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Old 08-29-2015, 02:10 PM   #1
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Corporate Change

Sliding the key into the lock of her front door, Katy wearily made her way inside their apartment, followed by Matt. Their current moods contrasted; hers was tired and bordering on irritation, whereas he was elated and energised. Her Converse sneakers did not make a sound on the laminate flooring as she entered the open plan kitchen and living room to put the kettle on. “Do you not want a beer?” Matt asked, opening the fridge and retrieving the last bottle of Corona. “We can split it.” He smiled, pulling her close. “I really appreciate you being there tonight, Kay. It’s always a much better gig when I get to share it with you.”

This sentiment, although kind and compassionate, gave Katy a real twinge of guilt. She wished she could have enjoyed herself this evening- her boyfriend’s band were really great and they were a lovely group of boys- men, they were a great group of men. However, when one gets up before 6am to do battle with the morning commute in order to perform a demanding job, being kept up until after 2 o’clock is not ideal- especially when it is a common occurrence. “I know, I know, I’m your muse.” She teased, kissing his stubbled cheek. “You have the beer, I’m going to get ready for bed.” The young woman walked down the hall of their small apartment and into the bedroom. Sitting on the bed, undoing her laces she absentmindedly looked at the collection of Polaroids which hung delicately on the cream wall. For all Matt’s job could be annoying at times, her boyfriend’s occupation had allowed her to travel around the world whilst in her early 20s- a time in her life where disposable income was practically non-existent and a job did not tie her down to the same extent as it did today.

Having got ready for bed, the leggy brunette re-entered their open plan living space, wearing a non-descript t-shirt and black briefs. She prepared a mug of tea whilst watching Matt, he was engrossed some X-Box game. She appreciated his exposed forearms as he pushed the buttons a little harder than necessary, causing his ink clad muscles to flex. He cursed under his breath, as his dark eyes narrowed, obviously taking a dislike to come occurrence within the game. There had been a time, not too long ago where she would have sauntered over to the leather sofa, grabbed the black plastic toy out of his hand, before tossing it aside to straddle him. Despite having been together since university their love life had never really taken a hit, however she found herself, recently, shrugging off his late night advances. She walked over to him, informing him she was going to bed as she kissed his lips. He said he’d be there in five- they both new that wasn’t true.

Just as Katy predicted, she felt rotten the next morning. Even the force of their power shower and gale force wind she was met with on the way to work did not allow her to wake up nearly enough for the monthly sales meeting. It wasn’t until she took a sip of her very strong morning coffee that her senses awoke; the caffeine kicking her brain into action. And just in time, she had been in her managerial position for six months now and although she loved the role and the new responsibilities and challenges it brought, there were others who may disagree with her promotion. To be fair, she couldn’t really blame them, from an outsiders point of view they had seen the girl join the company at twenty one, as an inexperienced graduate, only to be given responsibility of a team, budget and region: Katy was Marketing Manager for the UK. She reported to the European Marketing Manager, Frikje Vaner who had mentored the young woman, albeit from a distance, for the past four years. Katy, who was eternally grateful for the organisation’s commitment to her career progression, felt there may be some underlying motive relating to her success. The organisation, an international manufacturing firm, really needed to up their game and move away from their current male dominated hierarchy, which Katy was pleased to see they were doing. She had embraced this change, being a very visible and approachable manager; she remained at her original work space and declined the offer of her own office, although, she sometimes regretted said decision. Her people skills were excellent, reflecting in her ability to stifle any animosity felt by her colleagues for her getting the job over them or the fact they now have to answer to someone they consider relatively inexperienced. Lastly, her strategic approach had allowed her to reposition the company’s offering in a more profitable manner.

Arriving at the office, the young woman scanned her ID pass and walked through the commercial department, wishing those who had arrived prior to her ‘Good Morning’. Reaching Marketing’s pocket of the floor she dumped her bag on her desk before asking Lucy, one of the market analysts, how she was. “Better than you, by the looks of things.” Lucy smiled, “Late night?”

“God, yes.” Katy sighed, as she hung up her black Burberry coat, revealing a crisp long-sleeved white blouse, tucked into a very fitted black high-waist pencil skirt; her Italian leather heels were a stark contrast compared with last night’s Converse. “It was really good, thanks.” She lied, “But, I can’t do with getting less than four hours sleep anymore. Anyway, there’s no point in moaning about it. Can you email me that report you compiled regarding South Africa along with a summary of the key findings, please? I need to review them before this business development meeting.”

This particular meeting was pretty important; she was yet to gain much visibility from the UK VP, Adam Nolan. She had secured her position and then a month later he had been shipped to Canada to oversee an acquisition. This was her chance to reinforce that her promotion had been a very positive decision on his part. Working closely with the sales team a strategy had been developed regarding the breaking into the South African market. It encompassed everything one would need to know about said market including the significant amount of risk, their target market and potential market share. Furthermore, she had volunteered to present it.

She walked with the Marketing Assistant, Gabby to the sales meeting. “Do you want me to book you a cab for tonight, Katy?” Gabby enquired. “It’s no trouble, honestly. I’m booking a couple of others anyway.”

“OK. Thank you, Gabby.” Truth be told the young woman had completely forgotten about tonight’s award ceremony- it was easy done. Being in London, there was practically one a week and as Marketing usually submitted the award entries her team were regular attendees. “This, one is the industry safety one isn’t it? And its plus one’s, is that right?” The assistant confirmed both questions. “Shit.” Katy muttered under her breathe, as she send a quick text to her partner, informing him thusly.

“Yes.” The assistant recalled, “There’s you, four HSEQ members, Alan, and some operations guys, too from here, and I think the four invited clients have confirmed too.”

Katy acknowledged her employees account of the evening ahead as she entered the board room. There were already several attendees already sitting around the long narrow mahogany table. “You’ve scrubbed up for your presentation, I see.” Smiled Dave, the head of sales. The pair got on pretty well- mainly because Katy could give as good as she got from the Irishman. “What do you think boss man’s gonna say about this?”

Katy shrugged, as she sat down in one of the large leather seats which surrounded the table. “I think it’s pretty good, furthermore, you’re not presenting it, so really what could go wrong?” She joked, receiving an approving smile from Dave. Redirecting her attention, when she heard the VP’s assistant entering the room, quickly followed by a rather jetlagged looking director.
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Old 08-29-2015, 02:38 PM   #2
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This was a terrible idea, thought Adam as he marched towards the boardroom. He had flown from London to Paris to Rome to fucking Dusseldorf in the space of 48 hours. He had only arrived back in London ninety minutes ago, after a five o’clock wake up call this morning for his early morning flight. He hadn’t even had time to dress properly. Now there was just enough time to get to the office and shower, shave and put on the spare suit that he kept there. At least the suit wasn't crumpled.

Ninety minutes was the longest he'd spent in London - in England in the past two and a half weeks, and that was for a flight stopover where he barely had time to phone his wife, who hadn’t answered anyway. Being away travelling had become his norm since being named CEO. Before this last trip, there was an extended stay in South Africa and previous business trips through Australia, and across the Americas. You would think the CEO of a firm would spend most of his time in his office. Adam wondered if he would even recognize his office. He offhandedly contemplated if his employees would recognize him. He had mostly been home for weekends and had conducted most meetings the past few months via conference calls for the past few months.

Pauline was a slave driver, which Adam found funny, considering she was supposedly the assistant and he the employer. It seemed she forgot that occasionally. When he landed in Heathrow, she tossed him a bagel and a coffee, then bundled him into a car. He hadn't even gotten a chance to get home.

He sent Andrea a text, letting his wife know that he was back in the country. He used to hate people who couldn't take the time to make a call. These days, he saw how efficient it was. After all, he didn't have to talk to Andrea right now. They spoken to each other last night and they'd see each other this evening and she'd pretend to have an interest in whatever it was he'd done on his latest trip. That ability to pretend to care was something he admired about her.

That sounded harsh. He loved his wife, though he sometimes wondered if he loved her for the ease with which their relationship slotted into the rest of his life. Andrea had never been demanding of his attention; she had understood that he needed to travel often and sometimes great distances as part of his job. He had started simply with a Ford Escort and a map of the UK's major motorways; that had been over twenty years ago, when he scraped through a business degree and grabbed the first job they gave him. He was forty-six now, a little more grey but still fit and full of the same energy that helped him up the ladder to the UK office's top job. The Escort was long gone; these days it was more common that he'd travel first class flights, with a driver waiting for him on either end.

"How was the continent?" asked Pauline. She was a thirty-five year old brunette with a long narrow nose and eyes like a hawk, her expression always hinting at a smirk.

"I'll tell you if I ever get a chance to look," he replied. "Remind me again why I thought it was a good idea to schedule this meeting so early?"

"No one ever said you had to be smart to be an executive, sir," said Pauline.

Adam responded with a hard laugh. Of course he knew why he was being shunted from the plane to this meeting; time, as ever, was of the essence. He'd spent the last two days speaking with the top brass of the company's other major European offices.
The big push had been ordered from way up high months ago - apparently the old man or the old man's son had decided it was a time for expansion. They'd dipped their toes in markets across North Africa and into the Middle East, but now it seemed they wanted to set their sights elsewhere.

And so Adam had jumped onto a plane and began a series of travels around the world. Tired and frustrated as he was, the executive was still excited about the possibilities. Everyone knew business had grown stagnant. It wasn't enough to be the best in Europe, not when everyone else was striving to rule the world. He had pushed hard for the chance to oversee the South African venture and had put together a team from among the best and the brightest from the UK’s office. He had relied on Pauline's help there, as well as the managers in their particular departments. Just because he wasn't there, that didn't mean business ground to a standstill. He'd done his best to keep tabs on the best prospects but was eager to see what had been going on while he was connected to the office by little more than weekly phone calls and daily e-mail.

He walked with his back straight and shoulders back, offering a curt nod to those he passed in the hall. He wasn't unpopular, but as he garnered more power in the company, Adam became aware of a need to distance him just a little. He didn't want to be unapproachable, but at the end of the day he was responsible for these people and their careers. So when it didn't work out... you needed a wall of sorts to get through the day. Whether the barrier was feigned indifference or a stiff drink alone, the separation was necessary. Though, sometimes, it seemed to take its toll on him.

"Don't forget, you have that award show tonight," said Pauline.

"Get me out of it," said Adam, adjusting his tie before they entered the room.

"No can do, boss," said Pauline with a grin. "Word is the old man himself wants you there. Potential clients and all."

"I thought being a VP meant I didn't have to hobnob anymore?" he said.

"Oh, sir, you never get out of that game," replied Pauline. She opened the door and stepped inside, Adam following on her heels.

"Good morning," he said, his dark eyes casting a glance over the assembled group. Adam wanted to see if his choice of these people months ago still resonated with him this morning. He had assembled a strong team, pulling them away from many of their usual duties to develop a plan for the South Africa push. He had a lot of faith in them; he had to, since it'd be his ass if they fucked it up.

"Let's not waste time, I suppose," he said, taking a seat. "I'm sure we have better ways we can spend the morning. Most of you look how I feel." He gave them a smile, then relaxed in the high-backed chair and tried not to fall asleep.
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Old 08-29-2015, 02:56 PM   #3
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Taking a deep breathe, Katy rose from her chair. She took a deep breath, suddenly feeling a little nervous- not that she would show it. iPad in hand, she brought the preliminary slide up on the huge screen, 1 of 20. Standing at the front of the conference room she knew her VP was not going to miss a trick here and if there was a mistake she would be in the firing line. Nonetheless she introduced the team’s research, giving a clear overview of their approach and the structure of the work. As she delivered the work she maintained eye contact with her audience, her deep brown eyes constantly reviewing his reactions, was he enamoured, disappointed, interested, bored? He certainly didn’t seem the latter, which was always something. This bolstered her confidence and she began to relax; walking to her place at the table she retrieved a summarised document. “And, as you can see here, Alan today’s market report concludes these findings.” Giving the VP a moment to review the figures, she unconsciously fidgeted with her TAG watch prior to continuing; only pausing to take a sip of water here and there.

Upon reaching the penultimate slide, titled ‘Recommendations’, the tall brunette allowed herself to almost smile as she discussed the serious investment strategy the team had formulated. Finishing with, “We forecast initial market share being 4%, moving to a potential 9% in this £8.5bn market within three years. Do you require clarity on anything, Sir?” She asked, inadvertently raising a perfectly waxed eyebrow.
Her toned calves flexed as she walked back to her place at the boardroom table, she had been pretty tense whilst up presenting and sinking into the soft leather chair was like receiving a very brief massage. The group of team discussed the points which Adam wished to expand upon. This would not be plain sailing- their VP was sharp and Katy was positive that he’s soon think of some issues with their work; but on the whole the she was happy with her performance. Walking out of the room, having discussed their encounter after Adam departed Dave patted her on the back: “Well done, Kiddo, you’re playing with the boys now!”

Returning to her desk Katy sat on its hard wooden top, causing her skirt to rise up slightly as she did. Checking her phone, she read a text from Matt; he was bitching about the fact he’s have to attend the corporate event this evening, and that those things just ‘weren’t him’. Sighing heavily, the young woman hopped off her desk and headed to a spare meeting room. “So, I’m just supposed to follow you all over London during the week and get nothing back?!” She snarled down the phone. “This is bullshit, Matt!”

“Kay, babe, it’s just not me all this corporate stuff. You understand, you've known me forever.” He whined down the receiver.

“Matt, your career- “She stopped herself from what she was about to say. Her partner’s band had been quite successful in its day, when the guys were all in their early twenties. Alas, that was not the case anymore. Most of the members had realised this and settled for other lines of work to keep them going on the side. Hell, even Matt had started producing! What bugged her was that he thought she had sold out, taken the easy option, he didn’t get it, he didn’t get her, not anymore. “Look,” She sighed, running her hands through her thick glossy hair. “I appreciate you have issues with growing up.” He tried to protest, but she spoke through him. “You think that the rent gets paid by magic, that I just go to work and design a fucking poster- fine. I don’t care! But if you can’t give me support when I ask for it then we have huge problems, Matt. A taxi will be at the flat at 6pm to pick us up, if you’re there fine. If you’re not, well that’s your choice.” She hung up, noticing the shakiness in her hand as she pressed the red icon on the glass screen. They rarely fought and when they did she usually proved quite submissive, but something seemed to have changed. Not that she had too much time to think about it, the rest of her day was packed up until she left the office at 4pm to get ready for this evenings celebrations

In typical London fashion, as soon as you needed to get anywhere fast the tube grinded to a haunt; this resulted in Katy not getting home for over an hour. Arriving at her black of flats in the Capital's up and coming East End, she sprinted up the four flights of stairs and burst into her apartment. She had 45 minutes to get ready and not that the young woman intended on going all out for this evening, she did wish to make an effort.

Opening the fridge she retrieved a half empty bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and poured herself a large glass, prior to heading into their bedroom. She could hear the shower in the bathroom, signifying that Matt was home; however Katy would be damned if she was going to quiz him regarding his intentions for the evening. Stripping out of the clothes she had worn this during the day the tall brunette examined herself in the full length mirror whilst holding several potential outfits for this evening in front of her. Katy disregarded the red one- it made her shoulders look to broad; the deep purple one was no use- it made her look shapeless. The dark green- yes, that was most suitable- the colour exentuated her dark eyes and hair, hugging her where women need an item of clothing to encompass them and the neckline and length were a good combination of alluring, whilst maintaining one's modesty.

Just as Katy hooked her black lace bra in place, Matt made his way into the bedroom. She glanced sideways in his direction as he unhooked a suit from the wardrobe and laid it in the bed. She smiled to herself as she pulled her dark green dress up over her bare, lightly tanned thigh. "You should wear the other jacket- the black textured one, it looks really nice, not corporate at all." She smiled.

"Whatever you want, Kay." Her partner sighed, causing Katy's heart to sink slightly. However, she was was running very late, so letting the comment go she left the small room to touch up her hair and makeup in the bathroom. Re-emerging ten minutes later, the pair made their way the cab in silence. This behaviour continued during the half hour ride to the Hilton Park Lane where this evenings ceremony was being held. Upon arriving at the lavish setting, the couple checked their coats, picked up glasses of champagne which were being handed out and made their way towards the company's table. Upon sight of her colleagues, Katy took her boyfriend's tattooed hand in hers, and whispered in this ear, 'I don't care what kind of huff you are in, but for the next four hours, just snap out of it.' She pulled away from him and turned to her colleges, smiling as she exchanged pleasantries and introductions before finding her name and corresponding seat at the table, between Matt and Adam.
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Old 08-29-2015, 07:49 PM   #4
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Andrea bobbed her head at Katy in greeting. "Pleased to meet you. Adam mentioned he'd promoted someone recently to handle things back at the home office. I hear you've had some good success with it. How are you liking the job?"

The waitress swung by for drink orders. After the day he'd had, Adam considered ordering a scotch and soda, but figured he'd best restrain himself to wine.

"Oh, just Perrier for me, thank you," said Andrea with a trace of a blush. “I’m a bit of a lightweight when it comes to alcohol.”

Adam’s frown almost broke through his stoic corporate smile. As it was, he couldn’t help a bit of a furl above the bridge of his nose. Andrea’s comment reminded him at how wild and wanton she became after several glasses of wine. When they were dating and in the early years of marriage a glass or two of wine almost always meant an interesting adventure later that evening. As a matter of fact, both Michael and Tony were conceived upon some expensive French vintage. That Andrea wasn’t drinking this evening sent him an unmistakable message about tonight’s after-party activities. It wasn't as if Adam couldn’t use the rest, but he would have liked to have had a discussion or at least a say in the matter rather than being preempted and shut down.

Adam clasped her hand under the table and squeezed it gently. He then placed it upon her thigh. Andrea squeezed his hand back and gently slid it off her leg as she whispered in Adam’s ear, “Maybe later, sweetheart.”

Katy looked at the interplay between Adam and his wife. She was sensing something, but couldn’t be sure what it was. Andrea noticed Katy looking at them. She smiled at Adam and whispered to Katy. "Men are certainly singularly minded at times.” This elicited a raised eyebrow from Katy, but Andrea just continued the table conversation.

Adam shook his head bemusedly. Ever since her first pregnancy with Michael, when Andrea abstained from alcohol, their sex life had changed. It has become more comfortable than exciting and perhaps even more scheduled than spontaneous. Adam missed that spontaneity. Personally, he thought Andrea an absolutely gorgeous woman who deserved his attention. Perhaps, he was just tired and a bit cranky after all the travelling.

Adam saw his wife's gaze flicker towards the man sitting next to Katy. Oh right, he hadn't introduced her to him. (Andrea was rather old-fashioned about such protocols.)

For a moment he cursed not having Pauline here. She was the one who always remembered names of spouses and such. Dammit, she should be here to do this. But that was him being jealous; he'd much rather be home having pizza and sleeping with his spouse, too.

