Chapter 2: The Office

When my cab finally pulled up to the building my father owned, it was almost two. I walked through the solid glass doors and immediately through a set of metal detectors, watched by two security guards.

The security guards nodded and in unison politely said, ”Hello, Ms. Colby,” as they do everyday, almost as if it is rehearsed.

“Hello, Carl. Hello, Kurt.” I politely responded as I walked to the elevator, placing my identification tag on my dress coat.

There are four elevators in the building, usually they are jammed full when I arrive in the morning but since it was late in the afternoon I got an elevator all to myself. At least that’s what I thought when a briefcase stopped the doors from closing and a man holding the briefcase entered the elevator. I had already pushed floor number 26; there are only two floors above that. The 27th floor is where my father’s office is and the main conference area is, it is where all the big business deals go down. The 28th floor is my father’s home away from home, a penthouse. It is used for a place for clients to stay if there are no suites available in our usual hotels. Also it is used for employee parties or any executive may use it, provided my father is not already staying there for one reason or another. Most of the executives keep this company perk a secret from their wives and use it as a place to meet their mistresses under the guise of working late. I know many of them have done it, including my father. Its a dirty little secret that no one talks about.

The man who entered the elevator pressed button number 27; he is probably a potential client or some partner of my fathers I have yet to meet. He was about 6 feet tall, maybe a little more. He dwarfed me in size. He was extremely well built and muscular, he had brown hair that was perfectly done, with no hair out of place. He also had the most amazing blue eyes, you could get lost in the deep pools of them. He saw me looking at him, and no matter what I did I could not look away from his deep dark blue eyes. Finally, the elevator dinged and I got off on the 26th floor, but first I took one last look at him and noticed his suit that looked like it was made just for him, with what looked like brown snake skin shoes, that actually matched his briefcase. I figured he was probably gay and walked to my corner office.

I was still jet lagged and I had a headache from all that was going on. I could not believe Tony was actually dead. We grew up together, dated, and went to social gatherings together, we had our differences, mainly about who he dated, while he was dating me, but I never wanted him dead. He was just like all the other men I knew, he had two lives, a stable job, where he was the head of a multi million dollar company, and a stable girlfriend or wife (whatever the case may be), but than all the men had some dark side that very few knew about. In Tony’s case he was a playboy who ran around with any and all women and went to wild parties. I knew a few times where he would stay up for days, but he always looked good and together and work was always first.

” Good Afternoon, Ms Cobbie.” My secretary Lisa greeted me, snapping me out of my day dream.  “How was your trip?”

“Good Afternoon, Lisa.  It was exhausting as usual.  It was also unnecessary.  I wish these old fashioned business men would realize that most of this could be discussed via a conference call or video conference.  I think they are all paranoid that someone will steal their ideas.  I guess they do not realize their ideas are stole from their mistresses. Oh well whats on the agenda for today?”

Lisa laughed as she ran down my schedule. “I knew you were coming in late and would be exhausted so I made sure to make your schedule pretty light today.  At about 3 you need to meet with the designers to give them some insight on the new project.  The only other thing you have to do is meet with your father.   He has called 10 times looking for you. He will not leave a message, he just tells me to have him see you as soon as you come in. I am surprised he didn’t have security personally escort you to his office.”

“He is always so dramatic.  I wonder if he would be so understanding if I treated him the same way he treats me.  I guess that is the price I must pay to work in a company owned by my father.  Whatever, was I thinking.   Will you put this in my office so I can go see what he wants?”  I had her my coat, briefcase with the dagger in it and my purse.

“Of course. Wow this is a little heavier than usual, lots of notes from the meeting?”

“Yeah something like that.” I stated as I walked away back to the elevator.

I pushed the up arrow for the elevator, trying to figure out what I would tell my father about the conference. The doors opened immediately and I walked in and pushed button, number 27.  I always felt it should be button number 13.  I always felt more dread going to my fathers office then any other floor in the building.   I was not superstitious like other people, so seeing the lack of a button for floor 13 always made me laugh.  Even going down to the basement where all the records were stored did not give me the same sense of dread that I had every time I pushed button number 27.   I would rather see a rat, get covered in dust and sneeze for the rest of the day, then have to explain or rationalize something to my father.  No was not in his vocabulary.  He always wanted instant gratification which has always created problems in business, socially and with his family.  However, we all just have learned to accept it and make it seem like returns are going to happen sooner than they will.

