Under The Sky

By: Western Press

Chapter 2

She arrives at the headquarters of the Dallas Oil Company, and her nerves start to really get to her. At least she has had a few hours of luxury, and so she feels like it really doesn’t matter how this interview goes. On the other hand, she feels compelled to do well, because the DOC has already invested a large amount of money on her. She wonders how many other candidates come from out of town, and whether or not they received to same treatment. They probably did though, so she doesn’t feel so special anymore.

“Heather Jones…” she says, as confidently as she can when she walks into the elaborate reception area. The lady behind the desk seems so organized, so well-put-together, that Heather cannot help but envy her almost immediately.

“Aah, Heather Jones…The New Yorker…We’ve been expecting you…I’m Anne…” Anne speaks like she knows Heather well, and as though she has a deep secret that she wants to share with her, but that only she and Heather are privy to. “Fill this out, you can take a seat over there…” She points the New Yorker in the direction of the foyer, where a few other women are already seated, filling out similar forms.

Heather tries to remember if she has a picture attached to her resume, a detail that she only included for the purpose of this interview so that there were no doubts as to her ethnicity. She still has that nagging feeling in the back of her mind that folk out here were not as liberal as the state she just comes from. Still though, she doesn’t know why, but there really is no time for her to think about this right now. She remembers that she did attach a recent photograph to her resume, and so she is a little more comfortable being here.

She finishes filling in the forms first, despite arriving last, and she goes over to Anne, handing her the clipboard. Anne seems to be impressed with her swiftness, and asks her to follow her down an impressive corridor. “You can wait in here… FYI, the CEO asked us to shortlist you…So don’t mess this up…”

Okay, so that was the secret. Heather is suddenly more nervous than she was when she first walked into the imposing building. She has many questions about who this CEO actually was, and why he would want a New Yorker as a PA. Maybe it is just because of the freshness that this will bring to the office, and to his project. If she gets the job, it will just be for the duration of his most recent experimental energies project, according to the confidentiality clause that she had to sign.

Her palms start to sweat, especially since she is alone in the boardroom, and when she thinks of the forms that she had to fill in, she thinks that the others should be complete by now, and that they should all be seated in the boardroom with her. She eyes the water on the table, but doesn’t dare touch it. Everything in the room seems to have been placed there with real purpose.

“Miss Jones…” a voice says before she can look up to see whom it belongs to.

“Yes,” Heather says, standing and extending a delicate hand. The hand that takes hers is rough, and very large. She manages to shake it firmly though.

“Take a seat Miss Jones, let’s see what you’re made of…” The man doesn’t introduce himself at all, and Heather is immediately intimidated by this. She sits though, and braces herself for this one on one interview. She had expected a panel, but since the position was for a PA, this was obviously not necessary. Could this be the CEO of the company, Channing Barnes, according to her research?

She answers his questions easily, and even laughs at some of the funny things he says. He has a vivacious, infectious laugh too, and as he laughs she suddenly recognizes him as the man in the pictures from the company profile. He looks different in person somehow. Now that the picture of him has come into focus for her, she is glad that she didn’t recognize him instantly, although the Stetsons, cowboy hat and glass-blue eyes should have been a dead giveaway.

By the end of the interview she feels like it has gone well. He seems to think the same thing, because he asks her ‘how soon can you wrap things up in New York,’ as they stand up, shaking hands formally again. She almost cannot believe that she has the job, but when she answers, ‘when do you want me here’, and he lets Anne know that she will be staying in the DOC apartment right opposite headquarters, and that she can send the other applicants away, it starts to sink in.

Two days later she is back in Dallas, ready to resume her duties as PA to the chief executive. She really takes to her new position like a duck to water, and in less than a week, she and Channing are like the same person. She knows what he needs even before he does, and she delivers on every one of these needs. By the second week she has settled comfortably into the Dallas lifestyle, and despite feeling like she is the only ebony key on the piano, which she is, this doesn’t really even bother her that much.

She has been in Dallas a fortnight when Channing springs a doozy on her. “How are you finding Texas,” he asks her casually as they are the only two people left at the table after a late dinner meeting. He seems genuinely interested and this is what takes her by surprise. The last two weeks have been all business, and apart from the jokes he cracked at the interview, she hasn’t once seen him be so casual. It takes her a minute to recover from the shock.

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