Julie Ch. 02byKKHowling©
Tuesday morning at work, Julie was scrambling around getting ready for an important meeting. A potential new customer was visiting today and her boss had been hounding her to make sure everything went perfectly. Julie would be managing the account if this customer decided to give them their business. It would be the biggest account she had yet been given, so she felt as much self-imposed pressure as she did from her boss to get things right.
Once the customers arrived, the top brass was going to give them the company's standard spiel and take them on a tour of the facilities. Then it would be Julie's turn. She would have to demonstrate that she fully understood the customer's requirements and that her company, with her leading the charge, could deliver. She had worked on her presentation for two weeks and though she felt prepared, there was no getting away from the butterflies she felt as she watched the clock tick.
Almost 10am... That was her time to join them in the executive conference room. Her nerves were a little frazzled, but she was determined. She had the experience and expertise to do the job. She just had to walk in there and let them see it for themselves. Easier said than done, of course.
She wasn't lacking in confidence, but that didn't mean she wasn't nervous. Her boss and his boss would be there watching her pitch this new customer. If she did make a mistake or misstep, there would be no hiding it. And she had at least as much to gain if things went well. This was the biggest new customer the company had wooed all year. It would mean an almost guaranteed promotion for her. Yes, there were lots of reasons to be nervous.
Ten minutes before ten, Julie went into the wash room to check her appearance and dry her perspiring hands. She looked at herself in the mirror. Her thick shoulder-length black hair was pulled up in a professional but not too uptight style. Her white blouse was a little tight, but that was by design. She had nice sized breasts and wasn't afraid to accentuate them just a little bit. She had chosen a simple navy blue skirt that fell just below her knees. It was long enough to be modest and short enough to let anyone who cared to notice that she had elegant legs. Her pumps had heels just high enough to make her ass look great without being high enough to be inappropriate. Everything was coolly calculated to look professional, but sexy.
She checked her makeup. Her green eyes and tan complexion hardly needed any, but the few accents she applied served her well. She had chosen to wear glasses instead of contacts today to give her a more serious look. It also, she knew, played well... the sexy librarian might be a cliche, but it was one men always responded to. This job was what she had worked so hard for over the last few years and she was going to use everything she had to make it hers.
At ten o'clock sharp, she knocked softly on the conference room door and let herself in. One of the veeps was still giving his presentation, so she slipped quietly into a chair at the back of the room. Most of the people had their attention on the speaker and his presentation and didn't notice her entrance. Her boss, who had been seated toward the back, nodded to her when she came in and gave her a thumbs-up signal. That meant things were going well so far. They were hers to reel in. Or lose....
The vice president finished his presentation and looked to the back of the room. He saw Julie and nodded, indicating it was time for her to come up to the front. She took a deep breath and gave her boss a quick wish-me-luck look.
"I'd like to introduce you to Julie Nolan," the VP said, gesturing in her direction as she walked around the table to join him in front of the group. "She's going to be handling your business with us. She's been with the company five years now and she's already established herself as one of our best and brightest. We have every confidence that Julie will provide you with the level of service that you expect. Julie?" He stepped aside, turning over the floor to her.
"Good morning," she addressed them with her best smile. "I'm Julie Nolan, and, as Doug said, I'm a business account manager here at KRS."
There were four men sitting there, eyes fixed on her. A well-trained public speaker, Julie moved her gaze from one to the other, making eye contact with each of them. When she got to the last man, it was all she could do not to let her surprise show on her face.
Sitting right there was the man she had seen in the bar two Friday's ago! The man she had seen getting a blow job in his car! Her heart skipped a couple beats and her focus on her presentation was suddenly compromised. Had he recognized her? There was a smirk on his face... then he winked! Yes, he clearly knew who she was.
She forced herself to get on with her presentation, but her head wasn't where it needed to be. She stumbled on her well prepared and rehearsed opening comments. When she got to the Power Point presentation, she got mixed up on her slides. She tried hard to cover up her mistakes, but she could see in the eyes of her audience that she wasn't doing a good job of winning them over.
