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Carpe Diem Ch. 04

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This is the final chapter in the tale of Amanda and Josh, the star-crossed colleagues who discover an affinity and affection during a five-day business trip to Zürich. If you haven’t read Chapters 1, 2, and 3, you really must — this chapter won’t make sense to you otherwise. Also, if you’re looking for wall-to-wall sex, this isn’t the chapter for you. But if you’re looking for entertainment, and even a little poignancy, I hope you’ll find them in the words that follow. Thanks to Lit author Lil_Kitty for her ongoing support. –Petitmort

The electronic lock opened with a sharp “thwack” as Josh badged his way into the front door of the high-tech office building in San Francisco’s bustling South of Market district.

“Good morning, Josh,” the receptionist said with a smile.

Josh Hamilton, Vice President of Product at ReSale.com, an up-and-coming e-commerce startup, looked in every respect like a conquering hero returning victorious from battle.

“Hi Shannon,” he answered, flashing a movie star smile.

Josh had every reason to feel on top of the world. He was just back from leading a launch planning event in Zürich — and it had been a big success. A home run, in fact.

He and Amanda Butterfield, the newly hired PM who accompanied him on the trip, had pulled off a major coup.

First, the two-day launch event went off without a hitch. The Europe team was ready and raring to go.

Second, and most importantly, they closed a tentative deal with Armani to provide product for ReSale to market on their site.

It was a huge win that could turn a good year into a phenomenal one.

Josh was second in command at ReSale and next in line for CEO. And though it wasn’t common knowledge yet, the CEO position was going to be opening up very soon.

Frank Stafford, the current CEO and founder of the company, was planning to step down because of a heart condition.

Josh was the front-runner to be the new CEO. He was up against one other candidate — he didn’t know who it was — and the Armani deal was just what he needed to cinch it.

And it couldn’t have come at a better time. The board was making their decision on the new CEO early next week.

Josh had received a text from Frank the night before telling him to be in his office at 9am sharp. In his mid-50s, Frank was old school. He said things like “9am sharp.”

Josh typically wouldn’t come into work on a Friday after flying back from Europe the night before. He figured Frank wanted to give him an atta boy for the Armani “get” and maybe make plans for an All Hands meeting to announce it.

As he strode through the office, a broad smile on his face, he thought about what he’d tell Frank.

He’d start off by giving him a blow-by-blow of how the deal went down. Frank loved that sort of thing.

He’d give ample credit to Amanda, of course. It was Amanda who closed the deal by making a compelling personal appeal to the Armani exec in Italian.

He found Frank in his office, sitting behind his desk.

“Hey Frank,” Josh said, with a smile.

“Come in, Josh,” he said. “Close the door.”

Close the door? That seemed a bit odd. Maybe Frank wanted to keep news of the Armani deal on the down low.

Josh sat in a chair facing the desk.

“So, you heard about Armani?” Josh said, smiling.

“This isn’t about Armani, Josh.”

Josh was slightly taken aback.

“OK,” he said. “What’s up?”

Frank leaned forward, his brow furrowed.

“There’s an issue I need to discuss with you,” Frank said. “It’s serious.”

Josh looked concerned.

“God, it’s not your health, is it?”

Frank frowned and fiddled with his pen.

“No, this isn’t about me, Josh. It’s about you.”

“About me?” Josh asked, surprised. “What is it?”

Frank stood up and started to pace.

“It’s an HR issue, Josh. I need to tell you…”

He rubbed his chin, unsure how to continue.

“Frank, what’s going on?”

“I need to tell you,” he stammered, “there’s an investigation…you’re being investigated for violating the company Code of Conduct.”

“The Code of Conduct?” Josh asked, confused.

“That’s right,” he said, looking at the floor. “I…I wanted to be the one to tell you.”

“What the…what’s this all about?”

“We’ve brought in a law firm that’ll be conducting the investigation,” Frank explained. “Actually, the board brought them in.”

“The board? … Frank, what the hell’s going on?” Josh said, raising his voice.

“Now Josh, just stay calm,” the CEO said. “There’s a process I have to follow here.”

“But this doesn’t make any sense, Frank,” Josh said. “I mean…what am I being accused of?”

“I’m not supposed to say anything,” he muttered. “You’re scheduled to be interviewed by the lawyers, like, right now. So … it’ll all be clear to you then.”

He was having trouble looking Josh in the face.

