Just One Of Those Things
By Mavis Applewater
For disclaimers see part one.
A Special Thank goes out to my beta reader, Diva
As Always For Heather
CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
††††††††† Monday brought a new set of traumas to Karla's life.† Harry had been bugging her all night about Olivia.† Suddenly, her hippy Dad had decided that he was some kind of oracle.† Since when did he know anything about relationships?† This was the man who never had a relationship last more than a couple of weeks- with the notable exception of her mother, but even then he never married the woman.†
††††††††† As Karla entered the office, she felt her senses were on alert.† In many ways she felt exposed.† She had a full a day ahead of her.† First order of business, she needed to face Olivia and reassure her that she was more than capable of respecting her decision.† Next order of business was to deal with weasel boy.†
††††††††† She had not forgotten about Rob.† Nope, that guy was up to something and it was time to call him onto the carpet.† She had some calls to make before she dealt with him one on one.† In the meantime, she was going to let him sweat it out.
††††††††† As she approached her office, she spotted Olivia barreling towards her.† The determined look on the petite blondeís face unnerved her slightly.† "Miss. James," Olivia addressed her firmly.† "Perhaps we should go to the break room and get some coffee before you go into your office."
††††††††† Karla sensed that it wasn't a request.† She simply nodded as she mentally prepared herself for Olivia's rejection.† This wasn't a surprise.† Karla felt certain that Olivia would simply reaffirm what she had already said.† Olivia was a bright girl and very straight forward.†
††††††††† Once they entered the small kitchen type area that was used as a break area, Karla noticed Olivia looking around nervously.† "I need to let her know that she has nothing to worry about."† Karla thought to herself as she walked over and poured herself a cup of coffee.† She noticed Olivia scanning the small room.† Karla knew that the young woman was reassuring herself that they were indeed alone.† "Coffee?" Karla offered hoping to break the ice.
††††††††† "Carlos DeMarco is waiting for you in your office," Olivia informed her.† "He doesn't appear to be a happy camper."
"What?" Karla said as she shook her head in confusion.
"He came armed with both of our personnel records," Olivia offered in a hushed tone.† "I have friends downstairs who gave me the heads up."
"Olivia . . . Miss. Davenport . . ."† Karla quickly corrected herself.† "I've known Carlos for many years. I'm certain . . ."† She stopped herself as she processed the information.† "Our personnel records?† What the hell?"
"I don't know what's going on," Olivia said barely above a whisper; her emerald eyes filled with fear.
††††††††† "Only one way to find out," Karla said in an effort to comfort Olivia.† "Don't worry. No matter what, you've done nothing wrong . . . I won't let anything . . ."† Her words were cut off as the door opened slightly.
††††††††† Rob stepped into the room. He looked from one woman to the other.† Karla felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end when she caught the gleam in his bloodshot eyes.†
"Ladies," he greeted them smugly.† "I hope that I'm not interrupting anything?"†
Karla felt her blood boil as she took in his cocky smirk. "Not at all," Karla responded with a confidence that she didn't really feel.† "Did you prepare the paperwork I requested?" she asked him calmly, not allowing him to see the utter contempt she felt for him.
"Of course," he answered as he scoffed in an overconfident manner.
††††††††† "Bingo!"† The thought screamed thru her mind.† "Good," Karla responded calmly.† "Keep your calendar open, we've got a full plate today.† But I'll be meeting with you."† Karla's voice held a hint of caution as she addressed him.† He just shrugged in response.† Karla wanted nothing more than to wipe that smirk off of his face.†
††††††††† "Well I'm off," she added brightly, not giving him the satisfaction of seeing her uneasiness.† She felt reassured by her actions when she caught the equally casual look written across Olivia's face.† "Good girl, this bugger isn't going to bring us down," she thought proudly.†
††††††††† Karla departed the room as Olivia followed behind her closely.† "It's him," Olivia muttered as they made their way towards Karla's office.†
"I know," Karla answered thru clenched teeth as she forced herself to smile.† "Get a hold of your buddy down in Personnel, get a hold of his file.† Then call over to Cafferty, talk to someone high up and avoid Rob's contact."† Karla set her cup of coffee down and reached into her briefcase and extracted a folder.† "Go over these figures with them.† Report back to me as soon as you can."
