IGNORING GRAVITY #3

This is the 3rd instalment of ‘Ignoring Gravity’ about identity detective Rose Haldane. To start reading from the beginning, please click on the category ‘My Novel: Ignoring Gravity’ in the right hand menu.

[Benjamin Britten. Photo: David Austin Roses]

[Benjamin Britten. Photo: David Austin Roses]

When he didn’t answer, she looked up. He was staring at her as her university professor had while waiting for her to answer a question about which he knew she didn’t know.

“You know, being in control of your own destiny? Making your own history?” Shut up Rose.

Journalism rule number one: don’t put words into his mouth.

“Destiny?” He leant back in the swivel chair. “That’s an interesting word.”

Boy is he confident. Arrogant. She hated arrogant men.

“I wouldn’t say I’m in charge, the bank is. I just have a new boss.” His voice was strong, as if he was answering the questions he expected to be asked. Every now and then he glanced down at a paper in the folder he’d laid open on the coffee table. A briefing paper supplied by his PR, she guessed, a list of predictable questions and answers. His smile just about reached the edges of his mouth but fell short of his eyes.

Politeness guarantees boring copy. Journalism rule number two: if in danger of boredom, use shock tactics. “You are very modest for a man who’s just completed a £50mMBO. You’ve upped your salary and bonus to seven figures. What will you do with the cash? Buy a yacht?”

Too much. She waited, wondering if she’d blown it.

When he spoke it was so quiet she had to lean forward to catch his words. “You shouldn’t believe all you read in the papers.” His smile tightened.

Ooh, he’s hiding something. “I don’t, that was in the disclosure documents provided by your merchant bank.” This was one of the things she’d read online before leaving the office. She was subbing for a sick reporter so there’d been no time for proper preparation, no time to buy a pot of Biocare Beauty’s top-selling face cream and try it at home.

“Right.”

Rose watched the displeasure tighten across his cheeks. Perhaps now he’ll stop treating me like some unqualified reporter on ‘Back-of-Beyond-Gazette’. True, her first job was for the Littlethorpe Mercury but she’d worked her way up to the London Herald and had interviewed people far more intimidating that Mr Nick Maddox. So she held eye contact as he studied her, determined not to flinch. Most people she interviewed wouldn’t look at her.

Journalism rule number three: think, say, feel, do. Was Maddox saying one thing and thinking another? Most people did, the trick was to unlock the puzzle.

His eyes narrowed slightly then he smiled without warning. It lit up his face, and she forgot what she thought he was thinking. “You have done your homework. That’s refreshing. I am tired of journalists research online and think they’re instant experts on my company. It’s insulting.”

Why’s he being nice? Is he trying to distract me from something he doesn’t want to talk about?
© Sandra Danby

… in IGNORING GRAVITY #4: Rose takes a risk to get Maddox to tell her something interesting.