The next morning, I awoke with a small headache. It seemed years ago since I’d had my last hangover. I run my fingers through my hair and take a deep breath in, luckily, I took paracetamol before heading to bed as I could only imagine how worse the throbbing in my head if I hadn’t done so. I slowly get up recalling the events of the night before in my mind. The enchanted ebony that I’d had the pleasure of speaking with. I try to recall the last time my body felt so energised and smile remembering her in my arms. Just the thought of having her all night, rolling around in my sheets awakens my entire being. I try to convince myself that leaving her was the right thing to do – but struggle to find the sense behind my actions.
I get up feeling tense. The gym would be sure to help loosen me with all this pent-up energy I had built within. I start my morning regime, stepping into the shower and allowing the water to pour over my body. It was my own choice to turn her away, I think. She would have been willing (probably just like every other female I was with). And maybe the fact that I know she would have freely given herself to me, is what keeps the blood rushing straight towards my shaft. Why was I overthinking about a woman that I barely knew? It wasn’t like me to pine over a woman. By the afternoon, I’d be over my brief encounter with this unknown woman and I’d be back to my usual self.
I sat leaned back in my office chair, an email opened, a response half written and all I can focus on is the number typed in my phone as ‘M’. As I rotate the phone in my hand, I let my mind wander over to the night before. The colleagues that were far too drunk, the way the women of J’J sat watching me, waiting for me to let loose. Who’d have thought it’d be a stranger that’d get me to enjoy myself? Throwing my phone behind me and onto my bed, I focus on answering some emails when my phone rings. Maybe she decided she was over waiting and thought to call me. I did save my number in her phone, right? I lift the phone to see Kurtis’ name flashing. Feeling surprisingly deflated, I answer.
“Kurtis, how’s it going?”
“Tanner – I feel like shit.”
Kurtis was my direct manager and the operational manager of J’J Business. He worked closely with the CEO of the company and was the reason I excelled faster than others, as it was him who I’d impressed so heavily. We’d managed to build a solid relationship together and have only gotten closer as colleagues and friends ever since.
I chuckle slightly, “Well you did knock back more than a few drinks yesterday.”
“I’m not even sure how much I drank and I woke up on my couch this morning! Honestly my head feels like it’s about to explode.” Kurtis moaned, groaning slightly as he inhaled deeply.
“Well, if you’re calling about the presentation and the brief – I’m typing them up as we speak. So, you can just recover today.”
“You’re a godsend! In fact, the reason why I called is because I’ll be off to Barcelona for a business summit next week, meaning I won’t be accessing my emails as frequently as I usually do. And seeing as I can completely trust you with my everything, I’ll be leaving you to oversee a few things I do. Give you the training to get you to that next step.”
“You know me Kurtis, I’m always ready for the next step.”
“That’s what I admire about you. Well you’ll be meeting with Jace Brennan on the 20th December.” I look at the calendar on my laptop – next week Monday. “He already knows you by name, but it’ll be good for you and him to meet face to face.”
Jace Brennan, the CEO of the entire company. This was definitely a big move for me, and I couldn’t mess this up as it could affect my entire career.
“Is it just an informal meeting?”
“Exactly that. Just a quick meeting, explaining what you’re currently working on and then lunch with him.”
As he runs through the meeting, I make a calendar entry on my phone as a reminder, ‘MEETING WITH JACE B’.
“I guess this is in the morning?”
“No, I think he’s got a family thing in the AM, so he’s asked for you to pop through around 1? Oh, and I didn’t mention the family thing.” I chuckle and make a mental note.
“Cool – I’ve got that all down.”
“Oh, and Tanna (!), I owe you.”
“You most definitely do!”
We both laugh and end the call. With M out of my mind (well not entirely), and Jace’s meeting taking the forefront of my thoughts, I complete my email and start working on the presentation and drafts for Kurtis.
Its hours after the call when I finally finish everything my phone begins to vibrate for another time today. I reach for it, lowering the volume of the television.
It was my older sister, we were five years apart, yet I felt I was ten years ahead of her. She was a ball of energy and followed her heart passionately. Which meant if her heart called her to a spontaneous visit in India, she’d go. The only downside was that she’d find her short of cash more often than so and would crash at my house until she was back on her feet.
“Emilia what’s up?”
“Nothing, I was hoping to ask you for a major favour?”
Everyone seemed to need something from me today. “Yes, you can crash here-”
“No that’s not it! It’s Christmas next weekend and I need you to make time to come through to dads.”
I rub my eyes and throw my head back. It’s not as though I don’t want to go my father’s for Christmas, it’s just we end up sharing memories of our mother and before you know it Emilia’s in tears and my father is on the verge of breaking down. It’s happened every year since her death and I was hoping to bypass the mourning party and send my wishes from a far.
“Em, we all know how it gets when we gather at dad’s for Christmas.”
“Oh, have a heart for crying out loud. It still hurts for some of us…”
Her voice trailed off making me feel guilty. It wasn’t as though I didn’t care or feel anything towards my mother’s passing. It was just… I wasn’t surrounded by tough people and who could I honestly rely on to share my grief without them unloading onto me? Losing my mother was the hardest thing I’d ever experienced. It broke me more than I let on and maybe that’s what made me stick to myself… I sigh feeling a wave of uninvited emotions rise to the surface.
“I know Em…”
“I’m sorry Tan, I shouldn’t have made it seem as though-”
“It’s fine.” I say interrupting her. She remains quiet for a while and then continues with her speech.
