On the Menu
On the Menu
Sam's plane landed on time. He was happy to be seeing Myka, less happy to spend dinner with her boss. On the bright side he thought, this might give Myka the push she needed. He felt confident that he could only help impress her boss and that would be a good reflection on Myka. In spite of wanting her to do well, Sam was still surprised at how irrational Myka's decision had been. A part of him hoped the experience in the Big Apple would prove to Myka she bit off a little more than she was comfortable chewing. He texted her as he got in a cab. "See you at the restaurant. Can't wait to see you."
Myka smiled at the text. Why was she feeling mad at him? she wondered.
She grabbed her phone and pocketbook and went downstairs to get a cab. Sitting in traffic, she suddenly felt as if she was back in high school all dressed up for the dance her mother had insisted she go to. Mrs. Bering begged Tracy to set her older sister up with one of the many guys she knew. Tracy balked at first, not wanting any part of it, but finally relented. She got one of her friends in Myka's year to agree. How humiliating it was to have a boy you noticed in class every day agree to take you to the dance because he was friends with your younger sibling. He picked Myka up and asked why he never saw her at school before.
It was obvious to Myka from the start this was a big mistake – and she knew she was walking into disaster as soon as she got in his car. And she was right. He left her as soon as they got there to hang out with his friends and dance with other girls. She waited for him at the end, and he came out with a group of friends and apologized, but said there was no room in his car now. On his arm was one of the popular girls. Myka paced the parking lot until her father came for her. She lied and said she wanted to go home early, even though most of the cars were gone by the time he got there. They never talked about it again.
What hurt Myka the most was that no one had really expected it to go well.
Myka hadn't thought about it in years, but as she sat in the back of the taxi all dressed up and headed to the restaurant, it flooded her memory. Her boss reminded her of one of those girls in school who had it all. They were bright and got good grades, but they were equally skilled in the social graces - and this is where Myka parted company with them.
She could tell ….even before the video…..that Helena Wells was one of those Alpha girls. Myka secretly hated Alpha girls. And now one of them was going to fire her.
She left the producer of the show one more message – apologizing again for missing his call – and asking him to call as soon as he could. She paid the fare and got out at the destination at 7:45. Myka didn't do late – even when it was going to be a disaster. She walked in and was greeted by the Maître d'. She could tell Daniel's was a very upscale place. It was filled with patrons and yet it seemed rather quiet.
"Ah, Madame Wells is not here yet, but asked that I seat her guests," he said with a beautiful French accent.
Myka thanked him and followed him past the small tables where couples leaned in for their tete a tete.
'Great she's going to fire me in front of my boyfriend and in a quiet place so I can't yell,' Myka thought.
Myka sat down at the private table and waited for the others to come. Within minutes Sam arrived. It was good to see him and she welcomed him warmly when he sat down. At least he would be there to take her home when this was all over.
Sam asked Myka how she was, complimented her on her outfit as he eyed her up and down. They caught up in the few minutes they had before the time her boss was to arrive. She didn't know whether to share with Sam what Pete had said so that he could at least be prepared and not make a big deal of it.
"Sam look, no matter what happens here tonight, let me handle it ok?" she said to him as he held her hand.
"Sure Bunny, whatever you say," Sam said.
Helena Wells stood in her office snapping her finger at her assistant and pointing to the dress she wanted as she talked on the phone. Claudia knocked on the door and Helena cut her phone call short and dismissed the woman who had held up fifteen dresses before Helena chose the red one with the short jacket.
"Well Ms. Donovan, did our gift accomplish its mission?" Helena asked as Claudia.
"I believe it did," Claudia said as she showed her boss the memory card in her hand. She placed it in Helena's computer and brought up the icon for the video. "Just press play," Claudia said.
"I was there, remember?" Helena said. "And did it remove it from Mr. Sykes' phone?"
"Yes, I decoded the file after Ms. Bering got it and transmitted it back. It will find any copies on his devices and scramble it. He'll have nothing. How did you ever think to come up with it?" Claudia said of the pen device that she was instructed to give Myka as a welcoming gift. When Myka took it out of her bag, and watched the video, it activated and wirelessly reprogrammed the file.