"Ah, Andrea, this is Katy's...." Adam's gaze jumped to left hands. No ring, so probably not married, unless they regarded wedding rings as some outmoded claptrap of a bygone era? Everything was so complicated these days.

"...Katy's partner," he continued, picking what he hoped was a sufficiently generic catchall term. Now the name... Started with "M". Michael? Mark? "Matthew," he at last ventured. "Matthew, this is my wife, Andrea. If I remember correctly, you're a musician, right, Matthew?"

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Old 08-30-2015, 02:49 AM   #5
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Finding their table Katy exchanges brief, cheery ‘Hellos’, with its occupants, prior to taking her seat next to, Adam, greeting him with a smile, whilst being instantly introduced to his wife. “Hi, nice to meet you.” The young woman smiled, extending a toned slender arm across the CEO’s chest, to shake, Andrea’s delicate hand. Katy glanced at, Adam as his pretty wife complemented her prior to shaking her head. “No, not me I’m afraid. I’m in strategic marketing, been heading it for 6 months now- don’t think it would be fair to say I looked after things in, Adam’s absence. But, yes, I love it!” She added quickly.

Having ordered herself a Hendricks, Katy returned her attention back to Andrea to continue their conversation; if you got on well with the bosses wife, that would certainly hold you in good stead. However, their seemed to be some tension between the couple. Katy, not wanting to look like she was prying looked away, but Andrea caught her eye.

"Men, only after one thing"

The young woman was rather unsure how to take this comment, one it being about her boss and two if last night was anything to go by in her relationship, the answer was a games console. Making a noncommittal gesture to, Andrea she was suddenly aware of how perfectly the conversation could be diverted to, Matt.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” Katy exclaimed, placing a perfectly manicured hand on her boyfriend’s shoulder as he shook hands with the CEO and wife in turn. “Well, it’s more like part-time musician, full-time producer these days.”

“That’s nonsense!” Katy exclaimed. “Matt’s band is touring Europe in a few months and this time last year they were in The States.” She left out the part that the venues were getting smaller and the tickets were selling slower, and Matt seemed to be appreciative of this too as he gave her a warm smile.

“You’re always your worst critic, eh?” He smiled to the group. At this the young woman could feel her shoulders physically drop a few inches as she relaxed. He was out of his mood and his interesting career appeared to attract the attention of others at the table, providing an ideal ice breaker.

As, Matt answered numerous questions from the table regarding his career, Katy turned to Adam. Her department had coordinated the company’s attendance at the awards ceremony, including the entry itself. “I know you only just got back so I didn’t see the point in having Pauline bombarding you with any more than necessary, so I had Mike prepared to give the acceptance speech should we win.” Mike, the VP of Operations was sitting at the table behind Katy’s, “Also, the blonde gentleman sitting across from you.” Katy moved her head closer to, Adam’s so he could still hear her whisper. “He is a new VP at Samcor, and we are inches away from getting on their approved vender list, so you might want a word. Lastly, Supply Chain are very happy with what we are getting from Stork, their CEO is wearing the blue tie.”

“Us? Kids?!” Matt exclaimed “No! Katy has her a big enough job with me, never mind a baby. Right, Kay?” He smiled. He was kidding. Sort of.

The evening progressed as company personnel worked the room, flitted between their chairs to eat their meal and work the room prior to the awards beginning. It was some ex-Olympic swimmer presenting the awards for numerous industry accolades: people development, health and safety, rising star and innovation, which Katy’s company were solid contenders for.

The athlete was busy telling some joke about how innovative his technique had been prior to reading out the contenders prior to pausing for a moment, then announcing the result! She had been correct to brief, Mike on a speech- they won! There was much applause as people around the table exchanged congratulations, handshakes and kisses on the cheek. “A nice surprise to come back to.” Katy smiled to Adam, before giving Mike a nod to check he was alright to make his way to the stage.
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Old 08-31-2015, 09:25 PM   #6
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Adam greeted Katy's words about the possible award acceptance with a calm demeanor. However, mentally his mind started spinning out scenarios. The information might mean nothing, but one didn't rise to his position by taking things at face value. The company wasn't by particularly cutthroat compared to the Americans, but neither was it little league where every player got a participation trophy.

One didn't achieve his position without a certain amount of standing in the spotlight. Junior executives that the clients recognized became senior executives. Adam didn't much care for hobnobbing, but he was reticent to cede the limelight to a subordinate.

His eyes narrowed slightly as he regarded the shapely brunette. Was this her ploy? No, Katy was ambitious, but also smart. No, Katy had the skill and verve to go far if given the opportunity to prove herself. In another decade, she could be a contender for his job. But she was also smart enough to know that challenging or undermining him now gained her nothing. He remembered that she was relatively new to this management team. He recalled that when he interviewed her for her present job that she had not used her gender or sexuality, but only her talent and skills, to move up the ladder. He also remembered that he thought the one reservation that he had about her was that she was guileless. No, this was just Katy being a well prepared executive.

All this flashed through his mind in the span of several seconds. Adam needed to make a decision whether to let Mike make the acceptance speech or, as CEO, take the address Katy had given Mike and deliver it himself. He rose from his seat as the applause was dying and turned, face-to-face, with Mike, who had also stood and was ready to walk to the podium. Adam leaned into Mike, gave him a man hug, and whispered in his ear “Congratulations, do us proud now, be brief and humble.”

Adam then sat down while Mike stared at him for a second. Then Mike’s grin returned, a genuine ear-to-ear smile, not a false “We won and now we need to look happy but not a too smirky” smile. Hearing the boss’s unexpected praise, acknowledgement and even advice, can do that to a man.

Adam sat back down to the table as Mike accepted the granite and sterling plaque. Andrea turned to her husband and said, “When you stood, I thought you be accepting the award. Isn’t that what you always do?”

Adam turned to his right and in a soft but firm voice stated, “Usually I do dear. However, Katy knew that I had been travelling and she anticipated my needs. She thought that my energies might be better expended in other areas today rather than worrying about delivering an acceptance speech.”

If you could hear this dialogue, it might seem like a normal explanation. However, if you watched Andrea’s face as Adam ended, you might have noticed that Andrea stiffened at the shoulders. Most people at the table were paying attention to Mike and didn’t hear Adam or see Andrea’s reaction. Adam sensed Andrea’s reaction to his oblique rebuke. As he turned toward to stage, he glimpsed Katy’s head turn toward the stage.

Adam glanced over at Katy and then Matt. He wondered why the young professional kept the brooding musician as her significant other. No doubt he'd been dangerous and exciting for a teenage Katy, but she'd grown up, put on a suit, and became an adult. Yet still she hung on to this holdover from youth, who looked somewhat out of place in this setting. Even in his dress outfit the tattoo on his wrist and hand showed this dissonance between Matt and where he was at this moment. Katy could no longer steal away from work for weeks or months at a time as a road groupie. Katy was intelligent, personable, and cute. Cute didn’t survive long in the corporate world. If the pencil skirted business suits and jackets didn’t strangle it out of you, the fifty-plus hour weeks and deadlines would just wear it out of you. Adam wondered about the chemistry that kept Katy and Matt together.

He leaned over toward Katy and in a low voice spoke, "It was kind of you to take my workload into consideration. I appreciate your foresight." He smiled congenially and then added, “It’s good to showcase the company’s rising executives. Your speech is excellent. We will need your talents for the South Africa project to be a success.”

Adam straightened up from Katy and listened to Mike finish on stage. While he did this, his right hand again touched his spouse’s left hand. This time Andrea took it in hers and placed on top of her left thigh and left it there.

Mike carried the glass plaque back to the table and handed it to Katy. While Katy graciously accepted the award from Mike, Adam spoke loud enough for the table to hear, "Congratulations to everyone on this award.” Then just to Katy, “You were right to be confident in our success. I hope you bring that same confidence to the South Africa project. How about we meet next week to go more in depth on your thoughts?"

Small talk followed, which Adam gratefully left to Andrea. Adam sat quietly at the table and smiled, his hand moving up and down Andrea’s left thigh rhythmically squeezing it under the table. Fortunately, Andrea could talk to just about anyone and had great multitasking skills. Though he knew for a fact that his wife's didn't have the foggiest idea about the type of music Matt played, she peppered the musician with questions as if she were a diehard fan. The discussion probably helped Andrea to remain focused and not distracted by Adam’s ministrations. After twenty minutes of chat with Katy, Andrea had ferreted out the young woman's hometown, family, schooling, work history, hobbies, and favorite color. Adam blithely listened; content to be in his own mediations of the twists and turns this evening and how the night conclude.

Last edited by toointhebush : 09-01-2015 at 10:58 AM.
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Old 09-01-2015, 03:17 PM   #7
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"Well done." She smiled as, Mike returned to the table with the hefty accolade. He commented that it was another one for the cabinet as she handed it to the young executive. She turned it in her delicate hands a couple of times before sitting it on the table. "Don't let me forget this!" She whispered to, Matt.

You were right to be confident in our success. I hope you bring that same confidence to the South Africa project. How about we meet next week to go more in depth on your thoughts?"

Katy turned to face her, boss. "Thanks, Adam." She said, trying to conceal a proud smile. "Sure. I'll speak to Pauline and get some time in your diary at the beginning of the week."

Having answered the tirade of questions, Andrea had asked the young woman, Katy eventually the opportunity came to excuse herself. She grabbed herself a glass of champagne from a passing waiter and proceeded to work the room. Strategic marketing encompassed a range of disciplines, including PR, hence the need to speak to several key personnel, and also some friends she had made within the industry.

At some point in the networking, Matt managed to escape the boring conversation. At around one am she found, her boyfriend propping up one of the Hilton’s lavish bars. He was talking to an edgy looking bar tender, no doubt he had more in common with this guy than anyone else at this event. Pulling up an elegant bar stool, the young woman took a seat next to her significant other, her dark green dress rising a couple of inches up her toned thigh. “It was great chatting with you, Matt. And, thanks for the advice.” The young man smiled before turning to, Katy, “What can I get you?” He smiled.

Ordering a double Drambuie, Katy turned to her boyfriend. “Imparting some wisdom?”

“Something like that.” He smiled, looking around the emptying room. “I always feel like such a novelty at these things.”

“Erm, yeah. You certainly are not the typical middle aged boring man who attends these things.” Especially now; the 30 year old had removed his suit jacket, loosed his skinny black tie and rolled up his sleeves to expose the artistically decorated forearms. God, he looked good.

“Neither are you!” He smiled, causing his stubbled face to light up.

“Aren’t you glad?” Katy smiled, raising a perfectly defined eyebrow.

Matt paused before replying, falsely pondering her question, “Well the idea of sugar daddy is quite tempting. But I suppose, if it came down to the crunch, I’d prefer you. You’re a bit easier on the eye.” He beamed, before giving her a playful nudge.

“Gee thanks!” She loved joking with him. At that moment, to Katy, he was the only guy in the world. When things with them weren’t feeling their recent strains, they were the perfect couple. Biting her bottom lip, Katy placed her hand on Matt’s knee, leaning forward and bringing her lips close to his ear. “And I bet I’m a lot more flexible.” She teased, before sitting back up straight and taking a sip of her night-cap.


“Morning, Pauline.” Katy smiled as she entered the Executive Level of TCT’s premises in Canary Warf. It was a glorious autumnal day and the PA had an amazing view from her desk. “Good weekend?” The two women exchanged pleasantries whilst Katy admired the view for several minutes. “I’m actually up to schedule some time with, Adam. Maybe tomorrow morning?”

“You don’t have to come up here to do that, Katy.” Pauline smiled. “You must be so busy now.”

“Not at all. You helped me out so much in the past, I’d always have time for you.” This was the truth, as was the fact that Pauline was the gatekeeper to senior management, and keeping her onside would pay dividends.

Looking through Adam’s packed Outlook schedule, Pauline said, “He’s booked up until Thursday, however, his morning meeting with Engineering is about to be cancelled so, can you do 10am today?”

“Absolutely.” The young woman nodded. “I’ll see you in a couple hours. And thanks!”


Checking her reflection in the elevator mirror, the young woman regarded her appearance. She looked severe, for want of a better term. Her loosely fitted black sleeveless blouse displayed her toned arms. The top was tucked into a pair of extremely fitted skinny black pants which stopped at her ankle, a couple of inches above where a pair of expensive black heels, which caused her to go from about five foot seven to 5 foot eleven. Her dark hair had been pulled back into a pony tail and pair of thick rimmed Ray Bans framed her pretty face. She was meeting with a vendor who had not delivered on a promotional video and it was, Katy that would be getting judged on that, if the issues were not rectified.

The lift pinged and she emerged back onto the Executive floor. “He’s free now, Katy- I saw him come in a couple of minutes ago.” Thanking her, Katy walked down the corridor, her heels clicked on the laminate flooring, until she reached the CEO’s office. Knocking once, she entered the spacious office.

“Morning, Adam. Are you ok to meet just now?" She asked, waiting a moment before taking a seat opposite him.
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Old 09-01-2015, 05:37 PM   #8
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Adam returned to the conversation at the table. He turned in his chair towards Andrea. “I’ll be back shortly. I have an important matter to attend to this evening."

Andrea's blonde brows narrowed with disapproval. "Oh, heavens! Adam, you're just back in town! How can you have another meeting tonight?"

Adam leaned in close. With a mischievous twinkle in his eye, he lowered his voice. "As a matter of fact, I was thinking that after such a long time away from home, it was high time I took my beautiful wife to bed."

His wife's cheeks flared a slightly deeper shade of pink under her makeup. "Adam! Please! Someone might hear you."

Adam slid his hand higher up Andrea’s leg and squeezed his fingers into the softness of her upper inner through her dress. His pinkie stretched out trying to make contact further up.

"Adam!" she repeated, placing a warning hand on his chest. But he could see beneath her outrage, she was aroused by his indiscretion.

"I need to do a quick pass of the room to say some goodbyes. I suggest you finish your wine, and freshen up, and meet me by the elevators in fifteen minutes. We'll head straight down from there. Agreed?"

Andrea permitted herself a sly smile and nodded sharply. They kissed softly, then stood and parted ways. Adam grinned as he watched his wife's curvaceous form disappear into the crowd. God, it was good to be back home.

"Morning, Adam. Good weekend?”

Not looking up from the file on his desk, Adam started to motion her to come in. He said, “Good morning, Katy. Come in and… “ He paused momentarily noticing Katy was already in the chair opposite his desk. He then continued, “…and have a seat.” Adam’s thought take she was a bit presumptuous. She was obviously aggressive, having taken this vacated slot in his schedule. He wondered, just for a second, if she was test power boundaries or being at bit too familial with her boss.

“My weekend was fine. I turned off my phone nearly all of Saturday and spent it with my boys. We went to the Everton versus Arsenal match. Afterwards. I had a quiet dinner with the wife." “Though yesterday, I did spend some time going over reports and a call with the boss”

He smiled to himself. Actually, it was a quiet dinner with his wife on Saturday. Upon their return home after the banquet Friday night, he and Andrea has engaged in the intimacies that he thought might have eluded him earlier that evening. While he was energetic and passionate, Andrea seemed more reserved and less vocal than usual. Andrea did come and cooed about his oral talents, but somehow it seemed off, just missing a spark. So when he cam back from the football match, the dinner was quiet and there was no encore of the previous night’s performance.

He refocused his attention on Katy. "I know, probably sounds dull to folks your age. But spend weeks living out of a suitcase and the comforts of home just become irresistible."

Adam grinned. "Of course, you will have an opportunity to find out for yourself pretty soon. The company intends to move into the next phase of the South Africa project. Given your work and knowledge about our intentions, I think you should be part of the next trip. The research and brainstorming to date is solid, but I personally think you can't fully grip the magnitude and importance of this project without being on the ground in South Africa and meeting with potential clients and vendors to assess their needs and desires.

Adam rose from behind his desk and sat on a front corner facing Katy. “I reread your projections concerning market penetration and market share in the timeframe you presented. I think you maybe a bit optimistic given the approach suggested in the team’s report.”

Pausing for effect, Adam stared directly into Katy’s eyes looking for a reaction. He then continued, “What if we were to go in a different direction on the South Africa project? The old man is very keen on growth, expansion, and an increase to the bottom line. What if we could make your projections look pessimistic? What if we could double you numbers in the same timeframe?”

Adam stood and walked straight in front of the marketing VP, towering over her seated frame. “With that much upside potential, this South Africa venture could be a career maker or a career breaker for those involved.” Taking a depth breath Adam said, “It’ll be a risk, of course, but these opportunities are few and far between. Are you willing to take a risk, Katy?”

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Old 09-21-2015, 02:17 PM   #9
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So he has two kids and, Andrea, Megan noted to herself. It didn't do any harm to learn nuggets of information about your boss. All her peers, mostly men all seemed to have the whole 1950's home setup- the pretty wife kept by the husband while she looked after multiple offspring. Katie didn't get the whole children appeal- the maternal switch still hadn't reached the 27 year old. This was reflected in her lack of interest in, Adam's weekend, not that she showed it, as the brunette looked at him, engaged in what her boss had to say. "Sounds great."

Then he got onto the exciting conversation- Strategy. "I think you should be part of the next trip."

At this invite, Katy stifled what would have been a broad smile, pursing her lips into a controlled expression. "Thank you. I completely agree; there's only so much my team and I can decipher from reports. This will let me get some true market intell."

She watched as he got up and shifted around his impressive desk. He was a good looking guy; tall, dark and his broad shoulders were particularly apartment now that she was being forced to look up at him.

Katy hated this trick; the I'll stand over you as I question you, tactic. Being in a male dominated company she was all too used it. If you were not a strong individual it could really make one question their findings. Nonetheless, she listened to the CEO.

Having digested his input, Katy shifted in the leather chair, crossing her long toned legs. "You are referring to acquisition. Correct?" She asked slowly, but did not wait for a response before retrieving her tablet from the letter bag she carried with her. "I've been tracking some medium sized nationals out there for the past few months. Here's the top 5." She got up from her chair and stood beside, Adam so they could both look at the screen. "Each with a different attribute- for example, Plexus they are doing horrendously, mismanaged investment in new facilities but that makes them potentially cheaper and as I say, they have a high spec plant for steel manufacturing. And this one," She indicated, swiping a perfectly manicured finger over the screen, "OMX, they are doing pretty well, steady performance over the past 10 years but nothing special. So maybe that could work? Anyway, I'll give you this analysis once it's completed if that's alright?" She was conscious that senior management could spot incorrect finances a mile away, a skill which she was currently developing.

There was no reason to be standing so close the man now, and returned to her seat. Turning the iPad in her hands, causing her toned arms to flex slightly as she did so. "Are you willing to take a risk, Katy?" He questioned.

