It’s one of those things I don’t understand about personal communication. Why is it wrong to correct someone in front of others? I don’t get offended when someone corrects me. Although, it rarely happens as I don’t make many mistakes. But after receiving several reprimands from HR on the matter, I decided it was safer to follow their advice in this regard.
“What are you talking about? Jack is married and has three boys. Did you forget? I think you should seriously consider scheduling the MRI we discussed last night.”
“Last night?” Norman leans forward to catch my gaze. “What do you mean last night? Were you working late?”
Before I can tell him I was working late – I returned to the office after dinner after all – Beckett answers, “We had dinner together last night.”
At his announcement, everyone in the room ceases speaking and swivels their head to stare in our direction.
“I had dinner with his sister Cassandra last night. I didn’t know Beckett would join us.”
My words aren’t exactly a lie. I did have dinner with Cassandra and Beckett did join us. Although, my boss joined us prior to the commencement of the meal, and I could have left before eating dinner with him. Obviously, I should have left upon seeing him. I did try but not hard enough.
Beckett snorts. “Since dinner was a family affair, it wasn’t much of a stretch for me to join you.”
I glare at him. What is he doing? Does he want everyone in the company to think we’re involved? Being involved is against company policy. I would lose my job.
Is this his plan? To have me fired? Granted, it would be easier to have me fired for personal misconduct than my work being subpar since my work is never subpar. I need to consider this angle further, but not when I’m about to give the most important presentation of my career.
“I didn’t realize Cassandra invited me to a family meal. I apologize for any inconvenience caused.”
“Perhaps the two of you could discuss your dinner plans when we’re not about to meet with an important client,” Norman suggests in a tone signaling it’s not a suggestion.
The client arrives and everyone stands to introduce themselves. Once the introductions are finished, Beckett signals for me to begin.
“Ms. West will lead us through a presentation of how Clean Mountain Environment can assist Arkville in the planning and designing of facilities to handle its municipal waste.”
I stand and indicate the screen where my PowerPoint presentation is now showing. The lights dim and I begin.
“Let me explain what Clean Mountain Environment is and how we can help you,” I start.
As I speak, I can feel all the eyes in the room centered on me. I’m used to giving presentations and usually don’t notice the attention. I don’t normally experience nervousness in a work environment, but this time doesn’t feel normal.
I scan the room to figure out why. My gaze lands on Beckett. He doesn’t bother to shift his gaze away from me. He continues to stare at me with obvious heat in his eyes.
A thrill runs through my body at the feel of his eyes upon me, and I trip on the carpet and tumble toward the floor. Jack catches me before I can fall.
“You okay?” he asks with his hand firmly gripping my elbow to steady me.
Someone growls, and my head whips to the side to discover Beckett’s gaze is now focused on Jack’s hand. I wrench my arm free.
I manage to finish my presentation without any further incident. I sink into my seat next to Beckett and inhale a few deep breaths to calm my racing heart. I can’t believe I nearly ruined the presentation. After everything I said to him about being prepared, I nearly wrecked our chances to procure Arkville as a client.
Beckett’s hand lands on my thigh and he squeezes.
What? Why is he complimenting me now when I screwed up? Did he miss my tripping? No, I know he didn’t. He wouldn’t have been annoyed by Jack touching my elbow if he had.
And why was he annoyed anyway? If I had ended up sprawled on the floor, it would have been a disaster.
I’m beginning to understand what Ashlyn said about the mixed signals she received from Rowan before they were married. Perhaps I need to discuss my problems with Beckett with her. The idea doesn’t fill me with joy as my sister will use the conversation as an excuse to invade my private life.
The situation with my boss cannot continue as it is, however, and I will not quit my job, which is the simplest solution. As I’m in need of advice, I may be forced to allow my family into my personal life. I do not relish the prospect.