Natalie Ranalli, CEO

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Drunk

“Mr. Becker, could you please come to my office?”

The sudden burst of sound from the desk’s speaker startled Carl a bit, pulling him out of his musings for weekend plans. Although it wasn’t too unexpected for Natalie to page him at random hours of the day to perform some mundane task, she usually had the common decency to not do it when there was only 30 minutes left in the work week.

His fingers hovered over the button to answer, but before he could press down her voice came through again, audibly frustrated.

“Now would be nice, Mr. Becker.”

He gritted his teeth and sucked in deeply, composed himself, and pressed the button.

“Right away, Ms. Ranalli.”

Natalie Ranalli was not an easy person to work for. At all. The job Carl had wasn’t exactly horrible as it mostly just required taking calls and typing into a schedule, along with occasionally going out to pick up coffee and making orders for takeout. The hours were more than reasonable, and the pay was excellent. Way better than any job he’d had in the past. Carl would have hesitated to call it “work” if it weren’t for the fact that his boss was quite possibly one of the most horrendous people in the world.

On the outside she was absolutely gorgeous. At least three inches taller than him, and with an incredible shape that was only accentuated by her business attire. She had a flawless hourglass figure with wide hips and an ample chest, and she was definitely somebody you noticed walking out of a room. Her face looked incredible as well, with barely any fine lines to speak of despite her being at least six years his senior (she tried to hide her age, but that’s not an easy thing to keep away from your secretary). Her dazzling brown eyes seemed to light up the room, her dark hair cut nice and short, almost military style. Her skin was also incredibly tanned, a gorgeous olive complexion.

On the inside, well, that was much different. Carl wasn’t even sure if she had a soul. The first few days weren’t too bad, but afterwards her attitude towards him just kept getting more and more hostile. Underhanded false praise turned into outright blatant insults. Strict expectations turned into impossible deadlines that when missed were always met with five minute long lectures. Of course none of this actually led to him being fired, at this point that might actually be merciful, but no, she still kept him around because he was probably the only one willing to put up with her shit and still do as good a job as he does.

He reluctantly entered her office, shutting the door behind him and then moving to sit down in the chair in front of her desk He almost instinctively and lowered his eyes away from her face, staring down at her embossed name placard. He always wondered if that was real gold. It wouldn’t surprise him. She seemed to have a high enough opinion of herself to think her name deserved to be surrounded by the precious metal. She could probably afford it.

“I said ‘stand up’.”

“What?”

“Were you paying attention? I’ve asked you to stand up two times.”

“I don’t… um… yes Ms. Ranalli.”

Okay, so he wasn’t paying attention. He let out a sigh and stood out of the chair. As he did he noticed that she wasn’t wearing her suit. His eyes widened as he saw the luxurious red dress. Was that silk? He tried his hardest, but he couldn’t help but look at her chest to see if it was low cut, and although it was she thankfully was wearing some kind of shirt under the dress – although as much as he hated it a little part of him wished she wasn’t.

She spoke up again.

“No, that won’t do at all. You’re going to need a much nicer shirt. And, hold on, just let me…

She stood from her desk and Carl hurriedly moved his eyes upward to stare at the ceiling. Instantly he regretted how suspicious and obvious that looked, although eventually he noticed she wasn’t even looking at his face.

“Those pants are fine but those shoes, really?” She let out a huff. “I guess those will just have to work.”

He finally focused on her face and gave her a confused look. He could have sworn she grinned in response.

“I’m… confused, Ma’am. Why is any of this important now, so late in the day?”

She kneeled down to reach a drawer under her desk, opening it and retrieving a dress shirt that was wrapped up as if it had just been purchased.

“Mr. Becker, you do remember how I told you that today I was scheduling a dinner with some business associates?”

He thought for a second.

“Yes, vaguely.”

“Well, I wouldn’t exactly call them ‘associates’, more like ‘rivals’, or ‘bane of my entire existence’-“

**If she hates them they can’t be all bad.** Carl thought to himself silently, and couldn’t help but grin.

“-And it isn’t exactly just a regular dinner. It’s a group date sort of thing. I have to bring somebody along. If I went alone I wouldn’t hear the end of it.”

Carl paused as he slowly processed the information. His heart started to sink a bit, as if he was about to watch somebody in a yalova escort horror movie die, and that somebody was him.

