40. Dysfunctional Dismissal

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Hours to live. He has only hours to live.

The sentence, so calmly spoken, was still echoing through my mind while I followed Mr Ambrose up the stairs and through the hallway. I barely noticed Mr Stone's greeting in time to return it.

Hours to live. Only hours.

Should somebody warn Simmons? Shouldn't Mr Ambrose? But I saw that wasn't going to happen. He wasn't going to kill Simmons for what the man had done, but neither was he going to lift a finger to preserve his life. I knew that from looking at his face alone.

“Mr Linton?” Mr Ambrose's calm and cool voice startled me from my thoughts. “Step into my office for a minute. There is  a business matter I wish to discuss with you.”

A business matter? Now? What about the fellow you’re setting up to have his throat slit?

“Of course, Sir.” Rolling my eyes, I followed him into his office. I should have guessed this was going to happen, of course.

Knowledge is power is time is money, right?

So we find out who has stolen this incredibly important document. What do we do next? Take a day off to celebrate? No, not with Mr Ambrose. There’s a ‘business matter’ to take care of. And after that, probably another. And another.

I wondered what we were going to do? Start tracking this man down, whose name Mr Ambrose wouldn't divulge? But then, what did he need me for? I could hardly look for somebody whose name I didn't know. Not even with a sack full of onions was I that good.

Mr Ambrose sat down behind his desk. I sat down directly opposite him in the visitor's chair. Yet instead of cutting to the chase in his usual manner, he started arranging all the papers on the desk into neat piles.

What the heck was going on? Was Mr Ambrose, Mr Save-time-or-die Ambrose, actually stalling? In other words, wasting precious moments that could be transformed into money?

He was. Something was seriously wrong here. I bit my tongue to supress the urge to ask. Only when the last piece of paper was where it was supposed to be did Mr Ambrose finally look up.

“You will be leaving in an hour. Stone will pay you for your services rendered so far, and order a cab for you to take you home.”

I frowned. What was this?

“I... I do not understand.”

“It is very simple. Our employer-employee relationship is hereby terminated. You will receive a note of dismissal at my earliest convenience. Good day, Mr Linton. Do not let me detain you.”

He looked down again, and started to read one of the files in front of him as if I weren't there anymore. It took me a few seconds to get it. To fully appreciate what he had just done. When I did, my hands clenched into fists.

“You... you’re dismissing me?”

“Indeed I am. Or rather, I already have.” Slowly, he looked up again, fixing me with his dark gaze. “It would appear that you are still present. Perhaps you didn't understand me. You are dismissed. Which means you can leave. Now.”

“Why?” I felt bloody moisture in my eyes. No, no! I was not going to cry in front of him! I was not going to prove every single prejudice he had about girls right there and then. I was not an overly emotional, silly female! I wasn’t! I wasn't! “Why are you doing this? What have I done wrong?”

He cocked his head, minutely. “Wrong?”

“Bloody hell! Isn't it sort of a rule that an employee can only be dismissed if they've done something wrong? What did I do? Didn't I carry your files fast enough? Didn’t I dress male enough for you? Did I breathe too loud? Tell me, blast, what did I do?”

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