Friday, December 28, 2012

Hot Chips and Sand 66-70 Second Draft Comparison

Hot Chips and Sand
Copyright © 2012 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved

Vickie broughtheld her hand back toat her midriff, where it would be safe. She did not look up once during the time the waiters were in the room; she was far too embarrassed.  So againOkay, maybe she did not seecut a few glances at Cliff, who was not. He wasn’t embarrassed in the least, observing her minutely, seeing her embarrassment.  If she had, she would not have been so puzzled by.
But he’d obviously seen she was because his first words when they were again alone.
             were all business. “I promised you an explanation of your position on the HCC300 project. Would you care to hear it now?
She nodded hesitantly, but without looking at him. .  
            “I have“I’ve made it my main concern to get, and keep, the best talent in ourthe IT industry. It hasn’t been easy; these people do not grow on trees, even though somedespite management would like to believebelieving job titles make people interchangeable. I now have five thousand employees world‑wide, each of whom is an expert, if not a genius, in their own way.”
“Then why do you need us?” Vickie was not only puzzled by the sudden change in his attitude, she was genuinely baffled by his insistence on bringing in her company; Fitzwater employees—they were smart, but certainly not geniuses.
“I’m getting to that. As I was saying, I have talented employees. I have enough money to fund theirthe work, and enough equipment to support it.  InMy job, in all modesty, I haveis to say I havecraft the vision to sustain theirthe future and growth within theof my company. So I have workers and I have vision.”
“Sounds perfect.”
“Almost. What I lack is the talent to make themthese geniuses want to pull together.
            “Now if I personally don’t have a particular ability, I have never been so conceited as to think no one has it;stamp my feet. I simply find the best person for the job and employ him … or. Or in this case, her.”
            “I don’t understand.”  It wasn’t just Fitzwater Consulting.  Somehow he was referring to her.  But she“Me?” She wasn’t best in anything that she knew of.  Good, maybe.  ButShe was good, but not the top‑notch talent this man worked with. “Doing what?”
“Vickie, I haveI’ve read your records. Five employer’s worth. In each case, you haveyou’ve performed your work well.”
            “My goodness, that“Good grief. That goes back to my nursing assistant days, before I went to college for computer programming! So I did my work well—your people do outstanding work.”
“Hear me out. What I noticed in each case was that while you were at thata particular company, the department you were in, and sometimes the whole company, operated much more smoothly. And after you left, often within a year, the company’s profits took a nose‑dive. nosedive. Do you know what that tells me?”
“That I’m a good‑luck charm? Listen, you don’t have to pay me big bucks to be ornamental.  I’ll…”.”
“No. That’s not it at all. Let’s approach it from another angle. Do you like working with your team?”
“Sure. They’re great people. Fun, bright, always ready with a joke.”
“And you work well together?”
Vickie laughed. “I was just thinking of that. Yes, we work very well together. Sometimes it seems we can read each other’s minds, we know each other so well.”
“And have you ever worked with people like that before?”
“Oh, sure. I’ve been really lucky. The last job, well, we were like family. And back at the hospitalmy first job, we were all just a bunch of kids together, learning, discovering. Since we learned about life together, naturally we worked well together.”. At least to start.”
“Vickie, I have never worked on a team like that.”
She stared at him a second. Then she nodded. “Well, of course. You’re a genius. You can’t expect people to keep up towith your level of thinking.” She took a bite of her very expensive entree, and had to admit that maybe it was a little better than McDonald’sMcHamburger’s.
            “And“Vickie, my people do not work together. Very often they duplicate each other’s efforts rather than taking the time to talk. It’s stupid redundancy on the part of some supposedly smart people.”
Vickie put her fork down. “You want me to act as a go‑between? A conduit of information? I don’t have to be head of the project to do that, either. In fact, it would be better if I weren’tdidn’t.”
“No, Vickie.” He met her eyes and his were on fire. “I want you to jellgel my team. And I want you to have the position that deserves.”
            She hadShe’d heard of the term.  It meant a team that workedGel was when a bunch of individuals came together into a team, working as a cohesive, synergistic whole instead of a bunch of individuals. . But most of the time it was luck that jelledgelled a team—wasn’t it?
            “But “B…but I don’t know what I do. I mean, I don’t even know that I agree with you. I think I’ve just been lucky to work with some very good people.”
“I disagree. I’ve seen your records, I’ve talked with co‑workers, both present and past. You are the key in all cases. You are the catalyst.”
Vickie chewed on that a while. She washed it down with a sip of complex red wine. “All right. Let’s say that’s true.  I still don’t know how I did it. My only idea of managing people is letting them wear blue jeans and programwrite code in lotus position. Cliff, I have to be honest with you.  I’m really a closet anarchist .” She shifted uncomfortably. “Even if you’re right about me, I haven’t done too well when it comes to professionalism, and. I don’t think you want that kind of person as a boss.”  She shifted uncomfortably.

