Man puts his plan into action, part 1
| (NOTE: This is an homage to the story "Parallel Lives" on Fictionmania and its derivative work on Tgstorytime. I kept the general storyline the same but have since diverged from either story. I would recommend reading the two if you can find them. They are good!)
When I put my mind to it, I'm told, I can make a very dangerous business adversary.
As Myka, though, I noticed that I could be more blatant about things with little notice from anyone.
After that Sunday, I worked hard on making connections, using my chances as the wife of a young black professional in the community to weasel my way into conversations and no one suspected any sort of ulterior motive other than being friendly, everything so easily hidden behind a smile and a kind word. The church group that we were a part of was through an all-black congregation, so it was at once easy for me because I didn't stand out among a sea of non-black faces or sentiments. They also had little in the way of experience with what I was doing so I could go unannounced in my dealings without fear of reprisal.
Almost immediately, I learned that a woman I was suddenly friends with, named Shawna Reynolds, was the wife of a construction company president (small time, of course, but still it was a surprise to consider such a person). Another woman, Rebekkah Lancaster, was the daughter of a city councilman. It was a small social group, but it was still something that I could work with and use, especially since both women also had little children of their own. It was easy enough to work in a few smiles, some polite chit-chat, and suddenly I found myself invited for lunch during the week. I told them I would have to check my schedule, but I would get back to them about it.
My new friends, though, were also well-versed in the status of each family in the church and I spent the next 2 hours learning the ins and outs of the people in the room, where the connections should be, and even who was sleeping with who. I didn't really put that much weight in on the subject, but I chalked it in the back of my mind as something that, as a woman, I would be dealing with: power in a woman's world was much different than a man's world. There, for Terrance, power and dominance was key. For me, as a woman, knowledge and knowing how the information helped to connect the dots was just as vital.
By the time we got the kids back in the car and were on the way home, I had a whole litany of names, faces, and people to look up and keep tabs on. I always loved such games as a kid and I became something of a master as a junior exec rising in the company. Now, even though it didn't apply to me at all, I still had a challenge and the extra incentive to make it work was enough to drive me forwards.
That evening, Terrance and I felt that the kids had earned a pizza night and we ordered in two pies, a cheese and pepperoni for the kids and we split a supreme between the two of us. Mentally, I went over my observations of Terrance as he mingled with people, both young and old, and the way he carried himself. It was not as hard of a change that I would have to work on, but I could still find myself picking a few things here and there that he needed an adjustment on. I laughed internally at the idea of me being the one to change him, knowing that I used to bristle at the idea of Amanda doing the same thing that I was now contemplating on doing to him. She used to reply that 'if you make it seem like it's the man's idea, a woman can do almost anything...'
I knew I had three weeks before the gala dinner to work on it and I reasoned that I would have to spend quite a bit of time with Terrance, working subtly on him to ensure that not only what I was doing worked but that it stuck as well. In turn, that meant that I would need to stay in this life, as Myka, and not go back to my original one, as Christopher.
Waking up on Monday morning was a bit of a challenge, especially since I had to get up a bit earlier than my usual wake-up time to get the kids ready and sent off to school. Terrance was not an early riser, so it took him a bit extra to get going and thus I decided that, part of my plan, I would work on making sure he got a good breakfast and some coffee before he headed out the door. I couldn't control what happened to him when I wasn't there but when I was, well, this was just part of my service to him.
I got the kids up, dressed Jayson and then worked on Hillary as I set him down at the table for a quick plate of pancakes, all the while making sure I got Terrance's lunch ready and filled a thermos with some coffee for the road. After she was done, I put Hillary into her chair with a bowl of dry cereal and then quickly ducked back into the bedroom to put on a pair of sweats and a sweater on top before I ducked back out.
After an hour of getting the kids off to school and after giving Terrance a surprise kiss for luck, I set off for a jog in the park. I knew I had about an hour before I would need to head on into work, Myka's job, and a bit of me was still anxious at what exactly that entailed. The title of "Administrator" was so vague that it didn't really do much for me until I looked a bit further and pulled out one of the paystubs from the online network. For a 29-year-old woman, it was not bad to be HR Administrator, just a step down from being the HR Manager. Still, what exactly DID an HR Administrator do exactly? I had no clue, I was in sales. I knew nothing about HR matters.
