The elevator doors opened on the 7th floor.
A pretty brunette in a grey business suit stepped out holding a cup of double mocha in her right hand and carrying a black designer bag in her left.
“Hi, Sally,” a new intern she had never seen before greeted her.
She acknowledged the greeting with a slight nod of her head and a curt smile. She walked briskly to her office. Two ladies and two men sat in the reception area waiting to be interviewed.
She entered her office, kicked off her shoes under her desk and drank from the paper cup in her hands. From her desk, she saw the cloudy sky and the traffic in central London moving like soldier ants.
“Can they come in?” her secretary asked.
She quickly did away with the first three candidates. Although they had good scores on the written tests, they didn’t give satisfactory answers to her questions. These were not the kind of people she wanted to work with her. She was barely two promotions away from becoming the CFO of COSO Oil. She needed someone to work with her who understood and could manage complex financial details.
The last candidate entered the office and stood before her.
He was tall and handsome. He had blue eyes. Sally looked at his details on her laptop. He had high scores in the first interviews. He had the body of a martial artist, not an accountant. She could see his biceps bulging out of the well cut Italian suit he wore. She had to admit that he had a good sense of style. She waved him to a seat.
He sat down and carefully placed a tablet encased in a black case on the table. On top of it he put a green notepad and beside it he dropped an unusually large green marble. She had seen all sorts of things while conducting interviews. People carried all kinds of objects for luck. This was new. She ignored it.
She read his name from a list on her table.
“Actually it’s Greek, but it has been modified through the years,” he smiled.
“I see,” Sally said, but she didn’t see, neither did she care. She wanted to conduct the interview as quickly as possible and see Jim Blaswell before he left to see his ugly wife and three children who looked exactly like her.
Sally asked him some questions. She liked his answers.
“Michael could you tell me a story in five minutes?”Sally asked, still reading his bio on her laptop.
“What kind of story?” he asked.
“Anything you like.”
He started talking and Sally blanked him completely off her mind and moved on to more important things like the few minutes she spent with Jim last night.
He held her in his strong arms and kissed her deeply. His cologne overwhelmed her senses and she lost all sense of time. He caressed her body with his strong arms, carried her to the bed in the motel and ravished her aching body. He was a real man, not like her husband Steve. Jim was the head of marketing and distribution. He was sensitive to her feelings, supportive of her career and romantic. She looked over at the white vase containing the red roses he sent her yesterday.
She sighed with pleasure as she remembered last night with Jim.
Michael was still talking. Regardless of how she felt about this interview, she had to admit that he was handsome. Very.
He had four more minutes.
The divorce papers had already been delivered to Steve. He refused to sign them and said he was praying for God to touch her heart. She almost threw the phone at the wall in anger. She would finally be done with Steve. After ten years of marriage she was disappointed in him, ashamed of what he had become. She looked at the picture of their three children on the left hand side of the table. Two boys and a girl who looked like her was the only reason she stayed with him. But all that had changed. She moved out of the house and moved into an apartment Jim bought for her.
She looked at the time. Michael was still talking. Apparently he had three more minutes. What on earth was he talking about?
She crossed her legs under her table. Her soon to be ex-husband Steve worked for an accounting firm in East London. Since he got the job about seven years ago, he had been promoted thrice. Although he was a good provider, he had no ambition whatsoever. He wasn’t interested in becoming partner in the company. What he told her a few months ago was the last straw. She couldn’t take it any more.
“Darling, I want to resign my job.”
Sally dropped the novel she was reading on the bed and her face contorted in anger.
“You want to do what?” she asked condescendingly, like a mother talking to her misguided teenager.
Steve was silent for a few seconds and continued.
“I am no longer happy with my job, my life. I have prayed and thought long about this. I want to resign my job at Finco and join Aqua life international. I want to pursue God’s purpose for my life before it gets too late for me.”
Sally got out of bed, walked to the kitchen and drank some water to calm the rage that unwounded slowly within her like a rattle snake about to strike its clueless victim. She returned and stood by the door, next to the huge television set propped on a table to her right.
“How will you provide for this family?” she spoke with clenched teeth. Her eyes had turned to thin slits.
“The Lord protects and provides for those who pursue His Will.” As he spoke he looked at his hands.
“The Lord will do what?”
Before he could answer she reached for the television set and smashed it to the floor. Thankfully their children were away with their grand parents in Birmingham and would be spared of this carnage.
Steve sat up in bed and took off his glasses. He was used to the unprovoked rage of his wife. He had often prayed that The Lord would bless her soul with peace. Apparently he hadn’t prayed enough.
“I’ve had enough of this nonsense. Since you started attending this new Church, you have lost your mind. Now you want to go and live in Africa?”
“The Lord wants me to be a missionary,” Steve looked at the broken television set on the floor. He brought out a leaflet. On it was the logo of Aqua life international. It was a sea green pearl with words written in white.
“The Lord? What do you want me and the kids to do when you are away in some remote jungle trying to save the world? Who will take care of our children?” She asked.
“The kids will be in school in Manchester,”he paused then looked at her in the eye. “You could come with me, Sally.
“Come with you and do what? I have a career to pursue.”
“Haven’t you had enough of the corporate world? There’s more to life than making money.”
“I have almost reached the top of my career, now you want me to quit to work with a non-profit organisation?” she shook her head bitterly. She looked around the room, searching for something, anything she could throw at him.
