As everyone began filtering out for lunch, I remained glued to my desk with my coffee and a bag of trail mix I’d bought from the vending machine. Normally I’d bring leftovers or leave with the other interns to grab something, but time was not on my side today. I heard the outer office door open and looked up, smiling as Sara Dillon walked in. Sara was in the same MBA internship program at Ryan Media Group that I was, though she worked in accounting.
“I’m going to have to skip it. This is the day from hell.” I looked at her apologetically, and her smile turned into a smirk.
“Day from hell, or boss from hell?” She took a seat on the edge of my desk. “I heard he was on a bit of a rampage this morning.”
I gave her a knowing look. Sara didn’t work for him, but she knew all about Bennett Ryan. As the youngest son of company founder Elliott Ryan, and with a notoriously short fuse, he was a living legend in the building. “Even if there were two of me, I wouldn’t be able to get this finished in time.”
“You sure you don’t want me to bring you back something?” Her eyes moved in the direction of his office. “A hit man? Some holy water?”
Sara smiled and left the office. I’d just finished off the last of my coffee when I bent down, noting a run in my stockings. “And on top of everything else,” I began, hearing Sara return, “I’ve already snagged these. Actually, if you’re going somewhere there’s chocolate, bring me back fifty pounds, so I can eat my feelings later.”
I glanced up and saw that it wasn’t Sara standing there. My cheeks flushed red and I pulled my skirt back down.
“Miss Mills, since you and the other office girls have plenty of time to discuss problematic lingerie, in addition to putting together the Papadakis presentation, I need you to also run down to the Willis office and retrieve the market analysis and segmentation for Beaumont.” He straightened his tie, looking at his reflection in my window. “Do you think you can manage that?”
Did he just call me an “office girl”? Sure, as part of my internship I often did some basic assistant work for him, but he knew damn well I had worked for this company for years before receiving a JT Miller scholarship to Northwestern. I was four months away from getting my business degree.
Getting my degree and getting the hell out from under you, I thought. I looked up to meet his blazing eyes. “I’ll be happy to ask Sam if she—”
“It wasn’t a suggestion,” he cut me off. “I’d like you to pick them up.” He gazed at me for a moment with a clenched jaw before turning on his heel and storming back to his office, pulling the door closed roughly behind him.
What the f**k was his problem? Was slamming doors like a teenager really necessary? I grabbed my blazer from the back of the chair and began making my way to our satellite office a few buildings down.
When I returned, I knocked on his door but there was no response. I tried the knob. Locked. He was probably having a late-afternoon quickie with some trust fund princess while I ran around Chicago like an insane person. I shoved the manila folder through the mail slot, hoping the papers scattered everywhere and he’d have to get down and sort them himself. Would serve him right. I rather liked the image of him on his knees on the floor, gathering scattered documents. Then again, knowing him, he would call me into that sterile hellhole to clean it up while he watched.
Four hours later I had the status updates complete, my slides mostly in order, and I was almost hysterically laughing with how awful this day was. I found myself plotting a very bloody and drawn-out murder of the kid at The Copy Stop. A simple job, that’s all I had asked. Make some copies, bind some things. Should have been a piece of cake. In and out. But no. It had taken two hours.
I raced down the darkened hall of the now-empty building, the presentation materials clutched haphazardly in my arms, and glanced at my watch. Six twenty. Mr. Ryan was going to have my ass. I was twenty minutes late. As I experienced this morning, he hated late. “Late” was a word not found in the Bennett Ryan Dickhead Dictionary. Along with “heart,” “kindness,” “compassion,” “lunch break,” or “thank you.”
So there I was, running through the empty halls in my stilt-like Italian pumps, racing to the executioner.
As I neared the conference room, I tried to calm my breathing and slowed to a walk. Soft light shone from beneath the closed door. He was definitely in there, waiting for me. Carefully, I attempted to smooth my hair and clothing while tidying the bundle of documents in my arms. Taking a deep breath, I knocked on the door.
I walked into the warmly lit space. The conference room was huge; one wall was filled with floor-to-ceiling windows that gave a beautiful view of the Chicago cityscape from eighteen stories up. Dusk darkened the sky outside, and skyscrapers speckled the horizon with their lighted windows. In the center of the room stood a large heavy wood conference table, and facing me from the head of the table was Mr. Ryan.
He sat there, suit jacket hanging on the chair behind him, tie loosened, crisp white shirtsleeves rolled up to his elbows, and chin resting on his steepled fingers. His eyes were boring into mine, but he said nothing.
“I apologize, Mr. Ryan,” I said, my voice wavering with my still labored breathing, “The print job took—” I stopped. Excuses wouldn’t help my situation. And besides, I wasn’t going to let him blame me for something I had no control over. He could kiss my ass. With my newfound bravery in place, I lifted my chin and walked over to where he sat.