Romance by the river

Chapter 4 - welcome aboard

Laura woke up first the next morning, and made the short walk to the kitchen and looked through the boxes of bakery purchases. She was still groggy and sore from her activities the prior night, and she stood quietly in the kitchen, wearing her long, hot pink night shirt, making their morning coffee. Patrick soon joined her, waddling past in his boxers and going straight to the counter for one of the coffee cakes. His next stop was at the silverware drawer, where he retrieved a fork and then went to the ornate kitchen table and seated himself in his usual chair, facing out toward the front gate. With still not a word, Laura fixed the usual two cups of coffee and brought one over to him, and seated herself across from him. She watched as Patrick started eating the coffee cake, and she made it a point to keep quiet about it, not wanting to start the day off on a sour note.

They sat through the first cup of coffee before either said a word, and even then, it was only a simple "g'mornin" as they both felt lingering tension, even though they had tested each other's limits the night before. As Patrick continued to work through his coffee cake, Laura saw that he had segmented off about half of the oversized confection, and she felt better about his controlled gluttony, almost victorious in a way. She loved her big man, but still, she had her limits, with her tendency toward unbridled bitchiness if his overeating crossed a certain threshold. But only Laura knew those exact parameters. With almost no warning, as Laura stood up to get her second cup of coffee and offered same to Patrick, she went to the edge of the cliff, by saying, "So tell me, did HR get back to you about your candidate that you wanted?"

Patrick immediately noted her past tense verbiage, and cued in on the word "wanted". He countered with "Oh yes, we took care of that yesterday. She starts in two weeks. The offer goes out today," he said. Hardly expecting what followed, Laura then went over the cliff---tossing her ceramic coffee cup into the porcelain sink, shattering the cup and splashing coffee in every direction, and angrily stormed out of the kitchen on her way to the balcony at the other end of the living room. She went outside and closed the glass door behind her, and seated herself in the chair, where she remained for the next hour, appearing to take advantage of the morning sun.

Patrick cleaned up the coffee and scooped the remains of the shattered cup out of his sink, and placed the shards into the trash. He put the used dishes into the dishwasher, and then went about his usual morning shave and shower and got ready for work. Not one to miss anything, Patrick replayed Laura's short comment back in his mind over and over again, "candidate that you wanted, candidate that you wanted" and it was clear that Laura was, or at least appeared to be, colluding with someone in HR. And he couldn't be more sure who it was. With Laura still out of hearing range, Patrick called his friend Brian, a senior detective with the sheriff's office in a neighboring county. "Hey Brian, I need a couple of favors," he began. "I have a candidate to be my assistant, she's super hot and it's got Laura going crazy. The HR guy told me Kristin has a felony conviction. Can you find out what really happened, and also, check for a connection between Laura and this idiot in my HR department, Juan. I want to make sure I'm not overplaying it. I'll e-mail you the particulars when I get to work later," he said. And the plan for the day was set.

A few minutes later, while Patrick was in the shower, Laura came in from her balcony respite and used the shower in the second bathroom to get herself ready. She did not put on her business suit, instead opting for a t-shirt and jeans, with her mind set on going back to her apartment and spending that day with a few of her girlfriends, shopping. She and Patrick dressed at the same time in the master bedroom, but neither said a word to the other, until Laura was ready to go. She reached into her purse and took out her keys, and told Patrick she was leaving. "OK my love. I'm sorry you are still upset. But business, as they say, is business," he firmly stated. Delivering her second unanticipated move of the morning, Laura flagged him a bird, shouted "fu-k you, you bastard!!" and stormed out toward the parking garage outside. Patrick laughed to himself, guessing about one minute before Laura's return. Forty-eight seconds later, Laura stormed back in, saying what he'd already figured out -- that she needed a ride back to her apartment...she'd forgotten, she didn't have her car with her. "Give me about ten minutes, sweetie," he said.

