“Thank you for the breakfast.” My voice wobbled. I forced a smile as I got out of the car.
Martin smiled but his eyes were hard. “Safe trip,” he said. His voice was clipped and cold.
I lowered my head and walked briskly to the elevator. Hot tears welling at the rims of my eyes.
I packed my luggage fussily. Rolled hosiery to stuff the extra pair of flats. Shower caps over soles of trainers. Blazer sleeves socked into each other. Clean clothes into travel compression bags. A dryer sheet to absorb smells in the dirty clothes bag. Three weeks’ living out of a rolled-on cabin luggage. I never checked-in any luggage.
I decided to leave for the airport early.
The queue at the hotel check-out desk was inordinately long. A team of foreign rugby players was checking out. Brawny jocks jostled playfully. Normally, I would happily entertain myself with oggling at eye-candy. But today, I felt the makings of a headache throbbing. The Concierge who was not at the Priority Desk.
I went back to my room; popped a painkiller and set my phone alarm for an hour’s shuteye.
I woke up with a start. My room phone was ringing. Thinking that it was the front desk reminding me to check out, I let it ring for a few times while I pushed the groggy cobwebs of sleep away.
“Hello, is that Aubergina?” a hesitant voice asked. My heart skipped. “Can I come up and talk to you for awhile? If you don’t mind, I mean.”
I looked at my watch. I needed to leave for the airport in two hours’ time. “I’ll meet you at the lobby”, I said quietly.
The elevator door opened. I walked into the lobby where my Big Boss – the Investment Bank’s CEO – was waiting.
The CEO went straight to the point. Someone spotted me with Martin this morning. He wanted to know my strategy for “onboarding Mr Lam”.
“Strategy? Mr Lam invited me for breakfast as a friend. He didn’t know that I was an investment banker. What strategy are you talking about?”
“Calm down. I am just asking.” He smiled coyly.
I buried my face in my hands and rubbed the edge of my palms on both sides of my face furiously.
“You guys are so frigging unbelieveable.”
The CEO stood up to leave. “Think about it, Aubergina. See you in the office on Monday,” he said dryly.
..to be continued.