Ember - the Sandstone Affair Part 2

By: Priscilla West

The Sandstone Affair Part 2



Chapter 1





I stare at the phone in disbelief. You’ve gotta be kidding me. Don’t trust him? I’ve not only given him my trust but also my hope and my body! My world spins as I realize how little I really know about Mark Stone. He and his brother Blake co-manage Sandstone industries but they are more like business partners than brothers. He handles active accounts. He believes in Lynx. He believes in me. He is the good guy and Blake is the snake.



Wait. That last one is not knowledge. It’s assumption. I’m assuming he’s the good guy because he hasn’t done anything openly bad. But that doesn’t make him good. He is certainly profiting off my situation for his carnal pleasure. And yet, it’s my pleasure too. He didn’t have to try to help me. He could have thrown me out of his office that very first night. As far as the sex goes, a man like Mark could have any woman in town, it’s not like he needed to coerce me into having sex with him. In journalism school, we would call this all conjecture. No proof. No proof he’s good. No proof he’s bad.



I don’t even know who the “him” in the text refers too. It could be Mark, or Blake, or Paul Freis my lawyer, or Dr. Vatel or any random man on the street. Hell, it could be Sanjay from yoga. It might not even be for me. Some cheated-on spouse trying to warn another who got the wrong number. I don’t know where it came from and I don’t know what it says. All I know is I promised to give my body and trust to a man I barely know in exchange for some kind of help I don’t understand with no guarantee of success. The only person I can really count on is myself.

~~~



Three days fall off the calendar like overripe fruit thudding to the ground and still no word from Mark. First he tells me I only have thirty days to file this rejoinder then he blows three off like they are nothing. What does he expect me to do, just set around on my hands waiting for the 29th day so he can call me and say “Sorry can’t help you”?



I spent the first two days milling around, sharpening my resume, and visiting Dad. I called Janice for lunch but she’s so paranoid about Sandstone Ventures she wants to wait another week. Finally this morning Paul sent the packet over with his analysis of the firing documents.



Sitting at the kitchen table with his notes as a map, I finally find my way through most of the small print. Things were going pretty well until I see a notation Paul made about Termination Reason 1A. I had seen the part where they say my position is redundant because Ladies World has Valerie James as an editor and doesn’t need me. What I hadn’t seen, until Paul’s paralegal fleshed it out, was the part directly afterward.



Reason for Termination: Redundant position.

Rationale for Decision: The controlling property already has someone in the position of editor. Evidence has surfaced that Miss Sharp has been guilty of negligence and incompetence in her own position and is not suitable to replace the current editor of the controlling property.



Negligence? Incompetence? I can’t believe my eyes. How dare they suggest I was either of those things? I ran a tight ship at Lynx and no one could deny that. We were doing just fine without Sandstone Ventures until the economy crashed, and that was not my fault. But even after Sandstone, I was doing so well it pressured Ladies World. They couldn’t handle the competition so they decided to fight dirty.



My hands ball into fists and I pound helplessly on the table. Someone has to answer for these lies.



Looking around for my purse and keys, I pause just long enough to scan the rest of my lawyer’s notes about the termination papers. The conclusion, of course, is that without evidence of wrongdoing on their part, there is no way to file a rejoinder. I pause for a moment. I should let Paul Freis confront Blake about the accusations. Maybe I could use libel as evidence. I know that having my lawyer get a statement is the smartest way to go about this.



Screw smart. I’m done with that. Grabbing my keys, I storm out the door and on my way to Sandstone Ventures.



“I demand to see Blake Stone,” I tell the receptionist through gritted teeth.



“I’m sorry, Ma’am. I doubt Mr. Stone will see you without an appointment,” she says matter-of-factly.



“Oh, he has an appointment alright,” I say almost conning her with my fake sweetness until she pulls up his schedule. “An appointment with my fists!”



I dodge past the girl and run down the hall, turning instinctively towards Mark’s office when I realize I’m going the wrong way. Mark and Blake don’t get along very well and have offices on opposite sides of the building. Mark’s office is dim, no lights. Turning, I run right into a burly security guard. The receptionist must have called him. He reaches out to block my way.

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