7 - Unforgettable

“Mr. Grayson is unavailable to take your call, but I can pass on a message for you.”

Lydia was somehow juggling three binders, her smartphone, a stack of unstapled sheets, and a large coffee while handling the phone call with the utmost professional demeanor. She sounded downright automated.

“I will make sure your message reaches him. Thank you, Mr. Li. We look forward to the conference tomorrow.”

The phone dropped back into the pocket of her slim suit jacket, and Jia was left mystified by how exactly the woman had achieved such a feat when both of her hands were still full. Lydia seemed to think nothing of it as she proceeded to speed down the corridor with all the urgency of a Formula 1 car on a straightaway. Somehow, despite being taller than the blonde and most definitely possessing a longer stride, Jia found herself panting slightly to keep up.

“Daniel is our Chief Operating Officer,” said Lydia as they rounded a corner at breakneck speed. “But forget titles, and forget the hierarchy - after Mr. Grayson, Daniel is the second in command. Everything that costs even a single penny in this place, it all goes through him in the end, understand? That means nothing happens without his eyes on it. If you're used to annual budgets, get un-used to it real quick. He adjusts every department every quarter, and no exceptions.”

Jia had never had to deal with budgetary concerns in the first place, so she rather thought she wouldn't be bothered at all. Lydia clearly had no idea that she had little experience in anything beyond the almost the lowest rung of retail employment. But she wouldn't share that. She had the distinct impression that revealing it would only catapult Lydia into record-intensity convulsions.

“Daniel,” Jia repeated instad, the downward tilt of her inflection revealing her uncertainty. “Do you all normally address him by his first name like that?” 

Click - clack - click - clack. Lydia’s stilettos ate up the tiles even more rapidly as she accelerated without warning. “Yes, that’s what he prefers. But since you’ll need it for sending faxes and other official paperwork, his last name is Durham. Got that?”

Jia nodded, and then remembered Lydia didn’t have eyes on the back of her head with which to see her. “Yes,” she said. “Daniel Durham, understood.”

She felt a rare pang of regret over not possessing a device on which she could store a reminder. Maybe she should invest in a smartphone after all, at least the cheapest one she could get. Struggling with a ten year old flip phone was getting harder and harder to justify with each passing year, but what could she do? These devices were becoming so expensive, and the phone plan by itself was already pricey -

“But he does have one rule. Don’t ever contact him outside of working hours, which for him is nine in the morning to five in the evening. Absolutely no exceptions, except in the case of death or dismemberment.”

Jia winced. “I understand.”

"I'm serious, Jia. No exceptions."

What, did she think that Jia had nothing else to do after work hours? What reason would she have to harass a man after he had gone home? A simple email would sort out such things nicely, and besides, that wasn't the man she would be working under anyway. If anything, the only person who she would need to contact after hours was probably going to be Mr. Grayson. She hoped not, but...

"Yes, no exceptions. I understand."

“Good. Here we are.”

Lydia came to a halt so suddenly that Jia almost collided with her, but quite luckily, she got away with just a minor sensation of whiplash in her neck. She quickly steadied herself and paused as her senior then turned and all but charged through a set of double glass doors. Jia scurried in after her, still wondering how Lydia could possibly be doing anything that required the functionality of opposable thumbs when her arms were clearly full.

“Meghan, I’m going in to see Daniel. And yes, I have an appointment. Just sent him a message, so hush.” Lydia breezed past the desk with an outraged-looking brunette woman sitting behind it.

“You can’t just - Lydia, get back here!”

“Goodbye, Meghan.” The blonde didn’t even miss a beat. She booked it with a fierce, determined clatter of her stilettos to the back of the receiving room and toward another set of double doors leading to an inner office.

“God, I hate you!” Jia heard ‘Meghan’ exclaim, but she noticed the woman did nothing but grumpily return to her paperwork. Pretty, Jia thought. Why were all the women in this place so beautiful? She felt out of place, clumsy, and so dull compared to them. She raked a self conscious hand through her hair, wondering how Meghan could have styled her hair with such a sweeping look like that.

She quickly averted her eyes when she realized she had been staring over her shoulder, unsure if she had even been noticed. Unlikely, probably. To be fair, with a gale-force storm like Lydia whirling into the vicinity, she supposed her chances of sticking out was about the same as a single leaf in a hurricane.

Indeed, the brunette was still throwing glare after glare at Lydia and Lydia only.

What a relief. Jia let out a slow, quiet breath. It was good to know that she could still fly under the radar, at least. She didn’t plan on staying here long anyway, but with the way things were going in her life, people seemed uncommonly interested in making her life harder than it had to be. No sense in risking it by letting anyone make eye contact with her, much less acquaint themselves with her.

Lydia’s knuckles rapped twice on the white door with two sharp knocks, and this time, she waited for an invitation. “Daniel,” she said through the door, her voice crisp and loud. “I’m here with my assistant, Jia Moon. Mr. Grayson would like me to leave something with you, and also to collect the report he was waiting for.”

“Come in.”

The smooth tenor that came from within the room surprised Jia. A young man? She had thought it would be a gruff, old, possibly lecherous old man who would have such a prestigious title like Chief Operating Officer, but then again, the CEO of Pandora Lights was none other than the youthful Atlas Grayson. Maybe it was one of his school chums, Jia thought dubiously. Rich people did things like that, didn't they? Slide in a few favors and cushy jobs for each other?

The door opened, and Lydia stepped through. Jia followed in quickly afterward, chasing her heels - and gaped at the sight that met her. She knew that man, she thought. She couldn’t possibly forget a face like that -

“Hello, Ms. Moon. It’s good to see you again.”

Comments (2)
goodnovel comment avatar
I love Lydia! She’s clearly a fast learner.
goodnovel comment avatar
Trisha Sunshine
Lydia is awesome ??

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