Coming in 2022
“You’d be easier to get a hold of if you’d either answer your phone or return your messages.”
“What gave you the idea I wanted to be easy to get a hold of?”
Maddie Harris glanced up from her book to look at the man standing in front of her. The sun shadowed his face and she squinted despite her sunglasses.
The man slid into the chair across from her and flashed a smile of perfect teeth at her.
“I’m sure you’ll be glad I did reach you once you hear my offer.”
“I doubt it, since I don’t even know who you are.”
“We’ve met, but it was only briefly at a conference. I’m Benjamin Stone, president of Stone Construction.”
Maddie pulled the sunglasses off her face and regarded him suspiciously.
“I want to hire you.”
She laughed, trying to not notice how bitter it sounded.
“What’s so funny?” His 1000watt smile dimmed.
“I lost my job, Mr. Stone, not my sense of humor. Why would you want to hire me after the incident at the Contran jobsite?”
“Because the people I know have had nothing but good things to say about you. Because I think you got a raw deal. Because I need your help. Choose a reason that works for you.”
“I’m serious, Ms. Harris. I’m doing the ABT campus; it’s a 181 million dollar project. I’ve got a high rise, multiple low rises, a subterranean parking garage, and retail center that I need to finish in the next 20 months. I’m concerned about the safety of the project. My company is in deep with this job and I can’t afford things to go wrong.”
“Then you should hire a safety officer to make sure the job meets OSHA standards.”
“I have. But I’m concerned about the job he’s doing. That’s why I want to hire you.”
“You want to hire an ex-OSHA inspector who had a double fatality on one of her projects? What kind of track record do you think I have?”
“Perfect until that incident. I told you, I’ve checked into your background and I think you are just what my project needs. I’m serious about this opportunity. I went to a fair amount of trouble to even get in touch with you.”
“Excellent point. How did you know to find me here of all places? It couldn’t have been a lucky guess, could it?”
His smile vanished, replaced by what seemed to be embarrassment. “I had you followed so I could meet you somewhere in public since you were avoiding my calls.”
“Don’t flatter yourself. I’ve been avoiding everyone’s calls.” She drained the last of her coffee and stood up. “Don’t you dare have anyone follow me again. I’ll have a restraining order slapped on you so fast you won’t believe it.”
“Is that a no to my offer?” He stood as well.
“It’s a hell no. I’ve been chewed up and spit out by OSHA and the last thing you need on your project is a safety officer who can’t get along with the inspectors. Find someone else, Mr. Stone. I’m not who you need.”
“I’m convinced you are. I don’t take no for an answer easily.”
“Then you’d better get used to disappointment.”
“You haven’t even heard the terms of my offer, Ms. Harris. I’m prepared to offer a very generous compensation package. You’d be a fool to not accept it.” He stepped closer to her.
“You’re the fool for even offering me a job. You’ve already said you can’t afford any accidents. I’m a risk to any construction firm, let alone one that is on shaky ground already.” She refused to step backwards despite feeling crowded by him.
“You’re putting words in my mouth. I never said we were on shaky ground, only that I was concerned that the scope of the project was beyond the ability of my current safety officer.”
“Whatever. Find yourself a different hired gun. I’m not your man.”
She walked away from the table, only to stop a few feet away. “Mr. Stone?”
The smile reappeared on his face. “Yes?”
“I meant what I said about not following me. You don’t want to mess with me either personally or professionally.”