Elegant Deception

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The weekend passed with horrible pieces of evidence of my poor choices (April showed me some photos when she came over around noon). Now, I’ve dreaded going to work. But the fear was only in my head since I’m on time as I entered the office. To my luck, I’m early enough no one would think to ambush me. So I was ready in my battle station - the reception desk - for the onslaught of gossips.

The first person who arrived, who was present at my birthday party, was Kyla’s secretary, Rhea. I was taken off guard to see her arrived a couple of minutes after me. She’s one of the secretarial staff who come in early.

“Rhea? This is a surprise.” I stated rather than the usual pleasantries.

She smiled. “I had to stay over at my boyfriend’s place after your party. His place is a bit further from the office... anyways, thank you for inviting us. I have a great time.”

I beamed and said lightly. “No problem. I’ll glad you had fun. And of course, I’ll invite you. Other than Sean, you’re the only other person I trust in the secretarial staff.”

She chuckled and nodded in agreement. “Well, I’m glad you only invited a few people from work. Because, I don’t trust anyone else other than you, Kyla, Zoey, and Sean.” She then paused for a moment to assess me. “So, are you okay? I briefly remembered last Saturday night that you were carried out by the bartender.”

I stiffened for a second and then sighed heavily. “Sean and my sister told me the whole story. And to tell you the truth, I barely remember what I did that night. Well, after the fifth drink I had, it was just haze and nothingness.” I snorted in disbelief.

“I can say the same. But I did remember you staying by the bar after talking with multiple men who I don’t recognize. I didn’t know you had a lot of male friends,” Rhea said. “And your sister advised us not to bother you.”

I pursed my lips, thinking about whether to tell her the truth. Either way, someone who attended my party might slip about that incident as well. And Rhea is a good choice to pass the real information rather than having her hear it second-hand from someone else.

“Actually, I also don’t know those men. They were sort of like... Uhm... dates?” My words dangled into a question.

“Dates? With multiple men? On your birthday?” She looked a bit confused.

“It was April’s idea.”

Like that, she understood the situation. “Oh, wow! Is she’s still at it?”

“Yeah.” I sighed dejectedly. “She and my parent’s are not letting go how I’m still single at this point.”

I thought Rhea would defend my stance, as usual, but this time she didn’t. “I know you are fine being single, Amy. But, why are you still single? You go on dates. You meet people. Do you really want to have a relationship with someone?”

The question wasn’t fairly new. But how she put it was like a slap on the face. Of course, I wanted to have someone in my life. But life got in the way. And all of the guys I met weren’t my type. However, as I was about to tell Rhea, we were interrupted by Kyla - who was uncharacteristically early.

“Good morning, Kyla.” I greeted.

“You’re here early,” Rhea added in confusion.

“It’s Jensen turn to take the kids to my parent’s house.” Kyla briefly replied. She then looked deep thought before letting out an exasperated sigh. “Haven’t you heard about the commotion downstairs?”

“Commotion? When I arrived a few minutes ago, the lobby was peaceful.” Rhea looked at her in confusion.

“I see. Maybe someone tipped them that Julian and Zoey are on their way here... Goodness, it’ll be like that time those two got together - but a bit worst. I’m glad my husband isn’t a celebrity in the business world. I can tolerate a few, but not a crowd of them.”

“What happened?” Now, Rhea and I grew more concerned. The topic of my love life was simply forgotten.

“Paparazzi are crowding the lobby. Someone from your birthday party has leaked a photo of Julian and Zoey, showing her ring to close friends. Because of that, those two weren’t able to get out yesterday for work. Their Condo lobby had been mobbed with reporters and paparazzi.”

I gasped. Feeling a bit guilty for the leaked since that was my party.

“Sean called yesterday. He told me nothing was wrong.”

“Did he call you in early? I got the news by lunch,” Kyla clarified.

“My God…” I trailed off.

Kyla quickly assured me. “Don’t worry, Amy. Julian and Zoey don’t blame you or even the culprit. It was a party. People take photos and upload it to share with their family. If those two truly didn’t want the public to know they were engaged, they would have been more cautious. And besides, Julian’s already at it with the PR and the lawyers. There’s bound to be some heat even though it’s good news.”

