Copyright© 2010 by ExtrusionUK
Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 6B - A long, rambling tale describing the adventures of a idealistic young man and his encounters with the corporate world - or how his bank balance improved and his social life got a lot more complex. (Chapters vary in length and sexual content)
Back to Dave...
I was worried about Debbie but relieved that she'd agreed to take some time out. I'd talked to a friend of hers from PCW at the CareSpan party and knew that Phil was in an even worse way than he looked ... that actually he probably wouldn't live for more than a year ... and maybe only months. I wished Debbie would actually talk to me about the situation - I was supposed to be her friend, by now, I thought - but I respected her right to do things her own way, and in a way understood her need to deal with it all by herself. Nonetheless, it wasn't easy seeing someone who I cared for going through shit without any immediate prospect of helping ... and now I felt guilty about knowing things about her life that she hadn't chosen to tell me herself. It was a difficult situation, I felt ... and I wasn't even the one watching my partner slowly die...
Which sombre thoughts preoccupied me as I finally made my way over to the City to meet Carla for lunch - I found the restaurant easily enough but can't remember anything about it. Flash, undoubtedly, equally undoubtedly ludicrously expensive, but completely unmemorable. Even the conversation was subdued ... I just wasn't really in the mood, while Carla clearly was already half way back to California, at least in her mind. Clearly this Hal bloke must be quite something to distract her from business, I thought ... or maybe we were just belatedly coming to terms with having been briefly extremely intimate and now having to forge a new relationship pretty much from scratch.
In any case, I've had better afternoons and wasn't at all displeased when Carla cut the whole thing short, agreeing a time to meet on Monday and then disappearing with a perfunctory peck on the cheek. I went back to the office, for a while, didn't achieve anything much and finally went home. Sunday wasn't much cop, either.
Come Monday, I was still feeling pretty low but at least I had a reason to drag myself out of bed. Seff was already there when I got to the office, so I briefly explained that Debbie wouldn't be around for a while and that she might have to cover for some things - not a problem, I knew - then when Naz staggered in I got him to disable Debbie's VPN log in and remove her from the e-mail circulation lists for the duration. I had tried to get her Blackberry back from her - and failed, as she seemed to be surgically attached to the thing - but at the least I was going to try to and minimise the possibility of her being bothered by work while she was away. I thought she had much better things to do with her time, frankly, and if that was patronising of me, well, it was patronising of me. She could sue when she got back, I thought.
Carla, of course, turned up exactly on time and we had a very brisk and efficient meeting ... Naz went through the code situation, which was basically that the conversion was pretty much complete but couldn't yet be rolled out as considerable improvements were under way (which, as Carla pointed out, was pretty much what IT people always say) and then we were graced by a visit from one Alison White, who Debbie had been working with regarding our putative relocation. Luckily both Seff and I had taken an interest in this line of work - it did impact quite a lot on our future lives, for one thing - but neither of us had actually been involved in face to face discussions.
Ms White, then ... woman in her forties, I guessed, dressed in the corporate uniform of dark blue skirt and jacket, white blouse and ... yes ... actual pearls in a string round her neck. Came in carrying a huge bundle of manilla folders, tied with ribbon in a way that I'd only ever seen in court before, plonked them down in a very business like fashion and proceeded to go through developments in a ... very business like fashion. Actually, she told us what we needed to know with the minimum of fuss and absolutely no extraneous content ... or attempts at human contact. OK, I thought, this was business, so...
