Strapped(8)

By: Nina G. Jones


After a short pause, I pick up the pen...it’s heavy...and after thumbing through the NDA for a few additional seconds, I sign. Who am I kidding? At this point, I would sign my left ovary away to know what he is going to say next. That is when the realization occurs, this might be all part of his game. He has been building this suspense, hasn’t he? I want to be just as clever in return, but he is so cool, so calm. Everything he has said and done thus far has been deliberate and meticulous and I am probably here because I am not that way. If I am genuine, then he is the antithesis of that.

“Do you have any questions?” he asks.

“I am familiar with NDAs. I have signed several when working with clients. I completely understand the ramifications of breaching an NDA.” I look him directly in the eyes and they fire up, although the rest of his face remains stoic. I secretly hope he hasn’t stuck any other stipulations in the document. I really hope there wasn’t a left ovary clause snuck in there somewhere. Just tell me what the fuck it is that you want me to do! - I never utter the words, but they ring loudly in my thoughts.

“You understand the seriousness of this document? If you disclose anything business or personal-”

“Yes, Mr. Holden. I am taking the NDA very seriously.” I grab the document with my left hand and hand it over. The navy and gold fountain pen is in my right hand and I offer it to him. He waits a moment before reaching for it, making sure to lock eyes with me as he slowly slips it out of my fingers. I catch myself holding my breath as he walks back to his seat.



He sits back, bites his lip and rests his chin in his hand. “Ms. Ball, I would like you to be my traveling personal assistant.” I immediately deflate. All of this buildup, all of this sex panther walk around the office bullshit to ask me to be his glorified secretary? I believe my disappointment manifests itself physically, because his posture becomes more erect. “The title does not appropriately reflect the level of responsibility this position entails. You will organize my personal and business calendar, travel with me to events, both national and international...” I can tell he is frustrated that his words are not conveying what he believes is the importance of this role. “You won’t be my right hand woman, you will be my right arm and I pay handsomely.”

“May I ask, why me? This is not even in my wheelhouse.”

“You have run a small business for several years, are computer savvy and articulate. Those are the skills I need. I need someone who can juggle multiple roles as there is not a clear cut description. You will be managing various tasks at disparate skill levels.”

“Did you have someone else in this role before?”

“Yes, she moved out of town a while ago. I was just beginning to search for someone new when we met.”

“What was her name?” He looks at me as if I have a third eyeball.

He hesitates. “...Emily, but I am not sure what that has to do with the matter at hand.”

“I’m sorry, I swear I wasn’t eavesdropping, but you mentioned the name Marsha at the coffee shop and I was just wondering...”

“No, Marsha is my receptionist. In fact, she has been taking on more than she should since Emily’s departure.”

I am not sure what to make of this. I had no intentions of getting a regular job and now he wants me to be his “right arm?” Not to mention, I find that term just mildly creepy.



“Mr. Holden, you have to understand how bizarre this is. I mean I feel as though you are insisting I take this job that I have done nothing to earn and I am not quite sure why. Then I sign this NDA for seemingly no reason because nothing you have revealed seems to be sensitive. Frankly, it makes me suspicious.” There. I said it. This is all so shady.

He slowly exhales, trying to conceal that he is mildly annoyed by my question. “The NDA is procedural as I consider this offer to be a private matter for reasons you may not understand until you decide to work with H.I. If you reject the offer, I do not want it discussed outside of this room. I apologize if that made you uncomfortable.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to come off as accusatory.”

“Do you think I am offering you this position just because I think you are a nice person? I know you went to University of Chicago and double majored in English and Computer Science. I know that you did this all while growing up in poverty with no father. I think someone like you is quite deserving of such an opportunity.” I gulp, and my eyes widen. This man is full of surprises. He went home and researched me, just like I did him. Except he probably hired a private investigator and I did a quick Google search. “I had a hunch about you,” Taylor says assuredly, “and I was right.”

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