“Cassie, get over here. You’ve got to see this.” Cindy yelled across the busy room.
I looked up and across the room where Cindy and three other girls were standing by the big office window looking at something. After clicking save on the spreadsheet of the Johnson account I was working on I got up and walked over.
The building was a typical city high-rise and since it was the headquarters for S and T bank it was lined with windows all the way around. Me and the rest of the girls were account managers and their floor plan was on the fifth floor. I moved over to the window to join the rest of the girls to see what was so engrossing.
The next door lot had an old building that was a warehouse for some amusement company that had gone out of business and was in the process of being torn down. Crane’s and other construction equipment worked the site that was just laying the foundation now for a new office headquarters for Price Chopper Headquarters.
Men went this way and that working away but I didn’t have any idea what had drawn their attention until the moment he came out from behind an excavator. This was the reason for the work stoppage? I had no idea who he was, but I knew in that instant, because all the girls let out a breath they had been holding.
He was dark haired and very well-muscled which was obvious to see because his fluorescent shirt was in his hand as he came into view. To say he had a six pack was an understatement, this was the Adonis of construction workers. He laid his shirt on one of the tracks of his piece of equipment and grabbed a water bottle and took a drink.
Then a gasp from all the women including myself as he dumped the rest on his head and let the water run down over his head and along his well-defined chest and abs. Then he leaned back and grabbed his shirt and rubbed his face. Then he bent over a couple of times threw his shirt back on and climbed back on his piece.
The girls all let out a little moan and before any of them could turn away from the window a voice from behind broke the visual connection we all had.
“Well ladies, now that the show is over, can we get back to work.” He said.
I turned along with the rest of the girls to see Richard Preston standing there looking solemn. They all smiled and walked back to their desks and I was lucky enough to have Richard follow me all the way back to mine.
“I’m surprised at you Casandra, I thought a girl with your education and background would be above such displays.” He said looking stern.
Richard was a just a pain in the ass. He was the type that took credit for all the good we did on the floor and blamed whichever girl was on his hit list when something went bad. In other words, he was just a dick.
“Oh Richard, the girls were just having a little fun. They work hard and deserve a break once in a while. Don’t be so mean about it.” I said.
usually I didn’t respond to most of Richard’s gripes but he had been pushing me hard lately trying to get into arguments. Ever since the vice president noticed what a fine job I had done on the Johnson account, Richard had been trying to discredit me.
“The girls yes, but you Casandra?” He said slimily. “I expected more from a Cornell grad. What would the management say if they knew you ogled construction workers all day?”
“Oh I don’t know, maybe I would tell them it gives me the inspiration for doing a good job on my house accounts instead of stealing credit from what others do.” I said knowing this was going too far but I didn’t care anymore.
The look on his face spoke volumes and when he finally got it under control he gave me a look that would have melted wax. “I suggest you turn your attention to men with better refinements that can help you in your career than just a one-night stand.”
“The last thing I need is help picking out men.” I said getting more and more pissed.
“I could be a big help to you Casandra, why don’t we discuss it after work some evening?” He said giving me that oily smile of his.
“I don’t date people I work with. It’s a personal promise to myself, sorry.” I wasn’t and maybe the look in my eye said that because he was getting mad again.
“Careful, I might be able to arrange it that we don’t work together anymore and then where would your excuse be? Think long and hard about it.” He said giving me one last glare and turned and walked away.
I hated the bastard. He was a manipulative ass who was only looking out for himself and no one else. It would be a cold day in hell when I would ever date someone like that. I was fuming as I began hitting the keys on my keyboard again and I didn’t relax till Cindy came over.
“What did the ass threaten you with this time?” She asked.
“My job if I didn’t go out with him. Like I would ever lower myself to that level. Rotten bastard.” I said still fuming.
“So, you going to add hot construction guy to your list?” Cindy asked and I looked at her and she was smiling this goofy smile.
