Buy Me, Sir(4)By: Jade West
I drop him back on his beanbag and he stares at the cartoon dogs on screen.
“So?” Dean prompts. “How was day one?”
I head on through to the kitchen, and he follows me, grabbing two mugs from the side while I switch on the kettle. “Hard. Long. Tiring.” I pause. “Shit.”
I shake my head. “Nah, it’s not all that bad. I met someone. Sonnie. She seems nice.”
“A friend already?”
I nod, and then I smile. “And I saw him.”
“And did seeing his criminal-aiding ass in the flesh again cure the infatuation?”
I shake my head. “Not exactly…”
I want to tell him so much. I want to tell him that Alexander Henley smells just as good as I remember. I want to tell him the birthmark on Alexander Henley’s cheek is a perfect little circle, and his eyes have the faintest little lines in the corners, and that’s new. Newer than four years, new.
I want to tell him that I broke the rules and took the main elevator, and even though that’s strictly forbidden, he still held the door for me.
Dean stares, waiting for more, and I realise I’m grinning. Mute.
“He didn’t recognise me,” I admit. “But he wasn’t ever going to, was he?”
“Nobody would recognise you in that shitty uniform, Lissa. It’s God fucking awful.”
“Even so, it was years ago. He bummed me one cigarette, I’m sure he barely even remembers the school, let alone me.”
“Just don’t get arrested for stalking,” Dean says. “It’s not as if they don’t know how to prosecute.”
He’s joking, but not really.
He knows all about my stalker tendencies. He’s been an accomplice to most of them.
But not this time. This time he’s got to look after Joe while I go scrubbing toilets for money.
“So, what’s the plan?” he asks. “Don’t tell me you haven’t got one. You always have a plan.”
“I’m going to get to the eighteenth floor,” I say. “That’s where he is.”
“And then what? Hope he likes stripy caps and polyester?”
I shake my head, and it seems funny again. It all seems funny again.
I throw my crappy cap at Dean’s head. “And then I’m going to sniff his seat.”
He catches it easily. “I’m not even sure you’re joking,” he says.
I shrug. Smile. Make our tea, but say nothing.
Because, truth be told, I’m not even sure I’m joking myself.
BRENDA, my assistant, has a voice that makes my ears bleed. I’ve pondered it a great deal during idle minutes, and the closest comparison I’ve so far drawn is that of a poorly tuned trumpet, played through the nose.
It would be comedy, if she weren’t so thoroughly fucking prissy with it.
It would kill me to hear her squeal my name in the bedroom, and since my personal assistant is the very last person I want in my bedroom, that is fortunate. And quite possibly one of the main reasons I decided to hire her in the first place.
That and the fact she’s really fucking good at what she does.
Mr Austin is here to see you.
I’m sure her voice sounds even worse through the internal telephone system, as though some of the depth of tone is lost in transmission.
Believe me, she finds me as unbearable as I find her. But we tolerate each other. A courteous professional disdain that gets us both through the working day. I think it suits us both that way.
“I’ll be down. Get him a coffee.”
Yes, Mr Henley, sir.
Mr Austin is an arrogant, weasel-faced prick, and I’ve already seen more than enough of him this week. Another weekend late-night call, another visit to his local police station to bail him out when I should be busy spending money, not earning it.
Mr Austin is CEO at Lux Air, the pompous private jet firm, and believes owning an airline gives him special privileges.
Mr Austin believes he can drive his sports car while under the influence of alcohol at over double the speed limit through residential areas, without giving a shit for any lesser mortals who may share the same road space as him.
Mr Austin also believes I can get him off the hook every time, just so long as he pays me enough money.
Like I said, he’s an arrogant prick, but so am I.
And so we go again. The firm handshake, the pat of his hand on my arm, the warm, fake, professional smile. The same old routine as he bleats about how thankful he is that I came to his rescue last night, how it wasn’t his fault. They’ve set him up, again. Jealous assholes. Barely even a double shot of whisky.
I take the same old notes and nod in the same old places. And then I do what I always do.
“I’ll deal with it,” I say.
“Good man,” he replies, just like always.
And just like always, I deal with it.
This business is as much about connections as it is about the law. It’s about saying the right things to the right people, with the right air of confidence. That and knowing all those tiny little loopholes that infuriate the prosecution every fucking time.
They hate me more than Brenda does, just as much as they hated my father before me. But that’s okay.