Saving the Company Ch. 02

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“How is Joe?”

“Jennie, we’re not going there again,” Bethany said and then moved the phone away from her lips briefly as she sighed. Her daughter still insisted on asking about Joe at least once a week.

“Mother, it’s been months since you first mentioned him. Don’t you think you’ve made him wait long enough? You’re not getting any younger you know.”

“I’m not making him wait,” Bethany replied, ignoring her daughter’s dig about her age.

“You’re just being a coward,” Jennie snapped.

“I am not,” Bethany insisted. “In fact, I came close to initiating a lunch date with him a couple of weeks after our discussion, but something held me back and I’m glad.”

“Glad?” her daughter’s voice raised. Bethany sighed as she admitted to herself that glad was too strong a word. She still found Joe attractive and there were days she wished that she had given in and dated him, but Bethany knew she made the “right” decision in the end. She couldn’t date someone who worked for Bradley Junior.

“So how is my granddaughter doing at school?” Bethany asked, obviously changing the subject. There was a pause on the other side of the line followed by a rather loud sigh.

“Molly is doing fine,” Jennie finally replied. Bethany smiled in relief as her daughter dropped the subject, at least for now.


“We’ll be done next week and Herb will start running in parallel,” I said.

“So, you missed the deadline,” Karl said in his typical snide little voice. I sighed to myself. After months of working with the management team I’d come to the decision that I could cope with Bradley junior and Judy, the Sales and Marketing VP, but Karl on the other hand, was simply a nasty piece of work.

“Not really,” I replied. “There was scope creep as is typical with these types of projects. Herb signed off of the deadline extension and additional costs.”

“I’m sure that gave us another happy customer,” Karl said, not quite dripping in sarcasm.

“Actually, Herb is satisfied. We are actually ahead of schedule based on the latest project plan,” I replied with a false smile. “He’s already agreed to be a referral for our new prospects.” This caused Judy to brighten.

“That’s great news!” she said. My smile became real as I nodded.

“If I remember correctly, you were also able to turn a profit on this project,” Bradley said, obviously looking for something on his desk. Bethany stopped taking notes long enough to hand him a document. Bradley looked at it and added, “Fifteen percent.”

“That not including the licensing fee,” Bethany put in. She glanced my way and smiled. I shook my head because her looks still caused a stir in me. It didn’t help that over the last few months she started updating her wardrobe and got rid of the granny glasses.

“We can do better now that all of my new employees are up to speed on the product,” I said, refusing to think about Bethany and her affect on me.

“I can’t wait to get stuck supporting what all these new people threw together,” Karl said. “My area is going to be buried in bug fixes. We already have a laundry list of new problems that arose in the last few months.” I didn’t like what he was inferring and I had no intention of letting him get away with it.

“Actually, most of that list is generic problems my people found while testing the base product. We’ve fixed them for Herb’s implementation and sent along documentation on what the issues were and how we resolved them. We could just as simply have corrected them in the generic package, but I was afraid it was overstepping since your area is responsible for the generic product.”

Karl was the COO. In this company that made him responsible for support, product development and anything else not sales and marketing, implementations or finance. By all rights, I should probably be reporting to him, but thankfully that wasn’t so. I could barely stand sitting through weekly meeting with the man. I could never work for him.

The company didn’t have a CFO, which seemed odd to me until someone told me that Bradley junior used hold the position before his father retired. Finance was the only area that didn’t suffer when Bradley senior retired. After working with young Bradley for a few months it was obvious that he liked working with numbers.

“Speaking of which,” Bradley junior interjected. “Karl, did you see the list of generic enhancements Joe’s department forwarded?”

“We’re already buried in the product development area,” Karl replied quickly. Surprisingly, Judy jumped in.

“I’ve seen the list,” she said. “There are a couple of suggestions there that have my sales reps drooling.”

I looked at Judy and wondered. She caught my eye and smiled slightly. Karl saw it and frowned. I glanced over to Bethany and she nodded ever so faintly, verifying my thoughts. Judy was finally accepting my role within the company. More important, she realized that the things I was pushing for would help not only the company, but her area as well. Halleluiah! ısparta escort

“Bethany, please set up a separate meeting for next week to go over the suggestions,” Bradley said, and then smiling added, “It’s likely to take a couple of hours in itself.” Bethany nodded. The meeting lasted another twenty minutes before finally breaking up.

