Dane(7)

By: Leddy Harper


“How much do you know about him?”

“Who? Mr. Kauffmann? Almost nothing at all. It was the business as a whole that got to me. I wouldn’t be working for him, so to speak. I’d be working for his corporation, but ultimately, I’d work for the people who need saving.”

Her answers impressed me and nearly had me hiring her that second, but I had to continue with this for the sake of appearances. “I get very busy and I need a lot of help. I don’t need someone to fetch my mail or make me coffee. I have a receptionist to handle the basics—phone calls and faxes. I wouldn’t require my assistant to handle those things. I need someone who has the ability to make split-second decisions, someone who has corporate perception. Is this something you think you’d be interested in?”

She bit her lip, contemplative almost.

“Is there a problem?” My voice came out harsher than I intended. I held my breath until she answered.

She sat straighter in her chair, resuming the confidence she’d sat down with. “Well, sir…”

“Dane. You can call me Dane.”

“Okay, Dane…you asked me a question I’m not sure how to answer. I mean, you’ve only explained the things you don’t need me to do. I would definitely be interested in not fetching your mail or coffee or answering phones and faxes.” Her smirk nearly rendered me speechless.

And then my own lips curled, reigniting the burn in my cheeks that had started last night. “You’re absolutely correct, Eden. I apologize. Your job would include compiling lists of possible acquisitions, researching all those possibilities, and rejecting the ones I shouldn’t bother with to save me time. I may ask you to gather additional background information, or attend a meeting in my place…that sort of thing. Your job would pretty much be to make my life easier.”

Her grin widened and the green in her eyes deepened to the color of a genuine emerald. “Yes, Dane. That I can do.” She exhaled and her shoulders fell slightly. “This is the type of position I aspired to gain by working here. Wow. I’m not sure what else to say.”

I looked her right in the eyes and acknowledged, “I know a good thing when I see it. I’m not the only one making out in this deal. I promise you that.” I let that sink in before continuing. “But I do have to tell you, taking this position would require you to travel some. I will be relying on you, and eventually, entrusting you with a lot of responsibility. I was serious when I said I don’t need you to run menial errands. I need you to do what I do to help me out.”

“I can handle that. I’m the person for the job.”

“Good. I like to hear that,” I said with a smirk, remembering the advice I’d given her last night. “Can you tell me a little bit about why you chose this line of work?”

“Have you ever seen the movie Rain Man?”

I nodded and wondered where she was going with this.

“Well, I loved the movie and idolized him.”

That wasn’t the answer I expected. “Which one, Dustin Hoffman or Tom Cruise?”

“Dustin Hoffman.”

“The autistic one?”

Her brows scrunched together and her lips pursed. She straightened her spine and her shoulders became taut, but not in the confident way I’d seen this morning. More of an insulted reaction. “You may remember his character as being autistic, but I remember him as a numbers genius.”

“I didn’t mean anything bad by it—”

“People with autism—and take note, I didn’t say who suffer from—are beautiful and smart, highly intellectual, and incredibly gifted. I’d be willing to bet they could do your job better than you. They are amazing individuals who happen to think differently, but people like you are too ignorant to see that.” And then she was out of her seat.

“Wait.” I stood, holding my hands out to stop her. “That’s not what I meant. I am not ignorant. I don’t see people by the color of their skin or their gender. And I certainly don’t see them for any disease, illness, handicap, or any other label put upon them.”

I paused to catch my breath, needing to take control of my temper before continuing. “I know what I said sounded ignorant, and I apologize for that, but please understand the words simply came out wrong. I only meant to verify which character he played. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie.”