Rocked by Him(10)

By: Lucy Lambert



***

It felt like I'd only just sat down. I cradled my head with one hand, not caring how it messed up my hair, as I stared at the computer screen. The brightness was turned most of the way down, so that I had to squint just the barest amount to see the PowerPoint presentation opened on it.

I had a few pieces of paper spread out across my desk, all of them bullet points, talking points, buzzwords about the thermal properties of a new type of plastic. I had to have the presentation done by today, since Bud needed to give it to prospective clients tomorrow.

If I skipped lunch, I thought I would have just enough time.

Then the phone rang. I swore under my breath as I grabbed the receiver. I needed to figure out how to turn the volume down on it,

"Jennifer Snow," I said.

"Sweetie! Why don't you just come on over to my office. I got something I need to run by you," Bud said, the bluster in his voice muffled only slightly by the phone.

I looked at the clock on my monitor. I really needed all the time I had. But he was my boss.

"I'll be right over."

I walked over to his office, shooting Lucinda a questioning look. She shrugged. That instantly made my bad feeling worse. If it was company business, wouldn't Bud's secretary know about it?

Shouldn't she have been the one to call me to his office?

Bud headed me off at the pass. Just as I was about to tell Lucinda that I needed a washroom break, he opened the door.

His face was like a swollen red tomato, the whites of his teeth like a line of mold across the flesh as he smiled at me.

"Sweetie! Come right on in," he said, stepping back so that I could move past him.

Before he shut the door, he said, "Hold my calls, sugar. I'll let you know when we're through in here."

"Yes, Mr. Lough—"

He shut the door, cutting her off. It felt like he'd just cut off my only chance at escape.

"Take a seat," he said.

Since the only chair in his office was behind his desk, I knew he meant to hop up on his desk like he enjoyed doing.

"I'm good standing."

"Have it your way, sweetie," Bud said.

Sweetie? Why did he like calling me that so much? Did he think I was some little girl? Was he going to ask me to put some pigtails in my hair for tomorrow?

The hot knife twisting in the back of my skull started going faster. I could feel the blood vessel in my forehead doing its best to pop out of my skin.

I was hungover, dumped, and in a terrible mood. I didn't deserve any of this!

"Mr. Loughery..."

"Bud!" he broke in, leaning against his desk and clasping his fat fingers over his stomach as he smiled at me.

"Bud... I don't mean to be 'that girl,' but could you please stop calling me 'sweetie?' My name is Jennifer. Or Miss Snow."

Bud held his hands up in mock surrender. God, he really must've thought I was a little girl.

"You got it, Jennifer. I wanted to talk to you about yesterday."

Was he going to apologize? For a second there, I felt almost happy. Perhaps the world wasn't such an awful place after all.

"It's okay, Bud. We all have urges..." I began.

"I just wanted to know if you thought it over. You know, my offer? It... still stands."

He put his hand on my shoulder, rubbing his thumb into the flesh just below my clavicle. It was an insistent rub. A hungry rub.

A revolting rub.

Before I could think, I slapped his hand off me. His eyebrows shot up as I jumped back.

"You don't have to be mean about it, sweetie."

"Mean? Mean! Mr. Loughery, this is sexual assault!" I said through clenched teeth. The strength of his grip left a lingering ache in my shoulder.

His phone buzzed. Bud leaned over his desk to push the intercom button.

"Yes, Lucinda?"

"Is everything all right, Mr. Loughery? I thought I heard shouting."

"Everything is fine, sugar. You just keep on holding my calls. Got it?"

He let go of the button before Lucinda could reply.

"Well?" he asked, turning back to me.

I never understood in movies and books when a character talks about their mouth dropping open out of shock. That just wasn't how people acted. Or so I thought.

My mouth did drop open then.

"No," I said.

"Are ya sure?"

"Never. Not in a million years."

Bud sighed. It was a long-suffering, exasperated sigh. A sigh that made me actually feel like I was five, and that I'd just done something to displease a grown-up. I really, really hated this guy.

"Well, that's unfortunate. I have a call to make, so why don't you get back to work on that presentation? Oh, and here's a bunch of new material I need you to look over and add in. Got it, sweetie?" Bud said, sliding a folder across his desk towards me.

I picked it up and leafed through it. My stomach dropped. This was going to take at least another two hours to go through! I wouldn't be able to get out of her until seven or eight, at the earliest.

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