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Rich Burton was in office at the usual time of 9 a.m. ready and raring to go. He wasn’t very tall at a height of 5’8″ but what he lacked in height, he made up for in stature.

Rich was head of the marketing department at Zanster Inc. and had been for the past 3 years. Under him Marketing had seen vast improvements in turnover; He was the chief reason for Zanster bagging most of the advertising rights to some of the hottest products that were selling like hot cakes in the market. He ran a tight ship and above all hated tardiness.

So his surprise was evident when his secretary informed him as he passed by her desk that a Miss Mary Iverson wanted to see him immediately.

‘Mary Iverson.. that bitch has some nerve he thought to himself.

“Send her in immediately.”

When Mary entered his office cabin, Rich gave her a look of extreme contempt.

“Thank you for gracing us with your presence! Where the hell have you been!”

“Sir, please I implore you, give me a chance to explain.”

“Usually I do not extend that courtesy to anybody but in your case I will make an exception.. not because I like you nor do I feel an iota of sympathy towards you.. but I would like to hear your reason for abandoning one of the most crucial assignments ever given to somebody with your experience.. abandoning it and not having the common courtesy to inform us of the reason for your absence.. or when you would be back..” the constrained anger in his voice was evident.

“Please sir.. I would like to tell you the truth. I know that I messed up but you have to understand sir and I am not lying or looking for sympathy here.. I was in a very dark place emotionally.”

“Save the sob story for somebody who would give a damn. You better say something to convince me real quick or the next words out of my mouth will be – you’re fired!”

“Give me the Rosherfort project.”

“Give you the Rosherfort project?” scoffed Rich.

“You audacious little..” Rich almost uttered an expletive.

“Get out of my office. As a matter of fact clear out your desk.”

“I know that the pitch is due tomorrow and I have a very good idea as to how we can land the deal.”

“An idea better than the idea my team came up with! As a matter of fact your team that you abandoned when they needed you”

“Yes. Hear me out and you will not be disappointed. Look I know I made a mistake but I assure you it was just a one off and I will never disappoint you or let anybody down again. I promise.”

“Well you won’t be getting away without consequences Miss Iverson. Consider the days you were away as leave without pay.”

“Done.. now would you hear me out?”

“Now? I’d rather you pitch this idea to the team.. Let me call a meeting. You have 5 minutes to prepare to say whatever it is you’re thinking the pitch should be about.”

As Mary got up to leave, Rich spoke again with a finality in his voice..

“Oh and Miss Iverson. If it turns out to be a waste of my time and the team’s; Consider yourself out of a job.”

Rosherfort was a new Chocolate manufacturing company that was only just setting up base. They wanted a marketing campaign that would drive home the idea that their chocolates were genuine liqueur filled dark chocolates, the likes of which did not exist in the world. They wanted to drive home the point that consuming one bite of chocolate would transport the consumer to another world, give them a feeling of euphoria like no other narcotic could give. Not that this held true for their product, but the marketing campaign had to portray that and instil that false sense into their customers.

Mary started one of the most important presentations of her life. She had worked all night on the presentation and if she was exhausted, she did not let it show.

Her presentation was short and sweet and it took her fifteen minutes to pitch her idea to the team. The idea was very simple.

‘Rosherfort chocolates will make you transcend. Why aim for a galaxy when you can aim for infinity and beyond.. take a bite and travel to the edges of the universe.”

Rich looked sceptical. Her heart skipped a beat as he turned to the team and asked for their opinion. This was it.. her moment of reckoning.

But instead of burning her at the stake, her team members started to come up with suggestions to improve the pitch. Soon the meeting room was filled with excited voices discussing how to enhance the idea that Mary had come up with. Mary gladly joined in and for a while it looked as if everybody had forgotten about her absence.

But at the end of the meeting as everybody prepared to go back to their desks and get started with the final pitch, Rich brought back the topic of her absence.

“Hold on guys, I wanted to say something related to Miss Iverson here. Won’t take but a moment..”

The color drained from Mary’s face.

“Now Miss Iverson kind of left us in the lurch last week to disappear of the face of the earth for a few days. I’m sure a lot of you may be thinking that it is acceptable. Well I would like kaçak iddaa to assure you it is not..”

