Authors: Emma France
Under the Desk
By Emma France
UNDER THE DESK
Copyright: Emma France
Published: 25 July 2013
The right of Emma France to be identified as author of this Work has been asserted by her in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act of 1988.
All right reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, copied in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise transmitted without written permission from the publisher. You must not circulate this book in any format.
Under the Desk
At a regular job, I already would have quit. Daily verbal abuse, harsh insults, being talked down to every day, it all adds up. But my job is important. Maybe not in the grand scheme of things - I'm not saving the rain forest or helping feed orphans - but importance is relative, and in the fast paced world of business, I was a necessary cog. An invisible cog to most, but a necessary one. My name is Bayli Kraft, and this is my story of dreams coming true.
It all began a couple weeks ago, while I was sitting at my desk. As I was typing away, like usual,
my boss, Jeffery Franks, interrupts me. "Hey Bay," he calls out from inside his office, through the closed door between us. He liked to call me Bay, but not in an endearing way. Rather, he did it because he was usually too lazy or occupied to bother with a second syllable. "Can you get in here for a sec?" I hollered back a 'yes, sir' and minimized the spreadsheet I was working on. Any excuse to get away from my desk was welcome, even if it was to entertain fools.
I stepped through the tall oak door and into Mr. Franks' office. It was a large corner office, with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the beautiful vistas of California's San Francisco Bay Area behind it. His desk sat facing the opposite direction, as he wasn't much interested in taking in a view when he could be making money looking at paperwork instead.
Without bothering to greet me, or even look up at me, he began. "I've got an appointment coming tomorrow. He doesn't have anything scheduled yet, and I don't know when or if he'll make one. We're sort of flying by the seat of our pants on this one, so keep my schedule clear."
I nodded, even though he wasn't looking at me. "Anything I should know, or put down? For my own reference?" I asked him, curious.
"He's got money. A lot of money. And I want it. Don't put that down,” he sighs, “but that's the gist of it. Just make sure when he shows up tomorrow he gets in to see me without any hassle or fuss. His name is William Schallert. Back to work, now, Bay." Mr. Franks' eyes maintained focus pointed down at his financial reports. Immediately he puts up a hand and waves it to beckon me out. I turn and leave, closing the door behind me. Stepping over to my desk, I pull out the chair and take a seat. It's unusual for Mr. Franks to take any visitors throughout the day, unless it's a board member. Even then, it usually takes more than one, and they have to have "a damn good reason", as he puts it.
I write 'W. Schallert' on a sticky note and place it against my monitor. When I first started working, I worried that my bubbly, curvy writing would be out of place in the business world. After seeing how the men in the office hand-write things, though, I realized it wasn't going to be much of an issue. And I understood why we moved to computers over paper and pen.
Something about Mr. Franks' meeting seems curious to me, even though it's also crystal clear - this is a financial meeting. But with how close knit our community is, I would have heard the name Schallert before if he were as big a name as my boss is acting like he is. My face contorts with thought.
Maybe... Maybe he isn't in our line of work
, I think to myself.
What could Mr. Franks be hiding, and what could Mr. W. Schallert be offering him?
I give up. I'm just a secretary, after all. No point in over-thinking the going-ons above my pay grade. Opening my project back up with a sigh, I get back to work.
A few hours pass before I see or hear any sign of Mr. Franks. As the minutes drag on, the repetitive ticking of the second hand on the clock above me fades into a blur. A few minutes past six o'clock, the door behind me opens and Mr. Franks steps out, jacket over his shoulders. He's a handsome man; I'll give him that. Standing about 5' 10", with a wide smile and decently broad shoulders, very short trimmed brown hair, and smooth tan skin.
I can't deny, when I started working as his secretary, I fantasized about those classic scenarios - the handsome millionaire and his plain-Jane assistant, making love in the office, tossing paperwork off the desk, his strong arms spreading my legs with my skirt pulled up above my waist, my bosom bursting from my halfway-unbuttoned blouse - but those fantasies quickly disappeared as I got to know him better. Quick to temper, with a dull wit and condescending, dismissive eyes, anyone on a rung below him on the social or economic ladder isn't worth his time or attention, unless he needs to use them for his own gain.