I couldn’t help but laugh. Cindy and I were roommates in college and were able to land careers here together. She was my best friend in the whole world, and I needed her so much after little deals like the last one. She always brought me back to myself and I appreciated that.
“I don’t know. Why is he on yours?” I asked.
“Oh honey, he was on mine from the moment I saw him.” She said giggling. “At least it would be a real attainable man on your list this time instead of the fantasy men you keep putting on there.”
“You don’t think he is a fantasy man?” I enquired.
“Maybe for me, but let’s face it Cassie, you’re hot, you could have any man you wanted. You just don’t want the headache.” Cindy said.
I hated the fact that she cut herself down, but I hated it even more that she compared herself against me all the time. I thought she was a beautiful girl with the personality to match. I knew some guys thought she had too large a nose and it wasn’t right, but I thought she was perfect just the way she was.
“That is true. Men are a headache. You remember my last boyfriend. You remember me chasing after him all the time and cleaning up his messes. I don’t have the energy for that after working all day. Besides, I am happy just the way I am.” I said meaning every word.
“Yeah I know, that’s the worst part. I got to get back to work before Dick comes back. Talk to you later.” She said striding back to her desk.
I wasn’t sure what she meant by that but I knew it wasn’t good and that I was going to get one of the famous Cynthia lectures after work. I smiled, ever since sophomore year in college when we had a class together we had been friend and then roommates the rest of the way. I was used to the lectures and the way she would tell me how miserable I was even when I was happy.
I snorted and began getting back to work on the forecast for the Johnson company for the fiscal quarter. The rest could wait till after work when it was officially girl time.
“All I’m saying is it wouldn’t be a bad thing if you started going out again.” Cindy said taking a drink from her long island ice tea.
“I do. I’m out with you right now.” I protested.
I knew that wasn’t what she meant but I liked my life the way it was and I didn’t want any drama. I was content.
“You know what I mean. I mean how long has it been since you know, got under the sheets?” She asked.
I just about spit out my drink. I started snorting and looked at her through teary eyes. I just got myself under control when I said the first thing it came to mind. “I sleep under the sheets every night.”
“You know that’s not what I meant.” She fumed pouting.
I loved to get her flustered. She was right though, it had been a long time since I had an intimate relationship with anyone, but I still reminded myself I didn’t need or want that.
“Look Cin, I am happy the way I am. If it happens it happens, but I am not going to look for it. End of story.”
“Fine,” she said but you could tell she was still miffed. “I just worry about you.”
“I know baby, and I worry about you too. When and if it happens, it does, but I am not looking for it right now. Let’s get back to more important things. What are you taking Janelle for a gift for the shower?” I asked. Our coworker Janelle was getting married soon and next weekend was the wedding shower and I had no idea what to take.
“I thought about some engraved picture frames from the engraving store in the mall, why? What are you taking?” She asked me.
“I thought about a crock pot, you know, one of the programmable ones.”
“Oh that’s so original. Cassie, you’ve done the same thing for the last three showers. Everyone is starting to call you crockpot queen.” Cindy said laughing and taking another drink when she was done.
“Maybe, but there is a lot worse things to be called.” I said back.
“Ladies, compliments of the man at the end of the counter.” A waiter said breaking our conversation setting two drinks in front of us.
We both looked to the man at the end of the counter and he lifted a glass in response to our looks. We both nodded and mouthed thank you. Then Cindy turned to look at me. “Plan A or B?”
“I forgot my ring. Plan B I guess.” I said looking back at her.
“Alright but no tongue this time slut.” Cindy said laughing.
Before I could respond the man came over and looked at us. “Mind if I join you ladies?”
“Not at all, please, but I should let you know that we aren’t available, we are in a relationship.” I said hoping he’d take the hint. He wasn’t a bad looking guy, and he seemed nice enough. I just wasn’t in the mood.
He took the empty chair at our table and he looked at each of us in turn. “I’m sorry, I didn’t see the rings, so I was hoping to get to know you both.”
