Rise of a World-Class Businesswoman Pt. 6, a short story by KiwiDreamer. Date added: 2012-04-25. Times viewed: 834.
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- Intro: Returning to America to begin the ascent to her ultimate elevation within the corporation, Lainey meets a guy with whom she might fit with like a hand and glove. She ponders her future options without making any decisions Well they are merely options.
Recalled to America, Lainey smiled thinking wasn’t Mal such a nice guy. In recent years she always flew business class but for this flight Mal had upgraded her, aware she’d used most of her air points flying to other parts of the UK and Europe as a tourist when taking short breaks built around weekends.
She flew from London to Fort Lauderdale in Florida where her parents now lived. She stayed four days and was pleased how well and happy they both were. She then went to her company’s world HQ in Atlanta where soon after her arrival she was symbolically inducted as Mrs Pankhurst’s deputy at a luncheon of some senior executives including Reagan Pankhurst and chaired by the chairman of the company’s governing board.
She was made to feel welcome and her young age attracted no comment and that too pleased Lainey and she felt relaxed in the American concept of formality compared with the over-the-top ceremonial ways of the Europeans.
Lainey left most of them almost helpless in laughter after the chairman, Lincoln Westbrook, asked, “And in a nutshell Lainey, what was the most significant thing you learned from all your time being stationed in Europe?”
The fourteen other people around the table waited expectedly.
“The number one message was to display greater allegiance to my employing company than to the Kingdom, the Republic or The Fatherland and secondly never say to my European associations oh that’s not how we’d do it in America.”
Lincoln thumped the table with his hand and burst into laughter, sending everyone off.
When the laughter died Lincoln said, “Well our rising star, almost from the time you first came to us Reagan said you have the ability to catch a grenade thrown at you and turn it into a spring flower. We have just had the pleasure of seeing that ability demonstrated and of course your business ability is well documented. Don’t be surprised to find yourself sitting in this chair one day Lainey.”
And that last comment was taken by everyone as an endorsement that Lainey was ‘the chosen one’.
* * *
The 29-year old expected to start off doing things Reagan wished to fob on to her, and that’s what happened. But Lainey reasoned she’d do the same thing in that position and supply some coaching as well.
Reagan didn’t disappoint her.
“To begin your immersion I want you to lead our strategic planning team. The people in the SP unit know you have studied strategic planning formerly and have involved in planning and analysis to some degree throughout your brief working life but mainly implementing or troubleshooting on planning put in place by other people. I need you to start right at the design stage because in our organization each year we review our current strategic plan but using it as reference material we start with a new page on the computerized whiteboard.”
“It’s okay, I’ll review each day’s progress and the unit actually does work as a team.”
The enormity of the task had shaken Lainey a little because strategic planning was the underpinning of the corporation’s global operations.
Ah well, someone had to be directing it, she sighed thoughtfully.
Reagan began sending Lainey to conferences and conventions to represent the international corporation. When leaving to attend one of those events she sat on the aircraft going to a conference in New York with the former head of the corporation’s independent North American entity that two years ago had been reined in to become the corporation’s North American division. He explained that had produced some economies but they had been offset by what he called ‘the overburden of bureaucracy’ that had dulled the responsiveness of North American operations by lag caused by the more complicated chain of command. She listened intently and as soon as she was in her hotel room Lainey noted pertinent points from that conversation.
She concluded that if the North American operation felt stymied, what did the South Pacific sector operators feel being controlled so tightly from Atlanta and she smiled, thinking she could guess what the group in Continental Europe thought about being controlled from Atlanta via another control point in London.
Lainey had nothing arranged for that evening and so made a call.
“Good afternoon, Harris Marshall.”
Although the greeting was clipped, his voice sounded friendly.
“I’ve been sleeping in your bedroom. I presume the sheets were clean.”
“Ah ma’am I’m afraid you’ve called the wrong number.”
“I’m Lainey Best, a blue-eyed honey blonde not quite thirty.”
He paused, only briefly, indicating to her he had a quick brain.
“Ah mother often mentioned you in her emails. She said in a really appreciative way that you were different. Already I have experienced that thinking I was about to have phone-sex.”
“Have you ever had phone-sex?”
“What do you think?”
“Well enough to know I shouldn’t attempt to answer that question because no matter how I answer, the risk of making you frown would be high.”
He laughed and said mom said I should chase after you and propose. She never mentioned as far as I recall that you had a lively brain although she did say you were very lively.”
“Do you chase after women?”
“I’ve been known to.”
“I’ve been known to make the occasional pitch as well and here am I calling you. I’m only here for two nights and am giving tonight’s welcoming cocktail party a miss. I was calling in the hope that you might be free for dinner, expecting that to be a long shot.”
“Um I regret to say I have a prior date, with a new arrival at the financial consultancy company where I work. She’s new to the city.”
“Oh that’s fine. I did call it a long shot.”
“Hopefully some other time?”
“Yes of course.”