She forced herself to continue to make eye contact with all of them, even though every time she looked at him, he gave her that smirk. She was supposed to be wowing them with her poise and expertise, but his presence was rattling her, causing her to trip over her words and screw up her well rehearsed presentation.
By the end, all she wanted to do was go away and die. Or at least cry. She knew she was capable of so much more. To think that some guy she had seen in a bar could affect her enough to cause her to do so poorly... she was angry with herself and with him.
But she had to stand up there and smile, ask if there were any questions and pretend like she hadn't just flubbed one of the biggest opportunities of her career thus far. She didn't even want to look at her boss, so she kept her eyes on the customers.
Damn it! How could she have choked like that? How could that arrogant smirk have power over her?
After Julie turned the meeting back over to the VP, she hastily retreated to her cubicle. Her boss had given her a look as she left, not quite disappointment, but clearly he had expected more. So had she.
She sat in her cubicle unable to think about anything but how many mistakes she had made. Her cubicle. She had been hoping to get a promotion with this account. That would have meant a real office with real walls and a window. Now it looked like she would be staring at the fabric walls of her cube for at least the foreseeable future. And if her performance today had caused her boss to lose confidence in her... well, then she could be here indefinitely.
She was still stewing twenty minutes later when her boss poked his head in.
"Come on," he called. "We're all going to lunch."
"I'm still invited?" Julie was only half joking.
"They want to get to know the person who would be handling their account. Don't worry," he added. "We're going to get this business. And you still have time to convince them that you're the right man for the job." He gave her a smile that might have been intended to reassure, but it felt condescending to Julie.
Julie and her boss Carl rode together, while the customers split up and rode with the VP's. So it wasn't until they were all together in the restaurant waiting to be seated that Julie had to face them all again. She was determined to come off as competent and undo as much damage from earlier as she could.
She walked up to each of them in turn, introducing herself again and shaking their hands. She saved the guy from the bar for last. Was it because she was still worried about him throwing off her concentration?
"Greg Anders," he introduced himself. "Of course," he added quietly so no one else could hear, "you'd already know that if you kept my card." He winked at her.
The wink, of course, was the same gesture that he had made that night. Now that thought was back in her head. She had to get rid of those thoughts and focus on business, she chided herself. This was a second chance and she couldn't, pardon the expression, blow it.
She smiled at him as graciously as she could. "Who knew?" she said with a slight shrug.
"If I give you my card again, this time you'll keep it?" he joked. His bright blue eyes were boring into hers and she had to look away. There was a sexual charge that he exuded. Something that shouldn't have been present in their current business circumstances.
As the group was led to their table, Greg followed close behind Julie. Upon reaching her seat, he guided her to it with a hand placed lightly on the small of her back. The contact, though presumably innocuous, caused her to stiffen involuntarily. Part of her was indignant that he had put his hand on her. Another part of her was annoyed that something so trivial upset her. After all, it could have just been a gentlemanly gesture. Yet another part of her felt tension. Distinctly sexual tension. Was it because of their first meeting? Or was there something more to it?
Attraction? Julie tried to dismiss that idea out of hand. He might be good looking but he was also irritatingly arrogant. The kind of man that assumed all women wanted him. Good looking or not, Julie didn't have a high tolerance threshold for that sort of egotism.
But, she reminded herself, he could be a key in landing this account. So it might not hurt to flirt.... just a little. And if he was gratingly full of himself, she would just grin and bear it. Later, when the account was in the bag, she could laugh to herself about exploiting his arrogance with her feminine wiles.
"So, Greg. Tell me," Julie said as she picked up her menu. "How long have you been with Medicorp?"
"Oh a few years now," he answered casually. His eyes were on hers as he spoke. Even after his words were spoken, their eyes stayed locked.... just a few seconds too long. Julie held up her menu to break the contact. She tried to ignore the little flutters in her belly.
