The following is an office romance between
a company executive (Hollow) and her
assistant (Deante). The story may be light
hearted at times and deeper during others
as the characters work through their flaws.
Daniella "Danny" Danchie strolled up to the corporate offices of Square Tech with a smug grin on her cheeks and her head held high. "Good morning, Ms. Danchie." The security guard at the entrance checkpoint went out of his way to greet her, as did the receptionist and the bellhop. Danny returned their greetings with a polite, yet distant "Good morning," not minding the envious glares at her back. And why should she? Danny had everything in the world to smile about because today would be her first day as the Vice President of Engagement. All of her hard work had finally paid off. Gone were the days of long hours filing paperwork and sleepless nights putting together presentations. She was calling the shots now and with that esteem came a few luxury benefits.
"34th floor, please," Danny said to the bellhop upon stepping onto the elevator reserved for executives and their assisstants. She noted, instantly, that the car's machinations ran quieter than the others as it began a smooth ascent up the business tower. Danny took a moment to go over her look in her reflection on the elevator door. Her long black curls hadn't wilted in the humidity and her lipstick hadn't smeared onto her teeth. Maybe it was nerves, but she studied herself hard looking for any and every little imperfection. Danny wanted her first impression to be flawless and bold, yet undeniably feminine. She'd blown part of her savings on a slim, baby pink pant set and nude designer heels. She took a risk by omitting an undershirt beneath the blazer, but she had full faith and confidence in the copious amounts of fabric tape holding everything in place. The hair, the shoes, the suit. All of this was done to stick it to the names and faces in the lower offices that told her she'd never make it because she was "too tough" and "too eccentric". She'd reached the top despite their ill-wishes and now it was time to twirl.
The elevator door opened onto the 34th floor with a ding. Waiting for her was a curvy little mouse with big brown eyes and even bigger glasses. Danny recognized her as Eileen, the brood mother for the company's ven program. They'd met a few hours after her promotion was announced to discuss rules and arrangements. Everyone at the executive level was paired with a ven to act as their personal assistant. It was an expensive program, but the cost paid back in overall happiness, performance levels, and retention rate. Danny wasn't exactly thrilled about the idea. She preferred to work alone, but having someone around to run minor errands seemed worthwhile enough to opt in to the program.
"Good morning, Vice President. You're looking rather... floral, today," Eileen said. The smile Danny gave her was absent smugness and condescension. She was walking among her own, now, and these people would get her respect.
"Thank you. I know it's been rainy lately, but it's hard not to be inspired by the cherry blossoms." A pause. Danny started towards her office. "Is it waiting at my office?" She referred, of course, to her venn.
Eileen seemed startled by the jump in conversation. "Actually, yes! He is! That's what I came to tell you." She pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. "Everything has been finalized and I think you'll be satisfied with your match. Do you have any last questions about care?"
"No, I read the manual. I'll call if I have questions. Extension 5390, right?" Danny startled Eileen yet again with the fact that she'd done her homework.
"Yes! Uh... 5390 is my number." Eileen's pace started to slow once it was apparent that she wasn't needed. "I guess I'll just let you settle in then, Miss! Have a wonderful first day!"
Danny continued across the office floor, taking note of the faces she saw. These strangers worked for her now, and she would find the time to introduce herself. But in true workaholic fashion, she wanted to get acquainted with her office, the pace, and the workload first. Danny turned down a hall that led to a separate, much quieter space. There was a waiting area, a door with the name "Danchie" on a gold plaque, and a neatly organized desk. She assumed this was where her assistant would be stationed. And she assumed the gentleman lingering at the desk was her ven.
"Morning. Are you the ven assigned to the Vice President?" she asked, raising a brow.
They’d certainly picked a nice one. All of the ven were lithe and rangy, long ringed tails only making them look even taller. This one was toned and fine though, all subtly presented in a fitted suit, accented with his long dark hair in a braid and tasteful earrings. His purple eyes were striking, which was the point. Ven were engineered to be appealing, but even so, like everyone on this floor, he’d cleaned up to impress the new boss. His scent was understated, a gentle application of sandalwood and pine, to not offend her canine nose.
“Yes, Miss Danchie,” he said. “I’m Armani.” Despite the name, the suit was not. Each of Square Tech’s ven had a set of Expensive clothes brought out only for conferences, media presentations, banquets and fundraisers—any time the point was more to be seen next to their senior executive, like the living status symbol they were. For day to day, it was fine but still off the rack.
Yet the room had two desks. One for him, and one he was standing next to, where a poised Saluki sat. “And this is Sophie.” Elegant, attentive, and all smiles, she stood and greeted Danny with the warmth of a hostess. It had made even less sense when Danny had been briefed, but she received both a PA and a secretary.
Sophie though was the gatekeeper. Phone calls, visitors, tracking minutia that might disturb Danny all went through her. She would have the coffee and other unimportant details. Armani was the real minion. Not only did he have responsibilities, but he would interact with other departments, personally delivering Danny’s directives; his word was hers. It also meant he could attend a less important meeting on her behalf and report back. When she had been up for the promotion, Danny had first met with Dubai, the Engagement President’s ven.
