Stuck by Liliana Camarena

“Mr. Maynard.” Some girl that I obviously don’t know greets me at May, inc‘s front desk. I just nodded making a mental note to ask Brian why it seemed that every time I came to New York a new girl would be at the front desk.
Stuck by Liliana Camarena
“I need coffee” I said to Mike as we rode the elevator to the last floor where my office is located. “What kind of coffee?” Mike asked. I shrugged. How was I supposed to know what kind of coffee I like? Monday couldn’t come any sooner. I was in serious need of an assistant. “The one that Miranda makes,” I said looking forward but noticing from the corner of my eye that Mike nodded. I knew I’d just sent him on a quest of something semi-impossible but the truth is I needed my coffee to start my day and it seemed that Margaret , my New York housekeeper, didn’t know how to make coffee because there wasn’t any waiting for me this morning. “Soon,” I said looking at Mike as the doors to the last floor opened and I walked towards my office. Everyone stared, waiting for me to close the door to the office so they could keep running like headless chickens around the office. I’m not that clueless; I know that I made them shit their pants by planning a surprise visit. Having no competent assistant, or any for that matter, forced me to leave the comfort of Philadelphia to check on the important details going on in New York. I turned to the secretary sitting on the desk outside my office. She’d been here for a while because she was the one that was in touch with my personal and executive assistant, Harriet, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember her name. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to remember her name, or that I didn’t want to know what kind of coffee I like, it was just that being Patrick Maynard meant so much more than that. I had to take care of thousands of families, jobs were at risk, I couldn’t stop and worry about the kind of coffee I like; there’s only so much that my brain can take. “Do you need anything, Mr. Maynard?” she asked “Tell Sanders I need him in my office,” I said as I finally stepped in my office closing the door behind me. My eyes were closing; I really needed the damn coffee. What was taking Mike so long? Why didn’t I have a steamy cup of coffee in my hands? I shook my head and sat on my leather chair. I really needed to stop sleeping around on weekdays but it was the best antidote for stressful times. Everything was alright with my life at the moment, ‘alright’ being the key word in my previous statement. I had a lot of lady friends that helped me get through the days and some nights, from what I’ve heard, read and interpreted from the way women looked at me, I wasn’t bad looking at all; work was going perfectly but still, it seemed that I was stuck in the same routine. I used to love routine, but lately it was all getting old, and I felt tired as hell. I shook my head, got up from the chair and walked towards the floor to ceiling window and looked down at the street. Sleepless nights sure made me turn into a weird man. “Mr. Maynard” I heard the girl’s voice coming from some kind of intercom on the desk. Brian had it installed so I wouldn’t shout out the girl’s name every time I needed something. I couldn’t shout out the girl’s name because I didn’t know the girl’s name. “Sanders!!” I screamed as I opened the door and walked back to the desk not even waiting for him to show up in the door. “Mr. Maynard, such a surprise to have you here,” a tiny, bald man with huge round glasses walked into the office and closed the door behind him. “Surprise?” I said raising my eyebrows. “A nice surprise,” he said. Kissing ass was his specialty. “Sanders,” I motioned with my hand that he could take a seat. “I want to build new offices for the Publishing branch,” I said as I reached for my invisible coffee cup. “Just a second.” I said holding up my finger and texting Brian. I don’t have coffee, I hit send. What the hell am I supposed to do? He texted back. I don’t give a fuck, I need coffee. DO SOMETHING. I was in serious need of coffee. I could kill Sanders if I didn’t have coffee soon. On it. Asshole. Brian finally texted. Brian was my best friend of 30 years. He got me and he was the only one allowed to talk me like that. He knew it; I knew it, and we took advantage of that. “So…” I said looking up at Sanders, who was looking around in the office while I texted. “New offices, sir,” said Sanders looking back at me. “Yes,” I said and got up to pace around my office, “we need a new office building. I want the publishing branch to be more successful; I want authors to be drawn to the offices and I believe that the main building might intimidate them.” I said putting my hands in my pants pockets. “We produce successful books, Mr. Maynard,” I nodded “Your brother’s books are quite successful.” I rolled my eyes. They weren’t. They were crap. “I want more,” I said, and gave him my intimidating stare. I had one, and I used it whenever I felt like I wanted to make a point across. “You’ll have more.” He said finally and I nodded. “Good, get that going,” I said turning around to over look the city, “I’ll check on that project next week,” I said without looking back at him. I would send my assistant to do that. By Monday I would have an assistant for at least a