“So… that shirt’s for me to wear… at this date.”

“Precisely.”

“That I’m going to.”

“Yes.”

“With you?”

She audibly sighed with frustration again.

“You catch on so quickly, you know that?”

A wide smile took over Carl’s face as he realized he had a golden, once in a lifetime opportunity. The one time in his life he’d ever be able to refuse an order from this creature sent from the realm of Hades.

“No.”

Her eyes narrowed, a curt frown appeared on her face.

“Excuse me?”

“I’m saying ‘No’. I’m not going on the date with you Ms. Ranalli. This isn’t exactly something you could force me to do. I mean, I don’t think it would be the best idea for you to fire me because I wouldn’t go on a date with you either.”

“Oh come on, you can’t be serious. This isn’t some romantic thing here! I just told you that it was only so they wouldn’t know I was single. I mean it’s not like I’m expecting you to-“

“That’s nice and all, but I don’t think any lawyer I hire and any judge that hears about this is going to buy that excuse, and even if they do it won’t be good enough.”

“But I just need you to-“

“And you thrust this on me, what, like half an hour before work was over for the weekend? I’m sorry, but this is completely out of the question. I’m going to go back to my desk and finish writing up that travel plan you’re having me do.”

With that, he quickly turned around and walked away from her desk. Leaving her fuming. Fuck, that felt good! He almost wish he could see how humiliated she was when her and the rest of her disgustingly rich, artificial bullshit “business associates” had their little gathering and she was the only one without a date. God, he was probably going to stay up all night just imagining it.

“I’ll increase your salary by three percent.”

Who with the what now?

Carl stumbled and fell, catching himself before he hit the halfway opened door face first. He slowly stood up and turned his head, closing the door again.

“Uh… three percent?”

She sighed again.

“Yes. Three percent.”

“For how long?”

“For good. Just as long as you go on this one date with me. It’s permanent.”

He paused, that was actually a very good offer, especially with his current salary. But maybe he could take advantage of her desperation for a bit.

“How about seven percent?”

“Becker for fu… don’t push me.”

“Five percent. Three is just a weird number, you know?”

“And seven isn’t a weird number?”

“Five percent.”

She let out one last sigh and her arms drooped.

“Fine, five percent. Now will you just… just put the goddamn shirt on? And comb your hair or something!”

“Absolutely, Ms. Ranalli. Anything for you.”

The engine of Natalie’s Corvette roared as the drove to the restaurant, some fancy French place whose name he couldn’t possibly hope to announce. Carl was flat out refusing to let her drive him there until he saw what they’d been going in. He hated to admit it to himself, but the fact that she drove a classic 1976 Stingray of all things once again just made her more attractive. Fast women and fast cars, why not both at the same time? The thought just depressed him even more in the long run, though. An awful human being with a great taste in automobiles.

“So, I guess you like the car, huh Carl?”

“Carl? Did you just…”

“We’re going to have to have drop the ‘Mr. and Ms.’ schtick if they’re going to think we’re dating. You do remember my name, right?”

“Well yeah, it’s Natalie. I’ve typed it thousands of times but…

“But what?”

“It’s just… it’s not something I expected.”

“Well, maybe you should have expected it.”

He looked away from her perfectly shaped body in the gorgeous dress and back on the road. God, she just can’t fucking turn it off, can she?”

“You know if you want to say something to me, and I mean really say something, now would be the perfect time.”

He looked to her again, cocking an eyebrow.

“You being serious right now?”

She grinned, that confidence never leaving her face.

“Positive. We aren’t in the office, we aren’t on the clock. This is a date, right? Not boss and employee.”

He thought for a second and opened his mouth, about to let loose a stream of profanities and verbal abuse that would make Quentin Tarantino blush, but stopped himself and looked back at the road.

“It’s… it’s fine.”

He glanced over at her again, seeing her eyebrows furrow a bit, the grin faltering.

“Really, are you sure?”

He nodded.

“Yeah. I just… It wouldn’t change anything. There’s no goddamn point.”

He was surprised at how bitterly he said it. He was also surprised at the look on her face. It almost reminded him of something that happened about a month ago. It was one of those weird, out of character sort of things for her that kept him just at the yalova escort bayan edge of absolutely despising her to the point where he flat out quit the job.

