By Design – Chapter 36

“Gracie Parker. A word.”

Gracie was surprised to find herself being beckoned into her boss’ office. This had never happened before, Gracie realized, not like this, not with that tone in her boss’ voice. Gracie suddenly had the feeling she got when her mother was scolding her as a child and wondered what she possibly could have done wrong now.

Gracie entered the office and shut the door behind her when she was asked to.

“I hear you were involved in an incident at Ronald Chen’s fundraiser last weekend,” her boss said, cutting straight to the point as soon as Gracie had taken a seat.

Gracie was confused. How did her boss even know she had been at that event? It wasn’t like she had been on assignment. “I was there,” Gracie admitted, though she wasn’t quite sure how it was any of this woman’s business what she did in her personal time. “But I wouldn’t say there was any incident. I didn’t even stay the whole time.”

“A reporter who was there for us stated that you got into a fight with Miss Chen, the heir to the company.”

Fight was a pretty strong word for what had actually occurred, Gracie thought. It was more of juts a verbal disagreement. But she knew better than to say as much to her boss.

“I know Miss Chen,” Gracie said. “We don’t exactly see eye to eye on a lot of things—“

“Then you had no business being at the fundraiser,” he boss said, cutting her off.

Gracie was taken aback by the other woman’s curtness. How could she tell her what she has the right to do in her own time? It wasn’t like she had been reporting on the event.

“I didn’t attend the fundraiser as a reporter,” Gracie said in her own defense. “I went to that event as a guest.” She wasn’t quite sure why she was being forced to explain herself. It was making her angry. She had the right to attend any event she wanted to in her free time.

“Let me be very clear,” her boss said, leaning across the desk. “Whether you are on assignment or not, you are always representing this company. Many people in this city know that you are a reporter for our magazine. I don’t want them to be getting a poor image about how we treat people whose events we have been invited to cover. Once that happens, we will stop getting invited to anything. And how are we supposed to do business once that happens?”

Gracie was pretty sure her boss was going a bit overboard with this. One incident was not the end of the world. It wasn’t like a reporter had never lost her temper with her host before. But, again, she knew better than to voice these sentiments aloud.

“I’m sorry for acting poorly,” Gracie said. “I won’t let it happen again.”

Her boss sighed. “I plan to ensure it doesn’t,” she said. “I think it might be best for you to take some time off, let your temper cool a bit. Perhaps once you’ve had some time to yourself, you will be able to come back to work for us again.”

It took a moment for Gracie to register her words. “Are you firing me?” She asked.

“Not yet,” her boss said. “Not if you show you can gather some composure. But I am requesting you take some time off. Let’s say in a month we can reassess your situation and see if you are able to come back to work.”

Gracie couldn’t believe what she was hearing. But right now, she wasn’t in a mood to fight it either. She was afraid if she were to open her mouth again she would only succeed at making things worse. Instead, she left the office and headed to her desk. As she was packing up the few things at her desk that were of importance to her, Colleen came by to check on her.

“Is everything OK?” Colleen asked.

“Does it look like everything is OK?” Gracie’s words were bitter, causing Colleen to cringe.

“What happened?” she asked.

“Well, I’ve not been fired. Yet.” Gracie finished packing her things and grabbed her purse out of her desk drawer. “Perhaps I’ll see you in a month or so,” she told her friend.

She left the office without uttering another word to anybody. She was so irritated by the way her day turned out that she wasn’t sure she ever wanted to come back to this place, even if she was given the opportunity.

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