The new novel is coming soon. But here's a taste...
Ray’s assistant let Sophia into his office and closed the door. He was faced toward the window rubbing his chin as he listened to the conference call blaring from the speaker. Hearing the door close, he turned gave her a quick wave and held up two fingers.
Sophia nodded and plunked down at the round table. She opened her notebook and pretended not to listen, tuning into the conversation while she relished the view. Because the corner office was on the 16th floor, she could see towering cumulonimbus clouds approaching across Lake Michigan, gigantic white puffs casting ominous gray shadows on the water.
Ray walked over to the phone on his desk. “Thank you, guys. I appreciate the update. Watch those quality numbers, I’d like to see them above the required range. I’m hopping off the call now, keep up the good work.” He clicked the phone off, made a note on his laptop then looked up and smiled.
“Think it will blow over?” Ray’s aquamarine eyes sparkled like the lake behind him. Sophia relaxed, noting his mood -- it was always more fun to talk with him after a call with good news.
Ray walked over to the leather couch. “Since I had my office re-arranged, I’ve gotten addicted to the view. It’s constantly changing — waves and boats when it's sunny, and if not, great cloud patterns. I can’t believe I worked with my back to the window before.”
“Perhaps you wanted to get more work done before?” She teased as she followed him to the couch, sitting next to him and crossing her legs carefully in her tight black skirt. The heel of new her beige pump slipped off and dangled, something her old shoes would never have done. Designer shoes were cheeky.
“No doubt.” He said casually.
It was actually the opposite. After a PR trip to Asia that turned perilous, Sophia had become a friend as well as his Account Exec. She knew Ray had instituted sweeping changes to his organization and life; the layout of the CEO office was just a visible indicator.
“How’s the family?” She prompted, knowing Ray loved talking about the two girls whose pictures filled every spot on his credenza. She’d also spied a new picture of Karen, his ex-wife.
“The girls are doing very well.” He paused. “I didn’t think you’d miss the new picture! And yes, you can consider me a success in your advice giving statistics. In fact, I’m now an official Soccer Dad.”
“Oh, don’t give me that astonished look.” He shook his head with a smile. “When you have kids, you’ll get to enjoy all sorts of activities you never imagined you’d be a fan of! Anyway, I see all of them every Saturday, and not just for soccer. Karen and I are officially dating again.”
Sophia eyebrows arched. “Like high school or college?” she asked playfully. “There's a difference.”
Sophia couldn’t resist her reporter’s need to dig, despite the fact that Ray often baited her by dangling information to make her curious before changing the subject.
“None of your business, nosey. Speaking of dating, how’s your knight in shining armor?”
Sophia re-crossed her legs; her shoe heel dangled again.
“Chuck's fine.” She flexed her foot and slid the heel back on. “I’ve been warned you only have a half hour, so would you like me to start with the monthly review statistics or contract renewal information?”
Ray laced his fingers behind his head, leaning back against the sofa. Sophia noticed a hint of gray highlighting his jet-black hair.
“My new assistant says that to everyone. She doesn’t realize that catching up with you is the highlight of my day. Now, really, how’s Chuck, your sister, and anyone else you have amusing stories about?” His blue eyes were hard to resist, even though she knew she was supposed to address the client contract renewal sometime during the next twenty-five minutes. And despite his bravado, his assistants usually kept him on schedule.
“Chuck is doing well; the company he’s leading produced some samples and has gotten interest from manufacturers.”
“I thought they would, it’s a good product. I saw that coating in action when you crushed the side of my Porsche with your Prius.”
“You were chasing me!”
“Correction. I was driving with a gun pointed at my head; Drew was chasing you.” He raised his hands dramatically. “The good old days.”
She paused, reflecting. “There was certainly more going on than in these reports.”
He raised his eyebrows. “So… Chuck is doing well and ?” He pressed on.
“Yes. Moved into a new house last week.”
“You don’t seem too enthused about it – there must be more to this story.”
Sophia thought for a moment, flicking the heel of her shoe. “It is a great opportunity for Chuck. I just wish he’d not been so quick to jump into it, as they are using some highly toxic chemicals in the process ...” She pushed a stray hair behind her ear. “Plus, when he sold his house in Minnesota and moved here to work with Tomas on the business plan, I enjoyed having him so close.”
“So you miss him. Congratulations, you’re human! Plus, it’s not that far. You’ve had longer distance romances.”
She shrugged. “I get spoiled easy. Six hours seems like a long way now. I’m heading down to Kentucky Friday to take Euclid.”
“Chuck’s Lab/Saint Bernard mix. His mom was taking care of the dog while he got settled down there, but Chuck misses him and he can’t get away to come get him.”
“You’re taking that dog in your Prius?” His eyes reflected amusement. “Isn’t that a large dog — how will you fit a crate that size into your little car?”
“It’s not that small! Anyway, he was never crate trained, Euclid thinks he’s a passenger. I hope he’ll sleep most of the way, because it’s easier to keep him in the backseat then.” At this point, her shoe flew across the room into the potted fichus tree; Ray burst into laughter.
“You’re thinking I’m crazy.” She sheepishly retrieved her shoe and dusted the dirt off.
“More ways than one. ” He observed, amused.
“These shoes always do that.”
“Then why do you wear them?” Ray asked. “I’m not an expert on women’s shoes but I’m pretty sure they don’t come with springs.”
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