week. I doubted she’d last longer than that. She seemed……. Timid, for lack of a better word. I heard the door open and turned around to find Mike with a cup of coffee. “Mr. Maynard,” he said looking sweaty and worried, “your coffee.” He said putting it on my desk. “Thank you, Mike,” I said walking towards the desk; I was thankful it was a really big cup. “That’ll be all,” I dismissed him and sat back on my chair. “Coffee,” I said and took a small sip realizing that I wasn’t drinking Miranda’s coffee, but desperate times call for desperate measures so I drank it. Happy, asshole? I got a text from Brian and laughed out loud. Not really, it’s the wrong kind, I texted back. Fuck you, he texted back. I had to laugh at that. “Mr. Maynard,” I head the girl’s voice, “It’s your mother on the phone.” I sighed, groaned and the pushed the damn button. “Put her through,” I said. I didn’t have to put up with this kind of shit when I had an assistant, no matter how crappy or young she or he was, they would always at least take my mother’s call for me, and see if they could help her with anything. “Mother,” I said picking up the receiver. “Patrick, how are you, sweetheart?” I listen to her warm voice and I smiled. “Well, not having an assistant is making my day increasingly more stressful,” I said, untying my tie a bit. “I don’t see what was wrong with Aline, Patrick,” she was about to go on and on about how awful I was to my assistants. “Mother, she quit,” I said giving a sip of the hideous coffee. “She couldn’t handle the pressure.” I shook my head. “How can them? You treat them like dirt,” I laughed. They all knew what they were getting into, they just couldn’t handle it. “Is there something I can do for you, Mother?” I asked . “Not really,” she said with a tone that let me see that she was done telling me what an awful boss I was, “I just wanted to remind you that we are having the gala next Friday.” I groaned inwards because I hated galas. They were my nemesis. I could hear my mother talking about every little gala-related thing but I wasn’t interested anymore. Going to New York. I saw a text from Brian. I almost jumped up and down my chair because I knew that with Brian here I could go crazy with my needs since he did a pretty good job as an assistant. I’d joked around saying that I’d give him the job but he never found it funny. I surely did. “So, is that ok?” I heard my mother asking me and I went back to the one sided conversation. “Sure, mom,” I said having no idea to what I just agreed to. “Wonderful!” Must have been something that made her happy, then. “I’ll see you on Friday, sweetheart.” “Sure, mom, tell dad I said hello.” I hung up and decided to dive into some spreadsheets before Brian got to New York. “Mr. Johnson is here,” I heard the girl say. I looked at my watch and realized that I had been almost two hours looking at the same spreadsheet and I wasn’t reaching a conclusion about the deal I wanted to offer to Stinson; buying him off his own company wouldn’t be easy. I rolled up my sleeves and undid my tie a bit more. What did Brian want? I was in a bad mood already. I got up from my chair and walked towards the door. “Brian!” I said as I opened the door and walked back to my desk. He appeared on my door and leaned on its frame. He looked better than he had in the past month. Maybe knowing that Monday was approaching and his assistant duties were about to be over made him feel a bit at ease. Still, I had no idea what he was doing in my office and I voiced my thoughts. “…I want you to interview someone,” I looked up confused. Interview? For what? “Yeah, it’s for the personal assistant job.” Ok…. I had chosen a personal assistant. Hadn’t I? I tried to wreck my brain to remember if we had agreed on that or if it had been a conversation I only had in my mind. I went over the few assistant related conversations we’d had while telling him what I thought we’d agreed on. He went on and on about a girl he wanted me to interview even though we’d already hired another one. I was waiting for a convincing argument but all I got was a weird smile. Either he was trying to tell me that the girl was hot or that she was perfect for the job. Either way I agreed to see her. “Fifteen minutes. That’s all I have,” I said pushing the computer away and shaking my head. I needed to push my bad mood away. I hated meeting someone in a bad mood but sometimes it couldn’t be helped. One minute later I saw her stepping into my office. This was no girl and definitely didn’t look like an assistant. She was a woman dressed in a way no assistant of mine ever did. I had no idea what it was about her; she was wearing a skirt and a shirt but there was something about them that didn’t look….ordinary. I stood up and shook her hand trying to see if Brian got the message that I didn’t know her name or hadn’t heard it, which was the same thing. He didn’t see me, he was too busy talking to the girl from the door frame. ‘Lucinda Stuart,’ I heard from both of them at the same time. It’s a good name, a strong name. I asked her to sit down while I did the same and looked up to see Brian smiling at me. I still had no idea why I was talking to Miss Stuart. Maybe it was because she was hot. “Brian… Do you have her resume?” I asked him because he still didn’t get that I was trying to tell him with my eyes that I