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This is shady

Ray had cleaned up nicely, tucking herself in a pant-suit from Van Heusen as she fidgeted nervously with her phone typing furiously on it and then looking around, biting her lip. She repeated the process a few times attracting weird glances from the people waiting at the bus stand across the road as they had been watching her for a while now. Not intentionally. Maybe they weren’t even looking at her and her anxiety was responsible for all the presumptions about them judging her.

That is when from the blur of people who had been passing her on the sidewalk a hand reached out and grabbed on to her elbow. Before realizing she was pulled aside and into the building she had been standing in front of. Ray was practically dragged across the lobby and the reception area of the building. The grip on her elbow was tight and firm. Ray did not resist because she knew the woman, what she did not understand though as to why she was being taken rather than welcomed. The woman kept her head down, but occasionally looked up to smile at some faces. Ray tried to do the same when the woman commanded her to keep a low profile.

“Don’t make eye contact.” she whispered.

Ray kept her head hung low until they were alone in the elevator. As soon as they were in the elevator the woman let go of Ray and she fell into a fit of apologies.

“I am extremely sorry for that. But just know that it was necessary.” she said in the sweetest tone.

“Why?” Ray asked, puzzled.

Ignoring Ray’s question the woman stepped closer, closer than Ray would have liked her to be. Ray moved back a little but stopped when the woman took Ray’s hand and pressed it reassuringly.

“Ms. Amarano…” trailed off Ray, unsure of what was going on and wondering what she had gotten herself into.

Ms. Amarano then engulfed Ray in a hug and whispered in her ear.

“Hug me back. Make it look natural.”

Ray who was stiff as a bone, hugged Ms. Amarano instantly and waited for her to say more. She continued whispering.

“Hide your face from the camera’s. I will explain everything later. Now act normal. Pull back, put on your work face and shake hands with me.”

Ray followed her to the word. Then as they were approaching their floor Ms. Amarano said to the air.

“Convince him.”

This time Ms. Amarano didn’t hold onto Ray as they walked into an office where a young man was waiting for them. He welcomed them with a warm smile and asked them to take a seat on the couch around the table. He seated himself too and ordered coffee for everyone before they got down to business.

“Ms. Mconnell, you were highly recommended by our trusted acquaintance here.” he said addressing them both. He continued in one breath.

“Timothy Raymond, the PR head of this corporation. Mayhem Pvt. ltd.” he said, reaching over for a handshake over the table in between them. Ray returned the courtesy. Timothy then continued, conducting himself gracefully, as he glided on the air of confidence around him.

“I can see why Ms. Amarano was taken by your work. It is fascinating and inspiring. Just what we happen to be looking for.” His lips split to show the perfectly white and straight teeth over that. Ray realized she had to make no effort to pitch herself for this project. He was too impressed by her to reject her. Ray vaguely wondered why Ms. Amarano asked her to convince him. He looked more than convinced already.

Timothy, who was leaning back, straightened himself, and said more urgently than before.

“Now, Ms. Mconnell, we as a corporation abstain from doing background checks on each and every individual that steps into this building to respect their privacy. But on the other hand, us being such a big name, we cannot be naive enough to trust a person who does not identify with any organization. I understand it may seem biased towards some self employed individuals but this is one of the things we cannot bend our policies on. This concerns the security of our company’s valuable assets.”

Timothy took a brief pause before addressing Ray directly.

“Before we get on with the details of this project what will you do about the clause Ms. Mconnell?”

A shiver ran down Ray’s spine as Timothy held a keen accusing gaze over her. Ray felt Ms. Amarano stiffen beside her. Ray realized that this is what Ms. Amarano was referring to when she told her to convince him. Even though he said he hadn’t performed any background check on her, he knew that she was unemployed and did not belong to any organization. Ray did not understand what was going on, or if this gig was even worth it. There was an air of secrecy and tension all around the place. The silence between them thickened by the minute as Ray weighed her options. The good part; it was a one-time thing with a huge pay, enough to get her by for 6 months. The bad part; the place had a weird vibe. It was a no brainer.

But it required her to take the step she had been avoiding all these years. To take the fall and in the moment when Ms. Amarano cleared her throat and Timothy sighed impatiently, Ray let go.

She said in a poised way, playing along to the game Timothy started.

“I don’t see a problem here, Mr. Raymond.”

“Elaborate, Ms. Mconnell.” he said intrigued.

Ms. Amarano looked in between the two, like following a ball in a ping pong game.

“Let me reintroduce myself. I am Ray Mconnell, the founder and CEO of Frontal Cortex .inc.”

“I haven’t seen any references to such an organization, Ms. Mconnell.” said Timothy raising his eyebrow at Ray but at the same time leaning forward with anticipation.

“It’s a startup. Still pushing through the ranks.” Ray was now more confident than before and it was evident in her voice.

“I have seen its promising development.” Said Timothy referring to Ray’s portfolio. By now they were in this weird limbo, where none of them wanted to stop what had already started.

“But I don’t see any solid assets to put my money onto.” He said with a challenging look.

“What is an organization but not an idea in the collective imagination of a group of people? You and I believe this imagined entity exists and that is the biggest asset.” said Ray.

“Let’s get down to business then.” Said Timothy impressed by Ray’s quick-witted response.

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