Public stories, Private lives
The next morning, Jim Fenner arrived late for work having over slept.
"Probably out screwing some tart all night," Said Nikki in response to Nick Jordan's enquiry of Fenner's whereabouts. Jim came rushing in unshaven and quite clearly hung over.
"Nick was looking for you," Called Jasmine, the other news reporter, as Jim sat down at his computer.
"He'll have to wait," Came Jim's curt reply.
"Got out of bed the wrong side this morning, Fenner?" Asked Nikki as she passed him on her way to the photocopier.
"Piss off, Wade," Was Fenner's only response.
"More like just the wrong bed," Muttered Cassie which made Victoria grin. As Jim began frantically looking through his files, searching for the other photos he had to e-mail to Neil Grayling, his anger grew.
"Which thieving little tit's been at my computer?"
"This one!" Said the cold voice of Karen as she strode purposefully towards him. She jerked a finger for him to follow. "My office, now!" Fenner got up quickly and followed her. He'd rather look like a sheep than have what he'd been up too broadcast to all and sundry.
Karen marched resolutely up to her office, Fenner following her and trying, in the short time he had, to come up with some sort of an excuse. Karen shut the door behind him and gestured to a chair.
"Sit down," She said, her expression like granite.
"Karen, it's not what you think," He said, trying to calm her down. She held up a hand.
"You have been e-mailing pictures of me to some bastard at The Sun. These are pictures that you took of me which I thought were for your own personal use. Do you have any idea how you've made me feel?"
"Karen, Please, let me explain."
"Go on then, this should be good."
"Neil's just a mate. He just wanted some photos of a tasty bird, that's all."
"That's all? If I'd had any idea you were planning to share those pictures, I'd have never let you take them in the first place. You do realise I could get you sacked for even having contact with someone from a rival newspaper."
"Oh come on," Said Jim, clearly losing his grip on his anger. "You wouldn't do that."
"Not this time, no. I don't want everyone staring at my assets. But if I ever find out you're doing this again, you're out."
"Let's not forget that raiding another person's computer is also a sackable offense," Said Fenner in his most oily sinister tone.
"I'll take my chance," Said Karen though this definitely rattled her. Unfortunately, he was right. But this was different, it just had to be!
When Fenner returned to the main office, he took a kick at the nearest filing cabinet.
"Someone's rattled his cage," Said Cassie.
"Yeah, looks like it," Replied Jasmine. Fenner looked like he was ready to take on the whole lot of them at once.
"Anything that needs doing away from here?" Fenner asked Nick Jordan, who had also been caught in the act with several women and to some extent understood Fenner's situation.
"Yeah," He said handing Jim a print-out. "There's been an anonymous story sent in about a dodgy antiques dealer. You could check it out." Nick lowered his voice. "It might be better to come back once the heat's cooled down." Alex Adams, the junior financial director, interrupted.
"Isn't that supposed to be coming from finance? If it's some guy selling dodgy antiques then that's us, not you." Fenner leaned over Alex's desk.
"Want a fight about it, Adams?" He was clearly looking for any excuse to start one.
"No, he doesn't," Said Cassie. "But I will." She skidded across the room on her computer chair and plucked the piece of paper out of Fenner's hand. When she returned to her computer she read it. Then she stood up and picked up her car keys.
"Do you want me to follow that up?" Asked Alex.
"No, I'll do it," Replied Cassie. "I probably know more than you about buying antiques."
"Only because you can afford it," Said Tash.
"Maybe," conceded Cassie. "I just like to apply the knowledge I have to my job, that's all." She grinned. Nikki laughed.
"Oh, so that's like, which one of us gets the job of checking out a new gay bar."
"Yeah, something like that," Said Cassie as she left the room.
