838 - Emma
The temperatures outside are scorching, at least for Scottish measurements, and there is nothing I'd rather do right now is fly out to France early and escape the clammy city. The weather calls for laying out in a bathing suit or wandering sun-filled streets in a skimpy sun dress, doing nothing but drinking wine and enjoying the simple things in life.
"You're going to melt in that," Lucien chuckles as he watches me straighten the blazer I've donned over my simple, office-friendly body-tight dress.
"It's not that thick," I mumble, making sure the sleeves are both the exact same length. "Besides, I have to leave a good impression, don't I?"
He's leaned against the door frame, an iced coffee with the ice cubes dancing in it in his hand stretched out in front of him. "I thought you didn't care much for this meeting."
I shrug, straightening the gold chains around my neck. "I don't, but I still want them to care. Whether I take the job or not, I want them to want me to take it."
He smiles, shaking his head. "There's so much going on in that head of yours that I can't even begin to understand." He goes to say something else, but seems to shut himself up and inhales when I spray my perfume. "Do you know who will be there?"
Taking the coffee from him, I kiss his cheek. "The new CEO, I believe his name is Darren. Apart from him, I'll let it all be a surprise."
It feels strange to be back here, to say the least. My departure from this place, an event that feels like it took place decades ago, wasn't ideal, and from the glances and glares some of the familiar faces are throwing my way, I know there must be some form of resentment here and there.
I don't recognize the woman behind the desk that once was Selene's, but she sure knows me, smiling her biggest smile. "Miss Middleton? Mister Wilde is expecting you. Shall I show you the way?"
I smile back, my briefcase dangling from my shoulder and hitting my thigh as I shake my head. "I know the way, thank you!"
The CEO's office hardly looks any different from the way it did when Lucien still owned it apart from a few personal touches here and there. Darren Wilde, a friendly but stern looking man in his late thirties looks up when I give a quick tap on the glass door, then gestures for me to come in.
"Emmeline Middleton?" he asks, his hands flat on the papers he was just skimming through.
I nod, my eyes scanning the room. He has moved the desk ever so slightly, because it used to take me six steps to get to the chair across from it, but now I need eight. They don't smell like the familiar cologne anymore, mixed with coffee and a small hint of cigarette smoke from the stress cigarettes Lucien used to smoke outside to then hang his jacket over the back of one of the chairs.
"It's a pleasure to meet you," Wilde smiles, shaking my hand. "Thank you for agreeing to this meeting."
He gestures at his assistant through the glass door, the leather of his chair creaking a little when he sits down. "Usually, I would go over the history of the business and so forth, but after reading your file I assume that won't be necessary."
I shake my head, smiling lightly. "I'm very familiar."
"I will just get straight to the point, then. I wholeheartedly believe that you would be a great addition to our team, and so do our partners. Your record is impressive, and with divorce rates going up and Rutherfeld and Havemeyer taking on more cases, I am not afraid to say we're very willing to offer you a position."
"Mister Wilde," he nearly corrects me before I do so myself, "Darren, I am flattered, I truly am. However, I am already hired elsewhere, and though your offer is tempting, I need time to think about it."
"Of course, of course," he waves at his assistant to come in, a steaming cup of coffee soon placed in front of me. "But let me make the thinking a little easier on you. I have looked into your old contract, and," he moves the paper around, "we would like to offer you a raise of," his hand scribbles an amount next to the print of my old salary that almost looks like our rent, "and of course you'd get your own office, the identical one to the one you had before if you'd like, and flexible working hours."
"Flexible enough for me to continue teaching?" I ask, stirring sugar into my coffee.
"How flexible are we talking?" he shoots back, smiling.
"Three days a week," I dare him, our eyes meeting. "Monday, tuesday and wednesday. And a corner office. Oh, and I don't start until October first."
"Three days a week, nine to five, hardly meets our requirements," he states.
"Make that eight thirty to six thirty, three days a week. That's thirty hours," I offer, feeling the tension in my body building. The longer I am here, the more I realise how much I miss being a lawyer. The negotiation, the brainstorming with other people, the work in general.
"We require at least fourty." It seems to be a simple statement, but from the flicker in his eye, I can tell he's just as close to giving in as I am.
"I'd like to see that in writing," I fire back.
Opposite from me, Wilde chuckles. "I should have known this wouldn't be an easy feat. Three days a week, ten hours a day, and a corner office... miss Middleton, I think you have yourself a deal."
He reaches out his hand, his eyes shooting down when I go to shake it.
"Or is it mrs?" he questions, my eyes following his, finding the diamond sparkling on my finger. In all my hidden nerves, I must have forgotten to take it off.
"No," I smile, "not yet."
"I assume mister du Castellon senior is thrilled to have you as his daughter in law," Darren smiles, shaking my hand. "Welcome back to Rutherfeld and Havemeyer, Emmeline - we're glad to have you join us this fall."
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