Like a hundred mornings before, I sat at my desk and waited for him.
The clock ticked in slow motion and I crossed and uncrossed my legs to try and stop them from their never-ending nervous bouncing. I worked in vain to relax as I went through my morning ritual.
Every morning it was the same. I don’t know why I got so nervous. I always got to the office a half an hour early, sorted the mail, straightened up Mr. McIntyre’s desk and mine, checked my typewriter ribbon. By the time it was 8:45 I would start to shake a little. I had to concentrate on not biting my lower lip, or I’d mess up my lipstick.
I kept a little laminated checklist under my typewriter that I could slide out and look at as the day went along.
Make sure his drinking glasses are clean. Make sure his desk is organized. Empty the two garbage cans. Check the bulbs in his lamps. Dust his globe and bookshelf. Get the special coffee he likes from the shop downstairs and keep it in a thermos. If he isn’t in by ten, get some more so it will be hot and fresh for him. I had to guard the milk I kept in the refrigerator. Mr. McIntyre doesn’t like cream. The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times on his desk. He read the New York Times on the train.
By 8:55 my heart was racing. I had to dab my forehead. My legs would bounce so much I was sure I was going to wear a hole in my stockings.
The offices of The Fitzgerald Group were laid out like many other companies.
Exiting the seventh-floor elevator, you find yourself in reception. A large beautiful space with tasteful but inoffensive modern art. Then you enter a lobby with some couches and tables for waiting. From there you come into a long, vast room with doors on either side and secretaries at desks in front of each of these doors.
Behind each door sits an executive or a partner. The two doors at the end of the long room lead to the offices of the CEO and the top Executive Vice President.
Mr. McIntyre’s office is just before those doors on the right.
In the center of the large room are a few rows of smaller desks, where account reps and other non-executives sit.
Everyone else in the company is down on the sixth floor.
When Mr. McIntyre came in, he would charge through the lobby. I could hear him stomping from the elevator coming right at me like a bull. No one else in the office walked that fast. My body would tighten as he walked towards me. I never knew where to look. I straighten papers. I fixed my pencils. I knew if I looked up at those blue eyes I’d explode, or even worse blush.
“Abby,” he greeted me in his deep voice.
I look up high enough to see his chin. I marveled at the lines of his lips and the smoothness of his shave.
“Good morning, Mr. McIntyre,” I hated my voice. I sounded like a little girl.
He was wearing his charcoal gray suit with a light blue shirt and a navy and white striped tie.
“You have an eleven o’clock meeting with Mr. Richardson. Lunch at one with the Morgan Stanley people. Nothing else until the four o’clock review with Mr. Donaldson, sir.”
He looked through his mail as I reeled off his itinerary from memory. He threw away half the mail and opened one letter right there at my desk. I could smell his aftershave and lingering cigarette smoke. He had a little red nick on his chin from shaving. I wanted to lick it.
Why was I like that? Why was getting wet just from him standing over me? I had been working in the office for six months, and I was still acting like an idiot whenever he was around. It was actually getting worse. Did other girls think about their boss like that? I was twenty-two, and he was thirty-five. He was married to the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. Plus, well, Mr. McIntyre had secrets. I would never tell. I could always keep secrets. It was important that Mr. McIntyre knew that. I was his secretary, and I would never divulge any of his private affairs to anyone, except my diary.
As he finished with his mail, he hovered closer, taking a step nearer and looking around.
“Abby,” he said slowly, clearing his throat.
He was using his conspiratorial whisper.
“See if you can move the Morgan thing to two and the Richardson thing to 10. Matt Richardson is staying at the Roosevelt, tell him I can swing by, and we can do it in the restaurant there.”
Then he leaned in even closer, his mouth inches from my ear. I tried to breathe, but I couldn’t. Just kiss me. Kiss my neck. I’ll do anything you want Mr. McIntyre. Please,
“Call up the Pierre. Get me that room I get. You know the one. Tell them it is for Mr. Chambers, they will know what you mean. I’ll be there from 11:30 to 1.”
Then he was gone. Into his office with the door closed.
I only saw her once; the girl he takes to the Pierre. He always paid cash at the desk for the room. She was my age, dark hair, light eyes, fancy clothes. She had a stupid face. She looked mean, bitter and bratty. Maybe that’s what he liked. I wonder what they did in there. I mean, I knew what they did, I just wondered how exactly it went. Did he get there first or did she? Did he just pull up her dress and get to it? Was he rough or gentle?
My legs closed tightly under my desk. My fists clenched. I had to stop thinking about that room. I had to stop thinking about Mr. McIntyre.
He was rough. I just knew Mr. McIntyre was rough. I bet he pushed her down on the bed or maybe against the wall. I bet he slapped her around if her bratty mouth went off. I bet he ripped her panties off, if she wore any, that little slut.
Was it big? Oh god. I had to stop thinking about it. Was it thick and hard? Did she suck it? Did it hurt her when he-
“Abby? Is there a problem with the coffee?” he said through the intercom.
“One moment, sir.”
I was out of my seat like a shot. I was dizzy as I ran down the hall and got the milk from the break room. I found a mug for him. I got the thermos. Just a splash of milk. My eyes stung. I was so stupid. I was daydreaming, and I forgot.
I fanned my eyes. Stop it. Don’t cry. Put on a happy face and bring it to him.
I composed myself. I took a deep breath. I opened the door. I brought in the coffee. He was writing notes on a yellow pad. He didn’t look up at me, he just picked up the cup I put down and sipped.
I was so stupid. I stupid girl with ridiculous fantasies.
I backed away from his desk and scolded myself for having the weird impulse to curtsey.
I went back to my desk, and I made the calls. I had to fight with the various clients to change the times, but it all worked out.
The little intercom crackled as I pushed the button and announced, “sir? Your schedule is all set for the day. Just the way you wanted it.”
Silence. My heart raced again. The intercom static was breaking my heart.
“Thank you, Abby,” said his firm baritone.
“Oh, and great coffee as always,” he added.
I tried not to smile, but I felt myself blushing again.
Oh, Mr. McIntyre.