Dress for Success
Myka felt as if someone had punched her in the stomach. Had she been duped all this time? Helena Wells was being nice just so she could set her up? Sam's words came back to her; "Bunny, I don't know why you want to go to New York. They'll eat you up and spit you out."
"I'm sorry Ms. Bering, it's just that you seem so nice and all ….," Pete said feeling awful that she was taking it so hard. The phrase made Myka think. 'Nice and all' is what Myka had been her whole life.
"It's okay, Pete. I appreciate you telling me. At least now I'll be prepared," Myka said, forcing a smile on her face. She took a deep breath and stood up straight and started to leave.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"Well, if Ms. Wells is going to fire me, it won't be because I didn't do my job," Myka said and set out for her appointment.
Myka hailed a cab correctly - having learned that the embarrassing telltale sign of out-of-towners is waving your hand at one with the numbers lit up. A native would know that means they are already occupied. She gave him the address on the Upper East Side and sat back while he weaved in and out of traffic. Sadness came over her that this might be the one time she lived or worked in the greatest City in the world. She didn't want to admit it, but maybe Sam had been right. Maybe she was too naive for this line of work, and this job, and this City. Maybe you can't take the girl out of Colorado either.
'Dammit Myka, stop feeling sorry for yourself,' her inner voice said loudly. 'No one knows you better than yourself.'
Right then and there she decided she wasn't going down without a fight.
Myka told the doorman who she was and he announced her to Walter Sykes. Maybe he wanted money to keep up this lifestyle, Myka thought. Her apartment in the Village was very small, and though she could afford the rent easily, she took it because she had no way of knowing how long her job would last. She had expected more than two weeks. Myka had signed a contract with Wells Corp which guaranteed her salary for a year – so even if Helena fired her, she'd have money for another fifty weeks. Money she didn't work for or earn, and so that was little consolation to Myka.
Myka took the elevator up to the 17th floor and knocked on the door at 4:59. She wasn't sure what she was expecting Walter Sykes to look like, but when the man appeared in the doorway, she thought she had the wrong apartment. "Mr. Sykes?" she asked trying to hide the surprised in her voice. Walter was a man in his twenties. He appeared in khakis and a pastel button down shirt and his hair was long. He looked like he stepped out of GQ magazine, Myka thought. She was not expecting his warm welcome and she was suspicious as soon as she shook his hand. He showed her to the living room and asked if she wanted anything.
Just as Myka sat down, her phone vibrated and she pushed her hand in her bag to shut it off. Sam would have to wait.
"Thank you for you seeing me, Mr. Sykes," Myka said as she took out her papers.
"My pleasure," he said and Myka wondered how he could think anything positively about this.
Myka took out her portfolio that contained his complaint and the pen that Claudia gave her as a welcoming gift engraved with Wells Corp logo – Where the Future is Already Happening.
"I've read your complaint, Mr. Sykes. My purpose here today is to ascertain what, if any, evidence you have and to inform you that although we are prepared to hear what you have to say, we are not ready to offer you anything," Myka said folding her hands in her lap.
"I have evidence, Ms. Bering. I have something that could embarrass Helena …," Walter said and Myka wondered if that was possible.
"What exactly do you think was promised you, Mr. Sykes? Did Ms. Wells coerce you into any compromising situations? Did she use her position as CEO to force you into anything? Did she threaten you, promise you something in return?" Myka asked him.
She watched as the man shoved his hands into his pockets and turned away. "Mr. Sykes, any affirmative answers to those questions would constitute sexual harassment. A negative response would prove what I suspect and that is, your claim is baseless. I believe HR is prepared to offer you a severance package in exchange for your resignation," Myka said calmly.
"I don't want to resign! I am not going to leave Wells Corp with my tail between my legs, Ms. Bering. I have done nothing wrong!" Walter yelled.
"Actually Mr. Sykes, accusing the CEO of misconduct is very wrong….unless of course you have proof other than your broken heart," Myka said.
She wasn't even sure where those words came from, and she knew they sounded harsh. She got the reaction she was looking for.
"Here's your proof," he said and he handed Myka his IPhone with a video on it. Now Myka wished she had accepted his offer of water because her mouth started to feel dry. She watched as he turned away, more distraught than angry.
Myka pressed the play button because she had to know whether or not there was impropriety that could harm the company. The video started and it was evident to Myka that he had placed the phone at the head of the bed. The image was dark, but she could see Mr. Sykes lying prone in the bed. Suddenly, the image of her boss came into view as she worked her way up his body slowly. Her long black hair hung over her shoulders obstructing much of her body. "You've been a very naughty boy," Myka heard in the familiar British accent …and promptly dropped the phone. Sykes had been standing over by the window and had no idea where in the video Myka was.
