"Are you sure you won't give up that one account in the downtown area?" Janice van Woehoek asked. "It's not adjacent to anything in your territory. You mostly have small accounts in the suburbs and bedroom communities. And don't tell me they're on your way home, either. I've seen the time stamp from when you log your orders, and you have to double back to get home."
Caitlinn Johnson shook her head. "I think I'll keep them. They're not a big producer, but they're steady. Besides, it was my first account, and I feel kind of attached to them."
"But are you giving them good value? Or are you letting sentiment get in the way?"
Caitlinn's lips thinned and she forced a smile. Sentiment would never cloud Janice's mind. She was as hungry as they came, and pushy as all get out. In the last year she'd taken over two other territories by taking the accounts one at a time, and now she was after hers.
"I'll keep this one," Caitlinn repeated. "Besides, it's on the way between my apartment and the office. It's just so convenient, especially compared to the others, and I can stop in and see them first thing in the morning."
Janice shrugged as if it meant nothing to her. "All right, then. I was just trying to look out for our customers."
"And you'd do anything for our customers."
"Well..." Janice grinned. "I wouldn't sleep with them to land an account, but I might consider a little less."
"There are limits," Caitlinn agreed. She stuffed the last of the paperwork in her portfolio. "Gosh, just look at the time. I've got a few calls to make. I guess I'll see you tomorrow."
"Tomorrow," Janice nodded absently. After Caitlinn left she relaxed and sipped her tea. She was making money hand over fist, but it wasn't enough. She'd already taken half of Caitlinn's accounts—she'd learn about that at the next staff meeting—and this would effectively close her out of the downtown market. The woman was right, this account wasn't a big producer, but if she could get them to change their sales representative, it could be. And all of the commissions would go to her. That would leave Caitlinn without enough income for the company to justify keeping her around. And when she left she'd grab the woman's other accounts. She smiled around the rim of her tea cup. Now how can I get in there? she asked herself. What can I do to take them away from Caitlinn?
Caitlinn swung into the parking garage, her mind on the conversation she'd just had with Janice. So now I'm the Queen Bitch's target, she said to herself. She may be trying to cut me out of the picture, but not with this account. I'll hold on to it until the company fires me. Which, if the Queen Bitch has her way, won't be long. She's already done it to two others.
She sighed and got out of the car. It was a sunny day with a few scattered clouds and a warm breeze winding through the concrete canyons. She looked up at the blank rows of windows. So many businesses, so many accounts, and so many people. She wondered if she should do what Cindy had done: she did cold calls, walking right into a business and pitching them. It took a certain amount of nerve to do that, more than most sales people had.
She hoped it wouldn't come to that, but you never knew. Maybe she should spend more time in the suburbs. You didn't need a big account, though most salesmen thought that way. You could have a successful income with a couple of dozen smaller accounts. And if someone took them out from under you, it wouldn't cut into your income very much.
She stopped in the Ladies Room to check her hair and make-up. She'd just gotten her dark hair trimmed, and she thought it gave her a more professional look. It went with her light gray suit and light pink blouse. Some of the gals thought you had to dress in dark colors to be seen as 'serious'. Perhaps, but she'd always believed you had to 'fit in'. When you did that, sales followed.
Look at how successful her oldest friend in the business was. He was the sales manager for a software company. He'd told her that the entire staff of the company was heavily into leather, and after hours some of them tied each other up in some perverted ways. He always appeared in a three-piece suit from Brooks Brothers. He was short, pudgy and balding, and looked like an investment banker. Was it any surprise that he had every brokerage on Wall Street as an account? He looked like them.
"Hey, Ronni," she said when she pushed through the door of Hubbard & Associates.
"Oh, hi, Caitlinn." Ronni was blonde and perky, which was a winning combination in a receptionist. She was also very visibly pregnant, and in unguarded moments Caitlinn had seen the woman smile.
"How're you feeling?" she asked the receptionist.
"Like a barge," Ronni laughed. "I can't believe how huge I've gotten."
"That's one of the joys of pregnancy. I couldn't believe how big I got before Alexa was born. How are your feet? Mine always hurt."
"Mine have for months," Ronni said. "So, are you here to stock us up on paper and other office supplies?"
"Your next order should arrive tomorrow," Caitlinn said. "No, I'm here to see Tom Anderson. There may be some other things I can do for you."
