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Welcome back, reader! Thanks again for making my first experience writing on this platform a positive one. Despite a few negative comments about the gender of my characters, the majority of the feedback I’ve received has been positive. I understand my own skill level and I know I am not producing advanced creative writing projects, but I’m happy to have provided more content for those looking for contemporary non-binary/genderqueer erotica.
On Saturday, Kelsey met the rest of Beckett’s family in-person at their moms’ house. Like the happy hour with their teammates, Beckett was ready to skip it to spend more time with Kelsey alone before she had to leave, but she told them that they both needed to stop treating their visits to each other like they were the last times they’d see one another. She told Beckett that her hope was that they could fall into a routine that made the time between visits less agonizing.
Beckett was less optimistic than Kelsey about not being in agony when they were apart, but didn’t argue with her logic. Maybe it could work.
While having breakfast before Beckett went to work on Sunday, the two discussed the idea of one of them moving, eventually, if things continued to progress as they were. As it stood, neither of them could move anytime soon, but they could each make some adjustments in their lives to see each other more often.
Kelsey couldn’t leave her widowed mother and move several hundreds of miles away, but she could visit them somewhat frequently because she could work from anywhere. Beckett was concerned that frequent, long car trips would eventually take a toll on her and their relationship, so they insisted that she not ramp up her visit frequency too quickly.
Because Beckett knew they couldn’t do the same in return. It was hard enough for Beckett to take two consecutive days off, let alone more than that. They could spread their paid time off and use only a day or two at a time, but they’d be burning up time that they could use to take an actual vacation with Kelsey. And for that reason, Kelsey insisted that Beckett also not ramp up their visit frequency too quickly either.
However, Chad was officially Beckett’s boss as of the new year and they weren’t sure if they could work for him long-term. He’d already implied that he was going to fight to have some of their policies, in particular around prosecution of thefts at a lower threshold, changed now that he was in an elevated role. And, although Beckett didn’t want to leave their company, they might need to for their own mental health.
Kelsey encouraged them to talk to someone higher up and see if there were any other opportunities that might be good for them. Of course, those jobs might not be jobs that allowed Beckett to travel the way the Regional Manager job would have, which meant that their ability to visit Kelsey wouldn’t improve, nor would their ability to move to be with her. But it all had to start with them asking what was available and that required uncharacteristic optimism about their abilities.
Kelsey had insisted that they send the email while she was still there and could witness it. That should have annoyed Beckett because they didn’t like to be pushed, but it didn’t feel pushy coming from her; it felt like true support. Even if it meant that Beckett couldn’t move to be with Kelsey, she supported them as they pursued something new.
Beckett, however, wasn’t actually all that sure they wanted to explore jobs that would prevent them from being with Kelsey, short-term or long-term. Still, they promised her that they would look into it and they were.
“Come on in, Beckett,” their VP of Operations, Michael, said as he waved Beckett into his office. “Thanks for coming in on short notice.”
“Of course,” Beckett replied as they took the open seat on the other side of Michael’s desk. They hadn’t expected him to respond to their email within an hour of receiving it, let alone ask them to come to his office first thing on Monday morning.
“I’m glad you reached out about taking the next step in your career. If I’m being honest, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t see your resume come across my desk for the Regional Manager job,” he told Beckett as he cleaned his glasses.
Beckett rubbed the back of their neck. “Yeah, I do regret that, especially hearing you say that now.”
“When the deadline passed and I still didn’t see it, I knew I messed up. I know you don’t like to be pushed too hard and I wanted to encourage you to apply but I thought you’d get there on your own eventually. I asked Toni to extend the deadline to apply so I could talk to you about it, but she reminded me that Chad applied before the deadline and it might not have been fair to him.”
“She’s right. It wouldn’t have been fair,” Beckett replied.
“Most importantly,” Michael continued, “she reminded me that if you found out that I extended the deadline istanbul travesti when there were already applicants that you wouldn’t be too happy with me.”
