Chapter Fifteen: My big break…but there’s a catch
The next week at work was a blur. Tex had sent a bouquet of orchids with a note. When Ryan stopped in and saw them I shamefully lied and said they were for properly thanking me for writing such a great article.
I found out from Ryan that Generations Steel had hired their firm to represent them in the acquisition of more land needed in development. Apparently there has been a small issue in the community with some of the citizens, mostly your tree-hugger protect the earth at all costs people, who felt that big business meant big environmental issues and the jobs weren’t worth the cost to Mother Nature. Long story short, they were going to have to go to court and prove their business was more a benefit than harm, and convince the hippies that Mother Nature will prosper as well.
I half listened to what he was telling me. I had become numb when it came to Tex. Thinking about him caused me pain. Not thinking about him caused me pain. I wanted to be in his arms, and I wanted to break his arms.
“…and so then I just wore the dress because it really did match my eyes…” Ryan said.
“Yeah…” I said, agreeing and stapling some pages together to send to editing.
Ryan laughed a little and sat at the edge of my desk. “I knew you weren’t listening to me.” He said, slapping my hand with the papers he was holding.
I came out of my reverie. “I’m sorry…what?”
He laughed again. “Did you not get enough sleep last night?”
“Not good sleep I’m afraid.”
Ryan smirked, then got up and walked over to me. He leaned down and nuzzled my neck.
“Maybe you should stay with me tonight. I can make sure you sleep well.”
I squirmed a little as his breath tickled my neck. “I doubt I’d get any sleep at all.” I quipped, turning to look at him.
There was a mischievous look in his eyes as he smiled. Goodness, he really was gorgeous. What was wrong with me?
“AYERS!” Darnell barked from my doorway. “Quit canoodling and get in my office. I got big news.”
“Yes sir.” I said, sighing and getting up from the chair.
Ryan slapped my rear with his papers and told me to get to it.
“I am…I am…”I complained, going out of the door.
Darnell was smoking a cigar at his desk. I knocked and he growled at me to just get in the f’n door already. I hurried inside and sat across from him.
“What’s up?” I asked, smacking my hands together and leaning forward.
Darnell crushed his cigar, coughed a few times and wiped his bushy mustache. “This is it Ayers. It’s the big deal. Your ship has come in, and it’s a yacht.”
“You’ve certainly got my attention.”
“That big time you interviewed from the new steel plant. Tommy…”
“That’s the one.” He said, pointing a finger at me. “Turns out the company is having some difficulty with the local environment protectors. Gonna be a big case.”
“I’ve heard.” I admitted, “Ryan was just telling me the bits and pieces when you came by.”
“Yeah. That’s what it looked like.” He said, smirking.
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Anyway…” I diverted, “Generations is going to have a lawsuit. What does this have to do with me and my money ship?”
“Our money ship.” Darnell corrected. “That interview you did really hit home with these people. The head of the company, T.J...”
“Yeah him.” Darnell coughed again and fired up another stogie.
I waited for him to take a few puffs. He blew out the smoke and looked back at me. “He has personally requested you to cover the whole ordeal. They are going to give us the one on one, up front and personal first access to all the information. We will be the first paper with the goods girlie.
We get the exclusive. The pictures, the words, and most of all,” he added, tilting his cigar toward me. “The recognition.”
My face lit up. This was big…really big. Getting my name out there for this kind of coverage meant true credentials. I could name my price after this.
“Wonderful.” I said, standing up. I’ll get in touch with their receptionist and work a schedule to interview different department heads. After that, I’ll go ahead and find out who is the official land protection agency going up against these guys. I’ll probably be doing a lot of phone and home work, but I’ll keep you posted along the way.”
“No Ayers.” Darnell ground out at me. “Sit down, we aren’t finished yet.”
I slowly sat back down into the chair. “What do you mean?”
“I’m telling you that you were formally requested to be an ‘on site’ reporter.”
“On site?” I asked, cocking my head to the side. ’Oh no…no he didn’t’. I was thinking. My palms began to sweat. It was suddenly very hot in here.
“That’s right! They have made all the necessary arrangements for you. Apparently there is an estate down toward…”
“I know where it is.” I said.
