Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Summer lovin' fiction - No Love Policy
It's been a while since I posted one of my stories, so no time like the present. Called No Love Policy, the short-story is about a PR executive named Samantha Harding who has pretty much given up on guys. That is until she meets Daniel Forde. Problem is...he's standing between her and her dream job. Hope you like.
NO LOVE POLICY PT. 1
It’s not that I’m fickle. Lord knows I’m not. It’s not that I’m a cold-hearted witch, as my last boyfriend called me. (Well, maybe just a little). It’s just that these days when it comes to relationships, give me the loving and leave out all the “love” talk.
I wasn’t always this way. I remember being in love and everything coming up roses. But salt from the tears I dried too many times hardened into a shell over my heart and since then no man has come close to penetrating it. So far, I’ve experienced boyfriends who were commitment-phobic, voluntarily idle, potential stalkers and the proverbial village rams. What made me remove myself emotionally from the market was the boyfriend “on the down low”. Nothing kills romance faster than seeing your boyfriend hit on another guy.
My best friend and roommate Shanice wasn’t overly impressed with my new stance on relationships. A die-hard romantic, (Lord knows why when she’s had her share of hit-and-run relationships), I could sense waves of disapproval floating off her whenever a new guy stepped over our threshold. And don’t talk about my mother! Her record was permanently stuck at “Oh Lord, Sam, I can’t understand why you nearly 30 and still single. And you so pretty!”
Funny thing is, since I started my “no love” policy, men can’t seem to handle it! I’ve been labeled a tease, a tramp and accused of breaking hearts from Christ Church to St. Lucy. Oh well, what’s good for the goose is better for the gander, I always say.
“And that ladies and gentlemen, is a summary of our public relations proposals for the next quarter. Thank you for your attention.”
I smiled confidently at the board of directors of Symmonds & Chandler as I exited the PowerPoint presentation and returned to my seat at the rear of the room.
“Thank you Ms. Harding, excellent as always,” beamed the chairman Harold Fenty. He turned to the six other board members seated around the glistening mahogany table.
“Any questions before we move on to other matters?” he asked.
I smoothed the skirt of my navy Nicole Farhi suit and tried to appear nonchalant. This was my least favourite part of the quarterly presentations; being scrutinised by apathetic board members who didn’t know the difference between a press release and a press briefing.
As usual, the board only queried the budget for the PR strategies. I suppressed a sigh of frustration. These old farts could care less about the company’s image or its relations with its internal and external customers; they were strictly interested in the bottom line.
“Also, while we’re on the topic of PR,” Mr. Fenty continued, “you’re all aware that for the last three months we’ve been operating without a Director of Corporate Communications. Well, I’m happy to say the board has decided who will fill that post.”
I straightened in my seat, and my friend Robin from Accounting nudged me and winked. Since my boss Rawle Banks had retired suddenly (actually, he had been caught in a compromising position with his secretary and resigned in embarrassment), I had been holding down the fort in the Communications department. It was no secret to Robin and other work colleagues that I wanted the job, and in the last three months I had proven I could handle it.
The chairman pressed a button on his phone and asked his secretary to show someone into the room.
“What’s going on?” Robin whispered and I shrugged, just as puzzled as she was.
The door to the boardroom opened and in walked one of the finest looking men I had ever seen. Around six feet tall and honey-coloured, he sported a shaved head and neatly trimmed moustache and goatee. His athletic-looking body was clothed in a well-tailored dark suit.
“Lord have mercy!” Robin whispered, pretending to fan herself. I rolled my eyes, taking in the newcomer warily. He greeted the chairman with a hearty handshake and remained standing next to his chair. He casually appraised the room, and for a few seconds his eyes met mine. I nodded briefly in acknowledgement and he returned the gesture.
Mr. Fenty cleared his throat. “Everyone, I would like you to meet Daniel Forde, our new Corporate Communications Director. I’m sure you’ll all…”
I tuned out the chairman as shock ran through me. What the hell did he mean this was the new director? This job should be mine! A murmur rippled through the room, and a few persons sent sympathetic looks my way.
