“How often would you and I have to see each other?” I ask her. I try not to make it sound rude, but I know that is a failed effort.
“You could commute with me, if you want. The bus stop two blocks away has a route that runs only a block or two from the main entrance if you’d rather do that. Otherwise, I’m rarely near the main office unless we have a system-wide meeting or there’s something that can’t be handled by email. My division head doesn’t send researchers over to see the main boss often.” Jean taps her fingernails on the counter, waiting for me to accept the job she has obtained for me.
I don’t want to give Jean what she wants, but this opportunity means I can give my dad back some money for the studio loan. Besides, it’s just a job. If I can pack up everything and come back home, I can also go to a nine to five job to earn money. Speaking of nine-to-five… “When and where, exactly, will I be working?”
Jean bounces, and not an inch of her plastic enhancements jiggle with the motion. “Tomorrow is your first day, and it’s normally an eight to five shift, but you might have to work later on occasion. I don’t think he’ll have you doing overtime often, being just a secretary. And it’s at Huntsworth Industries, silly girl. You’re working for the CEO, Beck Huntsworth. Isn’t he your friend’s dad?”
Pacing is one of my few bad habits, but I can’t help it. My mind is racing, and while I know my undivided attention should be given to the attorney I’m speaking with on the phone, my thoughts keep returning to Lia. Two hours into my day, and I’m already fighting the urge to walk out of the office to work from home. I won’t have to face Lia there or the nearly constant hard-on I have for her. I don’t remember ever being this horny. Lia should arrive at the HR department any moment now, and she’ll be up to my office shortly after they’ve given her a security clearance badge and finalized her paperwork.
It is not like I would accomplish anything at home, though. Here, at least, I can provide the illusion of efficiency. I began this company years ago in my attempt to help the world and create a comfortable life for Tasha. I succeeded, and I’ve moved on to do so much more than I originally planned. Huntsworth Industries has become one of the most respected corporations for blending technology with housing worldwide in addition to picking up the slack of feeding the planet’s hungry. No child will eat mud if I have the means to help them.
“Intellectual property is usually harder to fight for, Beck, but we have the screen shots your IT security team provided of the employee copying files.” My attorney wants me to utterly destroy the former employee, but I am having a hard time bringing myself to that level of ruthless CEO behavior. “I’m glad you pushed them to have those safety nets set up on all computers.”
I don’t care if my employees spend a little of their time playing games or chatting during the work day as long as it doesn’t bring down their performance rating or quota. Downloading schematics of upcoming tech releases is another story… “Bob, I want to set an example of him so that we don’t have anyone else try it, but I don’t want him behind bars for a decade either. Any money from a settlement, however, I want diverted to a scholarship fund or some other charitable contribution. I don’t want any fines he is charged to affect our actual income. I won’t profit off someone being an asshole.”
My attorney agrees and runs through a few more issues he wants hammered out before I can end the call. I try to hold still, to stop my pacing, but whenever my frenetic movement is contained, the hunger for Lia begins to gnaw at my gut. It aches in a way I cannot remember feeling for anyone, not even for Carrie. We were married right out of high school, and she was my rock all through college and working my way up from crap jobs that taught me to be considerate to all my employees, not just the ones whose names are emblazoned on doors or desk plates.
When I walked in on my wife with another man, it had shattered me. It’s been nine years, and I still find it difficult to trust a woman with my heart. I gave Carrie the world, and she took me for seven million dollars, my favorite car, our penthouse downtown, and access to my private jet whenever she wanted it for the first year following our divorce. At least she gave up all custody rights to Tasha. I’m not sure what I would have done if she had tried to take our daughter.