"The pen is mightier than the sword, Ms. Donovan," Helena said proud of her invention. "Oh and Ms. Donovan?" Helena said as the young tech was leaving.
"Good job on the firewall. I haven't been able to get through ….. yet," Helena said and smiled.
Claudia thanked her and left while the getting was good. Her boss' mood could change on a dime. At the doorway though -the guilt got the better part of her though.
"Hey Boss, you don't think Ms. Bering will feel we used her, do you?" the youth asked.
"Ah, but we did my young friend," Helena said truthfully.
Helen retreated to her dressing room and changed for the dinner. As she applied her lipstick, red to match the dress, she wondered how Myka would handle the evening. Myka was a mystery to her and Helena loved the challenge of unraveling the enigmatic. Truth be told, undoing people was a hobby for Helena. Ever since she was free to do as she pleased, she insisted on knowing everything about the people who were closest to her. And the best way to find out what people were really made of was to test them. She was after all, a scientist.
Helena hoped there was substance when she got to the Myka's core and not some neophyte passing for the woman who stormed into her office announcing hell was about to freeze over. She really hoped that wasn't Myka's veneer, but rather what she was really made of. Helena couldn't tolerate it if someone's backbone only visited when they were angry.
"Let the dismantling of Myka Bering begin," Helena said to herself and she sat back down at her desk. She pressed a number on her phone and spoke with Pierre - the Maître d'. He was not to announce Helena would be late, but he was to bring them a bottle of Dom. Romane Conti - 1997.
"Wow, taste this babe," Sam said when he sipped the elixir from the glass.
Myka smiled at the wine steward because she knew he was waiting for their approval and sipping it was not the way it was done. Myka swirled the dark red liquid and took in its aroma. Then she took a small amount and let it play on her tongue. It was the most delicious thing she had ever tasted. She smiled at the steward who was pleased that someone knew how to appreciate fine wine.
Sam was busy playing with his phone. "Bunny, this is a $1500 bottle of wine!" he said looking it up. 'Someday we'll be dining like this every night," he said taking in the ambiance of the restaurant.
"Oh I don't think so," Myka said sipping the wine.
"Why not? You could have your own practice in Washington. Or teach – I've always thought you'd be a great teacher. They have good schools and you could work part time and still be home for the kids. I could get promoted to working detail in the White House. We'd have it made," Sam said taking another gulp. "Damn, that is good."
Myka smiled at how easy things came to Sam. He always believed he had life worked out. He could be charming and funny and that is what attracted her to him. His need to have things in order spilled over to Myka and she felt as if he had her life figured out too. Now he was talking about their life together, even though he never talked about marriage.
When their two year anniversary passed, Myka decided to put a deadline out there for herself. If he didn't propose by Christmas, Myka was going to move on. The holidays came and although he bought her a beautiful bracelet, there was no ring. 'Give him time,' Jeanne said to her daughter. 'You don't want this one to get away.'
"So how long do we have to stay with your boss tonight?" Sam asked as he bit down on a piece of bread. "And where is she? She's late."
"I don't think it will be a long dinner, believe me. In fact, I'll be surprised if we make it to the entrees," Myka said. 'Really, what is she going to do? Feed me, fire me, and then help me to the ladies room where I can throw up?' Myka thought. 'What a bitch!'
Myka's thoughts were wreaking havoc with her and she grabbed her wine glass and took a big sip. She really should have eaten that turkey sandwich at lunch.
"Well I have a really early return flight tomorrow morning, so maybe we could stay long enough for me to impress your boss, and then we could head back to your place. I am really looking forward to….," he said slowing - whispering the rest in her ear.
It tickled Myka and she pulled back. It was nice to be wanted, she guessed.
Finally around 8:20 Pete appeared in the entrance. He approached the table and Sam immediately didn't care for his presence.
"Who is this guy?" he asked Myka.
"Oh stop, Sam. It's her bodyguard," Myka assured him.