“I just wanted you to hear it directly from me,” Frank said, finally looking at him. “But I have to tell you canlı bahis … this isn’t good, Josh.”

Josh looked at him, trying to process this information. He looked shaken.

“Where are the lawyers?” Josh asked, quietly.

“They’re set up in the big conference room,” Frank muttered.

Josh nodded.

“OK,” he said, softly. “Thanks Frank.”

Josh stood and put his hand on Frank’s shoulder.

Then, he turned and walked out.

The big conference room had a long rectangular table and was encased by glass walls. Josh could see a man and a woman waiting inside. The woman was seated while the man was adjusting a video camera on a tripod.

Josh opened the door to the conference room and entered.

“Good morning,” he said stiffly, “I’m Josh Hamilton and I’m scheduled to be interviewed.”

The two lawyers looked at Josh appraisingly.

They introduced themselves and shook hands.

“I’m Martha Longley,” the woman said, “and this is my associate, Lance Jeffries.”

They said they were attorneys at Addison Cromwell. Josh remembered one of the board members was a partner there.

“Have a seat, Josh,” the woman said.

Josh sat in one of the chairs, facing them. Through the glass walls, he could see employees straggling in to start their workday.

“Can you tell me what this is all about?” Josh asked, getting to the point.

The woman sat opposite him while the man stood behind the camera.

“There have been credible accusations of improper behavior made against you by employees in this company,” she began. “We’ve been retained to conduct an impartial investigation of those allegations and report back to the board of directors.”

The man spoke next.

“We’ll collect statements from all parties, examine the physical evidence, and document our findings in a written report. We want to stress that this is not a legal proceeding. However, if we uncover misconduct that rises to the level of illegality, we will retain the right to refer it to the proper authorities.”

“Even though you are not under oath,” said the woman, “any statement you make which is found to be knowingly false, or made with an intention to mislead or evade the truth, could be cause in and of itself for termination under the Code of Conduct.”

“What is it I’m accused of doing?” Josh asked.

“There has been a credible whistleblower complaint of alleged sexual misconduct, harassment, toxic work environment, and potential misuse of company funds, among other violations of the company policies.”

Josh couldn’t imagine who would possibly accuse him of such things. Surely this wasn’t about the Zürich trip.

When the questioning started, however, his worst fears were realized.

“On Sept 14, did you travel on Swiss Air flight
9 from San Francisco to Zürich, Switzerland on company business?”

Shit, Josh thought, this was about the Zürich trip.

“Yes, I was leading the planning event for the Europe launch.”

“And you were traveling with Ms. Amanda Butterfield, an employee of this company?”

“Yes. She’s a Sr. Product Manager and she was helping with the launch event.”

“And she reports to you?” the woman interrupted.

“No, she reports to Marty Braun, and Marty reports to me.”

“She’s a product manager and, as the Vice President of Product, she’s a part of your organization. She reports to you ultimately. Is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“Now, is it true that during the flight, when Ms. Butterfield was returning to her seat after changing into her sleeping attire, you attempted to peer down her shirt?”

Josh couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“No,” he said with a scoff. “I mean, I may have glanced…”

“Did you, at any time during the flight, nuzzle Ms. Butterfield’s breasts?”

Josh felt his face reddening.

“I would never do that to an employee.”

“Did your face at any time make contact with Ms. Butterfield’s breasts?”

“Well, yes, but she slipped. I was trying to help her.”

The two lawyers glanced at each other.

It dawned on Josh that the only source for this information was Amanda herself. She must have given them these details. But why?

“And when you got to the B2 Hotel + Spa in Zürich, did you advise Ms. Butterfield that she should wear a micro bikini to the spa?”

“She had forgotten her suit,” Josh said. “And we wanted to use the spa.”

“Isn’t it true you accompanied her to a store and helped her try on micro bikinis?”

“I didn’t help her, I… She wanted to try the spa. I showed her where the women’s store was. That’s all.”

“Isn’t it true that you advised her to buy a micro bikini, as opposed to a more conservative one-piece style?”

“I…I told her the one-piece looked like something my mother would wear, but I didn’t…”

“So you did express your preference for the micro bikini.”

“I didn’t prefer anything,” he said. “It was entirely her choice.”

“And you paid for this micro bikini using your bahis siteleri corporate credit card? The one that was entirely her choice?”

“She had forgotten her wallet,” he said, exasperated.

The lawyers glanced at each other again.

