Two best friends experience different lives.
“According to research, I find that it is important to keep your employees happy,” Eric Davenport says smugly as he stares at me from across his lavish, yet bare, desk in his upper east side office. I try to appear respectful, believing even, but my disbelief continues to show through. This is the Eric Davenport that fires any employee he doesn’t ‘see’ as Davenport Industries material. In other words, everyone.
"Well, Mr. Davenport," I say, interrupting when he pauses to admire his reflection in the shiny desk. "My employer sent me here to discuss a merge with you and your company."
"Your father, you mean," he corrects snidely and I know exactly what I plan to report back. Merging with Davenport Industries would hurt us in more ways than one.
"If you will,"
"I will," Eric says as he pushes his thick black hair back with one hand, his green eyes sparking with a malice I don't understand. "Daddy didn't hand me life on a silver platter, sweetheart, and I don't appreciate your 'daddy' sending you here to do business with me. Tell him that I don't intend to talk shop until I speak to a real employee of his, not the fruit of his loins."
I smile at that and Eric seems flustered by my calm. "I assure you, Mr. Davenport, that you will definately regret the fact that your merge with us never took place. Good day."
I stand to my feet as he laughs. "Come on, now. You expect me to believe you have enough pull to quench this merger just because you're daddy's little girl?"
"No," I say as I reach the door. "I expect you to believe I have the ability to quench any merger because I am the advisor to the head of the corporation. Good day, Mr. Davenport and good luck."
I hear him dialing a phone number, no doubt my father's, as I shut the door behind me. It doesn't matter what Eric Davenport claims into my father's ear. If the meeting went well, I would have called from Davenport's office.
As I approach the limo waiting on the curb, I hear my cellphone ring. I shake my head at the driver as I open my own door and flip open the phone with the other hand.
"It didn't go well?" my father asks smoothly into my ear.
"He called me 'daddy's little girl'." I say with a wry smile as I shut the door and the driver pulls away from the curb, merging into traffic effortlessly.
"He called me other things. Come back to the office. We're having a meeting."
I smile at the three employees sitting in my small office. One of the good things about working for 'Dad' is that little anxious climbers befriend me no matter the cost to their pride.
Today, for example, all of my work has been completed and I haven't had to lift a finger. Now, we were discussing lunch and I had a hankering for three different things from three different places. Let them run for me.
"No, no," I say, when Mike suggests an Italian resturant on the corner, supposedly with 'to die for' lasagna. "Something else entirely."
The door bangs open and the others jump to their feet, longing to beat a hasty retreat. Unfortunately for them, my father stands in the doorway preventing any escape, hasty or otherwise.
"What is going on?" he asks, his tone calm.
"Lunch plans," I say, just as calm. He can't condemn me or anything. I have not missed a single, horrid day under his thumb and I have no desire to see my check sliced for attitude.
"We have a meeting with Marshall," he says and I remove my feet from the desk and glare at him. He stands to the side and allows my pathetic henchmen to leave the office unscathed.
"Because, my business venture is not working out. I'm transferring you."
She won't even look at me! I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Her last few messages, even after she 'lost' my number, have always ended with some sort of profession of hate.
Now, sitting beside my father, I hear him speak about trading employees, namely me and Rebecca. I will work for her father, she will work for mine.
I look at her father now and feel a slight tremor of fear. Rebecca had told me horrific tales of terror about her family and her childhood. Knowing her ability to exaggerate, I often ignored her, but now, sitting in silence and keeping an outward appearance of acceptance and calm, I wonder if they are true.
"So," Roger Blythe says with a smoothness that jolts me while it calms me. "This is only temporary."
My dad laughs. "Yes," he says. "Though I am certain that you will want my daughter to join you permanetly after you see how well she handles herself. I just can't merge with companies that look down on her and so, she must work for someone else."
"I can't say the same about Rebecca," Roger says darkly and she doesn't even flinch. She stares at the wall. How could my best friend and I have drifted so far apart in so short a time? Was it my fault?
"Anything you'd like to add?" my dad asks me. I bite my lip, pray a fast and silent prayer, then speak.
That's like asking a snake if it would like to strike. Of course Miss Perfect has something to add. Of course she'll say something sweet and intellegent, then it will be my turn and I won't say anything. This is so unfair!
"I look forward to working for you, Mr. Blythe," she says in that sweet, innocent voice she's perfected over the years.
"Roger, please," my father says and I roll my eyes.
"Yes, well, I hope that I will be useful and helpful to you and your company. And I hope that Rebecca gleans valuable information working for my father in return."
"Well said," my father comments and I feel all eyes on me. "Rebecca?"
"She already said what I was going to say," I lie as I continue to stare at the wall. Who picked such a horrendous color? I mean really?
"I welcome you to my company, Rebecca," Marshall Dean says warmly.
