“Fire & Ice: A Love Story”, Ch. 27-28: Caroline’s First Day in the Division Begins, 6/29/12 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #218)
An Original Story Copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace
(all rights reserved)
[I will illustrate my story with images of actors representing my ‘dream cast’–including Richard Armitage and Anne Hathaway for the lead characters of Thomas and Caroline, respectively, as noted in the image credits. There are also images of Doris Roberts for Mrs. Burns, Tim Gamble for Peter Wendt, Brian Protheroe for Martin, Mary McDonnell for Mary, Seth Green for Todd, Raven Symone for Fiona, and Logan Lerman for Allen.]
[(1) Fire & Ice story logo left]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “Fire & Ice” is a romantic thriller. As such there will be some passages in this story involving heartfelt love scenes and some passages involving intrigue and some violence. I will label those chapters accordingly. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings I provide, then please don’t read those chapters. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s Story Recap: Sunday was a wonderful family day for Thomas, Caroline, and their son Trevor–full of precious moments. They fed ducks at the pond, played “I spy”, and were walked in on by their toddler son while they were naked. One might say that Thomas has had a baptism by fire in being a dad. But he is relishing it and his renewed love with his beloved Caroline. However, Thomas does clue Caroline into the fact that the person who drove a wedge between them–Paul Foster–works in their building and they will have to watch out for him.
“Fire & Ice”, Chapter 27: Caroline’s First Day of Work in her Division Begins
After dropping Trevor off with Mrs. Burns on Monday morning, Thomas drives he and Caroline in to work for the first time. They make no pretense of not coming in to work together. They stand in line together at the check-in point to have their badges scanned and Thomas carries Caroline’s briefcase for her since she won’t be able to use her left hand for four to six weeks. Thomas nods at some of his colleagues who were on the Search Committee and who know that Caroline is their new hire. Then, Thomas and Caroline buy coffees at the cafeteria and then take them to their office spaces in their Division’s suite of offices. Thomas sets Caroline’s briefcase down for her on her desk and she sits down and sips her coffee. Thomas goes to his office space in the middle of the Division Suite and pulls out Caroline’s personnel file and checks his email while sipping his coffee.
More of their coworkers arrive—the other five Senior Analysts, two clerical workers, and their computer slash technology geek. Thomas calls Peter Wendt, the Director, and fills him in on his and Caroline’s game plan for introducing her this morning. Thomas will meet with Caroline at 8:30am, and then introduce her to the team in the conference room with Peter attending at 9:00am. Monday mornings are usually busy because of catching up with what happened over the weekend. So, adding a new hire and the extra work that entails on top of it can be a little stressful. Thomas hopes that things will go smoothly this morning. First, Thomas invites Caroline into the private conference room for her new hire chat—though the conference room walls are glass and everyone can see them as they chat.
Thomas: Walking the four feet over to Caroline’s office space he says. “Caroline, why don’t you bring a pad and pen with you and we’ll chat in the conference room while I give you an overview of our division before our team meeting.
Caroline: “Certainly.” She nods her head and looking very professional in her tightly coiled chignon taming her long hair. [(2) right]
They walk into the glass walled conference room and Thomas shuts the door. Thomas sits at the end of the table and Caroline sits in an adjoining chair on the side of the table—such that her back is to the rest of the Division office space’s view. But given that they are on display, Thomas and Caroline are keenly aware of their demeanor and nonverbal behaviors as they chat.
Thomas: “Okay. Caroline, as you saw when you entered this morning, access to the building is initially through your badge and fingerprint scan.” She nods. “However, for higher level information access areas, we use retinal scans. New employees—or transfers, such as yourself—are given a probationary period of three months before such higher level access is granted. Until then, if you need data from those areas you will need to work with one of your Senior Analyst colleagues in our division to obtain that information. That is why we also assign new hires to a colleague mentor. Your mentor will be decided at the end of the week in order to give you and the other Senior Analysts time to see if there is an obvious fit based on your interactions with everyone this week.”