The young woman cocked her head to one side. "Of course. But we are going in with a solid amount of information, aren't we? I mean, finance and legal have been all over this, and Risk Management have been capturing information for a while." She had used a lot of this information when formulating the report. Maybe she was missing her, boss's point.

Realising that she may have sounded as if she was questioning him, she tucked an errant strand behind her ear and looked up at him. Katy was fortunate enough to have not just a good physique, but a pretty face. Her high cheek bones, large dark eyes and full lips gave her a somewhat captivating appearance. "But I'm guessing you're not talking about the commercial risk, are you?" She blushed in a moment of comprehension, feeling she had shown a level of immaturity. He was right, career wise this venture would make her even more visible than she was just now.

"Anyway, thanks very much for the opportunity and I'll speak to, Pauline about dates of travel and such."

Katy made her way from, Adam's office, closing the door behind her. "Pauline, I'll tie in with you later about the boss's travel plans."

"I've not booked anything for him, but when I do I'll ask when he wants you out there and let you know before I get travel to sort you out." Katy thanked the PA before enquiring about her kids, "Oh you know, teenage boys. Ever the chore." She smiled.

The young VP's day was pretty horrendous; she had several difficult meetings which involved a level of confrontation, something, Katy still wasn't used to. The whole being hard on someone so they'd do their job didn't sit well with her. How did people think they were going to paid if they didn't deliver?! Nonetheless, she did what she had to do whilst juggling a series of meetings.

The arrival of 6pm was a welcome relief for the young woman. She was finally able to actually do her job. And despite the office emptying with people filtering out of the Canary Warf complex, Katy settled into a couple hours of solid work. Choosing to still sit out in the now empty open plan office with her team, the young woman reclined back in her chair, her lean physique stretched out as she rested her feet, clad in a pair of black Italian leather heels upon her desk. She was reading several report summaries that had been prepared at her request and was totally absorbed in the information, only stopping to make a note or highlight something of particular attention.

So absorbed in her work the brunette only noticed her phone screen flare up with, Matt's fifth attempt to reach her.

"Hello?" She answered, pushing her Rayban reading glasses onto her head. "I'll be home about nine. Why?" She was curt with him- they had fought again on Sunday afternoon. He had gone out and hadn't got back in until she's gone to bed, likewise she'd left before he awoke this morning. "I have a lot to do here- I just assumed you'd be out and it wouldn't matter.... Don't be like what? Realistic?" She snapped. "I'm being perfectly fair." She continued, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Look, I'm here, working, being an adult. I'll be back when I'm back. Goodbye." She said sternly, placing her iPhone back on the desk with a little more force than necessary.

Katy attempted to re-immerse herself in the Economic Report, but it was difficult to get the couples latest tiff out of her mind. She was about to give up and go down to the company gym when she heard someone saying her name. Instinctively, she removed her feet from her desk to turn around. "Evening, Adam." She smiled.
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Old 09-25-2015, 03:39 PM   #10
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Adam sat back at his desk after Katy left. There was something about her manner that just rubbed him wrong. She was smart and intelligent. Her guessing correctly about an acquisition was insightful and her on the spot research was impressive. It was her sense of familiarity with him that made him uncomfortable. He asked himself was it because she was new to management or the fact that she was so impetuously confident or was it the fact that she was an attractive intelligent woman and that his private life was in the doldrums?

The ring of his intercom snapped him out of his mind game. “Mr. Wilson, at corporate, on the line for you,” Pauline announced in her most professional tone.

Adam put the phone on speaker and said, “Mark, how is going in the states?”

Mark was an Executive VP, but also the CFO and called only when the boss wanted something. He said, “Adam, we’ve been working since you relayed the information about Hastings Ltd. You gathered in Dusseldorf. Feelers have been put out and without specific confirmation; it appears you were correct.”

Adam sat up and took out a notepad. “That’s great. What does the old man think?”

“The old man, (Mr. Richardson) has already called Julius Hastings. They got off the phone less than thirty minutes ago. Mr. Richardson said that Hastings was surprised at the call, as there had been no public or private announcement, but that he was willing to listen to a proposal.”

“Wow,” exclaimed Adam “That’s amazing and fast.” “What does Mr. Richardson want us to do next?”

“He said, that he’d call you later today, perhaps early this evening your time.”

“Okay, that sounds great. I’ll wait for the call.” “By the way, I’ve had my team researching other companies in the area before this Hastings opportunity came up. My marketing manager recommends either Plexus or OMX are the most attractive other companies if we can’t acquire Hastings. I agree with her assessments, though I believe Plexus has the most upside.”

Mark stifled a chuckle that surprised Adam. “I’ll mention your thoughts to Mr. Richardson. He’ll be in touch shortly.”

“Wait Mark,” Adam interjected, “What’s so funny?”

“Just wait until you speak to Mr. Richardson.” Mark’s chuckle no longer stifled.

Adam turned off the speaker and went out to speak to Pauline. He said, “Pauline, I’m expecting a call from Mr. Richardson from later today. Contact me if he calls while I’m out of my office and when you leave this evening
Have all calls routed directly to my office phone.”

Pauline smiled, “Yes, Adam, I’ll be to make it happen. Is there something going on?”

Adam replied, “I’m not sure but kept my schedule as open as possible.”

It wasn’t until just after 6 pm. When his phone range. The number indicated an international call. Adam turned on the speaker and said, “Good afternoon, Mr. Richardson, Adam here.”

“Good evening, to you Adam.” Richardson replied. “I’ve been told Mark Wilson got you up to speed regarding Hastings.”

“Yes sir, he did.”

“Well I want to let you know that was good information you sent our way. Thank you.” Richardson continued, “It seems Hastings recently underwent successful cancer surgery and at his age, without an heir, he is ready to move on. Also, his great grandfather, who founded the company, came from Manchester. So when I told him our strategy for the future, he was acceptable to listening to us first, before going public with his intention to sell.”

“That’s wonderful news,” Mark interjected. “What’s the next step?”

Mr. Richardson began in a somewhat formal baritone, “Adam, we need to move quickly and we need to do due diligence before we go forward. We need eyes on the ground and a quick assessment if Hastings will fit with our other acquisition.”

“Other acquisition” Mark blurted aloud.

“Yes, Adam; other acquisition.” Mr. Richardson’s tone was serious and he continued, “We have begun undertaking an equity position in Plexus Ltd. with the intent to propose to buy out the company within the several months. I hear that both you and your marketing manager think it a good foot in the door.”

Adam thought, "Oh my gosh. “No wonder Mark Wilson was laughing. Headquarters had already come to the same conclusion and started the ball rolling.

Richardson’s voice interrupted his thoughts. “I was actually the research report and presentation you sent Sunday that sealed the decision. We started buying shares on the JSE and derivatives on the NYSE this morning. We need you to send a couple of engineers to South Africa and look at Plexus’s operations and those of Hastings to see if merging the two companies makes sense. I need you to go down and personally talk to Julius Hastings and start the ball rolling. He does not yet know about Plexus and I want you get his feel about the entire merger situation. You will need your marketing manager to talk to him and some of his personnel.”

Adam was not stunned, but was trying to grasp the enormity and speed that this was unfolding and already was making some plans in his head.

Mr. Richardson continued, “Adam, I don’t need to explain how important this is to the future of the company. You know that this must be undertaken with expedience and secrecy. I have arranged a preliminary meeting with Mr. Hastings a week from today. I want you and your team on the ground in South Africa by Friday evening. It will give your team a brief time to acclimate before next Monday. Time is short. We will need a verbal report by Friday week and a formal report by two weeks from today.”

Oh man, talk about tight schedules and timelines thrown askew. Adam didn’t know if this was possible, but if he couldn’t do it then his career here was finished. Taking a deep breathed Adam spoke, “Mr. Richardson, thank you for this opportunity. You will have all the information you need when requested.”

Richardson intoned, “I wouldn’t expect anything less, Adam. Good night.”

For the next forty minutes Adam’s mind was akin to a whirling dervish. He made notes, looked through briefings and presentations of last week, did several searches on the web and finally exhaled. He realized it was nearly 7 and now he had more work before he went home. Home… he decided to call Andrea and tell her that he would be late this evening and leaving on Friday after less than a week at home. She would not be pleased.

He dialed home and it picked up on the second ring. “Hi son, would you put your mother on… I don’t know if I can watch your game this week. Put mom on.” Hey honey, how are you?” “I know I should call if I’m going to be late, but I was waiting on a call from Mr. Richardson in New York.”…”Yes, he is the CEO.”…”It was very important. I’m going to need to go to South Africa on Friday.” “For at least a week.”… “Yes, I know I promised to cut back on travelling and spend more time with the family, but this is the most important deal of my career.” ….
“I know you are frustrated, but so am I, but this job is what pays for the house and the schools and the clothes. What would you have me do?” … “I’m not making excuses; I’m just trying to do what is best for everyone. You understand that don’t you Andrea?”…. “Yes, I know I missed dinner with you and the children. I still have some things to do here. I’ll eat in town and be home by 10. We’ll talk then.”…. “If you’re asleep, you’re asleep. We’ll talk tomorrow.”…Adam finished the conversation with a half hearted almost perfunctory, “I love you.”

Adam tried to work a bit more, but gave up as his focus and concentration was shot. Not only that, but his stomach was growling. He hadn’t eaten all day. He decided to pick up a “to go” meal and get home earlier so as to speak to Andrea before she went to bed.

Adam left his office and walked past several other offices on the way to the elevator. As he approached the open work area, he noticed the lights still on. He slowed his pace as he heard a raised voice talking to someone

“Don't be like what? Realistic?" Silence…
"I'm being perfectly fair." A short pause…
"Look, I'm here, working, being an adult. I'll be back when I'm back. Goodbye."

Adam immediately recognized the voice as Katy’s and assumed it must be Matthew on the other end of the connection. That the conversation sounded tense, went without saying. He didn’t mean to overhear the call; it was an accident. However, It only reminded him of the discussion that he would face when he arrived home. He peeked around the corner and Saw Katy engrossed in reading, with her legs up on her desk and her heels still on. As his eyes focused on her toned legs as he wondered what she was still doing here.

He didn’t want her to think he had heard her conversation or invaded her privacy, as she probably believed she was alone. Adam quietly turned back to his office and entered. After waiting several minutes, he left his office again and locked his door. As he reached the open area, he turned, walked towards her desk and spoke her name. “Katy” After no response he said slightly louder, “Katy.”

Katy removed her legs from the desktop and sat up in her chair. A smile crossed her face reminding Adam of his son when he’d caught him up to some mischief.

Katy replied, "Evening, Adam."

Adam took a step closer. “What are you doing here so late?”

“I don’t really know how we’re supposed to do our jobs when our calendars are booked 8-5. Same boat?”

Katy’s retort might have had a hint of anger or frustration in it or Adam could have imagined it. Still, she kept her smile on while looking straight at him. There it was again, Adam thought. Did that questioning have little bit of edge or was it merely Katy’s genuine curiosity?

“I was busy talking to headquarters in in United States. Which reminds me, as long as you’re here, I’ll need to see you in my office first thing tomorrow morning. Clear your schedule until at least eleven. At the moment, however, I’m leaving for home and dinner. I haven’t eaten all day and I am famished. Good night Katy, don’t work too late.”

As Adam rode the elevator down to the lobby, he decided he did not want an confrontation with Andrea tonight. Instead of getting “to go,” he headed to Chai Ki on Canary Wharf for Hyberadadi Duck and Burnt Chicken Rice. Adam had much to think about and he knew the Indian food would not only slacken his appetite and provide a measure of tasty comfort before heading home, but also it would give him time to think.

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Old 10-12-2015, 04:31 PM   #11
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"Cryptic." She said, raising a perfectly waxed eyebrow towards the CEO. He looked like he'd had a rough day; he never smiled, always serious, but this evening he looked particularly serious. She turned away from him, brought up her Outlook, and declined her morning meetings. Katie was about to ask what the meeting regarded, however he promptly informed her he was leaving the office. "Ok. Well, I'll see you in the morning."

The next couple of hours was as much about escapism as it was about working. She finished off the analysis of the potential acquisition companies; it was usually her analyst that would perform such tasks, but Katie wanted to make sure she was fully briefed and that that figures were accurate. At around 9.45pm she emailed, Adam the finished result: "Please see attached. K." She was too exhausted for pleasantries and explanations.

She enjoyed the sound her heels made against the hard floor of the empty building as she exited, nodding the the security team as she did so. "Don't let me catch you in here at 7am, now" called an elderly warden, to which, Katie said she'd try, as she pushed through the revolving doors into the mild London evening.

Despite her relationship not being as one may want it, Katie was eternally grateful of the couple's spacious Shoreditch apartment, it was only a thirty minute tube ride from most city locations making it idea for her commute to the Warf. They had managed the unachievable, and purchased the space five years ago when, Matt's success had been at its peak. Katie was good with money, very good. She had been able to save a considerable amount, invest it and and had made sure, Matt provided whilst he was able.

Entering the flat, Katie decided to try and take the higher ground and made her way into the living space. "Hi." She said in as caring a voice as she could force, leaning against the door frame, regarding her partner who was sprawled on the sofa.

"You're really late." Matt stated, taking off a pair of expensive headphones and setting his book aside.

"It's going to be a tough week." She waited, allowing him to ask about her day, but all that formed was an awkward silence. "Fine." She sighed, kicking off we heels before walking through the open plan space and into the modern kitchen.

The young woman enjoyed cooking, but when one gets home well after ten at night a couple of slices of toast suddenly seems like an appropriate meal. With more force than necessary she spread a thin layer of Flora into the crisp surface, noticing that Matt had prepared himself a decent looking stir fry from the debris that littered the black surface of the worktop.

She considered leaving it there, seeing how long it would take him to realise that onion skin, noodle wrappers and a dirty wok didn't take care of themselves, but it wasn't in her nature. And she grudgingly put the debris in the bin, the dirty dishes in the washing machine and wiped down the work surface. "Hey. I was going to get that." He called from the couch, to which she ignored him and continued her onslaught of the space. "K, come on." He sighed, getting up from the sofa, and taking the cloth from her hand. "Give that 'ere." He was laying his Northern accent on; he knew it was his get out. "Go get ready for bed, have a bath. Vogue came through in the post. I'll bring you it through with a cuppa." And just like that Katie had the perfect man.

As the water filled their porcelain tub she sat on its edge, half undressed in her underwear and blouse, trying to switch off. Switch off from her constant irritation at home. Switch off from work; why did she have to have a three hour meeting with the boss? What did he want to talk about that couldn't even be awarded some indication? It had all been going well, a little too well and whilst, Kay felt she got on with most individuals their was doubt in her mind as to what, Adam really thought of her.

She jumped slightly as, Matt said her name, sitting the cup of tea and magazine, still in its cellophane wrapper on the washing hamper. "Thanks. You coming in?" She questioned, standing up to continue undressing.

Nothing. Not a spark, not a glance in either the direction of her smooth bare legs, shard of exposed midriff or modest chest incased in black lace. "I'm good, Kay. You deserve some alone time." She didn't want alone time, she wanted to tell him about her day, about the fact she was going to Cape Town. She wanted to hear what he's been up to, if anything. They used to be able to talk for hours about nothing, tell stupid stories, reminisce about things they had done together. Submerging herself in the fragrant water in an attempt to disperse these worries, Katie reemerged and attempted to lose herself in this months publication.

By 6.30am the next day her feet, clad in a pair of Brooks Adrenaline trainers, had been striking the cushioned surface of the treadmill at a pace that pushed, Katie to her absolute limit for sometime. One mile of this and then a two minute jog. Over and over and over. Music was blasting through her headphones, but 7 miles in to such a tough work out she hardly noticed. Kay hardly noticed anything, she was completely in the zone, oblivious to her battering the exercise machine was taking, the sweat causing her toned arms to glisten and her old Edinburgh Marathon t shirt to dampen quite dramatically and especially the current worries which usually occupied her mind.

"Thank God." She muttered to herself as the treadmill indicated the brunette had hit 8 miles, in an hour. Once the nausea was passed she'd be pleased with herself. Slowing to a steady job, she look a long drink of water, wiping her face with the back of her hand after doing so.

The treadmill beeped to a halt and, Katie, rather stiffly, stepped down and made her way over the the soft matted area to stretch off. Following 15 minutes of several compromising poses, the young woman was feeling fully human again and ready for what the day held.

iPad, notebook and phone in arm, Katie emerged from the the elevator on the executive floor and was quickly greeted by Pauline. The two woman exchanged pleasantries, before the PA advised that Katie should make her way to, Adam's office. "I usually go and get him a Starbucks from downstairs, you want something?" Pauline called just before Katie entered the CEO's spacious office. "Skinny latte; extra hot, thanks." Katie called back, whilst standing in the doorway. The twenty-eight year old has transferred herself from a sweaty mess, to a chic professional, dawning a sleeveless fitted dress which came to just above her knees. It gave Katie a powerful image, both from the skin in exposed and its empowering fit. She wore her hair down, the glossy mahogany strands falling past her toned shoulders. Today, she did not look like a girl playing at being a boss.

Turning her attention to the man before her, she greeted him. "Morning." She said in an almost questioning tone, still puzzled as to the urgency and length of the meeting.
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Old 11-01-2015, 08:18 PM   #12
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On his walk to Chai Ki, Adam changed his mind decided to take out and go home. He knew he needed to talk to Andrea sooner rather than later. He also figured that he would probably be tied up in the evenings at the office until he left for South Africa. While walking to the restaurant he called in his order for take out and added the spring rolls and dumplings that Andrea always enjoyed. The wait for his order was less than ten minutes and he was actually home slightly after 8 p.m.

His earlier than expected arrival was met uneventfully by his sons; one of whom was watching the telly and the other who was immersed in homework on his laptop. A perfunctory, “Hi, Dad.” from the younger was all the boy could manage in the way of acknowledgement. His older son, TJ (Timothy James), looked up from his laptop and smiled saying, “Hi, I’ve got a big exam tomorrow.”

Adam put down the take out bag and asked him, “Where’s your Mom?”

TJ said, “I think she’s working on the computer in the office bedroom. Is any of that food for us?”

Adam chimed in, “Maybe later after I’ve eaten.” He then turned to walk down the hall to the room they set up as a work area across from their bedroom. As he approached, he noticed the door was closed. That was unusual, so he knocked as he turned the handle and entered the room saying, “Hi honey, I brought take out to get home sooner.”

Andrea jumped up from chair she was, in facing the computer chair, and shrieked, “Adam! You startled me!” As she did this, her body blocked the screen and her right hand hit a button blanking it.

Adam said, “I’m sorry. Don’t let me interrupt you.”

Andrea hit the power button and exclaimed, “No, I was just checking some email. I didn’t expect you home so soon.”

