He arrived from his personal trainer’s private facility five minutes early. She had already brewed him the first espresso of the day and had picked out a suit for him. She gave him time to change before stepping into his office. The view always impressed her. It was like the entire city was laid out at his feet.
“What’s first for me today?” His voice came out of the walk-in closet.
“You have a 9 AM conference call with Bob Sanders from the Election Committee, sir.”
“Remind me, is that the committee for the senate or presidential race?”
“Presidential, sir. The senatorial committee won’t be calling until after lunch.”
“Just as well.” He emerged checking his golden cuff-links, the tailored suit ensuring the benefits of his workouts were emphasized. “Did you send out those gift baskets I picked out?”
“Yes, sir. The committee should be getting them today or tomorrow.”
“Always good to grease the wheels a little.”
“If you say so, sir.” She gave him his espresso. He sipped, and gave her a satisfied nod. Little gestures like that indicated a good mood, which in turn had her biting her lip and reminding herself to stay focused on the job for now.
“A 10 AM review for the shareholder’s meeting this Friday.”
“It should be brief, our stocks are up. Hand me that red tie, would you?”
She reached into the closet and handed it to him. “It does go better with the suit, sir.”
“Thank you, I thought so.” He began to tie it, regarding his clean-shaven face in the mirror. “Will any of our overseas offices be attending?”
“I haven’t heard any give confirmations, sir. With tensions on the rise, they may be unwilling to travel.”
“Well, the oil refinery people, I can understand.” He frowned, not getting the length of the tie quite right. “But the plant owners from China should be able to make it. It’s not like their workers need constant supervision to churn out their products.”
She stepped in front of him, taking his tie in her hands. She didn’t dare look at his eyes as she fixed it. It might be difficult to form a sentence if she let herself get lost. “I think they’re worried about the public image, sir. Public sentiment being what it is.”
“Ah.” She could feel his smile. She didn’t need to see it. It had an effect on her anyway. “The notion that we owe them astronomical debts. People might think they own this company.”
“That’s the theory, sir.” It’s you that owns them. And me. She stepped away from the tie, smiled and retrieved her tablet. Better focus on this and leave the rest for later. “You still have an 11:30 lunch appointment with the mayor.”
“The usual pre-election shenanigans, I trust. He’s probably worried that all the protesting has put me in a foul mood.”
“Some of the banks are certainly unhappy with the protests, sir.”
He walked to the window, hands behind his back. She watched every move he made. Master of his domain.
“Let the people talk. They like their own voices. It doesn’t change what we do or the reality of the situation.” He turned back to her, and this time she didn’t look away. “As for the mayor, I’ll let him lunch me up. Let him think his re-election is assured so he can focus on the infrastructure bill for the city. Once that’s out of the way we finance his opponent into office, so he can work on the civil rights issues our current mayor’s been ignoring.”
She nodded. Tempted as she was to take down a note to that effect, she knew such things were best left undocumented. She didn’t know how much of this was known to other members of the corporation, but she wasn’t about to betray his confidence. He walked towards her and she turned her eyes back to the tablet. She could smell his cologne, and very faintly beneath it, the tang of his sweat from working out in the early morning.
“Senatorial committee is, as I said, after lunch. Then at 2 is the weekly review of domestic productivity, followed by the CFO going over next quarter’s budget with you.”
He rolled his eyes. “That old codger does love his numbers. Maybe I should shift our funds again, to keep him on his toes.”
She bit her lip. “Didn’t a bank fail the last time you did that, sir?”
“And they were gobbled up by one of the larger ones. Survival of the fittest, my dear. What cannot survive is devoured.” He paused, looking down. “Are those your new Choos?”
She glanced down at her shoes, the skinny heels and the odd but playful combination of leopard print and patent leather. His scrutiny made her blush. “Yes, sir.”
“They look great on you.” He turned away and finished his espresso. She immediately collected the cup and saucer. “I’ll be needing you later this afternoon, perhaps into the evening. I’m sure I’ll have several letters to dictate.”
“I’ll be right here, sir.” Waiting for you.
He smiled. “Good to know. What would I do without you?”
I’d rather know what you want to do with me… She bit her lip again. “Type your own letters?”
He laughed. “Fair point. But I can’t make decent espresso to save my life. Thank you. I better go get this day started.”
“Good luck, sir.”
Nodding, he walked out the door. She cleaned up his office and sat at her desk outside. It’d be a day of taking phone calls, making appointments and sorting information. Tedious work. She didn’t care.
The most powerful man in the world, a man who for all intents and purposes owned the country, needed to have these things organized and coordinated so he could maintain his level of control. He needed his itinerary laid out like his suits. He needed her.
And she, for entirely different reasons that made her knees weak, needed him.