Beckett laughed. “She’s right about that too.”
“She usually is,” Michael said with a sigh, shaking his head. “Anyway, the reason I called you in here so quickly is that we’re losing half of our Maine-based cultivation team to a new competitor,” he lamented. “We tried to match their offers but they made a bunch of promises about growth that I wouldn’t make. I can’t promise anyone anything, I can only promise to support them. But half of them got handshake agreements from the recruiters saying they’d be supervisor and manager roles within six months.”
“Damn! I’d make a joke about going to work for them, but I don’t think it would land well today,” Beckett said, understanding that statement itself was really just a way to make a joke without having to come up with a good joke.
Michael laughed. “Probably true,” he said with an appreciative smile. Beckett had worked with him long enough to know that a little laughter truly was the best medicine for Michael. “I am in need of some hardworking, quick learners who can jump in immediately and support the team that’s left,” he continued. “You’d be taking a step back level-wise, but your pay would remain the same. I don’t believe in cutting someone’s pay when they want to learn more. The idea here is to give you a holistic view of the industry and get you into a part of it that you haven’t dealt with before. You get the dispensary side, I want to experience what happens before it even gets there.”
“Oh. Wow. Um…” Beckett stammered trying to process everything Michael was saying.
“And you’d still get yearly raises and all that, though I don’t think you’ll be in that job for more than a few months before we bump you up again. Think of it as a sort of fast track to get back to the manager level, just in another area of the business,” he explained.
“That’s…” Beckett paused, unsure how exactly they felt about what he was saying. They certainly felt a lot of pride about the compliments Michael was giving, but their imposter syndrome still nagged at them.
They needed to push that aside, though. Kelsey believed in them and they promised her they’d go into this with confidence. And now Michael was showering them in praise and showing that he too believed in them.
“That really means a lot, Michael. I definitely think that’s something I want to do, but there’s a little more to this than just getting out of security,” Beckett said as they chewed their bottom lip. Were they really about to say this out loud?
“Do you want to tell me what that is or was that the end of it?” Michael asked after they were silent for a little too long.
“Sorry,” Beckett said, shaking their head. “I’m seeing someone who lives in Pennsylvania. I know you’ve said before that we’re going to keep expanding as recreational is legalized in other states and I was hoping that I could be first in line when that happens in Pennsylvania. I just don’t know if I’ll be able to prove myself in cultivation in time for you to want to send me to be one of the people to start it up there.”
“First of all, you’ve proven yourself many times here. The only reason I’m not suggesting that we start you as a manager in cultivation is that I want you to have time to really learn before you have to guide other people,” Michael clarified. “Second, even if you were a mediocre employee, I’d still support you if you wanted to transfer somewhere else. That’s just what we do here.”
“Thanks,” Beckett said quietly, but with a small smile. Accepting compliments wasn’t too bad after all.
“Pennsylvania is really dragging their feet, but they’ll get there soon. And you’ll be the first name on the list,” Michael said, passing a packet of paper to Beckett and slipping back into the professional, no bullshit demeanor that Beckett was used to. “The only catch with this fast track deal is that we’re going to need to lock you into a contract. It’s unconventional to do this, but we’re far from conventional, right?”
“I’m not going to screw you over here, I care about you as a person way more than I care about the company’s bottom line,” Michael emphasized. “But you should talk to someone else about this so the person hiring you isn’t also the person giving you career advice. That’s just a draft because I need to make a few changes based on what we just talked about, in particular transferring you to Pennsylvania when we expand there. It’ll be optional on your part, you don’t have to transfer if… uh… uh…”
“I’m not worried about it,” Beckett said, trying to save Michael from having to stumble through figuring out the gender of their partner.
Michael cleared his throat. “Well it’ll be optional regardless. Mandatory for the company, optional for you,” he clarified. “All of this is unique istanbul travestileri to you, so we can talk through some of the other details if you have questions after you read through it. There’s no standard format for this, we’re making it up as we go.”
