Authors: Sadie Keynes
My first day at Ellis Energy isn’t exactly a blast. When I finished college my head was full of dreams of important meetings with investors and presentations to the board, not searching through file after file desperately trying to put some kind of meaning to the endless reams of paper.
By early afternoon I’m still shut away in one of the side rooms going through the mound of files that Greene Earth, my former employer for two days, sent over as part of the deal they made with Kyan and his company.
“How’s it going, Hun?” asks Mira holding two cups of coffee and some bagels, “Thought maybe you could use some food and something to drink.”
She’s the only person here who has bothered to talk to me all day, everyone else just sits at their desks with their heads down.
“I think if I see another chart I’ll have an aneurysm,” I say.
“That bad, huh?”
Mira doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the office. It’s mostly young guys with slicked-back hair and tie clips who have seen Wolf of Wall Street too many times; a far cry from the mother-hen figure that is Mira.
Even the décor doesn’t suit her. The open plan office is all brushed steel, plate glass, and expensive hardwood: modern, cold, very cool, but heartless. Mira seems like she’d be more at home in some small town farm shop selling beets by the pound.
“Here, my to-do list is looking pretty empty this afternoon. I’ll give you a hand sorting through all this. What are you looking for?”
“I need anything to do with carbon sequestration and China.”
“I’ll just pretend I know what that means,” says Mira, “So you’re a bit of an environmentalist then?”
“Yeah, how did you know?”
“I read your résumé. Your former employer emailed it over to Kyan and I see all his emails. Sorry if I was being nosy.”
I smile. I don’t mind that she looked at my résumé. At least someone here has taken some kind of interest in me.
“I like to be prepared when we get new staff. Best to know what you’re in for when they show up for their first day. You don’t look like one of those hippy, Greenpeace, save Mother Earth types, though,” continues Mira, “I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t read up on you a bit.”
“What were you expecting? Dreadlocks and unshaved armpits?”
We laugh together for a moment. It’s nice to have some company to break the monotony.
“No, I’ve always been good with numbers. It just seemed natural to me that I’d go into finance but I wanted to make a difference too. That’s how I ended up at Greene Earth.”
“Well I think you made the right decision coming here then, Hun,” says Mira with a knowing smile.
She doesn’t seem the kind of person who would make sarcastic comments but I can’t believe she’s really being honest.
“Are you being serious?” I ask bluntly.
“Sure, why wouldn’t I be? Ellis Energy is one of the biggest investors in energy production in the world. They own so many power plants now they can really make a huge difference.”
“But they’re all coal, gas and oil plants aren’t they? The only reason Kyan is even thinking about reducing the carbon output of his coal plants is because of the new taxes that are coming in two years’ time.”
“Is that what you think? I’ve known Kyan since he started this company six years ago. He was only twenty-one back then and I’ve sort of watched him grow up. The first thing you need to know about Kyan is that he doesn’t really care what anybody thinks of him.”
I may only have known him for three days but I’ve pretty much worked that one out already.
“Oh?” I reply, feigning ignorance.
“Yep, he’s an ambitious guy, always has been, but the things he does, he does for him, not to impress anyone else. I think that’s why the press is always so interested in him, they just can’t figure him out.”
“He plays up to it though, doesn’t he? Different supermodel on his arm every week. The parties. The sports cars. Are you saying everything the magazines say about him is a lie?”
“Not everything, no. He’s got a good heart, though, I know that. He’s just a bit of a restless spirit and he can’t seem to settle down. That and he gets a bit carried away sometimes. I worry about him.”
It’s touching to see how much Mira obviously cares about Kyan. Is it true what she’s saying? Does he really have a good heart or is Mira just one more person he’s managed to fool?
“But what does this have to do with Ellis Energy investing in outdated and polluting fossil fuel technology?”
“Well, I don’t know all the ins and outs of this business. I don’t really know why Kyan has kept me on all these years even though the company has grown so big. It’s outgrown me really. I suppose since I was here from the beginning he keeps me around to remind him of his aspirations when he first started this place.”
“What were those aspirations?”
“Well, he never really shared them with me.”
Of course. Probably the closest person to Kyan. The woman who has been at his right hand the whole time he was building his empire and she doesn’t even know what it was for. Am I really supposed to believe he wanted anything more than the girls and the parties that come with being a billionaire?
