Then, on Wednesday, Alan Ball returned from Cape Town. He was shorter than Jason, had blonde hair and green eyes. He was charming, self-assured and spoke rather fast. When Jason introduced them to each other, he didn’t seem to mind that she’d be working with them in the office. In fact, he was very friendly and accommodating. Then Jason left the office.
Alan turned to her and said in his usual quick manner, “Quite the opportunist, Miss Marx.”
Standing with her back to him, she wasn’t sure if she had heard right.
“I’m sorry, what was that?” she asked.
“I said you’re quite the opportunist.”
“Well, actually …”
“You’ll have to work hard if you want to work here,” he continued, as if she hadn’t spoken at all. “I weed out underperformers.”
Annabel had nothing to say. There’d be no point. It was obvious that Alan Ball didn’t like her presence there. He was a hypocritical jerk!
“Watch what you say to EJ Carter,” Alan said. “He doesn’t like sell-outs and whores who think they can sleep their way to the top.”
Annabel glared at him through slanted eyes.
“Excuse me? I didn’t know it was legal to discriminate and sexually harass women at work. I haven’t been sleeping with anyone here, but if this is your idea of a cheesy pick-up line, you’re heading for a fall. If you want to sleep with me, Alan Ball, don’t hide behind EJ Carter’s name.”
“Cheesy? I don’t think you know what cheesy means. As for sleeping with you, not even in your wildest dreams, Annabel Marx,” Alan said sharply, picking up some of Jason’s campaign notes. “I actually have good taste in women and you fall far short of the mark. What you need to remember from this conversation is that, in this office, you are merely the assistant. That’s how I understand it from EJ Carter. You can sleep with whatever you like as long as you remember, you’re nothing but the assistant. Now, bring me some coffee, decaf, black with three sugars. Kitchen’s two doors down the corridor if you haven’t been there, yet. The blue mug’s mine.”
Annabel could feel her blood starting to boil. Walk away, Annabel. Just walk away. Go and make the arsehole some coffee and remember to buy arsenic for tomorrow.

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