Tea and Sympathy
Eileen changed her clothes and headed out the door, all the time her mother yelling at her that it was a waste of her time.
"Mom, I told you a bazillion times, there are rules to making a good cup of teeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeea," she yelled as she went out the front door.
She was tired of arguing with her mother over her extracurricular activities for work. Her mother didn't understand that Eileen held a very coveted spot. If you could last with Helena G. Wells as your boss, you could write your ticket.
'Sounds like you're running with those bulls in Spain,' her father said when she came home exhausted, but happy she made it through another day.
Eileen was number 8 in a succession of women who cracked under the pressure. She promised herself she wouldn't go down easy. Every day she renewed that promise on the way into Manhattan …..and on the way home to Brooklyn. She walked the two blocks of small one family homes in Bayridge from her house to her Aunt's house.
"All right darlin'," the woman said in her thick Irish brogue. "Now last week, I told you about the steepin'. How did you do with that?"
"She didn't like it," Eileen confessed.
"How didja know?" the woman asked seriously.
Scientist collecting data on an experiment were less serious than Rose Sullivan was about making the perfect cup of tea.
"Well, let's see," Eileen said thinking back to the number of mornings. "Monday, she brought the entire cup out to my desk and placed it down, without a word. Tuesday, she looked at it and asked me to take it back. Wednesday, she asked me to taste it and then refused it. Thursday, Ms. Wells said it didn't look hot enough…," Eileen relayed.
"Wells? What sort of a name is that?" the Aunt asked.
"She's English," Eileen explained.
"Oh darlin'- now I got it. Why didn't ja say this in the first place. I was teachin' ya how to make a cuppa tea for an Irishman. OK, we'll start over," her Aunt assured her.
"Over?" Eileen asked because she was starting to think maybe her mother was right – no matter what she did, there would be no pleasing her boss.
An hour later, Rose had adjusted her techniques to brew the perfect cup of tea ….for an Englishman.
"They're a bit more uptight," she explained to Eileen. "So the tea has to be."
"I hope this is right," Eileen said after the lesson. "Nothing throws this woman like a bad cup of tea."
"Any breaches?" Claudia whispered into her phone in her apartment as she spoke with the IT guy on duty at night.
"I swear to God Claudia, if I come out of this bathroom and you're checking on your damn firewall, I am going to hide your IPad and phone," Steve threatened from the inner room.
"I'm not!" Claudia yelled shoving her phone in her bag.
"You're lying," Steve yelled out.
"Damn, how does he do that?" his friend wondered. His accuracy at guessing when she was really lying was uncanny.
"You need help," Steve announced from the bathroom door because he knew what she was doing.
"I know, I know," Claudia conceded. She took it so personally when Helena managed to breach the firewall.
"Come here," Steve said giving his overworked friend a big hug.
Sam smiled uncomfortably and looked at his watch. Where the hell did they go, he wondered? He would have been happy if Myka gave her boss a piece of her mind, after all she did upset Myka. Sam smiled to himself to think of Myka with her finger in Helena's face, standing up for herself. Then a thought crossed his mind. Myka wasn't very experienced in the art of confrontation. Suppose she messed things up, really got herself fired? Suppose her mouthing off was detrimental?
Oh, Myka was mouthing off alright.
Helena had taken a minute to introduce Pete to one of the youngest, more eligible women in attendance that night. Kelly Davenport was from the Connecticut Davenport's, a family so wealthy their occupation was just trying to keep track of their money. Helena didn't like them – and not only because they purposely hired English help because – as they told Helena – 'your people just sound better with everything'. Kelly was happy to make Pete's acquaintance given that there weren't too many young people her age at these events. It took Pete a little while, but even he was getting uncomfortable with how young Kelly was. When he mentioned this to Helena when he went to check up on her, Helena looked at him quizzically.
'She's like half my age,' he whispered to Helena with a mixture of concern and intrigue.
"Mr. Lattimer, I've had enough of my employees' morality conflicts for one day. I cannot sympathize, for if dating people half my age was an issue, I'd never go out," Helena said and then laughed at her inside joke.
Pete went back to Kelly, but by the time the Mayor and Helena had made their appearance on the dance floor, something was gnawing at Pete. As he sat across from Kelly at a little table, he was certain something was wrong – terribly wrong. He shot up from his seat in search of his boss, certain she was in danger.
At the time, the only danger Helena was in was the inability to breathe. 'Brain requires oxygen,' her brain yelled at her, but she wasn't about to disturb the kiss she had surrendered to – even if it meant passing out.