The conference did not go as I had planned.  We were trying to sell some new design software that would completely revolutionize the marketing industry. It received mix reviews.  The companies with the younger executives were excited and could not wait to begin using it.  The older executives were against it and did not understand it. They as always thought the way we do things now is fine.  The only problem is the older executives run the older companies which have more money and would require more copies. So our projected profit just went down which never makes my father happy.

“Ding”  The elevators chimed and the doors opened.  I was immediately greeted with the smell of a floral scent mixed with stale cigar smoke.  My father always believed that to be a good businessman you needed to seal the deal with a good cigar.  I thought it was an archaic method, much like spitting on ones hand and shaking.  I much preferred legally binding contracts with lots of lawyers in the room and eager clients asking where to sign so they could make their tee time.

I walked straight into my fathers office, quickly glancing at Gladys, trying to determine what kind of mood he was in to determine how I needed to spin the conference.  She was of no help, it appears that she was making reservations, for what I only wondered momentarily and then dismissed it.

As soon as I opened the office doors all the murmuring on the other side stopped.  “There she is!” My father exclaimed. “I was just telling David here,  I thought you were avoiding me.”

“Father I would never and could never avoid you.  I do not think you would let me.”

He chuckled and stated, “Right your are Kat.   Well let me introduce you to David Henderson, he is from our other branch.   He has been working on a project for me. We think its finally out of the developmental stages so he has moved here to help finish testing it and work on marketing it.   He is going to be working closely with you. I wanted you to meet him and show him the ropes and help him with whatever he needs.  This is extremely important to me and I want this to work. So make it happen.”

I shook David’s hand as my father gave his usual I had an idea and now its your responsibility to make it work no matter the cost speech.  I started to tone my father out, as I looked closer at David.   He was the gentleman from the elevator.  He looked strangely familiar, as if I had seen him before.  I had not noticed it in the elevator because there was something about his eyes that had a sense of warmth and familiarity.  I caught myself staring at him and quickly turned back to my fathers lecture.

“Of course Father, whatever David needs, we will make it happen.”  That was my fathers phrase. It made me cringe every time I heard it.

“Great! So Gladys made dinner reservations for you two tonight so you can discuss everything.  Oh and I almost forgot. I promised your mother I would remind you of our family dinner on Friday.  You didn’t forget did you?”  He asked inquisitively.

“I couldn’t forget if I tried. It a family tradition and you and mom insist on remind me at least twice a day the week before.  Maybe I need to stay and work late with David on this secret project though.”

“No that will not do.  David how about you come and join us for dinner on Friday at 5 O’clock.  Its at our country house.  Gladys will give you directions. ” His question was more of an expectation, there was no room for negotiation.

“I would love to.  I do not want to impose on a family tradition though. ” David stated politely, I was unsure if he was trying to get out of it or just being formal.

“That’s ridiculous! So its settled.  Oh on more thing,” Here we go I thought the line of questioning on the conference. “David will be in the office next to yours so can you show him to his new office?” again it was more of a statement and not a question.

“Of course, umm Lisa told me you called and wanted to see me immediately, what did you want to discuss?”  As I asked the question I dreaded it.  I just wanted to get it over with though.

“This was it, I really wanted you to meet  David and get caught up on everything. ”

“That’s it there was nothing else you wanted to talk about?”  Why can I never just walk away when I get the answer I want.

“Nope that’s it. Oh are you wondering if I want to know about the conference?  I saw the sales figures you faxed over. Everything looks good. It was what I expected, besides I trust you will be able to convince the old coots you are right and they are wrong.”

All I could do was stand there, I think my jaw dropped a little.  I think that was the closest my father has ever given me for praise since I started working here.   It seemed like he was always looking over my shoulder and trying to make sure I am always doing things the way he wants them done.   Never once has he told me he trusted me on any project.  Even if I made a million dollar deal he always just brushed it off as that’s my girl or we make a great team.  Almost always taking credit even if all he would tell me is to change the poster to a brighter shade of red or make the font bigger.

“Well I have some other business I need to attend to so I will see you too later.” My Father stated as if it was some big secret business deal.  It was usually code for I am meeting the boys or meeting my mistress. I stopped trying to figure out which along time ago.