When they went out to his SUV, Patrick, ever the gentleman, opened Laura's door for her and closed it once she was inside. Once he was in, it his turn to say a few things to Laura. But he was determined to keep his cool; he told Laura that the real issue was trust. "If you can't trust me, then you don't need to be in this relationship, and you surely don't need to marry me," he said. "I love you. I'm not going to qualify or explain that. You have to give me your trust," he said. He explained that Kristin was his choice, and that was final. Laura still did not take it well, but his reassurance mitigated her anger....a little. Soon thereafter, he arrived with Laura at her apartment and leaned over to give her a big kiss. But all he got was a quick peck on the cheek, followed by another hastily slammed door as Laura went to her own car and went on her way.

Patrick drove himself to work, and went to his office to find Rhonda waiting at his desk, along with two members of his staff. "Hey guys, sorry I'm running a bit behind. I had to drop Laura off at her place this morning. She resumes her teaching soon, today is her last day of spring break," he said. They carried on their meeting and after the two members of his staff left, Rhonda pulled out the HR file on Kristin, with Patrick's signature affixed from the day before. "What's the story on this?" Rhonda confronted. Patrick asked if she'd read the report, which she had. "I didn't feel that there was anything there prohibitive. Obviously, if HR has brought this back to you, they feel differently," he explained. Rhonda leaned back, and looking intently, said "This did not come to me from HR. It came to me by way of the CEO," she said. "Though it may surprise you, I'm actually in agreement with you. The CEO's office deferred this decision back to me. I'm signing off and telling them to extend, today," she said. Patrick felt as though he'd scored the game winning three-pointer, as Rhonda walked out with her own signature on the file and the decision was thene final. Three hours later, the offer call was made to Kristin, and she accepted, asking instead to start the following Monday. With approvals from both Patrick and Rhonda, the Monday start date was set.

Over the weekend, Laura returned to her apartment and full schedule of piano teaching. Patrick purposefully kept quiet, and Kristin was not mentioned by name or otherwise. On Monday morning, Patrick woke up at 4:00 a.m. and shaved, showered, dressed and was out by 5:30 a.m. He wore his charcoal grey suit, neatly starched shirt and a blazing red tie, and looked very much an executive that day. Laura called soon after from her apartment, and he played along with her, acting as if he'd just woke up and was getting ready for work. In reality, he was at his desk awaiting a visit from Brian, with the results of his inquiry. He watched as Brian's unmarked car pulled up in front and Brian walked toward the building, folder in hand.

Brian flashed his credentials and had no trouble getting past the overnight guard at the front desk, and made his way up to Patrick's office a moment thereafter. And when Brian arrived, Patrick could tell by his demeanor that the news was not good. "Well, two things, my friend," he said. "First, your young lady Kristin is really not a good choice. I can't actually show you the file, that's against state law, but I can surmise things for you. Believe me, her record before that felony conviction is wide and wild," he said. "She's been up for drugs twice, petty theft, shoplifting, you name it. The aggravated domestic battery was a plea bargain; they had her up for attempted murder for the car incident. If she's going to be your assistant, make sure she doesn't get hold of the checkbook," adding "and stay out of the parking lot if you piss her off!" with a laugh. Brian noted that since her probation, she had not been in trouble again, so "maybe the experience changed her. Who knows?" Brian checked Laura's cell phone records and e-mails from her home account, and turned up nothing. Holding up his tablet, Brian showed the camera feed from the company's cameras. "I got the video feed from last Thursday, from lunch time until about 3:00 when you returned. It appears Juan and Laura took a break on the patio for about 20 minutes. Of course, we don't have audio, so it's anyone's guess what they talked about," said Brian.

Patrick reluctantly told Brian that Kristin was starting work that day. Brian shook his head. "Not good, my man, not good," he said. He invited Brian to hang around just to eyeball Kristin, and they went downstairs to await her arrival. Kristin came in a few minutes later, as Patrick and Brian walked over to meet her. She seemed to almost cower as she saw Brian walking toward her, nervous as Patrick welcomed her and introduced her to "my buddy Brian. Welcome aboard!! I sure am excited to have you here!" Patrick said. After a quick handshake, Brian left, and Patrick accompanied Kristin back to HR for her badge and paperwork. Next, they went upstairs for introductions and her new assignment. But even as the cordialities were extended, Kristin really started to worry. She and Brian had, most definitely, crossed paths before.
10 chapters, created StoryListingCard.php 11 years , updated 11 years
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Built4com4t 11 years
nicely done!