"I'll get right on it."† Olivia confirmed as she snatched the file out of Karla's grasp.†
††††††††† Karla felt a sense of pride as she watched the determined little blonde spin on her heels and march into her own office.† Karla retrieved her coffee, inhaling the comforting aroma briefly.† Feeling reassured, she braced herself and opened her office door to find her boss sitting at her desk.†
"Hello Carlos what a pleasant surprise."† Karla greeted the gray-haired gentleman warmly.† She grimaced internally as the man failed to move.
††††††††† "Karla," Carlos greeted her coldly.† "Oh this is bad," Karla warned herself as she felt the chill filling the room.† "How are† you?" he inquired, still failing to stand.† Karla approached the desk placing her briefcase and cup down.† She had known Carlos since she had started with the company. Despite his old-fashioned views, they had always been friends. His lack of a proper greeting was a bad sign. He had never failed to stand when a lady entered a room.† This was not going to be a pleasant experience.
††††††††† "No complaints," Karla responded off-handedly.† "So are you going to tell me why you are here?† Since it is painfully clear that this isn't a social call?"† Karla inquired respectfully.
"How are you enjoying your new assignment?" was Carlos' only response as he knitted his fingers together, his dark brown eyes looking at her thoughtfully.
"I like it here," Karla answered honestly.† "Should I not be getting too comfortable here?"†
"You tell me," Carlos asserted, still maintaining his authoritative tone.
"Iím not understanding what you are getting at," Karla stated honestly.† "Why don't you cut to the chase, Carlos?† We've known each other far too long to be playing games."
"How is your assistant Miss Davenport working out?" Carlos continued, ignoring her request.
"She is a valuable asset," Karla answered honestly, never dropping eye contact with the man.†
††††††††† Carlos sighed heavily as his dark brow knitted in concentration.† Karla had always admired this man and could tell that he was troubled.† She wasn't going to lie to him but she wasn't going to hang Olivia out to dry.† After this was over, she was going to hunt Rob down and cut off something vital.† "Carlos?"† Karla prodded.† "Is there a problem?† My numbers are good, the staff is happy, with possibly one notable exception.† I am thinking about cutting someone from the staff."
"Really?"† Carlos' expression turned grim.
"I've found some improprieties which I am presently investigating," Karla explained.
"Funny you should mention improprieties," Carlos voice and look turned cold.
††††††††† Karla braced herself for what she knew was coming.† "I received a very disturbing call this weekend," Carlos began to explain.† "Just what is the nature of your relationship with Miss Davenport?"
CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE
††††††††† Olivia's day had gone from bad to worse.† Her morning had begun with a run in with Sydney.† Olivia had to borrow some clothing from her friend once again.† Of course this fueled the old argument regarding how Olivia still hadn't picked up most of her belongings from her old apartment.† Olivia finally agreed that she would set up a time with Ruth over the weekend to clean out the last of her belongings.† The heated debate that led to this concession further convinced both women that living in such close quarters was beginning to wear on both of them.
††††††††† Sydney's other suggestion sent Olivia into a complete tailspin.† Sydney, in vivid detail, suggested that Olivia play nice with her boss.† This led to another argument, this time it was Sydney who backed down with an agreement to set Olivia up on a date.† Olivia endured the exhausting journey in the subway with every other grumpy and at times smelly Monday morning commuters.† She arrived at work early per usual and began to brew a fresh pot of coffee.†
††††††††† She allowed herself a few moments to relax and prepare herself to face Karla after the turmoil they had endured over the weekend.† She prepared her paperwork and handled an email from Alicia Johnson, who was Catherine Merrick's personal assistant.† Things were looking up on that end.† At least she seemed to be making some headway with Karla's pet project.† If she could get thru to Catherine Merrick then she could most certainly find the elusive Charlotte Hayden Smith.† It stood to reason if Merrick had halted the publication of the book then she had to know Smith.
