By Karen Singer
Chapter 55 (Thursday – week 8 Part 6 of 9)
Mel walked out of the changing room wearing the dark grey pin-striped suit.
“And how is that one?” Lilly asked.
Mel walked over to the larger group of three mirrors where she could see better than in the simple single mirror on the wall of her changing room. She stared at her image in the three mirrors. It was without a doubt a beautiful suit. It gave just the right impression. Rich, successful, and one of the elite! Which she knew she wasn’t. Not yet at least. But someday… The only thing wrong with the picture was her bare feet. But that wasn’t a problem. She had suitable shoes at home already. “Very nice,” she replied to the saleswoman’s question.
“Knowing Feinbaum’s boys,” Lilly said, “you should fit in just fine now.”
Mel smiled at her. That was all she really wanted. It wasn’t like she was going to date any of them. Even though she wouldn’t mind dating Dick Feinbaum. But he was happily married with several kids. “Thanks Lilly,” she replied. “It’s perfect! Just what I needed.”
“I told you we could take care of you,” Lilly replied. “So in the future, don’t be such a stranger. We may miss your mother and father, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pay us a little visit once in a while. And when you change out of that, then I’d still like to show you some of our tea dresses.”
Mel thought briefly about the contract still sitting on her desk. She had only a little bit more to read through before she would be done. An hour’s work at the most. And then there was the promise she had made to Gloria to get her all the phone numbers and email addresses of the other judges. A few minutes work at most, although she knew she would have to call the others first to warn them. She smiled at Lilly, let me get this off and then you can show me what you’ve got.” A few minutes more enjoying the richness and personal service that this store offered couldn’t hurt anything. With these two suits, she was prepared for anything from Feinbaum’s group now.
What Robin had told Sissy earlier about her son’s potty training was only partially true. He had done it twice in the potty last night, but she was fairly sure it was mostly just accidental because she had set him on it at the right times and had gotten lucky. In reality, her son was really just barely old enough to start training. But still, she was making progress with him. Given another month or two, it was possible that he would be out of diapers… once in a while – while Sissy might still be in them… maybe forever!
He was back to working on their project again. She knew he didn’t have much left to do with it and very soon he would be spending the rest of his afternoon playing like a silly child on her floor. But that reminded her of her next obstacle – break time. He wouldn’t really be working, so she would definitely be lying if she told everyone that he couldn’t come again because of his work. But that was certainly no problem. The real problem was that nobody would probably believe her. They expected him to take a break once in a while. And since she had made the mistake of telling her friend earlier this morning that he was wearing something different and something pretty, they were all going to be looking for him to be there. As much as she really wanted to see him go to break, in that dress, she still figured that too many questions would soon be pointed at her. Not good! So what should she do?
“There you are!” Ray said to Derek as he walked into Derek’s office. “I noticed that you’ve been gone nearly every morning this week. What’s up?”
Derek nodded. “You remember that big distribution center they’re building that we got the contract for? Well they’re far enough along now that we can start going through it and making plans. So we’ve been checking it out every morning and figuring out what we need all afternoon.”
Ray nodded. “Yeah, that’s going to be a big account. How’s that going?”
“Good so far. But it’s not going to be an easy one. They’ve got tons of problems they’re throwing at us.”
“Which is going to mean more money for the company!” Ray noted.
Derek smiled. “That much is certainly true.”
“So are you still going out with the woman you mentioned a few days ago?”
Derek blinked at his change of topic. “Sure,” he replied.
Ray was only mildly disappointed. It was early yet. “So who is she?”
Derek smiled. “I told you, I’m not telling.”
Ray smiled back. He had tried. He simply hadn’t caught Derek off guard enough to get the answer. So he changed topic again. “Hey, what’s with all the rumors I keep hearing about you and Sissy? Have you heard them?”
Derek groaned. “Yeah, I’ve heard. Stupid! And before you ask, no I want nothing to do with that stupid jerk. So don’t even think it!”
“I wasn’t!” Ray replied. “I just wanted to know if you had heard what they’re saying. I have no idea how rumors like that could get started.”
Derek thought about that for a minute. “I do,” he said somewhat morosely.
But Derek just shook his head. “Never mind,” he replied. “But I think it’s long past time I got to the source of them and fixed it!”
Ray nodded his agreement, even though in reality, he’d rather see the rumors continuing. But if he were in Derek’s shoes, he would have put a stop to them long ago.
Derek stared at the vacant doorway that Ray had just walked out of. He had seen Ray turn the corner and continue on in the direction of his own office. Ray had been right, the company rumors that were flying were crazy. So much so that he hadn’t bothered to do anything at all to put a stop to them. But if they were getting that far out of hand, then he really did need to do something to stop them.
