‘The Job Promotion’

‘The Job Promotion’

A quick, free read with a twist!

Tamara’s boss was one tough lady. Barely in her 40s, she ran her public relations firm like an elderly school principal, clocking her employees in, scowling at any phone calls or lunch breaks, and demanding more than their best when it came to their work. Her name was Nina Grange and she steered the ship for her elderly husband, the wealthy media mogul Harold Grange, who was rarely around.

More’s the pity, Tamara thought as she tapped away at her keyboard. She got along with Harold. It was Nina who seemed to despise her, rarely offering her any of the juicy clients and refusing every job promotion that came along with a cold smile and a ‘Next time, kiddo!’

Tamara had no idea why the woman disliked her so much, but she had an idea it had everything to do with the fact that she was younger, more beautiful and had recently started dating a handsome new client. She could tell, just from Nina’s stress levels, that she didn’t have the happiest of marriages.

I’ll never get that job promotion that’s up for grabs next month, Tamara moaned to herself as her boss strode past, barely glancing in her direction, never giving her the time of day or a chance to prove herself. That is, until the office Christmas party was announced.

It was to be held the week before Christmas and partners were cordially invited.

‘I can’t think of anything more boring,’ Quentin had whined that evening when Tamara brought the gilded invitation home. They had only just moved in together, choosing Tamara’s freshly renovated terrace house as it was smarter and in a posher suburb.

‘You have to come,’ she pleaded with him. ‘My boss hates me enough as it is. If you don’t show she’ll think I’m not taking her precious party seriously and I’ll be doomed.’

‘Ooooh, will you get sent to detention?’ he joked as she lobbed a pillow at his head.

‘That’s not funny. I wouldn’t put it past her. She can be a real cow when she wants to be. Besides, there’s a possible promotion coming up, big bucks involved, and I really don’t want to blow it.’

‘I see! So I have to suffer an excruciatingly boring Christmas party so you can work longer hours and earn more money.’ He thought about this for a few seconds and laughed. ‘OK then, I’m in!’

And then he ducked as a second pillow came flying towards him.

Fireworks at the party

The party was even more glamorous than the one Nina had thrown the year before. There were fairylights strung up and buckets of fresh flowers at every turn and, against one wall, several desks now offered a delectable seafood buffet. There were even primly dressed waiters offering French champagne to the assorted staff and their partners, and Quentin let out a low whistle.

‘This mightn’t be so bad.’

He loved the good life, Tamara knew that, and she knew the party would impress him.

‘Just behave yourself,’ she said as she spotted Nina on one side. ‘And steer clear of my boss. She may be the richest woman in the room, but she’s also the meanest.’

Then, realising that Nina was staring at them, she gave her a cheerful wave.

Within moments Nina was by her side.

‘Good evening, Tamara,’ she said in her schoolmistress tone, her eyes firmly fixed on Quentin. ‘I didn’t realise you and Mr Jackson were together.’

‘Yes, three months now.’ Tamara raised an eyebrow. ‘You know each other?’

Nina shrugged. ‘We met just the once, don’t you remember? When we did that pitch at your firm?’

She was talking to Quentin who was now nodding. ‘That’s right! I didn’t realise youwere the “Big Bad Boss” Tamara goes on and on about.’

‘Quentin!’ Tamara gasped as Nina’s penciled eyebrows shot skyward.

For just a moment Tamara wondered if she’d made a big mistake bringing her boyfriend to the event, but then Nina erupted with laughter and she felt herself relax.

‘Poor little Tammie,’ Nina said, her eyes still fixed on Quentin. ‘I can be a bit of a tyrant. I guess you could say, I’m not for the faint-hearted.’

‘Good thing I’m not faint-hearted then,’ he replied, silkily, and Tamara grabbed him by the elbow.

‘Okay, I think it’s time to get some drinks!’

As she steered him away, Tamara hissed, ‘What was that about, Quentin?’

‘What? I’m just having some fun. Besides, I’d forgotten how stunning she is!’

‘Just don’t forget how she scary she is, too. I don’t care how rich and powerful she is, that’s no excuse. Let’s just get a drink and hide in a corner somewhere.’ She glanced around and frowned. ‘Hmm, I can’t stand champagne. I’ll go to the bar and grab some beers, you just mill about here for a bit. Oh, and Quentin?’

‘Yes?’ He smiled mischievously.

‘Behave yourself.’

The queue at the bar had grown legs by the time Tamara ambled across, stopping to chat to colleagues as she went, and it took another ten minutes to reach the front and order two beers. By the time she returned to the lobby she found her boyfriend deep in conversation with her boss. She took a deep breath and stepped up.

‘I don’t know what you mean by that!’ Nina was saying, her face a little flushed.

‘I just think that there are two types of bosses in the world,’ Quentin said. ‘The friendly, team-member type and, well, you.’

‘Beer anyone?’ Tamara chirped, trying to lighten things up but Nina was not letting that one pass.

‘And what type of boss am I? Exactly.’

Quentin shrugged nonchalantly, his curly fringe dropping across one eye. ‘Oh the ball-breaking workaholic type.’

‘Quentin!’ Tamara cried.

He ignored her. ‘I just think you should lighten up and live your life a little.’

‘Quentin!’ Tamara hissed again. ‘Enough, please!’

‘Never mind, Tamara,’ Nina replied, her voice cold, her eyes glinting gray. ‘Everyone’s allowed their opinion, even young Quentin here.’

Before he had a chance to respond, Tamara had grabbed his arm and was wrenching him away again. ‘I’m really sorry, Nina,’ she called after her. ‘It seems we have to run.’

