Charlie on the Hunt: Scarlett

Charlie on the Hunt: Scarlett

I am still relishing lockdown. I managed to get the Pfizer vaccine earlier so that I may work with the vulnerable in a few weeks. While waiting to get stuck in, I’ve been keeping myself busy diligently creating my third novel. “CHARLIE ON THE HUNT.” Each chapter is about a different character and only at the end does it all tie in…

 

An extract from

SCARLETT

 

At 10am the next day, Alfred arranged a meeting with me.

‘Congratulations, Scarlett,’ he said to me as though I’d poisoned him with the cupcakes I had brought into the office that morning.

‘Really?’ I couldn’t thank him for something he didn’t appear to be happy about.

‘Are you sleeping with Fenton?’ His voice was caustic. His hands fidgety, all over my employment contract.

I laughed.

‘Well?’

‘Well, what?’

‘Oh, come on! Everyone has noticed. A blind man could see.’

‘What exactly could a blind man see?’

‘How he adorns you with his attention every spare moment he has… And you lap it up like a puppy dog.’

‘He does? I do? I didn’t realise I acted like a puppy dog. That must be embarrassing for all. I will be more aware of my puppy dog behaviour. I don’t appreciate the way you are talking to me.’

He bowed his head, looking sorry for himself, as embarrassed as he probably expected me to feel when confronted with such an outrageous allegation.

A month after I started, Fenton took us all to an upmarket wine bar in Belgravia with a dress code to celebrate the substantial increase in the marketing budget. Open bar. People loosened up. I took it to another level. I wanted to prove what I already knew… Alfred, the director, the CEO’s 2IC and Fenton, the one in charge, both kept getting me drinks, in competition with each other. At the end of the evening, I kissed Alfred. He could not look me in the eye after the rejection. After he followed me off the bus on my way home, thinking he was going to be invited into my flat for a nightcap. ‘Oh, Alfred! This is so wrong… I keep thinking of your fiancé. I am so sorry for allowing myself to feel such attraction for you and on top of it acting, acting so out of character. Such shame!’ He begged. Blah. He said he has fallen for me. Blah blah. He shouldn’t be marrying her. Blah blah blah… ‘I can never be the cause of breaking up a very special union. You need to forget about me and sort out your relationship. And you are my boss. Another no-no for me!’ Why come on to me in the first place? ‘I did? I’ve asked for your forgiveness. Please find it in your heart to give me that. For us, and your fiancé, I’m doing what’s best for all.’ Another one that would so easily lie and betray because they received attention from an attractive woman, a woman they believe they’d never get even in their dreams. Actual words were spoken to me in a drunken slur. I closed my front door on him. Fucking arse hole, I said out loud. Can any man be trusted? A little voice tried to tell me, if you keep on testing them in this way, then no.

‘Fenton said you slept with him,’ Alfred blurted.

‘Thanks for checking the facts with me.’

‘The pay rise?’

‘Don’t you think I deserve it, without having to permit some prick to penetrate me?’

He fiddled with the papers more forcefully. ‘I’m not trying to imply anything.’

‘Oh, how I misunderstood you then. Are we done?’

‘Well, um… Can…? Okay, sure, yes, thanks.’

I stood up and left him sitting there still fingering my contract.

The next day Fenton called me after work. He invited me to meet him for dinner the following night. I said I wanted to experience a Michelin Star restaurant. He said he’d see what he could do. He spoke about his connections and I doubted most of what he said. He’s a liar. A cheat. Why should I believe anything he said unless he showed me?

After the five-course meal that included gold leaf carrots and foaming slime, a dessert trolley was presented before us, to personally select the overpriced sweet delights. I could have eaten everything on each of the five levels and still felt in need of more.

With his spoon full of salted caramel mousse, he said, ‘You have your pay rise. Now, it’s time to return the favour.’

I placed an overflowing forkful of white chocolate fudge cake into my mouth and chewed slowly. It melted gently and richly satisfied every craving of decadence. Now that was worth the two Michelin stars. ‘I do not believe it’s a good idea.’

‘What? What’s not a good idea?’

‘You should never have lied.’ I discovered my get-out clause.

‘Lied? Lied about what? What are you fucking talking about?’ He appeared to break out in a red rash all over his neck.

‘You told Alfred I’d slept with you.’

‘W-what? Are you fucking serious? Who gives a shit what that imbecile says?’ He fiddled with his wedding ring, turning it round and round, stop, start. ‘He’s screwing with you. You know he wants you and was jealous of everything we did and didn’t do together.’

‘It’s irrelevant what he wanted. You lied. I don’t fuck liars. Actually, let’s not forget your wife.’

I got up, asked a waiter for my coat and walked out of the restaurant. My phone rang. Fenton. I silenced him.

The following morning, I arrived even earlier at the office. As soon as Fenton walked into his office, with no one else around, I pounced. As he placed his briefcase onto the floor, alongside his desk, I hurtled through his office door without knocking. He bumped his chair sideways, it rolled to the far side of his desk.

Sitting in the chair opposite his desk, I removed my phone from the pocket of my dress and recorded our conversation. ‘I’ve been thinking long and hard and the only way I will let all this go is if you tell your wife what you propositioned me with.’ I placed my phone back into my pocket.

‘What the fuck are you talking about?’

‘At the risk of repeating myself, tell your wife about how you wanted to fuck me and all you said to me.’

‘I think we’re done. I advise you to hand in your resignation.’

‘Or else? What are you threatening me with exactly?’

‘I will make your life here a living hell.’

‘Why? Because I did not fuck you? How delightful.’

‘I want your resignation on my desk by the end of the day. I will pay you for the month but you are not to return. I will give you a good reference.’

‘I advise you to call your wife into the office and tell her in front of me. Or else I will call her and…’ I reached back into my pocket for my phone, stopped the recording, searched for the previous recording and played it back to him.’

“Tell me exactly what you expect from me for the pay rise?” “All of you. Right here. On my desk. I want to christen my desk with you.” “Very very impish, Fenton! Christen your desk how?” “I want to rip off your clothes, bend you over my new, shiny desk and…”

His face reddened. He stood up and hit the desk with his right fist. ‘How fucking dare you?’

I cackled.

‘You are a fucking bitch.’

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