‘Good morning, Mr Horton,’ the young women – the “chirping birds”, I mentally call them – sang as I strode through reception at Musgrave Industries.
‘Good morning, girls,’ I said gruffly, giving them a wave and Meg, the thin blonde on the right looked a little crestfallen.
What did she expect? Roses and chocolates because she gave me a blow job last Friday night? Don’t these young girls get it? I am the boss, the man with the power!
No, I knew they didn’t but it really didn’t bother me. I was the boss, the man who made all the decisions so I had the power and to the “singing birdies” power was a turn-on. I had no real trouble getting them, to part company with their knickers.
Bonnie, my secretary stood with a pile of papers folded in my arms. She was forty, three years older than I was and as a single Mum, I knew she needed the job.
Still, Bonnie wasn’t backward in giving me her opinion which I kind of liked even though it was, at times, annoying. No one knew the business like Bonnie and, on top of that, she had that sexy air that only an older woman who takes care of herself has.
‘You’re running late, Mister Horton,’ she said sternly as I strode past her into my office.
‘I know, I know. Traffic on the motorway,’ I said which was a lie as I had slept in and, Amy, my wife, was at her mother’s house.
My office was the second largest in the company. The largest was the office occupied by Cedric Musgrave, the firm’s founder and my father-in-law.
Cedric died recently and when I had mentioned to Amy that I was going to move into the old man’s office, she almost had a fit.
‘What? Father is hardly in his grave and you’re planning on taking over his office?’
‘Well,’ I blustered, ‘I thought that as I would take over the company, I’d move…’
‘The board hasn’t decided yet,’ Amy said firmly.
‘But, darling,’ I tried, ‘you’re on the board. Surely you can…’
‘The board agenda and meetings are confidential, darling, as well you know. The meeting is in three weeks. Until then, you’re caretaker.’
As Amy had the controlling shares of the company and was recently appointed Chairman, the rest of the board listened to her carefully. She didn’t really show a head for business so I ran the company on a day to day basis.
The staff knew that I was the real boss!
Amy was two years younger than I was and had enjoyed a very protected life so it was easy for me to sweep the mousy little woman off her feet. In bed, she was a little tentative and I had to do everything. As time went on, Amy actually began to enjoy sex in a very pedantic, puritanical way. She could also be a little demanding and dogmatic.
‘Mrs. Horton telephoned,’ Bonnie said smugly, ‘from her mother’s house. She seemed a little surprised you weren’t in the office.’
‘I told you, I was stuck on the motorway,’ I said sullenly, sitting behind my desk.
‘Of course, Mr Horton,’ she said smoothly. ‘Here is today’s diary.’
‘Just the board report to do. You do know the board meeting is tomorrow?’
‘Yes, yes. It’s when they’re going to confirm my appointment as Managing Director.’
‘Really?’ Bonnie said and I wondered if I saw a flicker of disappointment or something else. ‘There were no other candidates?’
‘What the hell do you mean by that?’
‘Just a matter of interest,’ she said quickly, ‘that’s all. Congratulations.’
‘We have to wait until after the board meeting.’
‘Of course. Your wife said she’ll call you later.’
‘Fine. Get me a coffee, will you?’
‘She seemed a little annoyed, Mr Horton…’
‘Amy is always bloody annoyed! How about that coffee?’
‘Did the motorway put you in a bad mood or something?’
‘I’m going, I’m going.’
Amy’s voice always sounded like she expected everyone to jump to it, no matter whom or where they were, even on the bloody telephone!
I suppose that is a result of growing up with money. I wonder what it would have been like, getting what ever you wanted all through your childhood!
I sighed. Even with the good money I was making now, it was a piddle in the ocean compared to what Amy inherited from poor old Dad!
A poor boy from the poor streets of South London could only dream of wealth like that!
‘Yes, dear?’ I automatically replied.
‘I was talking to you,’ she accused.
‘I know,’ I said smoothly, ‘and I was listening. Your mother is recovering. That’s splendid news.’
‘Yes, it is. I won’t be back tonight and I will be going straight to the board meeting tomorrow.’
I perked up at that! Tomorrow I will be confirmed as Managing Director.
‘Have you submitted your report to the board? I can’t see it in the board papers.’
‘Yes, of course,’ I lied. ‘I’ll check with Bonnie. You know she keeps stuffing things up.’
‘I’ve always found Bonnie to be remarkably competent,’ Amy sniffed. ‘Get her to fax me a copy to Mothers. Moreover, make sure the other board members have received a copy. You have done the report, haven’t you?’
‘Of course,’ I lied, hoping I sounded wounded by her accusation.
‘Fine. Make sure it is sent again, then!’
‘Yes, Mister Horton?’ Bonnie said wearily, leaning against the doorframe.
‘The board report should be in!’