Caroline: “And who chooses that mentor?”
Thomas: “As Division Chief, that responsibility falls to me. But, I gather everyone’s input—including yours—as well as, consider the projects that you’ll be assigned to when making that decision. Most Senior Analysts—or SA’s as they’re referred to–have several areas of expertise. So at any given time we have at least two to three people to debate hot projects with.” Thomas tells her forthrightly as the Division Head he is. [(3) right]
Caroline: “Will I be given projects of my own right away, or will I be shadowing my mentor a bit?”
Thomas: “Actually, though you’ll have a mentor, you’ll be working with everyone initially. Then over the next few months you’ll be given projects of your own. Since there are five other Senior Analysts, you’ll be shadowing a different colleague each day this week—getting to know their areas of expertise, the resources, data, and the technology we draw upon, and how it all fits together within our Division. In having you shadow everyone, we’ll be giving you a crash course in our Division. It can get rough and tumble sometimes when we’re under pressure. But, we all pull together.”
Caroline: “And how will I initially find out about each of my colleagues’ expertise areas and their other traits?”
Thomas: “In a few minutes at 9:00am—when Peter Wendt the Director joins our Monday morning staff meeting—I’ll ask each of the Senior Analysts to introduce themselves. Then, Todd who chaired the Search Committee that selected you will introduce you to everyone. I’ll welcome you to the Division briefly. Then, at that point, I’ll let Peter take over to also welcome you to the Division. Then Peter and I will make plain that you and I have a prior relationship, that with you joining our Division and our meeting again has been rekindled. I’ll lay it out that we have a child together and that we are engaged and living together. Then Peter will discuss the usual procedures for couples working together.”
Caroline: “Whew! Alright. But, I hope that we don’t have to go into too much detail about the reason for our breakup.”
Thomas: “I understand.” He winces, because his poor judgment and lack of faith in Caroline ultimately caused their breakup. “However, I think we should alert our colleagues to be wary of what might be seemingly innocuous inquiries from Paul Foster, given our history with him.” She nods. “You will actually start your work by shadowing Todd today after our group meeting. Then around 12noon, we’ll all go out for lunch on me. We also have a Friday cocktails outing planned this Friday to coincide with your joining our Division.”
Caroline: “Good. More of your esprit de corps, Thomas?” She asks smiling warmly, since only Thomas can see her face.
Thomas: “Yes.” He says matter of factly nodding at her—and not smiling because he is facing the office area. But his eyes do have a small twinkle in them that only Caroline at her close range can detect. “Okay, I see Peter walking in now. You stay here and I’ll send Todd in while I go talk to Peter.” She nods. Stepping out of the conference room, Thomas motions to Todd to come in and he does so. “Todd, I’ve filled Caroline in on the basics of our initial meeting and that she’ll be shadowing you today. I’m going over to greet Peter and then bring him and the other Senior Analysts in. I’ll be back in a moment.” Thomas leaves the conference room.
Todd enters the conference room as Thomas leaves it. Todd is about Caroline’s age, maybe a year older with red hair and a little bit of a prosperous paunch beginning to show. But, as Caroline remembers from her job interview with him and the search committee, he is a warm and welcoming individual.
Todd: “Caroline, we’re delighted that you accepted our position. Your addition will help fill a gap that we have.” Then noticing her splinted hand, he asks. “What happened to you?”
Caroline: “Oh that. Well Todd, I broke it late on Friday night–after finishing my Human Resources hiring paperwork–while I was dropping a few things off at my desk. The maintenance crew turned the lights of on me and I tripped over a trash can they had left out. Thomas actually caught me from falling all the way to the floor. Most embarrassing.” She says raising her eyebrows. “I had hoped that it was only sprained, but I found out the next day that I have a hairline fracture. So, I’m in a splint for six weeks.”
