This has taken rather longer to produce than expected but has been fully authorised by Andy.
Jane had regretted it as soon as she’d said it. But her boss had irritated her and it was a way of trying to get her own back through some one-upmanship. It had been intended as a throw away remark, nothing more. It clearly struck a chord with her boss though. She’d kept it lodged in her memory. Something to use with Jane at a later date.
Rebecca had called Jane into her office after lunch on Friday. The working relationship between the two of them had been frosty for a while. Rebecca might be older but most of the office, Jane included, felt that Jane should have had the promotion. However, Rebecca now had the big office and was the boss. It had clearly helped that Rebecca was a close friend of the CEO. Some of the office thought a ‘friend with benefits’.
Jane knocked at the door to the corner office. “Come in. Hello, Jane. Thank you for dropping by.” Since her preferment Rebecca had become quite brusque. “How’s the work on the Verity account going?”
“Oh, quite well. We’ve almost finished the new model and should be able to get the proposal done by the end of next week.”
“That’s good.” Rebecca stopped and gave Jane a hard look. “I’m having a party tomorrow evening. Just a few guests. Close friends and one or two customers.”
“That’ll be nice.” Jane wondered why Rebecca was telling her this. It was unusual for Rebecca to stray from the work agenda. Then she reflected that if there were going to be customers at the party, Rebecca would want her there too: Rebecca might be the boss and good at schmoozing but she would need someone who knew what they were talking about.
“I’m going to use outside caterers,” preened Rebecca.
“Really. That sounds quite grand.” Jane now realised that Rebecca was going to use this as a bragging opportunity.
“Yes. They’re meant to be very good. They’ll even provide some waiters,” Rebecca purred. “Are you doing anything tomorrow evening?”
“No, I’ve nothing planned.” If she went to the party on Saturday, Jane would have to let Andy down gently. She’d promised him an afternoon’s shopping and a quiet evening together watching a boxed set of ‘Orange is the New Black’. She knew how much Andrew loved the episodes with Ruby Rose. An early night had also seemed in order.
“Good.” Rebecca’s next statement stopped Jane dead in her tracks. “You said you have a maid?”
“Well, I …” Jane stumbled.
“What’s her name?”
“Andy,” Jane replied instinctively.
“Andie. I guess she must have been born around the time of ‘Four Weddings’. Andie was quite a popular name back in the 90s. Is she polite?"
"Yes, she," Rebecca retorted, "Andie. Is she polite?"
"Yes, Andy's very well spoken."
"And pretty? "
"Yes, Andy’s attractive." What else could Jane say?
"She sounds eminently suitable," Rebecca purred. “I’d like to borrow her for tomorrow evening, please.”
“What?!” Jane exclaimed.
“Waiters can be so clumsy. And a feminine touch will be perfect with the guests.”
“Well, it’s not quite as simple …” Jane stumbled.
“It’s surely quite simple. Is Andie working tomorrow?”
“Is she going to be out with her boyfriend?’
“No.” Jane realising too late that she might have made a grave error.
“Well then, I don’t see the problem. I don’t know any companies who hire out maids and if you have an experienced one, it’ll be so much easier and more reliable.”
“Well ….” hesitated Jane.
“So you are going to let Andie help, aren't you?” Rebecca continued. “You'll only be without her for one evening after all. It's so important to show willing, especially at this time of year."
The barbed comment wasn't lost on Jane. Bonus time was approaching and she needed Rebecca's recommendation. "Oh, I'm sure Andy will be very happy to help at your party," said Jane forcing a smile on to her face.
"That's good. We wouldn't want to let our customers down, would we?"
"No, Rebecca," Jane said, still expecting to be invited herself.
"Can you drop Andy off at my apartment tomorrow evening? Say 6pm, before the guests arrive?"
"Yes, Rebecca. Will Andy be paid for the evening?"
“I don't think that will be necessary, do you. I’m sure you’ll want this to be ‘pro bono’, won’t you?”
“Er, yes,” Jane hesitantly agreed.
"Thank you, Jane. Oh, and since you're not doing anything tomorrow evening, can you go a bit faster on updating the proposal document for the Verity account? Mr.Verity will be at the party tomorrow and it will be good if I can say the new proposal will be on his desk on Monday morning."
"Yes, Rebecca," said Jane through gritted teeth.
"Well, I think that'll be all. See you tomorrow at six. Don't work too late, it should only take a few hours to re-run the models."
"Yes, Rebecca." Jane retreated quickly out of the office before she could be given more work. Back at her own office, she slammed the door and leant back against it. It was going to take ages to build a new data set based on the revised assumptions Verity had provided that morning. It would normally take a week to put together a new proposal and she was going to have to do it over the weekend with no team to help. At four o'clock on a Friday it was unreasonable to ask anyone else to wreck their weekend plans. So much for doing anything with Andy either tonight or Sunday.
The first problem though was how to tell Andy. Tentatively she picked up the phone.
Parts 2 to 15 to follow.