(Post-A-Day Challenge, Day 14)
Time for another installment in the story I started last week.
The Dragon, The Wench, and Her Wardrobe
© 2011 Sheila McClune
Of course, it didn’t go that smoothly. It never does.
Luckily, I had done my packing the night before. All I had left to do was to fill Paisley’s dish with crunchies, top off the water in her fountain, and give her a quick snuggle. Lucinda, my sister, would be by later to apartment-sit for the weekend. It got her away from her obnoxious roommates for a few days while saving me kennel fees. Win-win.
I beat the worst of the traffic into downtown, and even got a good parking spot in the garage across the street from the building. There were some advantages to getting up early. Not that they outweighed the disadvantages, at least in my mind.
Teri was waiting for me in the lobby with latte in hand. “Thank you again, Maddie. I really do owe you one.”
I shuffled my feet. “Yeah, well….”
She thrust the steaming cardboard cup into my hands. The rich aroma rising from the vent in the plastic lid made my stomach growl. She grinned. “Bagels are in the kitchen. Go grab one, and then I’ll show you what Cliff wants.”
What Cliff wanted, it turned out, was about ten days’ worth of work compressed into one morning. He’d completely revised his position on several key points, and now all the supporting data I’d put together over the last month no longer applied. Of course.
I dove in and worked like a madwoman, researching speaking points, re-doing graphs and slides, massaging the data to spin it the way Cliff wanted. I only came up for air twice, once to respond to Paul’s text that he was at SEA/TAC ready to board (I wished him a safe flight and told him I looked forward to seeing him), and once sometime after noon, when Teri shoved a sandwich at me and I crammed it into my face.
Finally, around three, we finished the revisions. Teri and I gathered in the conference room to go over our last set of changes with Cliff via video conference.
Of course he wanted another round of changes. I glanced nervously at the clock. Three fifteen. My flight left at 5:50, which meant that I needed to arrive at the airport no later than 4:20. The airport was a long way from downtown Denver, and during rush hour, it could take forty-five minutes or more to get there. “I’m really sorry,” I said. “But I’m not going to have time to do that before I leave.”
Across the table, Teri was already tapping away on her laptop. “Let me just check….”
“Leave?” Cliff asked. “You’re leaving? Where are you going?”
“Boston,” I said. “PTO. It’s been on the schedule for months. Didn’t Teri…?”
“There’s a red-eye,” Teri broke in. “Leaves here at 11:17, gets you into Boston at five tomorrow morning.” Clickety-clickety. “They have one first-class seat left.”
I started to shake my head. “Teri, I…. Did you say, ‘first class’?”
She shrugged. “There’s no business class on that flight.”
Still, I hesitated. Paul and I had been looking forward to actually meeting each other for so long. What if he was disappointed or even angry with me for changing our plans yet again?
And yet…a part of me was actually sort of relieved that Paul and I would have a chance to spend a little time together before sharing a hotel room. We’d never come out and said it in so many words, but I was sort of hoping we’d only need one of the two queen beds in the room we’d reserved. Still, for all that Paul and I had chatted online and even on the phone, it was quite possible that when we finally got together, we just wouldn’t click. And if that turned out to be the case, well, it would make for a long and awkward weekend. So maybe putting it off a little longer wasn’t such a bad thing.
Cliff’s voice came out of the speaker-phone, and I realized he was still waiting for my answer. “Maddie,” he said, “I’m not trying to ruin your vacation. But this board meeting is vitally important to the company, and we need your help to make our presentation the best it can be. I wouldn’t ask it otherwise.”
I squirmed. If only he didn’t always sound so sincere! “I know, and ordinarily I’d be glad to help. But I’ve already had to change my plans once. I should have been practically to Boston already.”
“This will be the last set of changes.” Cliff’s voice was firm. “We’ll have you out of there in plenty of time to make that red-eye flight, and even stop for a nice dinner somewhere first. I promise.”
Well, what else could I do? “All right. But this is the last change I’m going to make.”
“Understood. And thank you. Teri, can you make sure she gets a couple of those Visa gift cards we had left over from last quarter’s promo? At least she can have a nice dinner on us while she’s in Boston.”
Teri nodded, and Cliff went back to outlining his changes.
. . .