(Continued from Roles Can Change…)
Rebecca slipped her red coupe into its’ spot in the front next to Charla’s Beemer and hustled through the glass doors. The downside of designated premium parking is that empty spots were impossible to miss. The desks on the executive level were empty as she knew they’d be with everyone in the daily 9 a.m. briefing that had been going on for twenty minutes. She rushed-but didn’t run-to the conference room door, grabbed the handle, took a deep breath, and pulled it open.
Twelve sets of eyes tuned to her and nodded, winked or otherwise acknowledged her presence. “Sorry, sorry…” she said moving to an empty seat in the back-which wouldn’t hide her as Charla was in front of the room at the white board.
“So nice of you to join us Rebecca!” she said heartily with a bright, wide smile as if she meant just that. All Rebecca could do was raise her hand in an apologetic wave and sit. Charla went back to the presentation and all eyes swiveled to the front. And Charla usually drew all the eyes with her wide smile, deep mahogany skin, straight hair pulled back in a pony-tail that cascaded down her sloping back. She wasn’t really that tall-about Rebecca’s height-but something in her presence made her feel towering. Something besides the 3” heels she usually wore, that is.
Rebecca did not know any of the details of what transpired at that fetish ball north of London over a decade before. She was sure she could know if she wanted, but why? What she did know was that the bright, young Harvard MBA on holiday was thoroughly swept away by the rakish older guy with the quick mind, soft fingers and apparent bundles of ready cash.
They were stateside less than a month before they had gotten together to start planning and building the unassuming empire that had made them-and all close to them-if not rich, comfortable. OK, rich. Everyone who worked at Swansea & Middleton’s wide-ranging organizations shared not only talent and a hunger for success and money, but a….particularity (the preferred term around the offices). And this particular particularity varied widely by degree.
Just to be clear, there were people who’d been in the organization for years that had never tasted the cane, paddle or hard palm against bare cheek. They either worked hard to avoid it-the class Rebecca sat in-or had worked out “special arrangements” with the boss. What those arrangements might be and who might have them was never clear. But as the companies grew and more and more people were added, the spanking pool definitely increased and there was something for everyone.
Years before Rebecca had started at the bar but that was a little over the top for her. She liked to keep the number of people seeing her bare bottom to a manageable number. She had taken her licks on the real-estate side and the marketing agency, before being “graduated up” to the holding company.
But no matter where she had been, what she had worked through, here she was now. Sitting in the back of the room her belly roiling knowing that she had put herself right in the deep end of the pool. And everybody in the room knew it too which was doubly mortifying. A senior partner, probably older (skip the probably) than anyone in the table…her cheeks reddened. Damn Franklin! she thought.
Lost in her reverie, she didn’t even notice the meeting breaking up until partners were pushing away from the table and walking out the door. When she snapped to, Charla’s eyes were on her. “Can you join me in the office to go over some numbers you missed?” she asked in a way that really wasn’t a question.
“Sure”, Rebecca answered with a slight, rueful smile.
She followed Charla into her large widowed office right off the conference room. She moved to the supplicant’s position before the desk while her boss went to the closet.
“What is it with you this week?” Charla asked rummaging through things stacked out of sight. “I covered for you and told everyone at the start that you had an early meeting at Real Estate but you simply cannot show up late for…without letting me know…a text an email…something.”
“I know, I’m sorry. This morning….”
She froze when she saw what Charla had picked out of the closet. It was a piece of nasty looking gray conduit-a hollow tube used to run wiring. I looked unspeakably licky in her boss’ hand.
“Jesus, Charla!” she gasped, almost backing away…
“Oh-this?” Charla whipped it through the air. “Something huh? Picked it up on the uptown job last week.” She whipped it again through the air smiling at the sound it made. Rebecca’s knees quivered slightly. “Don’t worry. Not for you…” said Charla and Rebecca breathed again.
“You know Bill Lake, right? The new kid in finance?”
Please, thought Rebecca. Everyone knew Billy, even those who didn’t work directly with him. Tall and blonde with a dancer’s build and eyes the color of a June sky. “Sure I know who he is…”
“I think I’m putting him on your team. I’ve given him too much responsibility right off the bat and he’s been sloppy. Or he’s incapable of what we need. I’ll leave you to sort that out.”
“But that…”Rebecca cut her eyes to the nasty piece of tubing.
“His work on the Nettles Proposal was bad. Incorrect-beyond sloppy. I caught it-and for the life of me, I don’t know why Catherine didn’t.” Charla was working herself up into a decent snit. “I’m putting her on your team too. Get her squared away.”
“Cathy? That will be….I’m not sure that will….” Rebecca stammered.
“We don’t work together on too much. She…doesn’t really care for me, I’ve heard.”
“Of course she doesn’t! Not my problem. Imagine how much less she’ll like you laying over your lap with her pants down. And that’s your first order of business-I’m going to take care of young Bill here”, she flicked the rod for emphasis, “Catherine’s your issue. “
Rebecca froze in thought for a moment. She always thought that Catherine Musto was on the list of players immune to the corporal inducements of Swansea & Middleton. Or had she been and wasn’t anymore? Rebecca wanted to ask Charla a few questions but her assistant, Moliere, interrupted over the intercom.
“Char? Bill Lake’s here.”
“Very good…” Charla said under her breath.
“I should go…” Rebecca moved toward the door. It was good to be scarce when Charla’s blood rose.
“You will sit right there”, her boss sternly nodded to a chair off to the side. “He’s on your team now-you need to be in on this.”
She pressed the button on the phone. “Send him in,” she said and, staging, placed the wicked gray rod in clear view beside her and leaned against the desk facing the door. She allowed the edge of the surface to dig into her buttocks as she crossed her arms and greeted the opening door with a grim smile. Rebecca’s stomach fluttered-she had seen that smile a few times herself.
(Continued in Work Process)