She leaned forward to collect the glasses, showing exactly as much of her cleavage as she intended.
It often worked, but not on this occasion. He was deep in conversation with someone on the ‘phone. Another sale to close, the patter unmistakable. He didn’t respond to her provocative gesture any more than he was taking note of his colleague, Graham, the other side of the table, who was watching them both.
“Shall I bring you more drinks - same again?” she asked, straightening up and smoothing her tight black dress with her free hand.
Graham nodded. Both men had had a good day.
Max was still on the phone doing more deals when she came back; two glasses on the small tray and some silly little biscuity things, designed to impress more than to be eaten. Again she leaned low in front of the younger man, almost brushing him with the swell of her breast as she put his glass down on the table.
He turned away slightly and continued to talk.
“You won’t distract him,” Graham said. “Once he picks up his phone that’s it. Anyway, he’s on a roll”
“I wouldn’t allow it in here…” she said.
“Then you wouldn’t get many customers.”
She didn’t argue but with a slightly churlish gesture, she turned and flounced away.
Max came off the phone, rubbed his hands in satisfaction and looked across at his much older colleague. “I see we’re having another”, he said picking up his large whisky and soda and taking a tasting sip.
“That waitress was giving you the come on”, Graham said.
“She does,” Max replied. “She’s called Natasha. She doesn’t usually go home alone…”
Max had been to the suppliers in Leeds at least four times now. Each time he’d had a drink at The Keys and each time Natasha had been more than attentive.
“Luke was with me the first two times – that’s how I know”, he said without needing to explain any more. Luke, huh! Stood to reason.
Then the music started, loud and thudding. The after-work set were on the dance floor, giving it some.
“I’m going back to the hotel,” Max said. “I’ve got another few calls to make. I’ve beaten my target already but I want to go on. I can’t hear myself think in here”. He swallowed the rest of his drink in one gulp, screwing up his face and then looked across at Graham. “You coming?”
“It’s too early for me – anyway I’m done for the day. Don’t worry, I’ll settle up. See you at breakfast.”
“Be good”, and with that Max was gone.
He wanted to get an early start and be on the road back south before the morning rush. He rang Graham’s room, but got no answer… tried Graham’s mobile but on the sixth buzz it went to ‘leave a message’. At reception, he asked if they had seen the guest in 219 that morning but he hadn’t checked out.
He scribbled a note telling Graham he’d see him back at the office and went down to the underground car park. Their two cars were side by side, same make, same model, different colour. He squeezed between them to get to his driver’s door. That’s when he saw the pair of women’s knickers looped around Graham’s door handle…
‘The old goat’, he thought to himself as he eased his car out of the parking space. ‘Wait ‘til I tell them back at Silvergate’.
Tell them he did, but it made no difference. Three days later they sent a driver up to Leeds on the train to collect Graham’s company car: his letter of resignation had arrived the previous morning with the car keys inside. No other explanation had been forthcoming. He had foregone his bonus. What he gained in return one can only guess.