The One Nighter(3)

By: Shauna Hart

She grimaced at the receiver, thinking that it was just like him to still expect overtime even when she would soon be without a job. Still, she made her way through the girls milling around the entrance. Hesitating at the door, she took a deep breath to steady herself before knocking softly.

“Come in,” Mr. Turner called out.

She walked in, her stomach in knots.

This was it.

He looked up as she entered, putting the papers down.

“Have a seat, Melanie.”

He motioned to one of the overstuffed leather chairs. His silver hair glinted in the amber glow cast by the green executive lamp. The wrinkles surrounding his blue eyes seemed to deepen as he smiled. He removed his wire-rimmed gold glasses and laid them gently on the top of the desk.

“Well, I’m sure you’ve heard the gossip by now,” he began.

He shifted in his chair uneasily, and she was momentarily rewarded by knowing that this was as difficult for him as it was for her.

“It’s hard not to,” she answered honestly as she twisted her hands nervously together in her lap.

“I’ve decided to sell the agency,” he confirmed with a finality that rang in her ears.

“I see,” was all she could muster.

“I think that you will really like the new owner. He’s much younger than I am, and I think he can bring a freshness to the business that I can’t.”

His words left a bad taste in her mouth as she mulled them over.

A freshness?

Funny, the agency never had a problem making money before. It seemed that the freshness Mr. Turner was looking for was nothing more than an easy excuse. She continued to give him her very best attempt at a steely glare. The cold silence caused him to let out a nervous cough.

“I don’t want you to worry about anything, though. I’ve already talked to Mr. Mason, and he’s assured me that he won’t make any changes in the staff for at least six months. I’m hoping that will give everyone ample time to find something else if they decide they can’t work for him.”

She couldn’t deny that she had known this day would come eventually. But she hadn’t thought it would be so soon. She wasn’t ready for everything she had worked so hard for to crumble. As she listened to him blithely reassure her, she felt as though years of her life were disappearing before her eyes.

“I see.”

“I made sure that your position will be secure, Melanie.”

He opened his mouth to say more but was interrupted by the buzzing of his intercom.

“Mr. Turner, your six o’ clock is here.”

She got up and walked out, refusing to look back when he called after her. Stumbling through the office with eyes blurry from unshed tears, she barely noticed the sympathetic stares from the other women. She collapsed into her chair, allowing it to take the brunt of her weight. Emotions began to bubble to the surface, emotions she’d suppressed for the past few days. After all the years she’d worked for him, all of the late nights, all of the weekends, that was it! He’d made sure her position was secure.

For how long?

She wasn’t naïve. New owners didn’t care about her nights and weekends in service of another man. New owners only cared about the bottom line, and despite Mr. Turner’s assurances, when he signed the papers he would walk away without a second glance.

After a long weekend spent obsessing about the inevitable, Monday became increasingly worse. Jill came over to her cubicle, exceedingly bubbly considering the circumstances.

“He’s here!”

“Who’s here?”

“The new owner, and he is sooo hot.”

She watched as Jill disappeared around the corner. Melanie rolled her eyes. She could care less how hot Satan was; he still wanted to steal her soul.

“Melanie, can you come into my office? There’s someone I would like you to meet.”

With a heavy sigh, she stuck her tongue out at the phone.

So, this was the moment when she would meet the devil face to face.

She stood up, walking slowly toward the office. Standing in front of the closed door, she braced herself for the worst before pushing it open.

Mr. Turner sat in a maroon leather chair sipping scotch from a crystal glass. She couldn’t see the man joining him because the chair was facing the opposite direction. As she entered the room, he stood.