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Frontier (2018)

The Boss's Proposal

By: Cathy Williams


‘AH, YES, Miss Lockhart!’ The severely coiffeured and immaculately suited middle aged woman who’d emerged from behind the smoked glass doors leading into the impressive foyer of Paxus PLC favoured her with a beaming smile. ‘I’m Geraldine Hogg and I’m in charge of the typing pool.’ She grasped Vicky’s hand and shook it firmly. ‘I have your application form here, my dear—’ she waved the stapled papers at her ‘—and you’re in for something of a surprise.’

At which, Vicky’s heart sank. She didn’t like surprises, and she hadn’t spent half an hour battling with rush-hour traffic to find herself confronted with one. She’d applied for the post of typist at Paxus PLC because the pay offered was excellent and because working as a typist, whilst going nowhere career-wise, was just the sort of reliable job she needed while she got her house in order. Something undemanding which would give her the time she desperately needed to sort herself out.

‘Now, my dear, why don’t we go to my office and I’ll explain all to you?’ Geraldine Hogg had the sort of booming, hearty voice that Vicky associated with privately educated girls who had spent their school years getting their teeth into vigorous outdoor sports like hockey and netball. Her manner was brisk without being aggressive, and whatever so-called surprise lay ahead, Vicky felt that she would work well for the woman now ushering her through the smoked glass double doors and into a luxuriantly carpeted corridor flanked with offices.

‘I must say, you seem rather over-qualified for the job advertised,’ she said confidingly, and Vicky tried to suppress a sigh of disappointment.

‘I make a very hard worker, Miss Hogg,’ she ventured, half running to keep up with the enormous strides of the other woman.

She could feel her long, curly hair beginning to rebel against the clips she’d painstakingly used to restrain it and she nervously tried to shove it back into place with one hand, without missing a step. She needed this job and it wouldn’t do to create the wrong impression, even though it was virtually impossible to look mature and sophisticated when her red-gold hair was congenitally disobedient and her expression, however hard she tried to look stern, was constantly ambushed by her freckles.

‘Here we are!’ Geraldine Hogg stopped abruptly in front of one of the doors and Vicky only just missed careering into the back of her. ‘My typists are just through there.’ She waved one sweeping hand at the large, open-planned area opposite her office, and Vicky peered into the room, imagining what it would be like to work there.

Her last job in Australia had been a far cry from this. There, she had been one of the personal assistants to the director of a sprawling public company.

‘Come in, come in. Tea? Coffee?’ She indicated a chair facing her desk and waited until Vicky had sat down before summoning a young girl through to bring them something to drink. ‘I can recommend the coffee, my dear. None of this instant stuff.’

‘Yes, fine, I’d love a cup,’ Vicky said faintly. She felt as though she had been yanked along at dizzying speed so that she needed to recover her breath. ‘White, no sugar. Thank you very much.’

‘Now, I won’t keep you,’ Geraldine sat forward, both elbows on the desk and gave her an intent stare. ‘I’ll just tell you about the little surprise I have in store for you!’ She linked her fingers together and cocked her head to one side. ‘First of all, let me say that I was highly impressed with your CV.’ She glanced down at the highly impressive CV and flicked through it casually while Vicky’s head whirled with all the dreadful permutations of this so-called surprise in store for her. ‘Lots of qualifications!’ She rattled off a few of them, which only served to emphasise how ridiculously over-qualified Vicky was for the job in question. ‘You must have been quite an asset to the company you worked for!’

‘I’d like to think so.’ Vicky attempted a confident smile but was quietly glad for the interruption of the young girl bringing two cups of coffee.

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