Billionaire's Inheritance Bride(2)

By: Amanda Horton

She kissed Sadie and bid Mrs. Tanner goodbye. The city bus had dropped her off two blocks away from work when she felt her cell phone buzz. She groped inside her purse for the phone and read the text message.

“Call me.” It was from James.

“What the fuck? You need something and I am supposed to call you?” She ignored the message with annoyance and plopped the unit back into her purse.

She entered the building and headed to her desk when she noticed a familiar figure. “My day is headed for Shitsville,” Miranda concluded. Bob Norton, a co-worker who had been desperately trying to date her for months, hovered nearby. He refused to take no for an answer and seemed flabbergasted by her unrelenting refusal. It didn’t help that the other girls fawned over him. Bob thought he was God’s gift to women and took every opportunity to make Miranda realize her loss.

Miranda scuttled to her desk; she felt safer with the table between them. Bob had a nasty habit of standing too close for comfort. He thought it was sexy. Miranda thought it was nauseating.

“Have you heard the news?” he whispered conspiratorially into her ear.

Miranda felt her skin crawl, like someone had run a fingernail across a chalkboard.

“What news Bob?” she asked politely. “Does HQ need our services?”

“You wish,” Bob replied, “there are talks that the memo will come today.”

“What memo?” Miranda asked.

“That I’m dating someone from HQ...” Bob hoped to get a reaction with that joke. Miranda’s expression remained uninterested. He continued, “The Company is cutting back on the number of secretaries and some of us will be losing our jobs.”

Miranda was taken aback. Talks like that have been rife for months but nothing ever happened. “It’s just gossip…” Miranda replied, even as panic filled her chest.

Just then, Mrs. Mason, the supervisor, entered the building. Bob scurried back to his table. Ann Mason ran the pool with an iron hand and discouraged gossip. She was strict with the motley crew. Today she seemed anxious and ignored everyone as she made her way to her cubicle. Miranda wondered why she looked so distracted.

When the bombshell exploded, Miranda understood why.

Mrs. Mason called everyone to a meeting. The supervisor waited for the commotion to die down, cleared her throat, and announced, “As you all know, there have been talks about cutting down the number of secretaries working for the company. A new directive has been given to the executives, for them to write their own letters and memos, cutting down the need for clerical services.”

Ann Mason couldn’t look the girls in the eye, “This,” holding up a memo, “contains the names that will be cut. Everyone on the list is entitled to goodwill money worth three months salary.”

She tacked the paper to the bulletin board, grabbed her purse, and made a beeline for the exit. Eerie silence followed her departure, as though the memo contained a death sentence. No one dared see the reality written on the piece of paper.

“Fuck it!” One of the girls exclaimed, grabbing the memo from the board. A ruckus of voices egged her to read out the names.

It sounded like a roll call of death. Each name was met with a groan, nervous laughter, an expletive, or incredulity. Bob winced as his name was read. Miranda cocked an ear as the roll call continued, “The last one to get the honor of being sacked…Miranda Benson.”

Wooden legs carried Miranda back to her desk. She felt cold inside. The harsh reality of her situation hit like a ton of bricks. She couldn’t afford to get fired. What were her chances of landing another job that had potential? She’d probably end up serving coffee or waiting tables.

The persistent ringing of her cell penetrated her numbed brain. “Hello,” she answered, cautiously avoiding the caller ID.

“Miranda, this is James.”

“Swell!” Not exactly the person she wanted to talk to right now.

She summoned a degree of civility, “Yes James?”

“I was texting you all morning, but I guess you were busy.”

“Not busy. Just didn’t want to have anything to do with you,” said a wayward thought.

“Well…” James continued, “I just wanted to let you know. I’m getting married again.”

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