It was all business. From the moment they said ‘hello’, all the way to the end of the main course. Everything was strictly professional, until dessert arrived. That was when the topic of interest changed to a very unexpected one.
“So, out of curiosity, what’s up with you and Jodie?” Matthias asked, as he dug into his bowl of red bean soup.
“Nothing’s up. Our relationship is pretty much a downhill one,” Guinevere answered while she twiddled with her soup spoon. “Why? Is it obvious?”
“There’s noticeable tension. Is she friends with Mrs Dune?”
Guinevere chuckled. “How do you know I have a problem with Mrs Dune?”
“You pretended to be her, remember?”
The memory of posing as the politician’s wife during the ice-breaking session came to mind. Guinevere could not believe such a glorious event went forgotten so quickly. She briefly wondered if Mrs Dune had strange encounters due to her play pretend and decided to find out when she got the chance.
“Oh, yes. But no, Mrs Dune is probably the last person Jodie would befriend.”
“You seem to know her well.”
“Well enough, I guess,” Guinevere responded, as she finally sunk her spoon into the glistening beancurd pudding.
“She seems very serious to me, if you know what I mean.”
“She is, annoyingly so. She’s the girl in school who’s always elected as the class monitor.”
“I didn’t know that,” Matthias said with a hint of surprise.
“I’m assuming. I had lunch with her one time, not alone of course, it would have been awkward, but with a couple of friends in common. And when the change for the bill came back with a few cents extra, she insisted we return it. A few cents, nobody is going to miss a few cents.”
She was hoping Matthias would have found the story ridiculous, but instead, he looked impressed. Getting an inkling, she asked, “Are you… interested in Jodie?”
Choking at the question, Matthias quickly cleared his throat before answering, “No, no. I’m just curious, that’s all.”
Guinevere had a suspicion that Matthias was up to something, but she could not be bothered about it. If it had anything to do with Jodie, she wanted nothing to do with it. It was not that she hated Jodie, she just disliked her and her opposition. For them to actually be friends would be highly unlikely.
That night, as Guinevere lay in her bed thinking about how Jodie and her were like oil and water, she received a text message from Ms Leona. It simply read, ‘Red or blue.’ It wasn’t a question but a statement, which made Guinevere silently wonder, is that the dress code? Not wanting to take any chances, she hurried to her closet to pick out a bright red dress. There was no surprise with her choice of colour, as anyone who knew her briefly would have been able to expect that of her. After all, it is the colour of power. With that settled, she called it a night, hoping tomorrow would not have her scrubbing the floors again.
The following morning, Guinevere was happy to find that she was not the only one who came in red or blue. Matthias wore a black suit as usual, but it was accompanied with a blue tie, Zach wore a simple light blue shirt, Jodie had on a red blouse, and Richard stole the show with an oriental print, dark blue jacket, over a striking red graphic tee.
“What are you wearing?” was the first question Matthias asked when Richard entered Skypeak lobby.
They did not know where to gather, so they decided to lounge among the empty armchairs early that day.
“Better clothes than you,” Richard replied with a smirk, before greeting everyone, “Morning.”
Everyone responded before another voice replied, echoing through the almost empty lobby, with a good morning.
Guinevere recognised it and turned towards the direction of the voice. Without a doubt, she saw Ms Leona confidently striding in her Jimmy Choo’s. It was a pair she had once coveted, a special edition with a heart breaking price tag.
‘Either she’s loaded or she’s smart,’ Guinevere thought.
After her eyes tore away from the black heels, Guinevere noticed five files in Ms Leona’s arms. Two were red and the other three were blue. When she finally reached them, she laid the files on the glass coffee table and gestured for them to each take one.
Jodie reached for the red file almost immediately, but before any of the men could make their pick, Guinevere stopped them.
“Ladies first, gentlemen,” Guinevere said.
The three men gave in and Richard gestured for her to go ahead. But before she did, Guinevere turned to Ms Leona and asked, “This is not a team task, is it?”
Ms Leona gave her a smile before saying, “No, it isn’t.”
Nodding in reply, she heaved a silent sigh of relief. Guinevere disliked working in teams and she was more than happy to be able to fly solo again. Even if the task was dreadful, it was better to count on herself to complete it rather than count on someone else. Maybe that was the only thing that Jodie and her had in common.
Hearing the answer she wanted, Guinevere now had to make a decision. Red file or blue file? Power or stability? It had nothing to do with the dress code after all, but Guinevere still had to choose.