“Is there anything I can get you before the day gets rolling?” Sophie asked.
Armani waited, watching for any ques how Danny wanted to proceed. He’d read her various evaluations and knew how much of a “go-getter” she was, to put in nicer terms than some. He was ready with the stats and info she’d want on workflow and performance, but figured she’d want to see her office first. No need to hit her with everything, until she clearly wanted it. Anticipating what she wanted and giving it before it was requested was part of his role.
There to serve, see to any need.
Any need. Danny knew that from conjecture, from jokes and so, but yes, Eileen had politely asked the Dalmatian her gender preferences, gently made clear it was acceptable to enjoy all aspects of her new assistant.
Danny nodded when Armani introduced himself. Her dark brown eyes gave him a shameless onceover as he spoke. The ven was tall and slender with gorgeous warm brown fur. His eyes glistened like amethysts but the energy he gave off was controlled and unobtrusive. In other words: he knew his place. Danny crossed the distance between them and lifted the tail end of his braid. The hair felt smooth and silky without being brittle or fine. She wanted to undo its braid just to run her fingers through the locks.
Only when she was prompted did Danny shift her attention to the secretary. She must have forgotten she'd get one in the rush of the promotion. The saluki was bubbly and friendly-a girl who still had a love for life. Warmth and positivity radiated from her in a way that was endearing, if not a little bittersweet. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Sophie," Danny said, doing her best to mirror the enthusiasm. "I do have a request, actually. Could you bring me two coffees, please? Two creams, one sugar."
When Sophie was a good distance away, Danny turned back to Armani. She closed her eyes, raised her muzzle, and took a few quiet breaths to shake away her thoughts. He wore a gentle cologne of some sort, but his natural scent was creamy like vanilla. She committed it to memory and slowly spoke to him. "I want you to get in the habit of briefing me first thing when I come in. I want you to recite my agenda including any updates I need to know about. And I want you to finish each briefing with what I'm to have for lunch."
Danny stepped away. She pressed into her office fully expecting him to follow. The space itself was large and intimidating if all she looked at was the desk near the center. Windows were set along the length of the far wall, presenting a stunning view of the cityscape. Their curtains were thick enough to block out the light if need be. In all, the sight made her desk feel like a speck. There were, however, sitting arrangements in two corners, including a cozy L-shaped sectional that seemed perfect for napping. There was even a private bathroom off to the corner so she wouldn't have to wait in line with her employees. It was a workaholic's absolute dream. And while she wanted to kick off her heels and sprawl out on the sectional, she decided to break in her throne first.
Danny sat at her desk and got a feel for its leather chair. Comfortable with a good recline, not too soft. It still had a crisp factory smell to it so it must have been brand new. She spun in it once or twice before stopping suddenly to look at Armani. She motioned for him to take the seat across from her. "I can't imagine that I have much on the docket today, but how about you practice reciting my briefing? That, and I want you to tell me a little bit about yourself. How long have you been working for the company?"
When she walked over and took his hair, surprise registered in both saluki and ven. Yet in Armani's eyes it was paired with interest. Touching him so soon wasn't expected, but welcomed. Most weren’t so forward and casual with touch. What else will she do?
"Absolutely," Sophie said, sliding her chair out.
"I'll take the same," Armani added before she even asked.
Then he nodded once Danny’d set the routine, at ease with the expected. It did meant he would be deciding what she'd be eating, which was unusual for most people, who in his experience seemed to go by mood. For them, Eileen set their agenda though, so he was used to the idea. By now Danny must know what she liked to order and from where, so it was merely a matter of learning her preferences.
The ven couldn't help but let his eyes wander down her back as he followed, lingering at her hips, at the whip-like tail swaying over the butt beneath. Despite the blazer making little mystery about the curves of her chest, it hid the contours lower down, where he had always been more fond of. The pants couldn't conceal the sleekness of her legs. Would she put him to all his duties? His last boss had been happily married, but he was hopeful Danny would be more interested. The touch of his hair was encouraging.
She had been right, the day’s expectations were light. Before lunch it was all a matter of orienting, being informed on how her predecessor ran things (and what the President of Engagement, Sutton, expected), and making those decisions on how she would run things. There was a project she would get a presentation on after lunch, something a group of employees had been tasked with a week ago.
Then he smiled. “I’ve been with Square four years. I was with the CFO for most of that, until six months ago he needed bypass surgery and decided to reduce his stress and retire. Now he’s just on the Board. Around that time Sutton got wind that Jackson,” her predecessor, “was getting headhunted by both Elix Inc. and Dynamic Games. So I was assigned to assist Legal until Jackson was out and they’d hired you.”
Sophie has arrived in the middle of that. Armani took his coffee, sipping lightly, standing by Danny’s desk. He didn’t need the caffeine but still liked the taste, the warmth seeping down his chest.
Did she want to know about him personally, his identity? “I like mysteries and history on audiobooks, cheerful music with a good beat, and spicy foods.”