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Who do they think they are?

“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me.” said Ray on the phone in a small voice with a hint of despondency.

“Are you mad?” said an even smaller voice from the other side.

“No. Yes, a little bit. I mean we spent the entire day together yesterday, you could’ve said something. Anyways you travelled okay?” said Ray, walking into her balcony and allowing the cool gust of wind to calm her.

“Um hmm.” Sam breathed into the phone.

“Any head start on the startup?” A moment of silence passed before he said his voice followed by the sounds of shuffling around.

“I have a plan. And thanks to you I think I also have the money I need to execute it.” Said Ray with an impulsive smile that spread across her face with the thought of her long lost dream potentially coming true. A shiver ran down her spine as the relief that ran to her nerve endings relaxed her posture.

“What do you mean?” Sam’s confusion was evident as Ray could picture the skin folded over his forehead.

“I am considering selling my share of the apartment to Justin.”

“Oh yeah right that.”

“I have been trying to get rid of this place for quite a while. Now I have a solid reason to do so.”

“You know I suggested you sell it to him, but you can sell it to anyone really.” Said Sam, in an optimistic way.

“Do you really think anyone would willingly sign up for this shit?” scoffed Ray, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

All she received was silence from the other end.

“Thought so.” Said Ray, resonating with Sam.

He then said with a brief pause.

“So did you talk to him?”

“No. He isn’t back from wherever he is yet.” Not wanting to talk about Justin anymore, Ray changed the topic and purred on the phone with the sweetest voice she could manage whilst pouting.

“When will you be back?”

“Not sure, sugarplum. Hoping to be back in not more than 2 days.” he said cooing in the same way as Ray.

“Why did you go to Kansas again?” Ray asked in the same pouty manner. She hadn’t meant for it to be an actual question but just a rhetorical one. Sam however didn’t catch on and answered her meticulously.

“Research. For my book.” His voice came out small and dubious but Ray failed to notice his hesitance.

“Mmkay.” purred Ray again, as she stepped back inside her bedroom as it was getting colder by the minute.

“Shall we call it a night then?”

“If we must.” said Ray smiling gleefully, a warm feeling rising in the pit of her stomach.

“I reckon so. Goodnight honeybun.”

“Night, babyboo.” Said Ray with a pang of disappointment and loads of cringe forcing it out of her mouth. She immediately changed her mind and said,

“Okay no, sorry, but I can’t. Good night babe. Yeah see that’s better.”

And the line went dead after a hearty chuckle from Sam.

It had been 2 days already since Sam went away. He was still not sure when he would be back which Ray honestly found quite strange but she didn’t want to come off as a nagging bitch so she kept her mouth shut and stopped asking. Nothing much happened as it was the weekend except for a tiny progress on her startup and discussing it with her fellow employees. She also got a call from Timothy of Mayhem. He had asked her over for a briefing of the project they would be working on. She had let him know that Frontal Cortex was still in the making but he didn’t seem to care much and brushed it off saying the meeting was urgent and couldn’t be delayed any longer. On top of all this, Justin still wasn’t back. He had been gone for two whole days, and Ray knew because she was holed up in her room waiting for him. Now that the seedling of getting this easy money was planted in her head, she couldn’t be rid of it. She had already started planning everything around this one endeavor.

The next morning she reluctantly left her house for the briefing with Mayhem, leaving a note for Justin in case he came back which she knew was in vain, but she wanted to leave no leaf unturned.

Mayhem was the usual. Glaring eyes and pin drop silence. People moved so swiftly they literally blurred past her. Ray abided by Zeal’s advice from the first time she came here and avoided all eye and physical contact. Another strange thing Ray noticed this time around was that no one was bothered. Everyone appeared where they wanted to be. Where they were supposed to be. Nobody came in another’s way and all moved in sync like they had their paths cut out for them and it would be illegal to cross another’s way like one giant game of chess. Or maybe the white and black checkered tiles inspired that notion within her, but any which way it was really odd.

Ray found Timothy waiting for her alone in the briefing room. Wondering whether she was too early or too late, Ray glanced at her watch to find her on time, before time even, yet not so early to be the first one there.

“Please, make yourself comfortable.” Said Timothy, gesturing to a chair in front of her.

“I was expecting a crowd.” said Ray, as she settled down scanning her surroundings subconsciously.

“It’s a briefing, not a flash mob.” A slight bitterness slipped into Timothy’s voice as he recalled Charlie’s comment about her outsmarting him.

“Very well.” said Ray, not wanting to come off as unprofessional.

“Let’s first go through what you have come up with and then I have some additional business to discuss with you.” said Timothy, asking Ray to present her ideas for the branding and advertisement of their social media campaign for one of their child companies.

This was the part Ray loved so she dived in head first and left Timothy baffled with her outstanding strategy.

“That’s...that’s brilliant.” affirmed Timothy with a bit of hesitance.

Ray flashed her self-satisfied smile in response.

“This is approved. You can leave the files with me. I will pass them onto the marketing department. You will however need to be an integral part of this campaign throughout. We expect our collaborators to personally cater to the deal. We pay the price of course.” Said Timothy, getting up from his chair and circling around the conference table to get closer to where Ray was seated. He continued without leaving room for Ray to respond.

“Now, we are almost done here. But before that, on a similar note, we have come up with a procedure to ensure thorough involvement from your side.”

Ray waited for Timothy to continue patiently not knowing what to expect.

“You have to house yourself closer to Mayhem.” Upon saying that Timothy leaned on the conference table, facing Ray and juggled out keys sliding them across to her.

Ray eyed the keys and then turned her scrutinizing gaze towards Timothy.

“Pardon me, but I won’t follow along with this impromptu procedure of yours.” said Ray, sliding the keys back to Timothy.

Timothy opened his mouth to retort, but Ray didn’t give him a chance to, further straightening her posture and saying in a stern voice.

“If you want me to be within walking distance from your enterprise, ask me. Don’t try to buy me off. I am not foolish enough to let myself be bound by your whims and be at your mercy.”

Ray got up and left, without another word, silently seething. Who do they think they are? Trying to get to me lick it off their hand. She thought to herself all the way back home.

Timothy stormed off too and found himself in Charlie’s office before he knew it. He said to the air, in a tone higher than he intended.

“One more meeting and I’ll hate her.”

“Not your type I see.” Said Charlie from his chair amused while still engrossed in his work.

“She would be too much for you even.” Spat Timothy, irritated with Charlie’s nonchalance.

“As expected then.” Said Charlie, now looking up at Timothy with a smirk.

Timothy, even though still pissed at Ray, walked towards Charlie and slammed the file containing Ray’s work on his desk.

“Even for the pompous little bitch she is, she worked really hard on this.” he said his voice softened at the end.

He then held Charlie’s gaze with an intense one of his own and said with the utmost sincerity he could muster at the moment.

“Only for it to be in vain.”

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