Bradley left as soon as it was over. Karl followed him out. He was calling after Bradley. I’m sure that was going to be an interesting conversation. Karl was not happy. Judy let them go and turned to me and asked, “Would you mind having lunch with me tomorrow? I’d like to go over where our areas overlap and see what we can do get thing running more smoothly.”

“Of course,” I said, trying hard to suppress my surprise.

“Good,” she said with a slight smile. “I’ll have my secretary get us a reservation for noon.”

“See you then,” I replied as she nodded and left. I turned toward Bethany who was just finishing up her notes and our eyes locked. Both of us were fighting back a smile as I said, “Miracles do happen.”

“I may have to up my estimate of Judy,” Bethany said, using the Sales and Marketing VP’s name for the first time that I could remember.

Bethany stood and carried her notes toward the door. One of the folders she was holding dropped and we both bent down to pick it up. I got to it first and looked up to see her only inches away from me. Her soft brown eyes met mine and it felt almost like an electric bolt traveled up my spine, only this bolt carried pleasure, not pain.

It didn’t help that Bethany was wearing an enticing perfume. I was actually tempted to lean forward and kiss her slightly parted lips. Instead, I stood and fought to control my emotions.

“You still owe me a lunch,” Bethany said as she stood. She seemed almost as surprised as I was at her words.

“I think the statute of limitation may have passed,” I replied, stalling to get my bearings. I wasn’t sure if going to lunch with her was such a smart thing after all. She had too great of an affect on me.

“If you say so,” she replied, sounding almost relieved. I suddenly realized that she wouldn’t give me another chance if I let this one slip through my fingers. I might be wrong, but I wasn’t willing to take that chance.

“Hey! Wait a minute,” I said quickly.

“Yes?” she asked.

“I was just kidding,” I said. “Of course I want to take you out to lunch.” She looked at me and didn’t quite shrug.

“Fine,” she replied, but then paused before adding, “You do realize that this is just lunch? It’s not a date or anything.”

“Of course,” I replied nonchalantly. I didn’t know what made her change her mind about lunch, but it was a start. Right or wrong, I liked Bethany. I could tell that she liked me as well. I decided right then that I would get a date with her eventually. I would just have to be patient.

“When do you want to go?” she asked.

“Now sounds good,” I replied quickly.

“Today?” she asked in surprise. “I thought later in the week.”

“It lunch time now and we both have to eat,” I shrugged. “Why not today?”

“What’s the rush?”

“No rush,” I replied, and then smiled and added, “But honestly I’m a little afraid that you’ll change you mind if we don’t go right now.”

“You’re a smart man,” she said with a shake of her hand. “I’m already starting to regret bringing up the subject.”

“Too late!” I said. “Get your coat and I’ll meet you by the elevator.” I turned and left quickly just in case she really did want to try and get out of it. She was already at the elevator when I arrived.

“I thought you changed your mind,” she said as I appeared.

“Not likely,” I smiled. “I just spent a few minutes to call the Captain’s Table and make sure they had a table for us.” She looked at me with a raised eyebrow but didn’t say anything.

We made small talk during the trip to the restaurant. Basically we shared some gossip that was going around the office.

“I hear Clark is fitting in quite well with the new people you hired,” she said. I nodded.

“Yes, I’m glad he decided to stay.”

“It was closer than you think,” Bethany added. “He’s the very loyal sort and it damn neared killed him when you fired his friends.”

“I know,” I sighed. “I hated doing it, but there was no way I was going to be able to do what needed to be done without getting rid of them.”

“Oh, he knows that,” she replied. “I expect that subconsciously he’s even relieved that you did what you did. He knew it was necessary, but he was too close to the people.”

“You seem to know Clark quite well,” I teased with a raised eyebrow.

“I’ve known Clark and his wife Debbie for almost ten years,” she replied pointedly. “I know all of the old employees. I’m even starting to get to know the new ones you hired.”

“Oh yeah?” I joked. “What Helen’s husband’s name?” Bethany grinned.

“I don’t know,” she replied.

“Aha!” I cried, but kars escort she cut me off before I could add anything else.

“I do know that they are recently divorced and she can’t seem to talk about him without quite literally cursing,” she said.

