Brooke got in early and put her report on Nikki’s desk. She dared glanced at the inbox and noticed that it was indeed all dealt with. Nikki walked in, her face dark with rage.
“Can I get you a coffee, Ms. Wilson?” Brooke asked, bright with sunshine.
Nikki slammed the door and stood inches away from Brooke. “The only thing I hate worse than incompetence is my staff airing their grievances around the workplace, especially when it is about me.”
Brooke swallowed nervously and went pale. “I…I don’t…”
“Well, after your little hissy fit about working conditions yesterday, I was called into James’ office and chewed out.”
Brooke looked for the nearest window to jump out of.
“If you don’t feel you can handle the demands of this industry, Brooke, you are free to leave anytime. However, if you do decide to stay on, I suggest you air any future complaints with me and me alone. Now…do you have anything you want to say?” Nikki asked.
The thought of telling Nikki how much of a fucking cow she was entered Brooke’s head, only to be wisely brushed aside. “Umm, your report is on your desk. Would you like me to get you a coffee while you read it?” Brooke choked out, with all the dignity she could muster.
Nikki nodded for her to leave.
In the coffee room, Brooke was dark and pissed. Sarah rushed in, apologetic.
“Oh, Brooke, I am so sorry. I accidentally left the intercom on yesterday while we were talking and Mr. Wilson heard everything.”
“Oh great,” Brooke said. “Career over before it even started.”
“No…Mr. Wilson was irate about how his daughter treated you. He chewed her out in front of everyone.”
Brooke returned with the coffee and proceeded to leave before Nikki asked her to sit. Nikki sat in her chair and tapped her fingers together.
“Brooke…if we are to work together I need to be able to trust you. How can I do that when you undermine me with my people,” she asked, in a somewhat softer than normal tone.
“I really am sorry, Ms. Wilson, I promise it won’t happen again, but can I say one thing?”
“By all means…”
“How can you trust me if you don’t give me any responsibility?”
Nikki shook her head and held up the report. “I did…now briefly, I don’t need a 5000 word essay, tell me about this company. What is your opinion on them?”
Brooke took the opportunity and ran with it, “Not worth our time. It would take too many valuable resources to advertise for a company that doesn’t have any foreseeable future in their market. They already nearly collapsed a few years back. It’s not worth the risk to promote their business under our banner, so to speak. Plus, their stock is very weak on the market.”
Nikki’s eyebrows rose. “Really? You certainly have put a lot of effort into this. You must have been up half the night.”
Brooke shrugged it off. “Oh, it was nothing.”
“Good job, Brooke. Well done. Contact them and tell them we are unable to help them and that we wish them well.”
Nikki looked over more messages and groaned.
“Would you like me to handle those,” Brooke asked, full of hope.
“Did I ask you to?” Nikki retorted.
“I think you were about to,” Brooke joked, trying to reach her boss at some level. It worked.
Nikki’s face lit up. “Yes. Yes I was.” She handed them over. Brooke returned to her office.
Nikki picked up her coffee and gazed out the window. She knew she was hard on Brooke. She looked over the girl’s CV and sighed. First class honors? A mightily impressive reference with a well known Harvard professor that Nikki herself had studied under? Why does she want to work in this hell hole, Nikki asked herself.
Over the course of the next few months, Brooke integrated into the company. She took minutes, and arranged client meetings. However, she never got to sit in at the meetings with clients, and Nikki never took the time to look at her ideas. Brooke was being shut out of what she really wanted.
Brooke was standing at the photocopier one day when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She swung around ready to give someone a piece of her mind, but then she saw it was James.
“How are you settling in here, sweetheart,” leered the CEO.
Brooke stammered. “Ummm, okay Mr. Wilson. Thanks again for this opportunity. I have learned so much!”
He smiled indulgently at her praise. “That’s alright. I hope my bitch of a daughter hasn’t been riding you to hard?”
Brooke winced at the comment. “No, she is really a good, organized person. In fact she…”
“Don’t be fooled my dear, she has nowhere near your brilliance and drive. She could learn a lot from you, especially the way you dress. That must have turned some heads at Harvard. You will go far sweetie…” he leered and added, “especially dressed like that.”
He squeezed her on the behind and walked off.
Brooke froze and caught her breath.
She entered Nikki’s office and tried to place the coffee mug on Nikki’s desk, her hand trembling. She spilt some on Nikki’s papers.
“Oh shit,” she panicked and tried desperately to clean it up before Nikki came in, too late
“I’m so sorry, Ms. Wilson, I can get you some…”
Nikki casually walked over and placed the soaked paper on the windowsill to dry. Brooke tried to leave as fast as possible.
“I don’t care if he is my father, the CEO, whatever, that sort of behavior is completely unacceptable. You have my apologies and a promise that it won’t happen again,” Nikki said.
Brooke faced Nikki and blushed, then nodded.
Brooke, exhausted at the end of another day, went to leave the office when she heard shouting coming from James’ office and she crept over nearer to Sarah’s empty desk.
“Don’t you EVER carry on like that again with a member of the female staff,” Nikki yelled.
“I don’t need you to tell me how to handle my staff.”
“I will when the CEO of this company is acting inappropriately and jeopardizing company reputation and integrity.”
James laughed. “Nicole, what would you know about those? Grow up some, huh? I only complimented Brooke. She’s a hard worker. You could do the same once in awhile.”
“James, I don’t have to grab her ass to compliment her.”
Brooke couldn’t help but smile, overhearing.
“I’m warning you, old man, don’t do that again.”
“Get out,” he yelled, and flung open the door.
Brooke jumped under Sarah’s desk, desperate to hide.