Will stared out at the Chicago skyline from the big conference room windows tuning out the chatter of his two coworkers. He was taking a few moments to admire the view before the meeting got started. He had been looking forward to meeting the people behind the proposal that had impressed him the most. Out of all the bids for the campaign for his company’s new product, Lattimer Media outshone the others.
A noise behind him indicated that the door had been opened and the employees of Lattimer had finally arrived. He turned to greet the newcomers and face-to-face with a ghost from his past.
While Mae Ellison had been pretty when she was 15, she was beautiful now. She had grown a few inches since high school, bringing her to about 5’5. She also wore her hair longer than she had back then. Her dark red hair now hit just below her shoulders, allowing a little bit of wave to show.
Introductions were made. He forced his eyes away from Mae to consider the other people he would be closely working with to make sure that the software that he worked on for so long would get the kind of marketing it needed to be a success. A gruff man in his mid 40s who looked like he would be more at home on a ranch than in the conference room of a media company introduced himself Ron, the account director of the team. Next was Sebastian-a lanky guy who looked to be in his late 20s who was wearing a skinny tie and glasses. Unsurprisingly, he was the creative director of the team. The copy editor was Samantha who was in her mid 30s and then finally Mae, who was introduced as the account coordinator for the group.
Wonderful, he thought. All hopes of minimizing his interaction with Mae disappeared. As an account coordinator, her priority would be communicating with the Gulliver and ultimately, him. Communication with Mae was not something he wanted to pursue.
When courtesy dictated that he shake Mae’s hand, Will caught a glimpse of those deep blue eyes. She seemed about as happy as he was at her presence.
As the presentation proceeded, Will found his eyes drifting towards her. Unlike him, she dutifully avoided eye contact. Why did that bother him? He bit back a groan of irritation. He didn’t need to regress back into his love-struck high school self. He needed things to go perfectly on this project. It was almost as important for his department as it was for his career. As the presentation drew to a close, he knew he had to bring up one point that had been nagging him ever since he saw Mae.
“One of our main concerns is the confidentiality of this project.” He said suddenly. “The last thing we want is for details of this to get leaked to the press, or another competitor for example.” He paused, choosing his next few words carefully. “If there’s any reason to suspect anyone on your team being less than trustworthy with this information and materials, we expect that there would be changes made.” He stared directly at Mae. He knew that a lot could have changed in past decade, but he was not about to give her the benefit of the doubt. Given what he knew about her capacity of deceit, he didn’t want to take that chance. Not on this project.
He saw Mae’s shoulders tense and a blush suffuse her cheeks as the implication of his words hit. He remembered that look well, and knew that whatever she was going to say was not going to be complimentary.
Her boss cut in before she could get anything out. “Mr. McCall, I assure you that I have the highest level of faith for all of our employees.” Ron shot a questioning glance at the rest of the team. The others looked just as confused at this exchange. “We value our clients and their privacy. I consider this team to be the best team poised to make your product launch a success.”
Will was quiet for a few moments. His coworker, Vera, also looked taken aback by his little outburst and gave him a sidelong glance. He knew he would have to tell her something after the meeting. He didn’t want to air out his history with Mae to her, though. He didn’t want to give anyone a reason to question his ability to work on this launch.
“Thank you. I just wanted to make sure that we were on the same page regarding that.” He nodded as he returned his gaze on Mae. “I look forward to working with your team.” Given the expression on her face, Will knew that she didn’t buy that in the least.
As the meeting ended, everyone all shook hands and moved toward the exit. Will lingered at the entrance of the conference room before looking back at Mae, who hadn’t left the room. She was collecting up the materials from the meeting. She pushed a wayward strand of her hair from her face and sighed. She looked vulnerable in that moment, reminding him of the girl he had once loved.
Will shook his head. This was the girl responsible for almost ruining his brother’s future. He had to keep on reminding himself of that.
She caught him looking at her and returned his gaze with a steely one of her own. Yes, this was going to be a tough few months, Will thought.
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