Myka finally released her and Helena didn't open her eyes for fear of awakening from the dream she must be in. As motionless as Helena was, Myka was animated.
"No, no, no…..," Myka said as she put her hand to her forehead and started to pace the room. She was only slightly less surprised by the action as Helena was.
On the way to the room, Myka was trying to decide which thing to say to her boss first. All the time she walked behind Helena, she inhaled that perfume and watched her walk. All of a sudden she felt like she wasn't following as much as chasing. When she heard Helena speak – that voice, that accent – she knew she wouldn't be able to stay angry so she wanted to make her stop talking. And then - - her body flew at Helena, afraid it would miss its chance to touch – feel – taste – what it had longed for all day.
"No, this is not ….how can I..?" Myka struggled with herself.
"Darling, perhaps we should just ….," Helena said, finally opening her eyes. Helena was not a woman who believed in living with regrets. She had only a few, but enough to swear she'd never collect another.
"Stop!" Myka said and Helena recoiled. "Stop doing that," Myka instructed.
"Stop doing what?" Helena asked sincerely.
"That …that smoldering eyes thing, that deep voice thing with that accent," Myka blurted out suddenly feeling the red flush rising from her chest to her neck to her face.
"I cannot help it if my eyes are ablaze, Myka when they see something they truly desire," Helena said slowly.
"Sit!" Myka said pulling back and pointing to a chair. "Sit down," she said to her boss.
Now under normal circumstances, this is not a conversation Helena would have found herself participating in. No one spoke to Helena this way. In spite of the 'excuse me?' look that was waiting to tear across Helena's face, the Brit lowered her eyes and bowed her head slightly and sat down. She could tell how tentative Myka was.
Myka's mind raced as she walked the short distance of the room back and forth.
"I can't …. I mean we can't…. there's Sam. He loves me, Helena! I don't go with …. I never wanted…..," Myka said, and Helena smiled politely wishing she could complete just one of those thoughts.
"Darling, perhaps you and I could just….," Helena started, but was cut off.
"What Helena? What? You and I could …. Just walk out of here and what? Tell Sam, oh sorry Sam I just discovered I am working my way up the corporate ladder by sleeping with my boss. Or what? We could just ask Sam for the key to the room he has for our romantic evening and we could just give into our lust, Helena? And you could just ignite that fire I felt this morning and I would explode from the heat? Is that what you mean?" Myka yelled with anger and confusion and passion.
Not a word of it was missed on Helena.
"I meant – perhaps you and I could just – talk," Helena said, but her expression said she liked Myka's suggestions a whole lot better. A- whole- lot- better- indeed.
Now it was clear to Myka that she had said all those things and Helena had not checked off one as the answer she as going to give – so that meant they were all of Myka's choices.
"Oh dear God," Myka said putting her hands up to her face.
Helena felt sorry for Myka – that this was such a conflict and was causing her discomfort. Helena came up with a dozen ways she could release that discomfort and some of them didn't even involve ripping Myka's dress off. Helena remembered the way Myka had pleaded for her to touch her – she knew she could make that happen again easily.
"Myka, just let me….," Helena said as she got up from the chair slowly. Slow was going to be the operative word with Myka and Helena knew it. Helena started to move closer and Myka was letting her. Helena saw the resistance waiver – the slightest bit – and was about to take another step closer when there was a knock at the door.
The sound of the light tap was enough to bring Myka back and she put her finger out to halt her boss from advancing. Helena was simply going to kill whoever was at the door.
"Pete!" Myka said - and Helena was sorry to be losing such a good body guard.
Pete wasn't sure why Myka was so happy to see him, but he knew instantly Helena wasn't. "Boss, I just thought something was ….," he started and his throat got dry.
Now the mood was broken and Myka needed to figure something out before the feeling that was burning up inside her went away. She knew what she felt was real – and she was feeling it because of Helena.
"Keep her here," Myka ordered Pete and pulled him into the room further and left.
Pete turned slowly to look at Helena who was breathing like she had just done the marathon.
"She…ha…wants me to keep….ha …..you," Pete said nervously as Helena glared at him.
"Oh no! Absolutely not! Not three times, Ms. Bering. Absolutely not!" Helena said and stood right in front of Pete.
"She went that way," he said knowing he had better get out of the way.
"Boss, you lipstick …is all …smeared," Pete called after Helena as she quickly exited.