by silkstockingslover 02/28/13
"I saw Amber on the news while I was waiting for my luggage," I said.
Sophia replied, "Yes, Ms. Amber and Ms. Wilson called a press conference yesterday to announce her upcoming wedding."
"At my store?" I asked, even though I knew the answer.
"Yes, Cassie," Sophia said again.
"Why are you calling me Cassie?" I asked, now annoyed, just as a taxi rolled up.
"That is what Ms. Amber insisted you be called now," my best friend answered.
"But why did you agree to do so?" I asked, as the taxi driver took my luggage and I stepped into the taxi.
"There is only obeying Ms. Amber," Sophia explained, as if that answered everything.
"Well, please don't do it anymore," I instructed.
Suddenly I heard Amber's voice in the background, "Get in here, Sophia."
"I have to go," Sophia quickly blurted out and hung up the phone.
I was furious. Clearly Amber had bullied Sophia and was now treating her with disrespect. That is not how I ran my store, even if it meant being successful.
On the taxi ride to my store, I pulled out my phone and quickly searched for news on Taylor Wilson and White Wedding, but very little showed up.
I had the taxi take me directly to White Wedding curious to see what the so-called miracle worker could do in a week and yet more focused on putting the bitch in her place, no one treated my employees with such disrespect. Yet, the moment I walked into my store I knew instantly she was indeed a miracle worker. There were customers everywhere and I had a few new employees, each ridiculously attractive and all dressed in attractive, yet classy outfits that showcased their large breasts and long legs. Not surprisingly, each young woman was also wearing five inch heels. Also, the store had been completely re-organized. The walls were newly painted, the lay-out was more open and even the cashier area had been rebuilt. It was like I was walking into a brand new store and not one I had spent the past fifteen years building with blood, sweat and tears.
I walked through my store in awe of how busy it was; busier than it ever had been even when we were relatively successful. I got to the back, climbed the stairs and was surprised when Sophia was not at her desk.
I walked into my office and Amber was at my desk on the phone while Sophia was on the floor on her knees massaging Amber's pantyhose-clad foot. Amber put her hand up in the air, implying I should wait until she was done on the phone.
I stared at Sophia who did not make eye contact with me as she resumed her odd menial task.
"Sophia what are you..." I began to say but was hushed by Amber.
Covering up the mouthpiece Amber glared at me and said her tone condoning, "I am on the phone."
My calmness was already fading, as I kept looking at Sophia who continued massaging Amber's foot while refusing to look my way. I impatiently waited as I surveyed my office, which was surprisingly, after seeing the massive renovations downstairs, still exactly the same as when I left.
Amber hung up the phone after a couple more minutes before asking, acting as if it wasn't absurd that my secretary was giving her a foot massage. "Welcome back, Cassie, how was your sojourn?"
"It was surprisingly relaxing," I replied, playing nice, before asking, "What is going on here?"
"Sophia is giving me a foot massage," Amber responded as if that explained everything.
"I see that," I said frustrated. "I mean why is she giving you a foot massage?"
"Because I told her to," Amber answered, again responding as if this wasn't strange.
I sighed and realizing quickly Amber was playing a game, I re-worded my question. "Why is Sophia not at her desk?"
Ignoring my question completely, she asked, "Do you like our stores' new look?"
The word 'our' pissed me off too, but I remained calm, my trip to Relaxation Sensation apparently paying off. "I have to admit it is very impressive, shocking actually."
"I am a magic worker," Amber quipped back, before adding, "I see you wore one of the outfits I chose for you?"
I again could tell she was playing me, trying to control the situation. So I shrugged, sloughing off the fact that I obeyed her, "The heels were a bit much."
"Oh no, the heels are the most important part," she smiled. "It is the first part of my success theory; I began to tell you about the other day."
I recalled that smug attitude that first day and the theory she hinted at but never revealed. I feigned curiosity, "I do recall you mentioning something about three keys to success."
"Do you want to hear it?" she asked, as she dramatically shifted her legs giving Sophia her other foot.
"Why not?" I shrugged, curious of her so-called success plan and distracted by Sophia's treatment.
"Well the first key is rather simple, dress for success. As a woman we must use every asset we have," she explained.
I countered, "I think I have done quite well without flaunting my body."
