“Good morning, Len.”
“Morning, Miss Anari. You’re here early.” Len smiled as he pushed the elevator button.
“I couldn’t sleep, and as much as I enjoy working at home, I needed a change of scenery, you know?”
“I’ll be driving myself to and from work by tomorrow I hope, do I need a parking pass?”
“Yes M’am. I’ll arrange for one and have it sent up. We’ll need the vehicle description, license number and model when it arrives.”
“As soon as the leasing company contacts me with the info, I’ll pass it on to you.”
The elevator doors opened on the executive floor. “Have a good day, Len.”
“You too, Miss Anari.”
The floor was quiet. She suspected she was one of the few, if not the only one, working at this early hour.
Dakota grinned as she placed a small package on Teresa’s desk, then went into the inner office. The office was peaceful in the half-light. Her little green dragon studied her with calm black eyes, and she winked at him as she gave her mouse a nudge. Dakota’s phone began to play ‘Ode to Joy’ and she knew a text message had come in. It was from Stanton Wells.
‘You have my go-ahead to interview and hire as you see fit. Just let me know your final decision.
Her email was already filling quickly. One from the leasing company caught her eye and she opened it quickly. The car she had requested would be delivered that very afternoon, in red, as per her wishes.
Dakota grinned with anticipation. She ignored the other emails after scanning through the list of senders.
She opened Mozilla and went straight to the website she had been looking at just hours before. She found a contact link and eagerly typed an introductory email to Shanis Morriseau.
I understand that you are currently seeking employment within your field. I work with a company that is interested in speaking with you. There are benefits and substantial perks, and the pay is competitive. If your curiosity is aroused, please contact me as soon as possible.
Dakota Anari, Director of Development & Sustainability.’
A knock at her door shook her concentration.
Teresa came into the office smiling. “Good morning. I wanted to thank you for the gift.”
“It’s nothing.” Dakota smiled. “I saw it and thought of you. It won’t do 120, but it screamed your name when I saw it.”
“My son was envious when I called and told him. He was teasing me that I’m probably the only mother who has a mini Honda Shadow, but I think I heard him say it was cool.”
“Well, like I said, it’s not much, but I’m glad you like it. I think I may have found a replacement for Tukis.”
“Already?” Teresa said.
“Come and take a look at this woman’s qualifications.” Dakota invited Teresa to sit behind the desk. “Did you get coffee yet this morning?”
“No, I just came straight in.” Teresa answered in a slightly distracted voice.
Dakota poured coffee for them both at the credenza and set up a tray with sugar and muffins on the coffee table. She knew Teresa might be reading for a bit, so she settled in on the sofa with a file on insulation.
After a few minutes, Teresa joined her on the sofa and asked, “What are you reading?”
“I’ve been thinking; the cost of building homes has gone up as technology improves, right?”
“Tell me about it. I’m still saving for my first home. My parents paid a third, in cash no less, than what I have in the bank. And it’s nowhere near what I need!”
“My point exactly. And while we’re busy working ourselves to death for the opportunity to own a home, we’re poisoning ourselves too! Do you have any idea how toxic most buildings are? New carpeting, for example. Immunotoxicologists are finding that hundreds of people are reporting feeling sick when exposed to new carpeting for long periods of time. Those people are feeling sick because their bodies are releasing anti-myelin antibodies. Their brains are being damaged in both the frontal lobes and temporal lobes, as well as the base ganglia, resulting in tremors, loss of concentration, loss of motor skills, absentmindedness, interruption of vision, and in some cases of children, epileptic seizures.”
Teresa eyed the broadloom beneath their feet suspiciously. “Okay, so no new carpeting in my house. So I use linoleum and throw rugs.”
“What I’m researching at the moment is alternative insulation. The pink stuff has a reputation for being hard to install, itchy and a respiratory irritant.
“What’s the alternative, though?” Teresa asked as she took a bite from a muffin
“I’m reading about a product that is made from blue jean manufacturing waste.”
“Exactly. This stuff is a combination of denim scrap, and microscopic olefin fibers.”
“Wait a minute, what’s olefin?”
“It’s made of polypropylene and polyethylene. And I wondered about the environmental impact in production, too.” Dakota held up a hand as Teresa opened her mouth to ask a question. “According to available research, olefin is the lesser of environmental evils right now, and it has applications in all kinds of products. But here, it provides both loft and insulation value.”
“You’ve learned all that this morning?” Teresa asked as she grinned impishly.
Dakota chuckled. “No, I’ve been trying to find alternatives to conventional housing since I went to university. So, what’s your impression of Miss Morriseau’s website?”
“If the woman is half as impressive as her site, she should really be something.”
“Wells gave me the go ahead early this morning to interview and hire as I see fit, so I’ve written her an email. Hopefully, she’ll reply soon.”
“When you say ‘early this morning’, how early is your early?”
