At 5pm I made my way downstairs to the dining room. Amelie was setting the table around the others. She looked up at me and smiled. “Evening Felicity.” She murmured as she brushed passed.
I looked over at Dominic, clueless to what I was supposed to refer to the other staff members as, but he was too busy looking at a folder. I frowned at him, so much for table manners. I traced my eyes over to Molly who was sitting up so straight I was worried her back would snap, all the while her father was still too enthralled in his work to notice her.
“You’re sitting so straight Molly. You have lovely posture.” I remarked, Molly looked at me and grinned so wide I knew that she had just wanted a little attention.
“She is a dancer Ms Taylor.” Dominic replied without looking up.
Molly’s face dulled and she slumped a little. “Daddy may I use the bathroom please?” She requested politely.
“Of course Molly. But quickly dinner is almost served.”
Molly pushed her chair out and stood up. She almost ran from the room in frustration. I looked over at Harvey who shook his head, like he knew what I was about to say. But I didn’t care I said it anyway.
“She wanted your praise.” I remarked calmly.
“What?” Dominic’s head jerked up and he finally looked away from his work.
“She was sitting up straight because she wanted your praise, except you didn’t even look away from whatever you’re reading.” I explained in further detail.
Dominic placed his paper down and looked at me, his eyes hooked mine and reeled them in slightly. His mouth was a thin line, equal parts angry and amused. He didn’t say anything so I took the opportunity to speak again.
“You speak of table manners in your contract Mr Coran, but you can’t even follow your own rules.”
His eyes narrowed, he pushed his paper across to me and simply said “Read.”
I took the paper and held it up. It was my final assignment, a business proposal. I’d scored top marks on it, praised for its ingenuity and social conscience, but my results in a college paper had nothing to do with Dominic. I shook my head and looked back at him. “Why do you have this...? And how?”
“I’m a very powerful man, I don’t have to do much to get what I want.” He replied.
“So you keep saying sir.” I murmured dryly under my breath.
“Usually people are eager to please me. Aren’t they Harvey?” Dominic reached out for support, and I knew Harvey would give it, but that didn’t mean it was right.
“Yes Mr Coran, most people are well aware of their place with you.” Harvey said, his tone clipped I looked over at him and his eyes were warning me off but I couldn’t let it go.
“Why?” I asked again, returning my gaze to Dominic.
“Because, I wanted to see how you think. Do you really believe you could start a successful company using that proposal?” He questioned.
“Given the right starting off point, I know I could.” I replied without hesitating.
“So why didn’t you leave college and look for funders? Why did you jump straight to being a personal assistant, are you not confident in your abilities.”
I let out a laugh and shook my head. “I tried.” I whispered. Oh god, I had tried. “Most didn’t even look passed the first page when they realised the daughter of the late, failed Gregory Taylor was behind it.”
Dominic’s face fell, and I knew I had caught him off guard. I just wished it hadn’t been finding out my father was a con artist that did it.
“You’re the daughter of that Taylor?" He said.
“The one and only.” I croaked. “His stupid Ponzi scheme almost tore my family apart. Luckily mom had no knowledge of any of it, and the house was in her name. He went bankrupt and then the sucker went and died. I originally studied business to right my father’s wrongs. I felt I owed it to the people he ripped off. But I fell in love with business along the way. Pity none of that matters, No one with any real brains will invest in me.” I shrugged. “I sure wouldn’t.”
Dominic’s eyes searched mine. He took the paper back and smiled briefly. “It’s a brilliant proposal Ms Taylor. I’m sorry for your misfortune.”
Not as sorry as I was.
Molly walked back into the room and sat down. Without skipping a beat Dominic turned and faced Molly. “I saw the picture you drew of the candle. It was lovely.” He noted. Molly beamed, her smile lit up her face. I felt Dominic’s gaze fall back on me, so I moved my focus from Molly to Dominic. He half smiled and then picked up his wine.
“Thank you Daddy.” Molly giggled, filling the room with happiness even if it was just for a brief moment.
“Mr Coran, dinner is ready to be served.” Amelie said as she pushed the tray with cloches on it into the room.
“Thank you Mrs Sampson.” Dominic said placing the paper into a satchel on the ground. Mrs Sampson dished up Roast beef, then left the dining room. For a short while we ate silently, and I hated every minute of it. I wasn’t sure why Mr Coran was so set in his ways, or why he needed control. I wasn’t sure I would ever know, but one thing I did know, was the silence was deafening.
