Michael sat behind his huge desk listening as the councilman droned on and on, expressing his gratitude for Michael’s help. “He’s just a dumb kid. I don’t understand why they wanted to make a federal case out of it,” the man said, referring to his seventeen-year old son who’d been arrested in the wee hours of Sunday morning on suspicion of driving under the influence. Complicating matters was the fact that when they emptied his pockets, the cops found a small amount of weed. Councilman Menzel had called Michael right away. He’d helped the politician out of a few scrapes of his own over the years.

It was only 10:15 in the morning but it had already been a long day. Michael had cut short his weekend in the Caymans by a few hours to fly home and help get the kid out of jail. The harder part was keeping it out of the papers, but he had the contacts to make that happen. He tried to look sympathetic. “Aw, you know, Bob, the police are just doing their job.” What he really thought was that the kid was a stupid little shit who was probably going to kill somebody one day, but Michael wasn’t paid the big bucks for his honest opinion.

He glanced at his watch. Maggie was undoubtedly here on the 50th floor by now. The plan had been for him to meet with her as soon as she’d finished all the HR bullshit, show her around, outline what she’d be doing. That was before he got tangled up with Councilman Douchebag’s asswipe spawn. Michael sighed impatiently.

On his way into the office that morning he’d spotted Maggie, her red hair standing out in the group of new hires. He’d thought about her over the weekend. Something she’d said during the second interview had stayed with him. It was what they had in common. He also had no family; growing up he’d been raised by a single mother who’d been a functional alcoholic. She died when he was in high school, and he’d lived with a maiden aunt until he graduated, biding his time until he went to college and was out on his own. He didn’t regret his early life, but it had been a hard road. If he took the time to consider it, it probably went a long way toward explaining his life today. But he rarely did so. Therapy was for suckers.

Maggie the hot French escort revelation had opened some old wounds, the kind of thing that tended to make him quiet and moody. His date for the weekend had been Delia, an actress he’d met recently at a theatre fundraiser. Michael had thought they’d had a nice enough time but on the flight home, she accused him of being distant. This, he’d thought, is exactly why I don’t want a relationship.

He realized he felt something akin to admiration for Maggie. Knowing there would be no graduation gifts, no proud family to watch her accept her degree, he’d arranged for flowers to be sent, at the last minute making the card out from the firm rather than from himself. Don’t want her to get the wrong idea, he’d reasoned.

The councilman paused in his oration and Michael seized the opportunity. “Alright, Bob, I think we pretty much have it under control. I’m late for another meeting, so call my office next week and we’ll touch base on where we go from here. And for the time being, keep the kid on a tight leash. No more shenanigans.” He stood and moved toward the door and thankfully the Bob did the same.

“Absolutely. Will do,” the man agreed, as he walked out of Michael’s office and toward the reception area and elevators. When the elevator doors closed, Michael turned toward Karen’s desk.

“She’s waiting for you in her office,” Karen told him. “Very nice young lady.”

“Yes, she seems to be, thanks Karen,” he replied, feeling vaguely irritated. There were times when he felt that Karen said things that made him feel like he was fourteen. Which was ridiculous. She was only ten years older than he. He shook his head as if to dismiss the annoyance and headed off down the hall.

He knocked lightly on her door before opening it. Maggie was standing in front of the window with her arm extended, holding her phone in front of her. She looked immediately embarrassed.

“Um, sorry about that,” she apologized. “Just sending a Snapchat. I’ll just… be done now.”

She put the phone on the desk, gently touching the new leather folio. “By the way, this is…” she blushed, looking first at the gift then back at him, “just…beautiful. It was so thoughtful of you, and completely unnecessary. But I love it.”

Michael smiled, amused. “I’m glad you like it. Welcome to the 50th floor.” He noticed for the first time the sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of her nose. They stood out more when she blushed. When she glanced up at him he realized that her eyes were deep green, a shade he didn’t think he’s seen before.

She interrupted his musing. “So Ms. Jordan mentioned that you’d have an orientation for me. Shall I get with Karen and get up to speed on my job description?”

Her question surprised him and he felt a bit o balance. “I thought I’d give you your orientation. Figured I’d give you a little tour then head to my office to go over your responsibilities.”

“Oh, okay then,” she said. “I just thought… Well, I know you’re busy. at’s all I meant.” She blushed furiously again.

“I’m not too busy to welcome a new member of the team,” he said, grinning good-naturedly. “I just spent three hours getting a rich dipshit teenager out of the clink. I’m glad for a change of pace. Come on, let me give you the grand tour.” He held open the door for her. “Snapchat, you say. I’m not on that. Does that make me out of touch?”

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