“I’ll always remember one thing he did say, though,” continues Mira, “It was at my interview in a tiny office he rented from a shipping company in the corner of their warehouse. You should have seen the place back then, the noise from the…”
Mira rambles on for a few minutes about the beginnings of Ellis Energy. Kyan really did build this place from nothing, I’ll give him that. He came from the country, a small community where his parents owned a farm. He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth like so many of the other “self-made” billionaires around today.
“And then we moved to this office last year. But, oh where was I?”
“You were telling me about what Kyan said to you at your interview.”
“Oh yes, that’s right. He said, and I’ll always remember it, ‘Mira, if you really want to make a difference in this world you don’t want to try and start a revolution. Revolutions never stick. You want to take what’s already there and make it better, make it the best it can be and then build on it. There are a lot of greedy people who won’t lift a finger to help unless they know it’s going to line their pockets. I’m going to keep building this company until I’m rich enough that nothing can stop me.’”
“What do you think he meant?” I ask.
“Well I can’t be sure and he’s never spoken to me like it again since. I know that when he was a boy they started drilling for oil a couple of miles away from where he lived. Anyway, they did something wrong because they ended up tainting the groundwater. Damn near ruined his parents’ farm and they never got a penny out of the oil company. That’s when he decided he wasn’t going to get pushed around by rich corporations anymore.”
“So he decided to start one of his own?”
“Well, you know, I think that’s what he meant when he said to take what’s there and make it better. Now I don’t know if all the investments he’s made have just been to make him rich, maybe that’s the case and maybe because I’ve been around the man so long I’ve built him up to be something he’s not. But I’ll ask you this, have you ever heard of Ellis Energy or any of the companies it’s bought being involved in some scandal? You know, a poorly maintained tanker sinking, an oil rig exploding, that kind of thing?”
I thought about it for a moment. She’s right. That’s not to say Ellis Energy isn’t doing anything wrong, they might just be better at hiding it than the others. Could it be just a coincidence or is that the reason that Kyan started this company? Changing the world with evolution rather than revolution. It’s a nice idea but I struggle to believe that the real Kyan Ellis is some kind of eco-warrior.
“No. At least I can’t remember it ever happening to one of the Ellis Energy companies.”
“Anyway, we better sort this paperwork out if Kyan wants his report by tomorrow morning,” says Mira as she goes back to busily pawing through the mass of files.
I’m feeling pretty good as I run up the last few flights of stairs to the office. That squash game really got me pumped, especially when I won the last game 11 to 2.
The office is deserted. Even the hardcore guys who think they’re impressing me by staying an extra couple of hours every day have gone home. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve told them I don’t care how many hours they spend in the office, only that the quality of their work is good. Of course, they never listen, they think it’s some kind of test.
Me? I’m out of the building by five-thirty every night. What’s the point of working hard if you have no time for playing hard?
I’m on the way back to my office to pick up my change of clothes when I notice a light in one of the side rooms is still on. I check my watch. 8:30pm.
Who would still be working at this time?
I peer through the room’s glass window to see Clara, sitting on the floor surrounded by a pile of files. Looks like what I said earlier had an effect on her. Maybe too much of an effect.
I tap on the glass to get her attention before I realize I must look an idiot in my squash clothes: headband, short shorts and all drenched in sweat. She looks up and me, her bright eyes dulled with tiredness, and gives me a half smile.
I open the office door, not wanting to get too close to her because I probably stink.
“You’re still working?”
“Well, you said you wanted that report by tomorrow so…”
“Yeah, I know what I said, but I didn’t mean…Look, from now on if you’re going to have to end up working late just tell me you can’t get the report done in time.”
“That doesn’t sound very
If that’s how she’s going to be perhaps I’ll let her stay here all night.
“Have you had dinner?”
“There’s this diner about five minutes away. Their burgers are sublime. What do you say?”
“Let’s go,” says Clara as she stands up, letting the file in her lap fall to the floor and spill its contents across the wooden floor.
“Give me ten minutes to clean up and get changed.”
“You mean you aren’t going to go like that? I was hoping people would think I’m out with my tennis coach.”
“For burgers? I’ve got a reputation to uphold. Try not to do any more work while I’m in the showers.”
“Shouldn’t be a problem,” says Clara.
I head down to the showers with a light heart. That has to be the first time I’ve asked a girl out to dinner since I made my first million without already knowing she was going to say yes.
I can’t believe Kyan asked me to dinner. I can’t believe I said yes. A day of staring at these files has me too tired to think straight.
I have to text Kelly.
Kyan asked me to dinner and I said yes.
Bad idea? Xx
I wait anxiously for a reply, trying to remember whether she’s working or not tonight. She’s always swapping shifts and changing her hours.