Todd: “Gosh. I guess that we didn’t make a good first impression on you—injuring you before your first day on the job.” He laughs. “Well, at least Thomas was here to help you. The guy keeps crazy hours—staying here long after everyone else has gone home to our families—he never sleeps. We rib him about it and jokingly call him St. Thomas because the poor guy doesn’t have a life.”
Caroline: “Yes, having a balanced life is something that everyone has to work on from time to time. It’s not easy when you’re a working professional and you also have a family.” She says knowingly.
Todd: “Well, it looks like everyone is heading over here for your initial meeting. Now don’t be nervous. We’re all thrilled that you’re joining the team. So, you’re among friends here.” He says collegially.
Caroline: “Thanks Todd. That means a lot to me.” She smiles.
To be continued with Chapter 28
“Fire & Ice”, Chapter 28: Caroline is introduced to her colleagues and then some
Thomas, the Senior Analysts, and Peter Wendt the Director file into the Conference[(4) above], joining Caroline and Todd. Everyone sits down with Thomas at the end of the table with Caroline on his right and Peter is on his left. Todd sits next to Caroline. Then, Thomas begins their standard new hire meeting ritual.
Thomas: “Thanks for everyone joining us this morning. We’re welcoming a new hire today, Caroline Walters.” He says motioning to Caroline and she nods and smiles at everyone around the table and they nod and smile back to her. “I especially want to thank the Search Committee—lead by Todd here–for their hard work since there were over 200 applicants for this position. I didn’t realize we would have that much interest in the open position when I formed you, so I apologize for the amount of work that you had to do on top of your regular responsibilities.” Since, basically, the Search Committee consisted of the five other Senior Analysts. Thomas is an inclusive Division Head, believing that sharing some decision making engenders shared purpose and dedication. “But I commend you for the diligence you demonstrated in completing this responsibility. I also want to welcome our Director, Peter Wendt who is joining us today.” Peter nods at everyone, including Caroline whom he knows. And she nods back to Peter. “Now, if everyone could go around the room and introduce yourself to Caroline, then we’ll have Todd introduce Caroline—as well as have Caroline say a few words. Then finally, Peter will say a few words.” He says motioning to Peter.
Todd: “I’ll start, since I chaired the Search Committee. Caroline, as you know, I’m Todd. I’ve been an SA–our abbreviation for Senior Analyst–in this Division for about five years now. My areas of expertise are economics and banking in emerging and post colonial nations. Welcome.” Caroline nods smiling at him.
Mary: “Caroline, lovely to see you again.” Caroline nods and smiles at her. “You’ll recall that I’m Mary. My areas of expertise are NGO’s.” Which everyone knows refers to non-governmental organizations. “Oh, and I’ve been with the team for fourteen years.” Mary is probably in her early fifties. Her hair might show some gray, but her diligent hair stylist camouflages that. Mary is no nonsense, but nonetheless a warm individual.
Allen: “Hi Caroline, Allen here.” He says pointing to himself—not unlike her son Trevor does Caroline thinks and she tries not to smile. “I’m the young guy of the group. I’ve only been here a few years since I graduated from college. I monitor social networking sites and the web and media in general.” Caroline can see that the twenty something Allen is indeed the youngster in the room. Despite him wearing a sport coat with leather patches on the elbows like a grownup, his vintage Converse all star sneakers reflects his youthful spirit.
Martin: “Hello Caroline. We’re so glad that you’ve joined our Division.” He says somewhat stiffly and formally. As a sixties something fellow, he is definitely the senior SA of the group in terms of years of service, thinks Caroline. “As you can tell, I’ve been around a long time.” He smiles amusingly. “I actually retired once, but I was coaxed back into service by Thomas last year.” Then he looks over at Thomas and says with a raised eyebrow. “Are you regretting that one yet, Thomas?”
Thomas: Laughing. “Ha ha ha! Of course not, Martin. You keep us all on our toes. Caroline, Martin’s area of expertise is politics of emerging democracies—by which we also mean non democracies that one day might become democracies.” They all laugh.
