I hope you enjoy it!
Here's the first chapter:
Just as Violet Black was looking for a phrase to rhyme with 'ugly as a tree,' for the latest greeting card for her company, her cube-neighbor's phone rang. Time for the loud daily eight-thirty meeting.
The guy pushed the speakerphone button. He was probably playing solitaire and needed both hands to count to ten or something. He was in sales but did no work on his own.
"Chet," the female voice said. "Any new sales today?"
"Nope. Just trying to get some leads." He chuckled.
The walls were high enough that Violet had to stand up just a bit to see over them, but that would be rude. Considering she couldn't do any work while Chet lied his way through the conversation, she had to know what he was really doing. Time to get another cup of coffee.
She stood up and stretched as if she'd been working a long time, grabbed her empty mug, and headed out her door. As she passed Chet's cube, she glanced inside. He wasn't playing solitaire, but was surfing the web with semi-nude pictures of women on his screen. He was so in trouble. The company had a no-tolerance policy for such things and she was tempted to turn him in. But she didn't know anyone in the tech department to see what else he was viewing. However, her friend, Betty, worked in Human Resources, which conveniently was right beside the break room and in a real office with walls. Betty needed a head's up about good old Chet.
Violet walked through the corridors formed by the cubicles, saying good morning to everyone she met. This business was cutthroat, and networking was key to getting a promotion.
But for Chet, it didn't seem to matter about hard work. He was at the top of sales, because he had other people do his work for no pay. Violet only knew that because she couldn't help but hear his speakerphone conversations over their shared wall.
Once she got to the break room, she made a beeline to see her buddy, Betty. She'd met the woman when she was hired and they got along well.
Betty's door was shut, so Violet knocked. "Come in," came the familiar professional voice. The woman was all business, but liked to be nice to the new hires. She wore expensive suits to work, high heels, and painted her nails every day to match her outfit. But Violet tried not to notice, even though Violet could only afford dressy pants and blouses.
Violet opened the door and smiled as Betty stood up. "What brings you to see me?" Betty asked. "Another blind date? I'm still not over that last one."
Violet chuckled. She'd tried to pawn her brother's neighbor off on Betty, but it didn't go well at all. The date was brilliant, but he lived in his parent's basement while developing multi-million dollar software that was bound to sell some day, or so he said.
"No blind dates today." Violet closed the door and pointed toward the chair in front of the desk. "May I?"
"Certainly." Both women sat down.
Violet sighed. "Well, I don't want to tell this to anyone, so I need to know how to approach something."
Betty nodded. "Spit it out. I can see it's annoying and we don't want that here."
"Topseller Chet? He sits beside you, right? Want me to introduce you or fix you up? He's loaded." She leaned closer. "Rumor has it, he even like dogs. I bet he'd love your dogs."
Violet had four dogs, and she'd told Betty about it after she'd brought them home. But the comment bugged her. She was a dog lady, but at least she wasn't an old maid cat lady.
Violet shook her head and glanced down at the empty coffee cup in her hand. "No. I don't want to date him." She raised her gaze a bit. "I think I'm destined to be alone and dating in the workplace is against company policy. No, he's um…" She stopped, timing her delivery perfectly and stood up. "I never should've come here."
Betty pointed toward the seat. "Sit. This will stay confidential. Does that help?"
Violet nodded. "I can hear everything Chet does over the wall, and he was on his daily meeting that he puts on speakerphone."
"Well, that's annoying. Is that the problem?"
"Sort of. He usually plays solitaire during those calls, because I've seen it. But today, he's not playing solitaire. He's…um…surfing the web."
"Okay, maybe he's looking for sales leads?"
Violet leaned closer. "On porn sites?"
Betty's eyebrows lifted and she sat back in surprise. "Are you sure?"
"I saw it on the way to the break room. Isn't that against company policy?"
"Definitely." Betty lifted the phone.
Violet put her hand on the desk to stop Betty for a moment. "Confidential, right?"
"Yep." Betty chuckled. "We have a guy who lives for this sort of thing. He's been the 'fixer' for any problem for as long as I can remember. It'll be sly and stealth and Chet won't know what hit him." She sighed. "It's a shame because Chet's a top seller."
"Not really, but that's a different story." Violet stood up and headed for the door.
"Wait." Betty put the phone back and stood up as well. "What do you mean, 'not really'?"
"He's getting kids to sell his stuff. I hear him on the phone. He's having them go door-to-door and giving them candy for doing it. The kids are doing a great job, pouring on tears and guilting the customer by wearing old holey clothes, so the people feel guilty and buy. He's not selling to big corporations like he's supposed to, but kids are doing his bidding for a penny piece of candy. From his phone calls, he must have at least a hundred kids out selling every day before and after school. I heard one kid say he'd sold fifty cards in one day. Chet was going to treat him to ice cream."
Betty stood still, her mouth hanging down. "Seriously?"
Violet nodded. "I don't know how to prove it, but anyone sitting near him could hear the conversation. He doesn't seem to care and puts it all on speakerphone."
"Wow. I wonder if he'll get them Christmas presents." Betty sighed. "My guy can handle that, too. Just do your job and go get your coffee. It'll be handled."
"Keep my name out of it."
"You bet." Betty smiled and sat back at her desk, her hand going to the phone. Violet didn't want to hear more, but slipped out the door, shutting it behind her. Now to get that coffee, because she really needed it.
Stay tuned! Next Chapter, Monday, November 4!
Copyright Markee Anderson, 2013