“From a future salary-negotiation point of view, I should not be saying this, but you are irreplaceable, Beckett. People like you don’t come around often and I learned a long time ago that I need to keep those people by my side. I’m getting the better end of this deal, even if you take me to the cleaners, because I get to take credit for all of your accomplishments,” he finished with a huge grin.
“When do you need to know by?” Beckett asked as they flipped through the pages.
“I owe you a revision, so let’s just say a week from whenever I send that over to you. Just do me a favor and don’t wait a week to negotiate any changes you want. Let’s knock those out as you think of them. If you accept, we treat you like any other promotion or new hire and you’ll get your first week in your new job as paid time off so you can reset before taking on a new challenge,” Michael said, standing up and holding his hand out for Beckett to shake.
Beckett stood and shook his hand firmly. “I won’t keep you waiting. Thank you for this. It’s a lot to process but it really means a lot. I don’t know what to say, really.”
“Hopefully you say yes,” Michael laughed. “But go talk to your…”
“Partner,” Beckett helped.
“Go talk to your partner and someone who is familiar with contracts, if that’s a different person, and give me a call if you have questions,” Michael continued. “Take the rest of the day off. I’ll call Chad and let him know he’ll have to figure out how to cover your shift. This is a two-year agreement and I want you to give it a lot of thought.”
“I will,” Beckett told him.
“I spent a lot of time yesterday looking at your career so far, Beckett. Both here and before we hired you. We should talk sometime about how I got to where I am. I see a lot of myself in you,” Michael said as he came around the desk to walk Beckett the few feet to the door. “You have a long career in this industry ahead of you if you want it and if legislation keeps going our way. I genuinely see big things in your future and I’ll be here to support you until you kick me to the curb and move on to bigger things.”
“Wow, that’s amazing, babe!” Kelsey yelled through Beckett’s car speakers as they drove home from the meeting with Michael.
“It still means I’m not going to be able to leave Maine any time soon,” Beckett clarified.
“That’s obviously not ideal, but we knew that it was unlikely there would be something with a lot of travel to Pennsylvania immediately. Even that regional job wouldn’t be coming here for a while.”
“Yeah but it would have been Monday to Friday, no weekends. I just feel so stupid for not applying for the regional job,” Beckett lamented. “Michael basically said I would have had the job if I’d applied. Or at least a good chance.”
“You had shit to work through, babe, that’s not something to feel stupid about,” Kelsey emphasized. “And you’re forgetting that you can ask for anything you want. There are no guarantees that you’ll get everything, but I don’t think you need to be worried about asking for too much – this Michael guy seems to want to keep you around.”
Beckett considered Kelsey’s statement, thinking back to what Michael had told them. “He did say that he’s getting the better end of this deal no matter what, so I guess that means there’s no real risk of asking for too much.”
“Kinda feels like he might have been trying to lead you and tell you to ask for whatever you want. He just couldn’t say it outright because he shouldn’t encourage his employees to use their leverage in employment negotiations,” Kelsey said.
“Yeah, he’s definitely that kind of guy,” Beckett confirmed.
“So what are you going to ask for?” Kelsey asked.
Beckett laughed. “I don’t know. I’ve never had leverage before and I don’t know how to use it.”
“Go home, smoke a joint, and think about what you want your life to be like,” Kelsey instructed. “Then figure out what you need in order to have that life. If there are ways to get those things from your job, ask for them. You are in a position that many people will never be in – you get to decide what the next year of your life looks like.”
“Contract is for two years,” Beckett corrected.
“Okay, that’s the first thing you need to change, then. This is your first employment agreement with them. You’ve worked there for a while, but this is going to be different. You might decide you don’t like it and you want to get out. That will be a lot easier if there are only six months left in your agreement instead of eighteen,” Kelsey explained.
“I just feel like all of this is above my head. Clearly, I don’t know anything travesti istanbul about this.” Beckett felt like they weren’t equipped to negotiate an employment contract. They worked for a cannabis company, not some fancy investment firm.
