"Everyone please gather in the North Conference Room immediately."
I read the email from CWA's President one more time and glanced over my shoulder. I sit in a little cube right outside of William's office, and he can see my screen from his desk, which is the worst because sometimes a girl's gotta Facebook creep. "William?" I called.
"What?" he hollered.
"Did you see this email?"
There was a pause while William called up his inbox. "Ughhh," he groaned, "come on then."
Assistants and agents were already streaming past my desk, all on their way to the conference room. I caught up to Howie, the girl I met at HR orientation who had come over from Goldman. She's slick and cool and has a luscious shoe collection, so I really thought we would be office besties! (And I wouldn't screw it up by sleeping with the guy who took her virginity either!) Unfortunately, I don't think Howie likes me very much. Which, of course, only makes me more obviously pathetic in my attempts to befriend her. "Do you know what this is about?" I whispered.
Howie arched an eyebrow. "William didn't tell you?"
"Tell me what?" I asked. "I don't know what's going on."
Howie swung open the glass door of the conference room and we found a place to stand in the back. "It's not really my place to tell," she said, "my boss told me in confidence and I have to respect that." Howie pursed her lips and I was so tempted to parrot her words back to her in a bitchy little voice—my boss told me in confidence and I have to respect that. Give me a fucking break.
The room was so crowded there was no place to sit, and I had to stand on my tippie toes to see around the shoulder of the agent in front of me. CWA's President, Jim Damon, was standing at a podium in the front of the room, and when I saw who was standing next to the shock was so great I must have looked like Maccaulay Culkin on the cover of an ancient Home Alone DVD.
It was Peter.
"Thank you everyone for gathering on such short notice," Jim began, and the room settled down. "I have some very exciting news to announce." He paused for dramatic effect. "We have partnered with LS Barton to build out a new film financing division of CWA. As you know, our film financing division is based here in New York, but with this new partnership, we'll be expanding the department in LA. " He smiled as everyone in the conference room broke into loud applause. I joined in with Herculean effort. It was exciting, fine, but I needed to know what the everloving fuck Peter was doing here. LS Barton is the financial firm where he works—but he must have been closely involved with this partnership if the announcement warranted him being here.
Jim waited for the applause to simmer down before he continued. "And without further adieu, I would like to introduce the man who will be acting as our liaison with LS Barton in the LA offices." Jim turned the floor over to Peter.
Peter shook Jim's hand and stepped up to the podium. Every woman in the room straightened up as Peter began to speak. Even Howie murmured an appreciative, "Wow."
"I am so thrilled to be here on behalf of LS Barton," Peter said. "And I am so thrilled to be heading to LA to see up this exciting partnership."
Heading to LA? My heart was somersaulting in my chest. I scanned the crowd until I spotted William. He was hunched over his phone, texting or emailing, in a very purposeful way. It was as if he wanted to send the message that Peter didn't deserve his attention or his respect. I thought about his irritated reaction to the email that asked us to gather in the conference room, and the fact that Howie's boss had clued her in to what was going on. I had a hunch William knew about this merger, and that he didn't say anything to me because he's not happy about it. It's no secret that Peter and William despise each other, and having an ex in common certainly doesn't help matters.
Peter only spoke for another few minutes, but it felt like hours. There was polite applause as he stepped away from the podium, and the room began to empty out. I stayed rooted to my spot. A small crowd had formed around Peter, and he was shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries. I waited for him to notice me.
Peter murmured something to the agent he was speaking to and clapped him on the shoulder as he stepped around him. Then he was making his way over to me.
"I can tell you're freaking out," Peter said with a small laugh.
I bulged my eyes at him. "Fuck yeah I'm freaking out. What is this? You're moving to LA?"
Peter smiled. "You are too."
"I might be if I"—
"You are moving to LA," Peter repeated, firmly.
I narrowed my eyes on him. "What do you know that I don't know?"
"Talk to William," Peter said, "but they want him in LA to oversee film financing on the books to movie side. Just for a few months, until everything is up and running and they're hired a full west coast team."
I folded my arms across my chest. "How long have you known this?"
Peter glanced over his shoulder, to make sure the partners at the front of the room weren't listening. But they were all engaged in a hearty conversation. "LR Barton and CWA have been in talks over this deal for months. But," he lowered his voice, "when I heard William was going out to LA, and by default, you," he shrugged, "it made it worth my while to volunteer to see up the project from our end."
I massaged my temples. This was all too much to take in. "But why?"
Peter locked eyes with me. "I miss you."
I opened my mouth to say something, that he was insane, that I was in love with somebody else, but all that came out was a gasp.
"Hey, Peter!" Jim called. "We're going to miss our lunch reservation if we don't get going now."
Peter gave me a little nod as he stepped away from me. I watched him make his way to the front of the room and join his fellow pack of suits. Jim clapped him on the back and lead him out into the hallway. I didn't move for some time after they left. It was only when the lights shut off in the room that I realized how long I had been standing there, staring off into space. I started for the door and the motion detector lights blinked on, bidding me a bright goodbye.