Still thinking a bit about this, I turned the corner and spotted Tiffany just making her way into the park, stopping at the light to stretch her legs a bit. I hadn't run with her since that first time but as I approached, she smiled and gave me a small wave. "Hey, glad to see you making it out on a Monday."
I playfully patted my stomach. "Can't let 2 kids keep me slacking." She laughed at that, making the comment that it was hard to believe, with my figure, that I had two kids already and, for emphasis, she tapped her belly and bemoaned how hard she had to work just to stay warped after delivering triplets. I assured her that no means possible could help after triplets and that was the truth. After that, we decided to take the moderate length path and set off at a good pace.
We spent the next 35 minutes jogging and talking, mostly about our kids and our families, especially when I explained that my husband was Terrance Howard. She mentioned that her husband was Jason Pritchard, a branch manager who reported to Terrance's colleague and she had a lot of juicy tidbits about what was going on. A part of me wondered just how much women talked about, how little men knew about this world, and why I had wasted so much time and energy building up the wrong social networks. Tiffany, a bit out of shape, still had a lot to say about my husband's colleague, not a lot of it repeatable in any shape or form of pleasant conversation, and she assured me that she would do anything and everything possible to help Terrance along (especially after I learned that Terrance had worked out a deal that saved his job.)
Getting back home, I made a quick beeline for the shower, stripping off the sweater and the running pants, kicking off the socks and my panties, before I hopped into the shower. I made sure to give myself a good thorough scan over, making sure that my legs were shaved and everything else was good, before I stepped back out. I hadn't considered what it would be like to have to go to work as Myka but now that I was facing the prospect of doing so, I felt a little excited, almost giddy.
After drying off and spending the next 20 minutes getting my hair dry and settled into a bun with a clip holding it, I turned to the dresser and opened it. Up until that point, I had gotten used to wearing a bra and panties, so the trial wasn't putting them on. It was more trying to figure out what to wear that would be professional. I figured going with something simple, at least at first, and slipped on a purple lace support bra and matching hipster panties, slipping my feet slowly and carefully into a pair of hose and rolling them up to my thighs. Earlier I had checked my schedule and noticed that I had no meetings scheduled for that day, so I picked out a nice black dress and finished it with a belt around the waist. Light on the makeup, small earrings, a bracelet and necklace, and 2-inch heels finished my look for the day.
I didn't quite know what to expect but throughout the day, I found myself not only catching up to speed with what was going on, I was finding it fun and exciting. HR was dull, don't kid yourself when you think it may be fun to deal with people's problems...because that's like 90% of the work all day long, but I found myself enjoying the company of the people around me. It was rare, and I knew that there was a level of uniqueness for me being in the position where I was. It didn't escape my notice that there was a disproportionate amount of men who were at the managerial level on the administrative side of things and that, as one of the few women at that level, I was often viewed a bit skeptically by my male counterparts. I would admit having my own share of cronyism and the irony of now being on the receiving end of unintentional misogyny was not a pleasant experience, but I didn't really let it get to me. I instead worked on the tasks that were given to me and, luckily, the HR Manager was an elderly man who thought of me as the second coming. Also helped that he was a member of our church and his wife was among my circle of friends...
A surprise came at lunch when I heard a knock on my door and, when I looked up, I spotted Amanda standing there. "Hey, Myka, wanted to know if you wanted lunch?"
Blinking a bit, I merely nodded and picked up my purse before I joined her. We reached the hospital cafeteria and she ordered a chicken salad sandwich while I opted for a chef salad and a coke. I thought there would be some degree of awkwardness in between us, at least from my side of things, but there was still that sense of familiarity and ease between us and soon we were laughing and sharing stories about patients she encountered. As we talked, I watched her out of habit and I noticed that she was wearing a little more makeup and she had a slight glow to her. If I hadn't seen the belt in the house that night, I might have let it slide but I couldn't help but steer our conversation over to relationships a little, just to see. "How's Terrance?" she asked, munching on a few chips.
"Oh, he's doing okay. Between work and the kids, it's amazing that we manage to stay sane." I pretended that it was a random thing that piqued my curiosity when I was all but hanging on her reply here. "What about you? Are you seeing anyone?"
She was quiet for a moment and I was about to move on when she broke into a small smile and leaned in to whisper, almost conspiratorially. "I've been seeing someone for the past few weeks, his name's Benjamin."
