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Lawrence A. Merritt
“When will you know”, Daryl asked? “They’ll make their final decision day after tomorrow”, Jennifer replied. He really wanted to be vague with his questions, but he knew it was entirely too easy to read between the lines.
They had just been introduced by his boss’ wife, Margie. Margie had taken a particular interest in Daryl’s love life, though he wasn’t sure why. He wasn’t necessarily a workaholic, but whenever Jason would invite him to the house for dinner, Margie’s first question was, “Are you seeing anybody?”
Jennifer had a definite career path. She interned at PacTech while she was a senior at Cal. While her fellow coeds were toasting their latest week of class with a round at the local bars, she was refining her Japanese by conversing with the sushi chef, Kou at Kirala. He would sneak her extra shots of sake while they discussed the latest in international finance and politics.
She really had no interest in being in the boardroom. Her development of PacTech’s new biomed software had placed her in a position to pretty much call her own shots as she ascended the corporate ladder. When she applied to the Haas School of Business after completing her undergraduate studies at Berkeley, her main concern was on not returning to LA and getting caught up with her “Hollywood” friends who were busy chasing the latest big name athlete from the Lakers, the Dodgers, or even the Clippers.
She was definitely mature beyond her 27 years. Being the only female in a world of techno-geeks and then the cutthroat suits looking to score the corner office will cause you to grow up whether you’re ready or not. She didn’t have disdain for dating, she just wasn’t into the “fake ballers” and “married hustlers” most of her girlfriends seemed to be hooking up with. She knew better than to engage in the sordid world of office romance. She’d seen and heard too many stories of the bright young college graduate having her reputation besmirched by the creeps in finance, and accounting, and….
When she met Daryl on her first day in St. Louis, she really didn’t think that much of him. Kinda cute, pretty intelligent, not nearly as vain as the shallow “suits” who would be accompanying her to make sure the acquisition went smoothly. She agreed to have dinner with him tonight to avoid another room service club sandwich, which after three weeks was wearing thinner than her veil of feigned indifference towards Daryl’s ever-increasing displays of interest. She giggled to herself thinking of the day he asked if she’d like to get lunch in front of the entire QA team. Bold and confident, yes. Arrogant, not in the least.
Daryl was not necessarily the family man, neither was he the middle-aged playboy. He had worked at Syntel for more than 10 years. He had carved out a niche for himself and was not pleased with the idea of having a supervisor other than Jason. They had worked together for the past six years and he had become accustomed to Jason’s management style. He could work as many or as few hours as he deemed necessary as long as the deadlines were met. Then he met Jennifer.
When news of the acquisition was first floating around the office, Daryl did what most of his co-workers did. He made sure his position was as secure as he could make it. He was on top of his game, but he made sure his certifications were up to date. He was the lead on the team that developed the software that caused Syntel to become PacTech’s object of desire. At one point, it seemed that they were coming just for the software development team. After meeting Jennifer he was able to allay the fears of his co-workers, many of whom were polishing up their résumés.
He first noticed Jennifer in his team’s initial meeting with PacTech’s acquisition team. She didn’t speak much, but her strikingly beautiful appearance was doing all the talking. He wasn’t quite sure what it was about her that he liked the most. Was it her hazel eyes? Could it be her exquisitely toned legs? She was in great physical shape. He would later find out she was a distance runner, and had run in the Boston marathon the previous fall.
He wasn’t really that interested in her in the beginning. It’s funny how late nights poring over the details of software compliance requirements and pages and pages of code can bring two individuals together. Here they were, two people who hadn’t been bogged down with the rigors of romantic relationships, at least not seriously. Had fate brought them together?
Daryl couldn’t help wonder if he’d found her so appealing because he took his eyes up from his work long enough to see something besides his daily list of tasks. Could she be THE one, or was she the prototype, preparing him for the opportunity of romantic love that he had neglected for so long?
They were both waiting for the decision from corporate as to who would be assigned to head the new St. Louis division. Waiting. Wondering. What could be? What did they really want?
Chapter 2 – Jennifer in St. Louis (updated 7/15/2011)
It was Friday afternoon when Jennifer got the word that PacTech had chosen Carson to head up the St. Louis division. He called her into the conference room to let her and the rest of the acquisition team know. Because he was the junior member of the team, he wanted to take the opportunity to flex his muscles in front of the senior members of the team. Little did they know, the CEO Alan had made the decision to go against the board of director and give the position to Carson to get him away from his daughter, Caroline. Caroline had taken a particular interest in Carson. Although Carson knew the danger in dating the bosses’ daughter, he was keen on Caroline, who was preparing to enter her senior year at Stanford.
Before long, the news was spreading through the office and Daryl got wind of it. Daryl was kind of relieved, or at least he was beginning to come to terms with his and Jennifer’s journey coming to a close. There was a company-wide meeting scheduled for 4:00 that afternoon. Daryl knew he’d see her then, but he wanted to talk with her before then.
As he was walking to the atrium for the meeting he saw Jennifer in the hallway leading to the central staircase. He made a ‘mad dash’ to try and catch up to her, but the meeting was about to begin.
As she looked down at him from the podium, she could tell he was anxiously trying to get her attention. She tried to assure him with her facial expressions that there would be plenty of time for them to talk. When Alan reached the podium to announce Carson as the new St. Louis division chair, Jennifer stepped forward with him with a semi-smirk, semi-grin on her face. Carson quickly thanked the members of the acquisition team and the members of Syntel’s team that helped to make the initial phase of the transition go so smoothly. He then introduced Jennifer as his second in command. She looked at Daryl and winked. He looked back with a relieved “a-ha” expression.
After the meeting, she stopped by Daryl’s office after receiving perfunctory congratulations and well wishes. As she walked in, they both burst into laughter. “If you could’ve seen your face”, she said as the laughter subsided. “Well, I didn’t know”, Daryl replied. She moved closer to him with a wry smile and whispered, “So you like me, huh?” All he could do was smile back. “So since you’ve got the bigger salary now dinner’s on you, right?”, he asked coyly. “Sure”, she responded. “But I’ve always had the bigger salary.”