Two months later, Cassandra is late for work, and she prays she doesn’t get fired.
When she went to interview at Rodriquez International that Friday morning, her now-boss Scott Smith was very friendly, but it’s not him she’s worried about. People say the big boss—the one who owns the entire building and has his own executive suite a few floors above—is uptight, formidable, and ruthless.
The big boss has been away on business, so Cassandra hasn’t met him yet, but from the way the women talk about him, it’s clear that he’s a playboy. It’s a good thing she stays far away from such men—not that it really matters, since they prefer tall, slim women like Gwen, not the short and curvy ones like herself.
Alex was very fussy this morning, and when she dropped him off at the daycare a few blocks from her apartment, he cried so loudly it broke her heart. She held him for a few extra minutes before making her way to the subway station, but then on her way to work, the train was held up due to technical issues.
When she finally reaches the tall, glass building where she works, Cassandra rushes past the downstairs receptionist toward the elevator. The ping of the elevator tells her when she’s arrived on her floor, and she hurries to her desk. On the way, she bumps into Emily, Mr. Smith’s personal assistant.
“You’re late,” Emily whispers.
“I know—I got held up. I hope no one noticed.”
Cassandra smooths down the front of her plain, black skirt, thinking that it has seen better days.
“Mr. Smith hasn’t arrived yet, but the big boss has, and he wasn’t too pleased about finding your desk empty.”
Oh shit! She’s fired for sure. “Where is he?”
“He left. I’ve gotta go now.” Emily quickly makes her way over to her own desk.
Their floor is quite grand with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and black, marble tiles on the floor. The office must have cost a fortune, but Cassandra loves it. After all, it isn’t every day one gets to look at a floor and see their own face.
The cleaners are doing a fantastic job keeping this place spotless.
All morning, Cassandra thinks it’s only a matter of time before the big boss calls her to his office and tells her she’s done, but the day is quiet and slow. Clients come and go, but it isn’t until she’s sorting through some mail later in the day that Mr. Smith calls her desk.
“Ms. Miller, can you please come to my office?”
“Yes, sir.” Cassandra puts the phone back on the receiver, stands up, and walks down the hall.
When she knocks on his door, Mr. Smith says, “Come in,” so she nervously opens the door and steps inside. Seeing her, he adds, “Sit down, Ms. Miller. I’ll be with you in a moment.”
On Mr. Smith’s glass desk are two photographs, one of his beautiful wife and one of his two kids. There is a couch near the window with a small table in front of it, and a coffee machine is situated in the opposite corner. A few gallery photos from different artists are hanging on the wall behind him.
Cassandra nervously twines her fingers together in her lap. Mr. Smith is in his late thirties and looks it at this moment, as he waits for the right moment to say something. The suspense is killing her.
Oh Lord, don’t let me get fired. I need this job, especially since Gwen moved out last month.
“You weren’t at your desk this morning.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Smith. The train took a bit longer than usual today.”
“You take a train? Don’t you have better transportation?”
The train is cheap, and she needs to save as much as possible. “That’s what I can afford at the moment.”
“Mr. Rodriguez wasn’t happy about seeing the front desk empty. He wanted me to fire you and I refused. These two months that you’ve been here, you’ve done a great job, and I don’t want to let you go. I’m happy with your work; I just hope this won’t happen again.”
Mr. Rodriguez really isn’t messing around. From now on, Cassandra will have to be on her toes; Mr. Smith saved her butt this time, but next time she won’t be so lucky. “I promise, sir. It won’t.”
“That will be all, Ms. Miller.”
Cassandra stands up, but when she is at the door, Mr. Smith calls her back. “I understand you have some mail for Mr. Rodriguez.”
She did see some letters addressed to him. Emily normally takes the big boss’s mail up, but on her way to Mr. Smith’s office, Cassandra didn’t see her.
Mr. Smith holds out a file. “Can you please take this up to his office, along with his mail? I sent Emily out on an errand, and he is expecting this file now.”
Great. Now Cassandra’s going to meet the big bad wolf, the man who wanted to fire her.
She takes the file from Mr. Smith, leaves his office, and goes back to her desk, where she collects all the mail that was addressed to Mr. Rodriguez. She thinks that maybe she should’ve sent someone else but presses the elevator button anyway.
By the time the elevator takes her all the way to the top floor, her heart is beating frantically inside her chest.
Emiliano Rodriguez is standing and gazing out the window of his office building. He really didn’t have a great week; his mother just had a heart attack. She is okay, now resting at home with the private nurse he hired for her, but it still gave him a scare.
And her words keep haunting him. I’m not getting any younger, Emiliano. I want to have grandchildren and see my son get married—is that too much to do for your mother?
Emiliano drags a hand through his black hair. He isn’t the type to get married and have kids; he loves his playboy lifestyle—no commitment, no attachments. After all, he knows women only sleep with him for his money and what he can give them. They are no different from those who get paid for sleeping with men.
Emiliano enjoys having women in his bed and will take what they offer, but he trusts no one and nothing in this world. He learned from a young age not to expect anything from anyone, that people just look after themselves.
And anyone who knows Emiliano knows not to mess with him or rub him up the wrong way. His reputation precedes him.
Having just come back from a business trip in Italy, Emiliano is exhausted. He needs rest but knows he won’t get any, especially since he is still waiting for the financial file that Scott should’ve sent with his assistant.
He hates people who aren’t punctual. What if he had been a client or customer that needed information about the bank and what it offers? This delay is very unprofessional, and it’s not now he tries to run his bank.
Emiliano walks over to his desk and calls Scott. “Where’s the file I asked for?”
“I sent Ms. Miller. I thought she had given it to you.”
“Who is she?”
“The receptionist. I sent Emily out on an errand.”
No wonder, Emiliano thinks. She must be scared he is going to fire her, and that’s why she hasn’t showed up yet. He still doesn’t understand why Scott went against his order to fire her in the first place.
Emiliano sees that he has another call. “I’ll call you back,” he mutters to Scott. On the other line, he says, “Nicole,” to his secretary.
“There’s a Ms. Miller here, sir. She said Mr. Smith has sent her.”
“Send her through.” He puts the phone down and stands up.
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