Company Ink – Deleted Scene 1

The following is a deleted scene from Company Ink. It has not been edited or proofread so please excuse its rough nature. If you haven’t read the book, the scene may contain spoilers.

I have been dreading this meeting for a year. Ever since last year when Joe DeRosiers, patriarch of the DeRosiers and Sons shipping company, said I reminded him of his granddaughter and then proceeded to ogle me across the table while I walked him through the new services in their contracts. It was gross, for many reasons. But I sincerely hope that he didn’t put his hand on his granddaughter’s hip like he did to me when I brought the contracts over for signatures. And I pray to God that he didn’t squeeze his granddaughter’s ass.

I am truly ashamed of the way I reacted, which was to do nothing because I needed the sale.

The old Dani would have verbally cut the man to ribbons, nothing vulgar, just simple scathing truths about him being a dinosaur in a changing world and the fact that his dying business was a direct result of his personal failings. I was mad enough that I probably would have even brought his family into it. I would have brought up the fact that DeRosiers and Sons was seemingly absent in sons, all fleeing the business like rats from a sinking ship with an outdated imbecile at the helm. The new Dani, the one who sells herself for chemo, pulled away but said nothing to him about the grope in order to make the sale.

The shipping industry is dominated by men. I’ve encountered more than my fair share of sexism in the five years I’ve been selling into it. It is usually subtle casual attitudes overlooked or pushed aside in order to preserve a relationship but at the expense of my self-esteem. This was something else entirely.

I immediately told Marty. He seemed more irritated at having to deal with the situation then truly upset. I notified HR and asked to be removed from the account. In the end it was decided I would stay on this account since Mr. DeRosiers and I have a rapport, which is the cowardly corporate drone way of saying, Joe DeRosiers responds well to female sales staff and I’m the only one with a vagina. But I would no longer be left alone in a room with Joe DeRosiers. This was the company’s compromise to my sexual harassment complaint, and the reason Marty will be accompanying me on this routine client renewal meeting.

I was so upset about this upcoming meeting that I only slept for two hours last night. I’ve been sleeping less and less lately as my stress builds, but two hours was a new low. As I’m waiting in the airport to catch my plane to D.C. I get a voicemail from Marty; he can’t make it today. I’ve had my phone on my lap the entire time so I can only assume he was too much of a coward to call and sent the message directly to voicemail.

I call him back, and I’m surprised when he actually picks up. His voice is terse and irritated when he barks: “Things are blowing up with one of Steve’s clients. We have an emergency meeting scheduled in an hour. I don’t have time to babysit Joe DeRosiers.”

I survey my outfit, carefully picked out for this occasion. It’s an oversized black pantsuit paired with the most boring pair of flats I own, no makeup, and I’ve pulled my hair into a severe bun pinned with a clip that subtly resembles a sword. If I had the option of wearing a parka and a katana across my back I would have worn that too. Maybe it will be enough to stave off another incident, but I doubt it.

I close my eyes tight and picture my mom in the fuzzy pink hat I bought her when her hair fell out. When they announce my flight I board, feeling like a whore despite the lack of fishnets.

Scene Break

My pace is slow as I plod my way down the sidewalk towards the DeRosiers’ office. I’m vaguely aware of the slow drag of my feet against the pavement even as my mind drifts a million miles away from my body. It comes as a surprise when a shout breaks through my haze of misery. “Dani” I hear my name but it doesn’t quite register until the second time “Dani Wallace”.

I turn around to see Dan jogging quickly towards me a leather briefcase swinging in his hand. “I thought that was you. I didn’t think we had any clients in D.C. What are you doing here?” His face is equal parts stormy and questioning.

“Preparing to be groped.” It escapes before I have a chance to reattach my corporate filter. Dan looks confused and I attempt to correct myself: “We have one client in D.C., DeRosiers and Sons. I’m renewing their contracts. Last year there was an incident. We’re not supposed to have meetings alone with Joe anymore, but Marty had to cancel.”

Inspiration strikes. I don’t know Dan well, and the last thing I need is to look like I can’t take care of myself, especially when I feel like we are starting to make some progress toward a more equal partnership. But right now, the only thing that matters to me is that I get to keep my dignity. “Can you come with me? You don’t have to do anything, I just need another person in the room so he doesn’t get handsy.”

I can’t read Dan’s expression. His eyes are flashing and there is a tick in the muscle near his jaw. I can’t tell if he’s annoyed with me or irritated at the request. He glances behind me before saying tightly. “I’ve got a meeting in fifteen minutes. I’m sorry, I can’t.”

“It’s ok, it was a long shot anyway.” I try to keep the disappointment out of my voice. “I’m sure it will be fine, there may be other people in the meeting.”

When I reach the lobby of DeRosiers and Sons I know there will be no one else in the meeting. Joe DeRosiers comes shuffling towards me across the tiled floor, white beard neatly trimmed, his suit hanging from him awkwardly, his shirt open at the collar revealing a tuft of wiry white hair. Bile rises in my throat. I wonder if I vomited on him if it would be an effective deterrent.