needed it. Of course, he didn’t have it because for the past month Brian had been a wreck. It might have had to do with the fact that I asked for things he didn’t understand. Miss Stuart took a resume out of her purse that really looked like a tote bag, why did women carry those things around instead of purses these days? Huge! I took the resume and heard Brian babble on about how she might be perfect for the job and it’s then that I understand what all the smiling was about. He wasn’t trying to tell me that she was hot. She was, though, the strawberry blonde hair, green eyes and red lips stood out but what really had Brian smiling was that he thought that she might be perfect, more perfect than the mousey girl with a MBA. I nodded to let Brian know that he could leave and then I began reading her resume. Trying to. I was barely skimming through it because what really interested me was the woman I had in front of me. She seemed confident and professional. I wondered why she wasn’t applying for more suitable positions. Why personal assistant? All my mental rambling stopped abruptly when I saw Little Black Book on her resume. Not only had she worked in company that I tried to buy, but she had been the Vice president of Administration. I raised my eyebrows. “So, Miss Stuart, Little Black Book, uh?” I looked at her. Yes, this was a confident woman. She told me about her 5 years working at the company and I had to say that I was more confused than before. Why was she here? “We tried to buy it,” I said still going through the resume, this time trying to read what it said. “I know,” I heard her say “I advised them not to sell.” That definitely got my attention. I looked up and I couldn’t help but smile. She advised them not to sell. What was she doing here? She quit her job, even though her advice had been the right one because the company had amazing growth in the last two quarters. She was right; the damn company grew like it was on steroids. She should have been promoted, not allowed to walk out the door. “Why did you quit?” I finally asked and I think I saw a shadow of a smile. It bothered me not knowing what was going through her mind. I was used to knowing everything about everyone. I listened closely as she answered my question in the most amazing and honest way. It was refreshing, she was not bullshitting me and I was quite impressed by that. So, she got tired of being who she was and wanted a change, or so she said. It was a valid and legit reason to seek a change in her career but, really, being a personal assistant wouldn’t give her any time to herself. Oh! It suddenly dawned on me that she might think that working for me would be easy. It would be the opposite of easy. I could be one tough motherfucker; I didn’t mean to, it just happened. After I asked her if she thought that being my assistant would let her have any free time she came up with an answer that had me yawning at first, I know it won’t be easy ,blah blah blah; busy schedule,e blah blah but then she said something that truly got my attention: “… I will get to be myself, not Miss Stuart, Vice president of administration, 24/7,” That, that was the exact moment I decided she was going to be my assistant. I don’t know why but the fact that she admitted in a job interview that she had been faking who she was made me want to know more. I took it as a challenge to know who she really was. “No, you get to be Patrick Maynard’s assistant,” I said looking for a reaction but she said that she was fine with that in a very calm voice. Well, that was it. She was my new assistant. I stood up and walked towards the door, “Brian!” A few seconds later he was in the office and I let him know that we were hiring Miss Stuart. She seemed a bit confused and just repeated a few words or nodded silently in agreement. Brian seemed to be in heaven knowing that I was going to have a very apt assistant and I was getting off his back. “Thank you, Mr. Maynard,” she said extending her hand and I shook it. “Thank you, Miss Stuart,” she didn’t know that I was truly thanking her because, all of a sudden, my life seemed to have a challenge. I wanted to get to know the real Lucinda Stuart and that was what I was intended to do; strip off every layer until I got to know who was the person hiding behind ‘Miss Stuart’. I saw them leave and then I realized I had two assistants now. “Brian!” I said from my office door. Brian and Miss Stuart turned to look at me, “remember to tell the other girl…. The mousey one with the MBA, that the job is no longer hers.” Brian nodded and I saw no regret on Miss Stuart’s eyes. She didn’t feel bad for taking someone else’s job. I had no idea why, but I liked that. I went back to my chair and felt restless; I busied myself with some other spreadsheets until I got a text from Brian. Liked her? He texted, followed by an idiotic emoji. Loved her. I sent the text. Great! I’m sending the authorization for you to sign. Bring it back with you so I can file it. He sent three texts one after the other and I just sent back a thumbs up emoji. I opened Brian´s mail and the authorization attached to it. I read it, pretty much standard documentation. Employee: Lucinda Stuart, I wrote. Authorization: Patrick Maynard. There. We were stuck with each other for a while.


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