CHAPTER 1

Aro bellowed from his office, his voice carrying clearly down the hall in both directions.

"Damn it, Bella, would you get in here right now and fix this bloody report?"

Ugh. Not again. In spite of his level of education and comfort with all things mechanical, the man simply could not use a fucking mouse to save his life.

Nor could the man remember that Bella was something more than an IT technician or a secretary or a babysitter or a personal ass-wiper.

Bella finished keying in a few more strokes on her spreadsheet and shouted out of her office down the hall.

"I'll be there in just a damned second, don't touch anything!"

If Aro was going to be an expensively groomed ass and yell at her like a flunky, she wasn't going to play nice. She was going to yell back and make sure everybody else in the business knew exactly what kind of ass he was.

She trotted down the hall briskly and whisked into Aro's office; she could picture him at his highly polished solid walnut wood desk, wearing a crisply starched white cotton shirt and silk tie with navy blue suit pants, his dark hair combed back, leaning over his keyboard while inflicting damage unabated.

Sure enough, her mental image was accurate. Aro was still clicking away on the mouse – clickety-clickety-clickety-click – as if trying to beat what he wanted out of the little peripheral with his beefy-but-soft hand.

"Stop! STOP! How many bleeping times do I have to spell this out to you, Aro? Click just twice in rapid succession to launch the application and input the data selected – and then fucking stop already!"

"What a piece of shit this system is!" he shouted back, scowling. "And you - you should fix this so it doesn't do this to me!"

Bella could hear muffled laughter from down the hall, along with a few muffled chortles and guffaws. How was it that she ended up with this jackass for a boss? How was it she ended up at a Fortune 100 company working for this Armani-suited attorney with an Ivy League education who was an officer of the corporation, only to get treated little better than the barista at the Starbucks around the corner?

And to think she'd asked for this, too. Begged her last boss to let her leave her post with his glowing recommendation in hand, telling him she really wanted to explore corporate law and finance and leave marketing behind.

She gave herself a mental bitch slap and gritted her teeth as she counted to ten slowly. She inhaled deeply, held her breath, and then slowly released it until the urge to throttle Aro with his own silk tie had passed.

"Aro."

"What?" he barked at her. "Aren't you going to fix this? I have work to do!"

"Aro. I need you to back the fuck away from the computer. In fact, it's mid-afternoon; you should go and stretch and get some coffee. You'll feel more productive shortly."

She'd managed to keep her voice level and restrained to a modulus just a bit louder than a whisper. She knew that Aro probably suffered from undiagnosed attention deficit disorder and had likely reached his limit of concentration without a fresh dose of caffeine and sugar to adjust his mood.

It never failed; every day about three p.m., Aro would get twitchy or pissy or just plain mean and stupid. And she'd catch the brunt of it, having to pick up after his temper tantrums.

After the first month on the job, though, she figured it out. She tested her theory by dropping in about 2:45 p.m. with a fresh cup of coffee and a cookie or muffin one day, and comparing his behavior to the days when she didn't offer caffeine or sugar. Bingo – she was able to reduce the amount of disruption to the financial analysis projects she worked on to a minimum if she gave the stupid wretch a mid-afternoon snack.

How ridiculously pathetic this was. To think that across the country there were more men in positions of power, wearing bespoke suits while parked on their asses in corner offices, treating the help like crap and driving the economy crazy all for the lack of self-awareness.

After working for Volturi Holdings Inc., Bella suspected much of history was shaped in this manner, with wars fought by arrogant men who'd simply needed a dose of caffeine and sugar.

"All right, I'll go down to Starbucks and get a venti. I'll be back shortly and this better be fixed by the time I return," Aro huffed, giving her the elevator look once up and down out of the corner of his eye before turning on his well-shined heels to storm out of his office.

Yeah, I saw that move, you sexist pig, she thought to herself; thanks for the crappy icing on this shit cake. Bella could hear his attitude change before he reached the end of the hallway; his footsteps were initially hard and pounding on the marble flooring as he left. By the time he reached the end of the hall at the exterior exit door, it almost sound like he'd begun to skip lightly.

So goddamned predictable, he was; it was like dealing with a five-year-old.

And now she had to try and resolve whatever tailspin he'd forced the financial reporting system into with his repeated mouse bashing.

Fuck. It looked like he'd re-entered millions of dollars of contracts again and again, each repetition likely corresponding to a click of Aro's trigger-happy mouse finger.

Worse yet, he'd been doing it for some time before he'd bellowed at Bella for help. There were hundreds of millions of duplicates now in the system, and she was going to have to beg the IT folks to back them off and restore the financial report system to a point before Aro's damage had begun, or risk having to deal with auditors at some point down the road were she to use a massive credit to offset Aro's ADD-enhanced entries.