"Have you?" she asked, "last I checked you were near bankruptcy."
"Well, the market killed me," I again defended.
"Excuses, excuses," she waved her hand. "Excuses are for losers."
"Are you calling me a loser?" I asked, anger beginning to simmer.
"I didn't say that," she said softly, before adding, "but you did."
"I will not have you insult me in my office," I said, my anger continued to bubble.
She shrugged, looking at her watch, "Actually the rest of my leadership lesson will have to wait. I am heading out in a few minutes for the weekend to Paris. We will meet Monday morning at 9:00 to discuss my plan for our business," she answered.
"But I..." I started.
"And I have put Nicole in charge while I am gone," Amber said, standing up.
"Nicole?" I repeated.
"Yes, I have worked with her before in business transformations and she knows exactly what I expect," Amber said, lifting her foot up.
I watched in stunned awe as Sophia put Amber's leather boot on for her left foot. "I think I can run the store while you are gone," I said.
"You are welcome to work downstairs, we could use another salesperson we are swamped. But Nicole will be in charge," Amber said.
"But..." I began, as Amber switched feet and Sophia put the other boot on.
"Cassie my dear, trust me. You have put your business in very capable hands. Let me do what I do," she said.
I sighed, realizing I had given her a job to do and although I didn't like her style or blunt personality, the results so far were impossible to ignore. "Ok, but I want to see your whole plan Monday morning," I said, firmly.
Once her boots were on, she smiled and said, "Of course, Cassie."
Sophia stood up and followed Amber silently to the door. Amber stopped, turned and said, "Cassie, we will start YOUR training on Monday."
Before I had time to process her odd statement she was gone and Sophia followed her out. A minute later, I was still standing in my office trying to understand what had just occurred when a young red haired woman walked into my office.
She walked up to me and introduced herself, "Hi, I am Nicole McCafferty."
"I'm Cassandra Williams," I smiled, breaking out of my trance like confusion.
"It is nice to meet you," she smiled, so warm and charming, unlike Amber.
"You as well," I returned.
Suddenly, the phone rang. Nicole moved to my desk and said, "Could you please get that Ms. Williams?"
I assumed Sophia would get it, but when it kept ringing, I moved to my desk and answered it. While I was talking to a customer about directions to our store, Nicole was on my computer.
Once off, I asked, "So how do you know Amber?"
"Sorority sisters," Nicole answered.
"I was never in a sorority," I said, one of my regrets.
"It was a pretty crazy time," Nicole smiled, as if reminiscing.
"I imagine so," I replied, feeling like I was making a connection with Nicole the way I usually do when I meet someone new.
We chatted for the next few minutes about trivial things such as the weather and how my flight had gone. Before she revealed how Amber had gotten Taylor Wilson as a customer through her sorority alumni connections and that all the new hires downstairs were hired on temporary contracts and worked on commission based pay. It was something I had never believed in, commission, instead treating employees like family instead of dollar signs, but when Nicole showed me the sales report for the week I was gone I almost shit myself. The numbers were twenty times what I had made last month and Nicole suggested the numbers were deceivingly low as most of the sales hadn't really started until Tuesday.
As much as I disliked Amber's people skills, I had to admit she had made the impossible, possible in one week.
Nicole suggested, "I hate to be so forward, I understand this is your store and all, but the girls downstairs are swamped, could you go on the floor and help?"
"Sure," I replied, actually liking being on the floor with the customers. I started to leave, but finally remembered to ask where Camree and Tilley were, as they should have been working at this moment. "Where are Camree and Tilley?"
Nicole looked at me apologetically, "Amber let them go."
"What?" I gasped.
"She said they didn't fit into the new White Wedding image," Nicole explained.
"Why, because they aren't a size zero?" I said, suddenly angry again.
Nicole stood up and walked towards me, "I am not saying Amber's decisions are always fair, but they are always successful. Plus, both were given very good severance packages."
"I could be sued for wrongful dismissal," I said.
"Amber made sure they signed non-disclosure agreements before they received their severance packages," Nicole said, putting her hand on my arm.
Strangely, her touch sent a spark inside me. Nicole was easily one of the most beautiful women I have ever met in person and my week of self-discovery had made me reconsider my sexuality. I stammered, "W-w-well, I will talk to Amber about this on Monday."
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