They chatted on and after the call Harris did one of those little things that can change personal history. He spoke to Cleo and as a result called Lainey who was in the bath and thinking perhaps she might go to the cocktail party.
“Hi Harris,” she said, noting on the screen who the incoming caller was as saved on her phone (Harris Yummy).
“I’ve just mentioned to Cleo I’d been contacted by you and suggested should we invite you to join us at dinner and she said yes, in fact she said she’d like that very much.”
“Oh Harris I’d be in the way and…”
“No problem because I believe she’s already decided to spend the night with me. Come and join us at the restaurant. I’ve already called and made the booking.”
“Harris I really…”
He cut in and asked for the name of her hotel and said they’d stop by in their cab on the way to the restaurant. He’d call her when they were a few minutes away.
Harris came into the lobby for Lainey and said he felt he knew her and so kissed her on the mouth, sweetly.
“You look stunning,” he said and eyed her hair and breasts.
“My ankles look nice too,” she almost whispered and his eyes flickered and he grinned and said, “God Lainey, mum was so right about you.”
“Come on that’s enough of that flirting,” she smiled. “Off we go.”
Cleo got out of the cab to greet Lainey and accomplished that warmly. She was a real beauty and Lainey knew if she hooked into Harris then that would be it.
And so be it, she thought.
They had a very pleasant evening and Cleo knew of the corporation.
“What position do you have within the corporation?”
“I’ve recently arrived back from the UK to become deputy to the head of international operations.”
“Omigod, that will entail huge responsibilities and you are so young.”
“Young yes but they spent some years grooming me for a senior role before I became aware of it. I thought’s they’d been pushing me hard to find my breaking point.”
“It certainly is a large organization. How many countries does it operate in?” Harris asked.
Harris and Cleo were taken by surprise.
They left the restaurant at 10:30 and kissed when Lainey left the cab at her hotel.
She wondered if she would either see either of them again or perhaps she might see them at their wedding.
* * *
Nine weeks after that long weekend in New York, Lainey received a call from Harris.
“I keep thinking about you.”
“Is that you Harris? I’d deleted your name off my phone but your sound like Harris, half Pom, half American.”
“The polite word for the accent is transatlantic.”
“That’s too hoity-toity for me when speaking to friends. How are you and Cleo?”
“Four dates, sex on the last two and bye-bye Harris. She’s now the mistress of the married director of marketing, working to get a more senior job.”
“So do you have difficulty holding on to your women?”
“Lainey, tell me the truth: would you want me hanging on to a calculating woman like that?”
“No of course not and you have nobody with a shoulder to cry one and thought ah there’s Lainey, she’ll listen to my woes.”
“There are available women but you have set the bar higher and none of them can compete.”
“This is become a little too lyrical for me buddy, out with it.”
“I can’t stop thinking about you. I’ve fallen for you.”
“Omigod and you think you could bang me a couple of times that would return to you to the straight and narrow?”
Harris drew a deep breath and said he had some questions to ask. He was told to proceed.
“At present do you have a regular guy?”
“No just three irregular guys on tap if they are free.”
Harris, sounding a little nervous, said: “We don’t have an office in Atlanta but I have enough establishment clients and with the promise of referrals I could work from a home base but would have to travel a bit but that’s almost a breeze to and from Atlanta. If I made my base in Atlanta would you consider living with me?”
“Yes I would be interested enough to talk seriously about it. Perhaps it would be best if you came here to talk about it. The way I see it the risk will be all yours because I already have a great apartment and have no wish to shift out so soon.”
“All right. Um what say I pop down this weekend, arriving Friday afternoon?”
“That would be fine. I’ll have a meeting at 10:00 on Saturday that should take no longer than three hours and then I’d be free. I have no engagement on Friday evening either. Yes this weekend would be a good time.”
“Right is phone texting okay with you?”
“Yes Harris. I’m a modern girl and modern communicator.”
They made the arrangements and Harris said he was very excited about this prospect and had the feeling he was making a positive move.
“Me too Harris. I’ve been waiting for someone like you to come into my life. Thanks for making the effort.”
Lainey put down her phone and smiled. Harris would be a very acceptable and solid guy for her and he remained a sensitive guy despite his success in business. He’d not feel he had to be competitive with her and to be her leader. She thought they’d harmonize well but it was early days. But she was hopeful about Harris. If it ended up they both wanted each other long-term and he wanted two children within the next few years, she would be exactly where she wanted to be in life.
She was already financial secure, rolling in money because she found it unnecessary to spend extravagantly. And if the job took her by the throat then she would resign and down-grade to a more acceptable position requiring her to work at a pace to suit a woman expecting to be a mother of two. Perhaps she and Harris could eventually buy a business, possibly his own full-blown consultancy and she could manage it.
Ah yes. Harris looked likely.
She called her mom to report she’d found a likely lad as the English called it whereas the Australians might say, “Mum I’ve found a right ripper of a guy and he’s not up himself.”
Lainey giggled and her mom said, “Is that you Lainey. Are you drunk?”
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