She shrugged and lifted the water glass to her lips “Not really. I consider it part of the job. You have to know what you want, and more importantly, you have to know what other people want. That’s the key.”
“How do you mean?”
“Look around yourself, Maya. Look beyond the numbers. Look at the landscape of the company and the people who make it up. Have you gotten to know anyone who you work with? Any of your superiors?”
“Not really. I do my job. That’s what they want, isn’t it? I thought you said people shouldn’t be here to make friends.”
“You listen. Good.” She smiled. “But no, they don’t only want you to do your job. Different people want different things. If you venture outside of your comfort zone a little, eventually you’ll find the connections that will open doors.”
“Right.” My thoughts went to people like Dermott, my boss, or Reilly—hard and focused men who barely noticed people like Vanessa and me unless they happened to step on us. I wasn’t sure I wanted to open a door that they were on the other side of.
“Consider me one of those doors.”
I raised my eyebrows.
“I like you, Maya, and I’d like to help you, if you’re open to it.”
“This is your career too. I’m assuming you’d be open to having a mentor, a friend?”
“Well…yeah. I mean…” I didn’t quite know how to accept or acknowledge such a blatant offer of support. Jia seemed shrewd and charismatic. Being able to call her a friend was an intriguing opportunity all its own.
“Good.” She smiled and reached out, feathering her fingertips over the back of my hand before returning to her meal. “I’m glad we did this.”
CAMERON. I’d cleared my schedule for the week’s evening training sessions. Maya had only committed to an hour each night, but I planned on taking her out after if she’d let me.
Darren grumbled about picking up the slack, but I didn’t care. He owed me. I’d let him off the hook a few times so he could take off early to continue his training sessions with one of his new recruits, the flavor of the week. That routine was going to catch up with him eventually. As far as he spread his affections, his no-drama track record wouldn’t last forever.
I leaned against the reception desk, making small talk with the young kid running it, when Maya arrived.
“Hey.” I smiled, all too aware of how her mere presence lit up the room. But maybe that was just me. That I’d been waiting all day to see her became painfully obvious. She was still dressed for work, and her tired look tempered my excitement. “You okay?”
She smiled too quickly. “Yeah. I’m good. Long day, you know.”
“Right. We’ll make this quick then.”
“Whatever. Don’t feel like you have to go easy on me.”
I grinned. “I wouldn’t dream of it. Lockers are that way. I’ll meet you out here when you’re ready.”
Before she could take a step away, Olivia walked in behind her. The smile she greeted me with quickly faded when she recognized Maya.
Maya gave her a weak hello.
Olivia flashed a subtle glare in my direction. “I’m guessing this isn’t another coincidence.”
“Actually it kind of was. Maya dropped into the gym last week. She lives nearby.”
Olivia nodded, her expression emotionless. “Uncanny.”
Maya straightened. “I’m going to go change. I’ll be out in a bit.”
As soon as she’d disappeared into the women’s locker rooms, Olivia started in on me, her voice hushed.
“Do you want to explain to me what’s going on?”
I crossed my arms and leaned against the front desk. “I don’t need to explain myself to you, Olivia.”
“Like hell you don’t.”
Christ, here we go.
“You went to see her didn’t you?”
I looked past her, refusing to answer. I wasn’t about to let my baby sister berate me. “Go home, Liv.”
She shook her head. “I shouldn’t have told you. I knew it. I had a feeling something like this would happen. I don’t know what I was thinking. God, the stupid things you’ve done for her, and here we are—”
“It’s fine. I wanted to see her, and it was friendly. She came to the gym today and we’re just catching up.”
“No, it is not fine. She basically destroyed your life, Cameron.”