Sharon lies on her desk for a second. Or a minute. It could even have been an hour, she doesn’t know. Her body is on the verge of breaking. She is exhausted. Somebody taps her lightly on the back and she looks up, still feeling groggy.
“Why are you sleeping at work?”
She looks up, half seeing then bolts up. It is her boss, Kamau. The Managing Partner who is also the owner of the firm. The other two partners are his employees.
“I am sorry sir. I think I am just tired,” she says, involuntarily looking at her watch. It is now 9 pm.
“Are you sure you are cut out for this? Did you get promoted too early?”
Sharon has just been made Senior Associate at the firm and she knows she deserved it. She has slaved at this firm for four years post admission. Nobody works as hard as she does, keeping long hours, doing meticulous research, receiving calls from clients even from her home…yes, she deserved the promotion. She is up to the task. But she is human too, and her body needs rest.
This week has been particularly hectic. She has been preparing for a civil suit that is coming up against one of their corporate clients. The lawyers on the other side have buried them in paperwork, and she has hardly had time to breathe. Strictly speaking, that file is not hers…it belongs to the man who is standing in front of her right now. But as usual, she will do the donkey work and give him the polished arguments to argue in court.
That is why he can afford to go golfing every Wednesday. He does not spend his days at the office. He only comes to attend meetings or for brief appearances to berate his employees. It is not just Sharon who is treated harshly. All the employees of Kamau & Associates are treated this way, and that includes the other Partners.
But at least the partners can assign work to associates and senior associates, a privilege she does not have. As a senior associate, she can assign work to pupils, but she is still expected to do the assigned work personally because pupils are in training. Kamau expects her to do the work and at the same time teach the pupil how to do it.
“No, sir. I am up to the task. It is this suit that has sucked the blood out of me. But it is done now. The submissions are ready. I only need to print them so that Jennifer can take them for binding tomorrow. After I sleep tonight I will be fine tomorrow.”
His face softens, and she knows what is coming. The female employees of Kamau & Associates have to contend with being insulted and demeaned one minute, then being seduced and flirted with the next.
“That is okay. Just email it to Jennifer. She can print and take it for binding. You need to rest. But I will take you out for dinner tonight. After that, you can go home and take the day off tomorrow. Come by my office when you are ready,”
Sharon doesn’t know whether to be excited or depressed. A day off is truly welcome. But dinner with the boss? That is an absolute no. She has dodged his advances so far. What will they even be talking about? How will she manage to pretend during dinner that she likes him when she loathes him with a passion? But today she is too tired to think of any clever way to dodge the dinner without getting slaughtered with words. So she just nods. She sends the draft submissions to the secretary with instructions to print and bind, taking care to mention that it is a directive from the boss himself. She actually copies him in the email.
Then she shuts down her machine and picks her handbag. She goes to Kamau’s office and informs him that she is ready.
“Just sit for a second,” he says, typing on his computer.
She sits on a chair opposite his desk and watches him as he continues working. He is not handsome, but neither is he unpleasant to the eye. He is a sharp dresser and always smells good. When he smiles, which is rare around the office, his eyes light up the rest of his face. If he weren’t so unpleasant most of the times, he would actually be likable. Even loveable. But anyone who has worked for him knows he is a ruthless, self-centered man. Finally, he shuts his laptop and rises.
“I think we can leave now,” he says packing his laptop into his bag.
His smile is making Sharon nervous. He likes flirting with female employees, but she has so far managed to keep things professional between them. She knows she has made an error of judgment by agreeing to go out for dinner with him tonight. She knows that one of the Partners, a woman, is his mistress. She is a fine advocate, but everyone in the office and in their social circles believes that she got the promotion because of her bedroom activities.
Sharon is determined to make partner purely by merit. On an ordinary day, she would have declined his offer for dinner. But today she is too tired and she did not have the energy to soak in his snide comments.
She rises slowly and follows him out of the office to the parking area. She wants to walk to her car, expecting that she will drive behind him, or at least he will tell her where they will meet for dinner.
“No need to take your car. I will get you a cab home. And you can also take a cab to the office on Thursday morning and bill the office.”
Sharon follows him to his car, a BMW X6. She knows she will struggle to stay awake. The only thing she wants is to get home and sleep. She hopes she can get this dinner over with quickly and without drama. But she also knows she has to stay alert because Kamau will almost certainly try to take her to bed.
They drive to the FathaFour Hotel in Westlands. Sharon is half asleep during the whole time. Kamau does not even try to engage her in conversation. He is on the phone most of the time anyway. He guides her to a private dining room. It has a dining table and a couch that can be rolled into a bed. He gestures her to order while he finishes talking on the phone. He points to a button on the wall which she presses and a waiter appears on the door.
She orders rice and chicken, and a glass of mango juice. A cloud of irritation passes over Kamau’s face but he says nothing because he is still on the phone. She ignores him and starts thumbing her phone.
“Why did you order food?” Kamau demands after hanging up.
“I thought you said I should place my order?”
“Yes…for drinks. I want us to relax a bit before eating. I want to know you more. You can order wine or beer. Anything…” his tone is more conciliatory now.
“I am sorry sir but I don’t take alcohol,”
“You are one of those holier than thou church girls?” he asks sarcastically.
Sharon says nothing. How are you supposed to respond to that?
“Okay, you can tell them to tarry with the food a bit. You can drink your juice as we talk.”
“I am sorry sir, but I am really tired today. I would really like to rest,”
“I can help you rest. I can give you a really nice massage,” he says, taking her hand and stroking it gently. Sharon withdraws it gently but firmly.
“But sir, don’t you have a wife?” she asks in what she hopes is her most innocent voice.
“I do, but ours is an open marriage. She sees other men and I see other women,”
Sharon’s food is brought, buying her some time. She does not like the way this conversation is going. He orders a bottle of wine.
“So, what do you say? Do you want a massage?” he asks, stretching his hand to take hers again. She pulls it away. Again.
“No, I am fine. What I need is just sleep.”
“I also have skills that can help you sleep faster,” he says with a wink.
Sharon feels his shoeless leg going up her leg to her thigh under the table. She pushes her plate away, half-eaten, and rises.
“Goodnight Mr. Kamau,” she says, leaving the table.
As she walks out, he suddenly grabs her and pushes her to the couch. Then he walks towards the door and locks it with the key that is hanging on the keyhole.
“Let me go,” Sharon pleads.
“I will, but not now. Take off your clothes.”
“I said take off your clothes!”
Sharon does not move. He moves towards her and pulls at her blouse. She grabs his right hand and bites it. He winces and slaps her on the face, stunning her into momentary blindness. When she is able to focus her eyes on his face once again, she finds herself looking straight at the eye of a pistol.
“Do not even bother screaming. This room is soundproof, that is why I chose it. Nobody will come unless I call for them. So take off your clothes otherwise I will blow your brains out.”
Sharon shudders in fear. She starts removing her clothes slowly, hoping for a miracle but expecting none.
This post is not a series. It is our monthly novella. So to read the whole story, just go to the bookstore (https://www.maroncha.com/book-store) and grab your copy at only Kshs. 100. We have simplified the process so all you need to do is log in, add to cart, check out then pay. If you are new, you have to register first.
Remember, if you have any challenges while purchasing the book, you can email me at email@example.com or inbox Sanctuaryside on Facebook.
See you all on Friday for the next series.