Theo, my driver, dropped me off at the front of the building and drove off to find parking. I clenched my rolling suitcase tightly as I entered the building. An email I had received this morning told me to meet the receptionist on the first floor to receive my ID badge and other information. A woman that couldn’t have been much older than I was sitting behind the large semicircle desk. I smiled as I placed my hand on the counter and she paused typing to meet my eyes.
“Good morning ma’am. How can I assist you?” Her smile was contagious. I see why hers was the first you saw when you entered this ten floor office building.
“Good morning, I received an email from Mr. Flynn to come here for my ID badge before I went upstairs.” she nodded and went to typing.
“Ah yes, you’re the new accountant of floor nine. I have your ID here and here’s a list of a few extensions that will be helpful. I’ve highlighted mine in case you need anything. Your floors’ receptionist is Callie and she knows to expect you this morning. If you need anything else, just ask.” I thanked her before clipping my ID to my blue blouse.
“Oh! And good luck!” I just shot her my best smile and rolled my suitcase to the elevators. There were several men in expensive suits gathered together waiting and another woman. I smiled politely at them all and the men motioned her and I on the elevator first. The eight of us fit more than comfortably in the car. As everyone gave their respective numbered floors I chimed in with “nine please.” and two of the men looked at me. I blushed and shifted my toes in my heels. No one spoke and I was left by the woman who exited on floor eight to ride the rest of the way alone. I blew out a long sigh. The first social interaction over. I was not looking forward to more. I liked working alone.
I felt the elevator slow and then halt with a gentle jolt. I stood a little taller as the doors opened up and standing before me was Neil. Ten floors were not going to be enough to keep me from blushing every time I saw him. In meetings with Alex I was fine but alone, he made me a little nervous.
“Loreina! You made it!” His smile was genuine and sweet. A small accent wrapped his “i” sounds in the words he spoke. Especially in my name. His hands held a large cup of coffee, the steam floating up to meet his red goatee.
“Oh, hello. I didn’t expect to see you as soon as I stepped off the elevator.” My nervous laugh wrapped my words and I let the doors close behind me.
“Well, I do work here on occasion. My office is on the tenth floor but all my executives and consultants work on this floor.” I nodded and walked down the long hallway realizing I didn’t stop to meet Callie. I looked around and Neil stayed by my side. He also paused. A shit eating grin stretched his face as he realized I had forgotten to check in.
“Come on, I’ll show you to your office.” he took another sip of coffee as we rounded a corner heading to the right. A short hall stood before us. A single door waited at the end. No other doors down this corridor, I assumed this was his secondary office. We walked closer and I waited for him to pull out the key card to swipe the lock to let us in, he just stood there.
“You were given a badge downstairs?” I nodded and it finally clicked.
“Wait. this isn’t-, it can’t be my office. I don’t even work for you, we are partners. I can find my own space downstairs. I’m sure a cubicle would be fine.” Words seemed to just fall from my jaw, piling up on the floor. He reached out and motioned in question to take my clipped card off of my top, my eyes met his in response as he removed it. A short, swift swipe caused the small black box to beep once and flash a green light near the top. The handle pushed down easily and the solid oak door swung open with little effort. Before me stood an office that was half windows. Floor to ceiling. A small table with two arm chairs sat in the corner of the windowed walls. The opposite corner was dominated by a large modern wooden desk. A leather office chair tucked behind it. Two large shelves stood behind the desk at attention with little on them. A book here or there and a plant or two. As I walked in, trying not to trip over my jaw, a lush cream carpet protected the deep brown hardwood floors from my heels.
“Will this be adequate?” I spun on my heel letting my suitcase roll a few feet away from me.
“Adequate? This is too much. I can’t accept this. There’s got to be a free cubical somewhere on a lower floor, I can blend in with others there. This floor is for your executives!” he sat his coffee down on the small table that hosted an amazing view of the Somerville business district.
“I want you to have this office Loreina. I consider you a consultant as well as a share partner. I have plans for you here.” I blushed and sat in the arm chair and he joined me. All my nervous emotions flip flopping into happiness and excitement.