He had been making coffee when she called him over the desk’s intercom. Just as it did earlier this night, it startled him and his hand slipped, making the machine fall over, covering one of his arms in scalding hot liquid.

He screamed in agony, and almost immediately her office door slammed open and she ran out. Her hand covering her mouth, her eyes wide in shock and horror.

When she asked him if he was okay, her shouting was genuine, filled with concern. She knelt down on the floor and gingerly grabbed his arm. She swiftly tore at the cheap fabric of his button up shirt, saying something about taking some nursing classes in college. He wasn’t really paying attention because he was in utter agony and also completely confused at the fact that she was actually showing an emotion for him other than the lazy yet seething contempt she usually seemed to have.

Something about the tone in her voice and the expressions she made showed this other side of her that made him feel… safe? It was hard to say. But in those that moments she was gently holding his arm under cool water from the faucet in her private bathroom, gently reassuring him that he’d be fine and it wouldn’t hurt for much longer so long as he put the right ointments on it, then finally firmly yet kindly telling him he was no good as a secretary with second degree burns and to take the rest of the week off, he felt more than just that occasional feeling of reluctant lust towards her. It was genuine affection.

Looking back, he hated that feeling. It hurt more than the burn on his arm.

“Well… Carl, we’re here.”

That wavering in her tone was gone now, her face reverted back to it’s normal stoicism. He nodded and shifted in the seat to unbuckle himself and open the door, the cool air of the night seeping in.

They stepped in front of each other and eyed one another down one last time. She let out a light scoff and winced a bit before shaking her head.

“What, what is it?”

“You’ve got this… this hair that’s just sticking up.”

“What? Where?”

He awkwardly pawed at the top of his head before she finally told him to stop. She licked the palm of her hand and roughly pushed his hair down. The action made Carl blush, his eyes widening a bit. She gave him a sideways, sarcastic grin before holding out her other hand.

“Well?” She said expectantly.

He looked down dumbly at it, before finally saying “Oh, right.” and reaching out to grasp it, almost reluctantly.

She started leading him to the restaurant. The grip on his hand was firm, and soft. Really, really soft. Warm too.

Comforting, almost.

He shook his head slightly. **No, don’t start thinking like that. Not like those first few days you worked there before you figured out you she despised you. Not like with the coffee thing. You don’t fucking think about her like that.**

Eventually he pushed the thoughts down and they made it to the restaurant.

The food was great, even though she had to order for him because he couldn’t read anything on the menu or really understand the waiter’s accent. The fact that she was paying for it just made everything better. And the entertainment? Well, that was certainly something.

There wasn’t a band playing or anything, at least not that night, but he watched in grim satisfaction as his boss and these three other couples traded barbs with one another. For once those poisoned, thinly veiled statements of utter and complete disparagement weren’t going to him, and with the way Natalie was throwing them out he could tell the people on the receiving end definitely deserved them. There was the other woman who looked to be in her late 60’s, although that was probably just extensive plastic surgery and makeup because with the way she discussed people of certain ethnic descent he’d be genuinely surprised if she wasn’t around before the first Civil Right’s Act was even a flicker in LBJ’s eye. Then there was this tall, sickly looking British guy that made him imagine some Bond villain who was working with both the Soviets and some leftover Nazis at the same time to blow up the moon or something. Finally there was a a short, uncomfortably greasy looking man who talked with what must be a fake Boston accent. Carl liked to swear, but this dude was incredibly fond of the word “Cunt” and every time he said it his date seemed to inch just slightly further away from him.

Speaking of dates, that was another thing he noticed. They were all young. Exceptionally young, and extremely uncomfortable. Way more than him at least. The British guy’s date was wearing this ridiculously tight dress that made it hard for her to breathe. The old woman’s date couldn’t have been passed his mid 20’s and wasn’t even within a foot of her.

Jesus, did this entire crew of assholes just pay some unlucky person to coming along with them? He looked behind him and did escort yalova a mental count of some of the cars in the parking lot. He could swear they probably even came in separate rides.

Carl chuckled to himself as he slowly realized that his boss was far from the most despicable human being in upper corporate echelons. At least she didn’t find some random guy who probably didn’t even work at their respective companies to pay to come along. And at least he wasn’t born like three decades apart from her.