The news, however, was good. I knew that Ms White's Enterprise Relocation people - and Debbie - had been extremely busy following up a variety of leads but this was the first time I'd had all the detail. To cut a long story short, there were a number of options, the favourite being an old slate processing facility in the South Lakes which had been part converted into holiday flats at some point but still retained commercial planning permission. More to the point, it was in a valley that was about to have a fibre optic cable laid up it - some rural broadband initiative - and we could upgrade this for our purposes at (relatively) minimal cost. Also the building was big enough to provide residential as well as office accommodation, and we might even qualify for grants to do the conversion work - the council and National Park were keen to attract permanent residents and employment to balance out the Tourists. Transport infrastructure wasn't brilliant but it was within 15km of a railway station and said station had direct trains to Manchester Airport, at least, so it was manageable. The big problem was that it would need quite a lot of work done to bring it up to standard, which would take time. So EntRel had come up with a variety of alternatives, all of which also had disadvantages and none of which, as Naz so eloquently put it, "were half as cool". So we agreed that I would go up to Cumbria to have a look, meet the various agencies involved and - maybe - sign the relevant papers. Which sounded good to me, even if I would have preferred Debbie to be involved in the final decision ... or to do the actual visit, once I'd realised that the oh, so business like Ms White would be coming with me. Somehow a few hours in trains and a few days of site visits and meetings became less attractive when I thought of doing the whole thing in the company of a woman who appeared to have had her sense of humour removed at birth. But, hey, these things are sent to try us ... and this was, after all, work.
We agreed to get the trip done as soon as possible - given that other people would be interested in the same properties - but appointments had to be made with relevant individuals, so we settled on the next Monday - a week to the day later. Once that was done, the meeting kind of ground to a halt. Ms White left the office as she came in - sorry, but you could only describe her departure as business like - and Carla, to my slight surprise, immediately suggested that we all to decamp to Romano's for a coffee and to continue the conversation in a more comfortable setting.
And so that's what we did. Walking to the cafe, I took the opportunity to check out with Seff how she felt about being left pretty much in charge of the company if I went away while Debbie was off - she was more concerned about being in charge of Naz, which I could empathise with, and anyway pointed out that I was hardly going to be uncontactable. Carla, meanwhile was chatting to Naz about something or the other ... and seemed to be getting more than the normal monosyllabic responses from him. I was impressed.
Once we'd got the drinks in, and were sat under the awning, watching the drizzle and the scurrying pedestrians, Carla lightened up considerably and soon had us all laughing, joking and sharing fantasies about the future. Seff and Naz concentrated on trying to imagine who would come to fill our corporate legal bod's post - we'd advertised it that week - and what sort of structures we would find ourselves working to when we got a Human Resources person on board. I tried to explain that both posts were meant to be externally focused - the former to deal with contracts with clients, the latter to manage relationships with the freelance consultants we would eventually employ, but neither was listening. Ah, well, I thought, they did have experience of working directly for PCW ... and a whole mass of horror stories to share as a result. Carla was fascinated - whatever her dealings with the organisation, she'd never seen it on that level ... and we got the impression that American corporate life was structured somewhat differently.
Eventually, however, we decided that someone really ought to be in the office in case anything urgent came in so Seff volunteered to go back, and Naz rather rapidly decided to go with her. Which left me with Carla, again ... but with both of us in a rather more relaxed frame of mind.
"They still seem to be getting on well...", she observed, with a grin, and I nodded. "Yep ... amazing how much more work Naz gets done now that he's not constantly stoned ... also how good Seff is at all the bullshit involved in dealing with clients when you just let her get on with it. Good people to work with, really - we were lucky to get them."
She looked thoughtful. "And Debbie? How's that going? I know she's taken some time off - and, sorry, but she looked terrible on Saturday morning, so probably just as well - but how is she working out?"
I'd forgotten that Carla had only met Debbie twice and actually knew almost nothing about her, so I explained that she was, basically, brilliant, had made a huge impact on our development and was - and would continue to be - a major asset ... but that she had some personal stuff to sort out. Which was OK, it seemed to me.
"Actually, I knew all that ... I mean, I've seen the stuff she's produced for you and ... I've met her partner, so ... What I meant was ... how about you ... and her? I mean, I know you're doing what you can to support her at the moment, but where does that leave you? I know you think of her as rather more than just a colleague ... or a friend, indeed..."