Adam replied, “You were right. I have been spending too much time at work. But right now I’m involved in the biggest venture ever. The company’s trying to expand and they want me to lead the effort. If this succeeds, I’ll be either running the whole company within a decade or at least able to choose what to do and where to do it. Unfortunately, if this doesn’t work the head that will roll is mine.”

Andrea looked into his eyes and slowly said, “I know that this is important for you… important to us. I just want us to be happy together as a family. I sometimes feel as if work and travel are making that impossible.”

Adam stepped up and kissed Andrea on the lips while pulling her closer to him. His tongue probed between her lips and his hand drifted down to her shorts, but even as he felt her lower warmth through the linen, she stopped his hand and pulled away. Andrea said, “Not now, the boys are up. Maybe later… Why don’t you go eat, you must be hungry.”

With resigned sigh, Adam took a step back. He was never one to force himself on his wife. He merely said, “I’ll be gone starting Friday for at least ten days. I’ll probably be working late evenings at the office with the team that will be traveling with me.

Andrea looked surprised. She said, “You’re taking a team? You’re not traveling alone?”

“This deal is potentially worth billions of pounds. This would be a major acquisition for the company. I need trusted expertise on site. I’ll be taking Ethan from engineering, Martin from finance, and Katy will do the analysis and product placement.” Adam used his authoritarian voice as he told Andrea, “You can’t say anything to anyone, even the boys. These people won’t even know what they are involved in until tomorrow.”

All Andrea could say was, “Wow. Where do need to be that will take a four team’s time for ten days?”

Adam smiled and said, “All I can tell you is that I’ll be in South Africa and I am not looking forward to the flight.” In a sweet, almost wistful voice he added, “When
this project is finished, let’s do a holiday, without the boys.”

Andrea’s response was a noncommittal, “That’s a possibility. Let’s wait and see what happens when the time comes.”

The tone of her voice and the diffidence in her phrasing signaled an end to any more discussion. Adam slunk back to the kitchen and doled out a plate of Hyberadadi duck and burnt rice chicken that was as chilly as the felling he had when he left Andrea in the office bedroom.

Adam left the house earlier than usual the next morning, though he made sure that he saw everyone before he left. By 7:15 he was already at his desk planning out the meeting he be conducting this morning. He sent out emails to Pauline, Ethan Martin and Katy telling them to clear their entire morning schedules and meet them in conference room with their Plexus data at 9:00. He sifted through his emails, ignoring most. The several sent from headquarters dealt mostly about information on Hastings Ltd. and some of the parameters of what they were expecting from the business if they completed the acquisition.

There was also a report from Katy. He noted the time stamp and just shook his head. Adam thought to himself, she didn’t go home as he suggested, but finished her report even though it was due until later in the week. Adam wonder if the conversation he overheard was a factor in her staying late. In any case, Adam realized that Katy was an asset to the company and would be invaluable on this project.

Just before 8:30 Adam decided to go to the restroom before Pauline arrived with his coffee. As he walked down the hall, Katy came through the company’s outer doors. She turned to him and saying, “Morning.”

Adam stopped and for a second stared at Katy. The image before him was that of a confident businesswoman who gave off an aura of competence and authority. That she was stunningly attractive in a sleeveless fitted dress did nothing to diminish the effect of a business executive ready to stake her claim in the world. The only flaw was the tone of Katy’s greeting that did not match the rest of her self-assurance. It was only several seconds, but the pause was noticeable.

Regaining his equilibrium Adam responded, “Good morning, Katy. You look very sharp today and ready to take on the world. That’s good because I have a busy morning planned for all of us. Please meet me in the conference room at 9 sharp.”

Adam then continued on his way leaving Katy with a perplexed look on her face as she moved on to her desk.
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Old 11-06-2015, 03:43 PM   #13
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When Pauline knocked to enter Adam’s office, with his coffee, he told her to sit for a minute. He looked at her wryly across the desk and said, “A large project has emerged suddenly and I and several members of the staff will need to be away from the office for the better part of two weeks.”

Pauline wasn’t usually surprised by last minute travel plans that took Adam away from the office, but having traveling companions rarely occurred. Her facial expression changed to indicate piqued curiosity. “What are the details you want arranged?” she inquired.

Adam’s retort was, “We’ll go over that at the meeting this morning at 9. Check your email. You’ll need to clear your schedule until noon. After the meeting and lunch, you call headquarters in the states and speak to Bridget Taylor and she’ll fill you in on their desires and expectations. Then I hope you can determine an itinerary and finalize it be you leave this evening.” Apologetically Adam spoke, “I’m sorry to lay this all on you without advance notice, but it seems that time is of the essence.”

Pauline left the room a bit confused. Something big must be happening if I need to coordinate with headquarters.

Adam used the remaining few minutes to gather his notes and mentally finish the short verbal presentation he had in store for the invitees. At two minutes of nine, Adam stepped out of his office and nodded to Pauline indicating it was time to go.
When they reached to conference room door, He held it open so Pauline could enter first. He took a step, looked around the room to see the other three invitees already there. They seemed almost unusually calm, but there was a sense of nervous tension in the atmosphere. In that instant the old clock on the wall chimed the hour.

Adam stood at the head of the conference table and said, “I suppose you’re all wondering why I called you here this morning?” A broader grin spread across his face, but the others did not feel the humor that the statement was meant to engender. Adam then went on, “Breathe! Nothing’s wrong.” The tension in the room shattered like a pane of glass being dropped on a stone floor.

Adam continued, “Actually, everything is great. “ The relaxation was visible.

“Before I continued,” Adam intoned, “I must tell you that everything that will be said in this room is confidential and cannot be discussed outside of this room or my office, even among each other. I also have a second request. Please let me finished my entire presentation before any questions are asked. Thank you.”

An inquisitive look of consternation could be seen on everyone face, but Katy’s body language indicated some akin to excitement. Adam went on, “You all know that we are thinking about the need to expand our brand internationally. Your research on companies to affiliate with in South Africa was with that intention. Your analysis was spot on. Headquarters was more than pleased with your analysis of Plexus as it reaffirmed their perception of the company. As of yesterday, we have begun to purchase an equity stake in the company, with the intention of purchasing a controlling interest. Congratulations!”

Smiles broke out across the table, but Adam could see that Katy was still thinking.

Before she got a chance to ask the question that was still on her mind, “Why did we clear our Tuesday morning calendars?” Adam interjected, “Of course that’s not the only reason I asked you here this morning. Early last week in Germany, I heard a rumour that Julian Hastings was thinking of retiring. I passed the information to corporate and let it go at that. When you did the presentation last week you didn’t recommend Hastings Ltd. If I remember correctly you reported that it had older plants and while an admirable history and quality brand name, it would have a hard time expanding and thus a poor fit for us going forward.”

The nodding of heads confirmed their agreement of the assessment. So Adam started again, “It turns out that Julian Hastings does wish to retire and is willing to sell to the right people at the right price. Headquarters believes that by combining Plexus and Hastings under a rebranded Hastings name with our leadership and organization, we can become major players in South Africa and the continent within a short time.”

There was an audible intake of breath as the audaciousness of such a move hit home. In one fell swoop Hastings could get modern facilities and specialized mills, Plexus would increase its connections as well as business revenues, and we would not just a foot in the door, but the whole damn body as we would own and run the new entity.

Adam let the cross-table mumbling continue for a brief time and then reinserted himself in the conversation. “There are several matters to note about this ambitious venture. First we need to purchase more of Plexus before the regulations or rumor mill begins and drives the price of their shares higher. Second, while we know Plexus is a good fit for us, can Hastings be combined to provide economies of scale, complementary work, and how difficult would the integration of the two firms be both physically and fiscally. Third, if the first two requirements are met, can we convince Julian Hastings to sell company to us at a prices that makes everyone a happy winner.”

Taking a deep breath, Adam dropped the other shoe. “Mr. Richardson has taken a personal interest in this venture. He believes it important to the long-term vigor of the company. To this end he has asked me to head a team to go to Cape Town and report back to him by a week from next Friday. I want each of you to be part of this team. If you agree, we will need to leave this Friday morning and be prepared to stay a week to ten days. Pauline will make arrangement and coordinate things with headquarters. She will not be travelling with the rest of us. Mr. Richardson already has made arrangements for me to meet with Mr. Hastings next Monday in Cape Town. This is perhaps a once in a career opportunity. I hope you all have your passports in order.”

Adam sat down as the shock of what he had just conveyed washed over the group.
He gently spoke, “I will entertain any questions now.”

Last edited by toointhebush : 11-06-2015 at 03:53 PM.
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Old 11-08-2015, 02:27 PM   #14
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"What's this all about then, Katie?" Dave questioned as he entered the spacious glass conference room at five to nine. "We engineers don't get told anything- just mark up this drawing, make that change."

Katie looked up from her iPad and smirked. "Feeling left out? And anyway, am I expected to know anymore than you?"

"Of course," he said taking the seat next to her, "You're strategy, you drive the business don't you?" He was joking, highlighting the divide between the business functions and engineering.

"If you're here, I don't think you're getting left out." She said, raising a perfectly waxed eyebrow, before turning her attention to an email that caused her phone to vibrate on the teak table.

As she was finishing her response, Jacob, Finance's representative for the whole ordeal, entered the room. The young woman continued to finish the email, giving the middle aged man a brief nod as he sat across from her. Katie was a pretty amicable woman, treating people the way she's like to be treated worked well for her. However, Jacob rubbed her up the wrong way; he was very quick, good at his job, but liked to make sure
everyone knew it. This resulted in team motivation being challenging from time to time.

"You didn't run that acquisition analysis past me, did you?" He questioned, Katie.

"I tried. There's a copy on your desk and in my email, but I'd didn't hear anything back, so it's submitted."

"It's a bit important for-" He was cut off, as Adam entered the room. Katie's attention quickly moved to the CEO, and what he had to divulge. He kept them captured in his, or corporate's, vision for the company.

She lent forward, her bare forearms resting on the cool surface as, Adam spoke. He was articulate, passionate and driven about the acquisition and work in general. It was refreshing. The brunette unclasped her slender hands to take down notes periodically, paying particular attention too the suggestion about running SA operations under the Hastings brand. She scribbled the number of employees, footage of manufacturing facilities and output of each company and she couldn't quite see how it would add up without revamping Hastings manufacturing plant, but then that wasn't necessarily a barrier.

Soon enough she had the opportunity to discuss, her thoughts however, Dave and Jacob in particular had several questions and opinions on the presentation which took considerable time to address as, on the whole they were warranted complex observations.

"What are your thoughts?" Adam questioned in her direction.

"I think a lot of these questions will be given a definitive answer upon our visit. However, I just wanted to clarify that the combined output of Plexus and Hastings can not be produced via Plexus' plants alone. What's the intention with the older Hastings' facilities?"

The meeting developed into building an outline strategy regarding the weeks' trip, during which Katie was also quite quiet. She was very perceptive, detecting what people were actually feeling, regardless of their words. This trait, however useful, did not always work in the comparatively young woman's favour; there was a lot of bullshit involved in management and sometimes that spoke higher volumes than one's actual output. "Katie," Adam directed his attention to her once more. "What are your thoughts on this visit."

She sat back in the leather chair and crossed her legs, causing the material on her dress to rise up her lower thigh. "I think it comes down to people." She said simply. "These companies can tick all the boxes for a increased revenue and geographical expansion, but if they don't fit our business model- which I doubt they will- we'll not only need their buy-in but for us to do so to. But again, we'll be out there by the end of the week to see all this first hand, rather than speculation. But if all was going swimmingly with these companies they wouldn't be up for sale, would they?" She was getting impatient; there was lots to do for their business at home and she had had to cancel two client meetings for this. Granted, the Hastings acquisition was news- interesting news at that, but these hypothetical discussions were taking up a bit too much of her time.

Kay's observation had sparked another raft of opinions which she took little heed of, noticing that Adam was now checking his phone also. She got up from the table, gathering her iPad and notebook before smoothing down her dress and making her way over to, Adam whilst the two men continued their discussions.

"Adam? Can I ask you a favour?" Katie questioned in a low voice before taking the seat next to him as he obliged. "When I was promoted a few months back I was offered an office, which I declined. But I'm struggling to work on this SA job in the open office. Can you sign off on me getting the office I was offered? We are using it as a meeting room, but there are plenty of others." Also, she added, glancing at the clock, "I'm supposed to have a lunch meeting with a client, unless there's more to cover, I think it'll be beneficial that I attend."
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Old 11-09-2015, 07:28 PM   #15
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As Adam waited a few moments for the questions to begin he looked at the group and wondered how well they would mesh as a team with a high priority project and little time to achieve their goals. He hadn’t invited his executive VP Mike. Mike would need to stay in London and mange the office in his absence. He had arranged to meet with him over lunch and fill him in. He also hadn’t invited Alan, head of marketing, as this did not concern the London operations.

The chief engineer, Dave Cowan, was there with an inquisitive look on his face. Dave was Scottish by birth (only proper for an engineer) but was addressed as “Scottie) only by old friends and family. He was a more than capable person for the team. Dave was book smart and people wise. He was devoted to family and work and ran the engineering department with a smoothness that would put a dolphin in water to shame. Better yet, Dave enjoyed challenges.

Jacob Welsh, Head of Finance, needed to be here to evaluate the books of Hastings and see if there were any irregularities. He could get a good start from here before they left, but still needed to verify certain things on the ground. Jacob was about the same age as Adam, but looked a decade older. The slight paunch around the middle and receding hairline indicated that aging wasn’t always kind. But Jacob was good and that was why Adam added him to the team. His real issue was his ego. Jacob knew he was good at his work, but he always wanted the pat on the back or else he sought it out in a not so subtle manner.

Dave and Jacob both had some pointed questions and insightful comments. Adam felt better after listening and addressing their concerns. Katie was unusually quiet and pensive during this part. As chief strategist he view and input were important.

During a brief pause, Adam turned to Katy and asked, "What are your thoughts?"

"I think a lot of these questions will be given a definitive answer upon our visit. However, I just wanted to clarify that the combined output of Plexus and Hastings cannot be produced via Plexus' plants alone. What's the intention with the older Hastings' facilities?"

The next forty-five minutes was spent building a strategy for the visit. Adam let them have their discussions with him but Katy remained quiet for the most part almost on the sidelines. Adam wondered if she was thinking or processing or disinterested. If it was the latter, this trip, no this project might be a disaster.

Seizing the bull by the horns, Adam focused on her and asked, “What are your thoughts on this visit?”

Her response about the necessity for the business models needing to mesh began another round of discussions of “What ifs”. Adam looked to Pauline and began to discuss the group’s needs for this trip. After about ten minutes his phone buzzed and he read a text message from headquarters. Just as he was finishing up Katy stepped up to him and asked him about getting an office for more privacy while working on the project. She also asked to leave the meeting to meet a client for lunch.

Adam noted that it was well after 11:00 and everyone had much in his or her live to resolve before they could proceed. He paused the meeting and said to the group. “Pauline will be making the arrangements for transportation, visas, hotel accommodations, etc. Make sure you touch base with her this afternoon to see that your passport information is correct. Set up the process for your department to be without you next week. Tell them there’s a conference overseas and headquarters wants you to be in attendance. It’s a little misdirection, but the truth if you state it as I just did. Let your families know that you will be leaving on Friday and be gone the entire week. Finally, the news concerning Plexus will be come public sooner than later. I hope it will wait until we are already in Cape Town and in discussions with Hastings. Do not say anything about Hasting or Plexus to ANYONE. Your significant others can be told only where you will be going and that everyone else will think that you’re in the states.”

As they began to depart he added one final note. “If you have any problems I need to know by the end of the day. Please check back with me before leaving for home. Thank you.”

Katy made her way out of the conference room with Dave and Jacob on her heels. As Pauline started to leave, Adam put a hand on her shoulder and asked her to stay a moment. Adam asked her what she thought of the meeting.

Pauline responded, “I think they were as surprised as I was. There was a good deal of discussion, but mostly hypotheticals.” Adam nodded and Pauline continued, ““They are as bright a group as you could put together. Whether they will mesh well together, given their personality differences”, is another story.”

Adam said, “I have that same feeling myself. They are all smart, quick and the best in their area of expertise, but a team of all stars does not always work out for the best.” Adam opined, “Katy seemed pensive or diffident at the meeting. I don’t know if it was just my perception or what. Do you know if everything is okay with her today?”

Pauline said, “I don’t know that anything is different than any other day. She was a bit quiet, but she gets that way when she is thinking or reading or analyzing. The woman can focus like a laser. There are times when I’ve walked over to her desk and she didn’t notice me until I spoke”

“That reminds me,” Adam went on, “Katy asked me if she could now have the private office as she was offered when she was promoted. Could you contact HR and tell them I authorize the use of the next room over for her and temporarily route her calls to that office’s number until the extensions can be switched.”

“Done, Oh, mighty slave driver.” Pauline giggled.

Adam’s lunch with Mark was in a tucked away booth of a quiet restaurant where their conversation would not be overheard. Mark was also astounded at the move the company was undertaking. He was disappointed not to be part of the team going to South Africa, but he understood Adam’s reasoning. He was also pleased by the fact that Adam trusted his ability and judgment.

Upon returning to the office, Pauline told him about the flights and times from London to Cape Town. Having been in South Africa several months ago, Adam was not looking forward to a night and a day in the air, but there was no choice.
In his office he sifted through his emails, read and responded to those that were important, and called headquarters.

It was still early morning on the east coast, but Adam knew Mark Wilson was waiting to hear from him.

“Adam, thank you for responding to my text. I know you must be overwhelmed today.”

“No problem, Mark. I met with the team this morning. You have their names and positions already. They were a bit surprised and had many good questions.
I’m going to have them send their detailed questions to me and have Pauline email it to you tomorrow your time. That way we can work through your replies on Thursday before we leave Friday. Pauline is making the arrangements”

“That’s good progress,” Mark intoned. “We want Dave to visit Hastings plants in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg. Tours will be arranged. While he’s in Port Elizabeth we’d like him to visit Plexus’ new facility there and also go to the Durban plant.” He’ll need to go both Plexus’s facilities on the tourist tour unless the news breaks beforehand. If that happens, we’ll get him the VIP look.”

“Mark, that’s pretty ambitious for four days and then get a report or recommendation to you by Friday next.” Adam replied.

“We only expect a synopsis brief on Friday. We won’t expect a report until Sunday night.” was Mark’s answer.

He exclaimed, “The financial piece is just on site verification of assets. Hastings will have his CFO meet with Welsh on Monday and then we want Jacob to travel with Dave to view the facilities. We are especially interested in both companies facilities in Johannesburg, regarding overlap.”

“Okay, I should let Pauline know about this. I wish I had know sooner.” There was some irritation in Adam’s voice by now.