Fiona: “Hi Caroline, I’m Fiona. Now that you’ve joined us, we’ve got a nice gender balance in our SA ranks again.” Fiona is a bit younger than Caroline, and steeped in post modern feminism. “So, if you can’t guess from my remarks on gender, I’m the social anthropologist on the team. I analyze national social dynamics within historical and political contexts.”
Thomas: “And, of course, Caroline there’s me. As you know, I have a military background as well as experience in the field.” Of course, that statement telegraphs what Thomas will share next about his relationship with Caroline. “I’ve been in this division for 3.5 years—the last year and a half as Division Chief.” Caroline and Thomas nod at each other. “So, Todd, please tell everyone a little about Caroline.”
Todd: “Thanks Thomas. And, Caroline, be sure to interject if I leave anything out. Well, Caroline’s area of expertise is institutional infrastructures with a specialty on education and governmental social service agencies. She had been in the field years ago after a stint in the Peace Corps. But in the last three to four years Caroline has been in increasingly responsible analyst positions. So, we are delighted for her transfer into our Division.” Caroline nods and smiles at Todd and then everyone.
Thomas: “Thank you everyone. Now, would Caroline like to say something?”
Caroline: “Thank you Thomas. I just want to say that I’m delighted to join you all. It sounds like from all of your areas of expertise that we do have quite a range of topical expertise within our Division. I look forward to working with all of you and learning the ropes.” She smiles pleasantly.
Thomas: “And, I’ve invited Peter Wendt our Director to join us and say a few words.”
Peter: “Thank you Thomas. Yes, when Thomas brought the Search Committee’s recommendation to me, I was also delighted to see that Caroline was your choice. Caroline and I know each other from when I was her field supervisor years ago. I always esteemed Caroline’s dedication and insightful contributions and I’m sure that she’ll be good fit for all of you.” Caroline smiles her thanks to Peter for his kind remarks.
Thomas: “And, in the interest of full disclosure. I also knew Caroline years ago when we were field operatives in the same unit. … Actually, we were a couple four years ago.” Then he continues with a bit of trepidation. “… But, after someone told vicious lies—that I shouldn’t have believed—we broke up. The breakup was entirely my fault.” Caroline is sitting amongst her new colleagues, uncertain as to how they will take this news. “Caroline and I had not been in contact with each other until we met again last Friday as she stopped by her office space and then tripped over a trash can and broke her hand when the lights went out.” Caroline holds up her splinted left hand.
Todd: Ignoring the relationship revelation for the moment, Todd says. “Peter, maintenance really has to get a better system before we all fall and break a bone.” Everyone nods and Peter tilts his head as if to acquiesce the point.
Thomas: Continuing his and Caroline’s story, he says. “Well, anyway, Caroline’s injury was fortuitous.”
Caroline: Caroline tilts her head and grimaces and says. Well, I think I could do without the pain of it, Thomas.” Everyone laughs. “I’m having to ice it almost continuously and take OTC pain meds.”
Thomas: “Sorry about that Caroline.” He says a bit sheepishly [(5) right]. I think that’s a record, injured before you even started your first day of work. Anyway, getting back to being transparent. Caroline and I reconnected with each other over the weekend. And, I’ve discovered that I’m a father to our son Trevor who is 41 months old. And, Caroline and I have overcome our differences. Well … let’s just say that she’s in the process of forgiving me.” He looks hopefully over at Caroline as he raises her eyebrows, and she nods in response “… And we’re engaged to be married. So, I guess I say thank you to the Search Committee for bringing us together again. Of course, Caroline and I are professionals at work. So, that is why Peter is here to give the drill to us on people who are family or a couple working together. Any questions before Peter talks?”
You could hear a pin drop in the room. The Senior Analysts had certainly not expected this turn of events. Thomas and Caroline look at their colleagues with a bit of trepidation. Caroline is especially worried because she wants her new job to work out very much.
Todd: “Okay, I’ll ask a question. Caroline, why didn’t you say you knew Thomas during the search process?” He asks inquisitively, but not accusatively.