            “So I may not be able to give you what you want.  I may completely bomb out.  I think you’d be. You’re better off hiring me as an analyst, which I do well at, and if. If the other happens, great. But if not, you’re not losing anything.”

            “Vickie, I haveHe was shaking his head. “I’ve never played my hunches short. , Vickie. I have a strong feeling about you, and that feeling tells me you will make my people and yours into the team the best ever.  I also.”
“But it doesn’t have never short‑changed my people,to be as manager—”
“It does. I don’t hire a secretary expecting the work of an office manager and I don’t intend to start now. hire a programmer to do the work of a team leader. I won’t joggle your elbow; shortchange you by hiring you for less than what I expect of you follow your own style.  I’m betting it will work.  .
But if you fail, well, we I might screw up!”
He shrugged. “We all fail at some point.  People forget failure unless you wave it in their faces at every opportunity.  So It’s usually forgotten in the next success. I don’t think you will, but if it doesn’t work this time, we’ll happens, we sit down, we look at it, and we learn how to do it better the next time.  And we’ll keep at it until it works, and it will be the best.”
The next time? And more importantly, we sit down? But this thought wasthese thoughts were crowded out by the concept of Cliff, Sir Humphrey Hawkesclyffe, failing at anything.  “What do you mean we all fail?  I don’t get the impression you’ve ever failed at anything.”
He raised one sleek eyebrow at her. “Don’t be fooled by what I am right now. We often have to endure quite a bit of pain to learn life’s little lessons.”
Now, what did he mean by that? Surely the Cliff thatwho had rescued her with such aplomb in Middle Yemen had never failed in his life. But before she could say somethingask, the waiter returned, and the topic was dropped.

            SinceShe tried to skip dessert but Cliff ordered the chocolate and almond butter torte for himself, then the moment it came cut a slab off and offered it to her. Of course she didn’t feel she could handle dessert,had to try it and she ended up eating half. Then [MH1] Cliff paid the bill and they left. She had tried momentarily to pay for her portion, but when the bottom line turned out with twohad more zeros to the left of the decimal, and than she only had a twentywas used to, she shut up. Maybe he didn’t have school loans that looked like mortgages, she decided.
The drive back was completed in silencesilent, Vickie ponderingmulling over the things Cliff had told her and, Cliff seemingapparently content to let her.
When he pulled the car up in front of her flatapartment, she felt a little awkward.  Now, shouldShould she give him a firm, client‑to‑vendor handshake, a friendly hug, or a sisterly kiss? She was leaning in favor oftoward the handshake, with her body voting loudly for the kiss, when the decision was forestalled by Cliff’sCliff opened her car door[MH2] .
She’d been opening her car door.

            He own doors since she was three, but the warm shock of that little bit of chivalry short-circuited her brain. She didn’t pull away as he [MH3] helped her out, and his. His hand on her arm remindedreminding her compellingly of the same contact in the restaurant.  Not wanting to stir that particular bank of embers, she attempted to pull it away from him, but he simply held her arm as though she was doing nothing at all.  She gave upEmbers stirred, shooting into little flames as they mounted the stoop outside the flatapartment.

            “Well, thank you for a lovely dinner…” she began, not looking at him.

            “Of whichHe stopped. Still connected by his hand on her arm, she stopped too. He filled the space around her, towering over her, his heat and scent permeating the very air she breathed. Her heart began to thud dully in her ears. The only distance she could get was by not looking directly at him. “Well, thank you for a lovely dinner—”
“Which you hardly ate anything,” he pointed outsaid.

            “Oh“I had half your dessert. And, well, we had a nice conversation,” she said lamely.
“Yes, you and my tie are having a very nice conversation now.”

            She made a meaningless gesture with her free arm[MH4] How could she tell him that his very nearness inhibited anything close to brain activity on her part? That her other arm was starting to tingle and pulse from his touch?
He apparently got tired of waiting, for the next thing she knew, his fingertips were under her chin, urging her to look up. The gentle pressure strangely excited her.

            Annoyed, Vickie She clamped down on her body’s response. that, pronto. He merely wasn’t trying to be romantic. He just wanted to talk to her, and not instead of the top of her head.
So she gave in to his fingers, allowing them to tilt her head back so that she could see his face. He was looking down at her, their bodies so close that their height difference was very apparent.

 [MH1]I think in some draft way back when I had her stomach so upset by Cliff’s nearness that she couldn’t eat. Ha. No longer plays for me so I changed this.

 [MH2]This is horribly clear TELLING. I subbed in showing.

 [MH3]While I don’t care for heroines who “can’t resist” a hero’s advances because her body betrays her, I do think there are times even the strongest of heroines doesn’t know whether to listen to their body or their mind, especially in an instant of shock or surprise

 [MH4]Like a bird flapping in the breeze...

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