Eliza and James

It had started in the boardroom and spread to the shopfloor.

Safe in her sanctuary, Eliza wound the strand of hair wound her finger once again. And looked up.

“You promised that wouldn’t happen again.”

“I didn’t know the others were feeling like that.” James replied, taking a seat.

“Don’t even think of sitting down. You have things to sort out.”

He shot out of his seat.

“I thought we might talk this through first…”

“Well, you thought wrong. You’d better get down there and sort this out. The men will go bat-shit crazy when they find out.”

“I’m not going down there on my own, they’ll lynch me.”

She used that special steely-eyed stare she had. Reserved for those rare occasions where anyone dared to challenge her. As a weapon it was merciless.

“I think you will.”

“I’m not going down there. This isn’t my fault Eliza, and I’m not taking the fall for it.”

Eliza took a long sip of her coffee. She didn’t take her eyes off him for even a fraction of a second. Slowly, she set the cup down.

“We aren’t going to debate this, are we James? We aren’t going to have another conversation about accountabilities. Like the one we had last week. And last month. Are we?”

“No. No,” he said. “I suppose not.”

“What are you going to say to them, then?”

“I suppose I’ll tell them the truth, and…”

“Are you mad? Are you fucking mad?

“That’s the worst thing you can do. You’ll have to come up with something better than that this time. Or they WILL lynch you.”

She wasn’t joking. The mood down there was not one that could take the truth. Not yet.

“I’ll have to fudge it then.”

“They’ll see right through you, of course. Then you’ll be really screwed. It’s about all you deserve. After what you said up there. You’ll be as fucked out there as you fucked me upstairs. I thought I could count on you.

“But no.

“Which one of them got to you? Who was it?”

“Look Eliza. I didn’t want to, but you left me no option.”

“Well, that’s as maybe…”

“No, that’s not good enough…”

“Don’t you dare interrupt me. Have you forgotten who’s the boss here?”

“Sorry. Sorry.”

“Now, get your arse in gear; come up with a story that will keep things under control for a bit and get down there with them. Make sure they keep the machines going.”

“I’ll try…”

“No, don’t fucking try, James. Fucking do it.”

He stared at her. He really tried to stand his ground. But, as always, he couldn’t.

“Go on then.”

And he left her alone.

“For fucks sakes.” she said to herself.

She looked around her. At the family photographs on the wall. The cups and trophies. The meet and greet with the Prince.

She tapped her fingers on the desk.