“Did you arrange for the two of you to visit an adult spa together?”

“It wasn’t an adult spa,” Josh protested, “it was part of the hotel.”

“Isn’t it true you paid extra so that you and Ms. Butterfield could access the adults-only areas of the spa?”

“I may have,” Josh said, “honestly, I don’t remember.”

“This is a photocopy of the receipt showing you personally paid for exclusive adult access on your corporate credit card. Does this jog your memory?”

Josh took a piece of paper that clearly showed the receipt with his signature.

“But it’s not what you’re implying,” Josh said, “we were just relaxing after a long flight.”

The male lawyer swiveled his laptop so the screen faced Josh.

“Is this what you’re referring to when you were saying you were just relaxing?”

On the laptop screen, there was a photo of a bottle of champagne, a champagne glass, with Josh smiling sexily in the background, the black hair on his chest stark under the white terrycloth robe.

“We were having a drink. Before the spa.”

“And who purchased this bottle of champagne prior to you patronizing the adults-only spa?”

“It came with the room.”

“And you paid for the champagne with the company credit card?”

“Yes.”

The lawyer pressed a key on the laptop. A photo appeared of Amanda taking a selfie in the bathroom mirror.

She was striking a sexy pose wearing the bikini, her full breasts pouring out of her top. Two sheer triangles barely covered her areoles, the outlines of her nipples clearly visible. On the bottom, she looked nude save for a small swath of fabric at the crotch.

“And is this, in fact, Ms. Butterfield in the very same micro bikini you told her you preferred she wear while visiting the adults-only portions of the spa?”

“There weren’t a lot of suits to choose from,” he said, exasperated.

“And do you recognize where this photo was taken?”

“It looks like the bathroom in my suite,” he said.

“The bathroom in your suite?” the lawyer asked.

“Yes.”

“To summarize then, you decided that you and a subordinate would patronize an adults-only spa, you advised her to wear this…piece of clothing…while in that spa, and you arranged to get that subordinate liquored up beforehand.”

“Look, you’re casting this in the worst possible light,” Josh objected. “I didn’t force her to do anything.”

The lawyer picked up another piece of paper.

“Mr. Hamilton, you say you didn’t force Ms. Butterfield to do anything, but did you, or did you not, inform Ms. Butterfield that you had, quote, made an executive decision, unquote, that she should spend the night in your hotel room?”

Josh was staring at his hands now. He couldn’t think about anything else but Amanda’s betrayal.

“Mr. Hamilton? Did you, or did you not, say ‘I’m afraid I must insist’ that Ms. Butterfield share your bed at the hotel?”

Josh just stared into space. This had turned into his worst nightmare.

“I was just trying to be funny,” Josh said, quietly.

The male lawyer got up and sat next to Josh.

“Look, Josh, we know this is difficult. But it will be much better, for everyone, if you just tell us what happened. Did you tell her it was just too much of a hassle to move to another hotel? That it’d make more sense for her to sleep in your suite with you?”

“It wasn’t like that.”

“So, you’re claiming you didn’t say ‘I’m afraid I must insist.'”

“No, I’m saying that’s not what I meant.”

“So, you did say it?”

“I was trying to be romantic!” Josh said, his face etched with pain.

“By telling her she had no choice in the matter?” the woman lawyer interjected. “What you consider romantic would strike a lot of women as coercive.”

The blood was rushing to Josh’s face. He felt like he had tunnel vision.

“One last question, Mr. Hamilton,” the woman said. “After you made Ms. Butterfield move into your suite, did you order her to put on lingerie and to orally copulate you?”

He looked at the two lawyers. They were both glaring at him. He felt like he was falling through space.

“Go fuck yourselves,” he said.

“I think we’re done here,” the woman lawyer said, curtly.

Josh stood up and walked out of the conference room.

Outside in the main office, Amanda was sitting at her desk, her mind reeling from the events of the morning.

Her manager, Marty Braun, had texted her and told her to show up at 8am. Then, he led her to the big conference room where she was interviewed by the lawyers for a full hour starting at 8am.

On her way out, she was collared by Chip Taylor, the VP of Marketing, who wanted to have a chat with her in his office.

She figured he wanted a recap of the Zürich trip. bahis şirketleri Chip was supposed to go on the trip but had to cancel at the last minute.

“So, how’d it go?” Chip asked, shutting his office door.

He gestured to Amanda to have a seat.