"What's your role in, ah... this evaluation?" Julie asked. She wanted to know if he was going to be influential in awarding her company any business. If not, well... she would still be polite, but there was no point in kissing his butt.
"I'm the guy you've got to impress," he said with a smug grin. "The bean counter," Greg nodded to one of his companions, "just wants to make sure you're solvent. The QA guy," he nodded to another of the party, "wants to make sure you know how to fill out paperwork. And my boss," he nodded toward the last man, "is pretty comfortable with my recommendations, so..." He took a sip of his water, his eyes never leaving hers. "I hope you know how to make a good impression."
There was that smirk again. All Julie could do was smile and nod. It might kill her inside to put up with his arrogance, but she knew she could deal with it if it meant getting this account. Just keep thinking about an office with a window, she told herself.
Julie and Greg were sitting at one end of the table, which isolated them from much of the conversation of the rest of the group. Greg showed no inclination to join in, seemingly content to talk to Julie. He also showed no interest in talking shop.
That left her in a tough spot. Her boss was watching her talk with Greg and assuming that progress toward a deal was being made. More importantly, it left her defenseless. Without shop talk to hide behind, the conversation was getting a little too personal for Julie's taste. Especially in light of her first encounter with Greg.
"So where can we go to get a decent meal, a couple of drinks and have some fun tonight?" Greg asked her. She froze for a second before realizing that by "we" he probably meant he and his company companions. Not Julie. Before she could answer, he added, "I heard Cavanaugh's is really good." He winked. That was the restaurant where she had first seen him.
Once again, the image of the girl from the bar, hanging all over him, was in Julie's head. And of course, Julie had been right about that girl's intentions. She hadn't even been content to just go home with him... she had gone down on him in the restaurant parking lot.
Another thought occurred to Julie: Greg was from out of town. So he probably had met that woman on a trip out here. Had he met her just an hour or two before? Had the two of them gone from total strangers to intimates in so short a period of time? What kind of woman would suck the cock of a man she had known for mere hours?
On the heels of that thought, Julie wondered what kind of man could make a woman want to. She looked up at him. His eyes immediately found hers, his arrogant smirk curling his lip. Julie looked away quickly.
A few times during lunch Julie attempted to get Greg to discuss business, but he resisted. Every time she tried, he deflected her questions, asking questions of his own. Mostly personal questions.
He asked her husband's name, how long they had been married, did they have children? No? Were they planning on any? She was increasingly uncomfortable with his probe into her life outside of work. She kept trying to redirect the conversation back toward work related topics. But Greg seemed determined to pry.
And Julie was determined to be as gracious as she could, smiling her best and trying to answer his questions in a polite and professional manner. It was all she could do not to sigh with relief when the group finally pushed back their chairs and prepared to leave.
"So when are you flying back?" one of the veeps was asking the group. One of Greg's colleagues pointed to himself and the other two men.
"We're heading out this afternoon," he answered. "Greg?"
"I'll be here until Thursday," Greg chimed in. Julie remembered Greg's question about where 'we' could have dinner. She felt a nervous, sinking feeling that she was in fact the one he intended to have dinner with.
When they got back to the office, her fears were confirmed. Her boss called her into his office after the customers had gone.
"Julie," he began in his serious voice, "I don't have to tell you what these guys could mean. To the company and to you," he added for emphasis. "Now the presentation... could have gone better," he said tactfully. "But you're not out of the game yet. This guy Greg is here for a few more days. Let's focus on impressing him with what we can do. What you can do."
"Okay," Julie replied, waiting for what she already knew was coming.
"Tonight, I want you to come to dinner with me and him," he said. Julie almost sighed in relief. She had been afraid that she would be expected to entertain him on her own. His relentless prying into personal information coupled with the events of their first meeting made the situation very awkward for her. Having another person along, another man especially, made the whole thing a lot less intimidating.
"Sure, Carl," she said, with a smile that she hoped said 'confidence.' "When and where?"
"How about 6:30 at Cavenaughs?"
