I closed my eyes, memorizing the image in my mind as I drifted back to sleep.
MAYA. The day was coming to a close. Again, the day wore on me. Any hope I’d harbored before about my work life improving had effectively been squashed.
Tension between Jia and me was evident. She avoided me when we crossed paths. I barely saw Dermott. That wasn’t unusual, except now I had no idea what he was thinking. I hoped eventually enough time would pass that we could call it water under the bridge.
At a quarter to five, my phone rang. In a clipped voice, Dermott asked to see me. My stomach fell. S**t, this was it. The end. I took a deep breath, determined to keep my composure.
I stepped inside his office. When he didn’t look up to greet me, I took a seat across from his desk. I wondered if he’d heard me, until he cleared his throat and looked up at me. The moment was brief. He shuffled through his papers, dropping a clipped pile to the edge of the large desk in front of me.
I swallowed hard. “Are you firing me?”
A tight smile pinched his features. “I think it’s best if we move on. Your work on the Cauldwell deal was admirable, but clearly there’s going to be tension here.”
“There doesn’t have to be. Obviously it was a gross misunderstanding.” Gross might not have been the best word, but in a way, it was. Letting the scene play out from Christmas Eve would have been horrible. My skin crawled just thinking about letting him touch me. Thank God I hadn’t let things go that far.
“Regardless, what’s done is done. We’ve never exactly had a great rapport, and frankly, I think you’d probably find yourself more fulfilled elsewhere.”
“You’re firing me, just like that?”
“You’ll get three months’ severance in exchange for signing a release indemnifying the company of any allegations. Just in case you have any ideas about discussing our little misunderstanding.”
“What about references?”
He sat back in his chair, a discontented grimace on his face. If he hated me before, he despised me now. All because I wouldn’t let him screw me on his desk.
“If you need a reference, I’m sure it could be arranged.”
How big of him. I reached for the paperwork, reading through it.
“You can bring it back after you’ve read through it and signed.”
“I’ll read through it now. I’d like closure on this matter. I’m sure you’d agree.”
“Fine,” he muttered.
I skimmed through, focusing on the clauses that highlighted the severances and the terms of my silence. It was buttoned up tight. Money would close the chapter on this little mess. Jia and he could go about their business, whatever that now entailed, and I would no longer be a liability. All for a healthy severance that was pennies to the company.
I bristled at the thought. I tossed it back to him.
“You can take this agreement and shove it up your a*s, Dermott.”
Breath hissed through his teeth, barely containing his rage. “Excuse me?”
“This is unacceptable. I didn’t do anything wrong here.”
“Really? Jia said you came onto her at a nightclub. That doesn’t exactly paint you in a favorable light.”
“She came onto me, and besides, that was on my time. There’s no fraternizing policy with the company. I’ve already checked.”
“And what about that little incident in Jia’s office with your boyfriend?”
Panic hit me. Oh, f**k. Then I relaxed, realizing he had no way of knowing what actually went down in there. Jia would have told him she’d given us access to her office while they were gone, but that meant nothing.
He let out a smug laugh. “I can prove it no more than you can prove anything out of the ordinary happened here last week. If you were smart you’d sign this. I’ll only make this offer once.” He pushed the stack of paper back toward me. I didn’t give it a second look.
“Actually, firing me and trying to shut me up with severance proves something very out of the ordinary happened. Surely that isn’t an everyday occurrence.” I shook my head, disgust for him renewing my anger. “You couldn’t even wait to give me a few poor reviews, get the paperwork in place to let me go clean. I was blatantly propositioned and offered a promotion to have sex with you both. How do you think that will sound? Let’s not bullshit. Something is troublesome enough about all of this that you need to be rid of me as soon as possible. Well, trust me, I’m happy to leave, but I’m not getting steamrolled.”