I went to my meeting with George, telling him everything about our company. He sat through it listening and asking questions here and there to get a better understanding of my company. At the end of the meeting, George gave me a smile and leaned back.
“I’d like to invest on one condition,” he tells me, and I nod.
“You don’t fire Miss Gordon. She is a wonderful girl and doesn’t deserve your wrath about keeping silent about her son.”
“I had no intention of firing Miss Gordon. She is an asset to this company, one I will miss having outside my door when we find her replacement.”
“Do you need to replace her?” he asks me, giving me a knowing smile.
“She would be best at the front. She has done a superb job keeping unwanted individuals from coming into the building,” I explain, and George laughs.
“Hard to hide from ex-girlfriends?”
“Something like that.”
“I’ll give you a piece of advice. I met my wife when I started working for my father. She was my secretary. I held off on dating her because of the boss, employee relationship. When I moved up to a new position, she stayed behind. The second I moved positions, I asked her out. Don’t let Miss Gordon slip through your fingers.” I stared at George in shock. How did he know I was interested? I nod and clear my throat.
“Thank you, sir.” I hold out my hand and he shakes it.
“After the new year, we can draw up the papers for my investment.” George leaves the office, I watch him stop at Ainsley’s desk to give her a hug before leaving the office. I wait until he is on the elevator before calling her into my office. She walks in with her eyes down.
“Sit,” I say, pointing to the chair George vacated. She sits and stares at her hands.
“Look at me.” Her blue eyes pop up, making me stifle a groan. She is beautiful.
“Why did you keep your son hidden?” I ask, I want to get the question out of the way.
“Let me ask you this, what is your opinion on single mothers who have children outside of wedlock?” she asks and I am startled by the venom in her voice.
“I have nothing against single mothers,” I say, holding my hands up to show her I am not here to be judgemental.
“Then you are one of the few. In every job I’ve ever had, people looked down upon me because I had a son. They think I can’t do my job because he is a distraction.”
“I can understand how that can make you defensive, but did anyone at this company make you feel you couldn’t be open about Callum, was it?” I ask, trying to remember his name.
“Yes, his name is Callum, and no. The only person here who knows about Callum is Vivianne and we have been friends since before I got pregnant with him. When she heard about the opening here, she called me to take it. I’ve been here for about a year and a half.”
“Did she write your contract?” I ask suspiciously if Vivianne put it in her contract that Ainsley didn’t work past five.
“She helped me with the contents of what I wanted in my contract. She didn’t want me to be working overtime without being paid for it.”
“Why two jobs then?” I ask, she sighs, and I can sense an old concern coming.
“Daycare is expensive. Two-thirds of my paycheck goes to paying daycare,” she tells me, and I frown.
“What about your rent?”
“That is the other third,” she says, and it hits me. She can’t afford anything besides daycare and rent on her salary.
“Do you mind me asking if we gave you a raise last year?” She shakes her head.
“Percy in HR told me I had to be with the company at least two years before I would see a pay raise,” she explains, and I frown. We told HR to give everyone raises.
“Give me a minute.” I lean over and pick up my phone.
“Leo, come into my office and bring Vivianne.”
“What?” Ainsley looks at me with worry in her eyes.
“You are not in trouble. I want to tell you thank you for letting me know about Callum. It must be hard to be a single mother. Where is his dad?”
“I don’t know, off getting high somewhere.” I nod and let the matter drop. Leo and Vivianne come into my office.
“Vivianne, I have a question for you and I want to know the truth.” She nods and stands at attention.
“When you first started here, did you have to wait two years to get a raise?” I ask and her eyes widen, but she nods.
“Leo is that a normal practice?” I ask and he shakes his head, frowning.
“Do you suppose?” Ainsley starts, then stops speaking.
“Go ahead,” I tell her.
“I don’t know Percy well and I don’t want to think the worst about him, but could he be pocketing the raises of all new employees? He tells them they have to wait two years to see a pay raise and then takes the money for himself? It would be a smart way to embezzle without people noticing.” I groan and sigh.
“Leo, I want someone to search Percy’s office when he is gone. He’s taken the two weeks of Christmas and New Year’s off to go on a cruise with his family. We need to find out what is happening to all new employee raises. Next, I want everyone who missed out on their raise to see half of it this year and then half of it next year. Not a word of this is exposed to the staff, understood?” I ask all of them. Vivianne nods, then her eyes light up.
“Ainsley is trained in HR. That is her degree.” Ainsley shakes her head at Vivianne and I turn to look at her.
“Is that true?”
“Yes, sir. I have a degree in business management.”
“No wonder you are so good at your job. When you find your replacement, I want you to move into the HR department. You’ll be my go-between,” I tell her and she stares at me in shock.
“Your pay will reflect your new job. That should make it so you can quit being a server and spend more time with your son,” I tell her, watching Leo’s and Vivianne’s eyes widen.
“So you were right?” he asks me, and it is Ainsley’s turn to look at me.
“I suspected. The Sunday after your fainting issue I saw you at Young and Long’s Steakhouse. You were sitting at a table with a little blond boy.” She nods her understanding.
“Is that why you sent me food that night?” she asks, and this time I nod.
“Would you two just date already!” Vivianne complains, making Leo burst out laughing.
“I can’t date my boss,” Ainsley argues, and Vivianne shakes her head.
“Keep it quiet until you are moved to HR. You two have been secretly staring at each other for the past two weeks. Just go on a date,” Vivianne argues, waving her hands between us.
“I’m with Vivianne on this. You two are longing after each other. Normally dating your secretary is so cliche, but you two need to just bite the bullet.” I glare at Leo, I cannot believe him. Two weeks ago he was telling me not to date her.
“I’ll pick up Callum from daycare. You two go out.” Vivianne hugs Ainsley and pulls Leo out of the office. I stare at a blushing Ainsley and smile.
“Well, our friends have spoken. I’d love to take you out for dinner.” She shakes her head at me.
“Finn, I have a son. I can’t afford to let my heart get broken. He has never known a father and if I bring you around, he is going to get attached.” I walk over to her and take her hands. The same electric shocks pass up my arms as before.
“You don’t have to introduce me to Callum until you are comfortable.” I tell her, the idea of meeting her son makes me happy, but I won’t push her into anything.
“One date to see if this is worth pursuing. Oh, I think I found my replacement,” she says, going out of the office and coming back with a resume. I look it over. I smile and nod.
“Call him for an interview.”
“Oh and Ainsley,” I say and she stops turning around to look at me.
“Five o’clock be ready.” She blushes and goes back to her desk to call Lyle. I sit at my desk and dig into Percy and his files. I don’t know if Ainsley is right, but what else would explain not giving new employees their raises?
Let me know what you think!