He turned to Mary and said

“Miss Iverson you will not be eligible for a promotion this year. Your pay grade will remain the same.”

Although Mary was a tad annoyed at this, still she felt that it was better than losing her job. She accepted her sentence gracefully.

“Well let’s get to it then.” Said Rich getting up signalling that it was go time.

Mary immediately got back to her desk to incorporate the ideas they had come up with in the meeting. Although she was feeling drowsy, she fought back the sleep and continued to work. Around lunch time she got a call from her mother.

“Just calling to see if you are ok honey. How are you holding up?”

“I’m fine ma, kinda busy right now.. would it be allright if I call you back later?”

“Sure sure honey, talk to me later. Take care.”

By around 8 o’clock in the evening, Mary had finished incorporating the graphics and other paraphernalia into the presentation that the team had provided to her. Most of the people had left. She added the final slide to the presentation and finally mailed it out to everybody so that they could take a look. Then she hung around for a bit in case somebody wanted something incorporated.

She allowed herself to take a bit of a break and headed to the coffee machine. It was so quiet in the office, just like the first time when she had made love to Rumpelstiltskin in that conference room. For a moment she felt a pang of remorse but then she shook it out of her head.

She took the coffee back to her seat and as she unlocked her computer screen, she saw the familiar blue writing blinking on her instant messenger.

“Where have you been?”

She chose to ignore it and closed the messenger window.

Immediately she saw it blinking in the taskbar indicating that somebody had sent her another message.

‘That son of a bitch. How dare he!’ She opened the IM window and blocked the sender.

But soon after about 10 minutes she got a ping from another sender. It was Rumpelstiltskin again. Mary was a bit surprised that for one he was able to send her messages even though she had blocked him and two why the fuck did he want to talk to her after he had left her in such a sorry state of affairs.

Flaring up, Mary opened the IM window and typed furiously

“Leave me alone damn it! I don’t want to talk to you or see you.. ever!”

She blocked the sender again and closed the window.

She sat there fuming, sipping her coffee waiting for any mails to show up. A little while later the exhaustion caught up with her and she lay down her head on the desk to rest for a bit.

She was woken up by a hand placed on her shoulder. Startled she turned around to see Rumpelstiltskin looking dapper in a suit, his blue eyes probing hers.

“Wake up sleepy head.” He said smiling.

“What is your problem? Which part of leave me alone did you not understand?”

“Look.. I know I behaved like an ass. And I’m sorry.. really sorry, but you have to understand you came on too strong.”

Mary pushed him away and stood up to her full height which came up to his shoulders.

“I came on too strong! You fucked me and had your way with me. All I wanted was to know what it is we were actually doing. Making love! I could do that with anyone. But you! I gave myself to you and all I wanted in return was to know if you felt the same way about me. All I wanted was to put a name to a face, a face and a body that I fucked almost every night. And you self centred unemotional prick! You threw it in my face and walked away. Walk away now, cuz this..” she made a circular motion with her hands “is never going to happen.”

Mary turned away from him and stood looking out the window, her arms crossed and he brow furrowed with anger, breathing heavily from her outburst.

“Look, will you hear me out one last time. And then you can decide what you want to do with me.”

When Mary didn’t answer he continued anyway

“I was scared ok. I was scared because yes, this had started to mean something to me as well but I just was not ready to be in a committed relationship. I like you and I loved what we had. Why can’t it remain that way?”

Mary turned around and growled

“Because its great for you, I don’t even know your name, who you are, what you do, for all I know you’re just a random stranger who saw me across the street and waltzed over one fine day to fuck me. I guess it was my mistake to have led you on in the first instance. Just.. just get the fuck out of my sight. I don’t ever want to see you again.”

“Mary please..” pleaded Rumpelstiltskin.

He said it again but Mary just turned around and continued to look outside.

“I’m John. John Pasternackis.”

His words seemed to have the desired effect on Mary.

She turned around and affixed him with an incredulous look.

“You’re a Pasternackis. I suspect that you will now proceed to tell me that you are related to Peter Pasternackis owner and kaçak bahis co founder of Zanster Inc.”

“Yes. I am his son.”

“Bullshit! I’ve seen his son and you are not him.”