OMG so jealous. Has he got any billionaire
friends to introduce me to? Kx
She may be my best friend, but on a typical day, Kelly thinks about two things: hot guys, and food. I decide it’s best to call her rather than try to explain the situation by text.
“So he’s still after you?” says Kelly the moment she picks up the phone.
“No, no, he’s not interested in me like that, he—”
“But what about when you kissed in the club? The way you two were flirting all night, it was just, like, get a room.”
“OK, first of all, I wasn’t flirting, and secondly he flirts like that with anything with a pulse. Anyway, we were drunk. Really, really drunk.”
“So why did he ask you to dinner then?”
“Well, he came up to the office after his squash game and–”
“Was he all sweaty in his tight gym clothes?” interrupts Kelly.
“You have a one track mind. Keep it in your pants for a minute. He came up to the office after his squash game and saw I was working late so he asked me if I wanted to go get burgers with him.”
“Like a date?”
“Yes. I mean NO, not like a date. He gave me this big speech earlier about acting professional and trying to get along. I think he just wants to make up for the way he behaved when we first met.”
“So you’re calling me to ask me if I think it’s a good idea for you to go on a date with a hot billionaire?”
I should have known how Kelly would react. I can’t expect to be able to have a balanced discussion with her when it comes to Kyan seeing as she seems to worship the ground he walks on.
“NO. I’m trying to figure out what’s going on here. Is this a ‘professional’ way to behave? I mean, he’s my boss. Should we be friendly or do you think it’s safer for me to keep my distance here?”
“Look, I know I get a bit excited about the whole Kyan Ellis thing, but it’s totally normal for a boss to take his employee out for dinner after she’s put in a lot of extra work. Especially on her first day.”
“Probably. I don’t know. My boss only speaks to me to chew me out for showing up late to work.”
“Remind me why I ever ask you for advice again?”
“Because you know I’m always right and I love you! Try not to get too hung up on your differences, just go to dinner with him, have some fun, be normal, and relax!”
“Yeah. I will. Thanks, Kelly.”
“No problem, just make sure you tell me all about it.”
I hang up the phone. Even though she doesn’t exactly give the best advice, Kelly always manages to make me feel better somehow. I may not be as carefree as she always seems to be but tonight I’m going to try.
I look down at the piles of paperwork around me. It’s going to take me another day at least to sort through all of this.
I wonder how much longer Kyan is going to be. Maybe I can do a bit more work.
I pick up a piece of paper from one of the files and the numbers and words on it are just a blur. It’s been a long day and I don’t think I can take even another five minutes of looking at this stuff so I go back to my desk and start flicking through websites on my phone. After a few minutes, I hear a noise coming from Kyan’s office.
“Kyan?” I say, standing just outside the closed door, “Are you ready to go?”
There’s more shuffling from inside and I decide to open the door.
“No! Wait, I’m not—”
The door swings open before I have fully realized what I’m seeing.
Kyan is standing in the corner of his office. He must have just have forgotten to take his towel and change of clothes down to the showers with him because he is completely naked and only just about managing to cover his groin with his hands.
That’s all I can think. Only a couple of seconds have passed but already I know that I’m taking too long. I just can’t seem to get my body to move.
By now, the door has swung away from my hand, out of my reach. I don’t know what I expected exactly, the guy is a billionaire in his late twenties so of course, he can afford the best personal trainers and nutritionists. It isn’t like I hadn’t tried to imagine what was under those beautifully tailored shirts he wears, I’m only human, and anyway, Kelly has been going on about how hot he is so much I could hardly get away from it. Even so…wow.
My eyes run over his tall body from his broad shoulders, down past arms thick with muscle, and his powerful chest. He’s still pumped from his squash game, every muscle defined and exuding strength. A few droplets of water are running down his chest and past his ripped abs to where is he is trying to cover himself. My eyes linger there for a moment on the substantial size of what he’s covering and then continue their descent, tracing the outline of his athletic thighs.
How much time has passed I can’t say, it could have been five seconds, it could have been a minute or more. Either way, I’m not feeling very ‘professional’ right now.
“I…I’m sorry,” I stammer as I claw for the door handle, still unable to turn away. Eventually, I manage to grab it and pull the door shut.
I put my hands to my face, feeling the heat coming from my cheeks. I don’t think I’m going to be able to stop blushing for a month. That, and I think I need to change my panties.
Kelly is going to lose her mind when I tell her about this.