"Well if he's the guard, where's the body?" he said and laughed at his own joke.
"Hi Ms. Bering, nice to see you," Pete said taking in how different Myka looked.
Myka introduced them and Pete sat down.
"So where's the person you guard?" Sam asked. He was anxious to get this dinner over with so he could go back to Myka's. He had his schedule all worked out, and to make his flight back at six AM and have time with Myka, they should leave the restaurant by nine thirty.
"Yeah, well she's coming," Pete said.
The waiter went to pour Pete some wine, but he waved him off. "just water thanks."
"So you're a Federal Agent?" Pete asked as he munched on some bread. "I always wanted to do that. I was in the Marines. Thought I'd do some government work, but got involved in security and did well."
"I like it," Sam said. 'You can't ask him a question?' Myka thought.
"So Ms. Bering, how did everything go today?" Pete asked.
"Good. Yes, good," Myka said not wanting to say too much.
Suddenly there was a wave of heads turning and some chatter going on as people recognized Helena coming into the restaurant. She kissed the Maître d' on both cheeks and spoke to him in perfect French. Myka understood every word as she asked him how his family was and did his daughter get into the college they were hoping for. Indeed she had and he thanked Helena for all she did.
'So the polar bear with the hedgehog inside had a soft side?' Myka thought.
Myka watched as Helena waltzed through the room, as if she was unaware of the heads that turned to stare. She kept her eyes on the table and walked directly to them.
"That's your boss?" Sam said when he saw Helena. He hadn't paid too much attention when Myka told him who she was. He didn't read the society pages so the name didn't ring a bell.
"Ms. Bering, how nice to see you. Mr. Lattimer. And this must be …," Helena said taking control of the greeting.
"Sam Martino," Sam said standing up. Helena took his hand and Myka swore she pulled him into her just a little. "It's a pleasure to meet the woman who is lucky enough to have Myka as Chief Counsel," Sam said laying it on thick. Myka groaned inside.
"Oh yes, indeed I am," Helena said sitting down and staring at Myka.
"Hey boss," Pete said. He had arrived before because Helena wanted to make her late entrance on purpose – alone. Helena sized Myka up as the type of person who had the evening planned out in her head and arriving forty five minutes late would throw off that schedule.
"What is it that you do?" Helena asked Sam. He thought she was interested, but Myka was watching her boss' face. He was being sized up and Myka knew it. But why?
"I'm a federal agent," Sam said proudly.
"Lovely. I did a bit of work myself with the government when I came back," Helena said and everyone assumed she meant from across the pond.
"In what capacity?" Sam asked.
"Secret government projects," Helena laughed. Only Sam found that annoying and Helena read him accurately. "The government was …. holding onto some things for me," Helena added and it deepened the confusion.
"You mean like customs?" Sam asked.
"Something like that," Helena said and sipped her water.
She ordered for all of them when the waiter came back. "I hope you don't mind?" she said looking at them and they all said no.
"Ordering my last meal? Nice!" Myka thought to herself, but smiled as Helena ordered everything in perfect French.
"I don't know what you ordered, boss, but I'll eat anything," Pete said in his usual state of starvation. He excused himself and went to the bathroom.
"I have to ask, do you always have your body guard dine with you? I mean, I know a thing or two about being a bodyguard, and they usually don't dine with the people they're guarding," Sam said and then added; "No offense."
Myka reached under the table and squeezed Sam's leg to express her embarrassment.
"You're an inquisitive sort of man, aren't you, Mr. Martino?" Helena asked smiling.
"I like to think so," Sam said pleased that Helena was taking note.
"Oh I am going to enjoy this," she said looking directly at him. "Mr. Lattimer's presence is not for my benefit," Helena smiled.
Myka's stomach turned. She looked at Helena's grin. It reminded her of how animals stalk and kill their prey.
'Oh my God. She's going to rip my boyfriend to shreds - and then fire me!' Myka thought as she swallowed another long gulp of the red wine.
Myka was half right.
Next up: Myka tells Helena what Pete told her - sort of.