I nodded. Not sure what to say.

We were interrupted again when Kyla’s phone rang. Since she peered at the name briefly and confidently answered it in front of us, by default, we were permitted to eavesdrop on the conversation.

“Julian,” she addressed the caller. Both Rhea and I concentrated on the one-sided phone call. “Yes. I’m at work. Amy and Rhea are with me. We all heard the situation. Are you okay?” She asked.

“Good to know. Please be safe you two.” She said after listening in to his response.

There was a brief paused before Kyla handed me her phone. “It’s Zoey, she wants to talk to you for a moment.”

I got the phone from her. “Hello, this is Amy speaking.” I greeted.

Zoey’s voiced sounded strained on the other end. “Amy, hi. I’m sorry to ask this of you since this would’ve been my job if I’m not under these circumstances.”

“It’s not a problem, Zoey. I’m glad to help.” I reassured.

“Julian and I are going to be at least two hours late. We’re letting the building security and Albert come up with a better solution for our situation. Though I know it’s better to not come today at all, but that just doesn’t cut it for me. Work is work. And Julian has an appointment today. I’ll drag him there myself if that’s the case,” she lightly jested. Her good humor coming back.

I chuckled in reply. “So, what do you need? Does Albert need help with communicating with building security?”

“No… I don’t think so. He hadn’t told me yet. But I’ll let you know after I’ve contacted him. He’s already on his way there.”

“Oh, good. I’ll just leave him a message to contact me. So, what do you need?”

“Well, Julian was supposed to be interviewing seven people for a new executive position. It’ll be unprofessional on our part since we’ll be pushing those back as well…” she trailed off, sighing heavily again.

“Don’t worry. I’ll make sure they are informed of the situation and treated well.”

“Give them anything they want, okay, Amy?” Zoey nearly pleaded. “Julian likes these men and a few of them took off time from their current job just to hear him out for this position.”

I smiled at her dedication. “Of course. But I’ll be billing it to the office,” I informed.

“There’s no question there. Just list them under Julian’s name.” Zoey approved.

“Got it. And anything else you need?” I inquired. For a moment, I’ve forgotten about Kyla and Rhea were still with me.

“I’ll just call you on the phone. I think we’ve taken Kyla’s time using hers.” And like that, I remembered my other companions. “Oh, right.” I briefly moved the phone away to apologize to Kyla.

“It’s okay,” Kyla snickered in amusement.

I hastily said my goodbye then handed Kyla back her phone.

“So, what’s the news?” Kyla asked she saw stowed away her device.

“They’ll be arriving two hours late and have security deal with the commotion downstairs for now. And also, looks like I’ll be attending to some guest for Julian.” I informed.

Kyla nodded. “Are those guest would be the people he might be hiring as general counsel?”

“As a what now?” I looked at her in confusion.

“We had the meeting a couple of months ago. The executive staff has insisted on taking in an in-house legal employee as part of the team. We’ve been operating the office for nearly two years now, and we’re still under the advisement of the main office’s legal team. There are minor legal issues we want to solve without calling international help.” Kyla informed.

“That is necessary. And it’s better to have someone who’s licensed in this state and knows the by-laws.” I nodded in agreement.

“See! Even you get it, Amy,” Kyla pointed enthusiastically. “A lot of the executive staff wasn’t up for it, but we’ve convinced them.”

“Congratulation on that win.”

“Anyways, Rhea, we should go. We have a meeting around nine in the morning with the sales department again, right?” Kyla got back to business.

Rhea nodded with a grin. “We do. And don’t be put out with what they’ll say. You have a good instinct when it comes to marketing schemes.”

Kyla beamed at her secretary’s compliment. With that note, the two left toward their office. And for nearly half an hour, I was peacefully committed to my work when Albert arrived.

“Hey, how’s everything? Did you get my message?” I inquired as he walked up to my desk counter.

“Yes, I got it. I’ve just finished talking with the head of building security. We’ve come up with a way to make this work today and have Julian and Zoey come up here safely. However, I’m still doubtful until I make it possible.”

“You’ll do great, Albert. You’ve never let those two down.” I reassured.

