The sun hadn't risen when I began to organize myself at my desk. The clock read exactly 7:45 and yet there was no other sign of life joining me anytime soon. Maybe he was testing me. Or maybe none of his other employees were as keen to get in his good books. I wasn't afraid of looking like I was trying to kiss up to him. From what I heard he enjoyed women falling at his feet so that's what I would do. Bat my eyelashes. Laugh at his jokes. Puff his ego. Make him want the women two feet from his grasp so badly he was willing to tell her his plans.
"Ms Berke you're early," Tommy's voice was gruff as he flicked ash onto the ground. He looked like he had slept here. Suit jacket ruffled and eyes darker than when we met the other day. I would dare say seeing him in this state almost humanized him, but only almost.
"You said you don't tolerate tardiness Me Shelby," I replied watching him through the corner of my eye. "Am I at the wrong desk?" I looked at the papers in front of me. These weren't the accounting books no these were a scrambled mess of appointments.
"No." Thomas walked towards me grabbing the leather bound book from my hands. "This is a trial run. Organize these to my liking and maybe you'll move up the latter." He set the book back down. "Last women who sat here quit in quite the hurry something about me not being very pleasant to work for," the way he drawled on rolling his eyes at the thought of her had me wanting to laugh but I caught myself nodding along to his story lips still pursed. "It's not a hard job I placed you in. Smile. Talk nice, but don't ever say too much."
"I never do Mr. Shelby," I forced a grin. "What time is it that the betting shop opens?"
"9:00." He smirked, leaving me to myself. It was going to be a long day organizing this mess, but I knew I could do it.
By the time Friday rolled around people had come accustomed to seeing me at the desk outside Tommy's office. I never offered more than a hello and kept the conversations to the bare minimum. I wasn't here to make friends. I had friends. They were just people who preferred to stay away from small heath.
"You're aware you're allowed to mingle and not stay chained to this desk," Lizzie chuckled setting a cup of tea down in front of me. "If he didn't think you were doing a good job you would have been kicked to the curb the first day."
"It's only been a week I'm sure there's still a chance I'll be out on my ass. Maybe he's just trying to get my hopes up put me in my place," I shrug taking a gulp of the lukewarm liquid. I would never tell her that she was awful at making tea, but I had met toddlers who knew how to make a better cup.
"Tommy's a pretty straight forward guy. Doesn't like wasting time," Lizzie commented. "Few of us are headed to the Garrison for a pint you are more then welcome to join." The women smiled. I looked down at the pile of papers in front of me. There were still a few phone calls to make and even though I knew I could wait till Monday I didn't want to put it off.
"Next time," I stated unsure if I genuinely meant it. She seemed like a nice enough girl, but I couldn't have anyone messing with my conscious. I had a job to do. A debt to pay. "Still have work to do. You go and have fun."
The office was quite by the time I gathered my things to go. I preferred it this way. No yelling. No chaos. Just calm.
"You're still here?" I jumped at the husky voice turning around to see Tommy leaning against his office door. "Lizzie didn't drag you to the Garrison."
"She tried, but I wasn't finished what I wanted to finish," I shrugged pulling on my coat. "Have a good night Mr Shelby."
"Wait." I paused trying to Will my feet to keep moving. To ignore his request. To run home and call my husband like a good little wife but my heels stayed glued to the dirt covered floor. "Let's have a drink."
"I don't think that's appropriate," I choked out the words feeling his hands helping me out of my coat.
"It's a drink not an invitation for sex Zelda. Let it be a thank you for you giving it your all this week." I nodded and followed him into the room where we first met. It felt less cold this time. A small light flickered in the corner as we sat there silently sipping whisky. "You know I looked into you. I look into every employee but it appears you don't exist. Care to tell me why?"
"No one comes to small heath voluntarily do they?" I reply before I can stop myself. "I don't think we know each other well enough for you to hear all my dirty laundry."
"Just make sure it doesn't affect your work here Zelda."
"If it does you can put a bullet in my head. Just make sure they don't bury me in the mud."