I nod mutely as the others head for the doors. It’s like a silent scramble to escape made even more essential now that a target has been chosen to be taken out. They all know it could have been them. I certainly haven’t had any performance issues, so this must have just been a name chosen at random.
I could threaten him with a lawsuit. Nothing will come of it. This firm owes me nothing, but he might just agree to keep me to stop the annoyance of a lawsuit. Or I could prove to him why I deserve to stay. Could I even go so far as to suggest who should go instead?
Most everyone has left the room now leaving just me and Jack and I find I don’t know what to say. I decide to not say anything for the moment – it was Jack who asked me to stay, not the other way around; let him be the one to speak. I’m not in the mood to make this easy for him.
“Thank you for staying back Summer,” Jack says as the last stragglers leave the room. He smiles and comes towards me. He sits on the table a few places down from me. “Tyler has a new project in the pipeline. It’s for an up-and-coming tech company. They have had several projects in the works for a long time and they are ready to launch with a bang, but first, they want their own premises design.”
I nod along, wondering why he’s telling me this. Have I come across one of the owners before and somehow pissed them off to the point they are refusing to work with the company while I’m here?
“It’s set to be a big project and Tyler has looked through all of the architect’s portfolios and he’s very impressed with yours and he wants you to work with him on it. That was him just now on my cell phone. He got caught up with a meeting running over so he couldn’t make our meeting, but he’s on his way in now and he asked for me to get you to wait here for him,” Jack says.
The relief I’m feeling must show on my face because Jack frowns a little bit but then he laughs softly, his eyes crinkling slightly as he does.
“Oh my, I’m so sorry. You thought you were going to be let go, didn’t you?” he says.
I debate denying it but what’s the point? He knows it’s not true and he doesn’t seem offended or anything, so I nod my head.
“You don’t have to worry about that here, Summer. I don’t play games. And a bit of advice for you. If you ever find yourself working for someone who has to fire a member of staff for no reason just to get the other staff to do their jobs, that’s probably someone you don’t much want to be working for,” Jack says.
I smile and nod my agreement.
“Good advice,” I say.
He hops down from the table.
“I think you’ll do well here, Summer,” he says. “I look forward to getting to know you better.”
“Likewise,” I say as he heads for the door.
He smiles back at me before he pulls the door open and leaves me alone in the room. I’m a little bit lost as to what to do with myself. He didn’t say how long Tyler was going to be and I hate just sitting with nothing to do. I don’t think it will make a great impression if Tyler arrives and finds me messing around on my cell phone though so instead, I stand up and begin to tidy the chairs in the conference room. Why a group of adults have such trouble pushing their chairs back under the table after a meeting is beyond me, but there I have it.
I hear the door open, and I turn around. I’m expecting Tyler or one of the staff coming in to see if they’ve left something behind. Maybe even Suki or Gary coming to see if I’ve been let go. What I am most definitely not expecting is Len. Yes. That Len. Smoking hot one night stand Len.
“What the…” I start and then I stop. “Are you lost?”
I know as soon as I say it that it’s a stupid thing to say but I just blurted it out in the moment. I’m distracted by being reminded of how damned hot Len is. If I thought he looked good in jeans and a t-shirt, it’s nothing compared to how he looks in his expensive looking suit. The tailoring is perfect, the suit a perfect fit. If he was to turn around, I know his ass is going to look fine. I need to stop thinking like that though. I need to find out what the hell is going on.
“You’re Summer Malone?” Len says after a moment of silence.
I nod my head.
“Yeah,” I say. “What, are you stalking me or something?”
“Or something,” Len says. He moves to the conference room table and sits down and gestures for me to do the same. I hesitate but then I go and take the seat beside him. I still have no idea what’s going on but arguing about whether we sit down or stand up isn’t going to help solve anything. “I’m Tyler Clark, part owner of Clark and Wilkinson.”
That does it. I feel my jaw drop whether in surprise, horror, or both, I’m not quite sure. Len is my boss now? And his name obviously isn’t Len. I don’t feel so guilty about sneaking out on him now. He obviously didn’t want me to be able to track him down or he wouldn’t have given me a fake name. But it seems like he had a change of heart when he saw that I now work for him. I hope he doesn’t think I’m one of those women who will sleep with the boss to get ahead.
“So, you bought the company,” I say. “That explains why you’re here, I guess. But really, out of everyone you chose me to work on this project. Am I meant to believe that’s just coincidence?”
“You’re not meant to believe anything,” Tyler says with a sigh. “As I’m sure Jack explained, I've had a look through everyone’s work portfolios, and I liked your style and I think we’d be a good fit for the project. But now that you mention it, it is a coincidence. How on earth could I have chosen you specifically? You never did tell me your name.”
I realize that is true and I am a bit embarrassed now that I have accused him of stalking me. I need to get off the back foot here.
“Well at least I was honest about not telling you who I was unlike you who gave out a fake name,” I counter.
“I didn’t give you a fake name. I said my name was Tyler, but you obviously misheard. The first time you called me Len, I wasn’t sure if I had heard you right or not and then when you said it again and I knew you had, it seemed too late to correct you, so I just went with it,” he says.
For a second, we are quiet and then as one, we both burst into laughter.