His Rules
By TaciturNous
Date: June 12, 2022
Ch. 3Chapter 3

"The northeast corner of the state near the Minnesota border. It's all of about five-hundred people in the town. It just serves the surrounding farms." He nodded. He didn't really seem that interested and I flushed at the recognition that I gave him so much information about something that meant nothing to him

He looked at her sitting comfortably in front of him. Yes, he could reread the information and the reports another dozen times, but the woman in front of him was the rough shell of what he could bring out from within her, like a butterfly from the hard chrysalis. He read the details about her family and debated again if it would be helpful or harmful to bring them out. It was possible there was information from his investigator on these pages that even she hadn't opened her eyes to. This whole attempt could turn well or bad in the next few moments. Several women had appeared through his screening process, most of them younger, but none had shown this kind of potential. Not since Trudy had he found a woman of such potential and Trudy had not been anything as alluring as this woman. The personal nature of the information could offend her as privacy-invasion or reinforce suspicions that had haunted her.

Nothing had changed. His only course of action, if she was to be the one, was to plow forward to show her what she was. He always recognized the risk of using personal information. Whether to find her or understanding a large, potential client, knowing as much as possible had its rewards, how it was used could pose risk.

He had been studying the sheets in front of him and was now studying me. I wondered what it was he was considering. He already provided enough details to convince me I had to be the Tina James he wanted to talk to.

He was reading a report, "Raised in a strict, quite conservative farm home and devoutly aligned with a small very conservative Protestant group, which wielded considerable influence and control over the couple dozen family groups in the area. The mother was very subservient to the father." He looked over the pages at me. He seemed to be gaging more than my confirmation of this information about myself. I was shocked at how much he knew about a low-level employee like me from a nothing town and background.

"How ... why do you know so much?"

He smiled disarmingly, "Sweetie, I make it my duty to know what I need to know about people I may be dealing with."

He again was reviewing information while he was clearly considering both the information and what it meant.

Then he sat back. "Are you happy here, Miss James?" The question was such a surprise.

It came out of nowhere and seemed incongruent from the talk leading up to it. I stammered. It was the kind of question I might expect during a perfunctory performance review with my direct manager, a question asked of all employees, though the answer would be ignored. My eyes flitted around the room and his desk while I searched for some way to safely answer the question.

"The reason I ask is you have been here for five years and you haven't yet advanced much. Yet, when I look at your work quality and comments from clients you've served, your performance has been stellar. Clients seem to love you. Not a single negative comment. Usually, we accept some percentage of negative comments regarding Accounts people pushing products the client didn't want. You, on the other hand, have a good record of adding products but you avoid the negative impression. Yet, you haven't been promoted."

"I-uh..." I had the distinct feeling he already had an impression of why. If my performance was so good, could my attitude with male co-workers still get me disciplined or fired?

I UNDERSTAND you are divorced. That's personal and I am sorry for your experiencing that. It has some relevance, however, I think. But, there appears to be a carry-over to relationships with male co-workers and males in social settings."

How could he know that! Okay, the male co-workers might have risen to someone's attention, especially if the petty pricks weaseled a whiny complaint. But ... my dating life?

"I am going to be completely honest with you, Miss James. I am constantly searching for uniquely qualified people I feel I can work with very closely. I have a position in mind that will report directly to me and to nobody else. Perhaps you can imagine that I have the opportunity, responsibility really, to bring in very large and lucrative accounts to the company. These accounts are very important to the company, but also to me as how they are handled reflects directly on me with the men coming to me. The person I am looking for would manage those accounts personally, exclusively, for me. Can you understand, now, why I need to know in depth the person I would have in such a position?"

I was about to respond when his phone beeped. What I hadn't noticed was his other hand pressing a button on his smartphone placed alongside the open folder.

"Excuse me." He listened for a moment, then covered the mouthpiece, "I really need to take this." He winked conspiratorially, "One of those accounts."

The door behind me opened and Trudy indicated for me to join her outside the office. My god! I walked out of the office in a daze. He was talking to me about a promotion. God, it had to be a huge promotion to handle his accounts.

"How's it going in there? You understand why he wanted to talk to you privately?"

I shook my head in disbelief. I sank into the chair in front of her desk without knowing I was doing it. "Partially, I think. We were interrupted by the call. I thought I had to be in trouble."

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