Their office in Portland was not big but well-appointed. It housed twelve people, and they mostly worked on the one big account: Grabbel, Inc., an IT company providing ERP services, the client Gina would be having the meeting with.
The meeting would not be for another couple of hours, Tom and Gina sat in the conference room to prepare. Like their office in Seattle, the sight of people was scarce. The business was thriving, they were all occupied and sitting at their clients' premises.
"Have you had lunch?" Tom asked.
"No, but that's ok. But on second thought, do you have anybody here who could perhaps get me … a sandwich?" Not a problem, and Tom called the secretary to get some sandwiches, coffee, and some orange water fro
Gina came to the meeting twenty minutes late. Four people were already seated in a bigger conference room in the Grabbel's office. Tom was one of them, the rest were Grabbel's executives. Their annoyance at being made to wait was subtly shown, their slightly curved lips to acknowledge her entering the room took a little effort to pull. What a difference from the big, welcoming smiles she had been accustomed to. "Hi Gentlemen, I'm sorry for being late. I didn't know the venue had been changed until the last minute." She threw a sharp look at Tom. The meeting had been moved from their office to Grabbel's, and it was apparent to Gina that she had been the last to know, at the last minute. "You weren't around and Linda tried to reach you several times," Tom said.
They walked out, and Gina rounded on, "You were the one who suggested we talk to him, you call him." She remained standing close to Tom with her arms crossed, while he reached for the phone and called The Boss. Once connected, Tom put the call on speakerphone. Pursing her lips, Gina said nothing, making him the one to explain the situation. The Boss let Tom say his piece uninterrupted. When he was done, The Boss simply said, "Leave it to Gina. Back her decisions." Before he ended the call, Gina called his name and said, "I think Tom should not be in the meeting." "What?" Tom exclaimed.
The night and morning spent with Rhonda had alleviated his pain—the pain that he deemed silly, the pain of thinking about Gina. But, like any deep-seated pain, the agony came back as soon as the pain killer effect had worn off. In his case, the moment Rhonda was out of sight. He paced around his apartment, trying to keep away from his phone. He hadn't spoken to Gina since the night they kissed, and that was about thirty-two hours ago—the longest they had not been in contact with each other in their entire three years together. He was counting. When the yearning to hear the sound of her voice was too great to resist he decided, instead, to make a scheduled call, early. Two hours early.&n
As she approached, Gina saw the tall, beefy Raymond standing in the middle of his large office, seemingly talking to someone at the side of the room that Gina could not yet see. The taps of her shoes on the wooden floor grabbed his attention. He looked toward the door and saw the statuesque figure walking toward him. Uncharacteristic of him, his smile developed fast and wide but soon turned into a rather alarming grin. He even walked toward the door to meet her, with two open arms, fingers of one hand clutching a short, chubby cigar. "Gina, Gina, my goddess of the week! Marvelous performance! Marvelous!" His secretary who was about to step into the office bringing coffee witnessed this and was puzzled. Never had anybody heard Raymond praise anyone—let alone in the manner he displayed just now.&
"So how exactly did you achieve that feat, Gina? Tell us," Raymond said, truly eager to hear the story. Raymond made Gina tell her story from the beginning to the end, making sure she skipped no details. Every time she tried to tell the event summarily, Raymond would say, "Back up, back up a bit … how did it get there?" She finally reached the end of the full and detailed account of the meeting. She then surmised, "I have to say, while I didn't think it was his intention, Tom's misbehavior helped. I used it as a prop, to show how ridiculous they were without pointing it at them, but Tom. Grabbel saw how determined I was, and my boss here," Gina looked at The Boss with deep affection, "had backed me up."
"Let's discuss our strategy now," The Boss said, breaking the silence. "Abram will announce his decision to his executive team; he will go with us based on the majority of votes. I was told he would do it today." "So, we will be okay then," Raymond said. "Yes, if all goes as planned. But nothing ever goes as planned. The thorn in our side now is Colin the CIO …" "What the hell does a CIO have to do with this?" Raymond was already annoyed. "Exactly. His non-favorable view of us was based on his grudge against Gina. Now, if all goes well, he and his objection shall be neutralized. But what if that doesn't go well?"
Dungi was crying. He was exasperated. His last project with the company was the Doxxan account, and it was coming to an end. Once the client completed the last payment of five hundred thousand dollars, his contract with Abalido and Quinaeros Inc. would end. Yes, he was a contract employee, he had always been since he started five years ago, and Gina was not aware of that. She had been evading him, refusing his many requests for a meeting for the past two days since she came back from Portland. He had wanted to ask Gina for an extension of his contract. Portland project would suit him well, he thought. He didn't understand why Gina kept on avoiding him to talk about that opportunity. He had also tried his luck with the other Busin
Colin was mad. He knew he had been upstaged by Abalido and Quinaeros—or as he perceived it, by Gina. He didn't know how, but he could guess that there was some intervention in the process that changed it from requiring unanimity to deciding by voting. The meeting with the board of directors was moved to the following week, and he had until the end of that week to cast his vote. Adrian had already fallen in line and cast his vote on the same day Abram announced his decision to change the mechanism. Now he was the only one standing against the choice of Abalido and Quinaeros—but at one against four, it had no impact, he would just be the odd one out. But if he fell in line as Adrian did, Abram—thus Gina—would have their unanimity after all. Damn you, Gina! A pickle. A dilemma for the crooked-hearted.&