“Danielle” he says brightly. “Always good to see you. You seem to get younger everyday. Or maybe I am getting older.” He winks at me and from anyone else it would be a benign friendly gesture but from Joe it causes me another wave of nausea.

“You remind me of my granddaughter. Doesn’t she look like Hillary?” He beams to the white haired bespectacled receptionist. The woman nods and smiles back and then gives me an apologetic look.

I manage to avoid his hand on the small of my back by stopping to grab a cup of coffee at the courtesy cart. I don’t really want the caffeine but the thought of having some form of scalding liquid in my hand is appealing. It also helps me navigate away from his arms as he ushers me into the conference room. The conference room table is long and I choose the seat furthest across from him as I build my barricade of paperwork.

“The contracts are pretty much the same from last year. Before we walk through those, we can talk through some of the planned security updates if you’d like.”

“No need, I don’t understand all that technical stuff anyway.”

“Is there any of your IT staff you would like me to talk to while I’m here?” I ask hopefully.

“That won’t be necessary. But come here and explain the contracts to me. These are always so confusing to an old guy like me.”

Bullshit I think.

My next move is interrupted by the sound of quick footsteps in the hall and the low rumble of a male voice. High pitched feminine laughter echoes down the hall and then the conference room door swings open and the light from the doorway is briefly blocked out by Dan Kelly’s tall form. He enters the room flashing a dazzling smile to the receptionist behind him. Sweet Lord, it’s a good thing he rarely smiles because his full smile is enough to launch a thousand estrogen fueled warships.

I don’t like to think of myself as the damsel in distress type. I’m quite capable of taking care of myself, and I’ve spent most of my life making sure I could do so. But sweet baby Jesus does it feel good to be rescued. Right now Dan has me considering trading in my stilettos for glass slippers.

“Sorry I’m late.” Dan says with a guilty look. “Dani, you probably didn’t think I was going to make it.”

“No, I didn’t.” I stutter, but then quickly recover. “Joe this is Dan Kelly one of SOAR’s Vice Presidents. Your business is important to us and I wanted you to have the opportunity to meet some of our senior staff.” The lie falls smoothly from my lips as Dan extends a hand to Joe and takes the seat next to him.

“I was just about to walk Joe through the contracts.” I say as I make my way to the other side of the table, contracts in hand, feeling more confident that my ass will remain unmolested.

“Why don’t I take care of the contracts while you get us some coffee. I could use a cup. Black, please.” Dan says and I stop mid-stride.

Coffee orders are the bane of my existence at SOAR. After our lunch, I thought we had reached an understanding or at least a more level playing field. I was hoping for better from Dan, but then I catch his eye and the knowing look there allows me to let go of the disappointment that had started to creep into my opinion of him.

I hand the contracts to Dan. “Joe can I get you anything?”

“Cream and two sugars please.” is his disappointed response.

I fill the order at the courtesy cart glad to be free of the conference room, even if it is to do a coffee order. I push the door back open with my hip making sure not to spill either of the two cups in hand. Dan straightens from where he is whispering in Joe’s ear. It might be Heimlich instructions because Joe looks like he is choking. Dan’s face though is calm and he even smiles as I re-enter the room.

“I think we might need those coffees to go. Joe and I have already reviewed these contracts. It’s amazing how much progress you can make when you remove distractions.” Dan gives Joe a none to gentle nudge in the ribs. Joe doesn’t respond. He is busy scribbling his name along the bottom of the page.

“Joe it was great to meet you. I trust that as long as Dani is on your account we’ll get the chance to meet again.” Dan says as he stands and takes the pile of papers from Joe.

“Goodbye, Danielle, or ahhh Dani. Thank you for coming all the way out, I appreciate your time.” Joe gives me a tight smile from across the table as he rises to see us out.

I blink, confused, as Dan hands me the signed contracts. I tuck them into my bag and manage to say: “Thank you Joe, I’ll send you the countersigned documents tomorrow.”

Dan holds the door for me, the receptionist gives Dan a hungry conspiratorial grin as we pass, and then I am outside on the sidewalk my eyes adjusting to the bright D.C. sunlight.

“I have no idea what just happened, but thank you.” I say looking up and into his face. His expression is almost unreadable but then he says: “You asked for my help.” His eyes are soft and the line of his mouth is softer. I have the briefest glimpse of a different Dan Kelly, a possible crack in his icy veneer.

Then it is gone and he snaps back to the no nonsense Dan I’ve come to know. “But I really do have a meeting I need to be at.”

“Yes, of course. But seriously Dan, thank you. I owe you one.”

“I’ll think of a way you can repay me.” he calls over his shoulder as he jogs down the street and it sounds like a challenge. If I squint I’m pretty sure I can see his cape fluttering in the wind. I’m left alone with whirling thoughts and three hours to kill before my flight home. Three hours of time to myself, that never happens. I am going to read, and I think I’m in the mood for something with a knight in shining armor.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Kat Colburn. All rights reserved.