It was a good plan…until she made it to her second job and saw the crowd that had formed in front of the lobby’s announcement board.
That was weird, she thought. At five in the afternoon, most of the people were usually in a hurry to leave. Possibly, the newest announcement had just been posted. Tiptoeing, she tried to see what they were all staring at but when it proved impossible, she reluctantly turned away and headed to the employees’ entrance at the side. When it was her turn to clock in, Vivian asked the lady guard, “What’s going on, Gloria?”
The fortyish blonde shrugged. “Oh, it’s just the usual M&A.”
Although neither of them had a business degree, hanging around over sixty hours a week around corporate professionals had them well versed in their bosses’ language, and Vivian nodded in understanding. M&As or mergers and acquisitions could be good or bad, depending on who was taking over.
“You know how it goes,” Gloria was saying as Vivian moved aside to let other employees clock in. “Negotiations are kept hush-hush then when money’s been exchanged, boom! People come to work and they have no idea they’re about to be laid off.”
Shifting on her feet, Vivian asked curiously, “So which company is absorbing which?”
“Some kind of billion-dollar technology firm called LV is taking over—-”
“Louis Vuitton?” Vivian blurted out in surprise.
Gloria rolled her eyes. “I wish it was that exciting, but no. It’s also European, though. Italy, I think. All the info’s on the board, as well as a list of names that the bigwigs want to meet.”
“And the company being absorbed?”
Gloria blinked. “Oh, so you really don’t know anything about it?” She gave Vivian an uncomfortable smile. “It’s your company.”
Vivian gasped. “What?” The company she worked for happened to own the entire twenty-story building they were in, and she hadn’t heard a single peep that it was in trouble.
From behind them, a male voice asked regretfully, “You’ve heard then?”
Recognizing the voice, Vivian immediately felt her throat tightening in shyness. As she turned around to face the newcomer, she saw Taylor Bainbridge smiling at her. Of medium height and with sandy brown hair, Taylor was extremely attractive and only a year older than her. He was also considered one of their company’s rising stars, which was why she wasn’t surprised when the other office cleaners were again shooting her nasty looks upon seeing him talking to her.
Trying to ignore the way Gloria was grinning so knowingly at her, she managed to keep her voice from croaking as she asked, “Did you know about it, Mr. Bainbridge?”
Taylor’s lips twitched. “Every time you call me that, it just cracks me up. It’s almost like we didn’t go to the same high school.”
She smiled weakly. “Company policy, you know.”
“I understand, and to answer your question…” He looked at her guiltily. “I did hear about it, but it was just a few days ago.” Taylor sighed. “I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you, though. It was classified information.”
Reddening at his belief that he owed her an apology, she stammered right away, “Y-you didn’t need to tell me anything.”
Taylor cleared his throat. “Yes, well, I’m sure your name isn’t on the list so…”
“I’m glad…” Her voice trailed off as she tried but failed to think of what else to say.
They stared at each other.
Gloria coughed after a moment, saying, “You know, you two can catch up with each other at a different place. Sorry Mr. Bainbridge, but you’re holding up the line.”
Following Gloria’s gaze, Vivian colored when she saw that the other woman was telling the truth. But then she saw something else—-
Behind the long line of maintenance employees waiting to clock in was a man in a pinstriped suit, light blue eyes blazing with what could only be fury.
Without thinking, she whirled around and walked away.
He was even more handsome than she had allowed herself to remember, Vivian thought despairingly, and so much sexier. Her chest heaved when she remembered the way he had stared so angrily at her, and Vivian’s fists clenched.
Taylor came after her almost immediately, asking in concern, “Are you okay? You turned pale all of a sudden.”
“I…I…” I had just seen the guy who I almost fell in love with? The same guy who happened to be married and with a kid? Mentally cringing at the idea of revealing to Taylor just how foolish she had acted over a guy she barely knew, she said instead, “It might be my migraine.”
He frowned. “Do you want me to take you to the clinic?”
She shook her head hastily. “No, it’s okay, I’m used to it, umm, coming and going.” She couldn’t quite meet Taylor’s eyes as she uttered the lie. They stepped inside the elevator together, Taylor taking the initiative to punch the buttons for their floors.
“You sure you’re alright?”