It was Monday morning, Tess felt like she should be more nervous, but she wasn’t. She wondered if she’d just been too nervous about too many things in her life and she’d blown a fuse somewhere. Maybe it was in the same part of her brain that led to her giving less of a shit about other people’s problems. She still liked people, she was still nice, but man! When they made the same mistakes over and over, and treated her in the same way, it got tiring. Eventually she tried less hard to get people to like her, and she started to become less nervous about how they might treat her.
Whatever awaited her on the 42nd floor at the bastion of Callahoun & McCormick Advertising, which she found kind of impossible to pronounce, it wasn’t scaring her in the slightest. And whatever kind of tosspot this guy was he couldn’t be as bad as all the gossipy, bitchy girls she’d come across in her time. Although, when guys didn’t like her, well, they were bigger and more horrible. Girls could upset her, but guys could scare her. She nudged this thought into the back of her mind as jumped off the tube train and onto the platform.
She put one foot in front of the other, ‘three and a half long strides, stay solid, hold your ground, let the crowd move past you’. Besides, she thought, as she stepped onto the escalator, a ton of girls had already jumped ship from Mr. Sinclair’s office. If she did hate him, if she did bolt, surely no one would be surprised, and certainly no one would stop her. That quashed her building anxiety as she stepped out of the tube station and began walking down the street.
She’d tried to imagine what sort of guy this Tobias Sinclair was. It was definitely the sort of name you’d find in a novel or something, but then, she supposed, someone had to have that name. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, it just made him seem posh and self-entitled even before she’d had a chance to meet him. She was thinking about this too much, she knew, but it was great distraction technique. She would have to meet him within minutes, and she was a little nervous. It was like meeting a fictional character, he seemed kind of otherworldly.
What do you do what you meet someone you know to be an arsehole? You go in with preconceived notions, you judge them, you’re a bitch to them. And if she wanted something regular, some kind of work that she could get to grips with and get in the habit of she would have to find some way of liking this man, or at least some way of putting up with him. She was in the lift, she still couldn’t work out what kind of game face to put on. Maybe she shouldn’t think about it, but then not thinking about things wasn’t exactly her style.
As she got off on floor 42 she felt a flurry of panic well up inside her stomach. The office was modern, and minimalist, and there were glass walls and people in black suits, and ‘oh god’ she felt sick. Tess gritted her jaw and walked through the open plan office with what she thought looked like confidence. She wasn’t sure it was working, people were looking at her. Tess followed the office around to a desk which sat outside a large glass-fronted office, two men were talking inside. A middle-aged woman, already looking torn down by the problems of the day, jumped up to meet her.
‘Oh hi. So lovely to meet you. I’m Sandra.’ The woman stuck out her hand as Tess took in the relief on this woman’s face. Tess panicked, and her thoughts kicked off ‘oh my god! This man is horrible, what the fuck have I done?’. Tess gritted her jaw again and shook the woman’s hand. ‘Right so let’s get you set up’, Sandra ushered Tess around to sit at the desk. As she sat a man in his 60s exited the office, he stopped for a moment, then turned to look at Tess. ‘Don’t let him piss you off.’ Tess really didn’t know what to do with this. The man, sensing her uncertainty, walked up to the desk and placed a hand on it carefully. ‘If he’ he began, kindly, motioning to the glass ‘gives you any trouble, you just come see me’. The man winked at her, nodded to Sandra, and walked away.
As he left Sandra began to bombard Tess with papers and information and as her brain tried to keep up with what was clearly Sandra’s desperate attempt to get out of there she turned to look through the glass. And there he was, maybe forty, tallish, slim, dark hair, dark eyes, a sort of unfortunate sneering look that he’d obviously been born with. His hairline was receding a little, made worse by the way he combed it back. His eyes were thick with thought as he read from the computer screen. So, that was him, Tobias Sinclair, the man with the newspaper.
If you’d like to read from the beginning follow this link.