Last Time …

Amelia’s meeting with Zoe didn’t go well. Zoe was unimpressed when Amelia told her she suspected that Christina had sabotaged the board presentation.

There were more surprises in store when Amelia got back to her office. A panicked Christina decided to get on the front foot and pointed the finger for the sabotage at Chantal. But Chantal was ahead of her; she’d already texted Amelia requesting an urgent offsite meeting.

By the time Richard called with news he’d been promoted, Amelia was exhausted and distracted. This conversation didn’t go well either. Richard misinterpreted her reaction as a lack of support.

It’s a few months later, so let’s see what’s happening …

It’s midnight and Amelia’s curled up on her sofa with a glass of red wine and a thick document labelled ROBERTSON PROPOSAL. The wine bottle on the coffee table beside her is nearly empty, and without her makeup she looked pasty.

She answered her phone –  it was Richard. ‘Hi honey. How’s London?’ she asked. ‘Mmm … yeah … really … that’s great.’ Stifling a yawn, she continued, ‘Oh, okay, how much longer?’

Richard nodded hello to a colleague who’d taken a seat next to him at the bar. Then he turned on his stool, took a deep breath, and replied to Amelia, ‘Uh, they think it’ll be another week before we finalise the case. Are you sure you’re fine? It’s just I never know for sure when you say that.’ After an awkward pause, he gave a relieved sigh. ‘Yep, it’s a great opportunity. How about you? What’s happening?’

Amelia gave a hollow laugh, ‘Nothing new; just the usual, work, work, and some more work. Hmmm. No, I haven’t seen any of them for ages. They’ve probably forgotten who I am.’ She stifled another yawn. ‘Yeah, friends are important,’ Amelia rolled her eyes as she spoke. ‘I’ll do something about it after we get through this latest proposal. I will, I promise,’ she added as she quaffed some more wine. ‘Night … love you too.’

Amelia tipped the remaining contents of the wine bottle into her glass, stared at the Robertson proposal, and then burst into tears.

———————————-

Keesha flopped into her chair and exhaled, ‘Geez! Amelia’s in a foul mood again this morning. It’s like she’s a different person this past few months – ever since the board presentation. You’d think she’d be happy. The success must’ve gone to her head.’

Christina smirked and glanced at Chantal, ‘I told you she wasn’t so sweet, didn’t I? Believe me now?’

‘What’s the issue, Keesh?’ asked Chantal.

‘The Robertson proposal. It’s not due for two weeks but I had to have it done early so she could review it.’ Keesha’s face screwed up from her nose outwards. ‘She’s reviewed it all right – I’ve got to re-do the whole thing! I know I’m only an intern, but seriously, she’s obsessed about checking everything I do!’

‘Cool it, hon, you’re not the only one,’ Gloria Kaufman, the experienced hand in the team, answered. ‘It’s the same deal with me.’

Collective heads turned as the ‘me too’ responses echoes around the office.

Christina’s mind was in overdrive. ‘Oooh goodie, she’s rattled. Maybe I’ve won this round after all,’ she thought. Her smirk widened into a grin as she licked her index finger and marked a notch in the air.

Surprise registered on several faces as they watched Christina. Lost in her own world, she hadn’t realised they’d noticed her.

———————————-

‘Well helloo there!’ declared an Amazonian woman with jet-black hair.

Amelia woke from her trance and broke into a broad smile. She gave the new arrival a bear-hug, ‘Hi Nicky, so good to see you.’

‘I haven’t been here before. Nice place. The name’s cute too,’ Nicky said as her Scottish eyes twinkled piercingly across Amelia’s face.

Aware of the scrutiny, Amelia dropped her eyes, ‘Yeah. It’s a pun on raison d’etre. Raisin because the food’s organic; organic café and bookshop just wouldn’t be as quaint. Shall we order?’

‘Okay, but as soon as we do you’re gonna spill the beans,’ Nicky said in a motherly tone. ‘I’ve been worried since you called, and frankly you look ghastly … still gorgeous, but ghastly.’

Perched in a corner booth, the two friends are deep in conversation when the waiter delivered their food.

‘Humph! So, what did this Chantal person say?’ Nicky was frowning.

Amelia sighed, looked Nicky in the eye and said, ‘Christina told her that she – Christina that is – had left a surprise in the numbers she’d included in the board presentation.’

‘Jesus Christ! The bitch!’ Anger thickened Nicky’s accent.

‘Shh! You know how small this town is. You never know who’s listening,’ warned Amelia.

‘I don’t care, honey; the world should know what a cow this woman is,’ Nicky’s voice was slightly lower. ‘Is there no end to it? When will we stop tearing each other down like that? Harrumph! What did you do about it?’

Amelia sighed again. ‘I’ve been dreading this question’, she thought. ‘Well, er, nothing. I can’t talk to Richard, and I don’t want to risk pissing-off Zoe any further. It’s been driving me crazy; I can’t trust anyone, I have to check and double check everything. There aren’t enough hours in the day or night. I’m so exhausted,’ tears flooded from her.

———————————-

Zoe’s in Declan’s office. He’s just finished taking her through a presentation on his laptop, and there are several folders marked CONFIDENTIAL strewn across the meeting table.

‘As you can see, Zoe, this is a serious threat to our business.’ A dishevelled Declan removed his glasses, revealing dark moons around his bloodshot eyes.

‘Hmm, yes, it’s troubling. I appreciate you sharing this information with me, boss, but I’m wondering …’ Zoe didn’t get to finish her sentence.

‘… why I’m telling you?’ he asked. ‘Because I want you to be part of the solution. The Board has asked me to get my A team working on this, and I want you to lead it.’ As Zoe opened her mouth to object, Declan put both his hands up. ‘I won’t be accepting any objections. You can do it – with help, of course.’

Zoe cleared her throat. ‘Hmm, okay, but I might need to bring some new blood into my team.’

Declan nodded. ‘I thought you would – we need to free up Amelia’s time.’

‘Oh no!’ Zoe exclaimed. ‘Ooops … he’s crinkled his brow,’ she thought. ‘I mean, it’s still early days for Amelia in the role. I’d like her to settle in a bit more.’

‘Really?’ he replied sceptically. ‘She seems to be doing extremely well. Is there anything I need to know?’ Declan’s voice betrayed his thoughts. ‘I hope I don’t have a woman-to-woman issue here.’

‘No, no, no … not at all!’ Zoe’s face is now redder than Declan’s eyes.

———————————-

What would you do if you were Amelia? What advice do you have for her? Please share your thoughts and any constructive comments in the section below.