“Fine,” Amanda said. “Did you get the read-out from Josh?”

“Well, I wanted to hear it from you,” Chip said, sitting in his chair. “Sounds like you really pulled a rabbit out of the hat with Armani.”

He leaned back and clasped his hands behind his head.

“Well, Josh did the heavy lifting,” she said. “I was able to help close it.”

“That’s not what I heard,” Chip smiled. “I heard Josh had pretty much struck out and you came in and hit a home run. A grand slam, in fact.”

“Well, I was able to get good wood on the ball,” she said, modestly. “If that’s the right expression, I’m not great with sports metaphors.”

“No, that’s perfect,” he smiled. “Good wood, I like that.”

He gave her a smirk that made her feel a bit queasy.

“Sounds like I made a pretty good call when I recommended you for that trip,” he said.

Amanda wasn’t sure what to say.

“Well…I’m grateful for the opportunity.”

“Listen, Amanda,” he said, confidingly. “You scored some major points with this. Play your cards right and good things can happen to you. And I can help you with that.”

Amanda was trying to figure out exactly what he was saying.

“Thanks, Chip,” she said. “I appreciate that.”

He leaned forward for emphasis.

“Rule number one,” he said, “never sell yourself short.”

“Mmm-hmm,” she nodded.

“Like this Armani deal—if you drove it, then own it. Take credit for it.”

Amanda gave a slight nod.

“Don’t be afraid to blow your own horn,” he continued. “If you won’t, nobody else will.”

“Good advice,” she said. “Thank you.”

“OK,” he said, standing up. “If you need anything, I’m right here. I’m a big fan, Amanda. Big fan.”

With that, Amanda got up, nodded, and left.

Josh stood in his office, his head spinning. He was staring out the glass wall into the main office. On the far side of the main work area, he could see Amanda leaving Chip’s office.

“What the fuck is she up to?” he thought to himself.

Just then, he saw Marty Braun, the Director of Product and Amanda’s manager, approach her. Josh watched as he engaged her in a short, intense conversation.

Marty gestured toward the big conference room. Amanda glanced in that direction. Then he said something else and they both looked towards Josh’s office.

They looked away quickly when they saw Josh staring at them.

Amanda then turned and headed in one direction while Marty headed in the other. Amanda whispered something to her friend Marie and then headed towards the kitchen. A moment later, Marie stood up and followed her. Meanwhile, Marty was walking back towards his office, in Josh’s direction.

Josh stuck his head out the door of his office.

“Marty!” he called out. “Can I talk to you a sec?”

“Sure, Josh,” Marty said.

Josh was leaning against his desk, trying to look casual.

“Hey Marty,” Josh said.

“Josh, what’s going on?” Marty said, looking nervous.

Josh rubbed his chin.

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out. What have you heard?”

Marty blinked his eyes fast.

“I don’t know, Frank told me there was some sort of HR investigation. There are lawyers in the big conference room. They wanted to talk to Amanda.”

“Yeah,” Josh said, “Frank told me the same thing. Do you know what precipitated it?”

“No idea,” Marty said. “But lawyers?”

“It’s probably just a procedural thing,” Josh said. “Don’t worry about it. Let’s keep this quiet.”

“Definitely,” Marty said, nervously, as Josh showed him the door.

Josh closed his office door and paced. He scanned the main office. So, Amanda had already talked to the lawyers. That’d explain how they knew all that stuff about the spa and the bathing suit. Marty didn’t seem to know anything.

But why would Amanda turn on him like that? Had he done, or said, something to anger her?

None of it made any sense.

He thought back over the past four days trying to piece things together, trying to think of anything that would make sense of the chaos.

Images flashed through his mind as if in a fever dream:

Amanda squeezing past his seat on the plane, the top of her shirt falling open, gazing at her gorgeous breasts.

The sensation of her full breasts pressing against his face, feeling her hard nipples brushing against his mouth and face.

Later, at the hotel, Amanda opening her white robe, flashing him in that sexy bikini, her body oozing sex.

Then at the hot tub, looking at her luscious body, while she stared back at him, gazing at his raging hard on.

And then lying in bed, feeling her naked body on top of him, giving him that unforgettable full-body massage.

Her oily hands jacking him off and fingering his ass, until he exploded his cum everywhere.

And that was just their first night together.

The lawyers had only asked him about a fraction of these things. What else did they know? What else had Amanda told them?

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