Thank the stars above that Aro didn't have access to the actual accounting system, only a report-producing system, or he'd surely have the Securities and Exchange Commission and the IRS beating on the double doors in a heart beat.

Bella tried to back out the oldest duplicate entries first; they wouldn't budge. She kept trying each entry, with most of the recent entries readily deleting and the oldest remaining firmly entrenched.

Nuts. This really did mean she would have to make a call to the IT department and ask for assistance from one of the application support analysts. None of her usual tricks had any effect on entries created by Aro's stupidity.

"Application Support; how can I help you?" A smooth and appealing male voice responded after Bella dialed for help.

"This is Bella Swan in Financial Products Group. One of our management team had a problem earlier today with a financial report application used to model products. Can you help with this?"

"I can take a look at it; can you give me the userid of the manager in question so I can look up their report files and any open sessions in the application?"

"098765, Aro Marmotta."

"One moment, please, while I pull up his files and sessions."

"Take your time." Bella wondered what it looked like on the backend of the application system; it looked completely fucked up from her point of view on the user's side.

The analyst whistled into the phone. "Yeah, 'had a problem' is a nice way of saying the manager in question is an ID10T," he said.*

"Oh, yeah, thanks for the candid geek speak – the man is definitely an idiot." Bella laughed; if only this analyst knew the rest of the story.

"I think I can reset his files and sessions back to the point before he started abusing this application, Miss Swan. One moment, please." Bella could hear the analyst clattering away on his keyboard; the lack of hesitation was a good sign, she thought.

"There, all set, I think all the crap has been purged. The ID10T's report files are now restored to the point before he launched his reporting session today. Just end the session you see on his screen and then open a new session; all the bad data will be gone."

She did as he directed, confirming that the duplicate data induced by Aro's excess mousing had indeed disappeared.

"Thank you so very much; I know this is not a typical support call, but you know how these senior executives are when they get too close to applications." She wondered if he could hear her breathe a sigh of relief.

"Thankfully senior executives are few in number. If your ID10T has this problem again, don't hesitate to call and ask for Edward at this extension. I don't always answer, but whoever does will transfer the call to me."

"Thanks so much again, Edward. I'll keep that in mind; I hope this particular manager can be persuaded to stay away from the reporting system even if I have to do more work myself. 'Bye now."

Bella made a mental note to send an email to the head of the department to offer her compliments on Edward's prompt efficiency; he was so calm and effective in his handling of this mess, too, which put her at ease. She was half tempted to call Edward back and ask if there was any way to restrict Aro's access to the system, but with Aro's seniority that would be a nearly impossible option.

She had no sooner settled back into her office to finish the financial projects analysis she had been working on when Aro bounded into her office like a happy Chesapeake Retriever.

"I see you got my report cleaned up, Bella, thanks."

"You're welcome, Aro," she said grudgingly. She had to give it to him; unlike other members of the management team, Aro would at least acknowledge the efforts of the help who had to clean up behind him. She hoped he'd take the hint and leave her office as she kept her eyes on her computer screen and continued to punch in data.

"By the way, Bella, I might have found a way to solve my financial report problem; you won't have to mess with that application after all. Look, I have a new nifty application to do that same reporting on my BlackBerry now."

Aro held the device down where Bella could see the screen; he continued to click on the tiny trackball on the device as he waited for her to look at the display.

Bella glanced over, and then grabbed the edge of the desk, gripping it tightly. She clenched her jaw and gritted her teeth while digging the heels of her pumps into the floor; her eyes close tightly as she began to count to ten slowly.

Aro had just re-entered all the duplicate data into the system that the application support analyst had removed – this time from his BlackBerry, with which he so often made "pocket calls" through butt dialing from places as diverse as a deer blind in the woods during hunting season to international hotel lobby bathrooms.

Fuck my life, though Bella; what else could this over-educated pampered jackass possibly do next to fuck her life?

~ o ~ O ~ o ~ O ~ o ~ O ~ o ~

* ID10T (eye-dee-ten-tee) – derogatory slang used by IT community to refer to an "idiot" user who may have inflicted their own problems.

Author's Note: This is my first multi-chapter work of fan fiction, which I am composing literally on the fly. I can't tell you right now how long this fanfic will be, nor can I tell you how often I will add chapters. I tend to write as the muse moves me, and the bloody muse doesn't like to be pushed, bitch that she is.

Balance of this author's note may be found at .

Disclaimer:This disclaimer applies to this and all subsequent chapters of this particular work. All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. Copyright 2011- Do not copy for translation or republication without express permission of author except for consumption as a downloaded mobile product on a mobile device.