††††††††† She responded to the email, knowing it would be hours before she would hear back from Alicia.† She was pleased that she and the actress' assistant seemed to be hitting it off.† Olivia knew that the best way to get what she wanted from the high profile actress was to play nice with the person who fetched her coffee.†
††††††††† She felt herself starting to relax when her telephone rang.† "Olivia!"† An excited voice exclaimed before she had a chance to say anything.† "This is Vicky."† Her friend from Personnel explained in a harried tone.† "Someone just requested your file along with the file of your boss."
"Wh . . . wha. . . what did you just say?" Olivia gulped out.
"Carlos DeMarco, the senior VP of east coast operations was waiting for me and personally request both files," Vicky explained in a shaky tone.
"Where is he now?"† Olivia felt her throat tightening as she spoke.†
"He didn't say," Vicky offered, her voice tensing.† "I've heard via the grapevine that he headed directly upstairs."
"Thank you," Olivia said absently as she hung up the telephone, feeling all the blood draining from her face.
††††††††† She took a moment and steadied herself before picking up some paperwork.† She walked unsteadily over to the door that connected with Karla's office.† She took a deep breath and prepared herself for what she knew she would find on the other side.† She opened the door to find a distinguished looking† gentleman seated at Karla's desk. "Good Morning," Olivia offered, somehow maintaining her composure.† She eyed the gentleman reading her personnel file, while seated at the desk she found herself lying on in a state of undress just a few short days ago.
††††††††† The gentleman just kept reading the file he held tightly in his hands.† "Can I get you anything, Mr. DeMarco?" Olivia offered, fighting against the blush that was threatening to creep across her entire body.†
"No thank you," came the curt reply as he waved her out of the office.†
Olivia felt nauseous as she obeyed his silent instruction and stepped back into her own office.† She felt unnerved that he hadn't inquired who she was or how she knew who he was.†† She dropped the paperwork onto her desk and buried her face in her hands.† "I do believe that it has just hit the fan," she groaned.
††††††††† Now she found herself carefully going over the files that Karla had requested.† Her conversation with Gilbert from Cafferty and Sons proved to be very enlightening.† It would appear that Rob and Shaun Clancy, the representative from their firm, had been very naughty boys.† To say that they padded their accounts would be putting it lightly.† From the reports that she and Gilbert had been emailing back in forth, it proved that these guys were out and out stealing.† "You might have busted me for playing slap and tickle with the boss, but I'm not hitting the bricks alone, you miserable bastard," Olivia thought, feeling a little better about the turn of events.
††††††††† On a hunch, she found herself contacting some of Rob's other accounts.† True enough the figures didn't match.† She had known the guy was a lazy, good for nothing, but she had never suspected that he was a thief.† She compiled the evidence, secretly hoping that she could be present when the axe came crashing down on this guy.† Not a nice thought or the right thing to hope for, but she couldn't help herself.† She didn't like the guy and she knew that he had purposely placed her job in jeopardy for something she almost did.
††††††††† For now, all she could do was sit and wait for Karla.† She was deeply worried about what Karla was enduring.† She wished she could be there to help.† She needed some kind of contact with the woman who occupied her thoughts almost every waking moment.†† "Come on, Baby, don't let this son of a bitch win," she mentally encouraged Karla.† She couldn't stand waiting, so she decided to call Tim.† Perhaps her mentor could help her with this situation.
CHAPTER TWENTY SIX
††††††††† "What do you mean?"† Karla questioned her direct superior.† To Karla, Carlos' expression seemed very sad. †"Carlos, I'm asking you again to just get to the point."
"Karla, you know that I think very highly of you," Carlos began.† "But I've received some very disturbing reports recently.† There is talk that you promoted Miss Davenport because she is your lover," Carlos stated firmly, the sadness still evident in his eyes.