“Adam, don’t take this as undercutting your team,” Mark intoned. “Mr. Richardson was in contact with Julius Hastings yesterday and these specifics are directly from him. Trust me, I spent two hours with him last night. It seems that Hastings is as anxious as we are on this project and if we won’t bite then he’ll find another suitor.”

“I understand. It’s just a lot of ground to cover, literally and figuratively, in a really short time.” Adam stated knowing this was nothing that Mark Wilson didn’t already know.”

Mark chimed in; “Adam the hard work will be trying to determine I f there’s a fit and if so, is there a strategy that can bring both companies under our model and leadership to be successful. I hope that new strategy executive you promoted last spring, Katy what’s-her-name, is as good as you’ve been touting her. You both will need to bring you’re A-game together while you are in Cape Town.”

“You know we’ll do our best, Mark”

“Adam, there is no one in the company that I or Mr. Richardson trust more or believe in more than you. That’s why you were chosen.”

“Mark, Thank you. I appreciated your faith in me and my team.”

“You’re welcome, Adam. I’ll talk to you tomorrow” Mark then hung up on the conversation.”

Adam exhaled. He sat for a moment and sucked in a long breath. He decided a couple of minutes of deep breathing exercises were in order. He let his mind clear and wander. He needed to check with Pauline and have her call headquarters for the new details. His thoughts also drifted to Katy. He hoped that Pauline was right about her being okay. She was the smartest strategist and analyst he had worked with, in spite of her relative youth. Her talents were essential on this project, maybe more so than Dave or Jacob’s. Maybe he should discuss with her his recent concern regarding the project when he met with her later this afternoon.
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Old 12-24-2015, 10:04 AM   #16
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The security gates of the plaza which housed TASA, Katie's place of work, beeped to let her through. The reception's large plasma screens indicated, amongst other things, that it was almost half past two. The young VPs lunch had overran, but that was nothing but a good thing. She didn't have her own clients anymore- they were passed to numerous sales managers when she was promoted, nonetheless, a particular civil engineering firm had requested she continued to be the point of contact. It was a win win for, Katie, she got to keep her finger in the proverbial pie whilst bringing in a tidy £10m per annum for the company. Not the largest contract in the world, but every little helps and all that.

The heels of her black leather court shoe clicked as she made her way into the empty elevator. Leaning against its cool mirrored wall, Katie took a breath and attempted to contemplate how the hell she was going to pull off this week. She didn't want to work late tonight; a close friend had got engaged and along with a few companions they had planned to go around to her flat for a congratulatory drink. However, there was no point feeling sorry for herself, she had to remember that she got remunerated considerably, both in terms of money and responsibility.

The tall brunette was knocked out of her internal conflict as the almost closed elevator doors reopened. Her slender fingers went instinctively to the bottom to reopen the doors, not that it was necessary. She smiled at, Adam as he got in.

There wasn't much time for discussion, only that Katie now needed to add another meeting with, Adam to her to do list. Her first priority, however was to make sure her direct reports had enough work and direction to for the next ten days. Striding over to her desk, Katy dumped her bag on her desk and instructed those who were present to head into the closest available meeting space. Her patience was beginning to wear thin and when it took more than several moments to get moving, she uncharacteristically snapped at those who were taking their time.

"I apologise for the hast of this meeting, however as of Thursday I shall be out of the office for a week to ten days. It is no secret to this department that we have been looking at the South African market, so myself and a few others are going out to build some bridges, do some digging, etc."

"Need an assistant?" Zoe, an analyst joked.

A ripple of laughter cut any tension in the room. "Nice try" Katie continued. "I'll be available where possible, and Zoe, Ross, any requests for information should take precedence. Apart from that, you all know what needs to be done at the moment; don't let key accounts slip- I still want the weekly report for each one due on tomorrow and the following Wednesday, same goes for the development accounts. Any questions? I'll practically be living here until Thursday evening." This invite opened up a raft of enquiries which the team had evidently been sitting in all week; it was fair enough, Katie had hardly sat at her desk all week.

An hour later the group were about to leave the meeting room, when Katie called them back. "I'm sure I don't need to remind you that anything to do with market expansion is classified, so this stays within these walls. Other teams are getting told of a conference. To that end, I now occupy L15.09 as a make shift office. So if you can't find me try there."

Using the spare 20 minutes before her meeting with the CEO, Katie dug her worn passport from her distressed leather bag before quickly filling out the necessary travel documents.

"Do me a favour, Mel; get facilities to move my stuff into that office by close of play today. They'll say that can't do it, but just push them. I'll send a quick email to what's-his-name who heads it up. But if you could do the necessary paper work- just sign it off on my behalf- that would be magic. Cheers."

"I may as well have an office next door to him." She sighed to Pauline, upon emerging onto the executive floor. "Here's all the docs you need. I can have one of my girls go via travel if needed. You must be up to your eyes."

Pauline took the documents from, Katie's hand and immediately opened her passport. "Oh Katie, would you get this updated, please!"

"Why?! Is it out of date?" She replied in a sudden panic, snatching the little leather booklet back.

"No!" Pauline giggled, taking it back, "You just look like a teenager. How old is this?"

Katy laughed, "Erm, 2007... I'd have been twenty, I suppose. God, look how well used it is. Back when I had a life, Pauline."

"Price you're paying, kido. There's a lot of people who have been here a lot longer than you who'd give their eye-teeth to be on this project." The PA reminded her in a mothering tone. "But, I'm not saying it's not going to be difficult. I hope that boy of yours takes care of you after all these long days."

Katy hesitated "Yeah, sure. I mean he ran me a bath when I got in last night." Pauline smiled in approval. "But I just don't think he really gets what I do, you know?"

"He's a man, Darling. Unless it's what he does he doesn't get it." With that parting shot, Adam stepped into the foyer. "He'll tell you." Pauline jested which caused the young woman to smirk.

"Nevermind." Katie, smiled. Before following, Adam into his spacious office.
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Old 12-31-2015, 01:11 PM   #17
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Adam walked quickly into his Office and motioned to Katie to sit in the chair opposite his desk.
He didn’t look happy.
“Do you have all your documents ready for the trip, Katie?” Adam asked her.
“Yes, although I look like a teenager in my passport, according to Pauline!” She replied, nodding.
Adam chuckled.
“Really? Pauline’s just jealous!” He quipped, making it plain that he was joking, as he winked at Katie.
They both knew full well they were all past their teenage years, with Adam furthest ahead, just ahead of Pauline. They had both worked together for quite a while, and cared for each other, if only to ensure efficiency was maintained.

Pauline poked her head around the door, asking:
“Travel Documents?”
Adam nodded and reached into his jacket pocket, handing them over the desk, to Pauline who had stepped inside to take them from him.

“Slight change of plans though. Jacob’s not going. Sally, his wife – you know, the biker-chick; has been in an accident. From what Jacob said, she’d been knocked off her bike by some young kid just passed his test, and her wrist & leg’s been broken for sure, with other minor injuries. It’s not life threatening, but he needs to stay with her. Seeing as how she’s five months’ pregnant, he’s fuming, as they had agreed she wouldn’t ride now she’s pregnant, so wants to stay with her whilst they see if the baby’s OK.”

They both looked back across the desk at Adam.
“What does this mean for the trip? Who will carry Jacob’s share of the work?” Pauline asked.
“Me. I worked in finance before jumping over here so I can look after that side of things – it just means I’ll be busier than before.”
He shook his head, marvelling at the irony, as he had been hoping to take in a few of the sights to de-stress slightly. Now the trip would be more stressful.

“Oh – Pauline – I need to fly out to Joburg on the 6am flight tomorrow.
I wanted to go tonight, but Andrea had invited some friends over this evening, and I have to be there, as we haven’t seen them for ages.”

Pauline nodded, and turned to leave them, saying: “I’ll make the arrangements. It makes sense to have you two travel together, if we can, to save on costs. OK with you, Katie?”

Katie nodded. “Thanks, Pauline, that’ll be fine.”

Adam and Katie spent the next hour or so finalising their plans for the trip, before each headed home.

For Adam, the evening flew by; he actually enjoyed the time spent with their friends, the usual apprehension before a trip not making itself felt, as he was enjoying the bonhomie with their friends. Andrea was the perfect hostess, having arranged for their boys to have a sleepover with friends, and she had prepared some canapés and Champagne, and the like, to nibble & sip - as they chatted and caught up with Wendy & Sid, friends from College.
They now had two children as well, Wendy having lost her baby-weight to regain her previous (enviable) figure which Sid obviously appreciated.
Sid was still the rough diamond he’d always been, and his Vinnie Jones-like demeanour was understandably attractive to many women, Adam was sure. The humour and drink flowed, so that by the time the taxi arrived to take Wendy & Sid home, Adam promised to join Sid for a game of golf when hey next could – and he also knew he’d had a drink, or two.

As soon as the door was closed, and with no more than a whispered ‘I Love You’ and a gentle caress of Andrea’s pert behind, which she didn’t return, followed by a kiss, she’d ushered him upstairs, knowing he had an early start.

He could hear her tidying up, as he stripped off, to take a quick shower, before jumping into bed.
He awoke with a start, and jabbed an angry finger at his phone to silence the alarm.
Andrea didn’t even stir, as he rolled out of bed and into a quick shower to wash away the cobwebs before shaving and dressing.

He collected his things, and opened the door just as Nikola, one of the Corporate drivers, reached his front door.
“Good Morning, Sir.” She intoned, in her ever so slight Russian accent. She was a long-standing driver for the company, and well liked for her attention to detail, and discretion, as she had ferried executives on business and would have overheard several delicate negotiations in her time, and seen several compromising sights.

She reached down and took his bags, as if they weighed nothing, and turned walking to the Audi Q7, with Adam in tow.
Adam reflected, as he had enjoyed no intimacy with Andrea last night, her saying she was ‘too busy’, that Nikola was actually quite attractive in her own way.

She walked quickly to the rear of the car, pausing to open the rear door, and then placed his bags in the boot quickly, returning to close Adam’s door, before taking her place behind the wheel.

She quickly joined the Motorway from his house and drove as fast as the law allowed to the Airport, dropping him at the Terminal Doors, and whilst he got out into the cool morning air, had retrieved his bags and handed them to him.
“Have a good trip, Sir. I shall be here to collect you when you return.” She smiled and tossed him an informal salute, as Adam thanked her, before getting back behind the wheel, as she watched Adam turn and enter the Terminal, before driving away.

As he reached the Check-In Desk, he noticed Katie sat, sipping a cup of Coffee at the Costa Bar, in view of the Desk. He also noticed the passport and boarding pass, sticking out of her bag.
She was nothing if not efficient!

Once assigned his seat, next to her, and receiving his ticket from the pretty young Check-In attendant, He wandered over.
“Morning!” He said, trying to sound cheerful, but feeling anything but.
“Hi yourself!” Katie replied, taking another sip of her coffee. “I was thinking about the trip, and I think we’re going to need to work for some of the fight too.” She told him.
He nodded simply, muttering “Hmmm. I guess so, as we need to prepare the financials.” He gestured to the coffee bar.
“Another?” He asked.
“No thanks – I want to be able to sit in my seat, this one’s enough!”
He laughed, and shaking his head wandered over to buy his own coffee.

When he returned, they walked together down to the Gate, which had just been shown on the Departures Board. They swapped small talk about what they had done the previous evening, with Adam, describing the enjoyable evening with friends, but leaving out the growing lack of intimacy between Andrea and himself.

They showed their boarding passes & passports to the gate staff, and were quickly ushered onto the Business Class Section of the aircraft.
As soon as they were airborne, the cabin staff started to serve drinks, which both of them declined, having drunk a coffee in the Terminal.

Adam had opened his laptop and was attempting to build a couple of scenarios, for what they may find in South Africa.
Their financial data was a little sketchy, but between Katie and himself, they soon had a strategy they both thought was sound.

They had timed things well, as the cabin crew started serving the in-flight meals. Adam said they could re-check it all after breakfast.

As they had left early, breakfast was served.
A light omelette, with ham and cheese, and toast, with tea and coffee and fruit juice was on offer, which they both accepted and ate hungrily.
Adam was pleased to note that Katie appeared to have a normal appetite, and assumed that her svelte physique must be due to some sporting or exercise regime.

Once breakfast was finished, they continued to check the strategy and confirmed it was indeed, sound.
Adam sent an email to HQ in the US to update them on progress, before powering it down, and swapping small talk with Katie for a couple of hours, over a cup of tea.
As they had woken so early, they both started to feel sleepy and the conversation dried up.
“Don’t struggle to stay awake on my account.” Adam told her. “If you want to sleep, go ahead!” He smiled, in what he hoped was a friendly grin. He was aware he was her boss, but right now they were a team, preparing for whatever their adventure in South Africa could throw at them.

After a couple of hours, Adam awoke to see Katie still sleeping.
She looked so peaceful, and he noticed for the first time, how truly beautiful she was. Being unobserved, he enjoyed the view, checking her brown eyes were closed as she slept. Some of her brunette hair had strayed onto her face, making her look sexier than usual.

Her mostly covered modest cleavage rose enticingly, as she breathed, and he watched, entranced for a moment.
And then, to his horror, her head lolled to the side, and rested on his shoulder. She barely stirred, and her gentle, regular breathing resumed.

Adam decided to let her sleep, as he needed her at her best when they arrived.
He turned his attention to his phone, and read a text from Andrea. She was obviously not happy, as he read:
“This last two weeks have all been work, work, work. The one time you start to be intimate, I am with all your work colleagues at the awards ceremony. Hardly the best place to turn me on.”

He took a breath and opened the next text message, apparently a continuation:
“By the time we got home, you’d heated me up in the taxi, and then said you were tired, and needed sleep. I had to finish what you started! But then, that’s been the story of my life lately, as you’re never able to do what I want, when I want. It’s either work, or you’re away with work! Grrr!”

Adam, read, with increasing frustration her next message:
“I have tried to be a doting and flexible wife, but I need you to spend time with us–your family, and especially with me. I can’t just drop everything at Home when it suits you. I have to make sure the kids are properly prepared for School, and meals are cooked. The last time I wanted sex, you weren’t Home. I’m not just here for sex, when you drop in!”

He knew himself well enough not to reply right now. He was seething.
They’d agreed he should go for this promotion, before he applied, although they both knew he’d be away more, rallying his ‘troops’, the pay-rise would be worth it to put the boys through the local private school, and give Andrea some of the nicer things in life. It felt good for Adam to be able to do that, but at what expense to his marriage, he now wondered?
Andrea had not ever voiced her concerns quite like this before and he’d not been in the role that long!
He’d have to deal with it when he returned home. He couldn’t do much now.

He let out the breath he was holding and heard Katie stir. As he looked down at her quickly, she seemed to be still asleep.

He looked out of the window at the ocean below for a while, and then re-opened the text messages on his phone, and started to look back through Andrea's rants to see if he'd missed anything.

He was lost in his thoughts, when a female cabin crew member approached them both and asked what they’d like for dinner.

The interruption made Adam jump, and he banged his hand against the small table, before he focussed his attention on her.
“Sorry – you made me jump!” He told her.
“I’m sorry Sir – we’re about to serve dinner – What would you like?”

Just then, Katie arose from her slumber, and looked sheepishly at Adam, as she lifted her head from his shoulder.

Adam chose the salmon fillet and tomato and broccoli salad, with sour bread and sweet bread, and a light yoghurt dressing.
He waited for Katie to order, and she chose the same.
The male cabin crew member suggested a Spier White wine to accompany the food, and after a taste, Adam ordered a bottle which he and Katie could share.

“Have a good sleep?” He asked her, when she was fully awake, as the meals were served, and the wine poured for them.
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Old 01-09-2016, 03:30 PM   #18
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"You could have come straight home, Katie. I mean a week- it's a long time!" Her partner snapped. Katie had just informed him that his trip had been brought forward and she was leaving tomorrow. "It's what, 11pm." He sighed looking at the kitchen clock. "You're just home and you're leaving in less than 5 hours."

"I called to see if you wanted to go for dinner- you didn't answer and," she emphasised the and, "I had already made plans to go to Carry's for a drink; her and Adrian got engaged." It wasn't a dig or a hint, far from it, but it didn't stop an awkward silence developing. After a few moments of tumble weed, Katie made a move to the bedroom, walking past him as she did so. The young woman was still wearing the same fitted black sleeveless dress, apart from looking slightly disheveled from negotiating her way from Nottinghill in gail force winds, she looked good.

"Come here." He growled, his thick Yorkshire accent cut through that of her polished Southern twang as she pointed out that she still had to pack. Not that, Katie protested; the sensation of being pushed up against the wall of their open plan living space was something she'd been craving. Her days were full of management, responsibility and decisions- she just wanted that to be taken away when she got home. The tall brunette moaned into her partner's mouth, pushing her lean body into his equally tight physique.

Katie was down to just a pair of black lace briefs when she was pushed over the arm of the sofa. She was in heaven; the wetness between her thighs, the feeling of his strong hands yanking the material over her pert bottom and just being close to him again. "I've missed this." She gasped, sweeping the hair away from her face.

"You shouldn't work all the time, babe." He snapped, "Then we'd have more time to do this." He made a move to enter her, his cock already slick from her saliva.

"Are you kidding me?!" Katie started in disbelief, moving from her compromising position. "Did you actually just say that, Ryan?"

"Look, it doesn't matter, I didn't mean it." That was a lie, Katie knew he'd say anything right now to finish the job. Her excitement on the other hand had evaporated. "Just come 'ere, bend back over the couch." He almost begged.

Repeating the words in astonishment, Katie pulled her underwear back up her lightly tanned thighs. "I think I'll pass." She brushed past him, before turning back to face the handsome figure, "I love you, Ryan Watkins, but you are making this very difficult."

Getting dressed, taxiing to the airport and checking in were all done in autopilot. Katie had struggled to get much sleep post argument and only managed to drift off an hour before her alarm was due to go off- Sod's Law. It wasn't until she was half way down a Grande Americano that she actually caught up to speed with what she was actually embarking on; her and the CEO traveling to the other side of the world to set the foundations for market expansion. It was as exciting as it was daunting, the later exacerbated by the lack of finance expertise. During their meeting, Adam had commented that his experience and her analytical skills will see them ok, however, Katie had her self doubt. Sure she could work out a budget, and the hypotheticals, but when it came down to brass tacks could she really guarantee total confidence?

She was shaken out of her worry by, Adam who'd made his way towards her. Upon greeting him she blurted out the need to go over some additional work, probably out of nerves as much as necessity.

One positive about traveling at this horrendous hour was the short queues at security, coupled with their priority boarding, meaning Katy had settled into her roomy pod within about half an hour. "It was a somewhat frantic night ," she replied when Adam enquired of her evening. "A friend just got engaged, so we took a bottle round and had a little celebration for her- nothing too extravagant, but it was nice to catch up with the girls." She too left of the details of the strained relationship. "So, by the time I got home, packed and the like I feel like I just came straight to the airport." She finished, stifling a yawn.