‘I know that,’ she said patiently, ‘I reminded you yesterday, remember? And the day before that, and the day…’
‘Yes, yes! No need to bloody go on about it! What goes in the stupid thing?’
Bonnie sighed dramatically.
‘I’ll do it. I actually began the report three days ago when you appeared to have no interest in it.’
‘Bonnie! Can I remind you that I am the Managing Director…’
‘Not until tomorrow, Mister Horton,’ she said and walked away.
I resolved to find another secretary the moment I was confirmed as MD! Bonnie had worn out her welcome!
I nervously waited in the pub for Amy’s telephone call to advise me that I was now managing Director of Musgrave industries.
Amy had driven down for the meeting and I hadn’t been able to see her before she went in.
Hours passed and I was considering having something to eat when my mobile rang.
‘Yes?’ I gasped eagerly.
‘Todd,’ Amy said calmly, ‘where are you?’
‘I’m…I’m at the Horse and Hound…’
‘Why am I not surprised,’ my wife said icily. ‘Meet me in the building car park and we’ll drive home together.’
‘Are you going to tell me about the results…’
‘In the car.’
‘What happened, Amy?’ I asked, shooting a nervous glance at Munroe, Amy’s chauffer.
‘The board discussed many things. Your report was quite good.’
‘Why wouldn’t it be?’ I said. ‘What happened about the position of managing Director?’
‘You’ll receive a letter from the board and before you get excited, it’s not what you think.’
Stunned, I stared at her and my wife smiled thinly at me.
‘Don’t worry, the decision has been deferred for six weeks…’
‘Six weeks! Why?’ I exploded.
‘The board requires a consultant to appraise the management performance…’
‘You mean me?’
‘Among others. You are not the only candidate, darling.’
I was stunned by that news! There was someone else in the running?
‘I’ve contacted Bonnie,’ Amy went on, ‘and had her block tomorrow out for you so you can meet the consultant and spend the day with her.’
‘Doctor Kelly Madison. She’s taking on this rush job because of me.’
‘You? And why do I need a doctor?’
‘I went to boarding school with her and we’ve been friends ever since. She’s been working and studying in America for the past ten years but has just moved back to London. She’s a psychologist, darling.’
‘Will you stop asking questions, darling? It’s a board decision…’
‘But, you could have influenced the board! For god sakes, you’re the biggest shareholder and the Chairman! You could have persuaded them!’
‘Darling, there is such a thing as board governance! Now, I suggest you work with Kelly and let her get her report done. Her aim is simply to improve the efficiency of the company and I expect you to co-operate.’
At that moment, Amy’s mobile rang and she instantly answered it.
‘Kelly,’ Amy said and my ears pricked up, ‘how wonderful. Yes, it’s all set. You’re to meet Todd at his office at eight tomorrow morning.’
Eight! I silently groaned at that!
Amy listened in silence and I wondered what this Kelly Madison bitch was saying.
Amy glanced at me and I guiltily looked away.
‘I’m sure Todd is dying to meet you, Kelly,’ I heard Amy say as I moodily stared out the window.
‘Yes, Kelly, he’ll co-operate and understand that it will take all day. Let’s have lunch on Thursday. Bye.’
Amy dropped the mobile into her handbag and smiled at me.
‘I know you will co-operate, darling, won’t you.’
‘Do I have a choice?’ I said bitterly.
‘We’re very fortunate to get Kelly,’ Amy said, ignoring me, ‘she’s very innovative and, some say, a genius. I’m sure we will all learn heaps from her.’
I turned away and stared out the window again, trying to think whom the other candidate was.
Perhaps, I suddenly thought, there was more than one?
I could have asked Amy but I knew she would not tell me.
As we drove homewards, I compiled a mental list of people who could be candidates.
Nicholas Andrews, the Director of Sales. Smooth and likable and I wouldn’t put it past the bastard to weasel me out of what was mine. If it is him , I’ll give him the boot once I’m MD!
Ashley Stevens, Director of Marketing. Poised and sophisticated blonde who has rebuffed me every time I’ve tried it on with her. The veritable ice queen. If she gets the job, I’m finished!
‘Penny for your thoughts, darling.’
‘Just thinking about work.’
Amy took my hand.
‘Darling, don’t get so stressed. Everything will work out.’ She snuggled close and put her hand on my thigh. ‘Perhaps,’ she whispered, ‘we can have some fun when we get home. It’s been ages since we’ve made love, darling.’
‘I’d like that, darling, but I’m so tired and, yes, I am worried about the business.’
‘Never mind, darling, we can wait. You’ll feel better tomorrow. We’ll have a “date” tomorrow night, yes?’
‘Ah, sure, ok.’
‘A date it is, then,’ Amy said and winked in what she thought was a sexy fashion.
(First Published 2007)