“Ms Taylor.” Dominic said placing his fork down, speaking as if to answer my unspoken pleas to end the tyrannical silent dinner. I looked up and swallowed a mouthful of food. “Yes?”
“Tomorrow, after you take Molly to school, do you have plans?” He questioned.
He was breaking his own rule, and he didn’t even look phased. I looked up at Harvey and then at Molly, they both looked as bewildered as I felt. “No Sir, I don’t.”
“Good. Ms Philips called to say she can make it tomorrow. I thought perhaps you could put that business mind to some good use. I will pay you of course.”
“Oh, um sure.” I looked back down at my food.
“Great. Thank you.” He said picking his fork back up.
I sat there, confused as to why he’d ask me, especially when he had a gigantic office of people, most who would know the systems far better than I would. None the less, I had agreed, I just wasn’t sure why.
The next morning I woke early to find office appropriate clothes. It wasn’t difficult, considering my wardrobe lacked casual clothes. My job at Glow hadn’t paid particularly well, and whatever I did earn helped Mom with house maintenance. I grabbed a high waist pencil skirt and a white top and my only pair of expensive heels. If I was going to walk into CoranCorp, I needed to look the part. Once I had showered and dressed I made sure Molly was getting ready for school. I walked down to the kitchen where Dominic was making a coffee. He turned and looked at me and smiled until it touched his eyes. I gave him a polite smile back and grabbed a cup from the cupboard. He looked more formal today, long dark blue pants and a white shirt and tie, but it did nothing to deafen my screaming libido. “Morning Ms Taylor.” He said, holding out the coffee pot. “Coffee?”
“Morning Sir.” I replied. “Yes please.”
He poured coffee into my cup then placed the pot back down.
“When you come to the office tell the door guard to call me. I’ll come down and get you.” He said lifting his cup to his lips.
“Oh I’m sure I can find...” I stopped as his eyes grew dark, I stopped and bit back an amused smile. “Of course, I will tell the guard.”
He smiled a triumphant smile then nodded. “You’re learning.”
“That I need to walk on eggshells around your ego?” I replied. “Yeah I guess I am.”
“Bring coffee, I like mine strong and sweet.” He said with a bemused smile, ignoring my cheeky comment. “You can get whatever you like. Use this.”
Strong and sweet? Was I going insane or was he attempting to flirt with me? Logic told me that my unreasonable infatuation was playing tricks on me, but I couldn’t help but wonder.
He opened his wallet and held out an Amex card. “Keep that on you at all times. It’s for your use, just remember I will have the ability to track your expenditure.” He said as he walked past. “See you in the office.”
“Uh.” I replied as I stood there confused. “Yeah sure.” I said finally, long after he had already gone.
I walked out of the kitchen and into the dining room. Molly was finishing up her breakfast. “Flick!” She said cheerfully as she looked up. “Daddy said I’m to go to dancing after school today.” She sighed after she spoke.
“Yes, it’s on your timetable, Ballet today.”
“I don’t like dance. Daddy wants me to go though.” Molly spoke softly, she wasn’t complaining, but I knew underneath her soft words she was yearning to break out of the mold her father was slowly encasing her in. I could hear it.
“Have you told him?” I asked.
“Just once, but he said that my Aunt Melisandre was a dancer. Daddy named me after her. So I kept going for him.”
“And you don’t want to let him down?”
Molly shook her head. “No.”
“You’re a very sweet girl Molly. Your Daddy is very lucky.”
Molly smiled and picked up her bag off the floor. “He’s a good Daddy, even though he’s always busy.”
I smiled and nodded back at her. “He loves you very much.” I looked at the clock on the iPhone. “We had better go kiddo.”
On the way to school, Molly told me about how the girls at dance were cold and excluded her, she wasn’t as good as the others. Her dancing was clunky and she always took longer to pick up a new step. She kept going because she knew Dominic would be proud, but that was the only reason.
“Flick...” She whispered. “You promise you won’t leave me?”
“Of course not.” While she was here, while I could help her, I was stuck like glue.
“I know I’m going to that stupid school after the holidays, but I really like you. I’ve never liked a Nanny as much as you, and I don’t want you to run away from me like the others.”
I looked at Molly as I pulled into the school drop off zone. “Honey, they weren’t running from you Okay. But I promise you, I’m not going anywhere.”