"It's not true," Karla responded honestly.† "I chose Miss Davenport because she deserved the position.† She was recommended by Tim himself.† Have you spoken to him?"
"Not yet," Carlos admitted, his voice brightening slightly.
"You should, he can vouch for her," Karla noted.
I will," Carlos conceded.† "Are you having an affair with this woman?" he asked her directly.
"No," Karla said, answering honestly once again.† "Miss Davenport and I have spent time together as friends," she added unable to keep her voice from wavering slightly, as she recalled that she still had Olivia's underwear in her briefcase.
"Is that all?" he pushed.
††††††††† Karla found herself at a loss for the right words.† "How the hell am I going to answer that without lying and getting both of us fired?"† Karla could feel her confidence slowly draining away.† She couldn't lie but she needed to put the proper spin on the situation.† This was after all what she did for a living.† "I repeat, I am not having an affair with Olivia Davenport," Karla asserted firmly.
††††††††† Carlos seemed to relax slightly at her reassertion.† "Good," he said in a blank tone.† "I will need to meet with her, later.† Do you have a problem with me questioning her in this matter?" he was fishing and Karla knew it.
"No," Karla answered firmly, knowing that Olivia wouldn't take any garbage even from a senior vice president.† "Now that we've covered that, would you mind getting your butt out of my chair?† I have work to do."
††††††††† Carlos found himself laughing heartily at her commentary.† "Now that's the Karla I know and love."† He continued to laugh flashing his brilliant smile at her.†
"Yeah, yeah whatever. Move it."† Karla nudged the chair as he removed himself from it. "You know, you could have called me about all of this," Karla noted as she settled herself behind her desk.†
"Ah, but then I wouldn't have been treated to seeing your beautiful smile," Carlos teased.
"Hey watch that."† Karla waved a cautioning finger at him.† She was well acquainted to his charm but had long since suspected that, despite his staunch stand in Catholicism, his true taste lay elsewhere.† A sudden wave of nausea rushed thru her as a sudden, albeit disgusting, thought occurred to her.† "How is the family?" she asked as she choked back the bile that was rising up in her throat.
††††††††† "Maria and the children and my grandchildren are all well."† He reached into his blazer pocket and extracted his wallet.† Quickly he produced pictures of the latest additions to his large family.† He showed her dozens of pictures explaining each and every one carefully.† Karla pretended to listen as her mind started to put all of the pieces together.† When he finally finished showing her his extensive photo gallery, he returned the photos neatly back into his wallet.
††††††††† "You have a beautiful family Carlos," Karla offered honestly.† "But I don't need to tell you that."
"Feel free," Carlos answered with a smile brimming with pride.
"Why don't you grab some coffee or something?"† Karla suggested.
"I need to speak with your assistant," Carlos pointed out, his face growing dark once again.
"Yes," Karla seemed to agree.† "But you also need to eat.† Go get breakfast, I'm certain someone could recommend a nice place."
"And you can warn Miss Davenport," Carlos stated with a hint of anger creeping into his voice.
"I won't have you ambush the girl," Karla responded with harsh honesty.† "She hasn't done anything wrong," she reasserted.† "My God Carlos, this is a PR firm not the CIA."
"You know how the lawyers are," Carlos tried to defend his actions.
"Yes I do."† Karla's voice possessed an edge to it.† "After all these years, do you suddenly doubt my integrity?† Whoever has been feeding you this information must have quite a hold on you."
"What are you inferring?"† Carlos responded in a defensive voice.
"Nothing," Karla lied, knowing he had unwittingly confirmed her suspicions.
††††††††† "Perhaps I should get something to eat," Carlos suddenly conceded.†
Karla simply nodded as he departed her office. †She stood and walked over to the doorway and watched his departure carefully.† She felt her heart drop as she caught Rob giving Carlos a knowing nod.† Carlos simply cringed in response.† "Oh, Carlos, what did you do?" she said under her breath.
send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
For updates, previews, the wens. afternoon pwp series join Finding Mavis