After helping Chris Scaife out in a rare moment of need, Robyn Crandall has heard from the head of the Legal Department in Chris’s extremely large entertainment conglomerate. Having only mentioned in passing to him that she was looking for a new position, she is shocked by how effortlessly one seems to have come her way. Elated, she decides that some gratitude is in order . . .
Frank Casey got up and went to retrieve a folder on his desk. When he returned, he handed it to her without sitting, and Robyn knew that it was because he didn’t have time to spend on her much longer. So she stood as well and picked up her portfolio, sliding the folder inside.
“Mr. Casey,” she extended her hand. “It was a pleasure.”
“Frank. Just so long as I can call you Robyn.”
She smiled. “Of course.”
“So, if you let me know by the end of the week,” Frank Casey said, smiling at her, “we should be golden.”
She would be golden, alright.
Robyn tried to contain the silly grin in danger of spreading across her face.
If this was real, if this actually happened, she would be working somewhere that most entertainment lawyers only dreamed of. In an organization that was so incredibly solvent, you could almost get rich just from being employed there. She would work with one of the best lawyers in the business and with the salary he’d quoted her, she could move out of her mother’s place, maybe even buy—by herself—a house comparable to the one she’d been looking at with Curtis.
And for what? Because she’d helped Chris Scaife out when he had a migraine?
“Mr. Cas . . . Frank. I wonder if I could trouble you to tell me which floor Mr. Scaife’s office is on?” Robyn asked as they walked back out to reception.
“He’s on the twentieth,” Frank Casey said. He pressed the elevator call-button for her and offered one last smile. “Pleasure meeting you, Robyn. Hope to hear from you soon.”
Robyn was able to contain her smile only as long as it took for the elevator door to close, but then, when she was realized she was alone, she let out a high-pitched squeal and jumped up and down. Undoubtedly, the receptionist on the floor she’d just left had heard it, but she didn’t care. Pressing the button for the twentieth floor she allowed herself to begin to fantasize. She would quit her job just as soon as this contract was signed. She was dying to quit, and move out of her ratty office with the bottom-feeders of the legal profession, scraping nickles and dimes out of insurance companies for dubious claims made by clients of even more dubious character.
“Calm down,” she reminded herself out loud. “First rule of contracts: the deal isn’t done until the deal is done.”
When the door opened on twenty, Robyn was faced with yet another receptionist. She was young and pretty, wearing her hair up in exquisitely beautiful coiled dreadlocks dyed an eye-catching shade of red. Upon spotting Robyn, her crimson lips parted into a warm smile and she sat a little more upright.
“May I help you?”
“I was hoping to get a few moments of Mr. Scaife’s time,” Robyn said.
Immediately, the pretty receptionist’s smile turned regretful. “Do you have an appointment?” she asked, as though she doubted it was possible.
“I don’t,” Robyn said. “But . . .”
“Just a moment.” The young woman dialed a number and spoke so quietly, Robyn couldn’t hear a word she said.
Waiting, she looked around. This floor looked less stuffy than the one she’d just left, and the people she spotted walking by and in the offices seemed younger. Clearly the legal department had a less relaxed culture than the rest of the place. Still, in even this department—whatever it was—everyone appeared to be all about business, albeit of a different kind.
“Ms. Crandall, he’s at the end of the hall. The very last office.” The receptionist indicated the direction Robyn should head in.
Again, she felt the tiniest pinprick of nervousness. Robyn headed down the hall, glancing left and right as she did, noticing the CD covers blown up to the size of corporate art hanging on the wall on one side. Wearing her powder-blue suit and grey pumps, she’d felt confident as she left the house this morning, but with each step, that confidence seemed to be seeping out through the bottoms of her three-inch high heels. Chris could have come out of his office to greet her but hadn’t. Walking alone to meet him in his territory made her feel like a supplicant.
At the end of the hall, the largest office opened up. It seemed to run the entire length of the building, it was so large. Robyn was momentarily stunned by its size and forgot to speak. God, he didn’t believe in having anything compact, did he?
By the time she regained her senses, she realized that she was being stared at by six pairs of eyes. Chris was sitting in an armchair, in a sitting area somewhat like Frank Casey’s but bigger of course, and with him were two women and three men, all of them looking to be in their mid-twenties, hipsters dressed like they’d attended the Andre 3000 School of Fashion, all clashing patterns and vivid colors but still managing to pull it off and look uber-cool.
The look on Chris’ face was perplexed, as though, one: no one told him she was coming, and two: she was a complete stranger. He waited for her to speak, his expression slowly transforming to impatient.
“Hi,” Robyn said woodenly.
Still he waited. And his staff waited with him.
“I was just downstairs talking to Frank Casey,” she stumbled. “And I wanted to . . .”
Chris had a sheaf of papers in his hand that he put down on the table before him. His brow wrinkled and he looked even more confused.
“Anyway,” Robyn said.
One of the young women sitting with him pursed her lips, hiding a smile and looked down at the carpeted floor as though mortified on Robyn’s behalf.
“I just wanted to thank you,” she said. “I’m sorry to interrupt your . . .”
She began backing away from the door. Robyn felt her face growing hot. Though he didn’t speak, his eyes traveled her length.
“I don’t know what you’re thanking me for,” he said finally.
“Well,” Robyn said nodding. “Perhaps nothing. I mean, nothing yet.”
Chris looked even more confused at that.
Great. So he didn’t even know about Frank Casey’s offer. How stupid was she?
It was probably self-centered to believe he’d taken the time to intercede on her behalf, or that he would give her more than the most superficial of thoughts. After all, he’d given her an expensive bottle of wine and passed on her number to the Legal Department. Of course he had more important things to think about. Like the five people sitting with him right now, in need of his attention so they could do their work.
“So I’ll just leave you, then,” Robyn said, wishing she could melt into the carpet, or just disappear in a puff of smoke. Of all the embarrassing . . .
Chris offered her a thin smile that seemed to say: I’d appreciate that.
Walking quickly back down the hall, Robyn couldn’t even bear to raise her head long enough to bid the receptionist a good afternoon. When the elevator came, she got in quickly and let her chin fall to her chest, groaning in embarrassment.
Okay, that was brutal. But still, in her hands was the portfolio with a contract, and that contract was an offer of employment at a place where she’d never imagined working at before, but only because she hadn’t been imagining big enough. Robyn smiled and was still smiling when she got to the ground floor and was heading for the exit.
She was just past the security desk when she heard her name and stopped, turning around in surprise. The uniformed security guard was looking directly at her and holding a telephone receiver. Confused, Robyn went to take it from him, putting it to her ear.
“What are your plans for later?” the voice on the other end asked.