I have been working just an hour or so in the morning and a short message pings at the bottom of my monitor.
‘Emergency meeting in 2!’
It’s Patricia. Uh oh!
I promptly lock my laptop and slip on my sandals. Grabbing my bag, I walk towards the end of the glass-enclosed area divided in cubicles where all the software teams sit. I reach the glass door and step into the corridor with the meeting rooms. Passing them all without a glance, I reach the women’s restroom and push open the door.
Diantha is sitting on the vanity, on a few spread-out paper towels, ostensibly lost in her phone. I place my bag beside her and fish out my comb. Just as I am starting to brush my hair, Patricia rushes in, all flustered and breathless.
“Guess what girls…” she slaps her own purse on the vanity and brings out her lip gloss tube.
“What?” Diantha and I both simultaneously respond.
“I heard from Rachel, the one in HR. We’ve been bought!”
“WHAT?!” this time it’s just me.
“Yeah! Merlotte has sold his precious start up to some big corporation that they are keeping a secret till the public announcement. Sons of bitches are announcing it at the annual company party this Friday. Rachel knew because they are doing some major staff reshuffling.”
“Shit! Shit shit shit!” This is really bad news.
“What about our jobs Pat?”
“I don’t know.” she looks really worried. With good reason too. Pat just bought her first house in Palo Alto with a big bank loan. She cannot afford to loose her job right now. “Rachel didn’t tell anything else.”
“Isn’t this really sudden guys? I mean we didn’t even suspect anything like this was happening! Fuck! I really liked this job.” Diantha pipes in.
This one is Diantha’s twelfth job in the five years since she completed her degree in computer sciences, and the one that had lasted the longest. Not that she was an under performer. In fact she keeps getting the next job because she is brilliant at what she does. But lets just say, her non-conforming attitude on everything is the real demon here. She has her own flexi timings and is never less than two hours late. Thank god we have the option of working in our own comfy timings here. She doesn’t like to be disturbed with stupid stuff like daily project status meetings with the bosses while she is working on a problem. She doesn’t suffer fools and is very voluble in the feed back department. It is a miracle she’s lasted for six months with us. In this project, she is sort of my manager. But we are friendly enough.
She and Patricia are peers, Diantha the database administrator and Patricia the User Interface expert. Though they are my seniors by a couple of years, I enjoy their company and have learnt a lot from these two women. For some reason, since we were all put into this project, we started hanging out together and have watched each other’s backs to some extent since then. Both of them sometimes bitch about the other with me, but that’s usually on the timing of each other’s leaves of absence around holiday seasons or client appreciation emails. It’s nothing personal. They are more of the competitors here. I am just the junior person who does not look dangerous for them career wise. As far as corporate friendships go, we have a good thing going.
The girl’s restroom is our emergency meeting room. Right now, we three are standing next to the three washbasins and touching up our make up, while bitching and gossiping with our reflections in the mirrors. That’s our normal routine. Today the bitching is more bitter than normal though. We have all worked our asses off for this project and all we ever looked forward to was good bonuses and maybe I could have been promoted to team lead based on my stellar performance. I was already doing the job of the lead. But now, we would be lucky if we get to keep our jobs. This is always the risk with startups. They start well, make profit, share profit and then if the profit is good enough, they get bought by some bigger fish. The owner makes his money and moves to the next venture. Good for the fish but bad for us. We don’t know whether the new management will keep us or put their own people in the core technical teams.
We heard about buy out on Monday and the news seemed to spread throughout the week, amongst more and more people. You knew something was up because people were seen with word documents of resume formats open on their computers and quite a few people spending lots of time talking furtively on phones for long durations, presumably on interviews or with job consultants.
In between updating and putting my resume on all the job sites I knew about, brushing up on every technical skill I had and reading about the latest advances going on with the tech, the week flew by. Now here we are standing in a semi circle around a nervous Sam Merlotte, the company President, on the mic, in the middle of the dance floor, making his speech on the open secret of our buy out. He reassures us about our job security, but makes no promises on our yearly appraisals and bonuses.
That just sucks!
I feel like pouring the wine in the glass in my hand on his red hair and tell him to go fuck himself. I was really looking forward to my bonus after all the extra work I did this year. In fact, I single handedly, did the work of three software engineers, and got it all done within our tight deadlines. Based on my performance, Diantha had already recommended me for a promotion for the next appraisal cycle. Now Sam Merlotte says that I should be thankful to get to keep my job and not expect anything else. All of my hardwork and extra nights at office, just flushed down the toilet for profits only Mr Merlotte and the new management will reap.
Like I said, it fucking sucks!
I am still in the middle of the rant inside my head when there is a tug at my arm. It is then that I realize that the speech is over and people are back to nursing their drinks.