“It’s shocking isn’t it?” I asked with a grin. “Someone so small and fragile looking shouldn’t be able to curse so well.”

“I don’t know,” Bethany replied. “You should have heard me the first few months after my husband disappeared. My mother accused me of talking like a truck driver every time he came up.” I couldn’t help myself. I laughed as I tried to picture Bethany, the epitome of political correctness, cursing like little Helen.

“I would have loved to see that!” I said. Bethany just shook her head.

The restaurant was crowded as always, but we had a small table off to one side. We ordered and spoke a little more about work before I changed the subject.

“So tell me about your granddaughter?” I asked.

“Molly?” Bethany asked rhetorically. “I guess she’s typical for a girl her age. That is, typical for a beautiful and smart girl her age.” She stressed the words beautiful and smart. I grinned.

Bethany talked for a while about Molly and I watched her in fascination. I was only half listening. The attraction between us seemed to be growing daily. I felt it and I believe she did as well. Bethany just insisted on denying it. It was frustrating at times.

I found her mesmerizing. She was beautiful, but I had my share of beautiful women in my life and that wasn’t the main reason for the attraction I was feeling. The odd part was that I couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason. It was just something in the way she carried herself.

Lunch was good, but the company was even better. We sat for well over an hour before we both regrettably stood from our chairs. The trip back was pleasant. Bethany had me laughing most of the way telling me stories about her daughter and grandchild. We were on the way back up the elevator when I turned to her.

“So, how would you like to go out Friday night?” I suddenly blurted out, surprising myself as much as Bethany. So much for being patient!

“You’re not serious?” she asked, but then shook her head when she met my eyes and saw the truth. “I don’t think so.”

I frowned to myself. I could tell she wanted to see me, but she refused to allow herself. My frustration peaked and I reached over and hit the stop button on the elevator.

“What are you doing?” Bethany asked in surprise and a buzzer went off. I ignored it and her question as I moved closer. She looked nervous, but she didn’t retreat or turn away.

“This,” I said gently as I kissed her. Bethany hesitated a moment longer before returning the kiss. I’m not sure how much longer we might have stayed there if a voice didn’t interrupt us.

“Is there a problem?” I heard the maintenance man asked via a speaker near the controls to the elevator. Bethany and I broke apart quickly. She was blushing badly, but I just shrugged and hit the button that made the elevator move again.

“No, sorry,” I said loudly. “I accidentally hit the stop button.”

“Okay,” the maintenance man replied, but I could hear the laughter in his voice. He probably guessed what had happened.

The elevator opened and Bethany left without even looking at me. I only hoped that the kiss was half as good for her as it was for me.

“Hey!” I called. “Did you by chance change your mind about my question?” Bethany turned back and walked to me quickly. She looked pissed. I sighed.

“You are insane!” she snapped lowly, and then looking around added, “Please do not cause a scene.”

“Who is causing a scene?” I asked innocently. “I just want to know if you’re willing to go out with me on Friday night.”

“Why? Because I was overpowered by your kiss?” she asked sarcastically.

“It was nice, wasn’t it?” I asked. Bethany just shook her head.

“What I should do it report your actions to Bradley and get you fired!” she snapped.

“You could do that,” I sighed. “But a date would probably be nicer for everyone involved.”

“This isn’t funny!” she snapped. She really looked upset so I decided to stop joking.

“Okay, I’m sorry,” I said defensively. “If you tell me you didn’t feel anything from that kiss then I’ll leave you alone. I promise.”

“You are impossible!” Bethany nearly growled before turning around and stalking away. I smiled. She hadn’t said she didn’t feel anything. I was tempted to whistle as I went back to my office.


Bethany stormed back to her office. She passed a couple of people in the hallway, but they took one look at her and let her pass without a word.

‘The nerve of that man!’ she thought angrily. ‘The audacity!’

She entered her office, sat at her desk and took slow deep breaths as she tried to calm down. She would never have guessed that Joe was the type of man to force himself on a woman!

‘Okay,’ she admitted kastamonu escort to herself with a sigh. ‘He didn’t exactly force himself on me.’ Bethany knew that she could have turned away, but she’d hesitated and he took full advantage. The hesitation was bad enough, but the fact that the kiss itself was amazing was even worse!

“What am I going to do?” she asked herself aloud. The door to Bradley’s office snapped open a moment later.