Julie, who had a long commute, opted to stay and work late and go directly to the restaurant. Greg went back to his hotel to get changed before meeting for dinner. Carl also decided to go home first.
The last hour or so in the office wasn't particularly productive for her. It had been a long, stressful day already and she was burned out. She poked through her in box and found a few mindless tasks to keep her occupied, something to pass the time more than anything. But she was more than ready to go home at that point. Unfortunately, she still had dinner to go to.
Julie's thoughts were on the upcoming dinner, having to make small talk with Greg and her boss. It would be a chance to redeem herself, she knew. At the same time, she wasn't exactly at peak level. The day had worn her down and she would have to dig deep for the focus and energy to take advantage of this rare second chance. She hoped she would be up for it.
Greg had been a little flirty with her at lunch today, and that bothered her a little. It shouldn't, she knew. Julie had never had any qualms about using her good looks to her advantage before. Why should this guy be any different?
Okay, the fact that she had seen him getting a blow job definitely put him in a different category than any of the other male customers she had schmoozed. But she knew how to play this game and wasn't going to let herself get intimidated. Besides, Carl would be there tonight to keep everything on the up-and-up.
So Julie went into the ladies room and fixed her makeup. Then she let her hair down and put in her contact lenses. It was definitely the librarian-letting-her-hair-down effect that Julie was going for. Looking in the mirror, she nodded. Yes, give him the full treatment, she thought, as she undid the next button down on her blouse. Let him feast his eyes. Let him want her in the worst way. She would smile and bat her eyes... and at the end of the day, take home this account. It would be like stealing. She smiled.
She went back to her desk and watched the clock tick more than anything else. Eventually, though she knew it was still early, she left for the restaurant.
She arrived fifteen minutes early and decided to get a drink and wait at the bar. She deliberately selected a seat far away from where Greg and his date had sat and ordered a glass of wine. She was ordinarily more of a rum and coke or gin and tonic drinker, but tonight she felt it better to keep her guard up. After all, Carl would be expecting her to be sharp and make up for her performance at the presentation.
While she was waiting, she pulled out her cell phone and called Gary.
"Hi, hon," she said when he answered. "I'm sitting here waiting. Carl and the customer aren't here yet. Why does it take men so long to get ready?" He laughed easily at her joke.
"If our hair isn't just right, we just know everyone will notice," he answered. Julie smiled. Gary was notorious for not being particular about his hair. She was about to make a comment to that effect when her phone beeped in her ear.
"Oh, somebody's buzzing me," she said. "I'll see you tonight. Love you."
"Love you too," Gary answered as Julie clicked over to take the other call.
"Julie?" It was Carl's voice.
"Yeah, what's up?" She asked, trying not to sound annoyed. He was almost certainly calling to give her some last minute coaching, as if she needed his inane advice. Had he totally lost confidence in her because of the presentation?
As she spoke, she saw Greg enter the bar, looking around.
"Uh, Jule, I can't make it," Carl said just as Greg spotted her and waved. Julie waved back automatically as her stomach knotted. Her annoyance was instantly transformed into trepidation at Carl's words.
"Oh, really?" Julie replied, trying to sound as if it were a minor inconvenience at worst. Inside she was getting quite tense though. She had counted on Carl's presence to keep things professional. Greg would be far less likely to do or say anything inappropriate with Carl around. Suddenly, that protection was gone.
"Yeah, my wife and daughter are both really sick," Carl told her. "Sorry," he apologized, "but I'm sure you can take care of it?" Did she have a choice?
"Don't worry about it," Julie said in her best reassuring tone. "Take care of your family and I'll see you tomorrow. He's just getting here now, so I've got to run."
"Okay," she heard him reply as she took the phone from her ear and snapped it shut, not caring if he had finished talking or not. He almost certainly would have bored her with advice that she didn't need.
She was feeling a bit pissed off at the situation. Not because she couldn't handle entertaining a customer at a simple business dinner. Or because she had expected some help that she now wasn't going to get. Or even that this particular customer might take advantage of the situation and act inappropriately. She could deal with all that.