“This is your cube,” the man said, stepping aside and waving a hand toward the small space. Robert Dante felt a pang of loss as he stepped around the familiar corner and looked in on the empty, sterile cubical that had once been decorated with all his personal possessions. “I’m just glad Steve found someone who can step into this project so quickly. Honestly, I didn’t think we’d find anyone with your qualifications so fast, but then that’s why we’re accountants and not professional recruiters like Steve.”
“Hey, is that the new guy?” a feminine voice asked from over the cube wall to the left.
“Say hi to Carrie Sterling. She’ll be showing you the ropes and riding shotgun with you on the project until you get your feet under you,” the man said. “She worked very closely with your predecessor. No one knows these numbers like she does.”
“High praise Omar, thanks,” a woman with curly brunette hair said, coming out of her cube and extending her hand. “Welcome to Tech Evangelists.”
One of the imps Dante had seen the demon Rabdos bind while he was in Hell jumped up onto the desk. Dante recoiled back away from his cube and Carrie’s outstretched hand.
“I’m sorry,” Carrie said, looking at Omar with a puzzled expression on her face as both she and Omar scanned the cubical for what startled Dante. Nothing caught their attention as the second imp and two lemurs scampered onto the chair in the cube. “Uh, you okay?”
“I, um, I thought I saw a bug,” Dante lied.
“Oh, that. Well, you probably did I’m sorry to say,” Omar said as Carrie stepped away from the cube herself. “Your predecessor had a habit of eating at his desk. We’ll get the bug man to come by and spray for you.”
“Yes, please,” Carrie said, making a face at the thought of what might be lurking where she couldn’t see.
“Oh, and don’t get too comfortable. HR will be around any minute to take you to get fingerprinted as well as all your login data setup.” Dante must have made a face because Omar held up a hand and continued, “Yeah, I know, but we have a few government consulting contracts so everyone in the building has to be cleared. Just a formality.”
“Where is everyone?” Dante said, trying to steady himself as the denizens of Hell stared at him from his cubical. “Why is it so empty up here?”
“Oh, that. Mr. Thomas likes to have a pep rally after each new hire conference. They’ll be back soon,” Carrie said.
“Why aren’t you there?” Dante said slipping into the comfortable banter of small talk as he stepped forward to at once use the wall to shield the creatures in his cube from his view and move in more closely to Carrie. She retreated but only slightly.
“Are you kidding? I’ve been doing my job and Dante’s old job. He may have been a little smarmy but he was an amazing accountant,” she said sliding back into her cubical interposing the wall between them. Dante advanced to lean over the wall and continue the conversation. He hoped she’d sit so he’d have a better vantage point from which to view the attractive woman.
“Smarmy?” he said a little more shocked than he’d intended. He coughed a little to try and cover the slip. “How so?”
“Well, for one, he used to lean over that very wall just like you’re doing now and stare at my breasts,” she said sitting down, crossing her arms, and leaning back with a very smug look on her face. Dante recoiled from the wall as though a current of electricity ran through it. Carrie laughed.
“I wasn’t…I didn’t…I mean,” Dante stammered.
“Sorry, I know, I just couldn’t resist,” she said, smiling as Dante came to stand in the entrance of her cube.
“Oh, that’s going to cost you,” he said.
“Cost me what?” she asked with a slight twinkle in her eye.
“Have drinks with me tonight after work. You can give me the basics on this big project we’ll be working on together,” he replied. He noticed a little lemur scamper from over her shoulder and begin licking her neck just to the left of her throat. She swallowed reflexively and brought a hand up to her neckline.
“You don’t waste time,” she said.
“That’s not a no,” he replied smiling back at her.
“No. We’ve got all day tomorrow scheduled specifically for going over the project data,” she said.
“Omar said he wanted me to hit the ground running. What better way to demonstrate what a great team we’ll be when we get that piece done tonight and can get started working tomorrow,” Dante countered. Carrie cocked her head and mulled the idea over.
“I don’t know what’s around here,” he lied, “but I bet you do. Where can we go and setup on a table with laptops and go over all this?”
“Well, there is Harry’s around the corner,” she replied. Robert Dante smiled a warm, inviting smile down at Carrie and nodded. His pleasant mood was shattered as he noticed Janice, from HR, striding with purpose down the hall toward him along with another man. Walking between the two people was a woman clad in the whitest robes Robert Dante had ever seen and she was looking directly at him.
Guardians of the Herald is a weekly serial published and copyright by The Cavalier, Mark Malcolm. For more information about this story please join us on our Facebook page community at www.facebook.com/firstchevalierbooks.