“That would be Jonah my elder brother.”

“I don’t believe you. You think that you will lay this shit on me and I like a gullible fool will believe you and take you back.”

“Look, I can prove it to you.”

John walked over to her machine and asked her permission to use it.

Mary shrugged indicating that she didn’t care.

John switched accounts and logged into her machine. He logged in with his credentials and then went to an intranet site. There he clicked on a couple of links and opened up a profile. It was his profile on the company Intranet.

He beckoned to Mary to take a look at it.

She gave it a cursory glance and then scoffed again.

“I still don’t believe you.”

“Damn it Mary don’t you see now, why I didn’t want you to know who I was?”

“I don’t get one thing.. how come nobody has heard of you? Or seen you before?”

“Because I was raised by my mother in Paris. I came to the states a few days ago. My father didn’t want to acknowledge my existence initially. You see I was a mistake. I wasn’t supposed to be born. It was because of me that my parents had a falling out, my father didn’t want me but mom did. So she packed her bags and left him. They didn’t get divorced but instead chose to live separate lives. I’m a chapter of his life that my father does not like to share with anyone. And it doesn’t look like he will in the near future.”

Mary’s look said it all. She still did not believe him.

“Do you honestly expect me to believe that?”

“Yes I do. Because it is the truth. It is also the reason I didn’t want to tell you who I was. If the media were to find out about me, it would be a major scandal. One that my father would like to avoid at the moment.”

“You are so full of shit.”

“Look damn it I’m being honest. Why don’t you come with me and I will prove it.”

“Why would your father take you back now, after all these years? Why now.”

“He had a change of heart. He realized he had been a shitty parent and a terrible husband and so he requested mom to come back to him. She did and therefore here I am.”

“I’m pretty sure the world would’ve found out about this development, you can’t keep something like that under wraps.”

“Well, apparently my father is very good at keeping secrets. He’s managed to keep all this under wraps so far. He flew us here by private jet and then a limo secretly ferried us to his place. As far as the office staff is concerned, I’m, just a distant relative trying to make it on my own in this office.”

“Well, show me more evidence that you are who you say you are.”

John took Mary to the topmost floor where he had a huge office to himself. It was a lovely office space overlooking the city, snuggled cosily on the penultimate floor of the building. Attached to the room was a bedroom with an attached lavish washroom.

He opened his computer and showed her photos of his parents in happier times. He showed her his childhood photos with his mother. Finally Mary seemed to be convinced.

“Now will you forgive me?”

“No. Still doesn’t change the fact that you acted like a dick.”

“And I am sorry. But now that you know who I am I’d like to know if you are likely to change your opinion.”

“Not today I’m not. But I suggest we give it some time. That means that sex is off the table. I want to be sure that I’m not a plaything for you, something to be used and then thrown away later.”

“You’re not.”

“Then you won’t have any difficulty proving it.”

“How can I prove myself?”

“Oh I’ll think of a way.. or ways. Look I’m exhausted, I’ve had a very long day. I have got to get back to my apartment, tomorrow is a big day you know.. We make the pitch to Rosherfort tomorrow. And I need to get some sleep.”

“Why don’t you stay here, there is a bedroom attached to this office that you can use and I’ll arrange for a change of clothes and toiletries for tomorrow morning. “

“Oh no no Johnny boy. I can’t stay. I won’t give you that satisfaction tonight.”

Mary started to walk away.

“When will you see me again?”

Mary turned around and said

“When you see me coming.”

Mary checked her workstation again to see if she had got any communication. When she noticed she hadn’t she shut shop and went back to her apartment to get some well deserved sleep.

The next morning, Rich was in a neutral mood as far as Mary was concerned. Her colleagues were a little upbeat though about the presentation for it seemed to have come out quite good. At the appointed time, the executives from Rosherfort chocolates were there dressed formally with serious looks on their faces. They had been to a couple of presentations earlier from competitors of Zanster and so far what they had seen wasn’t very impressive.

Rich had appointed one his blue eyed boys – Harry Zemeckis to give the presentation. Harry illegal bahis was a veteran and he blew the room away with his oratory skills. So much so that at the end of the presentation, the glum looking executives from Rosherfort had a smile on their face and a congratulatory handshake for Rich. The cat was in the bag.