Molly smiled and grabbed her bag. “See you after school Flick!”
I watched as Molly skipped through the school gates. She looked carefree and happy, I just couldn’t help but wonder how long that would last if Dominic kept keeping her at an arm’s length.
I drove the car into the city, the car was a smooth ride, much smoother than my beat up Camry, but it felt strange, I wasn’t used to such lavish things. Our ranch, the one I had grown up in was in need of maintenance, far more than what Mom and I could afford. After dad’s downfall and subsequent death Mom only had her income to fall back on. It only covered the mortgage and living expenses. Still we’d managed to keep her horses, He sanctuary, her once place to relax.
I culled my wayward thoughts as I parked in the staff parking at the office, today I had to focus, and not on Dominic’s annoying good looks. I’d never been superficial, but there was something about him that set a part of me on fire. Before I went to the office I ran across to the Starbucks and ordered coffee for Dominic. Strong and sweet. I was still confused by its meaning. It was completely possible he just meant it in the coffee sense, but my lack of knowledge with men meant my understanding was very simplistic. I was confident and strong in almost every facet of my life, aside from dating. I’d been with three guys, each vastly different from the other, but they had never really lasted. They were college flings, insignificant weekends. One thing was for sure, my attraction to Dominic’s outside appearance was beginning to overrule my knowledge of his tyrannical personality. I was beginning to lust after my boss, which was not only superficial, but as cliché as it could get.
Once the coffees were made I walked back across the road to the office. The security guards called Dominic down and within five minutes he was walking towards me. I ignored the rush of my heart, even as a small smile crossed his face. He stopped in front of me and took the coffee that I held out for him. “You follow orders now and again then.”
I clenched my jaw. “I’m professional.” I replied. Most of the time.
Dominic sipped on the coffee and looked up at me, his blue eyes caught mine and for a moment I was breathless. “This is perfect. Thank you.”
“Let’s head up, I have an advertising meeting that I want you to sit in on.” He said as he turned to walk away. I followed, confused. “Sit in? Why?”
“Don’t question me Ms Taylor, just do it.” He said as he pressed the elevator button.
“Fine, I just think someone else, with actual knowledge of your company and its processes would be better suited.” I looked at him, and he lifted his eyes to mine again. They weren’t dark in the face of my protests, instead he smirked and shook his head.
“Ms Taylor, if I wanted someone else to be in there, I wouldn’t ask you.”
I smiled and sipped on my own coffee. “Point taken Sir.”
We walked through the office and Dominic led me to a room. “This is where you’ll be sitting.” He said pointing to a desk on the outside of his large glass encased office. “I have a schedule, so you just need to follow that. Set call backs for any calls. Get me lunch, it’ll all be quite simple today.”
“But first things first. I have my two top advertising teams in this morning’s meeting to try and win over an overseas client. We have to win this client, they will be a magnificent win for CoranCorp.”
“I want you to keep the client happy, coffee topped up, food on plates... okay?”
“Okay.” I replied, it seemed simple enough. I’d sat in on Glow meetings quite a few times doing the same thing, so what if this was the big leagues... I’d be fine.
“It’s important that you are open minded in this meeting Ms Taylor, and its important you’re able to keep that cheeky opinionated mouth quiet. At least in there okay?” He smiled as he spoke, he wasn’t cross or angry and his eyes glinted with something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, I swallowed back my lust and nodded.
Dominic sipped his coffee and raised his eyebrows. “Well then, let’s go.”
I followed Dominic again, this time into a large meeting room. Some assistants were plating food. They looked at me as I walked into the room behind Dominic and began to whisper. I shook my head and waited by the door for them to leave.
“Good luck.” One laughed as they left the room.
As the room filled with staff I noticed very quickly that I was one of only three women. The client arrived once everyone was seated and she was stunning. No older than me, an entrepreneur who had made a go of her ideas. I looked over at Dominic who was staring at me, and I suddenly knew why he wanted me here. He wanted me to know it was possible. I frowned and looked away. He was confusing and that was a generous judgment, I almost had whiplash from the speed at which he went from warm to cold.
“We’ve collated two presentations to detail the kind of advertisement you could expect as a starting off point Ms Delany.” Dominic began as he launched into a speech. He was well spoken, his words linked together perfectly. He knew how to talk the talk. That much was obvious.