My eyes opened a bit at that, but I quickly shoved a forkful of salad into my mouth. The only Benjamin I knew was Benjamin Lassiter, my younger brother. "Oh? What does he do?"
"He works as a civil engineer for a design firm down south." Yup, my brother alright. We spoke a few more minutes before her cell went off and she thanked me for lunch before she took off, leaving me there with a half-finished salad and a sudden loss of appetite. "Ben's fucking Amanda?" I whispered to no one before I got up from the table and threw away the rest of my food and drink.
The rest of the day went as well as it could have, finding myself split between thinking about what my brother (or Christopher's brother, if I were being honest), was doing giving it to Amanda and then spending the other half of the time distracted by the fact that I was not as bothered by this as I should've. Was it an aspect of the locket working on my mind somehow? So deep in my thoughts that it took my assistant Delilah a few attempts at catching my attention before I shook my head, apologized for spacing, and got back to work on the staff alignment project file in front of me.
As I was leaving the hospital, I decided that I shouldn't let things like this distract me as much as it did. I knew how to separate priorities from the frivolous and if I kept my focus, I would be okay.
The rest of the week, I split my time between work and home, spending most of my energy at work learning how to be the professional woman and using the hospital HR resources to dig up some information on the local business community (which, being the county seat and all, was mainly centered around here anyway). At night, I worked on building up his confidence through endless pep talks, massages, and ensuring that my man was taken care of every night. It wasn't too far fetched an idea that the happier and more relaxed a person was at rest, the better focused they would be in times of stress. I never worked in a bank, but I knew how stressful things would be for him and I resolved that, if I was his wife, I would take care of him and every need he could possibly have.
Plus, the sex was good for me too. Oh, so very good indeed.
During the day, I also worked on building a stronger relationship with Amanda too. We spent lunches together and it was both easy and interesting to see her from a different angle, knowing that she saw me as both a female friend and coworker, and she began to share with me things that I didn't get to know, even after 14 years as her husband. For instance, what really shocked me, she didn't want to have kids. The idea of a family to her was nice but it wasn't a major drive for her and while she adored her nephew and nieces, she didn't really want any of her own. This flew in the face of all our conversations, our discussions, and I really was bothered by the fact that she didn't want to have any, even after her repeated assurances that family was key to her and undergoing all those medical exams to ensure her fertility.
When Sunday rolled around, we went back to church but this time, I was more prepared and quickly made the rounds with Rebekkah and Shawna, the three of us having met earlier in the week for lunch and I immediately found kindred spirits in these two women. There must be something said about the determination of women when they are out to get something for their husbands, at least for Shawna and I, and Rebekkah was like the little sister to the two of us. I still didn't know what strategic value knowing who was having an affair with who would have for my plans, but I kept up with the gossip as well. It didn't hurt that, in my position, I had heard a thing or two and was equally willing and able to share.
After spending a week as Myka, it was a bit discomforting to suddenly find myself switching back to being Christopher, but I knew I had to, there were some things I wanted to do that only he could do (like find out more about the upcoming gala dinner.) I snuck back into my original house that night and found Amanda had moved some things around. My stuff was still where I had put them, but she was in the process of redistributing things in the household, like a few new pieces of furniture and she had even bought a new bed.
"Hey sweetie," she smiled, giving me a long kiss on the lips. I had a momentary feeling of confusion wash over me, but I had managed to fight it down and returned the kiss before I looked at her. "How are you doing? Had a good walk?"
Not really knowing what she was talking about, I merely nodded my head. I settled into clean-up mode while she talked about her work, especially how things were still hellish at the hospital, and I mentally made a note that I would do something about that later. It was strange to have spent merely a week leaving at my new home and yet this house, where I had spent years in, suddenly felt a little foreign to me. Even as we moved from the kitchen to the living room, I kept noticing small changes to things (new bookshelf, different set of picture frames, a vase where there was once a statute...those types of things). Life goes on, even when I wasn't around, I got that, but the more I made my way through the house with her, the more I noticed that the changes were happening. A part of me half-bitterly wondered if I would find Benjamin's stuff here suddenly.
I didn't really sleep well that night, but it was still comforting to be holding Amanda's sleeping body in my arms. The change between the one being held and the one doing the holding was like night and day and, at the time, I couldn't really tell which I felt more in sync with doing.