s running out of models and society girls to date.”
“I don’t know,” Angelica laughed, “a new crop comes on the scene every year.”
“Ok, that just sounds creepy,” Jane said. Actually she had no qualms about cultivating a view that Damon D’Arth was creepy. It would be good if she could think it creepy when he pinned her with that disapproving gaze that she couldn’t help being unnerved by. Creepy would be good, maybe it was creepy how everything was so perfect for him. His career had been stellar; he was admittedly incredibly hot, if you were swayed by that kind of thing. He had the perfect penthouse apartment in the city’s most exclusive building, a car that men apparently drooled over, and girlfriends they were intimidated by.
She on the other hand had caught a lucky break when Edmund Carmichael had promoted her. Maybe not everyone would see it as a lucky break, but she did. She hadn’t exactly had lots of them, certainly not in her personal life. She
wouldn’t admit the fact, but she’d kind of given up on guys and had gotten herself a cat, a scrappy little tabby that guarded her little flat in one of the inner suburbs.
She hadn’t had a boyfriend in over three years. Her last relationship had completely
taken the wind out of her sails. Mark had left, stormed out one night after accusing her of being boring. It had completely knocked her confidence, at least until she’d run into him one night on her way home after some drinks with the office girls. He was with his new girlfriend. A sour looking girl covered in piercings and tattoos, and sporting a severe black haircut reminiscent of some 1950’s porn star. It had actually made her feel better; the accusation of being boring was now relative to his obviously extreme interpretation.
She’d taken it as a personal
character fault until she realized that she was the normal one out of the two of them, he was the one with issues. He was the one who had been cruel and unkind because of his inner unhappiness. She had done nothing to deserve his contempt. The accusation was still hard to shake though; it had hurt deeply to be rejected in such a way.
The truth was that she didn’t feel
in any hurry to get into another relationship. Her friends had tried to set her up, but she wasn’t interested. She certainly didn’t want to go through all that again in a hurry. She wanted to be sure it was right the next time. It had taken three years and counting the last time. There was the two week thing she’d had with that stock broker, but it had ended pretty quickly after a revealing incident with a waiter.
Now she was focused on her career. It was extremely important that she do a good job and to prove that
Mr. Carmichael’s faith in her had not been misplaced.
Jane stepped off the train into the chilly autumn morning air. It would likely be pretty warm during the day, but this early in the morning, it was cold. The streets of the city weren’t quite awake yet, as it was too early for most. She was heading to the breakfast meeting she had with Edmund Carmichael every Tuesday morning.
They ate breakfast at a hotel in the city, where she knew he held many of his business meetings. It was the kind of breakfast she could never wrap her mind around forking out for on her own, but for
Mr. Carmichael, it was standard. It was an amazing breakfast with as much choice as one could wish for.
, how are things going?” he asked as they were settled at his customary table. Edmund Carmichael was a creature of habit. He was a kind man, who was meticulous about his dress and style. He liked wearing a bow tie, which made him look a little old fashioned. His white hair was always finely barbered. She’d never seen it look so much as a few millimetres too long. Some people made the mistake of underestimating him, they also made the mistake of thinking his soft speech and politeness constituted weakness. She knew full well that he could be absolutely ruthless when the occasion called for it. She would never make that mistake, but she was wary of why he’d chosen her to be on his team, because she didn’t have that capacity for ruthlessness.