Chapter 1 – Business boss
She grabbed my hand firmly, gave it a quick shake and met my eye. "Edward, I am Isabella Swan. Grateful that you could stand in for your sister. I hope she'll recover quickly. Listen, I am late for a meeting, but I have asked Mrs. Cope to let you know what type of assistance that I will be requiring today and help you get settled in. See you at 11.30 for a board meeting". Ms Swan let her tirade flow like a minor Niagara Fall without giving me any room to respond. And then she was off. My gaze followed her down the hallway.
Alice sure had been right. Both her personality and dress positively screamed business woman. When my sister had found out from the payroll lady that her new boss was only 25, she hadn't been able to quite buy it. "Not that she looks old, she is attractive in a strict sort of way" shed let me know, "but she just seems to have that natural authority about her". I am not sure I would agree with attractive, after all, my new boss actually had a pretty masculine costume on, that did not do much for her body. Damn it, the lady even wore a tie to work!
I had now spent three weeks at a downtown communication agency acting as Ms Swan's most temporary PA. She had been brought in to sort out the agency's down-spiraling financial state and I sure had seen some major displays of her business authority. Some staff members seemed scared shitless of her and her reorganizations, but the majority appeared to appreciate her efforts of getting the agency on its feet after a miserable, close-to-bankruptcy year.
The PA role didn't exactly come naturally to me, my typing being too slow and my problem to juggle several assignments simultaneously apparent (I was a guy after all!). But I was certainly trying my darn best for my poor sister's sake and also, I couldn't screw up. I desperately needed the money. Finishing off med school wasn't going to be cheap and I really wanted to keep the luxury of owning my own sailing boat. Dad's old wooden boat, Esme (named after mom of course), which was now mine, had been rented out for two whole years, but after my return to NY, I had once again begun to enjoy spending weekend time off the coast of Long Island.
I am sure that Ms Swan thought the better of Alice's service, but she had at least been grateful to find someone to quickly take on the job during my sister's recovery. That nasty appendicitis infection had messed her up pretty good. I was ready to sue the useless twat who had performed the surgery, but I suppose it wasn't really up to me.
After a few weeks, Alice was finally back to her old, healthy self. It was with mixed feelings that I was soon getting ready to leave. To my big surprise, I had come to appreciate the presence of my most temporary boss. During the first week, she had been quite reserved, keeping her distance, not speaking to me more than necessary to hand me my assignments. I hadn't really expected her too, either. But after I had been useful to an unexpected degree the other week, her frostiness had thawed.
She and the head of strategy, an old college acquaintance of hers, along with the creative team, had been working night, busy with a workshop for one of the new business pitches the agency was trying to win. Funnily, the account they were going for was a yacht company, and when helping out with some power point issues, I had realized that these people were knee-deep in troubled water when it came to their analysis of the yacht market. I had actually told them so.
Jasper, the strategist, had been annoyed at first, but Ms Swan had valued my opinion as I both got their analysis straight and helped out with some pretty engaging ideas as to their communication approach.
The team had had a few beers to get the creativity flowing and the spirit towards the end of the night had been high. Ms Swan hadn't been quite herself, even after just a minor intake of alcohol. She had smiled at her crew, apparently pleased with us all, and for the first time, I had been able to tell that she had a sense of humor. She had been teasing ultra-gay Jasper that with his poor sailing insights, he would never live up the sailor boy of YMCA. He had taken it well, throwing back at her that since Isabella practically lived at the office and had no hobbies whatsoever, she couldn't even spell leisure, let alone sailing.
To my astonishment, I had dawned on me that she was extraordinarily beautiful when she laughed, throwing her head back, neck elongated and brown curls cascading down her back. "Why hadn't you noticed before, Edward?". Her eyes (what were they? Mocha?) had glittered that night, but the following night, they had been quite different. Leaving the office after having worked late again, I had bumped into her as she was leaving the ladies room. She had tried to quickly look down, after greeting me briefly, but I had still noticed her puffy eyes and red cheeks. Mrs. Cope had told me later that Ms Swan had had to fire an elderly lady whose services were no longer wanted, and I concluded that this must have been the reason behind the tears. Maybe she wasn't made of steel, after all?
The day after, I had been hidden by the door to her office, sorting files in the cabinet behind it, as she had come rushing in, slamming the thing shut. She had kicked the leg of her mahogany desk and cussed like a gypsy, letting the poor desk know how much she hated her job sometimes. When she had gotten tired of swearing, kicking and running her hands through her hair, she had gone to the window overlooking Central Park and then sunk down into her work chair, all of a sudden acknowledging my presence.
"God Edward, I didn't want you to witness that", she had said, exasperated and ever so embarrassed. " I just had a negative response from the Chairman regarding the acquisition deal we were discussing the other day. It sucks big time, because I really believe in the idea, but I will just have to go at it again, refining my strategy". She had certainly never spoken to me this frankly before and she had bitten her lip after realizing that she had been rambling. " I understand, Ms Swan", I had spurted out, without being able to leave at once. I was far from a nervous person, but I had been admiring the way she looked, all awkward, her hair ruffled and her teeth digging into her poor bottom lip. She had been truly hot, all pissed-off and emotional . Letting her façade go, she was really human and it stirred something in me. Later that day, she had let me work beside her on the new deal, and I had once again managed to make myself useful, enjoying her company, her energy and determination.
A few days after, I had been the one letting out more than one nasty swearword in the copying room, realizing that I had printed the new biz proposal on both sides of the paper rather than one. Thank goodness my remaining days as a PA were counted, I'd thought, giving the nasty machine another blow and running my hands through my messy hair. The next second, I'd found Ms Boss leaning on the door post, staring at me with a big, warm smile.
"You know your paper wasting won't actually help this company's less than positive finances, Edward? I might just have to deduct the cost from your pay check. It's not doing much for living up to our environment policy either", she had stated, grabbing my arm to show that she was just giving me a hard time. Her simple touch had left a burn on my skin and a yearning for more.
"Lucky you that I am leaving tomorrow then", I had laughed into her mild eyes, surprised at my feelings. "If this had happened in Mad Men, Joan would have sacked my ass weeks ago", I confessed.
"I am not sure Don Draper would have hired your pant-clad ass in the first place", she laughed, beautiful eyes all vivid. "Are you really leaving so soon?".
"Yeah, Alice is back on track, you know. You won't have to endure my dreadful copying skills much longer".
She had just been about to reply, when Jasper called her into his office and she had disappeared, leaving me by the stinking copier, missing her cute banter.