Emma had two methods of unpacking frustration. One she couldn’t do without her boyfriend and some privacy, so that was out. The other involved putting together an inventory of exactly what fires needed to extinguished, by order of urgency.
She had less than two hours to finish her daily tasks before the big meeting. Obviously the lack of a desk hindered her ability to do this. She didn’t need a desk to photocopy and file, but that still left her in a lurch when it came to the spreadsheets. What she needed was an alternate workspace, which would take time that she couldn’t afford to waste sitting on her ass. However, if she spoke to someone about her desk before she needed it, there was a chance this would be straightened out when she got back from her other duties.
That sorted, she relaxed and sipped her coffee, awaiting the conclusion of her morning routine, coming up–the clock read nine twelve–sometime in the next eight minutes. Six minutes later, in strolled a dark-skinned Michelangelo sculpture, his torso buttoned tightly into stiff cotton, his sparkling, heavy-lidded eyes gazing into hers.
“Emma,” he purred.
“Dude,” she replied.
The Adonis turned his attention to a small mirror on the wall and began flicking the sides of his temples to make sure none of his hairs strayed from their assigned positions. “Mike,” he said while he did this.
“What are you up to?”
“You know,” Mike replied, “the usual.”
“Cool, cool.” Daryl returned to his smoldering flirtation. “How about you, Emma? Boyfriend treating you right? Do I need to have a talk with him?”
“Not yet,” she said.
“Cool, cool.” While he examined his hair again to make sure that none of it had developed any rebellious ideas in the past few moments, he told her, “You know, your desk is missing.”
“Yeah,” she replied. Dammit. She lived next door to a guy who would have responded instantaneously with a quip so sharp that it would have exposed the stupidity of Daryl’s question, yet so smooth that its humor would have soothed any injury–something like, “That’s why my legs are cold.” Or, “It didn’t even leave a note.” Ooh, that one was good. Too bad their freshness had expired. Dammit.
“You think it might be the same person who stole Esther’s tape dispenser?” he asked.
“No,” she said, because that was a stupid assumption.
“They did both go missing at the same time,” he insisted.
“I’ll have to look into that,” she conceded.
“Who would steal a tape dispenser?” He shook his head. “It had her name on it and everything.” He concluded, “Anyway, take it easy, Mike.” And finally, with one more lingering glance in her direction, he grinned, the warmth of his teeth melting away the absurdity of the morning.
For this particular ritual to be complete, three more things needed to happen. First, she needed to fight the urge to gape at his ass caressing his slacks as he swaggered out. Second, she needed to lose that fight, because, if he was going through the effort of putting on a show like that, it would be impolite not to enjoy it. Finally, Mike needed to say, “What’s that guy’s job anyway?” And thus could the day officially begin.
She shrugged off her purse and cardigan, dropped the homeless folders into her in-box, and stood. “I need to fix this.”
“Whatever,” Mike said and resumed his game.
When Senior Vice President Steve Harmon heard the gentle rap of Emma’s knuckles against his cubicle wall a few moments later, he took a break from squinting at his monitors through his bifocals to greet her with a smile.
“Emma!” he said. “I’m glad you’re here! Did you know that someone stole Esther’s tape dispenser?”
Her neighbor would have something for that too. All she had was “Yeah.” Dammit!
“It had her name on it and everything!” he added.
He sighed and shook his head. “Who would do that?”
“I…” she sighed. “I have no idea.”
“So what can I do for you today?”
She opened her mouth to tell him, but decided there was no need to deprive him of the experience. “It’s better if I just showed you.”
He frowned and followed her to her fragrant office. It took a moment, but he did eventually ask, “Where the fuck is your desk?”
“It’s gone, Steve,” Mike replied.
“How on earth did you do the spreadsheets this morning?” Steve asked.
“That’s the other problem.”
It took another moment for him to get it. “Oh,” he said. “This is really bad then.” He massaged his eyes before studying his watch. “I can’t cancel the meeting.”
“I know. I’m really sorry.”
“We need to find you a desk, fast.”
He said, “Why don’t you talk to Amanda Brotz and see if she can help.”
“Is there anywhere else I can go?” she replied before he even finished saying the word help.
Steve blinked. “Is there a problem with Amanda?”
Aside from the fact that she scared the shit out of Emma? “She’s the executive vice president. Shouldn’t I talk maybe to somebody in HR first?”
“Trust me,” he said, “she’ll take care of this faster than HR.”
“Maybe it will go faster if you talk to her,” Emma pleaded.
“It doesn’t matter who talks to her.”
“She has to have more important things to do than look for a temp’s desk.”
“She doesn’t bite, Emma.” Steve laughed.
“The meeting’s in one hour, thirty-five minutes, and Amanda wants the spreadsheets in an hour and twenty for review,” he told her. “You should probably get over there.”
After her supervisor left, Emma gulped. “Fuck me.”
Mike cleared his throat. When she turned around, he shook a jar labeled “Swears.”
“Where the fuck did you get that?” she asked.
“Pay up twice now.”
“Put it on my tab,” she growled before heading off to her doom. Her neighbor would be proud.