tagNovels and NovellasSoul to the Highest Bidder Ch. 01

Soul to the Highest Bidder Ch. 01


New York, New York

Wednesday morning, and already I was counting down the hours until Friday. I had so many things to do before Friday though, that any enthusiasm for the weekend was quickly and completely squelched. I looked through all the letters, memos and mail that Mr.M had left on my desk before I attacked the phone messages. Before I was able to finish writing down the phone number for a Ms. Whitecliff, the caller of the last message on the machine, I heard Mr. Morrison's voice hollowly echo through the voice speaker on my desk.

"Miss Tanner, I need you to call the European office, and find out what date they have set for the grand opening. As well, I will need a villa or house with a separate guest house, for at least four weeks while I am there; you can charge it to the corporate card. I'll need two tickets. Book the tickets, once you have the date; and, don't forget to arrange my transportation this time." He spoke in his usual monotonous tone.

"Yes sir." I methodically replied, as I pressed aggressively down on the little black intercom button.

Forget, my ass. I had arranged for transportation; but, the bloody bastards were 30 minutes late. By that time I had already received at least 20 phone calls from Mr. M, demanding I have alternative transportation arranged immediately, while he berated me for my incompetence. He had still ended up using the original company that I had arranged for, but he had just felt compelled to annoy, chastise and cause me unnecessary grief, rather than wait patiently. This time I would arrange for three companies, with staggered time frames, to ensure there would definitely be someone there to meet him. I smiled to myself in smug victory. If he wants a ride, he'll have his ride.

The European office was located in Paris, France. I was overjoyed. I would finally have an opportunity, through work, to put my education to use. Excitedly I picked up the receiver and dialed the number for the European office, waiting to hear the beautiful French words flow through the receiver. Unfortunately, what I got instead was a man speaking English with a thick southern drawl.

"Lucas Johnson speaking, Morrison Management PR. How may I help you?"

"Hello Mr. Johnson, this is Mr. Morrison's office. Mr. Morrison would like to know what date you have set for the grand opening." I cradled the phone with my shoulder, as I grabbed my daily planner from my bag.

That baby was my life. Without that little book, I would have been running, sobbing, out that door like every other assistant before me.

"Yes, of course...Miss..?"

"Tanner.Lauren Tanner" "It's a pleasure to hear your voice Miss Tanner. I have to say I miss hearing good old American English. Anyways, the date for the grand opening is December 23rd. They would like to act as host over the holidays, and invite Mr. Morrison to share in some of their holiday festivities. Experience the holidays in the French way, they said. I will send a full tentative itinerary that he can go over. Apparently, they have some pretty wild parties here; or, so I've been told. These French really know how to get tangled up in all matter of sins, but that's not for a ladies ears."

"Thank you Mr. Johnson, and thank you for your time. Have a good day."

"You too, ma'am. Nice talking to you." I slammed down the phone, perhaps a little too hard. I was just taking my rage out on defenseless inanimate objects, instead of the source of the rage. I had to find Mr. Oh-so-Powerful Morrison a flight, transportation, a large villa with a separate guest house, for four weeks over the Christmas holidays. Fun. Dutifully, reminding myself about the large debts to be paid, I took a deep breath and set to work. I had so much to do in so little time, but it needed to get done or I would be out of work and on the streets.

After four hours, interrupted constantly by Mr.M's random requests and demands, I had managed to find two direct first class tickets to Paris, one chauffeur without a family who valued money more than celebrating the holidays, and three promising properties. As well, I had accomplished most of my daily tasks; and, I still had three hours left to the work day. Three hours...damn it. To kill some time I looked over the three properties, trying to decide which one to choose. They all looked amazing to me, but I wasn't as picky as Mr. Morrison. Finally I decided to do the unthinkable- disturb Mr. Morrison to ask him a question. I checked the extension lines to make sure he was not on the phone, before I lightly knocked on the door.

"Yes?" he responded loudly, sounding slightly irritated.

I slowly and quietly eased the door open, slinking a few steps into the room, holding the property print-outs to my chest.

"I'm sorry to disturb you sir; but, I found three wonderful properties that are available over the holidays. I was wondering if you would like to choose which one you would like to stay at." I quietly explained, keeping my eyes directed at the floor.

"Is there some reason you are not capable of choosing Miss Tanner?" he asked, sounding like a chastising teacher.

