Reed buried his face in his hands and slumped his forehead against the cold wood of his table. He could feel his muscles spasming involuntarily while he repeated the mantras he’d got from his therapeutics years ago. He was trembling all over and it was becoming painful, the way his stomach muscles kept contracting and releasing. He was trained, but this was entirely different set of movements – as if he’d pressed some electrical shocker on his six pack and leave it there.
They were not working. He still wanted to kill the bastard in the office around the corner for messing up his report, forcing him to do extra work and sending a row of salesmen on a wild goose hunt for some checks he’d misplaced in his tiny office. The place didn’t even hold that many folders to lose anything! And then he’d found them carelessly tossed in the pile of incoming checks, where he should have removed them right after he’d typed them into the filing system and put them in the correct folders.
Thank god he had door between him and the rest of the world or he’d given his secretary a wonderful view of…
Two knocks on the door meant secretary. He didn’t bother to call her.
She came in with a large mug of coffee and set it on the table in front of him.
“Little has left the building.” She informed, waiting with the pad in her hands.
“Thank you, Teri.” He mumbled, pushing himself up and leaned back against his big chair.
“Mike can drive anybody crazy,” she added a moment later and by the sound of it, she wasn’t sorry, “but I know he is good at what he does.”
This should be the place he should ask her not to talk about others in the office this manner, but Reed felt calmer sensing Teri was in the same boat with him. The second that thought entered his head, his mind flew him back in that tiny sitting nest between the house and the sea and he could almost smell the salty air.
“I’m more worried about the things he’s bad at.”
“We could…” she paused and her eyes narrowed a bit before clearing again, “we could give him an assistant? Sheryl is coming back from maternity leave, so…”
“So we give her a new baby to watch after?”
“It wouldn’t be that bad. This one at least can talk back.”
And Sheryl never was the one to just take it. “Alright,” he agreed after a thought, “let her have him. She can go over that office and reset it.”
She didn’t raise her pen to write it down, for really, there was no need for it, but she wouldn’t leave either.
“You are your cheerful self today again?” she began after a long pause Reed used to get acquainted with the coffee. “Are you fighting with Tomas?”
He nearly blurted the coffee. They had never been on friendly terms with their secretaries, but working together for five years had to count for something, he thought. Otherwise that would be.
“That’s none of -”
“Of course it is, sir!” she turned to being polite. Kind of. “We don’t want the company to break up, we’re working people after all.”
“And I am not?” He retorted, his voice low and menacing. He’d always hated when people suggested as if he was there only to warm the cushions. She blushed beet red and Reed shot a hand out before she could dig herself any deeper. “I like you, Teri, but this is not your business. This is family matter. And you can tell those hyenas there too that if they have time to blabber around about my private life, I will rip their reports to shreds and have them do the paperwork again! And they will do it if they want to keep their jobs!”
He was close to roaring by the time he finished with his declaration, watching Teri shrink back to the office door. She quickly opened it. She apologized quickly. “Sorry! But that would be office harassment!” She squeaked and a quaint smile lit her eyes. Before the door closed behind her, he heard her explain to the people sharing the meeting table right outside the office. “He wouldn’t do that! Can’t you see he’s just upset?”
The door banged shut and he was left alone for half an hour to cool his head. He needed it, but the silence was driving him off the cliff faster than the speed of work had been and after gulping down half of the coffee, he headed back out, already reading the next report he wasn’t happy about. He’d be civil, like how he’d been with Mike Little, and he would not explode to their face. They didn’t know what he was going through and they didn’t have to know, nor suffer the consequences of his own family’s stupidity. More precisely, Tomas’ stupidity.
Quarter an hour later he was standing in his office, giving one of his oldest employees information of their next target, when he saw a familiar figure appear on the office front door on the other end of the large open space work room. He gulped, hard, recognizing the man’s gray Mohawk hair pulled into a small bun on the back of his neck, while his still dark short beard framed the rest of his face while his mustaches brought effectively out the silver nose ring, which glinted with integrate carvings, making the normal looking piece of jewelry stand out even from this distance. The look was completed with black framed glasses that matched his jacket and the dark gray pullover under it, giving the man a recognizable intellectual look.
His eyes wondered around the spacious place until he located his office box in the far end of the room and him. He started towards them, clasping a newspaper harder against his chest.
“Mister Hadfield, sir!” He let out, frozen on his place on the door of the office, when the man was in hearing distance.
His workers gave them a curious look, hearing him call Roy sir, but he couldn’t help it. He gathered they must be at odds, because he treated nobody as if above him. Not even his own father nor anybody else on higher places. But oddly, he couldn’t help it and that gave the man an aura of awe it seemed. As if an elf had wondered into their realm. Good manners didn’t die after spending three years in strict school, where every teacher had to be treated with respect, even if the guy only had few years between them.
Roy’s eyes were dark and red from rubbing. He looked frightened, like a man facing a lion, but he couldn’t hide the anguish behind his reasons as Reed saw him blink quickly and new wetness welling up from the corner of his eyes and Reed frowned, with heavy stone setting itself in his stomach. Something must have happened if he was here. Something with Tomas.