Kelsey was silent for a long moment and Beckett thought the call might have dropped, but then she cleared her throat. “Nothing is above your head, Beckett. I wish I could show you what I see and I wish I could explain it in a way that you would accept. That’s not a knock on you, that’s a frustration with myself that I can’t figure out how to say it the right way. So just please believe me when I say this. You have all of the leverage here. Ask for everything and you’ll at least get most of it.”
Beckett spent the rest of the day mapping out a loose life plan and working it into the agreement.
They wanted to have some flexibility in their location for sure. The immediate need was flexibility to be able to be where Kelsey was, but in the future that could mean flexibility to see more of the country like Sam and Sylvie had done. Being in one of the first ten states to legalize recreational use had its obstacles, but that also meant that the expertise they were gaining was valuable in states that would legalize later.
Growth was important too. They didn’t want to be in a place like they felt like they had been for the last few years. They never saw a clear career path and it felt like they had to compete with their colleagues in order to get anywhere, which Beckett just wasn’t into.
Obviously, salary had to be a consideration too. Michael said that there would be no pay cut to move to a lower level on another team and that Beckett wouldn’t be excluded from getting raises even if they were over the cap for their role, but he didn’t talk about what those raises might look like. Against Kelsey’s advice, they trusted their gut and stuck with the two-year term, so they needed to have very specific milestones and associated increases laid out in the contract.
Then, there were the accommodations they wanted so they could see Kelsey more often. They asked for a Monday to Friday schedule so they could visit her on weekends whenever they wanted. The timing of their shifts wasn’t important Monday through Thursday, but they asked for their Friday shift to end at three o’clock so they could get on the road to visit Kelsey, if needed. They certainly couldn’t visit her every weekend, but it would give them flexibility.
By dinner time, they had their list of requests all laid out in an email to Michael; all they needed to do was hit the send button.
They sent the same text message to Kelsey, Sam, Sylvie, and Charlie.
Beckett: Tell me to send this email.
Charlie was first to respond with his usual brand of fake tough love.
Charlie: Send the fucking email, B.
A few minutes later, Sylvie’s reply came through, along with a selfie of Sylvie and Sam in their van.
Sylvie: You got this, Buckets.
Sylvie: This is Sam, Sylvie is driving, consider this a response to your text to me as well.
Sylvie: Love you, see you at your parents’ anniversary party next weekend.
Kelsey took a few more minutes to text back, but it was the message Beckett needed in order to click the button.
Kelsey: I know it’s hard for you to see how special you are, but you need to believe it. You deserve everything you are asking for and more. You are going to do great things and I just hope you’ll keep me around long enough for me to witness it. You have something that people try their whole lives to achieve – people are drawn to you. They want to talk to you. It’s impossible to dislike you. And you know I tried 😉
With that last confidence boost, Beckett sent the email to Michael and turned their attention to Taco for a distraction.
“Do you want to go for a walk?” they asked in their most excited voice. But Taco just looked at them, then buried their nose under their leg again. “Okay, too cold for a walk. How about tuggies? Do you want tug tugs?”
Taco jumped down from the couch and bolted across the room to grab her toys. She brought two beat up toys to Beckett and nudged their knee.
“I can’t tug both, silly,” they teased, grabbing both and successfully taking them from Taco. They tossed the shark back towards her bed and dangled the frog in front of her face. Taco wagged her tail and followed as Beckett waved the toy back and forth in front of her.
Beckett’s phone chimed on the table.
Michael: Got your email. Nothing seems unreasonable. I’ll write up the revisions and run them through HR in the AM. Are you on the schedule tomorrow? I can swing by the Portland store with it for you to sign if that’s cool with you. I’m not trying to pressure you, I just want to get moving on this right away so we can backfill your spot and get you into the cultivation center.
Beckett: Yes, but I’ll be in Bridgeton to do an audit and an interview. I probably can’t get back to Portland until 5 or so. I can skip the recap with Keisha and go back in the morning if that’s too late.
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