“Well, you’re certainly enjoying yourself, aren’t you Carl?”

“Hmm? Oh, sorry. It’s just… uh… the food is really good here.”

There was a brief, uncomfortable pause.

“Honey… Natalie.”

Her eyes narrowed tightly and she smiled reluctantly, raising her eyebrows. even she thought that was pretty funny.

“Both of you are gettin along real well. You’ve been practically makin’ out with how close you are togethah.”

God that fake, bullshit accent was pissing him off. He wanted to throw him out a window or something.

“Well, I’m on a date with her, right? I mean, you usually get close on dates, don’t you?”

“Yeah. Yeah, ya do.”

He reached over and pulled his “date’s” chair closer to him. A brief moment of rage flashed on her face, and he looked over to her with an apologetic expression. She just rolled her eyes.

He had reached down to cut into his steak – or whatever the French word for steak was – when the old woman spoke up.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they went the whole way and started screwing right in front of us. That certainly wouldn’t be out of character for Natalie, would it?”

Carl’s grip on the knife faltered at the sudden escalation in rhetoric, he sliced open the middle finger on his left hand.

“Fuck!”

He dropped the knife and grabbed his hand, looking to see how deep the cut was as blood started to trickle down.

“Jesus, Carl, what happened?!”

Natalie reached forward and grabbed his hand, looking at it intently, once again that look of utter concern washing over her face, her eyes frantically darting from the finger to the small pool of blood dripping onto his plate. She quickly grabbed a napkin and wrapped it around his finger and started applying pressure. Gently.

Gently.

He looked up at her, no longer muttering “shit” underneath his breath, once again staring in wide eyed wonderment at this caring person that had come out of the shell of this awful woman. He could swear she was somehow even more beautiful.

“Come on, let’s get to one of the restrooms, okay? I need to take a closer look at this.”

She stood him up, and keeping his hand gently cradled between both of hers slowly started leading him to the back of the restaurant and towards the bathrooms. The British guy spoke up.

“My Lord, there’s blood all over his plate, this is disgusting.”

“Oh just shut your fucking mouth. Ring over a waiter if it bothers you so much, Nigel.”

Carl was surprised at the sheer venom in the words Natalie said. Sure, she said some mean things but she REALLY wanted that one to land. Some other patrons briefly looked over before going back to their meals.

They finally made it to the unisex bathroom, and immediately Natalie steered Carl over to the sinks. She turned one of the faucets on low and gently unwrapped his hand. The fancy cloth napkin wasn’t absolutely soaked in blood, but it was definitely getting thrown out after tonight.

As she guided his hand under the warm water, she gently moved her finger over the cut.

“That doesn’t hurt too much, right? I’m sorry, I have to see how deep this is.”

She once again started muttering about nursing classes and skin wounds and how it probably wasn’t that bad and he was gonna be okay, and how it wasn’t his fault that he got hurt, accidents happen, all that. Carl in response started to look at her almost dreamily, before that lingering resentment inevitably rushed it’s way back to his consciousness.

“Uh… Ms. Ranalli?”

“Hmm? What is it Carl? Is the soap stinging you?”

She was still calling him Carl? Why not drop the facade? What the hell kept getting into her?

“What are you doing?”

“I want to make sure your cut doesn’t get infected, Carl. This is actually kind of deep. I might have to use some nail glue or something to close it.”

“No, that’s not what I meant. I meant… you know, what is this? Why are you acting like this?”

“Carl, it’s perfectly safe to use nail glue, okay? I know it sounds kind of weird but it’s actually sterile, so there’s nothing-“

“For fuck’s sake, what is with you?!”

Finally she stopped nervously scrubbing his finger and looked up at him. There was that expression again from the car, except this time it was even more pronounced. Hurt. She looked hurt.

“Look, Ms. Ranalli, or Natalie, or whatever the hell. Do I still have the opportunity to say whatever it is I want since we’re off time?”

She slowly blinked her eyes.

“Yes. Yes you do.”

He let out a sigh, slowly took his hand away from her and put it back in the napkin.

“What the fuck is with this. All of this. This is just like that time I spilled the coffee, you know? Like, you care about me all of a sudden?”

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