The Next Day
Webot Home Office | San Myshuno
You’re only successful when we’re all successful — the phrase in the frame on the wall behind Sofia’s desk was the motto she drilled into all of her employees. Teamwork, supportive partnerships, women uplifting women, were all like fundamental beliefs of hers and once you started working for her — they better had become yours too. It was a key factor in how she ran her department and one of the reasons for the check-in sessions she held with her crew every day. So when Camilla returned to the office from running an errand that she sent her on, she was a little surprised to see her coworkers already huddled around Sofia’s desk with the door closed.
At first she thought they were just getting started and that she would just come in and take her usual place but when the group disbanded the moment they were made aware of her presence — she knew that her invitation to this secret meeting was intentionally misplaced.
The door swung open and the girls exited her office, with Monáe, a few bouncy steps ahead of the others, headed straight for Camilla’s desk as she did every day around this time.
“You got plans for lunch today?” she welcomed herself into her cubicle.
“No, I was just going to eat at my desk,” she pointed at her lunch bag, turning down yet another lunch offer.
“Noooo, save your sandwich for another day,” she grabbed her lunch bag, moving it further away from her, “Eat with us in the cafeteria. I heard they got a sushi bar and everything.”
When it came to food, there was always some elaborate presentation taking place on the second floor. With themes like: build-your-own burger stations, omelet bars even Lobster Thermidor Thursdays, there was never a dull moment in the cafeteria at the Webot office — but as tempting as good food and entertaining conversations with her coworkers sounded, lunch with others, wasn’t really Camilla’s thing. Not when it required her to be social during her only hour of silence a day.
So she spent her break at her desk instead, reading or thinking or some other kind of solitary activity — especially now, during the summer, when the twins’ visit extended well over a month and her duties as step-mom occupied both her mornings and nights — but she was curious about what was discussed in that meeting and more importantly why she was left out, so today, her book could wait.
“Well… I do love sushi…” Camilla smiled.
“Yes!” Monáe clapped, rounding up the other girls, “Let’s go to lunch!”
Thirty Minutes Later
The Cafeteria/Webot Home Office | San Myshuno
Camilla sat quietly at a table in the crowded cafeteria, listening to the other girls who were too wrapped up in talks about the company party taking place Friday evening for her to squeeze in a word about that secret meeting she gave up her me time to hear about.
“So do you have something to wear already?” Monáe asked Camilla, “or do you still have shopping to do?”
“It’s just a regular office party right? I’m pretty sure I have something at home I could wear.”
“Eww, no,” Monáe shook her head as if the idea of her wearing anything other than a brand new outfit disgusted her, “ You need something unforgettable,” she nodded towards Bianca.
“Yeah, I got you girl,” Bianca pulled something up on her phone, aka her virtual closet, and passed it to Camilla, “Check these out. I got a board and everything ready for you.”
A Pinterest board, titled Looks for Camilla, full of dresses and heels and… lingerie?
“Um…” Camilla held up the phone showing off a photo of a black lace teddy, “I don’t think I’ll be wearing this,” she laughed.
“Of course not,” Bianca took the phone from her, “That’s for the after party,” she scrolled to another pin of a long, strapless gown, and held the phone up for the group to see, “For the party, you need something like this.”
“That’s kind of formal though, right? I mean what’s this party even for anyway?” Camilla asked, steering the conversation into the direction of what she really wanted to talk about, “Sofia was kind of vague when she announced it. Did she go into more detail in the meeting y’all had?”
The meeting. The mere mention of that word seemed to have set off an explosion strong enough to strip them of their ability to speak clearly. Had them tripping over their words, speaking in overlapping sentences, experiencing all kinds of difficulties just to answer a simple question and in return giving Camilla reason to be concerned — especially once Venessa, who didn’t seem to have much to say before, decided to shed some light on this whole mystery.
“She didn’t call us in there for the party,” she picked up her drink, “She wanted to talk about you,” and casually took a sip as if she was not trying to start something.
“Talk about me how?” Camilla asked cautiously, just in case she was just on her usual bullshit.
“It wasn’t really about you,” Fallon finally regained control of her vocabulary, “It was about a new project that she was going to give you but—”
“You got something to do already,” Bianca interjected, “So she’s splitting it between us instead. It’s no big deal, really.”
“Except it’s always a big deal whenever it’s about Camilla,” Venessa mumbled under her breath.
Oh, she was definitely back on her bullshit — again and it was only Monday. Way too early in the week for their usual not-so-friendly exchange of words.
“What’s that supposed to be mean?” Camilla replied in a tone that let the other girls know exactly where this was heading.
“Can we not do this today y’all?” Fallon attempted to diffuse the situation as she usually did.
“Whatever,” Venessa grabbed her things and got up from the table, “I’ll catch y’all later.”
As she disappeared across the cafeteria, the remaining girls redirected their attention to the contents of their plates that had previously been neglected for talks about dresses and parties.
“Y’all ever gonna stop hating each other?” Monáe asked Camilla, breaking that awkward silence that lingered after arguments.
“I’m not the one with the problem,” she looked up from her plate, “She’s always starting with me.”
And she was always starting with her in one way or another. If she wasn’t intentionally making things more difficult for her in team meetings, she was talking shit, making smart comments, basically whatever she could do to get under her skin and after nearly two years of eye-rolling-teeth-sucking-name-calling arguments — she was doing just that.
Monáe pushed her plate to the side like she needed extra breathing room for this bomb she was about to drop. “You know she still mad ‘bout that project right?”
“What project?” Camilla leaned forward,
“Oh… you’re right,” Bianca’s eyes widened.
“What project?” Camilla asked again, eager to finally get to the bottom of Venessa’s one-sided beef with her..
“The calendar app,” Fallon sighed.
“Calendar app?” Camilla quickly scanned her memory for a list of completed projects, “From last year? She’s mad at me for something that happened last year that wasn’t even in my control?”
“Yep,” the girls replied in unison.
“Okay… so what does she expect me to do about it?”
“Girl, I don’t know how crazy bitches minds work,” Monae shrugged, sliding Bianca’s phone back over to her side of the table, “but I do know this outfit’s not gonna pick itself out so let’s get back to what’s important.”
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