Retrieving her iPad and notes handed over from the head of finance, the young VP joined Adam in making sense of it all. Truth be told the real financial decisions would come into play once they'd seen the plants and were talking hard money. Nonetheless, they did have to have a strategy in place.

In business class these was plenty of room to work- almost as much as some of the rooms in the London office with space being as such a premium. That being said, working with, Adam alone kept Katie on her guard. She was careful to not misquote or miscalculate anything, at risk of showing inexperience. The pressure she felt was exacerbated by the ease at which the guy picked up on every detail, even figures calculated an hour ago he remembered.

After a few hours at work, coupled by her lack of sleep, Katie was struggling to keep alert and was glad when her boss suggested a nap. That meant she'd get a couple of hours before hitting Dubai for their connection.

"I'll have what he's having." She mumbled, piecing together where she was and the fact she's fallen asleep on Adam's shoulder, "Sorry, Adam." She blushed rubbing her hands over her face. "Can you keep that warm for me, please? I'll be back in five." She asked the stewardess. She stood up, answering, Adam. "Erm, yeah it was fine thanks." She said stretching, as she did so her top rode up, exposing a sliver of toned midriff. The young woman had gone for a smart-casual look; black jeans, which clung to her long legs, a striped long sleeve and an edgy looking black blazer which hung loosely around her trim figure.

Excusing herself, Katie made her way to the bathroom to freshen up before dinner. Having splashed some cold water on her face she dried it with a plush white towel. She was fortunate to get away with minimal makeup when necessary, being fresh faced with a clear complexion. Furthermore, her dark eyes were striking enough to not require accentuation. Nonetheless, regarding herself in the mirror, Katie tidied the errand strands of hair before returning to her seat.

The food was, as far as flight food goes, enjoyable. "I went out to Australia after school," she told Adam as they ate, "And I'm sitting in the airport with my ridiculous backpack to check and there's this guy into front of me looking like he was doing the same. We checked our luggage, get to to chatting and board this Emirates flight which I hadn't flown before." She took a sip of wine before finishing, informing Adam that once boarded they found Emirates so posh that they thought they were in business class and asked where coach was. The stewards were so amused that they bumped the youths up to business class. "I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world." The brunette finished. She paused for a moment, reminiscing.

The two swapped the odd story regarding international travel as they ate. Katie had traveled a lot with, Ryan when they were younger and his career had been flourishing.

The stewardess interrupted the conversation to serve them dessert. "I'm fine thanks, just a black coffee." Katy declined, she usually had a desperately sweet tooth, but having done nothing but sit for the past 8 hours she didn't feel the need. Instead she retrieved her iPad and reviewed the information that Adam and her had generated earlier in the flight.
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Old 01-17-2016, 02:36 PM   #19
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When the stewardess offered dessert, Adam also accepted just a decaf black coffee.
He also had a sweet tooth, but was wary of how to deal with any unwanted sugar as well as caffeine, in his system.

Adam replied to Katie’s tale about travelling to Australia.
“Where did you go? I was out there about twenty years ago, with a mate from School, enjoying a year out from Uni, before it became fashionable to do so. We had both been bitten by the surfing bug, and were driving upstate in Queensland. We’d stayed at Surfer’s Paradise for a couple of days and thought that was good, and then headed further North towards Brisbane. A guy in the Hotel, told us of a town called Bundaberg, about 400Km further up the coast, where they have the best rum.”

He paused and grinned, before continuing his story.
“Steve and I were lured up there on a tale of loose drink, and loose women, which to a twenty-one year old, is pretty irresistible!” His grin widened.

“Anyway – we were following the coast road, and came across this pace called ‘Noosa Heads’. We heard the surf crashing before we saw it. Steve just cried out “Oh My God, Mate! Look at that! We have to ride those!”
He had spotted huge breakers, easily as big as those we’d caught at Surfer's Paradise, and these were going from a gentle slope on the beach where there were some learners, to the other end where the die-hards were already queueing up to ride the tubes coming in.

We eventually found somewhere to pull over, then parked, changed and grabbed our boards and headed into the water. I remember it was a beautiful Spring day, with a temperature around eighty-five degrees, not too hot, but hot enough. We charged down the beach and into the surf, and took our turns in the line of surfers waiting to ride the waves back in.”

He paused and smiled, obviously remembering a fond memory.

“I can remember when my turn came and I got up on my board, after wobbling a bit, and the speed was incredible. Faster than I had surfed before, and I tamed that wave! I cut back and forth across it, and rode it all the way to shore, sliding right up on the sand, close to a group of locals who politely stood and applauded. I remember sketching a mock bow, before thanking them. One of the guys shouted out “Bloody Hell – a Pom who can surf, what next!?” to much laughter.”

Adam laughed lightly, shaking his head, as he carried on.

“I stood with them and watched Steve as he began his run.
I told the group, "That’s my Mate, Steve.”

"He was the better surfer of the two of us normally, but he caught some bad chop, and about fifty yards out, his board popped out from under him dunking him in the rolling surf. He surfaced quickly, which was good, but his board spun around on its ankle tether and smacked him in the back of the head, knocking him flat. He stood up holding his head, in one hand, and board in the other, and sheepishly waded into the shallows, with his head down. Once on the sand, he flung his board down, and sat on it, and then looked at his hand and the blood on it. One of the girls had seen him fall and had a first aid kit, and did a great job patching up the small cut on the back of his head.
The guy who had spoken first held out his hand to me, and introduced himself as ‘Keith’. His girlfriend who was treating Steve, called out “And I’m Gail”.
The others all introduced themselves, and to cut a long story short, we never saw Bundaberg, they had some of the rum with them, and we stayed a couple of days with them, drinking and eating and surfing, and Gail had a couple of single friends who we were quite an enigma to, and they became very friendly, especially when they found out we were travelling back South in a few days, as they wanted to get to Coffs Harbour, which was on the way for us, as we had to get back to Sydney. For a week, Steve and I entertained and travelled with these two hot girls, Pam was a blonde, and Jo-Anne was a brunette, with long flowing locks, and god, she was good!”

Adam paused then, as he remembered where he was, and who he was with.
He began to blush, and said…”Err sorry. Too much information!” Noticing his small lack of discretion bring a smile to Katie’s lips.

Desperate to change the subject he said:
“When you said about travelling business class before, and how luxurious that was, and is now, have you ever flown First Class?” He asked her.

“The boss says if we seal the deal out here and achieve all we set out to do, we can fly back to Britain First Class. He’ll gladly pay! Now – there’s an incentive!”

The continued to review the information Katie had on her iPad, to make sure it tallied with his laptop, which it did, as the files had pretty much been copied, and when they were satisfied everything was as good as it could be, they took the Cabin Crew’s advice, and settled into their seats, for a sleep, and to help them adjust to the local time, as they still had five hours left to fly before touchdown.

They both woke after a few hours, with Adam embarrassed to discover he had turned slightly in his sleep and his hand had fallen off the arm of the seat onto Katie’s right thigh. He just hoped he hadn’t done anything improper whilst he slept!
She still seemed to be sleeping, so he hoped his wandering hand hadn’t woken or upset her.

Katie awoke a few minutes later, and then the PA system came on, as the Captain announced they were half an hour out from Johannesburg. After a quick cup of 'proper' (i.e. not decaf) coffee to wake himself up, he made sure everything was stowed away for the landing, and returned his seat back and tray table to their upright positions as requested.

In truth, he hated landings, and as they began to descend, and his ears popped, he started to chew some gum, and offered Katie one too, as he knew it helped.
He could see the ground coming up to meet them in the misty dawn light.
His hands gripped the end of the armrests as he silently prayed ‘God, don’t let me die now!’
Although he had flown many times, it was the landings he hated. It was just his over-active imagination, and the mental image of a burnt-out husk of an airframe which he’d seen several times over the years on the news when a tragedy had befallen an airliner somewhere else in the world. He knew flight was still statistically the safest form of travel, but it didn’t calm his nerves much.

He looked across at Katie, remembering he was the senior staff member, and thought he should put on a brave face for her, if nothing else; so he forced a smile. He could feel his knuckles white, on the armrest, but he daren’t look down, so he just turned his gaze out of the window, and watched the ground rising up to meet them.

The landing was textbook, and soon they were rolling towards the gate, and within half an hour, they had had cleared customs, and reclaimed their baggage, before making their way to the Arrivals Hall.

“Apparently, we’re being met by a driver.”
Adam told Katie. As they wheeled their cases out into the throng of people, and all the different sights and smells a new country brings. Already the air was warm, even at six-thirty in the morning.

He saw a tall, broad -built well tanned white man with short cropped blonde hair, in a white shirt and black tie, holding a sign with his name on it. He noted the shirt barely contained the man’s bulging pecs and biceps.
Adam marched over and introduced himself, and Katie.
The driver shook hands with them both with a firm grip, introducing himself as ‘Christian’ and bade them to follow him outside. He seemed to have a military bearing, by the upright way he walked, and it was interesting to see that the crowd just parted before him, and Adam and Katie followed in his wake.

They were soon ensconced in the back of a BMW 5 Series, with darkened rear windows.
“I report directly to Mr. Hastings. He thought it prudent that you just blend in, so as not to arouse any suspicion whilst you’re here. A tour has been arranged for you both this morning at the Hastings Facility here. After that, I’ll drive you to the Plexus plant across town, and wait. Once you’re done, I’ll drive you both back here, and you can fly onto Durban. It’s only an hour or so by air.”
Adam simply nodded, as Christian pulled the car into the light traffic and towards the City.

Adam turned to Katie.
“The plan is this. We are now going to view both facilities here, in Johannesburg, then as Christian said, we’ll fly to Durban and view the Plexus Plant. Next we’ll fly over to Port Elizabeth and rest overnight, The flight is about two-and-a-half hours, so I think we’ll have had enough for one day. We’ll be viewing Plexus’ & Hastings Plants there, tomorrow, err Sunday?, Yes Sunday. They don’t close, and we won’t stick out as many foreign tourists go on the tours on a Sunday, to break up the ‘sun and sea routine’.”

He paused to make sure Katie was taking all this in, before adding:
“Sunday, after seeing Plexus’ & Hastings Plants, we’ll take the two hour or so flight to Cape Town, and take a look at the Hastings facility there, before returning to our Hotel. On the Monday morning, we’re due to attend a meeting with their CFO, to work out the details of their inventory, capital, and check their accounts numbers against our workings out; to see how wide of the mark we might be - and also see their Marketing capabilities, to ensure we’re not going to be buying a pup.”
He paused for breath, before continuing.

“Don’t worry about Christian’s discretion. Mr Hastings has vouched for him personally, and besides, they want this sale to go through. I happen to know that Christian is not only a driver – like many South African ex-soldiers, he has many talents.”

Christian then spoke up from the driver’s seat, in his silky Afrikaans accent.
“Glad to hear you say that, Sir. What gave it away, if I can ask?”
Adam smiled as he replied.
“Your tattoo, on your arm, under your shirt. I had a friend in the Army, and he mentioned he had trained with some of you ‘Recce’ guys about ten years ago, out on the Veldt. The Star-on dagger – on wreath tattoo, gave you away. He said you guys were some of the most capable guys he’d ever trained with.”
“Your friend was 22 Regiment?” Christian asked, his eyes never leaving the road.
“He was, and he spoke very highly of his South African brothers in arms.”
“It’s entirely likely we trained together, as I was still in the service back then, and we hosted some SAS guys - so we probably did share a dugout, as well as a few beers, and many miles across the bush in boots, and heavy packs, tracking insurgents.”
He grinned a wide toothy grin, showing pearly whites, and said:
“Then I met a member of Mr. Hastings’ personal staff, who made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. It was too lucrative, and government work doesn’t pay too well.”

He then went back to driving, and navigating the traffic as the roads became busier, the closer they got to the City district where the Hastings facility was located.
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Old 01-21-2016, 02:02 PM   #20
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It turned out that, Adam and Katie had traveled a similar road during their time in Australia. Admittedly, Katie hadn’t done as much surfing, bar a week of ‘Surf School’ during which it had taken her two days before she was able to stand on a board and one day off due to concussion. Needless to say, it was not her forte. Nonetheless, their shared experience had allowed for some real common ground between the two, further developed by, Adam’s reminiscing of the brunette. Although somewhat inappropriate, it had given him an air of humanity beyond just being the CEO/her superior.

Up until her late teens, Katie had been a bit of a late bloomer. She had always been pretty, but the few extra pounds caused her to lack the confidence that took a pretty face and nice body to another level. Sure, out traveling she had her fair share of liaisons, but nothing overly wild- the brunette was usually the one telling a companion to be safe, before heading back to whatever hostel they had found themselves residing.

It wasn’t until meeting a drunken musician form Leeds during Freshers’ Week that all that changed. The fact this beautiful bad boy had taken an interest in her seemed to be a real game-changer for the Oxford born student and from then she (and others) looked at herself in a completely different light. Not that this was shared with, her boss.

“Your purpose for traveling, Miss Millar?’ Asked the female attendant at border control, to which the young woman answered business, before being ushered through to baggage reclaim, her large leather hold-all balanced on her shoulder. Waiting by Baggage Collection she turned to Adam as he caught up with her. His face had returned to its normal complexion, having gone rather white during landing. The guy must travel every other week- what an unfortunate stress to have. However, she did not comment; that would have been distasteful. Katie, on the other hand, loved flying- the exhilaration of waking up in another country; the change in temperature, culture, even smell by just being on a plane for a few hours.

They were soon ushered into a luxury car by an admittedly handsome drive, the cool interior a welcome change for the temperature outside. The young VP loved the heat, however when one is in jeans, a blazer and contending with a heavy bag it is not ideal. Katie had heard this travel plan more times than she could recall, so proceeded to text both her partner and father to tell them she’d arrived safely.

As they drove through the Johannesburg, Katie looked out at the mass of urban sprawl. To get to the aforementioned plants they drove through part of the city before passing through its outskirts, where the Hasting’s plant resided. As they drew near she called the head of Engineering to inform him that she’d be sending over any information which required his review and to let him know the rough times they’d be at each facility. “Yes, Boss.” He retorted, “How’s traveling with the Big Man?”

“Its fine thanks, Harry.” She retorted.
“Well, rather you than me. Enjoy having your every move scrutinized.”
“Bye!” She laughed and hung up. Pocketing her iPhone, Katie shrugged out of her blazer. Their casual appearance was probably for the best, as soon as two British suits start nosing around that’ll put everyone on edge.

The car pulled up at the reception of the impressive reception just as, Katie had dawned a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses. "Let me help you, Miss." She heard, Christian state as he opened her door and offered her his hand. With an element of surprise, Katie accepted, thanking him.

"See you in a couple of hours." The young woman told him as she and, Adam made their way towards the main foyer. She looked sideways at her boss as they climbed the stairs, in just his suit jacket with no tie and her in a long sleeved t shirt with the sleeves rolled up they looked more like a couple entering a luxury car showroom than anything to do with a high stake acquisition.


Long lazy rays of morning sunlight edged up, Katie's bed. The rest of the suite already doused in the warm light as the brunette slept, the crisp white sheets gathered over her thighs and pert behind whilst her face was buried in a mix of pillow and dark glossy hair. Once the light finally reached what could be seen of her face she stirred, softly at first but then proceeded to turn and sit bolt upright in one smooth motion cursing as she did so. Katie grappled for her TAG watch on the bedside table, but knew from the light that it was late. It was late- 9.30am. However, comprehension washed over her like wave of relief as she remembered it was Tuesday. "Thank God for Tuesday." She said to none in particular.

The last couple of days had been exhausting not only because of the thousands of miles they had traveled,but the information she had had to digest. Analysis was, Katie's bread and butter, but this was awhole new level. Nonetheless between her team back in London, Adam and herself they had managed to obtain all that was necessary to make the decisions on each plant. Said decisions had been assisted yesterday having spent the day with Hastings management. The two colleagues should have reviewed this information last night, however due to their time at Hastings running over, traffic being a nightmare and some further facts to find (thanks corporate), Adam had suggested a morning's recoup before reviewal. So today held a few hours of work in the afternoon followed by dinner with Hasting's board. Katie could see the later far enough, an evening being patronised by older men with cheap haircuts was not her idea of simulating conversation.

All the more reason to enjoy this morning, the young woman thought to herself. Shifting grudgingly from the bed the lean figure washed her face and brushed her teeth before rummaging in her luggage which lay open in the hall of her executive suite. Slipping on the black bikini, Katie caught site of herself in the mirrored wardrobe and suddenly had second thoughts. It wasn't very professional, was it? You may as well be walking around in your underwear- you wouldn't do that at the office would you? She struggled with the internal conflict for a moment before returning to her suitcase and digging out her one piece. Why's that any better? Some men even prefer a swimsuit. I wonder what, Adam would prefer? She froze on the spot for a moment. Why did she are what, Adam preferred? The muscles of her taught stomach contracted as she admitted that for some unknown reason she did care. "Oh you've been with him constantly for three days, of course you care. You're. Woman- you're programmed to care." She muttered to herself, tossing the Lycra garment back into the case.

Leaving her hotel room ten minutes later, her bikini clad form was almost visible under the white linen sun dress she had pulled on. The tunic contrasting with both her lightly tanned skin and her dark hair which she had left in an unruly state.

Recieving various "Good mornings" from the staff, Katie made her way to the large pool via the breakfast room to pile an array of fruit onto a plate before making her way out into the sun. Having not been away anywhere hot of the best part of nine months the heat felt amazing. Almost as amazing as the water as she dived in thirty minutes later.

Back at home, Katie had a good balance of work and exercise and it suddenly dawned on her that she hadn't done much more than sit around for the past four days. To rectify this, she decided a few breadths of the swimming pool would do her some good.

Forty minutes later she hoisted herself out of the pool, her torso and arms flexing as she did so with ease. She had done her usual- got totally in her zone whilst doing something that made her feel good. Still sitting on the edge of the pool dripping, her long tanned legs dangling off the side she wrung her dark hair out before proceeding to the sun lounger.

"You not tired enough from all this running around?" She turned to she had just walked past, Adam who was reading the Financial Times from a lounger not far from where she had been swimming.

"Never too tired for a swim in the sun, plus, I got a lie in. So for me, yesterday's hiccup wasn't so bad." She shrugged. "How about you?" Apart from watching me swim, she thought making herself redden ever so slightly.

There were no loungers free next to, Adam Katie noticed. "I'm just over there is you need to run over anything." She pointed before excusing herself and padding barefoot back to her lounger.
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Old 01-31-2016, 04:02 AM   #21
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Adam awoke with a start, and took several seconds to work out where he was.
He and Andrea had agreed that he would still call home to say ‘Hi’ to them even though he was two hours ahead of them back in the UK.
He reached for his phone, and then stopped as he turned off the keyboard lock.