Darnell paused, looked at me quizzically then went back to speaking. “Right well, you will be there to cover the personal aspects of the case. The representatives are expected to spend practically every evening there preparing for court. You also will be given a full access security pass to the grounds. No area will be off limits to you. When it’s trial time, you will fly with the company and be put up by them in the same hotel. You will be fully provided for. All you need to do is show up, take notes, and write one heck of an article.”
I was starting to suffocate. I stood up, placed my hands on top of my head and paced back and forth, breathing slowly. Darnell watched me.
“Don’t be so dramatic!” he demanded, “Yes, it’s a big break and we are all depending on you to pull this off so phenomenally that we can all be set for life in this little town…but you can handle the pressure.”
’oh if you only knew’ I was thinking. I stopped and leaned against the door, sliding down to bend my knees a little and hold them while I took deep breaths.
“Ayers, you are not allowed to die on me. I’m counting on you.”
I nodded my head up and down before making myself get up. I opened the door and looked back at Darnell. He watched me intently as I offered him a thumb up and a forced smile while sliding out the door.
Darnell eyed the door as my shadow passed. “That is the strangest girl.” He grumbled, raising his eyebrows.
I went straight past my office, and flew to the restroom. I don’t know what I hoped to accomplish in there…a scream, a laugh, a sobbing cry…but I burst in none the less. After pacing quickly back and forth several times, I made my way to the mirror over the sink. Placing my hands on either side, I took deep breaths and spoke to myself.
“You are fine.” I said, “You are perfectly fine, and this will be fine. You are a professional. This is a job. It’s just a job.”
A toilet flushed and the stall door at the far end of the room flew open. To my horror, Patty walked out.
“Nervous breakdown?” she asked me, walking to the other sink and mirror. “I wondered how long it would be before you lost it again.”
I continued to stare at the mirror. “Patty,” I said evenly, “It would be super great if you could just not talk to me for like…ever.”
She laughed and turned to me, wiping her hands on the paper towel as she did. I begrudgingly had to acknowledge her presence as it was evident she wasn’t going to leave until I did. I gave her my most ‘I hate you’ look.
She pouted out her lip like a baby. “Awe…poor Selena. Maybe someday you’ll be able to function like a normal person. Maybe…” she shrugged her shoulders as she walked by me. “I doubt it,” she added opening the door. “But maybe…”
The door swung closed. I stared after her, secretly willing her heel to snap as she made her way back downstairs.
I didn’t want her to die or anything, but if she could just fall down like, the last few stairs…that would be great. Just enough to lay her up in bed at home for half a year or more.
I turned on the faucet and let the water run into my hands. It was cool and felt good as I splashed it on my face. I would definitely have to call Cass and Amber. They would raise all kinds of heck over this, but at least they could help me sort it out and come up with a plan of action. That’s what I needed…my friends.
“It’s not about him.” Amber said, shoving a spoonful of blizzard into her mouth. We were at the DQ. Yes we still did that, it’s tradition. She swallowed the bite, “it’s about the money. After everything he did to you and put you through…he owes you this break. You keep it professional and use him to make a name for yourself.”
“That’s good…I like it.” Cass agreed, pointing her spoon at Amber and nodding her head. She licked her lip, “but in keeping that energy, and building on…once you have made that name for yourself, we use that security pass to get the jump on him when he least expects it. We hide in his office behind the door down low, he comes in…shuts the door…and then BAM! We each punch him full force in the balls.”
Amber and I watched Cassie as she continued to nod her head up and down while eating her blizzard. Eventually she looked up and stopped with spoon still in her mouth. Her eyebrows furrowed. “What?” she asked hatefully.
“Dear Lord,” Amber breathed, casting her eyes skyward.
We both laughed as Cassie continued affronted. “Screw you guys,” she snapped, “my idea was just as good…if not better…than any of yours.”
“Awe Cass…” we cooed at her, “It is a good idea….it is….” We both said, patting her arm and head.
“Dang right it is.” She claimed, wiping her face and hands. “You bictahs are too soft.”
Our laughter rang out into the DQ. The workers have changed over the years, but our presence in the corner booth never will.