"Could I get that water?" Myka said and resumed the video when he left.
She could feel the flush in her face as she tried to convince herself this voyeurism was necessary. For the next 187 seconds, Myka watched – albeit not always directly at the screen – and heard her boss bring Walter to a level of sexual pleasure she was certain they made up in the movies. How does a person even know how to do that? -Myka wondered in her head. Sam wasn't Myka's first – but pretty close to it and certainly her longest relationship. Her sister, Tracy was always the one the boys called for and when her parents met Sam; there was a collective sigh of relief. 'You can't wait forever for the right person, Myka. Sometimes you have to make a move,' was her mother's advice. That was Jeanne Bering's way of saying she thought Sam was the best she would ever get. It hurt like hell, but Myka knew she meant well.
The video concluded with her boss encouraging Walter to reach a sexual peak he apparently had never reached before from his screams. The thought that entered Myka's head was why he wasn't embarrassed. She took a long sip of water before speaking.
"Mr. Sykes, thank ….you for showing me that. However, it appears that Ms. Wells has offered no compensation of any kind for this …tryst….and in fact, you appear to be a very willing participant," Myka said.
Helena had uttered most of what she said in French, but Myka understood every word of it including the phrase "That you are satisfied and I am not should not come as a surprise to me." Helena was blunt in all languages.
"She spoke French to me! I mean, I didn't understand it, but it was French –the language of love, " the man declared as if that held special significance.
"Yes, I know, but even in French she did not offer you anything and again, you seem like a very willing participant," Myka pressed.
"I was," Walter said sadly.
"Mr. Sykes, as the Chief Counsel for Wells Corp it is my job to decide if there is merit to any claim made against the company or its executives. I have found nothing here today that proves to me that your claim bears any merit," Myka said.
"I just want a second chance," the man said almost pleading and the phrase sounded eerily familiar to Myka.
"Mr. Sykes, this is a personal issue and I don't believe Ms. Wells is open to discussing it, so my suggestion is that you withdraw your complaint, accept the severance package, and resign so that you can move on," Myka said but was interrupted.
"Move on? How can I move on? I wanted to marry her! I wanted to spend endless nights in those arms. She's bright, she's gorgeous. I can't move on," Walter declared.
Suddenly Myka felt caught between feeling uncomfortable with all of this and feeling sorry for the heartbroken guy.
"Tell her I still love her. Tell her I will destroy the tape if she'll just listen to me," he pleaded.
"Mr. Sykes, do you really want to put this very personal moment out there for just anyone to see?" Myka asked, still feeling uneasiness over seeing it.
"I want her to understand. She won't take my calls. She has to understand," Walter said.
'Yeah, that's not going to happen,' is what Myka heard in her head. "Mr. Sykes, I am here as legal counsel. I can only advise you of what your rights are legally and you, sir have no legal claim against Ms. Wells. Therefore, I suggest you look over this release form and consult with your lawyer. You can call Wells Corp tomorrow with your decision," Myka said and got up to leave. Walter took the papers and nodded his head but didn't say a word. He walked Myka to the door and thanked her for coming.
Myka stood on the other side of the door and shuddered. She walked to the elevator. It was 5:45 PM and she had more than enough time to get ready for her exit interview dinner. She took out her phone and was about to call Sam back when she realized the call had not been from him. She had missed the producer's call about the TV show. Helena had told him to call them back by 5 and so he had. She frantically tried to call him back, but was told he had left for the day.
Well at least now she'll have some actual reason to fire me, Myka thought.
She took a cab to her apartment and took a long, hot shower. In spite of her uneasiness in watching that video, here in the seclusion of her own home, she found herself thinking about it again. As much as she didn't want to bear witness to the private love-making, she found her eyes drawn to Helena in the video. She oozed sensuality and confidence in an area Myka always felt she was lacking. Not that Sam ever complained, but rather suggested she read more about it. He would never be accused of being subtle.
Myka spent an unusual amount of time looking through her dresses for the right one. She wanted to look smart, but not boring. It was technically a business dinner, but she refused to wear any one of her drab dark suits. Instead, she chose a black dress that was cut strait across in the front with short sleeves. Even Myka was surprised at how well it showed off her figure when she looked in the mirror. She wore high heels – something Sam detested because she was taller than him when she wore them. She reached down for perfume and hesitated - she had to decide between his favorite or the one he complained was too strong. She chose that one and rubbed it on her wrists and neck. If she was being invited to dinner only to be fired, she was going to go out looking her best.
That's when Myka realized that not only was she not dressing for Sam - she was dressing for Helena.