He found himself thinking of Katie, rather than Andrea.
He recalled the flash of her midriff as she squeezed out of her seat to go and freshen up before dinner.
He also recalled admiring her pert behind as she got into the car, when Christian had held the door for her. Adam had always enjoyed the sight of a firm backside, and a long, lean pair of legs, so he’d allowed himself to savour the wholly inappropriate, yet highly arousing sight of Katie in both situations.

He shook his head as if to clear imaginary cobwebs before dialling ‘Home’.
After a few seconds, the phone rang a few times followed by a slightly sleep voice mumbling “’Allo?”
“Hello, Darling – it’s me. Sorry – did I wake you?”
Andrea was instantly awake – and he could hear her grinning as he told her he dreamt of her the night before.
“Really? I wish I could say the same. I was too tired. I just sat and finished the bottle of wine from the fridge and made sure the boys were OK, before heading for the bath and then bed myself.”

He had been hoping she would say she had dreamt of him too, but alas, the spark between them which had been there until recently seemed to have faded even more than he thought.

He then realised it was just after 6.30am there, 8.30am here.
They swapped small talk, and she assured him she would tell the boys Dad had called, and yes, he had said he loved them, although for teenagers that sentiments was more tiresome than anything else, it seemed.

Before long she had to get up as she had a lot to do, so he let her go, and made a move to get up himself.
He switched on the coffee maker in the room, a habit borne of years of travelling, which had stayed with him, and enjoyed the luxury of a quick shower before dressing, and his first cup of coffee of the day.

The site inspections, had mostly been done, at least in Jo'Burg, Durban & Port Elizabeth meant that for today, Adam had decided they needed the morning off, to 'recharge their batteries', but after that they then needed to do some work on the reports for Management in the afternoon.
He chose a pair of black & grey swim shorts, which looked presentable as casual attire, with a plum coloured polo shirt, and a pair of boat shoes. He stepped out of his room and along the short corridor before taking the lift to the Foyer and grabbing a cup of coffee from the bar.

He took in the sumptuous surroundings, with wooden panelling and colonial looking statues within the columns supporting the ceiling, over a marble floor. He then crossed to the magazine rack, taking a complimentary copy of the Financial Times, and made his way out to the Pool Area, where he and Katie had agreed to meet the night before.

He appropriated a spare sun-lounger, and watched her over the top of his copy of the FT, as she swam lengths, confidently with smooth strokes. He admired her form, both in terms of swimming and her figure in her sleek black bikini, as she looked fantastic!
He couldn’t remember the last time Andrea had done anything so carefree or spontaneous.

He noticed several of the other men had removed their shirts. things were obviously more relaxed here than he expected!
He subconsciously compared himself to some of the younger guys (well, mid-thirties, is still younger than him - he thought to himself) and stripped off his Polo shirt.

He was still in decent shape. OK, his waistline had softened a little, but he still had
a firm waist and his six-pack was defined, although not as sharply as it had been during his surfing days, in Oz. He ran three times a week, and his boxing training kept him fitter than most men his age. He flexed his pecs, and though no-one saw, he felt them tighten and the sensation made him smile. He straightened his legs, and felt the warmth of the sun on his toned thighs & calves. That was a sensation he never got bored of - relaxing in the sun!

He caught his reflection in a window opposite and smiled back at the short-cropped sandy-blond haired & goateed six-foot-two tall & fifteen stone ex-surfer reading the FT through a pair of mirrored aviator style sunglasses who smiled at him (think Daniel Craig as James Bond and you're not too far wrong)
The sunglasses were a throw-back to the eighties, when he was a big fan of the movie 'Top Gun', which made them popular. He had owned a pair ever since, just out of habit as much as anything else.
He conceded that the greying hair at the temples was a sign of his age, but other than that he was happy with himself!
He settled back with the FT, and watched Katie swimming over the top of it, thinking that he looked to be actually reading it to all around him.

He watched her finish her swim. She had done quite a few trips across the pool. As she hauled herself out of the water, he watched as it cascaded off her hair and down over her back, dampening the tiling at the edge of the pool, as she grabbed it to wring the water out of it, before standing and walking over to an empty lounger, which he presumed to be hers.

"You not tired enough from all this running around?" She turned to a lounger she had just walked past, Adam had been reading the Financial Times from a lounger not far from where she had been swimming, or so things seemed.

"Never too tired for a swim in the sun, plus, I got a lie in. So for me, yesterday's hiccup wasn't so bad." She shrugged, as she replied. "How about you?"

He thought she blushed ever so slightly. Had he been discreet enough, or had she clocked him admiring her. Her sinuous grace as she padded away fro the pool was most hypnotic!

There were no loungers free next to Adam Katie noticed. "I'm just over there is you need to run over anything." She pointed before excusing herself and padding barefoot back to her lounger.

“OK, I’ll come over there. That old guy looks like he’s going somewhere else. The surprise of all the extra data was a welcome one, but caused us both a lot more work to chew through, but at least it saved us having to do too much today!”

Adam collected his things and moved over next to Katie. As he sat down he said:
“There was a lot of data to collate, wasn’t there? I thought you did exceptionally well, though. I knew there would be a lot to do, but the volume of data we had to crunch even surprised me!”
He grinned a huge grin, and reached over and patted her thigh in what he thought was a friendly, encouraging manner, much like his Dad used to do to him when he was younger and had come off the Hockey field, especially if he had scored a crucial goal.

Only as he leaned back onto his own lounger he realised it could have been misconstrued as inappropriate. After all, times had moved on, and people were now being sued for just looking at people the wrong way.

He was genuinely thrilled by how well she had coped and the speed with which Katie had made some of the intuitive leaps of logic based on what they read and saw, and some of her suggestions, seemingly on instinct - were quick and decisive – and more importantly as it turned out – correct!

He quickly said:
“Sorry –that was not appropriate. I’m just so pleased with how this is all going so far. That’s a gesture of encouragement in my family.” He tried to explain it away just as he could feel his face reddening slightly, and the morning heat made it feel even worse.

He then continued to try and cover his embarrassment:
“We’ve already covered quite a lot of ground. Hopefully your analysis can be used as a template, and the financial data I can uncover at each of the sites will help us give an informed picture to feed back to senior management. Your insight has already improved valuable - I'm glad you came.”

He took a sip of his coffee and sat back, on his lounger.
He was shocked to discover himself thinking about how firm and young and desirable her thigh had felt.
As she sat there, regarding him through her ray-bans, he could feel his cock start to stiffen, in his shorts, as after all, he hadn’t had any sex for well over 2 weeks and he was a highly sexed man.
Being so close to Katie, particularly in her black bikini was becoming sexual torture for him.

He hoped she wouldn’t notice as he placed his folded up newspaper over his growing erection, and laid back on the lounger, making out he was trying to catch a few rays.

It didn’t help that he now had a mental image of Katie, stripping out of her bikini, and stepping into a shower, to wash the chlorine from her hair and body, and he liked where his imagination was taking him, even if it was so very, very wrong!

Hopefully – some rest & relaxation today before lunch, would put things back into perspective to allow him to function properly later, when they both needed to get all the data in order for a report to Management.

I]“What would you like to do this morning? This is the best chance we’ll have to unwind for a while, I suspect, unless we really finish the inspections and analyses quickly!”[/i]

Katie grinned and laid back on her lounger.
"I've had my swim - I'd like to work on my tan for a while, if that's OK. I need to go back home with a bit of colour!"

Adam laughed. It was a carefree, light-humoured laugh. He hadn't done that for months! Katie was a breath of fresh air. She seemed to know how to work hard and play hard too. He had a feeling her rise in the company hadn't stopped just yet.She had the attitude and aptitude to carry on going - maybe even leaving him in her wake - but if he was lucky, she'd remember how they worked together and take him with her?

"I like that idea too Katie. An hour or two in the sun would do us both good, and prepare us for the number-crunching and reports we need to write later."

He flagged down a passing waiter and ordered a bottle of water for them each, and once received, he handed one to Katie, who thanked him with a sweet smile and a quick "Thanks!" before she spun the top off and took a sip before, lying back.
Adam did the same.
They both settled into a sociable silence and allowed the warmth and sounds to wash over them. The scent of almonds hung in the air from the nearby trees, and the occasional cries of a pale chanting goshawk could be heard from high above, as it scanned the surrounding veldt for prey.

Adam's alarm on his phone chirped from under his lounger, and brought him back to complete alertness, from the pleasurable haze of a daydream, about which he recalled very little, but he knew he hadn't slept. He had just been enjoying the warmth, and a mental image of Katie in her black bikini, running along the nearby beach. She seemed to have a runner's physique, lean, and fast.

He sat up, and said to Katie:
"Come on, my young partner-in-crime. Time to get some lunch, and then get to work! Smart casual attire for the Restaurant and then back to my Suite as we can use the dining table setup there, I think!"

Katie reluctantly stood up off her lounger and Adam noted a slight pink tinge on her shoulders, but no worse then he imagined his looked. Neither of them were lily-white, by any means.

She followed him inside and they separated at the lift, arranging to meet in twenty minutes in smart casual attire.
Adam chose some lightweight stone-coloured chinos and a plain white cotton shirt, paired with linen loafers.
He met Katie at the entrance to the Restaurant and she had chosen an lightweight outfit too, to keep cool, and in her sandals, skirt and halter top, she looked stunning!

They were shown to their table, and Adam opted for the seafood buffet, as he was quite hungry. He was a little amused to see Katie follow him, to the long table with its iced trays, but not take any of the baby-squid which were on offer, to which he availed himself. They did look a little 'evil', but had he not enjoyed them so much, he probably would have given them a miss too.

Over a large glass of iced water each, they ate and chatted, swapping their reflections of what had happened so far and what they thought was the best way forward from here, to complete their assignment.

Once sated, he led her back up to his Suite and they booted up their laptops and started to sort all the data they had amassed into the semblance of a report Management would be able to make sense of.

The one thing that struck them both - was that they had made the right decision as a business to chase down the acquisitions of Hastings & Plexus, to lock-out the competition. The numbers bore this out quite convincingly, and Katie's assertion in front of the board that a minimum market share of 4% rising to a potential 9% within three years now looked attainable, given a few recommendations they were to make in their report. Katie had already suggested some improvements to marketing synergies with all three businesses aligning strategies, which would save money and together with a standardised production approach, and the economies of scale that could be realised, Adam saw they were on the cusp of a revolution in the market - if they time it right to make their moves.

Adam marvelled at how fast Katie could type on her laptop. He felt he was no slouch at a keyboard, but Katie left him for dust, as far as he typing ability was concerned. For efficiency's sake, he dictated the commentary, whilst she typed, and they worked on the design & content of the slides for the presentation together.

Before they knew it - they had written all the details for all the site-visits so far and what recommendations they agreed should be made.

With the file saved, on both their laptops, Adam sat back in his seat with a huge sigh.
"Wow - that was a real session!" He said, across the room, to Katie. His watch showed they had been working for the best part of five hours non-stop.

Katie seemed pleased a as well. They had nailed down every piece of detail they could, and with only the Cape Town part of the trip left to go, they had completed the lion's share of the work.

"I feel like we should celebrate!" Adam told her. "We've worked damned hard up until now. I think we've achieved everything our bosses could have hoped for so far, and we can try and enjoy tonight when we dine with the Hastings Company board!"

He looked over at her.
"Let's get ready. We have to leave at 7.30pm. I believe they're sending a car."

He had wandered across to the bedroom, and opened the wardrobe to pull out a Dunhill navy blue blazer with a pair of their linen coloured trousers, and a pale blue shirt. He then thought about options, and reached back in to pull out his Brioni black suit, a classic-looking suit.
"What do you think - suit or smart casual?" He asked her.

[i]"Mmmm....remember when we met their Chief Finance Officer and Marketing Director? They were both dressed informally. However I overheard the women excitedly discussing clothing, so I guess tonight will be more formal. I like the black suit, it looks really sharp."
Katie's reasoning was sound, so Adam laid that outfit on the bed.

"Great! Thanks for your help. I don't want to seem too laid back, even if our hosts are. It will be important to strike the right balance tonight."
"Don't worry - Marjorie, their Marketing Director seems to like nicely cut suits & dresses. I can do that look. I'll fit in too." Katie told him, with confidence.

They parted company, and Adam took the chance to run a warm bath, something which he hadn't had time to indulge in since they arrived, as they had been simply too busy.

The tub was huge, and after getting as clean as was humanly possible, he couldn't resist pushing a couple of the buttons on the side, only to discover that it was also a jacuzzi! A huge grin spread over his face, as he laid in the warm water being massaged by loads of bubbles.
He was glad he had set his alarm, as he would have happily stayed there for longer.

He stepped out of the tub, dried, and then shaved, taking the time to use shaving cream, a brush and a rich lather with his razor, rather than the electric shaver he used when in a rush.
This felt so luxurious, to be able to spend time just enjoying the experience, rather than concentrating on just shaving and dressing for work.
He could understand how many movies feature a romance scene, where the woman shaves the man with a blade. It seems so sensuous and indulgent!
He took his time, and avoiding cutting himself - thankfully.
He dressed with little fuss, and secured his Suite, walking to Katie's room on the floor below, to escort her to the Lobby.

He tapped on her door, and waited for a few seconds.
"Be there in a minute!" She called out, and after a few more seconds she opened the door.

She had been true to her word. She had worn a figure hugging deep blue dress, which looked really classy - and teamed it with a pair of black heels, bringing her to almost the same height as Adam.
She looked amazing. Marjorie was an attractive woman, but she had nothing on Katie! This looked hot, whilst keeping the required business-like appearance. Adam had also noticed it showed off her legs to great effect, and hid her modest chest. Her makeup was also flawless, and the simple classic ponytail she wore her hair in, was perfect.
Adam wondered if she had found out he liked women's hair worn in ponytails, and on one occasion, when Andrea had worn her hair in bunches, for a Halloween Party, he had hardly been able to keep his hands off her.

His mind snapped back to the here-and-now; yes Katie would garner a lot of admiring glances tonight, from their hosts.

Adam gathered himself quickly so as not to gawp, offered her his arm as she turned and grinned, before saying - "OK. I'm ready!"
Adam returned her grin, glad she hadn't seen him checking out her smooth legs and firm ass under the clingy dress; and offered her his arm, as she stepped out with him, and let the door close behind her.

The ride down to the lobby in the lift was uneventful, and once in the Lobby who should be waiting at the Reception Desk, chatting to one of the receptionists, but Christian.

He saw them, the instant they emerged from the lift, and after saying goodbye to the receptionist, he strode over and shook hands with them both, smiling as he did so.

"Good Evening! Ready for dinner? Mr Hastings has reserved a table at Opal Lounge - he enjoys the fine Persian food and fine views. He hopes you will too! Come, I'll take you there now."

He turns and strides to the doors, opening them for Adam & Katie, to whom he flashes a brilliant white-toothed smile.

It doesn't take too long, driving in their luxurious Audi A8 along the coastal road to the Restaurant, which resembles an old Colonial Country House, from the outside at least.

Upon arrival, Gairn, Hastings CEO - himself, descends the steps from a veranda and opens Adam's door himself, before Christian can get around the car to do so.

"Adam, Katie! So glad you could join us!" He gushes with is heavily accented Afrikaans rumbling voice.
He shakes Adam by the hand vigorously, especially for an older man, and kisses Katie delicately on both cheeks in the European style.

"Please - come inside for a drink before dinner!" He leads them both up the steps and into a private bar, with a dining room beyond. The early evening view is indeed breathtaking, with veldt to one side, and the sea to the other.

As they all sit around a large table on leather easy chairs, he orders drinks as they requested, before being led through to the luxurious dining area.
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Old 02-20-2016, 03:41 AM   #22
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"So, you're out there getting paid a small fortune to lie about in your bikini, you little chancer?" Ryan panted.

"Yep. How's London?" Katy smiled, as she watched the soupy bubbles drip off her toned calve, which was resting on edge of the bath. She knew, Matt had a love-hate relationship with the British capital, these days it verged towards the latter.

"Hang on, babe." She heard the beeping of a sports watch. "Grey, cold, grumpy. The usual." The two exchanged accounts of what they'd been doing over the past couple of days. "You're hotel looks really sweet."

"Yeah, it's lovely. If all this goes ahead- which I think it will- maybe you could come out for a weekend, next time I'm here?"

"Sounds good. We need to get away. You still planning on coming over to The States next month?"

Katy cursed herself, she had totally forgotten to request the time off, or even work it into her schedule. "I think a long weekend in New York would be great." She smiled, running a hand through her wet hair as she glanced at the time on her steamed phone screen. "Rye, I have to go- this dinner's at eight and I've just got in the bath."

"Thanks for that mental image, Kay. Enjoy your night- and don't look too hot around all these old men." He rang off before she could respond, evidently eager to get back to his run. Katy replaced her phone with a copy of Vogue, and enjoyed another few minutes of peace.

Twenty minutes later, the tall brunette emerged from the bathroom, padding across the luxurious suite, naked except from a pair of black lace briefs which did little to hide her pert buttocks. Mixing herself a strong gin and tonic, Katy proceeded to prepare for the evening. It wasn't that she was dreading it- chances were, they'd get good news, but the idea of having to sit through two hours of dull conversation and inevitable, albeit light, flirting was not so appealing. The twenty eight year old was used to taking the odd inappropriate complement from men she met through work and hadn't failed to notice the sideways glances and caress, Adam had imparted. However, she didn't feel that annoyance when he did, if anything it made her flush slightly. In fact, she had practically jumped from her lounger when he had planted a strong hand on her tanned thigh earlier that day.

Shaking the mental image of, Adam's surprisingly taught physique from her mind, Katy dried her hair, allowing the glossy raven to cascade down her bare back as she began to apply her make up. It was nice to spend a bit of time on one's appearance, the past few days had been so hectic that a quick shower before tying her hair into a pony tail had had to suffice.

"Be there in a minute!" She called as she heard a knock at the door 15 minutes later. Right now would be good timing to have a partner to help zip her into the admittedly tight dress she'd brought. The deep blue Armani number hugged her slim figure, the formal cut keeping her modest chest hidden whilst allowing her toned arms and a fair bit of leg to be on show. Knocking back the last of her Bombay Sapphire, which caused her to wince, she slipped on a pair of expensive black heels which brought her to the same height as most men and checked her self over in the full length mirror of the walk in wardrobe. She scrutinised herself through smokey eyes, but was happy with the appearance; formal with a little extra.

"Sorry!" She exclaimed she she opened the door to her boss, stepping out of the suite. She was conscious not to run her eyes over him, however she couldn't help but notice the power he seemed to exude as he stood there in his black suit. As they walked down to the car they exchanged hypotheses about how the evening may go. "It would be crazy of them to turn it down." Katy said in a low voice as they made their way across the marble lobby. "They'll know we're looking at other companies and want in on this monopoly."