“Well… if you could come over and spend Christmas with dad and I, that’d be really great.”
“I’ll be there.”
Instantly the mood feels lighter as I feel her smile through the phone.
“Yay! Right, I’ll be in touch with times and what not – see you soon. Love you.”
I cringe but can’t help but smile. Emilia had made sure her love was evident whenever she had the chance since our mother passed. She denies all the emotions as a direct effect from the death of our mother, but I know she wished she confessed her love to our mother more often and now she didn’t have the chance, she made sure she never wasted the opportunity to her living family members. I look at my phone for what seems like the hundredth time today and think about M. Maybe I should leave her be, it was a good night, but maybe that’s all it was.
All weekend I anticipate today’s meeting with Jace. Not as though I was worried, but it was a big career push if I impressed Jace himself. It was all good shining bright among other stars of the company, but if I shined big enough for the moon to notice me, who could tell what could happen?
I had put on the best navy suit I had in my wardrobe, selecting my cleanest brown brogues to accompany the look and a black trench coat. This wasn’t much of a different look to my everyday appearance. However, my step was with more reason that last week. I set my laptop on my desk and prepare for the working day, pushing my meeting with Jace to the back of my mind.
The time flies by quicker than I expect and I’m finding myself walking towards Jace’s office for our scheduled meeting. Kurtis had already called me twice with things he needed actioned before midday, so I didn’t have much time to fuss over the meeting, until now. I reach Jace’s office door and look at his name plaque on the door. The curtains to his office were drawn causing me to look at my watch to check on the time. 12:59 … I knocked on the door, despite the feeling that he didn’t want to be disturbed and waited.
Turning the doorknob slowly, I enter confidently. Opposite me sat Jace, face hidden behind his laptop. He didn’t bother looking up from his screen until he heard the door close. He assessed me briefly then gestured for me to sit in the vacant leather seat opposite from him. I took a seat, waiting for him to finish whatever had his attention and found myself looking around his office. His curtains were drawn creating a dark atmosphere in his office. His table was almost spotless, apart from the laptop, a few pens and notebooks that lay on the desk.
Behind him was a small family portrait of what it seemed to be like him, his wife and a daughter laughing at an exotic holiday. My eyes drift towards the cabinets lined against the wall, all sealed and locked for confidential reasons. His sigh brought my attention back towards him. He rolled his eyes and then closed the laptop, folding his arms on top of the machine. He beamed a smile at me and spoke.
“Sorry about that Tanna, women eh?” Taken back, I smile – women? “Right, Kurtis was keen we meet up, speaks very highly of you.”
“I do what I can to impress Mr –”
“Jace… Jace is fine.” He said smiling again. “So, here’s the deal, Kurtis is away this week at a summit and before I consider doing anything, regarding your position, I need to see how you work.”
I nod, going over his words in my head. Kurtis made it seem as though we were just having a brief informal conversation, but this seems to be a discussion about my career at J’J and potentially receiving a promotion. I suppress my shock and decide acting surprised would only raise doubt.
“Great! With that in mind, I’ve got a task for you. I know it’s nearly Christmas but the amount of internal matters we go through would shock you.”
He slides back in his chair towards a small draw near the family photo and retrieves a folder. He returns to his position opposite me and gives me the folder.
“This is an account that have major potential of growing but just aren’t… I need you to work on them. Three weeks sound about reasonable?”
I open the folder and scan through the details. ‘Nexus Elite’, a media company that had been partnered with J’J since 2014, little to no revenue spent with us, yet continuously offered the best status as they have the “potential to grow”. Key contact assigned to this account was a woman called, Wynter Blaire. I look back at Jace and smile.
“Should be no problem!”
“Hey,” Jace says through chuckles. “Don’t think your good looks will get you past Wynter, she’s a tough woman. Gone through… how many has it been?” He says looking towards the ceiling. “Four account managers.” We laugh together and he shakes his head in disbelief.
“Yeah, she’s a wolf. But I have faith you’ll sweeten her.”
I smile, reviewing the account when there’s a soft knock at the door. I lift my eyes to Jace who’s quickly checked his watch and then the door.
“Apologies Tanna, I think I know who this is. This’ll only be brief… Come in!”
I return my gaze to the documents within the folder, not trying to intrude on any personal or business affairs. Nexus was worth 3.5 million and was predicted to make another profit in the new financial year. It seems like Miss Blaire was one of the main reasons for the uplift in profit for this media company. A challenge set by Jace himself, I thought. I was prepared to show him what I was capable of.
“Sorry to interrupt dad.” Dad? I stare at the papers before me, my attention slightly shifting to the voice behind me. Why did the voice seem familiar to my ears?
“No worries Maxine. Seeing as you’re here, Tanna meet my daughter, Maxine. Maxine meet Tanna.”
As I stood to turn to greet Maxine, my mouth instantly felt dry. It was her. My ebony enchantress from Friday. I stand in shock for a few seconds and she does the same. She looks different from the club. Her tight curls were pulled back into a low bun, bringing out the features of her face. Her eyes were kinder than when I last looked at them. She’d switched her body-hugging black dress, for a black leather trouser and a white shirt. Her once red lips were now a soft peachy colour. Noticing our awkward stare, I stretch my hand out to her, not sure whether now was the time to bring up our encounter from Friday night.
© All Rights Reserved by Sarah E. Balogun