Chapter Four

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Craig hadn't slept that night; his mind had replayed images of the war to him over and over. He'd seen Kates dying, Ethan being tortured, Kyle strung up... he'd chosen to keep his eyes open. As a result, he was more surly than normal, his face didn't try and crack into anything but a scowl.

Well, that was until he saw Loren.

He'd stepped into the meeting room and saw her sitting in the middle seat of the middle row. She looked so different to how he remembered her; gone was the large jumper and tight trousers, instead she was wearing a fitted tartan dress. Her head was bowed down as she played with her nails, her hair was covering her face, falling in soft waves.

She looked stunning.

"Loren." He called out.

She looked up, her face devoid of the happy mask she wore and then, she actually smiled at him. "Craig!" she said, standing up and holding her hand out to him. "Glad I'm in the right room."

He took her slender hand with a small smile, and sat down in the seat beside her. He watched as she twisted to face him. "How was your journey down?"

"Not bad." She nodded, folding her hands on her lap. "There was a delay, but I was already on the train and I had my books."

"Books?" he smirked, arching an eyebrow and watching her blush.

"I'm a fast reader." She shrugged, hiding behind her hair.

His fingers twitched to push it behind her ear, "How's your hotel?"

"Oh my god!" she gushed, "It's amazing! Seriously, I cannot thank you enough."

"Glad I could be of service." He nodded, turning around as the door swung open.

"Ah a face I don't know!" Peter Richardson said, walking over with his hand outstretched. "You must be Loren Birch from the East! Peter Richardson."

"Nice to put a face to a name." Loren said, the professionally happy mask back over her features.

"And we have your interview right after this, don't we?" he continued, dropping his laptop onto the front desk and hooking it up, not looking to see if Loren replied. "Excellent."

"Is there time for me to grab a tea?" Loren asked suddenly.

"The canteen is around the corner." Craig nodded, standing to let her pass. He watched her disappear from the room before turning to Peter who was grinning. "What?"

"She is beautiful." He stated simply. "I've always appreciated your honesty."

Craig snorted. "Please, you'd have been able to read my mind as soon as the interview started."

"Well, it does come in handy." He grinned. Peter had gone to the same school as Craig, he was a seer with impressive telepathic skills. It was a skill he used during interviews to gauge the interviewee and the general opinion. "I wouldn't have done it on purpose."

"You never do." Craig grinned, waving his hand and connecting the wires for Peter in a second. "Please, you'd not have been able to do that in time."

"Show off." Peter grinned, sitting on the edge of the desk. "Are you going to tell her?"

"I've not even asked her on a date yet." Craig shot back. "I'm not going to go in with, guess what I'm a warlock with Demon blood that sent my dad psycho."

"I think it would work well." Pete grinned. "I can only tell you how perfect it is to read my wife's mind... never piss her off during that time of the month, always know what she really wants to eat... bliss."

"But what if she doesn't know what you want, can you figure out her thoughts?" Loren asked, appearing in the doorway.

"She's got you there, Pete." Craig smirked, standing up to let Loren sit back down. "Do you know what you want?"

"It's always a cup of tea and a good book." She shrugged, sitting back on her chair. "I'm simple."

"What about a carvery?" Craig asked, as more people began to file into the room.

Humour sparkled behind her eyes as she shrugged. "Don't know if I fancy a carvery today."

"How about just some random restaurant then?" he shrugged, "Or even a subway?"

"I'm more of a big mac type of girl."

"I don't think I can sit next to you." He teased, sitting upright and glancing around the room. "Not if you're that kind of girl."

He heard her snort back laughter before he turned back to her. "You owe me, Holland." She sang.

"Yes, I do." He smiled, patting her knee. "I'll show you the place I mentioned."

"I hope it lives up to expectation." She murmured, turning to the front as Peter called for attention.

"Thank you for all coming down, especially those who travelled from our regional offices today." Peter stated. "Many of you do not know why we sent our auditors out, including our chief auditor Craig Holland. We were aware that there was fraudulent activity in the financial systems."

Loren's eyes widened and she turned to Craig, who nodded but didn't turn back to her.

"The person responsible had done an excellent job hiding it, if it weren't an illegal activity I'd put him forwards for MI5." Peter continued; "Our first suspect was the finance team in the East, however Loren Birch was meticulous with her records and we could see it wasn't them. As with Gary Lightbody in the north; excellent records again... We won't name and shame but Paul Lincoln in the south helped us identify the staff member committing fraud and handled it with complete professionalism and to that Paul, I am eternally grateful."

Paul, who was sitting in front of Loren nodded, though she could see his ears turn red. The rest of the meeting was outlining new security enforcements which were going to be taken and then to Loren's horror and joy.

"And finally; we are expecting an opening in the East office as Finance Operation Lead. So if there are any staff member's you think would be up for the change and opportunity then it let me know by email."

"Are you expecting?" one older woman asked leaning over Loren's shoulder.

"No." she gasped, blushing a deep red colour which she felt all the way down to her toes. "I have an interview."

"Oh!" she gulped, "you just look rather happy, glowing and well... you must be a sure thing."

"Well, glowing is a good thing right?" Loren smiled as the woman all but ran from the room while Craig chuckled beside her. "Don't laugh that is the first time anyone's asked me if I'm pregnant! I thought this dress was slimming."

"It's a very pretty dress." He laughed, as she stood with a frown. "Ready for your interview?"

"No." Loren said letting out a long breath. "But I don't have a choice, this is a good opportunity and I'd be a fool to screw it up."

"You won't." he said softly, standing up and leading the way out of the meeting room. "I'll take you to the interview room."

"Thank you." She smiled, falling into step with Craig as they set off slowly down the corridor. "Is it nice here?"

"I like it."

"Helpful." She laughed, growing more nervous by the second. "Any tips on what to ask, what to say?"

"Just be yourself. You've impressed me, you've already impressed Peter and your work speaks for yourself." He shrugged, "You read the job description, didn't you?"

"Yeah, a million times."

"Then sell yourself." He stressed, "Make them wish you'd been here for years already."

"I'll try." She whispered as they stopped by a large white door with a red note requesting quiet for interviews. "Thank you, Craig."

"Anything for you." He smiled; giving her a quick hug before knocking on the door for her and stalking off down the corridors.

"Come in!" a voice called, not allowing a minute for Loren to collect her thoughts. 

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