David gave my father a nod and we both walked out of the office together. AS we stood at the elevator waiting for it to come pick us up, he reached into his briefcase and handed me a file.  “I prepared this to help catch you up on what this secret project your father had me working on.   I gave you a summary to briefly glance over and I went into more depth if you look at it closer.  I didn’t know how busy you were.  Also we do not have to have dinner if you already have plans or are too busy. ”

“No it’s fine. I prefer business dinners to sitting in the confrence room discussing all the nitty gritty details.   At least at dinner if the subject is to dull you can always have a drink.  It looks bad if I drink at work.   Oh you do not have to come on Friday I can get you out of it.  I know my father is kind of pushy. ”

“No, it sounds fun.  I just got here and otherwise I would be staying home alone on a Friday night which is never any fun.  If you do not want me to come I understand. It sounds like a family affair and I’d hate to impose.”

“If you want to come see the dysfunction that is my family, by all means.  You may look forward to those lonely Friday nights. I know I do.  I will even drive you if you would like.  On one condition, if I need an out you have to help me.”

“You want me to lie to my boss? I do not know if I can do that. However, I have been known to have a sensitive stomach, and my allergies are acting up and all the stress of this new move could definitely bring on a headache.” He stated half halfheartedly.

I laughed, “Well I guess its settled, we will leave from here  at about 3 to try and avoid as much traffic as possible. ”

The elevator dinged, we got out and walked in silence to our offices.  I pointed to one and he walked towards it. I called after him, “See you tonight.”

He smiled back with almost a kiddish grin, “Of course.”

I thought to myself, maybe I was wrong maybe he wasn’t gay.  Then again maybe I am just exhausted and haven’t been around any attractive guys in a long time.  Well at least the worst part of the day is out of the way and it wasn’t even that bad.  Now on to putting out all the fires that were started in my brief absence.  I can be here for months with no issues, I am gone for a 4 day weekend and the place comes to a crashing halt.  It never ceases to amaze me.  I sat down at my desk and opened my briefcase to review my notes, when I saw the dagger again.

I had almost forgot about all the events of earlier today. How I could forget was a surprise to me.  I guess seeing my father gave me such a feeling of dread that murder and death seemed more welcome. I looked closer at the dagger.  It had a gold handle and silver blade.  There was jewels encrusted on the handler in the shape of something.  I wasn’t quite sure what but it looked oddly familiar.  The blade had an inscription in gold.  It was not English, it looked almost like Latin.  The first time my Latin classes would have came in handy and I cannot remember any of it.  It looks old but well maintained and well crafted.  I wondered what it was for or why Tony sent it to me.  He was not one to give me gifts and especially such an odd one.  I would never think he would want anyone to be in possession of a knife like object near him for fear they may find out about one of his dirty secrets, business deals not on the up and up or a girlfriend on the side. I sat staring at the dagger when my phone rang and put me back into reality.

“Kat it’s Denise Karmichael on line one from the Museum of Natural History. Would you like me to take a message?” Lisa asked.

“No, I’ll take.”  I pushed the blinking number one. “Hello, this is Katherine.”

“Hello Ms. Cobbie this is Denise Karmichael from the Museum of Natural History. I just wanted to say thanks for your generous donation,” dejavu I thought, didn’t I hear this before. “to show our appreciation we are having our annual gala to show off our new exhibit. We were wondering if you would like to come?  It will be on the 25th of August at 7 we would love to have you there.”

“Thank you.” I stated politely.”I am not sure if I can make it but you can give the details to my secretary who will let me know how it fits into my schedule.”

“Of course! We understand you are a very busy person, we just appreciate your interest in our museum so much. Let us know if there is anything we can ever do for you.”

“Thank you.  I will keep that in mind.” I paused as I looked down at the dagger. “Actually there is one thing, do you have anyone that specializes in antiquities, perhaps a dagger and knows Latin.”

Denise laughed, “Thats quite an interesting request Ms. Cobbie, however, I  know just the guy his name is Tim and he runs an antique store.  He actually specializes in knives and swords and daggers and knows many languages.  I will let him know to expect you he keeps normal business hours so he can see you whenever.  Would you like me to give the details to you or your Secretary.”

“No, I’ll take his address and location and then pass you to my secretary for the details on the gala.” I wrote down the information for Tim and quickly passed the call over.  Denise sounded like the type of person who wanted to talk all day and I did not have the time or the patience for it, especially today.

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