When the executives had left there was the general handshaking and patting on the back and Mary felt much better. Even Rich came over to her and told her that she had done a good job.

The rest of the day was very light for Mary and she spent the day thinking about John and how she would punish him. When it was time to leave, she pinged him on the IM.

“Coffee?” was all she wrote.

“Yeah. Where?”

“I dunno.. surprise me.”

“Meet me at the ground floor lobby.”

Mary sat on a comfortable couch in the ground floor lobby observing the thin trickle of employees leaving the office. She wondered how many of them had it tough like she did. Some of the guys would stare at her but she was used to the attention now. As she waited for John she got a call on her phone. It was Megan.

“Hey ya, how are you?”

“I am doing much better Meg. Much better.”

“Yeah it does sound like it. So things are good then?”

“Oh better than good.”

“What, you hooked up with him again didn’t you, God you’re so slutty!”

“No. No, I didn’t hook up with him but he did contact me to apologize and he told me something that put things into perspective. So at the moment I have forgiven him. As a matter of fact I am going out with him for coffee now..”

“So soon.. you should let him stew for a bit..”

“Oh I will.. I have a few ideas.”

Meanwhile John arrived, dressed up in a suit and looking dapper.

“Shall we?”

“Ohh is that his voice.. its sexy.” Said Megan

“I have to go now Megan, I’ll talk to you later.”

“Bbi city slicker. Tell me the dirty sordid details later will you?”

“Yeah yeah” said Mary cutting the call.

As the two of them headed out, Mary asked him

“So where are you taking me Johnny boy?”

John frowned a little

“Don’t call me that. And to answer your question, it’s a surprise.”

A luxury car drove up in front of the office building and John held the door for Mary as she got inside.

He took her to a lovely little café at a petit corner. It was called ‘The Huffing Pot’ and it was a quaint little coffee shop with seating for about ten people only.

“This looks nice.” said Mary as they sat down at a table near the window overlooking the busy street outside.

“I heard about this place from a friend. Their bagels are the best in the city.”

Mary looked impressed.

John ordered coffee and bagels for them and then they continued their conversation.

“So.. how can I make it up to you then?” said John.

Mary had a mischievous look on her face.

“I have an idea but it will be very tough for you.”

“Well if it will make you happy and allow you to forgive me then I am ready to do whatever you say.”

“Tell me John. How long have you abstained.”

“Abstained?” asked John puzzled.

“Yes abstained.. from any sort of sexual activity.”

John seemed a little embarrassed by Mary’s question.

“Well that’s a little personal isn’t it?”

“Don’t be so coy. And what the fuck do you mean personal, have you forgotten how personal things had been between us?”

“One week.” Said John giving up.

“That’s it? You only lasted a week.”

“Yeah. That is the maximum duration that I have abstained.”

“Hmm” said Mary thoughtfully.

“How about ten days? Do you think you could abstain for ten days?”

“Is that what you want from me? Abstinence.”

“Attaboy! Yes. I want you to abstain for 15 days. No sexual activity.”

“And how would you ensure that I have succeeded in doing this?”

“Oh its very easy Johnny boy. When you’ve abstained for that long, I can make you come without touching you.”

John blushed slightly.

“But what if I don’t.”

“Then I’ll know. So will you?”

John thought for just a moment and then nodded in agreement.

“Yes.. yes for you I will.”

The smile was back on Mary’s face.

The rest of the evening they spent chatting about other things. Mary told him about the presentation and how she had made amends with her boss and teammates.

“You know I can probably put in a word for you with my Father and he would be happy to get rid of that ridiculous ‘no appraisal’ clause.”

“No thank you Johnny boy, I’d rather make it on my own.”

“Please stop calling me Johhny Boy.”

“Can’t help it. You better start liking it though, it’s part of your retribution.”

John visibly cringed a bit but didn’t protest any further. He had to endure three more instances of being called Johnny boy but took it in his stride. Finally when it was getting late, Mary excused herself and made to leave.

“Where are you going, its only eight o clock. Have dinner with me.” Said John hopefully.

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”

“Robert Frost. Can’t argue with that. So I ask you again, when will I see you next?” said John respectfully.

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