I respected his approach. He included both of us and didn’t make either one of us feel less important than the other. He was too nice a guy to come right out and hurt someone.
“It’s fine, we get called so many names from guys that don’t understand that it’s nice to have one that is decent enough to just want to talk to us. Sorry about the ring thing but we are still waiting for laws to change before that can be possible.” I said lightly rubbing Cindy’s arm a little.
We enjoyed getting to know Mark. He was a salesman for a local manufacturing company and an all-around nice guy. The only problem was he didn’t do anything for me personally but I could see Cindy loosening up to him more and more as we talked.
I decided to give her a chance so I stood up and said I had to go to the bathroom, which wasn’t a lie. I have had to go for a while but I didn’t want to leave her alone with some creep, but he was one of the few good ones left, so I headed over.
I made sure to take a while and when I finally headed back I almost stopped where I was, instead of Mark standing there, Richard was. I was pissed because it looked like he was harassing Cindy and I was bound and determined to put a stop to this.
“I told you no, now leave me alone.” Cindy said angrily as I got to the table.
“Fine bitch, I’ll make your life miserable.” He said as I came around the table and shoved him as hard as I could before he knew I was there.
He staggered and tripped and went on the floor. Comprehension dawned on his face as he looked up at me. “You’ll pay for that bitch.” He said jumping to his feet.
I screamed at the top of my lungs “Help, this man is trying to hurt us because we told him no.” Then I curled up into a ball and waited.
Before he was three steps to me, two big men jumped in the way and put their hands in front of him pushing him back. “I suggest buddy you leave the ladies alone. No means no.”
He looked at the man who had spoken and then the other one. He stepped back and glared. Finally, he looked at me. “This isn’t done, wait till Monday, you’re both going to pay for this.” Then he turned and left the building.
I was shaking as I watched him leave. He was such an asshole. I looked over to Cindy and she was shaking and wiping tears away. The two big men came over but we told them we were fine we just wanted to get out of here. So one of them was nice and got us a cab and we pulled away and headed toward Cindy’s apartment.
“What do we do now?” She asked still shaking next to me.
“We both file a complaint with human resources first thing Monday morning and hope it keeps him from doing anything to us. We tell them exactly what happened at the bar and how we had to ask for help to get him away from us, and they can confirm our story with the bar. It was such a big deal it’s not like they will forget.” I said trying to keep my voice calm.
“OK Cassie. I hate him for making me feel that way.”
“What happened to Mark?” I asked knowing he was there when I went to the bathroom.
“We talked a little more, exchanged numbers, and then he left. The second when he was gone that asshole was standing there. Then he says, since your free now we can talk about you getting into a better position. Arrogant bastard. God I hate him Cass.”
“I know Cin, me too.” I said as we pulled up and I made sure she was inside before having the cabbie take me to my apartment building.
Pretending to be strong for Cindy wasn’t as hard as not falling apart in the cab once she was gone. I felt weak and now I was alone. Why did some people have to be such assholes? I was curling up into a ball in the back seat and hardly noticed when we pulled in front of Townsend Apartments, my apartment building.
“Miss, this your stop?”
“Yeah, sorry, how much do I owe you?”
“Thirty-two seventy.” He said.
I nodded and counted out thirty-five and handed it to him and told him it was fine. I got out and used my key fab to unlock the door and walked inside. The hall was empty all the way to the elevator and mailboxes. I stopped in front of my post office box and tried getting the key in but I was shaking so bad that I couldn’t do it and then I finally just gave up and slammed my palm on the wall.
“Let me help you, looks like you’ve had a rough day.” A voice said behind me.
I spun around and standing there was a guy from my apartment building. I couldn’t remember his name, I’d only seen him a few times, but he always smiled and said good morning. He wasn’t one of those guys you would remember, he was just kind of average and wore normal business clothes and the like. Kind of guy you would see in any office building. His brow wrinkled a bit and I wondered why until I looked down at my hand and saw how bad I was trembling.