Ronni ran her finger down the screen in front of her. "Ah, yes, 9:30." She pressed a button on her desk and the door behind her clicked. "Go on in. I'll let him know you're here."
Hubbard & Associates was the only company she knew where you entered through a cubicle. She had to turn left, and then right, to get past the cubes. A couple of women at desks looked up when they heard the door. Both smiled in recognition.
"Hi, Caitlinn," Doreen Gray said. She was sort of an internal receptionist, and smiled happily. "The usual?"
"No, actually," Caitlinn said as she removed her skirt and panties. "I'm here to see Mr. Anderson. Ronni said she'd let him know I was here." She draped her things over a hanger and put it with all of the others.
"Then you know the way to his office."
"Silly, of course I do. I used to work here."
"I still don't understand why you left."
"I thought I was serious about someone," Caitlinn said, "and I felt like I was cheating on him."
"I don't see a ring," Doreen said.
"It didn't work out. His mother talked him out of it."
"That's a shame. Still, a Momma's Boy wouldn't be any picnic."
"Yeah, we'd compete for him." Caitlinn sighed. "So that's all over with, and I'm back on the open market."
Doreen nodded and went back to her computer screen. "We can talk later."
Caitlinn picked her way through the maze of cubicles, greeting a few familiar faces. It was mid-morning, and a lot of the people were probably at break.
Mr. Anderson greeted her affably when she knocked on his door. "I wasn't expecting you until this afternoon."
"Yeah, well someone I know reminded me why I should visit my most important clients first." She had a seat in the visitor's chair in his office. "How's your—"
"Before we get into that," he interrupted, "care for some coffee?"
"Sure." Her pulse pounded. She'd been hoping he'd ask.
She rose as he did, and followed him down the hall. "There's been some remodeling since I was here last."
"Yeah, we had an OSHA Inspector in," Mr. Anderson said over his shoulder, "and he recommended a lot of changes. Most of them were things we were already going to do."
"You had OSHA in? Weren't there ... problems?"
"Not like you might think." He paused outside the door to the Break Room. "You should visit more often. A lot of us have missed you."
"I intend to," she said. "I miss this place."
The Break Room was typical of every lunch room in the city: a counter with a sink under some cupboards, an industrial-sized coffee urn, a microwave, a refrigerator, several tables, and two large trash cans. Mr. Anderson pushed through the door on the other end of the room, Caitlinn on his heels.
Several of the beds were already in use. He made for the vacant one in the corner, unbuttoning his shirt as he did so. Caitlinn had worn a sweater just for this visit. She slid it over her head and unfastened her bra. She could already feel her nipples tightening in anticipation.
Somewhere in the walk across the room Mr. Anderson's cock had stiffened. Caitlinn wrapped her hand around it and began stroking him. His hand went to her breast, squeezing the soft flesh and pinching her nipple. His lips sought hers, and they shared a friendly kiss.
After a moment he pulled free and lay on the bed. She straddled his face, lowering her suddenly dripping pussy directly on his mouth. She settled across his body, sucking his cock and fondling his balls.
Mr. Anderson knew his way around a woman's private parts. She could feel his tongue squirming through the folds, making her shiver at the touch. When he lapped at her clit she had to pause as a flood of sensation raced through her. When he followed that by flicking his tongue into her entrance, she knew she couldn't wait.
She turned and impaled herself on his length. This was what she was missing in her private life. It was funny that she had to visit a client in order to get laid.
"I'd forgotten how enthusiastic you are," Mr. Anderson said. He thrust up into her just as she shoved down.
"I love how you open me," she replied. "God, I can feel you sliding so deep."
"It only gets better." He twisted slightly, and touched some nerves that had been neglected. A flash of heat raced through her, leaving her gasping.
"Do that again!"
He did so, and she clenched around him.
She rammed herself on him time after time, losing herself in a haze of pleasure. The only thing that existed was this exquisite male body. He was sliding into her, opening her wide, reaching her depths, and her insides quaked every time he moved.
He captured her nipples with his lips, and when he sucked them it sent a spear of heat right to her middle. She arched her back, trying to ram herself down on his hardness at the same time as she fed him her boobs. Her whole body was on fire, fed by this raging hardness in her middle.
She saw his face go set. He's gonna come, she thought. And I am, too!
"Hard," she gasped. "Hard!"