"Don't you mean my father's company? You don't own it completely. My father is a share holder, he-"
I can feel my father glaring and the heat of it on my face silences me. Who cares?
"Four thousand," he whispers and I don't react. He's lowering my wage for telling the truth! I turn my eyes to Jasmine, who is blushing and looking out the window behind us. How come she gets to face the window when I have to face the ugly green wall? Oh, how I hate her!
"I'm sorry about what Rebecca said in there," Roger states as his limo nears downtown. I hadn't realized the transfer would happen immediately following the meeting but it had. Rebecca seemed to not care one way or the other.
"She's just upset," I say, turning from the window to face him. He is my new boss, after all, and he deserves respect.
"She is immature," Roger growls as he runs his fingers through his hair. I can see his frustration. Immature? I guess she is at that but hasn't she always been that way? "She wants her own way no matter the cost. Well, I'm not paying the cost anymore."
I nod. What else can I do? Roger sits in silence for a moment then seems to recall I'm with him. He smiles at me. "I heard about Eric Davenport,"
"Oh..." I wonder if I should be embarrassed.
"Well done! I never really agreed with a merger with them."
I smile back. He approves! That shouldn't matter but it does. Oh, how it does.
"I heard that you are attending a church now," he says after a moment of silence.
"Yes," I say. "I am saved," Christianity is more than church attendance to the truly devoted saved. Religion is about attendance, salvation is about relationship with Jesus.
"I'm glad to hear it. One of my V.P.'s attends church. Brian Kessler."
"Brian?" I smile. He and Beth were the nicest people at the church, well according to the teens of the group they lead. Of course, Brian always smiles and says hello to me and Beth is one of the best friends I've had in my entire life.
"Yes," Roger says as we near his building. "You two will be working rather closely. I had intended for Rebecca to do what you were doing for Marshall but she didn't seem anxious to learn." his jaw tightens and I feel terribly sorry for him and Rebecca. "But, now, you will definately be a great attribute to my company."
"I'm very excited," I add.
"So am I," he says and we pull up to the curb. Brian steps out of the shadow of the doors and walks toward the limo. "And so is Brian."
I toss my purse on the counter and flop down on the couch. It's Friday. I should be out dancing and hooking up with some great looking guy but I'm too weary to even turn on the television. I officially hate my father.
How could he have placed me under the care of my enemy's father? It was insane. It was inhuman. It was...typical, I guess.
I look at my answering machine and scowl and the glaring red zero. No messages for me. Who cares?
My stomach rumbles and I close my eyes, leaning my head on the back of the couch. This can't go on. I can't go on. What did my parents truly think? Did they think I was some kind of working girl? I'm not! They need to realize that I'm a little 'princess' for lack of a better word, that needs to be pampered and spoiled and...whatever princesses get!
The phone trills loudly and I resist the urge to lunge for it, to answer on the first ring and show my desperation. By the third ring I decide that opening my eyes and answering the phone requires too much energy and thus I will let the machine answer it.
My stomach growls again and I lay my hands upon it. I'll starve to death, that's what I'll do, and then they'll regret making me work.
"Hi, you've reached Rebecca and I'm not here. I'm out living the good life, kicking up my heels and meeting terrific guys. So, leave a message..."
"Hey, Rebecca, is it? This is Edgar Notics from Marshall Dean's office. You left some of your paperwork incomplete and that's not how we operate here. Mr. Dean wanted me to call and let you know that you should come into the office this weekend and either complete it or take it home to work on it. We are closed on Monday, so Tuesday, he expects a full report on his desk first thing. Security can let you in. That's all and have a great weekend."
I'll tell Mr. Dean where he can put that report Tuesday morning...and it won't be a place he likes.
The silence is driving me batty! Honestly, I don't understand how anyone can read their Bible in absolute silence. I turn away from the small desk in my apartment and click on the stereo. George Michael croons softly and I return to my study.
The phone rings and I grimace. I refuse to answer the phone during my study time. This is the time I set aside each evening to spend with my Lord and Savior and I have promised Him uniterrupted time.
I hear my answering machine click on and immediately notice the angry voice of Rebecca after the beep. I know she is seeking a place to spout out all of her frustrations and anger but I can't bear to hear her accusations now. I turn the radio louder.
It is so strange. It seems like yesterday I was depressed, moaning about my life, about how horrible it was and how Rebecca seemed to have everything. Now the tables have turned and I wish she was still beside me.
I look up at the white wall in front of me and think about Brian. These last few days working with him have made me feel...strange. For lack of a better word, I have to say that I have a crush on him. How school girly is that? A crush on my co-worker, my fellow laborer in Christ, and me even thinking such a thing about Brian...well, it's enough to drive me crazy.
Maybe I am crazy...
The phone rings again. I shake my head and return to reading. Sorry, Lord, but distractions come so easily. Speak to me, open Your word to me, so that I can grow, so that I can know You more.