Sunday 10 – Monday 11 February 2013
From the age of eight, Hilary Thoms had learnt the hard way that the world would not give her everything that she wanted. Nor would it provide her with everything that she needed to thrive as an independent thinker and well-rounded young woman. No, the way of her family was to have everything handed to each successive generation on a silver platter. The closest anyone got to working for a living was to start out in middle management and work up to an upper management job in a company owned by a family member. It was a privileged life, to say the least, that Hilary led as a child but not a life that she was entirely comfortable with.
Nor was she comfortable with the recent directive set down by her uncle, Terence Blackwood, the master of all her surveyed at Blackwood Research and Development. Hilary was policy-savvy having read and analysed every policy available to her regarding the operation of her uncle’s corporation, and it seemed to her that the contingency plan referred to as ‘A seven’ was excessive not to mention illegal. However, when Verity Flynn informed the upper management team that A seven was to be implemented, Hilary was unable to express her discontent. Doing so would surely have put her in the firing line quite literally.
Standing with Gus Portland, Verity’s off-sider, Hilary sensed that he too was ill at ease with the idea.
‘Gus,’ she spoke quietly and deliberately, ‘are you sure that A seven is the best course of action here?’ It was a potentially fatal mistake to raise the question with him, but cleaning up the boss’ niece would hopefully be low on his list.
‘If Mr. Blackwood says he wants A seven enforced, then that’s what we have to do.’
‘You didn’t answer my question, Gus. Do you think it’s the best course of action in this instance?’
He hesitated to reply, unsure if she might be testing his loyalty to Blackwood. He analysed her body language, looked her in the eye, and decided that she wasn’t the threat he thought she might be.
‘Between you and I, Thoms, and I mean this stays between the two of us,’ he paused and waited for any sign that she fully understood the gravity of his words. She nodded and minutely settled his nerves at addressing the topic.
‘No, I don’t think that A seven is entirely the right course of action, but as I said, it’s not up to us. Mr. Blackwood sees it as the best way to clean up this mess and our job is to follow his orders.’ He shot a glance over at Verity who was dealing with the rest of the team, and prayed that she didn’t have any sense of what he was currently discussing with Thoms.
‘You do know that he’s my uncle, don’t you?’ Hilary asked.
‘It is known to a small few of us, yes, Thoms,’ Gus replied.
‘If I could speak with Terence, convince him that A seven isn’t appropriate here, would you back me up? Would you deal with her?’ She looked at Verity and Gus followed her gaze. He shifted his weight from foot to foot in a nervous gesture. Gus Portland learnt a very long time ago that Verity Flynn was not a woman with whom anyone should trifle. She was hard and heartless, ruthless, brutal, and utterly menacing at the best of times, but get on her bad side and you were as good as dead.
Hilary, no slouch herself in reading body language, could see that the woman intimidated Gus. She would have to push him if an alliance between boss’ niece and upper management leader was to take place.
‘Gus, please, you know as well as I do that you’re the only one here who has Verity’s ear. She can do without the rest of us and given the chance she’d feed us to the wolves, but you . . . you’re different. She relies on you to back her up. She knows that she needs you.’ Hilary paused wanting to see if her words were making any impact whatsoever. Another little push.
‘Imagine if your wife worked at Facility Five. Would you be content knowing that Verity was going to A seven her ass?’
‘Of course not,’ Gus snapped a little too loudly, drawing Verity’s attention. He lifted and dropped his chin in an ‘everything’s okay’ gesture to her. It seemed to placate Flynn and she turned her attention back to the other members of the team. Gus knew that she was instructing them on the parameters of contingency plan A seven and there was limited time if Hilary was to change Blackwood’s mind.
‘If, and only if you can get Blackwood to rescind the order, I’ll do what I can with Verity. But you’ll need to move fast. We’re wrapping up the salvage aspect of it, probably be done within the next hour. If you have any pull with your uncle, I highly suggest you work quickly.’ And with those words, Gus Portland walked away from his employer’s niece and into the waiting talons of Verity Flynn.
. . . To be continued . . .