I turn to look who is poking me and sigh. In frustration.
After that phone call with Pam, a few days back, I finally took things by the horns and explained it to him how we weren’t going anywhere and needed to split. Bill looked clueless and shocked. He had no idea I was thinking on these lines. The conversation wasn’t pretty but in the end he ‘acquiesced to give the break a try’. His words not mine!
I asked, nicely, for him to move out of my home as soon as he could. He said he needed at least a week to find other accommodation. I caved in for old times sake, but, put my foot down on any other compromise. He has been staying in the guest bedroom since then.
“Have you heard anything I said?”
Forgive me Mr. Clueless but I was thinking about my career here. “Umm hi. Sorry what did you say?”
He purses his lips and narrows his eyes. “Sometimes Sookie, I suspect you never loved me as much as you said you did.”
What the fuck??
I roll my eyes, “We all heard some pretty disturbing news just now, Bill. Give me a fucking break here! And are you really bringing up this shit here? Right now?”
He smirks, that patronizing hateful smirk of his, “Disturbing news you already knew, sweetpie. And this quote unquote shit that you are calling has been your whole life for the past one year. We are just trying the break here Sook. Trying being the operative word. You are still my girl.”
Ugghhh…Apparently this dude never got the memo!
I really don’t feel like getting dragged into this shit right now. I muster my fakest sweet smile for him, “Would you get to what you were saying earlier or are we having my quarterly listening skills review here?”
He grabs my elbow and starts pulling me to a corner, “I said that my mom is here. We should go out to the parking and get her in. Do you need to go to the ladies room to touch up your makeup?” he turns to me and eyes me from top to bottom, grimacing a little at my short strapless fitting sequined dress. “Why do you wear such flashy dresses? When are you going to outgrow the university Sookie? Grab your jacket from your car before meeting mom and wear it to hide some of your ample..uhh…breasts.”
I plant my heels and pull my arm away, “Bill! What the fuck!” I whisper yell, “Why should I meet your mom and why is she coming to our company party anyways? And who the fuck asked you for fashion advice? I can wear whatever the hell I want or not want to wear! Get off the high horse here!”
Too bad I finished my wine otherwise Bill’s head was a perfect alternative of Merlotte’s head, for dumping the red liquid. I could get some more though! That’s when I really think about what he is really saying.
Son of a fucking bitch!
Is he really that desperate to get me to meet his folks to call them to our company party? After our breakup?
He has been trying to get me to meet them since some time and because I was totally not ready for that kind of commitment, with Bill Compton, I had been turning him down with a number of excuses. We have broken up for Christ sake! How much clearer do I have to be?
He went too far with his delusion this time. The sneaky bastard invited his mom here of all places to get me to meet her. That’s too fucking desperate! Even for Bill!
I am quite sure my ears are spouting steam right now.
“Bill please get out of my sight right now!”
He shifts on his feet and his eyes twitch before he spits out snarkily, “Are you done over reacting? Honestly Sookie! Are you that desperate to meet my parents like that? My mom was in town and wanted to meet my friends and work associates. So I invited her here as my plus one. I am sure I told you before about this.”
I am quite sure he didn’t tell me about this before. I am sure he planned to pressure me into meeting his family and a reconciliation.
Ok then! If we aren’t playing fair… I am more than up for the fucked up games he is playing!
I fold my arms in front of me and take a step back. “Alright Bill. You go right ahead and receive your mom and plus one when she comes. Meanwhile, I’ll go mingle with my friends and work associates.” I say with as much calm as I can muster.
He looks stumped. Good!
“But will you not accompany me to go meet her? Don’t you want to meet the important people in my life?”
Although I am projecting a calm exterior, inside, I am seething. It is one thing to pull political shit to climb the corporate ladder. But if he thinks he can manipulate me like that and get away with it, he has another thing coming.
“You know what Bill? You are fucking pathetic at manipulations!” And I turn on my heel to storm back, away from him. Who the hell does he think he is! I am going to throw his stuff out of my home tonight! He can go slum it out to hell for all I care! He had the gall to comment on my boobs and my dress and thinks he is too smart for me?!
I stomp back to the party on my five inch stilettoes, too far gone into my inner angry monologue, that I barely notice walking straight into something hard and smooth. The sudden impact gets me off my balance and I clutch at the lapels of the suit jacket in front of me. Black formal suit jacket. Pristine white cotton shirt. Steel grey silk tie.
A scent hits my senses…Mmmm…I know this scent! But from where?
I look up.
And up… and up into the beautiful blue eyes of…holy mother of God!
Sookie’s Work outfit –
Sookie’s Party outfit –