A Meeting with the CEO – Part 2

Why had she gone against her better judgment and accepted Scott’s invitation to grab a beer? The Strategy Director was handsome, charming, and easy to talk to – Ah, yes, that was why, she reflected grimly.

They had enjoyed a friendly rivalry for years, and were both secretly glad that their companies would be merging. She knew it was a bad idea when he suggested a celebratory drink in public, but she couldn’t say no to his devil-may-care grin.

“Who’s going to recognize us at a bar?” He had pointed out.

At the time, it had seemed very reasonable.

At the present moment… not so much.

“Do you care to explain yourself?” Jared broke in on her musing.

Jada took a breath. She had the slimmest chance of escaping punishment. Jared was tough but fair – he almost always gave an offender a chance to tell her side of the story. However, he did so by putting a lid on his anger and letting it simmer to a boiling point while his eyes drilled into her very soul. It was intimidating, to say the least. Jada knew she walked a razor’s edge.

“Yes, sir,” she began, “well, Scott and I had finished our meeting and finalized the proposal. He suggested we get a drink to celebrate.”

Her mind spun wildly for an excuse, or at least a good reason for going against Jared’s orders. All the while, Jared stared. Unable to meet his eyes, she focused on his arms, which were crossed in front of his chest.

“I uh, I told him it was a bad idea. But he assured me it would be fine.”

Jared raised an eyebrow. “And then you said ‘No, thank you, my boss would have my hide if we were seen,’ right?”

“Uh…” her shoulders slumped. She had no defense. “No sir, I didn’t. I went to the bar with him.”

“I see. So you have no excuses?”

Now she was looking at the floor. “No sir. I knew you wouldn’t approve and I did it anyway. I didn’t think anyone would recognize us.”

“And do you understand the consequences of your selfish decision for this company?” Now his anger was starting to seep into his voice.

She couldn’t speak; it was too horrible to say. She nodded instead, hoping that would suffice.

He slammed his hand down on his desk suddenly, making her flinch. “This puts the merger in jeopardy, Jada! And it’s scared our shareholders – our stock has already fallen 20%!” Jared’s voice rose as he went on, so that by the last word he was shouting.

“No one was supposed to know about the merger until the details were finalized! You KNEW that!” Now he was truly furious.

“Yes sir, I’m sorry.” Jada could feel tears gathering at the corners of her eyes. How could she have been so stupid? She had put the merger at risk and harmed the company. This affected everyone. She had never felt more selfish and ashamed.

Jared stared at her a while longer, silently fuming. When he spoke again, his voice was a normal volume. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you, young lady. You haven’t made this bad of a decision in… well, ever! I thought I could count on you to be sensible!”

Jada sniffed. “You can, sir. I’m so sorry, I promise it will never happen again!”

Jared chuckled mirthlessly. “Oh, we’re going to make damn sure of that.”

Jada gulped.

A Meeting with the CEO – Part 1

“So, were those the only things of consequence that happened on your trip? Is there anything else I should know?”

Something in his voice dared her to say that there wasn’t. Jada hesitated. She was being silly; there was no way he could know. A quick glance around the room revealed that her coworkers didn’t seem to think anything was amiss. She decided to roll the dice.

“Um, yes, sir, that’s everything,” she told him, hating how her voice hitched.

Jared didn’t look up from his laptop. As the CEO, he was constantly multitasking.

“I see.”

Jada permitted herself a slight sigh of relief.

“Would you care to explain this, then?” Jared asked casually.

He spun his laptop around to show her the screen. Jada’s stomach dropped as the image of her at the bar faced them. To her left, she heard Becky draw in a sharp gasp, then silence came crashing down. The moment stretched into eternity as the entire room collectively held their breath.

Say something! her brain urged.

“Ah, that’s… that’s…” she fished for words but came up empty handed.

“That,” Jared said in a voice so low that it rumbled like thunder, “is my Strategy Director, fraternizing in plain sight at a bar with her counterpart at our largest competitor.”

He paused.

“After I specifically told her to lay low and not give any hint of our merger to the outside world.”

Jada found her voice, but it was a weak little thing. “I- I-“

“You were seen,” he snapped.

Out of the corner of her eye, she could perceive the others making their way to the door. They moved silently but efficiently, trying not to draw attention to themselves. Everyone knew that Jared in a temper was not to be trifled with. Best to move out of his range until things blew over.

Unless, of course, you were the target of that rage.

“The speculation has already begun. PR has been fielding calls since your picture surfaced a little over an hour ago.”

The soft click of the door closing marked the sealing of her fate.

Every coworker on the other side of that door knew what was about to happen to her.

Jared had founded the company with a trusted team and kept those people close to him as they grew. As more people joined the company, only that inner circle had access to the high level workings. A natural alpha, his inner circle consisted entirely of women. Some looked askance at that, but Jared never behaved inappropriately or expected any “favors” from them. When asked, he simply said that women were capable of higher levels of thought and multitasking than men. And indeed, he treated them with respect and valued their skills. Together, they had built something to be proud of. Working with Jared was as rewarding as it was challenging.

The only caveat was that he did not tolerate disrespect, disobedience, or carelessness. Jada and her coworkers had long ago learned and accepted that anything less than their best would be met with swift correction.

For Jared, that correction could only come in the form of spankings.

(Part 2 coming soon!)