“Good morning!” Brianna said, entering the Coffee Room on the next day. “I didn’t know I would find you this early here today!”
She washed her hands and glanced at Chloe, who was not answering her.
“Are you ok?” Brianna asked worriedly.
“I’m fine.” Chloe answered for the first time. “I just didn’t sleep. That devil we call boss made me lose one night of sleep!”
She had her head down on the table and an empty mug in her left hand.
“Oh, really? So it’s true what they say?” Brianna sounded interested.
“What are you talking about?” she turned her head into Brianna’s direction.
“Our icy God… He was dumped by his fiancée!”
“WHAT?” Chloe jumped off the chair, taken by surprise.
“Are you kidding, right?” the brunette was discredited. “How come?”
“You didn’t know that? So why you didn’t sleep at night?” Brianna became thoughtful.
“I’m going to present the meeting in 2 hours. To all the shareholders.”
“No way!” the blonde woman was very surprised. “I’ve never seen a PA presents this kind of meeting before!”
“Another joke, Brianna? Because this is not funny at all.”
It must be punishment, Chloe thought. She always did her best to meet his expectations; she was never late for work. Just because she wasn’t there yesterday, he putted her in this position. She couldn’t sleep for the entire night, studying the project and making her notes.
“No.” Briana simply said. “The project manager always does it. Remember Felix, the guy from the fifth floor? It’s him.”
“No way!” Chloe said, while she put some coffee to herself. ”Who said the CEO was dumped by his fiancée?”
Despite her tiredness, Chloe would like to know more about this gossip. She didn’t know why, but that information bothered her.
“Everybody at this company is talking about it today, Chloe!” Brianna said a little bit louder. “It’s on the internet. Looks like she cheated on him…”
“Something it’s not right at this story.” Chloe was thinking out loud. “Yesterday he had an appointment. A dinner with her family. He canceled it.”
Chloe realized that maybe it was the reason he had canceled the appointment so promptly yesterday, with no further explanations. Obviously, he didn’t owe any explanations to her, but this was different. He was different. He looked uncomfortable somehow.
“Maybe he was trying to hide this information. The media can be so cruel and Mr. Bailey hates to be on the spotlight.” Brianna got up and made her way to the door. “Good luck today!”
“Thank you! See you around.”
Chloe spent the next hour getting ready for the meeting, locked at her office.
For a moment, she thought it would be canceled, since Mr. Bailey didn’t show up until that moment. When in doubt, it’s better to be ready. Therefore, she read all the papers repeatedly.
When the time finally came, she was sitting on a chair next to the president chair in the meeting room. One by one, the shareholders started to take their seats.
Chloe was impatient and the words of Brianna saying Mr. Bailey was dumped by his fiancée could not get out of her mind.
After a few minutes, when Chloe was about to get up and call her boss, he entered the door. Everyone in that room could feel his imposing presence.
She could smell his wooden scent when he sat beside her.
“As everyone is here, we can start.” Mr. Bailey said.
Who didn’t know him, would say he was rude. However, it was just him being himself, Chloe thought. How would he be feeling with this gossip around? This question could not get out of her head.
Mr Bailey touched her arm as he whispered in her ear:
“I need a coffee now.”
Chloe startled by the unexpected touch. A chill went through her body due to the proximity.
She went to the sideboard silently and poured coffee with trembling fingers.
Back in her seat, Chloe didn't have the courage to look in his direction. She was too embarrassed.
The meeting started with random topics relevant to the project. When it was her turn to present, she got up, straightened her grey dress, breathing in and out slowly, just to calm herself down.
Chloe did not realized her hands were shaking until she took the papers from the desk.
Mr. Bailey was watching her every move, but she was too nervous to notice it.
After 20 minutes of a great presentation, Chloe was about to finish it, when a middle-aged man, with a well combed grey hair, said:
“I think that, despite of the money, there’s no good reason to make this project a real one. Ms. Rodriguez could not convince me with a good argument. It’s a huge investment, with a big risk.” The man had a pen in his left hand, looking at everyone around the table. “I’m not sure if I will invest my money on it.”
All the other nine members around the table were quiet. Some of them glanced at each other; others were with their heads down, thoughtful.
Chloe would like to disappear in that moment. She did her best. She was frustrated, angry and tired.
She lowered her head for a while to take a deep breath and think about an answer. Nevertheless, her moment of peace was interrupted by her boss’ thick voice.
“And since when money is not a good reason for you, Mr. Carrick?” Mr. Bailey was staring at the man, with his usual glacial look. “As far as I know, money has been your only reason since day one with us.”
The middle-aged man was speechless. Just like all the other members in the room. Nobody would dare to say a word since Mr. Bailey was visibly angry.
He had the power to take someone down just with words. That was the reason why he was the CEO after all.
Chloe was staring at Mr. Bailey, with her mouth half-open. She was still on her feet, at the head of the table. She couldn’t move.
She was wondering why he defended her in front of all the shareholders.
“Well, we are done here. See you all next week.” Mr. Bailey said rudely.
He got to his feet, closing the suit button and he just left the room.
Little by little, people started to leave. When Chloe was all alone, she collected all the papers, turned off the laptop and went back to her desk.
She was confused and shocked at the same time. Maybe it was because of the sleepless night, but she wasn’t feeling more relieved now.
Chloe was taken out of her thoughts when the phone rang.
“Bailey’s Industries. Chloe Rodriguez speaking.” she answered dizzily.
“Come to my office now.” said that thick, unmistakable voice that made her shiver.
She didn’t have time to think. The phone was already off.