Seven Days With Her Boss

By: Penny Wylder


When my boss told me to treat this presentation with the utmost care, I somehow doubt he meant for me to soak the pages in coffee and blur the ink while trying to blot up the spill.

“He’s going to kill me,” I mutter as I try to salvage even a single page of his presentation. The charts are illegible by the time I can get them remotely dry enough to handle. I don’t know what I’m going to do! This project is a necessity for us to land a multi-million-dollar contract with a new client.

All I wanted to do was make Mr. Lamant some coffee, to make him happy. He’s been working non-stop to land this deal--when I left last night at seven he was working, and he was back at it this morning when I arrived at seven. I wonder if he even left. I’ve been at this job for four years now, and he’s never pulled hours this insane for a client.

My hands shake as I try to reorganize the pages and slip them back into the folder, but if I print them out again, I’ll never get them inside the meeting in time. The pages are soggy but holding together. I don’t know what I’m going to say to him. Under the best of times, I find him intimidating and provocative, but this is a catastrophe. Mr. Lamant spent a considerable amount of time and money preparing this for one of the company’s largest potential clients. This deal alone could provide enough to cover a year’s salary for all the employees. Maybe more.


I jump as he shouts my name, gripping the folder tighter to my chest. Mr. Lamant is in the conference room across the hall, and I hate making him wait almost as much as I hate thinking about what he’s going to say when he sees this presentation.

“Hurry up, Vivian. Bring everything.” His tone allows no further delays. I have to go to him. Normally, I revel in his presence. Although I don’t think he’s ever really paid me any attention, I always dare to dream that he will.

My hands tremble and my legs are nearly as shaky as I enter the meeting. The people surrounding the table are the most important at the company and from the client. They’re intimidating on a good day. Today is not even close to being one of my good days. It’s more like the second worst of my adult life, and that’s only because the first and worst day was a public breakup when I was expecting a proposal.

Mr. Lamant stands when he sees me enter, and he’s already glaring as he storms my way. His first name, Kodiche, earned him the nickname “the Kodiak” for his size and demeanor. Rough, bordering on uncouth when he’s not trying to charm someone, I’m the only one of his father’s administrative staff he didn’t fire when he took over three years ago, and I have no idea why. I stare up at him, trying to steady myself to keep me from cringing away. He’s easily a foot taller than I am, intimidating as hell.

“Vivian,” he whispers. “What the hell is wrong with you? You were late again . . . And you flaked out on yesterday’s staff meeting. You were supposed to have this presentation at the table before anyone arrived.”

I start to answer him, trying to find the words, when he grabs the papers from my hands. The soaked paper tears in my grasp, leaving me with a handful of his presentation. Everyone freezes, staring at us, and Mr. Lamant gapes. The disbelief in his eyes cuts me to the bone. “It was an accident, Mr. Lamant. I didn’t—”

His expression silences me. “Leave right now, Vivian.” His voice is calm, icy. It would be better if he yelled.

His hand is hot on my shoulder as he directs me back out into the hall, and I’m still looking up at him when he shuts the door in my face. His disappointment in me is palpable. Yeah, definitely worse than just being fired outright. I could have taken his anger; the disappointment settles into my chest and lodges there like a festering wound.

I go back to my office and try to think of what I can do to make this better. If I hurry, I can find all the files and reprint them . . . I am halfway through printing the presentation when the door opens. Panicking, I try to hurry the little printer on my desk, tugging at the current page as it emerges. With a groan of the gears, the page jerks free, the last lines smeared. Fuck!

All fifteen of the attendees cut past me, faces stony. There are no easy smiles and jokes. I try to give the client a wavering, nervous smile, but the raised eyebrow and shake of his head are enough to dismiss me.

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