“Thank you, Amy.” He smiled and hastily got something from the small booth of the security’s desk before making his exit again. “I’ll be back with those two in tow later.”

I nodded and waved him goodbye as the elevator closes. Once Albert was gone, I had felt a knot in my stomach. I prayed nothing bad happens.

By quarter to nine, three of the seven interviewees were present. And one of them wasn’t receptive of the current situation at all. For the third time, I watched the man stood up from the small lounge area and approached me. I decided against leaving them inside an empty conference room. They didn’t have clearance yet. It was my responsibility to keep an eye on them.

“Miss…” he started again and paused to remember my name. After telling it to him three times already – and his growing yet obvious impatience, he was starting to get on my nerves.

“Ms. Nolan, sir,” I said again, for the fourth time. “What do you need, Mr. Baron?” I asked.

“Have you heard from Mr. Hawksley or at least a specific time when he’ll be here? We’ve been waiting nearly an hour now.” He asked the same meditated questions.

And I replied as calmly as I did before. “Mr. Hawksley, his secretary, and his security team informed me he will be arriving today. But given the situation downstairs, he’s insisted on securing the safety of everyone and the building before taking the trip here. And he assured me he will be here to conduct the interviews himself, sir.”

Mr. Baron pursed his lips at my unwavering response. The other two candidates with him, who had kindly waited, overheard our conversation. And this time, they looked worried at the man’s firm stance.

“But did you actually call him again and asked? He can’t seriously make us wait this long for a brief interview… that’s too much. We have jobs as well. We were kind enough to give him the time of day to see him today, and to change the time last minute just because paparazzi are crowding the lobby! That’s just unprofessional!”

I kept my expression calm, yet he’s edging into icy waters with me. “Mr. Baron, in behalf of Mr. Hawksley, I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused you as well. It’s truly a dreadful time for my boss since he’s trying his best to make this work to the best of his abilities.”

“He’s a Hawksley. Why can’t he just hired more security team or buy the building to secure it? He’s making us less valuable people lose time because of his personal issues.” He continued to argue.

In the corner of my eyes, I noticed one of the candidates were looking at him coldly. It looked like he’s the only one prejudice about this situation.

“Mr. Baron, I understand your frustrations, sir. If you can no longer wait for Mr. Hawksley, I’ll help you reschedule the meeting to a time which is suitable for you.” I offered, which I knew I wasn’t sure I was allowed to do – but under these circumstances, I’ll take my chances.

“Huh? Are you for real? Now, you’re telling me that Mr. Hawksley can just meet us at any time that’s convenient for us now that the tables turned on him…”

He wasn’t able to finish his sentence when another guest entered. Everyone turned in unison, including me, to check who it was. Mr. Complainer – Mr. Baron – looked stumped at who he saw. As was I.

“Mr. Baron, I didn’t know you were looking for a new job.” The man said.

Mr. Baron regained his composure and turned his attention to the new guy. “And I didn’t know you were as well, Mr. Crawford. I thought we were aiming for a senior partner from how you kept on raising the ranks to get a junior partner by your age.” Mr. Baron didn’t hide his bitter tone.

“I was. But I’m still young, Mr. Baron. There are still possibilities for me in this city. And I’m proud to see that you’re as enthusiastic as well.” The new guy continued with a mock smirk.

Somehow Mr. Baron didn’t take it lightly how the new guy had to stoop him to his level. “Damn you, Crawford. Pray that you’ll get this job because I’ll be sure to tell the other senior partners about this.” He threatened then stormed out.

Thankfully for him – to not embarrass at his power move to make an exit – the elevator arrived as he pressed the call button. And like that, my problems with Mr. Baron was over. I’ll take note for Mr. Hawksley how he’ll have only six candidates to interview today, not seven.

“I see you’re still as accommodating and considerate as ever. I’m sure your boss doesn’t mind being rude to men like that.” He emphasized by pointing at the elevator where Mr. Baron left.

I smiled at the new guy, who was previously well-acquainted.

The new addition to Julian’s applicant was none other than Steve Crawford, who I once called a close friend. To be precise, he’s my ex-boyfriend’s best friend.

And the day just got weirder and weirder.

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