Sunday, April 24, 2011
Patience is a Virtue
Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday
This is an old prompt from TWW. The words then were: feign, imply, virtue
Some stories need to be told. Miranda's begins here.
And now, it continues...
* * *
Patience is a Virtue
“When you have a moment, Miranda, come into my office.” Rob McBride flicked his head toward the door. Miranda knew he meant now, not when she actually had a moment.
He had already turned away before she nodded her consent. Miranda eyed the reports waiting to be typed out. “I guess I’m working late. Again.”
She walked into Rob’s office.
“Close the door.”
This was serious. Rob seldom closed his door.
Miranda dropped into the leather chair across from his desk, crossed her legs, folded her hands in her lap.
“I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve had several meetings with Hamerston.”
Miranda nodded. Hamerston was the competition. She assumed Rob was just telling them to stop poaching.
“They made me a pretty sweet offer. The hire bonus is more than enticing and I’m guaranteed a retirement package. I’m not getting any younger, Miranda, I have to think about the future.”
Miranda felt sick. Rob was leaving. One of the few men she could trust, and he was leaving her.
“I gave notice a few weeks ago, so head office could find a temporary replacement. No one at this branch knows yet. Management is sending out a notice on Monday. I’ll be at Hamerston when you come back from vacation.”
Miranda departed tomorrow to spend two weeks with her girlfriends in Mexico. Wendy had called on Monday to announce that Sarah could get last-minute tickets for Manzanillo at a good price. Despite the short notice, Rob had insisted she go. Now she knew why.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” She wouldn’t cry. And to be sure, she clamped the inside of her bottom lip until she tasted rust. “Were you just going to leave without saying goodbye?”
“I’m telling you now, Miranda.”
She couldn’t look at him. She was angry and hurt. It was like being abandoned.
“It’s not going to be the same without you.”
“I was hoping you’d say that.”
“What else would I say? You taught me everything, took me into your home, treated me like family. Am I ever going to see you again?”
Rob cocked his lips in a crooked grin. “I prepared something for you.”
He pulled an envelope from his top drawer, slipped out a folded page. Miranda took it and read through the three short paragraphs, glanced down below the closing line.
“What the hell is this?”
“I need your signature.”
“This is a letter of resignation, Rob. My letter of resignation, to be specific.”
“Don’t make me fire you, Miranda.”
What the hell was going on? She was just finding her balance and now her world was being snatched out from under her.
“I thought you were happy with my work.”
Rob threw his head back and laughed his baritone bark.
“I’m taking you with me. Your vacation is your notice. I already talked to HR about it. They owe you at least three weeks—plus what you didn’t take last year—so I negotiated for you and they’re giving you your two weeks as vacation and paying you out the other weeks.”
Miranda stared at him, unaware her mouth had dropped open.
“And a good severance package, of course. The deposit will be in your account by the time you come back. Hamerston has agreed on your salary.” He named a figure that was much higher than her current salary. “Plus six weeks’ vacation.”
He waved his hand, cutting her off.
“Hamerston is opening a new division, under a different name. They want me to be President. I need my wing man.” Rob grinned as he corrected himself. “Wing girl . I was thinking VP.”
“You deserve it. You do all the reports now, it’ll mean you’ll have more control over what gets approved and not. I want you to decorate the new offices, too.”
Miranda’s smile was slow and wide as she chewed over the concept. The possibilities were endless. She knew at once it was the right choice.
“This is gonna be fun.” She jumped up and crossed his office, bent down and kissed his cheek. “Thanks, Rob. I won’t let you down.”
Rob blushed, waved his hand toward the door. “Get out of here. Go get tanned. I’ll see you when you get back.”
* * *
Miranda arrived at Hamerston on her first day wearing a wrap-around dress that snugged in at her waist; the dark Jersey clung, showing off more than her tan. When she'd glanced in the full-length mirror at home, she sent thanks to her trainer. Steve was a tyrant, but he was good. Oh, yeah, damn good.
As Miranda toured her new workplace, her smile was wide and easy, implying she was well-rested after vacation. Truth was, coming back from two glorious weeks of sun was not easy. She didn’t know how she was going to get through the day without several fruity drinks and a couple of siestas.
Alone in her office, cheeks numb, hands sore from shaking so many palms, she dropped into her chair. Congratulating herself for not passing out from exhaustion and withdrawal, she allowed a small air punch.
This was it. She could feel it.
Miranda tapped away on her computer, making notes on the ideas that had come to her while she’d wandered the building: protocol she wanted to implement, concepts she thought she’d like to change. She’d have to set up some time to sit down with Rob, show him her proposal.
Out of habit, Miranda reached out, but felt nothing but empty air.
“Right. No coffee.” She pushed back from her desk and wandered down the hall to where she thought she saw the café, the aroma of brewed beans guiding her.
She opened cupboards until she found the mugs; each one stamped with the gold Hamerston logo. She pulled the carafe from the coffee machine and sniffed.
“It’s fresh. I just made it.”
Miranda froze. She recognized that voice. The deep timber shot right through her.
“It smells fresh. And strong.” She didn’t turn around while she poured, needing the time to regroup.
He came up behind her, just to her left and leaned up to open the cupboard, pulled down a mug.
“Pardon me.” His voice rumbled in her ear. God he smelled good.
He bumped his shoulder against hers and coffee sloshed over Miranda’s cup. She snatched a cloth from the sink to mop up the spill. His hand covered hers, immobilizing it.
“It’s my fault. Let me do it.”
Miranda met the dark eyes that had haunted her dreams for months. They crinkled as he smiled.
“Remember me? Craig Matthews.”
Miranda feigned indifference as she pulled her hand away. If she left it there, it would incinerate.
“Oh sure. You met with McBride once.” You wore a dark blazer and tan pants and you made my mouth water.
“You remember.” Craig did, too. The sight of her wearing that snug skirt, swinging that tight ass, would be forever burned in his mind. And when she’d bent over to dial the phone, her blouse had hung open revealing lavender lace.
Craig rinsed the cloth, folded it neatly over the tap. He turned back and held those chocolate orbs, wide like a doe and just as skittish. He picked up his coffee and took a sip, never releasing her gaze. He reached up and tucked a stray curl behind her ear, reminding himself that patience was not only a virtue, but also a reward. Somehow, he knew this one would be worth the wait.
“Welcome to the team, Miranda. It’s good to have you on board.”
Miranda stood alone in the café, gripping the counter for balance. Blood pounded in her ears as she wandered back to her office, trailing her hand on the wall for support.
She sat in her chair for ten minutes before she realized she’d left her coffee back in the café.
* * *
Miranda's story continues.