"Rose, your one pm appointment is here. He's waiting at reception."
Rose quickly stashed the remains of her lunch out of sight, to the dismay of her admin assistant. Swallowing the last bite of her sandwich, she said, "Send him in, Tyler, but take your time. Give me a chance to straighten up." She brushed a lock of her salt-and-pepper hair out of her eyes.
Tyler rolled her eyes and sighed. "There's sauce on your collar." She left, closing the door behind her.
Rose looked over her desk, amazed at how the paperwork could grow and cover the surface like algae. She gathered the loose paper and slipped them into a drawer, then tossed plastic wrap from her sandwich into the trash. By the time Tyler returned with the potential client, Rose was back in her seat, ready.
"Here she is, sir," Tyler said. "Rose Velasco, CEO of Velasco Investigations. If you need anything, buzz me." She left, fingering her shirt collar.
Rose stood up and offered her hand. "Thank you for coming, Mr. Sexton."
"Please, call me Ray." He shook the proffered hand. "Thanks for seeing me on such short notice."
"How can Velasco Investigations help you, Ray?" Rose motioned for her visitor to take a seat.
"It's not what the company can do. It's your special services."
Rose raised an eyebrow. "Special services?"
"Rumour has it that you were responsible for keeping a certain Atlanta cola company's secret formula a secret."
"Rumour has a lot of things, Ray."
Ray smirked. "And I did get a reference. Sal Becker passed along your name. He was very impressed with your work."
"Sal . . . Sal . . . ah, yes, Sal, I remember what he wanted. Well, Ray, if that's what you're looking for, I'm sure you'll understand that I'll have to talk to Sal. A mere formality. Can I call you at four?"
"Certainly, Ms Velasco."
Rose smiled. "Please, call me Rose." She lead the way to the door. "I'll let Tyler know what's going on. She can show you the way out." Rose opened the door. "Tyler, Mr. Sexton will need a follow-up appointment. Can you squeeze him in for tomorrow morning?"
Tyler nodded. "I'll fit him in somehow. And Elena would like to see you."
"Elena's my partner," Rose explained to Ray. "She's the one who handles the books. I'll call you at four and let you know."
"Thank you for seeing me," Ray said. He left the office.
Rose let out a breath. "Tyler, ask Elena to come see me when she can. I have a few calls to make."
"Anything else, Rose?"
"Coffee. Next time you go out for some, get me a small espresso." Rose dug into the pocket of her crimson slacks and pulled out some bills. She handed two twenties to Tyler. "Find out what the rest of the office wants."
"Amber has coffee brewing."
"Amber has a caffeine-based drug brewing. I'm surprised the DEA hasn't raided us to get her coffee pot. If that's not enough, I'll pay you back."
Tyler picked up her purse. "Elena first, right?"
"Right." Rose returned to her office. She checked the thermometer; the air conditioning was doing its job, keeping the room comfortable. A knock came from the door. "Come in!"
A woman with platinum blonde hair threatening to turn steel grey entered. "Tyler said you wanted to see me?"
"Elena, yes. Remember Sal Becker?"
The blonde nodded. "We retrieved the design of his competitor's new gadget for him. I believe the patent lawsuit is coming up in court next month."
"That was him? I thought he was the guy who wanted dirt on Sony."
"No, Sal wanted the plans for the electronic toy. I remember Allison's reaction to the design. She muttered about it all the way back here."
"Oh, right. Anyway, we have someone interested in the unadvertised part of the business, and he mentioned Sal."
Elena sat down. "Have you called Sal?" She adjusted her charcoal grey skirt before crossing her legs.
"Just about to do that." Rose flipped through her address book, then picked up the phone. "Remind me to shred this." She tapped the number into the phone. After two rings, she heard the line pick up. "Hi, my name is Rose Velasco. I'd like to speak with Mr. Sal Becker. Yes, I'll hold." She swayed in time with the hold music. Elena just shook her head. "Oh, yes, thanks," Rose said. "Ah, Mr. Becker, hello. My name is Rose Velasco from-- Yes, Sal, Allison is doing well. I'll tell her you asked about her. How is your wife? Oh, I'm sorry to hear that." Rose covered the mouthpiece with her hand. "Gout acting up," she mouthed to Elena. She uncovered the phone. "I'm sure my family would love to join yours for the long weekend. I'll ask Elena. Sal, I just have to do a bit of business here, first. Do you know a Ray Sexton? You do? And that was my next question. Thanks, Sal, and I'll ask Elena and let you know. Take care, now. Definitely. Bye, Sal." Rose hung up the phone.
"Well?" Elena prompted.
"Sal recommended Sexton to us. And he's invited us out for Fourth of July celebrations. You may want to go, all things considered."
Elena waved a hand in the air. "You know how I feel about things like that."
"Still. Anyway, Sexton comes with a good reference. I'll call him after Tyler comes back from the coffee run."
"Amber's has a fresh pot."
"I want to sleep the next few nights, thanks."
Elena stood up. "I'll go tell the girls about the potential job. I'm sure Allison will be happy." She left as Tyler opened the door.
"Hi, Tyler, coffee run go okay?"
Tyler held out a large styrofoam cup and some change. "Amber didn't want any."
Rose smiled. "Thanks. Not surprising, though."
"You still have to pick up Maria from class."
"Damn, almost forgot. If there's new business, pass it along to Elena or to Brandon. I'll be back in an hour. Two if Maria's having an angst attack."