Misadventures with the Boss (Page 23)
I swiveled in my chair to catch sight of Piper standing tall and patient with my first cup of coffee in her hand.
“You’re here early,” she said. “Half the office still isn’t here.”
“Got a call last night. Had to come in for some meetings.”
Her brow furrowed. “Is everything all right?”
I considered her for a long moment, wondering if I should tell her. It wasn’t usually done. Things like this tended to be need to know because they caused widespread employee panic over something that might not be a problem after all. Still, she wasn’t some gossipy assistant. She was Piper. And somehow I knew she’d have my back.
On a snap judgment, I decided to come clean. “There are issues with the merger that could lead to…downsizing if I don’t figure out what to do.”
“Downsizing?” she repeated and then snapped the office door shut behind her as she made her way to my desk and set down my cup of coffee.
I nodded. “I’m not sure on what scale yet. It could be very minor.”
“I understand. And I don’t blame you at all. I’m new and—”
Suddenly realizing how she must have taken my words, I rushed to correct myself. “No, I need an executive assistant. You wouldn’t be the one to go.”
“That’s not fair,” she said. “These people have put in more time than me. Any one of them could be a fine assistant.”
“That’s not the job they’d want.”
“You won’t know until you ask them,” she shot back. “It’s only fair. Like I said, I don’t want any special treatment.”
She made her way to the coffee pot in the corner of the room and began to fix herself a cup, and I was taken aback for a moment as a snatch of a light-blue button caught my eye.
“Are you still wearing your pin from the museum?” I asked.
She shot me a smile over her shoulder. “I thought…well, I thought it would be a nice reminder. But anyway, we have more important things to talk about than that. How are we going to save these jobs?”
“We?” I raised my eyebrows.
“Yes, we. I haven’t lost my job yet. I’m your assistant. Let me assist. Tell me, what’s our biggest concern? Shareholder confidence?”
I nodded. “There was a massive lead abatement issue with the other company last year. They own most of the buildings in the historic district, so we’re trying to corner that market and create refinished, refined luxury apartments with a hint of old-world elegance.”
“That’s a mouthful.” Piper grabbed her fresh cup of coffee and blew on the top of it.
“That’s what I said, too. A consultant came up with it, not me.”
“Oh, I know you didn’t write something that frilly. I’ve read your memos.” She grinned at me from the top of her coffee mug, and for a moment, I allowed myself to imagine how relaxing it would be to ignore the world and fall into Piper for an hour or two. To close the blinds and let all my problems fall away while our bodies eased the tension.
“Lunch today?” I asked.
She shook her head. “We’re going to be busy on this. We need all the time we can get. I’ll order lunch in for us. Now come on, let’s brainstorm.”
I nodded my acceptance. Guess it was time to stop thinking with my dick.
“Be right back,” she said and then hustled to her desk and reappeared with another huge dry-erase board.
“I’m half convinced you can conjure those from thin air,” I said.
“If only. Now let’s think.”
We drew the blinds to keep the other employees from seeing exactly what we were working on, but by the time lunch came around, we had a massive brainstorming board filled with presentation ideas and methods for preventative abatement, innovative strategies for keeping renovation of the apartments in-house, and a plan for not only keeping the jobs we had but creating new ones as well.
Piper wiped her hands together, stepped back, and admired her handiwork.
“Now,” she said, “I am going to grab our food so we can figure out how to implement each and every one of these ideas. You start drafting emails. The burger place on the corner sound good?”
I nodded, and she tossed me a glance over her shoulder as she stepped from the room again, leaving me to stare at the massive amount of work and ideas I would never have accomplished on my own.
But then again, that was the magic of Piper. No matter what happened, she seemed to sweep in and magically fix it. Already I could feel the steady, thrumming beat of my heart slowing and relaxing, my shoulders falling back into place where they belonged.
We had come up with a massive plan of attack, but if we were right—and if we devoted ourselves to the work—it just might save jobs.
Who knew? Maybe we’d be successful enough for me to give her a raise and convince her to move from her hole of an apartment.
I smiled to myself. Then I opened my emails and got to work, planning and typing so fast I hardly noticed when Piper reappeared and dropped a burger and fries on my desk before disappearing through the doors again. As the door clicked closed behind her, I let out a little groan of discontent. I liked having her nearby. I liked being able to bounce my ideas off her, but I knew why she wouldn’t stay.
She would never allow the other employees to see her with me behind closed doors for too long—no matter the reason. It jeopardized her reputation and mine, and by working at her desk she was safeguarding her status as a professional.
I understood that.
But that didn’t change the fact that I wanted her here.
The day wore on, and between bites of my now-cold burger, I’d intercepted so many emails and schedules that I hardly had time to start in on our battle plan. When five o’clock came around, my door opened, and I looked up expecting to see Piper with her bag on her shoulder, ready to head out for the day.
“I had the assistants meeting this afternoon so we can make sure we finish this presentation for the shareholders. I don’t want another burger. How about salad for dinner?” she asked.
I frowned. “Your work day is over. You don’t have to—”
“I don’t have to do anything, but I’m asking you, salad or something else? Maybe tacos? Sandwiches?”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Salad, then. I’ll put them in the fridge until we’re ready to eat.”
Without another word, she headed out the door again. I smiled to myself as I stared at the wide brainstorming map in front of me and selected the first task.
For the next three days, things pressed on the same way. In the mornings, Piper and I would review where we were in terms of our battle plan, and business as usual would creep in and get in the way. She ordered us lunch and dinner and stayed until all the lights went out in the building. When they did, she would walk into my office, sit on my couch, and work there with me, shooting ideas back and forth and taking notes on what needed to be done next.
Only then would we relieve our mutual tension in the best way I knew how.
It was a perfect, elegant system, but the long hours were beginning to wear on both of us. Already, dark, puffy circles were slowly forming under Piper’s eyes, and more often than not, I would get an email in the middle of the night explaining in some detail what needed to be done the next day, which let me know she was taking the work home with her just as I was.