Myka sat at her desk unable to eat the turkey sandwich her assistant insisted on bringing her. She had caught only a glimpse of the look on Mrs. Frederic's face, but it was enough to know this could be Myka's last meal.
Myka's cell rang and she smiled as soon as she saw the number. Now no one could settle Myka's nerves like Sam Martino.
"Sam?" she asked excited to hear his voice.
"Yes, Bunny," he said back and his voice was soothing.
"Oh I needed to hear your voice," Myka said regaining her confidence.
"They haven't fed you to the lions yet?" he teased her.
Oh, how she loved his joshing. Sam knew Myka better than anyone – but in Myka's case – that wasn't saying much. Myka kept things inside – rarely allowing even the closest people to see her real feelings. This is why they always thought they knew her better than herself when they didn't.
Sam always thought fighting court cases was too tough for Myka, and that she would have been better suited as a literature teacher. 'But you love books,' he said to her when she was applying for this job. "Sam, I went to law school," she reminded him.
She didn't admit it, but she resented his patronizing her when she talked about being a lawyer. Her pro bono work was the most he could ever see her doing.
It was on a whim that she applied to this job in New York City, and no one was more surprised than Sam – except Myka. She had never done anything this spontaneous before in her life and oddly enough, it felt good. When she got the call that she got the job, she packed her bag, said goodbye to her parents and convinced Sam they'd be closer now that she was nearer DC. In the two weeks she had been there, she hadn't asked Sam to visit. Sam thought she was just being Myka – thoughtful of how busy his job was – but in truth, it was she who was too busy getting settled and learning her way around the City. At that moment though, with the upcoming meeting – she thought it was good to hear from him.
"Settled in?" he asked expecting nothing less.
"Yes," she assured him.
"Good, because I'm coming to see you tonight," he announced.
"Really?" Myka said her attention distracted by the file opened on her desk.
"You don't sound happy," Sam said noting the tone of her voice.
"No. Sorry - what?" she asked.
Myka was busy reading the report on her boss. Now she understood why Mrs. Frederic sounded the way she did. This wasn't the first time someone had accused the CEO of sexual harassment. In fact, if this had been a bakery, Walter Sykes would have been fifth in line.
"Oh my God," Myka let out when she saw at amount of money it took to make the other four gentlemen to release their claims. It was more money than most people made in a lifetime.
"Bunny, are you listening?" Sam asked. What could possibly have her attention when he was on the phone?
"Sam, I have to go. I'll call you later," Myka said as she slowed put her phone down.
Mrs. Frederic's notes were all over these files. So why wasn't this one going as quietly as the other four? Was he asking for too much money? In the other four cases, Ms. Wells denied all the allegations. She threatened to ruin their careers if they didn't drop their charges, but in the end, that action cost the firm a hefty price tag. The CEO's recommendation in each case was – according to Irene's notes – 'make it go away.' And that is what Irene had done in each of the cases with the help of the chief lawyer.
Myka went to Mrs. Frederic's office. It was after one o'clock and she had less than an hour to prepare her strategy for this issue.
"Mrs. Frederic, you never mentioned that there were four others. Why is number 5 so different? I'm not endorsing an automatic payoff, but it would seem to me this has been the corporate policy," Myka said laying the file on the woman's desk.
Irene looked at the file and then back up at Myka. "He says he has proof," she said in a low voice.
"Proof? What he had his IPhone on?" Myka said laughing.
Her expression changed when she saw the look on Irene's face. "Mrs. Frederic, everyone has pictures or a video they would rather the world not know about," Myka said and then caught the sound of her own words. "I didn't mean everyone. I meant a lot of …..some people."
"Ms. Bering, I will take your word for that, but the video that Mr. Sykes is referring to might contain some – how shall I say this? – inappropriate actions ….." the HR Director started to explain.
"I don't see how we can deem anything inappropriate between two consenting adults…," Myka blurted out still interjecting more than she should have.
"Ms. Bering, Wells Corp is a very diverse corporation. Our divisions run from biomedical engineering to overseeing the use of the works of HG Wells. Our CEO is the face of this company and our concern is that all the philanthropic work she does will be marred if the public gets hold of a video that contains images of a delicate nature," Irene explained.
Myka looked at the woman. She was pretty sure if you cut her, Irene would bleed Wells Corp. There was a very protective nature about the woman.
"Well, do we know for a fact that the video even exists?" Myka asked. "And if it exists, how do we know what's on it?"
"This is exactly what your two o'clock meeting is about," Irene said almost smiling.
"On the other hand, we can't just keep paying these people off, Irene. They'll be coming out of the woodwork if we do that," Myka pointed out.
"It's the ones coming out of her bedroom that I am worried about," Irene replied. "Now wait while I get Pete Lattimer to escort you up to her office."
"Who is Pete Lattimer?" Myka asked, wondering why someone had to take her to the executive's office.
"He's Helena's body-guard," Irene informed her.
"Do you think we're sending the right message if Chief Counsel arrives with Ms. Wells body guard? I mean, it's like telling her she better have protection when I arrive," Myka said thinking it was a little over the top.
"Oh, he's not there for Helena's protection," Irene said - telling someone to get Pete there immediately.
Within minutes, a well-built thirtyish man with boyish looks arrived at her door. "You need me, Mrs. F?" Pete said.
"Pete, this is Myka Bering, new Chief Counsel for the firm," Irene introduced them. "She has a meeting with Ms. Wells now about the Sykes complaint."
"Oh…..got it," Pete said. "Well, welcome Ms. Bering… Mica?"
"Myka," Myka said pronouncing her name.
"Meca?" Pete tried again.
"Myka," Myka said patiently.
"OK got it. Ms. Bering, if you will follow me," Pete said showing her to the elevator.
"Good luck, Ms. Bering," Irene called after her and Myka was certain she heard the woman say 'you'll need it, under her breath.
Pete made small talk as they ascended in the elevator to the top floor.
"I expected Ms. Wells to have her office on the floors with the other departments," Myka said out loud.
"You mean in the middle of things like that kid Zuckerberg?" Pete laughed.
"Well, yeah," Myka said as they walked.
"Yeah….no! Ms. Wells …makes other people nervous," Pete said thinking that was a polite way to put it.
"You mean people find her intimidating?" Myka asked and it gave Pete pause to think of the best way to put this.
"You know when people say 'oh she's got a tough exterior, but underneath she's just a teddy bear?" he asked. "Well, she's a polar bear on the outside and inside there's a family of hedgehogs waiting to greet you."
"A family of hedgehogs?" Myka asked, scrunching her brow at the image.
"You know …. You see a polar bear and you're all 'yikes - it's a polar bear, but then you get past the bear and you're like 'whew' that was close, but then you run into hedgehogs…," Pete said trying to explain his analogy.
"A family of them?" Myka clarified.
"Yeah especially if the tea isn't made the right way," Pete said from experience.
"And you're her body-guard?" Myka asked incredulously.
"Oh yeah – it's easier to protect her from others than to protect them from her," Pete said in a low voice.