He walks up next to my desk, and looks down at me. "I'll be stepping out for the evening, I've got a reservation at Plateau d'Argent for 7:00.”
I nod quickly, letting him know that I follow what he's saying. If I hesitate or am slow to react, he doesn't often take it in stride. “Plateau d'Argent? That place is amazing!” I exclaim excitedly. “How long did it take you to get a reservation there?”
“A couple of months. They're booked every day of the week, opening to close.” Mr. Franks seems proud of himself. “Take no messages.”
He turns on his heel and starts to walk away down the hallway, stopping a few feet from the corner and looking back with a very serious, stern expression. “Bayli,” he starts. “Wear lots of makeup tomorrow. And a skirt, too. A short one. I need you to be useful for once." With that, he turns a corner, disappearing out of view.
A skirt? Make up? "Jerk," I mutter under my breath. It must be for Mr. Schallert's meeting tomorrow. He wants to make an impression.
For the next hour until I'm off work I get what I can done of the projects I've been chipping away at, but it isn't much. My mind is elsewhere. I just want to be at home, in my pajamas, eating ice cream and watching a movie.
Is that too much to ask
? The tick, tick, ticking of the clock says
yes, it is
The next morning, I walk into work dressed to kill. I decided to take Mr. Franks' suggestion (Was it even a suggestion? More like an order) to heart, and woke up an hour earlier than usual to spend extra time on my make-up and wardrobe. I put on eyeliner, a bit of lipstick, some blush, and wore my favorite dress - black, to make myself look skinnier than I actually am. I took a seat at my desk, and awaited the compliments. They didn't exactly roll in.
With my mind elsewhere, I found it difficult to concentrate on work. Mr. Franks, usually on time for work, was over an hour and a half late at 10:30, and not answering any phone calls. It isn't often that he runs late, and when it is he usually doesn't have a good excuse.
As the clock rounded in to 11:00 AM, Mr. Franks strutted quickly into the entryway of our floor, looking sharp and happy. With him was the most astounding man I'd ever seen with my own eyes. I practically had to put a hand on my chin to stop my jaw from dropping. Tall, with dark hair, a clean haircut, and smooth skin. He's wearing a well-tailored suit, perfectly fitted against his clearly toned body. He walked with a confidence that could only be attained through personal achievement.
Mr. Franks was
handsome; no doubt about it, but the man he's with is on another level entirely. The man smiled softly at me as they approached my desk. "Good morning, Mr. Franks," I bubbled brightly, “and company.”
Ignoring my greeting entirely, he swept his arm out towards me nonchalantly. "And Mr. Schallert, this is my secretary, Bayli Kraft." So, this is
whom he was talking about. I guess I see why he was so late to work today. They look like they've gone out for drinks already, and it isn't even close to lunchtime yet.
Mr. Schallert reaches his hand out toward me and says, "Hello
, Miss Kraft. A pleasure."
Without a second thought, I stood up and found my hand in his, and started to break out in a sweat. “The pleasure is all mine,” I say back to him, trying not to sound silly. Doing my best to keep my cool, I gave him a shy smile after and fall back to sitting in my desk, legs crossed.
God, he's something else
. Mr. Franks gestures again toward his office, and they step through. In the corner of my eye, I'm sure I catch Mr. Schallert looking over for a quick glimpse at me before they disappear behind the oak doorway.
Distracted by and feeling pretty great that
a man like him had checked me out, my work suffers a bit. I am unable to concentrate for the life of me, and barely get anything done for the next hour and a half. Through the wall behind me, I can hear the two of them, Mr. Franks and Mr. Schallert, talking and laughing. Well, Mr. Franks has been laughing a lot more. It seems like he's trying to get on Mr. Schallert's good side, which means either Mr. Schallert has something he wants, or... well, no, that's can only be it. With Jeffery Franks, there aren't many shades of grey.
