4: Broken Pieces

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She was angry at him again.

It wasn't a new concept for Rikkard these days. There was always something he did that she found to be horrible or insulting or offensive, and she would get mad, and hiss curses at him behind his back. But she would always end up warming up to him later, and he would know she wasn't angry anymore if she rolled her eyes at him and issued sarcastic replies to his orders.

This, however, was not the case this morning.

Today Rikkard had succeeded in making her so furious that she refused to speak to him the entire day. He had incited a mini rebellion in her, it seemed, for she didn't even wait for her work hours to be over before she showed herself out, leaving him alone for the remainder of the afternoon and evening.

He himself was now angry as well. It was typical of her to not listen to orders and to infuriate him as much as possible, but this was unacceptable. The argument hadn't even been his fault, as far as he was concerned, and she had no right to leave her post early. That was grounds for immediate dismissal from his service, and he certainly intended to let her know that as soon as he could reach her.

Rikkard was now stuck with mountains of work to do, with no secretary to help him, with three hours of work left until the clock struck eight. Then he still had to lock up Empire House and inspect his employees' work for the day before he allowed himself to leave. He would likely be working two hours overtime, all thanks to the stupid argument with Lilly.

Of course, he didn't exactly mind working overtime. It was the messed up schedule of his routine that upset him. He had every minute of every day planned out, and now one little wrinkle in what could have been an efficient day had thrown everything off.

Irritated, Rikkard slammed the drawer of his desk as he fished out another ink pen and began to write as fast as he could on some important documents without smearing his work. Go faster, he urged himself. He had a lot more paperwork to cover with little hours left, and time was of the essence.

As he worked, his thoughts drifted annoyingly back to the quarrel he'd had that morning.

It had started out as a joke on her part, though he couldn't remember exactly what she'd said. She had been standing around in his office, dutifully wasting time, and had commented about his lack of decor in the rooms of Empire House. He, of course, had ignored her and continued working, hoping she would take a hint and go back to her office.

But this was Lilly he was talking about, and such a wish could never be granted because she did not know how to take hints or follow orders. So she stayed and prattled on about his choice of style.

"I'm surprised you don't even have curtains," she'd said. "I expected a miser like you would want to block out the light from the windows and live in a cave." She'd inspected the windows--or rather, window, as he didn't spend too much money on things he could do without.

Rikkard merely shot her an icy glare and indicated the door, marking her exit. "I distinctly remember asking for three separate files not two minutes ago," he said. "Why haven't you brought me them, pray?"

Lilly had grinned. "Because you're so much fun to talk to, sir."

His frown deepened. "Mr Linton?"

"Lilly," she corrected. "Yes?"

"Bring me my files!"

"Yes, Sir! Immediately, sir!"

It was when she came back with the files that the real argument began. What she had done...

Rikkard decided to shut out his memories of the morning then and there. It was no use dwelling on the harsh words they'd spat at each other. It was over and done with, and now they had to live with what they'd said and done to each other.

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