I hear a dampened speaking voice behind the door pause, and the room became eerily silent. I gave it a few seconds, waiting to see if anyone would spare me the trouble and simply pop open the door for me. Naturally, that didn’t happen, and I was aware that they were a second or two away from resuming...
The silence hung for a moment, but then there was the sound of a separate female voice – an aggravated trill that I could barely hear. No chairs shuffled or footsteps approached, so I straightened my shoulders, lifted my chin, and twisted the doorknob.
If you’ve ever seen a conference room in some Wall Street film or television drama, you’ve got the right starting point. The board table was a large, finely polished, wooden surface of chestnut cherry, situated atop three cubed pedestal bases. This gave the table the illusion of floating in mid-air between the twelve confused men and women – facing me from their chairs in various states of annoyance. The room itself featured tasteful light mocha walls and strong, mahogany bookcases, all lined with ledgers and binders. The exception was that every top shelf of every bookcase was empty, save for numerous awards, framed certificates, and trophies that the company had won over the last eight years. The far wall was an expensive solid sheet of glass, offering an unremarkable view of the buildings across the street – unless you were the founder, seated at the end, who could glance down the curved street towards the beautiful, sprawling park in the distance.
Speaking of the founder, Cole Andrews was the only person at the table without some variation of an angry grimace or confused stare plastered across his face. Relaxing comfortably in his executive chair, he merely tilted his face in my direction, his stony stare lazily falling upon me.
My breath caught in my throat for a moment – startlingly handsome, relatively young Cole Andrews had never really paid me any notice. Whenever I’d see him, he was moving through the office with singular purpose. Now he was staring right at me with his characteristically cool glance, and all I could do was marvel at his beautiful eyes.
God, he’s fucking sexy.
His professional detachment was legendary in these offices. Privately, a number of the marketing people referred to him as Cold King Cole, regardless of a complete lack of relation to the old British nursery rhyme. For one, Cole Andrews wasn’t British. Additionally, he was the furthest thing from a merry old soul that I could imagine – his expression was locked into perpetual stoicism, and his posture was downright statuesque. Don’t even get me started on the rest of it…I think he’d burst into indomitable fury if a gaggle of fiddlers burst into his office.
Brushing my flushed thoughts aside, I walked over to Coppersmith, handing him the binder. My confidence was briefly rattled when I realized that he was sitting just two chairs down from Mr. Andrews, separated only by the executive assistant – a chirpy, young woman with thick curls and glistening eyes.
“Pardon the intrusion, sir, but I’m afraid there’s a mistake with your figures. These are the corrected numbers.”
Coppersmith had apparently been promoted, not long after he interviewed me. This meant that he was the most junior corporate leader at the table, and would have to show the others how capable he really was. By extension of his stuffy, self-serving personality, he would clearly choose to preen his reputation for accepting zero bullshit.
Lashing out was the inevitable conclusion. His withering glance drooped to the binder I held out, then to the one already open in front of him.
“Impossible. Larry Higgins already gave me this one personally. Take that and get out.”
Repressing the urge to smack him upside the head with the delivery in my hand, I converted my irritation into a winning smile. “Understood, sir. However, Larry was working so hard last night that I offered to compile the numbers for him. With my history for perfectionism, he trusted me. I’m afraid that the mistake is mine. Here are the corrected figures.”
Coppersmith glowered at me, contemplating my words. Finally, he begrudgingly took it from my hand. “I am going to have a word with Larry.”