Buffy was still at her desk a couple of hours after she and Xander had returned from lunch. She was going over the same mock-ups for her latest project. Her heart wasn't into her work, though. Having Willow at her house and telling Xander about Willow and Tara had stirred memories from the past 7 years. It didn't help matters that the mock-ups in front of her were for the Espresso Pump campaign. She and Willow spent more time at the Espresso Pump while they were in high school than they did at home sometimes. Looking over the graphics for the campaign reminded Buffy of the good times she and her best friend had at the local café.
Buffy looked at the clock on the far wall. Well, they should be together now. Assuming Tara showed up. Oh, she'd better be there. Willow will be devastated if she didn't show. And I'll be forced to hunt Tara down and introduce her to pain for hurting my friend! Buffy shook these thoughts out of her head and chuckled at herself. Oh, yeah...little me is gonna get all big, bad and butch. Besides, Tara is my friend too. She's been hurting just as much as Willow. What happens if she doesn't show? Where does that put me? In the middle? Oh hell, if what I know about Tara is true - and I have no doubt that it is - she showed up. She and Willow are probably kissing and making up as I speak...um...think. Buffy gave an affirming nod and went back to the mock-ups. The ringing of her telephone broke the blonde's concentration.
"Buffy Summers...Hi, Mr. Gomboni...Of course, I'm on my way."
Buffy quickly grabbed a pen and notepad and made her way down the hall to her boss's office. Why do I feel like I'm being called to Snyder's office expecting him to suspend me? As she walked, Buffy went over in her head all of the things she could have possibly done to warrant being called to the VP's office. Try as she might, she couldn't think of anything...but that didn't stop her from worrying. Trouble seems to be my middle name. She rounded the corner and came to a stop at the secretary's desk.
"Hey, Kristine, how's it going?" Buffy met Kristine on her first day at work for the company and immediately took a liking to the older woman. There was something motherly about the woman that Buffy latched onto.
"Well, hello, Buffy! I'm doing well, thanks. How are you, cutie?"
"I'm fine," Buffy internally chuckled at Kristine's term of endearment. "Um, Mr. Gomboni asked to see me."
"Oh! Well let me announce you." Kristine picked up her phone and dialed a couple of numbers. "Buffy Summers is here...okie dokie...Go on in, Buffy."
"Thanks." Buffy took a deep breath and walked to the door; she knocked a couple of times and then entered the office. "Mr. Gomboni? You wanted to see me, sir?"
"Buffy! Yes, come in. Have a seat. And, if I remember correctly, I told you to please call me Tony...Mr. Gomboni was my father."
"Of course...Tony...I'm sorry."
"Good. Now that we have that settled, there are a couple of things I'd like to discuss with you." Tony leaned forward in his chair and opened a folder sitting on his desk. "First of all, how are things going on the Espresso Pump campaign?"
"Oh, um, really well, I think. I was just looking over the mock-ups when you called. They need to be taken over to Dave for final approval. I was going to do that today before I left."
"Today? Four days ahead of deadline?" Tony raised an eyebrow...whether in surprise or disbelief, Buffy wasn't sure.
"Um, well, you see, Mr. Gom-...Tony, the Espresso Pump has been a big part of my life ever since I was in high school. I can count on my left hand the number of days when I didn't stop by there for a mocha. So that project is really a labor of love as well as...um...labor." Buffy fidgeted a bit in her chair. God, Willow's been in town for one day and you've picked up her babbling. You couldn't just say "yes, sir"?
"Impressive, Buffy...very impressive. I'll look forward to seeing the mock-ups once Dave has approved them. Speaking of Dave, he was just in here a little while ago. We had a fairly lengthy conversation about you."
Buffy gulped. Here it comes. I wonder if Doublemeat is hiring. "About me?"
"Yes, about you. It seems as though Dave is highly impressed with the work you've been doing since coming on board with the company. He said your work on the campaign for The Bronze was some of the best he's ever seen."
"Really?" Buffy squeaked. She cleared her throat and focused on bringing her voice back to its normal register. "I mean, wow, thank you!"
"Thank you, Buffy. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to see such dedication from someone so young. I've, um, also heard that you've been seen around the office well after closing time. Is this true?"
"Well, yes, sir, I do stay late on some days."
"Some?" Tony looked at the blonde skeptically.
"Okay, yeah, most days. But, honest, it's just because I want to make sure that I'm doing a good job. I mean, I'm not one of those people who stick around after everyone leaves just to raid the office supply closet. Really. I just sit at my desk and work...and then...when I'm done...I leave...and I'm just going to be quiet and let you talk now." Damn you, Willow!
Tony laughed heartily at Buffy's outburst. After a few moments, he calmed down enough to continue speaking. "I'm well aware that you work when you're here late, Buffy. Again, I'm impressed with your dedication and work ethic."
"Thank you, sir." Buffy let out a sigh of relief. I'm not in trouble.
"Why don't you take the rest of the afternoon off, Buffy? As a reward for the great work you've been doing. If you keep this up, you'll be running your own campaigns in no time."
Buffy looked at her boss with a shocked expression. His words soon registered in her brain and she broke out into a large grin. Definitely not in trouble. "Thank you, sir!"
"Thank you, Tony! Um, I'll just get those mock-ups over to Dave before I go and-"
"The morning will be fine, Buffy. Go grab your things and enjoy the day."
"Okay." Buffy's smile was permanently affixed to her face as she turned and left the office. She hurried to her desk, turned off her computer, picked up her purse and headed out of the building.
I've gotta find Willow!