“The world of adult products is saturated, but I know my products far surpass those on the market.” Miss Delany replied. “So I hope you’re right in your expectation Mr Coran.”
Adult products.... Like sex toys and stuff?
I gulped and looked at Dominic, he was smiling at me and nodded, as if he was answering my silent question. I bit my lip and looked away. Was I imagining this rising tension? How could I be attracted to a man who frustrated me so much?
I pushed the thoughts from my head and I did my job, I served the coffee and food, but while I did that I watched the presentations too. They were fine, adequate, but in no way were they innovative or client winning. They were done, old and I could see it in the client’s face that she wasn’t that enthralled. I shook my head and walked back to the refreshment stand.
“Ms Taylor.” Dominic’s voice called out, the meeting room fell silent, my heart began to stampede hard against my ribcage and I wondered if it could be heard.
“Yes Sir.” I said as I turned around. Keep your cool Taylor.
“Do you have something to add?” he questioned, his smiled was gone and his eyes were almost dark. I took a deep breath, scared to speak.
“Yes.” I replied, as my words betrayed my brain.
I nodded and pointed to the presentations on their giant easels. “These are perfectly fine... they’re tried and tested formats that will get the job done. You’ll make money and you’ll sell your product.” I said as I walked around the desk. “But neither are ground breaking.”
“Continue.” Ms Delany said with an intrigued smile.
“These advertisements show only limited ways in which adult products can be used. This one is about singular, masturbatory, on your own fun” I said pointing to the first presentation. “And this is all about the heterosexual, man and woman, ‘bring back the spark’ time.”
Ms Delany sat forward her eyes focused on me, my heart raced but not because I was scared anymore, because what I thought mattered to someone. “What they’re both missing is sensuality behind the moments, and the different types of relationships. Yes they’re good for these times, but what about the rest of the world. You could do a series of advertisements, using different relationships, and different sexualities. Boxing yourself in is never wise, excluding millions of people by not catering to what they’re attracted too is business suicide. Visually using all the gender and sexual identities to your advantage will be what sets you above the rest. In a world still saturated by gender and sexual normal standards isn’t that what you want?”
Ms Delany grinned. “Two minutes ago I was contemplating my options. While both presentations were adequate they lacked fire.” She stopped and looked at Dominic. “But this girl has changed that. As long as you can create a set of advertisements similar to these, using and accepting all types of genders and sexualities then I’m in.”
I bit back a smile and watched on as the team explained how they could. I walked back to Miss Delany and refilled her glass. She placed her hand on my arm and leaned in. “If you’re ever looking for work, look me up. Someone like you shouldn’t be pouring coffee.”
I walked away feeling warm, for once someone had seen me for more than my father’s actions. Granted Ms Delany wasn’t aware of who my father was, but I’d been able to prove myself before even getting to that point.
After the meeting everyone but Dominic and I filed out.
“Masturbatory.” He said smiling as he walked towards me. “I almost lost it.”
I found myself frowning, once again Dominic was cheerful, but in the meeting he’d almost thrown me under the bus. Luckily for me it had turned out well.
“You confuse me.” I mumbled. “I’m getting motion sickness from all the ups and downs and technically I’ve only been working for you for less than a day.”
Dominic nodded and began to help me with cleaning up the refreshments. “I’m notoriously hard to work with felicity.”
I closed my eyes at the sound of my name on his tongue. “I’m Felicity again?”
“I can’t call you Ms Taylor.” He mumbled. “I ruined that the other night when you got hurt. I only see you as Felicity.”
“Look, long story short the reason we go through so many Nanny’s is because I’m so hard to work with, or be around in general. Molly’s learnt not to get close, but it’s worse for you... because she really likes you and I’m being more insane than usual.” He admitted. “Nice job in the meeting by the way. You did well, you won me a multimillion dollar client, you have a natural ability with people, that’s something I don’t have. I can talk, but that’s it. If you ever decide to start your own business, you’d be my competition within a year.”
“You’ve read my proposal Mr Coran, you know I’m not interested in your line of work.” A not for profit business reliant on funders wasn’t even a comparison to the empire Dominic had built.
“No... you’re far nobler than me.” He murmured, he stopped clearing the coffee cups. “Call me Dominic when were not in the office okay?”
“Really?” I replied shocked.
“Yeah.” He said, placing his hand on my shoulder for a moment. “You okay here?”
“Yes. Thank you.”
Dominic left the room, leaving me reeling once again.