His lips tightened. His gray eyes hardened, filled with the mutual dislike that we shared for one another.
“You want to wipe your hands of me, Dermott?”
His silence was answer enough.
“Twelve months severance, and I want recommendations in writing. From both of you and at least one of the officers after you explain to them how I busted my a*s on the Cauldwell deal. They’d better be glowing too.”
He gave me a hard stare, the vein in his forehead decidedly more pronounced.
“What makes you think you can make demands?”
“Make the changes or I’ll be getting a lawyer and every face you see here will know exactly what you two did to me. Not to mention your wife. It’s that simple.”
A few hours later I was walking hand-in-hand with Cameron toward the Plaza. I’d feigned a smile and assured him my day had been fine. It was New Year’s Eve after all, and he’d made plans for us. I’d tell him later about what had gone down today, but for now, I didn’t want to spoil our night. He’d be upset and probably would want to beat Dermott to a pulp all over again.
Begrudgingly, Dermott had agreed to my terms and promised to have a revised draft to me in the morning. But until it was signed, nothing was certain. This was my fight, and I was very close to winning it. Even if losing my job wasn’t considered a general win, at least I wasn’t going to be hung out to dry.
I was relieved I never had to go back to that place. The thought of finding a new job at another bank seemed the natural next step, but I wasn’t sure about that. I hadn’t had much time to contemplate what my future might look like before I left for the day and met with Cameron.
We found our way to the quiet hum of the lounge. Already on edge, I was a little stressed about facing Cameron’s parents. Surely they’d known some details of our breakup, especially if Olivia had been vocal at all about her disapproval of me. He promised she’d be on her best behavior, but I had doubts.
Seated at a round table, the three of them laughed and smiled, drinks in hand. They fell silent as we approached. I clung to Cameron, trying not to look as uncomfortable as I felt. I leaned gently against his large frame, steeling myself for the reintroductions.
“Maya, you remember my mother, Diane?”
“Maya, it’s lovely to see you again.” Her lips lifted to a smile that didn’t meet her gray eyes.
Her gaze traveled the length of me, giving me an obvious visual appraisal. Her expression only betrayed mild interest. Thankfully there was no hint of Olivia’s disapproval there. Maybe she was as superficial as Cameron had promised and in all the ways that might have mattered to her, I fit the bill.
I returned her smile and shifted my gaze to his father who sat across the table from where we’d be. He was attractive, but a whisper of a man compared to his strongly built sons. Wearing a suit coat and stiffly starched white collared shirt beneath, he nodded in my direction and smiled.
“Call me Frank, please.”
I nodded quickly. Bits of memories of meeting with them while Olivia and I were at school together floated back to me. I’d see them fairly often, for parents’ weekends, holiday pick-ups, or the few times they’d dropped Cameron off to visit us. They would invite me, Olivia’s unfortunate parentless friend, to fancy dinners where they pressed her about her grades and major, plans to travel abroad in the summers. I’d sit, mostly quietly, and pretend I could relate to anything they were discussing. I didn’t dislike them because they could give Olivia those opportunities. In fact, I was happy for her. What I hated was being looked at like a pity case. I hated that they spoke a language I’d never been taught, one that I’d only learned over time. By the time I had enough money to do all the things they talked about doing, I’d fallen too far from wanting much of it.
We sat down. Cameron gave me a warm, reassuring smile. I relaxed a little and stared at my menu. Cameron had promised we’d make this short and get dinner together later so I set it back down, regretting that I had nothing to distract me.
Frank piped up after taking a deliberate swig from his brandy. “So, Maya. Tell us about your work.”
“Maya works on Wall Street as a financial analyst.” Cameron said before I could speak.
Frank’s eyebrows rose. “My old stomping grounds. I’m impressed. Tell me more.”
A twinkling of hope filled me. I launched into my practiced summary of what I did, omitting the fact that for all intents and purposes I was unemployed.
Usually people’s eyes glazed over after the first twenty seconds, but Frank seemed interested. We went back and forth while Olivia chatted quietly with her mother. Cameron sat back silently, a quiet satisfaction in his eyes, as his father and I discussed financial news. He still held my hand in his, giving it a small squeeze under the table. So far so good.