It was a cold and wet Friday morning when Emile returned to work the next day. The sky was gray and the trees were bare. The snowy weather cloaked a layer of sadness on Emile. Everything was dormant and lifeless. Emile grabbed his laptop from the passenger seat and walked out of his car. He hung his head low as he walked across the parking lot. His brows pulled together, as if he was in some kind of contemplation.
The atmosphere inside the building was a contrast, however. The heat blew strongly from the vent, warming up everyone as they walked through the entrance. Christmas decorations were hung up high, signifying Christmas was just around the corner. Perhaps everyone was looking forward to the weekend, or the Christmas holidays in two weeks, they were chit-chatting with a cup of cappuccino in their hands, brewed from the very sophisticated all-in-one coffee machine in the kitchen. The sales executives were in their "dress-down-Friday" look, rather than suits and ties. Some of them were even humming along with the Christmas Pop Songs playing in the radio, by the receptionist. The mood was relaxed and light spirited.
"Morning, Emile," the receptionist, who was wearing a Santa's hat, greeted Emile with a smile. Her body was swaying along with the music playing softly from the radio.
"Morning," Emile replied with a nod, without looking at her. He rubbed his feet on the carpet, trying to rub off the snow and melting salt from the shoes, and ran one of his hands through his hair, dusting off the snowflakes collected on his head. He walked straight to his office without addressing anyone along his way.
He put down his laptop and removed his coat. He expertly set up his laptop, grabbed the mug from his desk and walked into the kitchen. He started brewing a cup of cappuccino just like everyone else. He kept his eyes on the coffee machine, waiting for his cup of drink, but his mind was miles away. He did not sleep well. Even though he shut his eyes tight last night, he was replaying scenes from the meetings in Boston over and over again in his head. The greed on Ryan's and Marcus's faces was ugly. The way they worshipped Venus Inc., the potential acquirer, was revolting. He did not want Alena to know about the ugliness. That would only worry her. He sighed.
"Morning, Emile." It was Mason, Emile's right-hand man. He walked into the kitchen, lining up behind Emile, waiting for his turn to make a cup of cappuccino. "How was the trip? Are we going to be bought out soon?" Mason smiled.
"It was productive. You want to tell me what I have missed in the last few days?" Emile replied with a faint smile, and cleverly diverted the subject.
"Oh, it was peaceful and quiet. Everyone was so relaxed and laid back. Can't blame them, you know? They have been working like dogs for the last several months, meeting crazy deadlines. It's only fair for them to slow down now. There is no point to start any new jobs anyway. It soon will be the Christmas holidays. They can go crazy again after the New Year." Mason replied and walked up to the coffee machine, as Emile finished brewing his cup of cappuccino.
"You are such as softie, Mason. Don't you ever crack the whip?" Emile took a sip of his hot drink and his eyes darted away from Mason, as if Mason's words annoyed him. But Mason was totally oblivious with such gesture.
"Cracking whip? That's Alena's talent. Not mine. How's she been anyway? I sure have missed her around here." Mason chuckled. He would never crack any whip. He was a guy with a kind heart.
"She's good. Thanks. Listen, Mason. I have a meeting with Marcus in an hour. I still have a few things to finish before meeting with him. You want to catch up over lunch?" Emile wanted to end the chit-chat. He wanted to prepare himself for the dog fight in an hour.
"Lunch is good. I will see you then." Mason replied.