"No sir, it's just I found them to all be equally amazing. They all have at least one separate guest residence, easy access to the city and complete privacy. It is really just a matter of personal taste."

I quickly darted a glance up, to see if Mr. M was furious; but, instead I found an odd smirk playing at the corner of his mouth. It could almost be mistaken for a smile, but I knew better than to believe Mr.M capable of a smile. I returned my eyes to the cold grey slate floor.

"Fine. Are those the properties there?" he asked.

I looked up to see him staring directly at my chest. I began to blush, feeling the flow of heat across my skin, knowing that my pale complexion would not hide the hot red flush that painted my cheeks. I quickly lowered the papers to my waist and walked up to Mr. M's desk, placing them before him.

"Yes sir. And, the itinerary for your stay is there as well. Mr. Johnson sent it over, so you could look it over."

I stood silently, unmoving, while he slowly perused through the property print outs. He shuffled through the papers one more time before holding one out to me.

"You're right. They are all impressive. However, I do not want any unwelcome guests bothering me or interfering in my business, so I choose the one with the most privacy and seclusion." he stated as I took the paper from him, "would there be anything else Miss Tanner?" he asked sarcastically.

For the purpose of self preservation, I shook my head and apologetically dismissed myself. Once out of his office, I took in a deep breath and smiled. I had, unbidden, entered the dragons lair and survived to speak of it. How Lucy's jaw was going to drop at that one.

I sat down in my seat and spread the property form out before me on the desk. Gorgeous. Absolutely amazing. He had chosen a 10 bedroom 18th century manor house, with a ballroom, on 24 acres of private land; which also had a huge pool, tennis courts and a large separate five bedroom guest manor. I suppose that since it was winter there as well, he wouldn't be swimming or swinging a racket while there, but still -- damn. I sighed, just imagining how much this would cost; but, it didn't matter because it wasn't my money. I called the number on the sheet and finally found my opportunity to put my skills to use.

I conversed in French over the phone for the next hour. I made all the arrangements for the rental, confirmed the times and dates for pick-up and transfer. I made arrangements for his wardrobe, created a menu for the chef at the rental manor, reviewed his calendar for the next six weeks -- rescheduling any of the appointments or meetings he had made for those four weeks - and still had time to stare wistfully at the picture of my dreams.

When I was a little girl I had dreamed of living in France, in a place very much like this manor. It had all seemed so magical and so beautiful; an escape from the world I lived in. Everything about their culture was graceful, beautiful and romantic; but, alas I was not the one going. I made a few calls to placement agencies in Paris looking for a temp assistant for Mr. Morrison, while he was overseas. Again, this was a pleasure, since the man at the employment placement agency spoke only French. Ten minutes later, when the clock flashed 4:30pm, I was bidding adieu to M. Dubois as Mr. Morrison came out of his office carrying his coat and briefcase. He was reading over the itinerary as he walked past my desk.

"Merci beaucoup. Au bientot." I said right before hanging up the phone. Turning my attention to my boss, I asked, "Is there anything you need before you go today Mr. Morrison?"

"Yes, I would like you to set up an appointment tomorrow with Ms. Whitecliff; Preferably for the morning." he said, not once looking up. "Good night Miss Tanner."

As soon as he walked out of the office - heading three stories up to his penthouse apartment - I leaned back in my chair, stretched and took a deep calming breath. Just being around that man made every muscle in my body tense. I couldn't wait to get back to my place, so I could take a long hot bath and go to bed. First though, I had to do Mr. M's bidding and call Ms. Whitecliff.

Home, I thought as I unlocked my door. I had survived another day. With a flick of my wrist I tossed my keys onto the marble topped entrance table and stepped out of my little black loafers, before quickly striding across the living room's plush carpet, in the dark, to the spacious bathroom. I turned the tap on for the hot water and watched the steam billow as the large Jacuzzi tub filled up. I lit a few candles around the tub and pressed play on the little stereo I had, on the large marble counter top. Beethoven poured from the speakers and filled the large sparse bathroom with his hypnotic notes. I turned off the tub's taps and slipped into the hot water.

My mind wandered to the impending holidays. Only two weeks until Christmas. Only two weeks until I had to suffer through another lonely depressing holiday. Only a week and a half until I shipped Mr. Morrison off to the country of my dreams. I sighed and slipped deeper into the tub. I couldn't help but feel that life did not come without its own sense of irony.

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