“Why the hell did I bring them here,” Colleen thought as the waiter replaced the empty carafe of Sangria. “Some chain restaurant with generic food and watered down drinks would have been much better. No, I had to come Toscana.”
Javier topped off his glass from the carafe and continued boring their potential client to tears with his treatise on how karaoke is going to be the downfall of the American entertainment industry. She’d been thinking like a professional, not a babysitter. Now she was paying for it.
Colleen pushed her raven hair away from her eyes and scanned the dignified décor that filled the restaurant within the muted stucco walls. She thought it was a rather nice setting to end her career. She’d never really liked her job. As a marketing rep she always had to flirt with the edges of honesty to truly be good at what she did. When people asked about her work she said she was a high-end prostitute who sold her values instead of her body.
But it afforded her the independence to get out of a lousy marriage and keep her ex at bay when he turned out to be a true lunatic. The recent economic downturn had really changed things though. Landing this account was a must for her to stay in the game.
Her eyes settled back on the Sangria and she wondered if the alcohol content was high enough for her to douse herself and use her cigarette lighter to set herself ablaze. It would be less painful than listening to Javier who had changed gears again. Now he was ranting about how easy it is to market office supplies even in a tough economy. She’d tried to cut him off several times but it was no use.
Colleen was praying to every deity she could think of that Javier would go to the rest room so she could try and salvage this deal, but apparently he had a hollow leg. After a few minutes the salt and pepper grey gentleman across the table from them received a call on his mobile.
“I’m sorry,” he said as he stood up, “but I really have to take this.”
“Of course,” Colleen responded. She’d been on enough bad dates to know a rescue call when she saw one. He returned to the table after less that 30 seconds and didn’t even bother to sit back down.
“I’m afraid I have to cut this short. Something has come up that I have to address.”
“We understand completely,”Colleen said clipping Javier’s attempt to respond for fear he would embarrass them both even further. “However, Frost Lotus Marketing is in a unique position to meet your company’s needs. Maybe Javier could call your office and set up another meeting while I walk you to your car and give you a brief overview of our services.”
“I really don’t have time right now, thank you.” He already had his briefcase in his hand and was making his way around the table.
Javier stabbed his way back into the conversation with a jovial, “It was good meeting you,” but faltered trying to come up with the gentleman’s name. If he wasn’t so drunk he would have felt Colleen’s eyes burning holes into the side of his skull.
“Kyle, thank you for meeting with us.” she said extending her hand to the gentleman. Kyle gave her with a firm handshake and a knowing glance before disappearing out of the restaurant.
“What the hell was that about,” Javier said clearly angry. Colleen picked up her briefcase without acknowledging him. “What am I, your secretary? Call and make another appointment? I was an inch from landing that account and you shut me down!”
Turning to leave Colleen said, “Why don’t you go find a Karaoke machine.”
She purposely walked ahead of Javier to the car so she could have a moment to herself to think. The fact that Javier had blown the pitch was of no consequence. They were a team and equally responsible. She leaned against the trunk of her Acura, closed her eyes and stood there rubbing the bridge of her nose. Eventually she began to relax and the noise of the cars on the road drained away.
“You forgot to pay the check,” Javier’s voice broke the spell and returned her to the real world. She did not open her eyes but a smile pushed its way across her lips. “What’s that about,” Javier’s voice said, reacting to her grin. She opened her eyes and glanced over find him leaning against the car. His head was cocked to one side as he looked at her face. Like a dog that just discovered something interesting.
She turned to him face to face and crossed her arms in front of her. Her smile was now almost seductive yet she was poised like a cobra that was ready to strike. Arrogant, clueless and drunk as he was, even Javier could tell something had shifted in a particularly dangerous way. He did what he always did when got nervous. He started talking. “You know you lost that account?” Colleen didn’t react. “You know what that means,” he continued. “It means…”
“I’m a woman with nothing, to lose.” she finished. He stared at her open mouthed for a few moments then righted himself and ordered her to drive him back to the office. She unlocked the doors, he collapse into the passenger seat of the car and was passed out before they even made it out of the parking lot. When he came around they were parked in front of the office. “I picked up some coffee on the way back. It’s black,” Colleen said as she touched up her make up in the rear view mirror, “Drink it all. You need it.”
After Javier took a few minutes to recover they walked into the building together and went straight to the office of Marshall Frost, owner of the company. Javier immediately launched into a long explanation to Frost, painting himself as the white knight who could have landed the account were it not for Colleen’s bumbling. He said he thought he could rescue the deal with another meeting but didn’t think it was a good idea for Colleen to attend. Frost barely heard the rant. He couldn’t get past the fact that, scrawled across Javier’s face in red lip liner were the words, “I am a drunk and a fool.”