This is the first of the prequel pieces to The Wooden Chest and an early warning this story was getting ready to run away with me. The next scene (chronologically) was my first warning the characters had a lot more to share than a random shopping encounter in a field.
Ally breathed deeply as she moved through the cafe to the corner table behind her boss. Their weekly catch-ups usually were over coffee as there were never enough meeting rooms and getting out of the office allowed them to relax a little and talk more freely about things taking their attention. But, this was a big one. She hoped it went over okay.
They sat down and, once settled Mike shot her a look, “Something’s bugging you, do you want to spit it out now, or build up to it?”
Another deep breath, “I was wondering, with the creation of the new international project manager role. You’ve said it’s a remote position, can be done from anywhere right?”
“I’d prefer someone in the UK ideally, just because it’s easier to get in for the occasional face-to-face but, yeah, with the weird hours it’s going to need, expecting someone to do the standard office hours and commute is just dumb.”
“I was wondering if I could be considered for the role.”
Mike stared, she started talking to fill the silence, “I’ve been thinking about making a bit of a change for a while, move somewhere a bit quieter, a bit greener but I love working here and, if you think I could do the job, I’d love to be put forward for it.”
Still looking at her, Mike pulled out his phone, glanced down to dial and then put it up to his ear.
“Yeah, Sylvie, that ad we’ve got going out for the International Project Manager role. Can you please cancel it and replace it with one for a UK traffic controller and general miracle worker? Yeah, Ally. Thanks.”
She tried to pick her jaw off the table.
“You really think you wouldn’t be the absolute best person for the role? The India team adore you, Sydney reckon you’re cool and both the US offices want to adopt you. You keep everyone humming, happily and amazingly to more-or-less the same tune. The only reason we didn’t ask you to consider the job straight up is because you seemed so settled in with your current hours and stuff.”
His stare ratcheted up several levels, “Is Timothy planning on moving to the depths of rural bliss with you?”
“No, in fact he doesn’t exactly know about it. This is a decision I need to make myself and I’m not sure his influence is, um, quite the best for me at that moment.”
Mike barked a laugh, “That’s our Ally, diplomatic to the last. As a cantankerous old bastard, I’ll happily tell you he’d like to be a controlling asshole but can never get you to take any notice. Does this mean you’re leaving him?”
“Yes, him, city life, office lighting and overcrowded commutes.” She smiled, still not fully believing she was free and getting ready to live a life she’d dreamed of for two years now.
“Well we’ll keep it on the down-low, but I warn you, you’re going to be frantic for the next few months. You’re too far into the Unitron and Gable projects for us to be able to hand them over, so I’ll need you to deliver them while picking up your new workload.”
“I’ll manage. So long as I can do some stuff from the road. I need to find that place of rural bliss to move to after all.”
“You don’t have somewhere already lined up? I am so deeply disappointed.” Mike’s eye’s twinkled.
She smirked in return, “Well, I may have spotted a cottage online last night and arranged to look over it on Saturday.”