“This is bare foolishness!” Robin grumbled, “you were here working like a dog and they expect to bring in someone just like that?”
The meeting concluded a few minutes later and persons began drifting towards the coffee station or chatting in groups. I watched dazedly as the chairman introduced my new boss to the board and other staff members. Just as Robin went off to get us some coffee, the two men approached.
“Daniel, this is Samantha Harding, our deputy director of Corporate Communications. She’s a great asset to our company,” the chairman boomed, tapping me lightly on the back. I gave him a tight smile, and I swore I saw a twinkle appear in Daniel’s eyes.
“Mr. Forde,” I said formally and extended my hand. When he shook it a warm sensation travelled through my hand at the contact. Up close, I couldn’t help noticing his eyes were chocolate brown, or that he had a half moon scar on the left side of his mouth. Or, for that matter, no wedding ring was visible. I wondered briefly how he had gotten the scar and if his lips were as kissable as they looked.
“Please, call me Daniel,” my new manager smiled, revealing white, even teeth.
Damn, he’s gorgeous, I thought, before suppressing such traitorous thoughts. After all, this son-of-a-gun just stole my job! Mr. Fenty excused himself to greet another staffer and we were left alone in uncomfortable silence. I was on the verge of offering my very grudging congratulations when he interrupted.
“I know you can’t be too happy about this, Samantha. Frankly, if I was in your position I would be pretty upset too.”
I raised an eyebrow and remained silent.
He went on. “I listened to your presentation from outside. You’re good, darn good.”
“Well, as the chairman said, I’m a great asset,” I responded coldly.
Before he could reply I held up a hand. “Mr. Forde, regardless of how I may or may not feel, you’re the boss and I will accord you with all the courtesies that go along with the title. I will be available to update you on this quarter’s work plan at your convenience. If you’ll excuse me.”
I whirled and headed towards the coffee station, leaving Daniel Forde staring after me in amazement.
“I can’t believe they did that to you after you worked so hard! I would really go down there and kick somebody’s butt!” my roommate Shanice fumed as she stirred cou-cou in our kitchen.
I propped my elbows on the countertop of the rectangular kitchen island and sighed. “I work for sexist pigs who think women are purely for decoration, that’s the problem. Sometimes I feel like telling them where to stick their job.”
Shanice Spencer and I lived in a split-level bungalow in St. George, overlooking the valley. Five years previously, her parents had died in a car crash, leaving behind a sizeable mortgage. At the time, I had just joined Symmonds & Chandler and was renting an apartment at almost the same cost as Shanice’s mortgage. When she suggested I move in, have my name placed on the mortgage and assist her with the monthly payments, it was a no-brainer. She and I had been fast friends from primary school and 20 years later we were tighter than many blood sisters.
They say that opposites attract, and no truer words were said where Shanice and I were concerned. I was 5 feet 6 inches, dark brown and with shoulder-length straight hair. Shanice was pushing 5 feet, “high yellow” (according to my mother) and sported dreadlocs. One thing we both had in common was terrible luck with men.
“So, who’s this joker who stole your job?” Shanice asked as she dragged over a small stepladder to retrieve a dish from the overhead cabinet.
I thought of the brown sugar hottie who had squashed my career hopes and frowned. Under different circumstances I would have found Daniel Forde appealing; he was great looking, pleasant and, according to his bio (I googled his butt as soon as I left the meeting), quite qualified for the job. However, I usually refrained from getting involved with work colleagues and on principle I deserved to hate him just a little!
“Some guy called Daniel Forde. He’s 35 and went to Combermere. He used to work with Neal and Massey in Trinidad before moving back here recently.”
Shanice stopped scooping the cou-cou into the pyrex dish and turned to me. “He’s around 35, you say?”
I nodded and she continued, “I’ll have to ask my cousin Donnie about him, he might have been in his year.”
“It’s up to you. I’m stuck with him either way so it doesn’t matter much.” I moved to set two places on the countertop and momentarily removed thoughts of Daniel Forde from my mind.
Part deux tomorrow!