“After all the years we’ve been married, is this how you repay me? I have given all I have to this marriage, now this? You are about to become a partner in your firm. That will bring in more money and improve the quality of our lives. Is this the time to resign your job?”
When he met Sally in the University fifteen years ago, he was attracted to her zeal for the Lord. In fact she was the one who encouraged him to start attending church regularly. But recently, Steve noticed that his wife had been seduced by the deception of money. By the time he got around to warning her about the danger of covetousness, it had eaten deep into her soul. Money became the only motivation in her life. Nothing else mattered.
“This is His Will for my life, our lives. This is what we must do.”
“I am not going anywhere with you.”
“It is dangerous to go against God’s Will for our lives. I will pray and ask the Lord to reveal His Will to you and remove every obstacle in your path.”
“You don’t understand. I am not doing this anymore. I am done asking God for direction or anything else.”
“But He is not done with you yet. The path of rebellion against His Will can be very costly,” Steve warned.
“I don’t care anymore.”
“I will pray that The Lord will show us His mercy, send His angels and deliver us from the works of the enemy which have risen against His plan for our marriage and ministry.”
That night, Sally decided to leave her husband, Steve Oswald.
Michael said something.
“I beg your pardon?” Sally jerked forward in her chair as her mind was pulled out of her reverie back to the handsome stranger sitting in front of her.
Michael smiled. “My story is finished.” He picked up the green marble he placed on the table.
What was that last thing he said? Her hands trembled as she reached for the cup of coffee and took a sip. It was lukewarm and placid. She dropped the cup carelessly on the table. It tipped and splashed on the table.
Michael picked up his tablet and stood up.
“We will be in touch with you,” she managed to say.
“I’m sure you will,” he said and left the office.
She looked at her watch, it was 2:25pm.
As soon as he left she threw herself into work. When she checked the time again, it was 3:12pm. She shut her laptop, wore her shoes and headed for the elevators.
She waited for the elevators. The doors of the first one opened and she entered. She pressed the button to take her up. As she got out on the 10th floor, the doors of the other elevator was closing and she saw Michael, the man she interviewed standing alone in the elevator. She caught his eyes. Strange. They were the colour of amber. There was a fierceness about his face that scared her. She took a step back as the doors shut him in.
“Hi, Sally.” That same intern greeted her. Sally didn’t acknowledge her. What was she doing on this floor?
“Is Jim busy?” She asked before she noticed that it wasn’t his secretary sitting behind the desk.
As she was about to answer, Jim emerged from his office, saw her and smiled.
She entered the office with him. As soon as the door was shut behind them she threw herself into his arms. Her body shook slightly.
“Is everything okay?” He asked.
Sally didn’t answer. She held on to him and smelled his cologne. As she raised her face, she saw a travelling case by his desk and a green marble on his table. It looked like the marble Michael Legna had placed on her table during the interview. She gently pushed him aside and walked towards the table.
“Where did you find this?” she held the marble up for him to see.
“Michael Legna must have forgotten it after our chat.” Jim took two steps forward and stopped right in the middle of his office. He wanted to say something but instead took gulps of air like a fish out of water. His face started turning blue.
“Jim, are you okay?” She asked realising that he wasn’t okay at all.
Jim fell to his knees clutching his chest.
He fell face down on the lush carpet.
“Jim!” Sally screamed.
The new secretary ran into the office, saw her boss lying face down on the floor and ran out to make a call.
Sally knelt beside him and held him in her arms. He had become still.
“Please hurry. Something is wrong with my boss,” the secretary cried on the phone.
The medics came in and revived Jim. The heart attack almost killed him. He was hardly breathing when the medics rolled him away. Sally returned to her office and was still trying to make sense of what was happening in her world when her phone rang.
“Two men from the police are here to see you,” her secretary said.
“They didn’t say.”
“They can come in.”
The men entered her office. The tall one stood by the door and the fat one sat in front of her.
“We have a warrant for your arrest.”
Sally stood up. “Arrest?”
The fat man waved a piece of paper in front of her confused face.
“You and Jim Blaswell planned, colluded and stole hundreds of thousands of pounds from this company.”
The fat man pushed some papers toward her. She read them quickly and her face fell. Jim had stolen her passwords, entered the company account and transferred money to some off-shore accounts. He had been stealing from the company for over ten months. That was about the time their relationship started. No wonder he encouraged her to feel free to bring her laptop along with her to their secret rendezvous. He said he wanted her to continue her work without distraction.
“Jim and his secretary bought first class tickets to the Maldives. His secretary was waiting for him to show up at the airport. Her bag was full of money. We have her in custody,” the fat man said.
She was still trying to come to terms with the fact that Jim had used her when the tall man standing by the door came around her desk. The handcuffs clicked on her wrists like some cheap designer imitation bracelet sold in a bootleg store in Soho. As Sally stood there she remembered her husband’s last words before she cut off his last call.
“The rebellious walk a very difficult path, full of thorns.”
The fat man turned around the piece of paper where she wrote the names of the four people who were interviewed earlier in the day. From where she stood, Sally read the name of the fourth man, Michael Legna upside down and his last name read ‘Angel’. It sent a cold shiver down her back.
She looked at the picture of her kids on the table and tears filled her eyes. She had failed her children, her husband, herself and her Lord. Suddenly she began to shake like a tree caught in a tornado. Her legs gave way under her and she collapsed on the floor.
The tall man made no attempt to help her up.
In full view of her colleagues who had come to see what was going on in her office, Sally sat on the floor of her posh London office and there, she wept.