At around eleven o'clock, Karen went to make herself a coffee and took it out to the garden at the back of the office. She lit a cigarette and stood taking in the sun to try and straighten out her brain. It still astounded her that she could have been so wrong about Jim. She'd believed everyone of his excuses and stories. It had only been the taped evidence of what he'd been up to that had convinced her. Was she really that bad at judging character? Jesus! She was supposed to be a journalist, and they were known for being able to get things out of people that no-one else could. How then had she totally failed to apply the same cold, ruthless attitude to her own relationship. She'd simply become far too blasé about men. She'd known that Jim had been involved with Shell Dockley, but that was before her and she'd assumed he'd grown up slightly. Apparently not. Karen was unaware of Mike, watching her out of his window on the second floor. All the editor's offices faced out on to the garden at the back, as did some of the windows in the open plan office of the reporters. Mike was furious every time he thought about what Jim had been doing to Karen. Yes, he had to admit that he wouldn't have minded a look at those pictures of her. Karen was a very attractive, sexy woman whom he'd admired and found appealing ever since he'd known her. But to sell intimate pictures of her to a paper like The sun, that was unforgivable. Mike had heard Karen giving Fenner a verbal wrap over the knuckles, as had Yvonne, and he couldn't have done it better himself. But he knew that under all the anger that she was hurting. Knowing that others had seen those pictures of her had made her feel degraded and cheap, he knew that. When Karen returned to the office, she spied Mike looking at her out of his window and smiled at him. Mike's mind was made up. He picked up the phone and rang the Julies, in their little cluttered office on the ground floor. It was Julie Saunders who answered.
"Julie, it's Mike. Will you cancel the order for sandwiches for myself and Karen Betts, I'm taking her out to lunch."
At twelve thirty, as Karen locked her office door, Mike called her name. She poked her head round his door.
"Do you fancy a drink?" Mike said. Karen smiled.
"A large scotch wouldn't go amiss. Why?"
"Well, I thought we might go to the pub. I've had a hell of a morning and I bet yours hasn't been much better."
"No," Karen agreed. "It hasn't." They went to a small bar near to the office and Mike came back with two glasses of scotch and sandwiches. As Karen bit in to a tuna and sweet corn sandwich, Mike said,
"I heard you giving Fenner his just desserts." Karen looked a little sheepish.
"I forget how thin those walls are."
"Did you manage to get rid of all the pictures?" Asked Mike.
"Probably not," Said Karen. "Me and Yvonne went through his computer and all his disks, but he's probably got the originals somewhere else." Mike suddenly gripped the table, his knuckles showing white.
"Hey," Said Karen briefly touching his hand. "Don't get angry on my account. I've done enough of that myself."
They were suddenly aware of how close they were to each other. They both found that they couldn't break their gaze. Maybe it'd been the action of Karen touching Mike's hand, neither of them knew. Karen eventually broke to tension by taking a sip from her scotch. The ice rattled at she lifted the glass, making her aware that her hand was shaking slightly. For the next half hour, they sat talking about anything not to do with work, both relaxed in the other's company. They were both aware, however, that a bond had been created, that a match had been put to a chemistry between them, meaning that the moment of feeling wouldn't easily be forgotten.
Back at the office, Nikki and Yvonne were preparing to go to court. It was Yvonne's fraudulent vicar being brought in front of the magistrates for embezzling the church funds. As such, a crime reporter had to attend even though this was primarily a financial story. Once they'd left in Nikki's car, Tash and Kirstie left the coffee lounge simultaneously.
"Wonder what they're up to?" Murmured Victoria to Jasmine.
"Yeah," She replied. "I think there's going to be trouble there." Tash followed Kirstie up to her office on the third floor, where she resided next to accounts. Once Kirstie had closed her office door, there was a very charged silence.
"I wanted to see you," Said Tash, finally working up the courage to speak.
"I gathered as much," Said Kirstie retreating to the window.
"After I spoke to you on Friday," Tash was clearly finding it difficult to speak. "Kirstie I can't go on like this." Kirstie relented and took pity on her.
"No, me neither," She said as she crossed the room to where Tash was standing. They stood very close, just staring at each other. They were both remembering their university days. Those endless hours of talking, cooking, listening to music, plus the occasional bit of work. They were also remembering the incredible passion that had been between them. This was almost a test to see who would break first. It was Tash's almost automatic action of pushing a strand of hair behind Kirstie's ear that did it. Suddenly they were crushed together so that not even air could come between them. They fitted together like the pieces of a jigsaw. They needed no guide to find each other's lips. The renewal of something that had been so long ago, came to both of them like it had been yesterday. Tash found herself incredibly turned on by the familiar feel of Kirstie's slim body against her.
"Kirstie, I wish you didn't have this affect on me," Said Tash between kisses. Kirstie laughed softly.
"It makes it all the more exciting," She said. But they both knew they should stop there, or neither of them would be able to.
"I've got to see you this week," Said Tash before she left Kirstie's office.
"How about Friday?" Suggested Kirstie. "That's if I can tare you away from the usual gathering," She said with a grin.
"Yeah, I'm sure I can come up with some excuse. Come round on Friday evening." As Tash walked downstairs to the main office, she knew that she was storing up trouble for herself, but her feelings for Kirstie weren't something she had any hope of controlling.
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