She clenched his shoulders as she felt it start deep within her. Everything tried to rush out her channel, blocked by his delicious length. She soared, riding the moment as her mind went blank. She gasped as wave after wave of pleasure filled her.
"Oh, God, that is so good," she gasped as she finally regained control. "You do that so well."
He was breathing too hard to answer, but he smiled as awareness crept back into his eyes. They cuddled for a few minutes, hot, sweat-slicked flesh resting against hot, sweat-slicked flesh.
"I do miss you around here," he said after they'd kissed.
"Yeah, well ... I have thought of returning. Of course HR..."
"I'm sure something could be worked out. You already fit in with things."
She giggled. "I like how something else fits in."
"Stop squeezing it with your pussy muscles and it'll stay in there longer."
"But it feels so good when I do that." She stopped, though. When she'd been pregnant the doctor had urged her to tone her internal muscles. It had paid off, too. Labor had been hard, but not as hard as her mother had led her to believe. And she'd recovered quickly after Alexa, She believed that if she hadn't, she'd be loose and flabby down there.
That had worried her. A couple of her girlfriends had said their husbands neglected them because they were 'too loose' for them to get any pleasure. She thought that was a lot of bull. When she was in the bathtub she'd experimented, and found she could only get her little finger in there. Her girlfriends had confirmed the same thing with their bodies, so they'd all agreed that there was more going on.
"I suppose we should get that coffee," she said when she felt him finally slip out of her. She could feel the wetness on her inner thigh. "Have to clean up a little, too."
"I suppose going into a client's office smelling of sex isn't the greatest thing in the world."
"Except here." She sat up and ran her fingers through her hair. "Most of the direct purchasing managers I deal with are women, and they'd smell it, even through any perfume I might wear."
He slid his hand up her bare back. "And the men, even if they noticed, wouldn't say anything for fear of a harassment lawsuit or something." He shook his head. "Typical of the new double-standard we have these days."
"Yeah, it used to be the other way." She got up and stretched. She could feel his come oozing down her legs. Yes, she needed to clean up.
They picked their way around the other cots and beds in the room. The air reeked of sex, that unique combination of spilled semen, wet pussies, and sweat. The couples around her were going at it bare bottoms rising and falling, except for the occasional couple where she was on top, riding up and down on the man's hardness.
She couldn't remember how it had come about, but when she'd worked at Hubbard, one day some of the women had removed their skirts, working and walking around in just their shoes and blouses. Nobody had really said anything, especially when the men had partially undressed, too. Right after that people had started having sex. Every day, during break, coffee or lunch, couples would go off into the Break Room, or the little rooms adjoining the restrooms, and have at it.
She'd joined in, just as enthusiastic as everyone else. It certainly beat her private life. She hadn't realized that living in the same apartment building as her parents meant her mother kept tabs on who she was dating, and how late she stayed out on a date. She couldn't even ask the guy to spend the night, not without receiving a two-hour lecture the next day on how 'nice girls don't do that sort of thing'.
She'd really heard it from her mother when Greg had gotten her pregnant. She'd worried a little that Alexa's father was somebody at Hubbard, but she'd had a period after leaving, so she knew it was Greg. When Greg found out, he let her know that she either had to get an abortion, or he was leaving. She wanted the baby, and figured she would have no problem finding another man.
The next year had taught her the folly of that idea. There just didn't seem to be any good men around, especially ones who were willing to date someone who already had a baby. She still had some hopes, but even if she didn't find someone, she did have Alexa. And it didn't hurt that her mother just adored the little girl, and was willing to watch her during the day.
After a quick wash in the Ladies Room, she spent a few minutes on her hair. The last time she'd been here somebody on the next bed had lost control at the climax of a blow-job, and sprayed come across the room. Some of it had gotten in her hair, and she'd had to wash it to get it out. That had made her late for her next call. After that she'd vowed to make Hubbard her last call of the day.
There were other advantages to making an afternoon call: the men were already tired from their earlier breaks, and so they lasted longer. She couldn't very well explain that to anyone. And she could go directly home to clean up and wash her hair. Her mother was used to her cleaning up the moment she got home rather than 'visiting' for a few minutes (or longer), so she didn't have to worry about her mother smelling something that she shouldn't.
She smoothed her blouse down as she settled in Mr. Anderson's office. He smiled when he saw that.
