Karen stepped away from the cake eating as soon as she deemed it safe. She was happy that Kevin was okay, and she was happy to have survived her first Michael’s Birthday in the office. She was no closer to understanding how such a man-child was able to fake it as a productive member of society enough to be in charge of other people. But her new reality had started to set in a little, and she was now almost sure she wasn’t unwittingly taking part in a long format of the show Punk’d.
She also felt relieved to get away from Pam and Jim’s weird flirting slash drawn-out courting. She was truly glad that Pam was taking the time to figure out how to be by herself, and to reflect on how she let it get this bad with Roy. She had also started her design program which took her to New York twice a month, which seemed to be going well. So, that meant she hadn’t jumped in a relationship with Jim right away, which Karen applauded. That being said, Pam and Jim in a room together were this black hole of longing and anticipation and half-spoken promises. And Karen needed some distance from all the unresolved tension.
She made her escape by pretexting having a client meeting. It wasn’t completely true; it wasn’t a client yet. But she had been working on getting that account for a while now and she got the head’s up from one of the executive assistants that the person she needed to talk to might be available this afternoon. So, she was going over there, and if she spent the rest day waiting for a meeting that didn’t happen, she would still consider that time better spent than watching Michael open presents like a five-year old.
When she arrived there, she was led to a waiting area where a man was already sitting. She sat opposite of him on a very comfortable sofa.
“Hello,” she smiled politely. He was in a dark suit with a white shirt, which wasn’t surprising in these offices. She recognized something in him she knew well, he was some type of salesman, and he was there to sell something. She couldn’t help but notice he was also extremely handsome, in his late thirties with dark hair and dark eyes. And that was before he smiled back at her.
He stared at her appraisingly for a moment. “Were you, by any chance, tipped off that Erin Wingman would have an opening on her calendar today?”
She had been, as a matter of fact. But she wasn’t going to tell him that.
“What are you trying to sell Erin Wingman on?” she asked instead of answering his question.
His smile got sharper.
“I thought so.” He leaned forward and offered his hand to shake. “Danny Cordray, with Osprey Paper.”
Shit. She shook his hand firmly and smiled wider. “Karen Fillipelli, Dunder Mifflin.”
His face lost some of its edge.
“Wait, Dunder Mifflin? Does that mean you work with Dwight?”
She couldn’t stop the wince that spread across her face any more than she could stop Michael from saying her last name in the worst Italian accent she had ever heard.
“Not when I can help it.”
He laughed and leaned back in his chair. Damn, he was handsome.
“And what about Michael Scott? I keep hearing about him, but I have never met the man in person.”
She might have audibly groaned at that. “Whatever you have heard, it’s worse.”
At that moment, one of the women from the reception area approached them.
“Hi Danny, sorry it is taking such a long time. Mrs. Wingman should be available soon. Can I bring you some water while you wait?”
“Thank you, Mary. I’m good.”
Mary smiled prettily.
“Well, let me know if you need anything,” Mary said before leaving with a courteous nod in Karen’s direction and quick backward glance to Danny.
“I guess that answers the question about who tipped you off,” Karen said raising an eyebrow.
Danny didn’t bother to deny it. He shrugged good naturedly.
“It’s a big account. If being polite to the receptionists gets me through the door? Well, it’s not like it is a hardship.”
“I don’t think she wants you to be polite.”
“She is a bit young for my taste,” he responded, staring straight into her eyes. She felt a frisson of something going through her spine. That guy was a bullshitter through and through. But it had been a while, and she could do with some excitement in her life right now. She would start by winning the account from under him.
“What about you?” he broke the silence between them but not the electricity. Was he really asking her if she liked them young? “Who tipped you off?” he continued, smirking, knowing full well where her mind went.
She didn’t give an inch. “Now, why would I tell you that?”
“Fair enough,” he conceded. “How about a wager?”
“What type of wager?” she asked intrigued. This was going to be fun.
“Whoever wins the account pays for dinner.”
“Shouldn’t the person who loses pay for dinner?”
“Call me old-fashioned, but I like to pay on the first date.”
Motherfucker. That guy was slick.