But thinking about those rumors and what they were about and who was behind them, reminded him of Mel. Instead of tackling the rumors, he dialed her number instead. He had to talk to Andrea first, but he was lucky when she said she would put him right through.
“Hi Mel,” he said brightly as soon as Mel’s voice answered the call.
“Derek! How are you?”
“Doing just fine. I guess you’re still not up for a dinner with just the two of us tonight.”
“Sorry Derek. Besides, this is Thursday, Sissy and I have our therapy session every Thursday night.”
“Therapy?” he asked. But if anyone needed therapy, it was Sissy!
“Relaxation therapy,” Mel replied. “You should try it sometime. You’d love it!”
“No thanks. I think I’ll pass,” he replied. To him, relaxation therapy sounded like something that ranked right up there with ballet. Let the women enjoy the junk like that. “So I guess getting together tonight is out?”
“Unless you want to stop by later and watch Sissy practicing his ballet again. He really is adorable to watch.”
“No thanks,” Derek said again. “When is he supposed to perform it? Saturday sometime?”
“Saturday afternoon. Can you be there?”
“Uh… I’ll have to think about it.”
Mel was fairly sure he wasn’t interested in the least. Which was a shame. “Okay. I got to get back to work now. I’m almost finished with something and I really need to get back to it.”
“Okay,” Derek replied disappointedly. “Talk to you tomorrow?”
“I hope so!” Mel replied.
Derek hung up. Ballet! And relaxation therapy! If Chad really did go in for things like that, then he belonged with the women!
He got up from his chair. It was time to do something about all those crazy rumors he was hearing about. And he had a feeling that what he had heard was only the tip of the iceberg compared to what else was probably flying around!
“You’ve got nothing else to work on?” Robin asked.
Curtsey, remove the dumb pacifier, “Not now,” he replied. “I’ve got it all finished.” Pacifier back, curtsey again.
“Then I’ll just have to find something for you to occupy yourself with here,” Robin replied.
Curtsey, remove the stupid pacifier. “But isn’t there anything else I can do on the project?” Chad whined. Stupid pacifier back. Curtsey again. Conversations with Robin were really starting to wear on Chad’s nerves. All the curtseying and worrying about his pacifier… or his thumb… was so irritating! He didn’t understand why Robin didn’t get annoyed at it all. But then, she didn’t have to curtsey or suck her thumb.
“I’m sorry,” Robin replied, “but all that seems to be left is my stuff. And I guess I’m just not as fast as you are. I’m going to be a few days finishing it yet. But if I do come across anything, then I’ll let you know.”
Chad was very disappointed, but he didn’t say anything only because he didn’t want to have to curtsey all over again.
“Is your diaper leaking?” Robin asked.
Ugh! Now he would have to curtsey anyway. Curtsey, remove the pacifier… “Not yet,” he replied before shoving his pacifier back in his mouth and curtseying again.
Robin simply pulled another baby bottle of infant formula out of his diaper bag and handed it to him. She didn’t have to even look at him as he again sank down to her cubicle floor to drink it. But now that he was down on her floor, he would probably be staying there for the rest of the day. Except for when he spoke to her… and she still didn’t know what she was going to do about break time.
Derek paused slightly at Sissy’s cubicle. Empty. He didn’t know whether to be surprised or not. He wouldn’t have talked to the jerk anyway. He continued a few feet further to Robin’s cubicle. She was the one he needed to talk with. He had no doubt at all that she was the one behind all the crazy rumors.
But the moment he could see into her cubicle, he stopped and stared, not sure if he was seeing right again. And all too quickly he realized that he was. Once again, Sissy was dressed… well… like a sissy. A really stupid sissy. And he was drinking another baby bottle of what looked like milk. Here at work! The idiot. He briefly wondered where they kept the milk for his bottle. Wouldn’t it spoil if it wasn’t kept in the refrigerator? But then, what did he know about such things.
Robin heard the exclamation of surprise coming from Sissy. She turned around to see what the problem was and saw Derek there. “Derek…” she said very surprised. “What brings you down here?”
Derek was still staring down at Sissy, shaking his head in disgust. The jerk! He deserved every bit of what he was getting out of life now! He finally looked up at Robin. “I need to talk to you about all these rumors that are flying everywhere!”
Robin blushed a bit. She knew they were mostly her fault, but really, it was all just fun. But she didn’t want to talk about them in front of Sissy. She quickly got up from her chair. “You finish that bottle and stay right there!” she said to Sissy as she shook her finger at him. Then she looked up at Derek. “Let’s go somewhere… more private, to talk.”