As they fled onto the street and into a cab, Tamara exploded.

‘How could you do that to me? That’s my boss you were insulting! You’ve not only kissed my promotion goodbye, but I’ll be lucky if she doesn’t sack me Monday morning!’ She rifled through her handbag. ‘Here is her mobile number,’ she said, locating a business card inside. ‘I want you to call her first thing tomorrow morning and apologise profusely! My job could depend on it!’

Then she turned away.

Surprising news

The following Monday, as Tamara made her way to her desk, she found a curt note from Nina awaiting her. It read, ‘Come to my office. First thing.’ She took a deep breath and made her way in.

‘Nina, I am so sorry about Quentin, I don’t know what he was thinking.’

The older woman waved her off. ‘Oh don’t worry about him. Actually, I thought about it over the weekend and he’s absolutely right.’

‘He is?’ She dropped into the chair in front of Nina’s desk.

‘Absolutely. It’s time to lighten up and enjoy my life. And so I intend to. Which is why…’ Nina rustled with some papers before her, ‘I’ve decided to give you that promotion.’ Tamara looked stunned. ‘It’s not a huge difference in pay but you will have so much more responsibility, which will also mean more work. Do you think you’re up for it?’

Tamara couldn’t have been more delighted and nodded like a yoyo.

Over the next two weeks Nina was true to her word, passing on much of her own duties to her younger sidekick and very soon Tamara found herself working through lunch, and then late into the night. It was the only way she could keep up with the burgeoning workload. And there seemed to be no end in sight.

‘I told you it would be tough,’ Nina chided as she dumped more files on Tamara’s desk, a smile creeping across her face. ‘Now, I need to be off but make sure that work is done before you go as I’m always here at the crack of dawn, and I want to check it.’

As her boss departed and the office turned quiet again, Tamara began to groan. She wasn’t sure how much more of this she could stomach. She loved the work, but she didn’t want to keep doing the long hours, especially on her still-meager salary.

‘You still here?’ came a voice from the corridor and she looked up to find the office receptionist, Helen, standing there.

‘As usual,’ Tamara sighed. ‘What are you doing back?’

‘Oh I forgot my umbrella, it’s pouring out.’

Helen frowned at the files on Tamara’s desk. ‘She’s still dumping everything on you is she?’

‘Well, it’s not like she doesn’t have a lot on her plate.’

You’re the only one I can see doing any overtime.’

‘Yes but Nina comes in early to check my work, so…’

‘Really?’ Helen’s eyebrows furrowed. ‘I’ve never seen her come in early. I open up at eight-thirty and she’s always here a good ten minutes after that.’

‘Are you sure?’

Helen nodded, shrugged and left her to it.

That’s when Tamara pushed the files away and stood up. Okay, enough was enough! It was time to turn the tables on Nina.

Hook, line, sinker

When Tamara reached her house, she hesitated just outside her front door and that’s when she heard her boyfriend chastising someone. He sounded angry.

‘You’re a nasty, nasty woman!’ he cried.

‘How dare you!’ came another voice and Tamara caught her breath. It was the voice of her boss.

She took a deep breath, placed her key in the lock then opened the door, swinging it wide. In the middle of the room she spotted Quentin and Nina lying on the sofa, half naked in a compromising embrace.

‘What the hell is going on?’ Tamara said and Quentin looked up with a start.

‘Oh my goodness, Tamara!’ he cried, pouncing to his feet and struggling to put his shirt back on. ‘It’s not what it looks like!’

Tamara dropped her bag and placed her hands on her hips. ‘Really? Because it looks like you’re having an affair with my boss.’

‘No, I mean, yes, I mean…’ As he continued stammering away, Tamara met Nina’s eyes, and the older woman looked almost ashamed, but not quite. She was slowly redressing, slowly sweeping her hair back into a knot.

‘Well, everyone keeps telling me to get a life, so…’ Nina said, gathering her things now. ‘So, I’m having a life.’

‘No, Nina, you’re having an affair,’ Tamara replied coolly. ‘I wonder how your husband will feel about that.’

Then she strode across to a fruit bowl on the coffee table where a hidden camera had recorded the whole event. Only then did the other woman look perturbed, her jaw dropping, her eyebrows shooting up.

That’s when Tamara smiled. ‘But don’t worry, I’ll keep this all to myself. On one condition…’ Nina glowered. ‘I’d like to keep my promotion but I want half the workload and twice the salary. How does that sound?’

Nina stared at her gobsmacked for just a moment then she also broke into a smile. ‘Very well played, Tamara,’ she purred. She shot a quick glance at Quentin who was cowering in the corner, looking both mortified and confused. ‘What about him?’

‘Oh you can keep him,’ Tamara replied. ‘After all, you were attracted to him first. I noticed you check him out earlier this year at that PR pitch and I had a hunch he’d be the perfect bait.’

‘Hang on, what?!’ Quentin stepped forward. ‘Did you… were you using me, Tamara?’

She shrugged. ‘Well, you did have such a flirtatious manner, and such a love for money. I couldn’t help myself.’ She stood up and swung her front door open again. ‘And now your job is done, Quentin, so you can pack your things and get out.’

He stared at her, aghast, for several minutes then stormed off to gather his belongings while Nina looked at Tamara with newfound respect.

‘I guess I’ll see you at work tomorrow then,’ she said, stepping through the doorway.

‘Oh you certainly will,’ Tamara replied. ‘But I think I’ll have a well-earned sleep-in first.’

Then she shut the door on her boss, and opened a bottle of her favourite tipple, champagne.