All That He WantsBy: Olivia Thorne
Well… I was.
But we’ll get to that, too.
She laughed, then put on the sad face again. “Do you think you might be able to come out with us to the club?”
Anh had a bunch of friends who went out clubbing on Fridays to blow off steam. I had been able to join them exactly one night in the last four months.
“No,” I sighed, “it’s one of those Friday nights.”
“Awwww,” she said, and patted my head sympathetically, sort of like you would a poodle. It’s something she started when we first roomed together in college, and it stuck. By the way, she’s the only one who can do it and live to tell the tale. “Text me when you get off. I’ll slip away, get some Haagen Daaz at the grocery store, and we’ll crack open a bottle of wine back home and watch a bad romantic comedy.”
I love my roommate. Have I mentioned that I love my roommate?
Five minutes after Anh left, Klaus came out with his briefcase.
He was a short man who managed to be both scarecrow-skinny and yet have a small pot belly going on beneath his pricey suit. Except for a perpetually sour look, he was okay looking. Between that, his money, and the authoritative presence he struck that many women would mistake for confidence, he seemed to do all right with a certain class of Los Angeles gold digger.
“I need those documents for Teramore thoroughly proofed,” he snapped.
“Not like last month on the Morings report,” he added snidely.
I had missed something minor – which meant Klaus had missed something minor, too, since he was supposed to proof all the reports, but would he ever admit to a mistake on his part?
See, that was a trick question. Klaus doesn’t make mistakes. According to Klaus, anyway.
The client had joked about the mistake in a phone call.
Klaus does not like to be laughed at. Or about. Or near.
So I had been catching hell for, oh, three weeks or so.
Inwardly I seethed. You make twenty or thirty great saves, and no appreciation. You make one lousy mistake, and you hear about it for weeks.
“Okay,” I said, forcing a smile.
“I don’t have time to continually look over your shoulder,” he continued.
I had to grit my teeth.
I’ll be staying four hours late tonight, when you could have just gotten the work to me earlier instead of dithering on the changes. Meanwhile, you’ll be having drinks at the ‘hottest new restaurant in LA’ with some silicone princess. And not ONCE will you be looking over my shoulder the entire time, asshole.
“Your continued employment here is dependent on your making a better effort. I hope you understand that,” he said, checking his smartphone.
If nothing else, I have learned self-control in my six months as Klaus’s secretary. Because there are many times when I am ten seconds and one letter opener away from a 20-year prison sentence for murder.
I think I could get off on temporary insanity, though.
If I made a video recording of how he treated me, I think it might even be ruled justifiable homicide.
“Understood,” I said in as annoying and chirpy a voice as I could manage.
“And another thing – ” he started in.
Mercifully, that was when my phone rang.
“Excuse me,” I said, relieved to escape a murder rap once again, and picked it up. “Exerton Consulting, Klaus Zimmerman’s office.”
“Hey, Lily,” a familiar voice said.
Stanley, the front desk concierge/guard. One of my favorite people at Exerton. Huge black guy, looks like he could benchpress a station wagon, but sweet as a teddy bear.
“Hey, Stanley,” I answered warmly.
“Mr. Zimmerman there?”
Stanley had had plenty of joyful run-ins with my boss through the years. He’d taken to using my ‘Herr Klaus’ nickname, too, but obviously he was worried about being overheard.
“Yes, as a matter of fact, he’s standing right in front of me.”
At which point Klaus began scowling and waving his hands in a ‘no, no I’m NOT’ kind of way.
“…although he’s on his way out to a very important meeting,” I amended.
With a silicone princess named Natalia or Buffy or Chantal.
Stanley sounded a little strange as he continued to talk. I couldn’t quite peg it, but it was almost as though he were… intimidated.
Which is hard to do with a 300-pound dude who can benchpress station wagons.
“There’s, uh… there’s this gentleman here who wants to speak to him.”
“Oh… tell him I’m sorry, but Mr. Zimmerman can’t. If you put him on, though, I’ll make an appointment for him next week.”
“Uhhh… he says he’s from LMGK.”