Derek didn’t know why. He didn’t really care if Sissy heard any of what he had to say or not, but Robin was already pushing past him. “Why?” he asked as he followed her out into the hallway.
“Because I don’t want to talk in there!” Robin replied.
Derek rolled his eyes somewhat, but he followed her anyway. He was surprised when she turned the corner and kept going. “How far…”
“Not yet!” Robin said without waiting for him to finish. She led him down several hallways and all the way out the doors leading to the parking lot. Once they were outside, she looked around. Nobody was in sight. Nobody could inadvertently hear them talking out here.
“What are we doing all the way out here?” Derek asked.
“I don’t want Sissy to hear what we’re talking about.”
“Why not? And why all the way outside?”
“I just told you…”
“Yeah, but it doesn’t answer my question!”
“Yeah, but it doesn’t answer my question!”
Damn him! “Because I don’t want anyone to hear. If anyone found out about what I do with him back there, then… I really don’t want to lose my job!”
“Then why do you do it?”
She shook her head exasperated at his question. Then, suddenly, she giggled. “Because I can’t help it anymore. It’s fun.”
This time, Derek did roll his eyes. Stupid women! “Listen,” he said, his voice full of irritation,” I’m tired of hearing all these crazy stupid rumors about me and Sissy. They’re preposterous! And I have no doubt that you are somehow behind all of them!”
“Me?” Robin sounded shocked. Then more contritely she admitted, “Well, maybe some. Maybe a few more too,” she admitted. “But not all of them!”
“I want them stopped!” Derek said strongly. “They’re getting way out of hand!”
Robin had no doubt about that at all, but she was really enjoying all those rumors – from her point of view. “They’re not hurting anyone. And everyone is having so much fun talking about Sissy.”
“It’s not Sissy I’m concerned about. It’s me! They’re damn embarrassing and certainly not true. None of them! Everyone thinks I’m something that I’m not!”
Robin giggled. “They all know it deep down.”
“I don’t think so! Not anymore! Squash them!” he told her in no uncertain terms. He turned to go, leaving it at that, figuring she ought to get the message.
“No!” Robin said to his back before he could open the door.
Derek turned, shocked that she would even speak to him that way. “What?”
“I said no.”
“No? Why the hell not?”
“Because I don’t want to.”
“You don’t want to? I don’t care. Stop them!”
Women! They were the most frustrating creatures in the world. And sometimes arguing with them got you nowhere. In fact arguing with them always got you nowhere. “Then I’ll stop them myself!” he said angrily as he turned and opened the door.
“You know,” Robin said quickly. “If I wanted to, I could stop them all in about a minute!”
Derek stopped and turned back to her. “Then do it!”
“No,” Robin replied again. “Not unless I get something in return.”
Again Derek was shocked. “What?”
“I’ll fix all the rumors for you. I’ll stop them completely. But I want something in return.”
Incredulous, Derek simply asked. “What do you want?”
Robin smiled. “Close the door again. We’re probably going to be a while!”
Mel turned over the last page of the contract and added it to the upside-down stack nearby. Finished – at least with reading through it. There was no more that she could do. From everything she knew about the deal, it all sounded fine. The contract itself was the work of genius. But then Slatter was one of the best… if not the best! She had picked up a few pointers here and there for her own use.
She sat back and closed her eyes. Done! Now all they had to do was to finalize the thing and she could collect her money and forget all about it. So why did it feel like she was missing something? Something important!
It was blackmail! Highway robbery! Damn women! Once they had the least little bit of leverage you could never talk them out of anything! And they always wanted something stupid out of you! Women! Especially Robin!
Derek fumed all the way back up to his office. He had told her to forget it in no uncertain terms. The stupid woman! Did she actually believe he would ever go along with her ridiculous schemes? No! No way! No way in hell! He would put an end to the damn rumors himself!
The only problem was, the rumors were flying among the women – where they usually flew, and it was damn hard to convince a woman of anything other than what they wanted to think! And he ought to know! He used to be married not that long ago. Damn women!
It would take another woman… one they all trusted… to finally put an end to the crazy things they were all saying about him. Damn! It amounted to slander! In the worst way! Him and Sissy? They all needed to get a grip!
But if it really would need a woman to end it… one that they all knew and trusted… then damn Robin was the one and only logical choice. She was the one behind it all to begin with. She was the one to blame. But he had already told her he wouldn’t do it. Not any of it! With good reason! And he had told her in no uncertain terms so that even she would know how serious he was about it.
Damn women! Why did they have to be so hard-headed? Still fuming, he sat down hard in his chair and stared at the work piled up on his desk. Damn women!