Shortly after, as I'm sitting and typing away at my desk, minding my own business amidst the hubbub of the morning, the door opens behind me and Mr. Franks walks out. As he steps away from view of the doorway, laughing and smiling, his cheerful demeanor fades. Mr. Franks' face tightens, and his eyes, just seconds prior jovial and happy, give me a death stare. "What the hell are you wearing?" He asks, as if he already knows my answer, and also knows it will only make him angrier. My face is blank, confused. Isn't this what he wanted? Me to dress up? To put on my best to impress? "This is not what I told you to do," he angrily spats, as if he can read my thoughts.
I'm struggling to even get any words out of my mouth at all. I'm not good at confrontation, never have been, especially against someone so heatedly hostile. "I just- I was trying to- I wanted..." my mumbled words trailed off. Who am I trying to fool? I'm just a plain woman. Nothing special about me, and it's absurd for me to cover myself with makeup and think it makes me a new woman. I knew it, he knew it, and I can't help but feel that Mr. Franks is spouting harsh reality at my face now.
Distraught and upset, my eyes start to fill up. The stinging makes me blink, and a couple of tear drops roll down my face, smearing my eyeliner in vertical streaks. I look away. I hear him shuffle his feet, not caring at all how insensitive he's being. I hate him. I hate the way he treats me, and I hate working for him. A small sob lets itself from my throat, and I try to choke it back before it becomes anything more.
Mr. Franks can only sigh from irritated frustration. "Get over yourself, Bayli. And clean yourself up. You're a God-damn embarrassment right now." Mr. Franks displays not a hint of compassion in his voice. Turning and leaving back through the door to his office, I am left behind.
I try my best to wipe the tears from my eyes, which only serves to further smear my makeup, making me look even more like a mess.
I need fresh air
. Grabbing my purse and phone, I get quickly away from my desk and step outside, still holding back the urge to cry.
It's only a few minutes alone before the door opens and I find myself joined by the guest that Mr. Franks has in for a meeting, Mr. William Schallert. "Is everything okay, Miss Kraft?" He asks earnestly, his voice low and soft, powerful and comforting. I look at him standing next to me. I don't know what to say to him, but I also don't mind the company.
"I'm... I'm okay." I reply with a sniffle. “Oh, who am I fooling.”
Mr. Schallert pauses, and then begins. "I couldn't help but overhear your conversation with Mr. Franks, inside," he states. I look up at him nervously, to which he replies quickly, “Thin walls make private matters public."
“It was rude and uncalled for, what he said to you. Between you and I, you look beautiful today." His smile captivates me. For a moment I'm lost. I reach up with my wrist and wipe the newest bit of tears from my eyes.
"Thank you," I reply. "I shouldn't be crying. It's silly of me."
"It's okay. It's nothing to be ashamed of."
Although in my mind I realize that this man is somebody important, somebody
above me on the
ladder, as Mr. Franks would always say, the comforting vibes that I get from him greatly overpower any worrying or fretting that would normally be taking place. Especially if I wasn't so vulnerable, and he so handsome.
"I don't mean to pry, but," I start to ask, "what do you do? Your line of work, I mean. Mr. Franks doesn't meet with many people, so, I'm a bit curious."
His eyes are like sapphires, bright and blue and sharp. "We're in negotiations for a business deal. I don't usually work with people like Mr. Franks. I find that people in positions of power who possess such unpleasant demeanor untrustworthy. And he is no exception to that rule, but since meeting him, and chance meeting you..." His words trailed off, but he maintained eye contact. "Let me make this all up to you. It was unfair how you were spoken to earlier. Would you like to get dinner with me this weekend?"
His forward approach was unexpected. Before I know it, I'm nodding yes. Practically speechless, I turned to face him.
He reaches in his inside-jacket pocket, pulls out a single business card and a pen, and hands them to me. "Write your address on this," he instructs. I write it quickly, my handwriting barely legible, but he seems to read it just fine. "Friday night, I'll pick you up. Is eight o'clock okay?" He seems the type of man unwilling to take no for an answer.
"It's perfect," I say, my heart racing in my chest. Without another word, he turns and goes back through the door, disappearing into the building. The sun shines down, warming my skin with its yellow glow, and I take my time getting back to work.