“How do I thank you for this?” he rested his elbows on his knees. He mulled the payment and shrugged.
“Perhaps a dinner-” we were interrupted by Gray knocking on the open door and stepping in.
“Ms. Rossi. I’ll be outside if you need me.” and with that he disappeared and closed it behind him.
“You were saying?” Gray totally cleared my memory of what we were discussing.
“Oh, I was saying I’ll let you get settled in here and I’ll come back down and have you join the team for lunch so you can get to meet everyone on the floor.” He stood and adjusted his suit coat and left me to it. I just enjoyed the view for a moment.
In the hall, I could hear as he introduced himself to Gray and gave him his security detail’s information.
Before heading back up to his office, he ducked into the bathroom. His suit coat hanging on the hook, he rolled up his sleeves to throw some water on his face. How could he be so dumb? They were business partners. He couldn’t date her. Her brother is the single strongest man in North End, he would never allow her to date an Irishman. Unless she felt the same way. But she was dealing with her own life. She’s got a body guard for God’s sakes. She didn’t need a man in her life right now. He decided to just coach her along and possibly give her the position of Director of Accounting for all his businesses.
But first he would have to figure out how to tell Shamus. Yes, he was CEO and partial owner but Shamus Flynn was founder of all the Flynn hotels and resorts. He had spent the last twenty five years trying to clean up the shell companies and become legitimate for the sake of his family. He had plenty of blood on his hands from the start and didn’t want that for his kids too. The sixties saw the downfall of a lot of prominent Irish families and the empires crumbled by the seventies. The few families left all went legitimate. Shamus was trying his damndest to do the same.
Lunch came quickly after I set up my laptop and began taking proposals and dreams and made them real. I had access to all features his company offered. I opened the three accounts for receiving, payments, and the laundering. The payroll short for now and I kept in mind the ten new men Alex hired last month who would receive their first checks after their training was finished.
A gentle knock snapped my eyes that were dry to the door.
“Come in?” It came out more of a question. I didn’t fear who it was, as Gray was still there but I just didn’t know who would be bugging me on my first day. I saw the brown oxford before the man and recognized it immediately.
“Neil, it’s noon already?” I checked my silver jeweled watch and it was in fact, noon. Wow. I could just hope everyday went as fast as this.
“Yes it is, how’s the work coming along?” I leaned back and crossed my arms, my back stiff.
“Very well actually. I’ve got the accounts live. I’ll be transferring a few thousand here and there and make sure everything is set up correctly. I’ll have all the transactions listed under test so there’s no confusion once all aspects go live Wednesday morning.” His smile grew.
“You have some free time for lunch with everyone?” I nodded, my stomach also realizing the time. I saved a few things and locked the screen before standing. My knees and lower back stiff from sitting for hours. I picked up my cell phone and wallet ready to leave.
“Lunch is on the company any time we all go out as a business.” I blinked, that made sense, so I left my wallet behind.
“Where are we going? So I can let Gray know?” He texted me the address and promised to see me there in twenty minutes. The reservation was for the patio dining area. I nodded and Gray and I met Theo in the parking deck.
“We’re heading to Madison’s Bistro, Theo. Do you know where that is? His eyebrows went up in surprise as he nodded and put the car in gear.
“Yes ma’am I do. It’s a beautiful restaurant. It’s only about five or six minutes from us.” I sat back and made small talk with Gray about the building, the weather and how I liked having him with me for protection.
We arrived quickly and stopped right in front. I saw a group of businessmen enter together and I recognized one from the elevator ride this morning. Gray got out first and walked around and opened my door. As I stepped out, light jazz filled the air and mingled with the smells of a chargrill and smoke. My mouth watered and we made our way inside. I felt a wave of nerves take over me as someone put their hand in the small of my back and a familiar cologne filled my nose. I turned and saw Alex. I was shocked.
“What are you doing here?” It came out a little more rude than intended. I was still settling from the little scare he gave me. His lack of an answer replaced his sly grin. He told me it was for his reassurance that my first day was going smoothly.
