Executive Perks(7)

By: Angela Claire

“No, actually, they think it was just kids. You know, out for fun. Something about how it was done.”

“Okay, I’ll talk to IT about it. Monday.”

Noticeably light of any baggage as she made her way to the elevator—she kept a complete wardrobe at the country house so she could drop in whenever she had the time without the need to think about packing—Virginia felt like a truant grade-schooler.

“Virginia? You could not possibly be thinking about leaving the office now, could you?”

The reproving voice stopped her as she was about to step into the elevator.

She turned guiltily to see her uncle, hands folded across his chest, shaking his grizzled gray head at her, his patrician face frowning. Uncle Victor, her great-uncle actually, was sweet and a very capable businessman, but he still treated her as if she were twelve years old and needed to be watched by a grown-up.

“Hello, Victor.” She had dropped the “uncle” after she took control of BFD in the hopes that it would temper Victor’s somewhat patronizing attitude toward her. It hadn’t. “Actually, you’ve caught me on my way out to Bransport.”

“I just heard about the standstill from Brendan. You must have made quite an impression on Mr. Winston to win that kind of concession after only one meeting.”

Inexplicably, Virginia bristled and was about to protest that Winston’s behavior had nothing to do with her when her uncle cut her off. “But I think congratulations are a bit premature. The document isn’t signed until it’s signed. If there is one thing I have learned in my fifty years with this company, it’s that anything that can go wrong at the last minute will go wrong.”

Dreading the lecture that invariably followed any reference from Victor to his fifty years with the company, Virginia tried to reassure him. “Minlow says Winston has agreed to the document and I’ve already reviewed it. But if anything comes up, Brendan will be there to handle it.”

“Young Brendan is a fine boy, but…” At the exasperated warning look from Virginia, Victor apparently changed his mind about that train of thought. “Well, if you think he can handle it, I guess I defer to you.”

“Thank you.” Virginia leaned forward to give the stern old man a peck on the cheek. He really was sweet. “I’ll see you on Monday,” she said and stepped into the elevator, giving a quick last wave.

* * * * *

That night, it took a glass of wine, a roaring fire and the comfort of her favorite easy chair in the library at Bransport to finally relax Virginia. The drive up to Connecticut, meant to help her unwind, had just added I-95 traffic to her list of annoyances. But as she laid her head against the familiar cushioned chair back, the black night outside the picture window, she could almost let it all go. She closed her eyes.

The library always calmed her, the shelves of tomes never dusty but well-used by her sisters and brother and, when they were alive, her parents. Her mother and father, even long into their marriage, had cuddled up together on the couch and read and watched the fire. She opened her eyes. Well, at least she had the fire, even if there was no one to cuddle up to.

Once upon a time, she had thought there would be. She’d assumed she would be the half of a contented and happily married couple, but no such luck. The guys she’d dated, with less and less enthusiasm, not to mention frequency, through the years had either not sparked enough interest in her to go to the trouble of trying to get to know them or else had sparked only interest, and not of the happily married kind.

Unbidden, the thought of Aaron Winston intruded. Drats, just when she had been so successfully keeping him out of mind. She sipped her wine, never really doing much more than sip. To be truthful, Aaron Winston was the type of male who fit into that “sparking” category. All the while she had been arguing with him earlier that day, she had felt some kind of incredible, er, pull, to put it politely. She had been genuinely infuriated by his proposition, but she’d be lying to herself if she said she didn’t find him attractive.

She was, though, pretty good at lying to herself usually. She looked at the empty couch. Tonight for some reason she didn’t want it to be empty. What would it be like to cuddle up with Aaron Winston? Would he be cuddly and boyish, or manly and comforting? Looking at that huge leather couch, she could imagine him snuggling in the corner of it, a pillow behind his head, his arm around her shoulder, wearing a nice soft V-neck sweater in blue, to match his eyes…

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