“Ah! There you are!” Bradley grumbled. “I’ve been looking for you for quite some time.”

“I was at lunch,” Bethany replied, refusing to feel guilty. She might have taken a long lunch, but there were quite a few days she worked right through lunch.

“Fine. Fine,” Bradley said, obviously thinking about something else. “Come into my office. I want your opinion on something.”

Bethany frowned and grabbed her pad as she made her way to Bradley’s office. He wasn’t one to normally ask for her opinion. Something big had to be going on. She walked in and was surprised to see Judy already in the room. The phone was also on speaker. She looked as Bradley and pointed toward the phone.

“My father is on the line,” he said. Both of Bethany’s eyebrows went up in surprise.

“Hello, Bethany,” Bradley senior’s voice came from the speaker. There was warmth there that made her smile despite the situation.

“Hello,” she said, trying to get her balance. First Joe’s kiss and now this! What a day! “What exactly is going on?”

“Karl cornered me after the meeting,” Bradley junior sighed. “He’s pushing for a reorganization.”

“You know that Joe currently has the title of Director of Implementation. Karl thinks he should be promoted to a full VP.”

“Joe doesn’t strike me as one all that impressed by titles,” Bethany said, wondering where this was going.

“That may be true, but it would make him an officer of the company,” Brad said. “He’ll receive some stock and have the ability to buy more.”

“And Karl suggested this?” Bethany said, trying hard to keep the disbelief from her voice. Bradley frowned while Judy smirked slightly.

“You seem surprised,” Bradley senior said. Bethany never could hide her opinion from him.

“It just doesn’t seem like something Karl would do,” she said carefully.

“He also thinks that Judy should be bumped to a senior VP,” Bradley junior added. Bethany’s frown deepened.

“There is more,” Judy said, still smirking. “Karl wants the implementation area rolled into his own. He wants Joe to report to him.”

“Oh,” Bethany said, trying to gather her thoughts. Judy continued to speak, given Bethany some time.

“I’m all for the promotion,” Judy said, and then grinning added, “Both, actually.” This caused Bradley senior to laugh.

“But she’s not sure about moving Joe under Karl,” Bradley junior continued. “She feels that there is a personality conflict there that would hurt the company.”

“What do you think?” Bethany asked Bradley junior.

“I’m for it,” he replied. “It is a more traditional structure for a company.”

“So, why exactly am I here?” Bethany asked. She was only an assistant after all.

“I wanted your opinion,” Bradley senior said over the phone. Bradley junior nodded, but didn’t look happy. “Besides, this affects you since you are one of the stock owners.” It wasn’t a fact widely known, but Bethany did own a small percentage. It was a gift from Bradley senior when he retired.

“In that case, I think moving Joe under Karl would be a mistake,” she said carefully. She wasn’t happy with Joe at the moment, but that wasn’t going to make her say or do something that would hurt the company. The others waited for her to say more. She finally added, “I’d rather not go into any details on why I feel the way I do.”

“I still think we should try it,” Bradley junior insisted.

“If you try it and it doesn’t work, what are you going to do?” Bethany asked.

“Depends on why it doesn’t work,” he replied.

“Bethany, you always had a good feel for the pulse of that place,” Bradley senior said. “What do you think of the fall out of making the move?”

“Long term or short?” she asked as she rubbed her temples. She spent too many years being honest to Bradley senior. She wasn’t about to start lying now.

“Both,” he replied. “And be blunt.” Bethany hesitated a moment longer, but she knew that Bradley senior really wanted her opinion.

“Well,” she sighed. “Short term, Joe will quit and morale will drop dramatically.”

“You really think he’ll quit?” Judy asked in surprise. “I mean, I know they don’t get along and I don’t think the move is a good one, but you think Joe would actually quit rather than work for Karl?”

“Absolutely,” Bethany replied.

“And that would affect moral that much?” Bradley junior asked in disbelief.

“It would,” Judy answered for Bethany. “He’s a motivator and a good leader. He’s done some amazing things with his area. Not only that, but it’s starting to rub off on some of the other areas. My own people like him.”

“And long term repercussions?” Bradley senior asked.

“The company will most likely be out of business in five years,” Bethany said.

“Oh come on!” Bradley junior snapped. “We’re not doing that badly!”

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