The waitress led us to a long beautiful patio out the back of the building. The vines were well established that crawled up and down the metal bars that met the short brick walls in spiral patterns. The light peeked through in the most beautiful way. Light chatter filled the space and it settled when I walked in with Alex.
I’m not going to lie, I was glad he was there. I didn’t do well with large groups of people and especially those I didn’t know. We took a seat making sure to leave a seat between us and the others. One woman I recognized from the bathroom had introduced herself as Essie was there. She met my eyes and waved. I smiled back feeling a little relieved I was not the only woman but to also see a familiar face. She stood and pointed to the seat I had left open to my right for a buffer from small talk with others.
“Do you mind if I sit here?” I shook my head even though I definitely did, and watched her set down her drink and phone.
“You’re with accounting right? How is it coming along?” I nodded and took a sip of water to calm my nerves.
“Yes I am and it’s going really well. I got quite a bit done today actually. Thanks for asking.” she nodded as she took a sip of her cocktail. A mojito I believe. How could she drink that? They’re so sweet. A watier luckily broke my attention and asked for my drink order. I politely asked for a glass of red wine, anything he would genuinely recommend. Oh, and he didn’t disappoint when he delivered an amazing glass of merlot.
“I’m just glad I’m not the only one having a drink, I have a huge crush on Victor. This meeting is so awkward for me. I’m sorry this is probably equally an awkward conversation.” she giggled and fidgeted with her phone.
“No, I understand what you mean. I think it’s sweet. He seems kind.” her eyebrows shot up.
“Have you two met yet?” I shook my head and took a long sip of wine.
“No but he was a gentleman and let me on the elevator first this morning. He’s the one in the black suit, gray tie?” I had overheard his name in a casual conversation in the kitchenette earlier. She nodded and purposely looked away from our group that was quickly growing.
“I think every woman deals with working with others that are attractive. Just seems more prominent because you spend the bulk of your day with them. You have the same tasks and responsibilities in work and often get stuck in meetings together.” She seemed to muddle over my reasoning as my attention was pulled to the head of the table. Neil entered with a leather folder that held a legal pad and a few other neatly paper clipped papers. Our chatter quieted as he took a sip of water before speaking.
“Hello everyone. Thank you for coming today. This will be the first meeting of this quarter. I have tentatively two more planned in the company calendar for you all. The last meeting will be incorporated with our yearly assessments.” my mind wandered a bit before I found my grounding again as someone mentioned my name.
“Loreina Rossi is now our accountant for a few new investors that took majority shares for three of my resorts in the islands. Could you please stand? You’re lost in our large sea of a team.” He held out a hand, putting me on display and flashed a killer smile causing me to blush so very red.
“Hello everyone.” I stood and straightened my skirt and looked around at nine sets of eyes on me. But those that were gray and wise locked with mine.
“She’s on the path to becoming the single accountant for my entire enterprise if she keeps her work up. I think everyone will find she’s lovely to work with and quite knowledgeable in her field. Victor and Essie will be working the closest with you.” they both stood and gave me a small wave and then quickly sat. That’s when I realized I was still standing. So I let my body collapse into the wooden chair that sat behind me. My merlot calling my name, I sipped it making sure not to chug it in front of my entire office. The warm red liquid calmed my shaking hands.
The rest of the meeting went on like a normal, boring Monday meeting should and I jotted a few notes down on a legal pad Essie let me borrow. Lunch came and went, filling my stomach and making me a little sleepy as it mixed in my stomach with my wine.
“Alex, want to grab a coffee before I head back? I’m falling asleep over here.” he nodded as I whispered to not interrupt Victor who was now speaking about our goals for the next three months and what he would want us to show at our next meeting.
The meeting wrapped up rather quickly, I got caught up talking to Alex about Angelina when Neil came over.
“Hey, how did you like the meeting? I know it’s a mandatory work meeting, but I try to make them interesting and informative.” His words faded as Alex’s phone rang. My attention couldn’t help but focus on the tone of his voice. It was cold. Furious. Short. Deadly. My body stiffened.