By break of day on Monday, Anthony was back at the office reviewing his notes to make sure he had not missed anything. Deep in thought, he almost fell off his chair when Jenny unexpectedly spoke right next to him.
‘And, how did it go? Why are you still here? I hope you've at least been home for the weekend.’
‘Ah, you’re back at last! I’ve been sitting here since Friday afternoon dying for a cup of coffee. . . unfortunately my manager is not as kind as yours and someone's got to work around here. Seriously, Jen, I’m glad you’re back in one piece. Did you enjoy the break?’
‘Great thanks. Tell you what, I will make us coffee before I tell you all about it.’
Anthony did not look forward to hearing about Jenny's weekend but, knowing her, she was going to tell him in any case. She had been with Anthony since he’d started the business. Her late husband, David, had planned to join him as a partner, then he was killed in a motor car accident. She'd become indispensable to Anthony; he did not know what he would do without her.
She'd been through a tough period: with two young kids life had not been easy. It was four years since David’s death, and there didn’t seem to be anyone else in her life yet. Anthony found it strange. Although he didn’t classify her as beautiful, rather as an attractive woman with a beautiful nature . . . but then, it was none of his business.
Returning with the coffee, Jenny launched into a detailed account of her trip. Anthony's mind was on the project and it was only when she asked for a second time . . . ‘What do you think?’ . . . that he responded.
‘Excuse me what's that?’ he stammered.
‘Never mind, I should have known not to waste my time discussing anything other than Hilton Cosmetics this morning. Your turn, rather tell me about Friday. What do we do now, where do we start?’
After getting a full rundown of the meeting and her instructions on what she needed to do next, Jenny disappeared to her office. The day flew by and Anthony couldn't believe it when she came to say goodbye for the evening.
‘I know you are in a hurry, Jen, but what are the chances of another coffee before you leave? By the way, thank you for your efforts so far, and when we're awarded this one I promise you a raise.’
‘You’ve been promising me that for the past three years! OK, I'll make you a cup, but don't spend all evening at the office again – go home to your wife. Do you want me to call and say you will be late?’
‘Thanks for the coffee and yes, please call and put her through, I'll speak to her.’
Anthony got home after midnight. Though he hadn’t eaten all day he didn’t feel like anything even then. He had to be back at the office early for a meeting, and would make it a breakfast meeting, he decided, as he tried to slip into bed quietly so as not to disturb Jane. But she turned over, and murmured, ‘And, how did the first day go?’
‘Hectic, as expected, almost like my first tender submission. At least most of my ducks are in a row and we should gain momentum from tomorrow. By next week I hope to have the interior design package ready for you to quote on. That is definitely one department where I should have an advantage over B&C.’
‘Oh yeah! Do you think I’m cheap or are you expecting me to work for free?’ Jane chirped, wide awake now.
‘Well, seeing you will be sharing in the rewards – that is if you give me the right price – it’s best you come up with something good. I may, of course, put my feelers out for another price.’
‘You just dare! I will haunt you for the rest of your life. Come on, go to sleep, I do not want to kick you out of bed in the morning.’
‘Goodnight, my love.’
‘Goodnight, and don't lie awake all evening now.’
However, that was easier said than done. Anthony's brain was still active and he battled to drop off to sleep for a while, yet he was awake and ready to go to the office before the alarm buzzed the following morning.
‘Aren't you having breakfast?’ Jane shouted after him as he left, but he’d already gone.
The days flew by, and became weeks. All too soon they were close to submission, and still had so much to do. They were waiting for outstanding information from suppliers, without it were unable to wrap up the proposal, complete the documentation, and put together the final package.
On Thursday they worked throughout the night, adding finishing touches to the documentation for submission the following morning. Now he could only wait, nervously. How long will it be before they decide?
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