Adam and Katy proceeded to talk about the deal at length on route to the restaurant. "You're heading to Opal Lounge- one of the best restaurants in town, very luxurious- Persian." Christian informed the pair as they got into his vehicle. "I've eaten there one- it's definitely a restaurant kept for special occasions." At the, Katy raised a perfectly waxed eyebrow in, Adam's direction. There was not much need to say anything else during the journey; typically she'd have asked after the boys or, Andrea, but something stopped her. She didn't want the reminder of home this evening and plus, even if there was any news other than positive he wasn't likely to tell, Katy. Not that the young woman needed any information, she'd noted the exasperated tone when, Adam got off the phone and glanced at the odd text. What could the woman's issue be? She was a kept woman by a husband who was driven, smart and easy in the eye. Again, Katy gave herself a subconscious shake as she realised what she was thinking, glad of the distraction as, Christian pulled up on a gravel drive and announced their arrival.

The tall brunette's heels clicked on the marble stairs as they made their way into the restaurant before being shown to a private dining area, where Hastings' key management sat. The Brits were welcomed with, literally open arms, as they exchanged hellos and were offered drinks. Katy thanked, the VP who was sat to her left, as he instructed the waiter to pour her a generous glass of, from what Katie could see from the label, Don Perignon. They were fussed over to the point of embarrassment from the word go, never seeming to be more than a sip into their drinks, constantly asked if everything was to their standard and once the food began to arrive, Katie's meagre appetite seemed to move the waiter to the point of distress. "My ex wife was from, London." The gentleman on her left chided, breaking up the business talk with flecks of personal information. "You girls like to drink more than you eat, yes? That's my kind of woman!" He finished before she could weigh in. This banter seemed to continue for a spell as the drinks flowed, but Katie had been careful to move on to water. Not only was it a professional move, but the surroundings deserved to be remembered; the lush Persian carpets, sconces, the smell of rose water and the stained glass gave a truly beautiful setting. "You should bring, Andrea here if you're back out, Adam." She mentioned to, Adam, noticing his break in his in depth conversation.

"You doing alright?" He asked, glancing to the VP beside, Katie.

"Yeah, fine. I just want to know either way, you know?" She whispered in, Adam's ear. This lavish charade was wearing thin as was the earlier anticipation the young VP had experienced.

As if Gairn, Hasting's CEO had heard, the brunette he spoke over others at the table, "By this evening, I'm sure it's no surprise to either of you that this is a celebration. We had word earlier today from the board that they are unanimously in favour of this acquisition and we hope to officially start the ball rolling as of 5pm tomorrow." This time, Katie didn't jump when she felt strong grip on her bare thigh.
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Old 02-23-2016, 02:00 AM   #23
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As they all took their places at Dinner, with Adam and Katie sat with the Hastings VP on her left with Marjorie, the Marketing Director, sat on Adam’s right and with Hastings’ Legal Counsel on Katie’s right and Gairn, the CEO, sat across the table from them.

Marjorie had also made a real effort, and her Knee-length white skirt, and white heels showed off her toned calves, which wasn’t really surprising, since she and Adam had discovered they both loved running. Her sleeveless brightly multi-pastel-coloured blouse was subtle but classy, but she still didn’t hold a candle to Katie.

The Dom Perignon flowed and Adam was pleased to see that Katie, like him, had switched to water after a couple of half-glasses of the Champagne. He wanted to keep a clear head for the conversation, conscious that even at this late hour, the huge effort and expense and long hours invested in this venture could be undone by a slip of the tongue, where cultural differences may not allow a harmless comment made in jest to go unpunished.

The food was, as billed, excellent. The Ghormeh Sabzi, the traditional dish of Parsley, spinach, leeks, coriander, kidney beans, dried lemons, dried fenugreek leaves, and generous portions of turmeric-seasoned lamb, was exquisite, the best Adam had tasted, and both and Andrea liked Persian food, although it had been a while since they had indulged.

The traditional ‘Kabob’, with Long strips of minced lamb, chicken, or beef grilled over an open fire and served alongside charred tomatoes, beside rice sprinkled with sumac, a parsley salad, and flatbread, if you wanted it, was sublime. The conversation began light, and as with convivial company, stories were swapped and laughter could heard sprinkled throughout the general hubbub.

The Doogh, the yoghurt-based drink, was quite sour to Adam’s taste, so he steered clear of it, but the Tadeeg - The dish of crispy rice flavoured with saffron, was very tasty. Adam already knew rice is served alongside most meals, but this most coveted rice is the bottom crispy layer on a pot, that's slightly burnt and has soaked up much of the caramelized saffron. It was deliciously decadent.

There was some good natured banter, where Katie was teased for drinking more than she ate, which wasn’t true, but she wasn’t a big eater, Adam had noted, but her trim figure was testament to that. One of the waiters thought she didn’t like the food, but Katie eventually convinced him she just wasn’t as hungry as most South-African women. Adam let her defend herself, after all she was a big girl now, and she didn’t look too uncomfortable, using her wit and charm to great effect. Her dazzling smile disarmed even Gairn, when he asked if she wanted something else.

Adam had been discussing another trip to discuss Marketing strategies, with Marjorie, and thinking that Katie would be useful, to lead that trip, they had swapped a few interesting ideas.
It was during a break in conversation that Katie mentioned his bring Andrea out here,
He thought for a moment and smiled….maybe, just maybe…
Then he nodded slightly towards the Hastings’ VP, who had drunk quite a bit of Champagne, and was becoming a little boisterous.
“You OK?” He asked her, thinking that if she got uncomfortable, a break for some air might be in order.

She whispered in, Adam's ear- "Yeah, fine. I just want to know either way, you know?"
Lovely though the meal was, there was a palpable tension and sense of anticipation in the air, so Adam was relived and excited, when Gairn, Hasting's CEO, stood to announce in his rumbling Afrikaans-accented voice that their acquisition had been approved by the Hastings Board; with matters officially starting at 5pm tomorrow.
The meal was now a celebration. The mood was much lighter as if the group had collectively breathed a sigh of relief, and Adam, exhilarated, and forgetting his position for a moment, gripped Katie’s thigh under the table, in a gesture of relief, achievement and camaraderie.

He noticed, Katie didn't jump when she felt his strong grip on her bare thigh.
He was surprised and then realised he didn’t want to move his hand. After all, she was here, with him, looking stunning and they were together against the rest of the corporate might of Hastings’ group right now. And they, were triumphant!

What better way to soothe his ego than to fantasise that this stunning young brunette was with him, for his company, not just because they worked together.
Of course, in reality – he suspected he was too old for her, and she would likely see nothing in him, even if he did take good care of himself, but for tonight, he could pretend he was with Katie, rather than his frigid bitch of a wife at home, who did little but complain about how much time he spent at work, away from home, when she certainly didn’t have any issue spending the hard-earned fruit of his labour.

He allowed his hand to rest on Katie’s hot, toned thigh, and smiled genially at the assembled executives around the table.
He was mildly surprised when she smiled at him, and made no move to force him to remove his hand, so he didn’t; wondering what was going on, but enjoying it nevertheless.

Soon, the time came where Gairn called the meal to a close, and shaking Adam’s hand firmly and clapping him on the back, offering his congratulations, to both Adam and Katie, to whom, he offered a chaste kiss on each cheek, before revealing his happiness that his business’s future was assured, and bidding them ‘Good-Night’, and summoning Christian to convey them back to the Hotel. Numerous hands were shaken, as the executives who had worked closely together for the last few days congratulated each other on their mutual success, and bade fond farewells, for the time being, at least.

Christian escorted them away back to the Hotel. Both Adam and Katie sat quietly, both excited and energised after the last few days and their celebratory meal. They barely said a word to each other, but Adam didn’t want the evening to end.
Christian it seemed had already been briefed and offered his congratulations on the acquisition as he drove.

As it was much later, the traffic was barely noticeable and their journey back to the Hotel seemed to take only a few minutes. Christian opened the door for Katie, and then for Adam, shaking them both by the hand and wishing them a good night before driving away again.
As they stood there, together in the cool night air, Adam turned to Katie, and said:
“Well, ‘Pardner’”, drawling like a cowboy. “How about another drink to celebrate our fine achievement?”

He grinned a boyish grin at her, and offered his hand, to escort her to the bar.
Once there he pulled a chair out for her to perch upon, before sitting himself next to her.
“What would you like? I’m going to have a Scotch!”
He waved the barman over and ordered their drinks. Again, hardly a word was said for a few minutes, as they sat sipping their drinks in companiable silence. They swapped talk about what they had spoken about and with whom over dinner, and Adam ordered fresh drinks for them, as they drained their glasses. Adam felt drawn to Katie, and it wasn’t just because they worked together.

She reminded him a little of himself over ten years ago, young, hungry, fearless, and seemingly with the world at your feet.
Adam changed the mood by saying to Katie:
“Well done, Katie, you did a great job - this is a coup for us. This puts us firmly back on the Corporate Global map!”
He placed his hand on her shoulder, and squeezed gently, as a sign of encouragement.
For the second time that night, he found her skin soft and firm to the touch, and he didn’t want to withdraw his hand.
He was pleasantly surprised when he caught something; just a flicker in her eyes, that hinted of risk, but something more. Something that predators instantly recognise, when they meet a kindred spirit.
It was almost a challenge.
Adam didn’t care. Andrea couldn’t have been further from his mind at that moment, as he leaned in and kissed Katie, just lightly on the cheek.
She gasped slightly and then faced him, but didn’t slap him or pull away, and she seemed to be sizing him up.
He leaned back in and kissed her again, this time, more deliberately; tasting her lips, and her lip gloss, its faint taste so essentially feminine, her perfume, luring him closer.
Then he thought he saw a hint of a smile, which only served to make her more alluring, before she reached over and grabbed his tie, then his collar, as she pulled him back again.
She then leaned in close and kissed him – this time, there was no innocence, no surprise. This kiss was full of hunger, yearning and hinted of passion waiting to be unleashed, as her lips locked onto his, and her tongue probed between his parted lips, drawing a quiet moan from him.
He knew what he wanted and he usually took it.
Right now he wanted her.
He took her hand in his and asked her:
“Let's go up to my Suite, I think we’ll be more comfortable there?”
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Old 02-23-2016, 03:27 PM   #24
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Every decision the 28 year old made was weighed up, granted most of the time these calculations were done subconsciously, in a split second. However, from the moment she did not remove her superior's hand, Katie's mind was half on the deal that had just been closed and half on the fact she'd decided to go to bed with, Adam.

As she drank her generous measure of Laphroig her head was weighing up the pros and cons of fucking her boss. Obviously, there were far more of the latter. But the only aspect of her life she allowed to be driven by anything but her analytical mind was relationships. As much was proven by the monotony of her and, Ryan's relationship. Furthered by the fact she still loved the boy. Unfortunately though, a boy wasn't enough. Especially now, when she'd accomplished so much. No, Katie needed a kindred spirit, someone who knew the stress she'd been under and scrutiny that follow this deal being passed. Hence, after taking a generous mouthful of her second whiskey, she made a move; making sure her lips were inches from Adam's as he pulled away from kissing her surely flushed cheek.

A flutter resonated through her leith body as he pressed his lips on hers. But for, Katie it wasn't enough. She needed to be sure that there was spark enough which would ensure she'd rid her mind of, Ryan for the next while.

Placing a perfectly manicured hand on her boss' taught chest, the young woman balled the expensive material of his shirt into her hand and pulled him towards her. Their lips smashing together as she explores his mouth with her own. There was no doubt that she wanted him, it felt like her stomach had performed a summersault as she look his bottom lip between her's.

"Let's go up to my suite.." He invited. To which, Katie nodded, giving him a small smile as her eyes trailed up his torso to finally meet his. The combination of the 20 year old whiskey and the excitement building within her was making her flush slightly, she'd appreciate the privacy of the hotel room.

As her heels clicked towards the elevator, she could feel, Adam's hand on the small of her back as if to guide her in case she should change her mind. The elevator promptly binged its availability on the ground floor. To Adam's disappointment, she could see from the elevator's mirrored interior, the couple were greeted by a bell boy. "Could you give us some privacy, please?" Katie smiled at the adolescent, who without question stood out onto the ground floor, allowing them to travel alone.

A slight pang of guilt jolted in her stomach, she'd learned that trick from Ryan, who in his hay-day would get particularly turned on after a show. And if she'd been there, he'd practically take her in the lift. Did he take anyone in the lift when she was unable to travel to see him?

This thought was thumped out of her as, Adam pushed her up against the mirror. The two were a tangle of hands as they tussled for their desired position, the way that tends to happen when partners are unfamiliar. After a few moments they settled, Katie's arms wrapped around his strong shoulders, enjoying the pressure Adam's hands were applying to her slight hips.

Too quickly the elevator announced its arrival to their floor. "Hold it for a minute." Katie told him as she continued to kiss his mouth. He tasted of whiskey, which just added to the power he seemed to emulate. One slender hand reached up into his hair, as if to pull him into her even more so. She moaned, pressing herself into him and feeling his excitement against her toned thigh. "I want you." She gasped in his ear, taking the lobe lightly between her teeth, before reluctantly pushing him off her in indication to go to his suite.
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Old 02-25-2016, 01:40 AM   #25
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Katie’s forceful reply to Adam’s tentative kiss surprised him for a moment, as he wasn’t used to that kind of response, but then, he realised, it was exactly what he wanted. Her taking his bottom lip into her mouth only proved how hot she felt for him, too.

He guided her out of the Bar and across the Lobby to the elevator, with his hand in the small of her back, and admired the smooth flowing motion of her tight ass under the dress, as she walked. The doors to the elevator opened and the mirrored walls revealed a Bellboy, in a smart uniform. He looked to Adam for an instruction and seemed as surprised as Adam, when Katie asked the Bellboy to step out and give them some privacy.
He did step out, and no sooner had the doors closed than they were upon each other with Adam pressing into her – pushing her back into the mirrored wall, a little harder than he in tended, hands everywhere, trying to find a comfortable spot to touch, that doesn’t irritate a new partner, but Katie seemed not to care, as she reached up into his hair, moaning. They kissed hungrily, both tasting of smooth aged whisky, passion building between them.

He could feel his already raging erection jabbing her thigh, but he only grew harder as she gasped into his ear “I want you.” She couldn’t make it any plainer than that!
When she took his earlobe between her teeth he was ready to take her, then and there, but she sensibly pulled away slightly, and as the doors opened pushed him gently, but firmly towards the doors, hinting that they needed to get to his Suite.

He took her hand in his, and walked with strong purposeful strides, almost dragging her alongside him, her steps only just keeping up with his.
He reached the door and fumbled his key card, so keen was he to open the door. He had to try twice more before it slid home, and he pushed the door open, pulling her inside, before kicking it shut behind him, hearing the satisfying thud as the thick wooden door closed securely.

He pulled her by the hand then, into the centre of the Lounge Area, across the plush carpet, and placed hand behind her head, pulling her forcefully towards him, and devouring her mouth with his own.
He could taste the scotch, and her own scent, and as their tongues swept lightly across each other he knew he wanted, no, needed – more.
He allowed his other hand to drift up from her back to her shoulder and he then gripped the tab of the zipper and slowly pulled it down, exposing her smooth firm back to his fingertips. He traced her shoulder blades as he continued to kiss her, returning her ardent nips and licks, as the passion rose within them.

He pulled away, ever so slightly, looking for a sign, that she was ready for him to undress her, and expose her body to him for the first time.
He had dreamed of this moment for a long time, longer than he dared admit to himself, almost to the very day she joined the firm, and she drew admiring glances from most of the men in the Office and a few of the women too.
Now – he was going to see her in the flesh, every contour, every inch of her he could drink in the view of her at last.

This was so wrong, he knew that. He was a married man, he thought to himself.
Then he caught himself. I didn’t think ‘happily married’ he commented to himself.
Katie was what we now wanted in a woman. Young, free-spirited, fearless & hungry. Yes, it may be wrong, but it felt so right!

She had leaned back into him, and her teeth lightly nipping his lips brought him back to the present and he saw a glint in her eyes and a slight nod, so slight he almost missed it.
He let the deep blue dress go, and watched it slide down her slim, athletic frame, admiring her subtle curves, as it swished downwards, to pool at her feet, sitting atop her heels.
He followed its progress with his eyes and then looked up again, to catch her gaze, as she smiled at him.
He realised he was smiling back at her, and bent forward to kiss his way down her throat, to her bare breasts, then tracing their outlines with his hands, before flicking his tongue over one nipple, enjoying her gasp, and gentle shudder as the pleasurable sensations washed over her. He smiled as he swept his tongue lightly across her chest to her other breast and kissed all around her areola before licking that nipple too.

He was suddenly aware of his own desire as his hardness made itself known, as it became slightly uncomfortable. He quickly adjusted himself, knowing she would see, but being unable to hide it.
He grinned apologetically before licking her breast again, more aggressively than before, and tweaking the other nipple between thumb and forefinger, making her hiss. Her tight flesh under his fingers was a revelation. He squeezed and caressed her flesh from the base of her skull down her neck, and down her chest stopping just short of her black lacy panties, whilst his mouth was busy on her nipples, and supple firm breasts.

God, how he wanted to impale her with his cock, but he wanted to taste her first. He hadn’t tasted an aroused woman in far too long. Andrea didn’t like it, so he didn’t get the opportunity much.
He ran his fingers along the top of her panties before dipping a couple inside to feel her. The faint wetness on her lips beckoned him inside and he couldn’t have stopped, even if he wanted to.
He dipped a fingertip between her lips, brushing the faint hairs aside, before sliding it gently in and out of her, enjoying the moans she was making, and moving her hips in time with his fingers.

He withdrew then, and told her:
“Katie – I need to taste you.”
He picked her up and carried her to the bed, and dropped her gently onto it, before spreading her thighs to allow him better access to her sex.
He dipped his head and the faint aroma drew him in, and extending his tongue, he dipped the tip between her lips, and tasted her musky sweetness for the first time.
Then HE moaned. She tasted exquisite.
He introduced a finger inside her, then another when he was sure she was wet enough.

His tongue made her buck into the bed when he ran it across her now exposed clitoris, and he pleasured her with his mouth. Her juices were now starting to flow freely, and he lapped them up, savouring every drop. He could hear her breathing quicken as he teased her little bud with his tongue, and rolled his fingers inside her. He then felt what he was looking for.
He pressed firmly with his fingertips, and grinned, with her clit gently between his teeth as he teased her G Spot.
“Oh God!” She moaned throatily - as he took her closer to an orgasm.
He took his mouth away for a second, as he paused for a breath.....
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