“Not too long ago. I actually text messaged him at five thirty.” Dakota sipped at her coffee after answering.
“If I may be so forward,” Teresa asked, “Why would anyone be up at that hour? Do you jog?”
“I had a nightmare at four, so I was already up.”
Teresa’s eyes widened. “What an unholy hour for the horse to visit.”
“I’m sorry…the horse?”
Teresa chuckled. “Sorry, I assume everyone uses the same expressions my family does. A popular sci-fi author wrote a novel in which mares deliver bad dreams, hence the term, night mare.”
“Ah. Very unique. It would have been nice if it had been a horse.” Dakota tossed the file on the sofa between them. “Here’s a project for you; between all the other things you do, if you could find some solid research on alternative forms of insulation, along with their comparative R values, I’d greatly appreciate it.”
Teresa rose from the sofa and smoothed her slacks. “Cookies tomorrow morning?”
“Sounds good to me.”
At eleven that morning, Teresa knocked on the inner door and heard the now familiar, “Come.”
Dakota had removed her jacket and rolled up her sleeves, and was resting her chin in her hand as she read something on the monitor.
“It’s getting on lunchtime for me. I thought you might like something from the dining room?”
“Thanks, but I’m not hungry just yet.”
“Okay. Did you hear anything from your prospect?”
“I got an email saying she would call us this afternoon.” Dakota squinted and rubbed at the bridge of her nose. “I don’t suppose there’s anything in the building for a headache?”
“I have some Ibuprofen…” Teresa gestured at the door.
Dakota nodded at the implied offer and followed her assistant.
“Are you sure something in your stomach wouldn’t help?” Teresa removed the bottle from her desk drawer and shook two out.
“No, I’m not sure, but I hate leaving research when it’s getting interesting. I’ll live. Thanks.”
She smiled and went back to her office, but left her door slightly ajar.
‘Maybe if I close my eyes for a couple of minutes, the pounding will subside.’ she thought. After practising some deep breathing, the pain did indeed lessen, and when Teresa poked her head in an hour later, she found the Director of Development & Sustainability asleep.
Dakota might have napped for hours if the smell of coffee hadn’t woken her. Yawning, she sat up and found a mug of black coffee and a sandwich on the coffee table.
“Taking care of me already?” Dakota murmured to the empty room.
Teresa knew Dakota was back at work when she heard typing from the inner office, so when the call from Shanis Morriseau came in, she patched it right through to her boss. Of course, right after that, Len called up to announce that he was escorting someone up that needed documents signed.
Teresa greeted them both, and explained that since Miss Anari was on the phone, she would take the papers in, get them signed and be right out.
“Yes, I can accommodate your schedule this afternoon, Miss Morriseau. I’ll let security know to expect you. I look forward to meeting you.” Dakota hung up and took the papers.
“You have a car?”
“I do. Want to come see it with me?” Dakota grinned.
The two women left with silly grins and anticipation written all over their faces.
“Very sporty.” Teresa nodded. “Very cool.”
Dakota circled the cherry red car, nodded and signed the paperwork before handing it over to the leasing rep. “Thank you very much for bringing these over. Len..”
“Teresa and I will be stepping out for a few while I test drive my new car.”
“I thought you might, M’am.” Len smiled widely. “I’ll have your spot ready for you, as well as your parking pass.”
“Thank you. Oh, in about an hour, there will be a young Native woman coming for an interview. When she arrives, please bring her straight up.”
Dakota got in the driver’s seat and put the window down. “Do you like ice cream, Len?”
“Pralines and Cream is my favourite.”
“My kind of man.”
“You know, you keep this kind of thing up, and you’ll have a reputation in no time.” Teresa said as she buckled her seat belt.
Dakota handed her the tray with three cones and replied, “I’m quite sure Mr. Tukis might have a few things to say about that.”
“Yes, I suppose so.”
“He’s not the first to have issues with me.” Dakota put the car in gear and eased out of the driveway. “I’m sure he won’t be the last.”
“Just for clarification, I don’t care if you’re purple, sleep with three headed aliens and live on Saturn’s third ring.”
“Seriously, given enough time, I think the noise will die down and folks will forget. I don’t think the majority of upper management will care as long as they can see you’re doing your job.”
“Let’s hope that’s true. I’m not all chuckles and ice cream though, Teresa. I have to warn you, there will be days I’ll be a bitch on wheels.”
“Like you were with Tukis?”
“Something like that. There are days I go without sleep, without food, and then I suffer for days until my body gets back on track. I’m grouchy and rather…unlikeable.”
“Can I ask a personal question?” Teresa asked between licks of her ice cream.
“Are you manic in your work habits?”
“Not usually.” Dakota signaled to turn. “But I have times when the crap from my past comes back to bite me in the ass, and it affects my work for a short period of time.” She paused to gather her thoughts. “My childhood was … character building.” Dakota turned into the Wells Corp. parking lot. “So enjoy the good days.”