"Some things never change," he said.
"If a man's going to be present in a meeting, a woman will pull her clothes tight to show off her body, especially her breasts. Even around here."
"That's kind of silly," she said, chuckling. "I'll try not to do that in the future. So anyway, let's get down to business." She felt a burble of happiness from her climax deep inside her, and for the next few minutes ruthlessly suppressed it. This was business, after all, and while pleasure came first, at least at Hubbard & Associates, she was here for more reasons than to just get laid.
"Janice says she can provide better service to the customers in the downtown area than they're getting now," Mr. Fitzsimmons said that Friday afternoon. "Based on the numbers, she might have a point. You only have that one account there, and we've not seen any growth in their sales since you took them over. I think a change might be in order there. As it's right in the middle of the downtown area where she has the majority of her customers, it might be for the best if she takes over that account."
"She has a case," Caitlinn agreed, "especially since she grabbed my two other accounts in that same building. But I have a personal relationship with that company, and—"
"I know you used to work for them. Are you sure you aren't letting that color your business decisions?"
"If you think I'm cutting them any sweetheart deals, or giving them unjustifiable discounts, then say so. You've seen the contract. I'm not, and you know it."
He held up a soothing hand. "I didn't imply any such thing."
"No, Janice probably did. Of course she already has so much on her plate that one more customer might overwhelm her."
"I'm sure that won't be the case. She's a very hard worker."
She caught his change in tone. "So you're assigning the account to her?"
"I'm considering it. Why don't you think about it over the weekend and we'll talk again on Monday. You know, if you do this, for the good of the company, we might consider other options for you."
She knew the two sales gals who'd left had heard those same words; a vague promise of some better future in exchange for giving up her sales territory and income. She wondered if Janice was sleeping with Mr. Fitzsimmons. She couldn't come out and accuse him of it because there'd be no proof. But...
She had a perfectly marvelous idea.
"Yes, I'll consider it, but only for the good of the company." In the meantime, she had Tom Anderson's number in her day planner. Maybe she should take him up on that implied offer.
"You're sure you want to come back?" Tom Anderson asked over the phone later that day. "It won't be at your last salary, you know. You'll have to take a cut in pay.
"I realize that," Caitlinn replied. "But I also think I'd fit in much better than before, and much better than someone from the outside."
"I think Ms. Hubbard would agree," he said. "I'll get back to as soon as I can."
Caitlinn hung up, smiling to herself. She'd have to try something different, and there was some risk involved, but she thought it would be worth it, especially in the long run.
"I can't believe she rolled over that quickly," Janice said. "She has to have something up her sleeve."
"She walked me through the numbers," Mr. Fitzsimmons said. "She admits she hasn't been producing, and if we're to aggressively grow our product lines here, we need to make changes. This one makes sense."
Janice smiled inwardly. "She just called on them in the last week, so if I show up in the next couple of days it might look too pushy. I'll have to make my first visit in two weeks."
"I'm sure that'll be all right," Mr. Fitzsimmons replied.
"Hi, Caitlinn," Ronni said. "A little soon for a visit, isn't it?"
"Not any more," Caitlinn said. "I quit that dead-end sales job. Today's my first day back here."
"Really?" Ronni's face lit up. "Welcome back!"
"It's good to be back."
"What'll you be doing? Have they told you?"
"Dealing with the vendors who call on us trying to sell us stuff."
"Hah! You're perfect for the job." She pressed the buzzer and unlocked the door. "Go right in."
Caitlinn went in, and spent the rest of the morning—aside from an enjoyable few minutes during her break with a guy from Accounting—filling out HR forms, organizing her desk, filling her rolodex, and all of the other necessities of the modern office. By the end of the day she felt like she'd never left.
Her mother commented on her happiness. "You seemed so overworked," she said as she bounced Alexa up and down on her knee. "But today ... I don't know what it is, but you're...
"Happy?" She nodded. "Yeah, I am. It was something I should have done a few months ago. I got to see some old friends, and we had a good time."
"Well don't forget to work as well as party."
"I won't," Caitlinn laughed. She'd heard good things about a guy in Purchasing that she had to work with. She'd love finding out more about him at break. "It's a great job, Mom, and I know that the only I will is with hard work."
"You're such a nice girl," her mother said, patting her on the shoulder. "And smart, too.