Caroline: “That’s an easy one. I didn’t know that Thomas was in the building, let alone the Division Chief until after I accepted the position. I didn’t even find out that Peter was the Director until yesterday. So, I was just as surprised as you to find myself working for Thomas. And, when I did find out that I would be working with Thomas. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that since we had been estranged for four years.”
Martin: Ever the strategic thinker, he asks. “I’m sure that you could have kept this a secret—for at least a little while. So, there must be a reason—apart from transparency—that you’re revealing this to all of us.”
Thomas: “Yes Martin–astute as always.” Thomas nods appreciatively and Martin raises his eyebrow in acknowledgement–efficiency and economy of effort and concision are Martin’s touchstones. “You see the person who spread lies that I shouldn’t have listened to is also in our building. And, we didn’t want to give him any opportunity to try to blackmail us because of my and Caroline’s renewed relationship. We don’t want him interfering in our family ever again.”
Allen: “Well, who are we talking about?” He asks interestedly, not stopping to think that it might be classified. Of course for a computer techno whiz like Allen, there is no classified document that he cannot ultimately retriever.
Thomas: He looks over at Peter, who nods his assent. Then Thomas says. “It’s another Division Chief, Paul Foster.” Everyone gasps. Then sounding as bitter as he feels—though Thomas never reveals his feelings at work—he says. “Paul stole time from me and my family with Caroline and our son Trevor that we can’t ever get back.” Then trying to sound positive he says. “But, Caroline and I hope to move forward. And with her injured hand, she can’t drive or do any lifting. So, I’m helping her out with that and taking care of our son Trevor. We’re actually living together. And, I said that we’re engaged to be married. So, there you have it folks. That is the elephant in the room.”
Peter: “Yes. As I told Thomas when he shared the Search Committee’s selection of Caroline, I was glad that he was putting aside his personal issues in allowing Caroline’s hiring to go through for the betterment of the team. And, as it has worked out, it looks like Thomas and Caroline won’t have tension at work since they’ve resolved their difficulties. And, as we have done with other work couples in the past, …” He says knowingly since there is still another couple within the team. “I will participate in performance reviews so that no one thinks that Thomas is showing favoritism to Caroline and also so that Caroline’s career is not left behind because we’re bending over backwards to avoid the appearance of favoritism.”
Thomas: “And Caroline’s training will follow our usual routine of her shadowing each of you before we decide who her mentor will be. She’ll start with shadowing Todd today.”
Peter: “So, what questions do you have for Thomas or myself?”
Everyone laughs and she and the other Senior Analysts clap in agreement. And Thomas tilts his head sheepishly as he looks over at Caroline and smiles [(6) right].
Mary: After looking over at Martin, who nods at her, Mary admits. “Well Caroline, in the interest of full disclosure and transparency Martin and I should tell you that we are the other couple in our Division. We’ve been together about a year now—since Martin joined our team after coming out of retirement.” Mary looks over and smiles sweetly at Martin, who looks a little discomfited at being viewed as a lover at his age—but he is.
Thomas: “I’m sure that you all might have more questions later. And both Peter and I are happy to talk with you about them. We just ask for your discretion and your caution—especially around Paul Foster.”
Todd: “Understood. Not a problem.” Todd nods his head purposefully.
Thomas: “Well, our Monday morning needs to continue as usual. So, Caroline, you’re going to shadow Todd today. Then, you’ll shadow each of the other SA’s the rest of the days this week. But, we’ll gather together as usual for our welcome lunch around 12noon today. I’ve got reservations for us at the Chinese buffet that we all like to go to.” Everyone nods their head smilingly and they start to file out of the conference room. Thomas gives a small smile to Caroline who is following Todd. And Thomas hangs back to talk to Peter.
Peter and Thomas sit across from each other on each side of the conference table—neither of them sits at its head.
Peter: “Well Thomas. I think that went well. And I agree with your and Caroline’s approach of full disclosure to your team as a way to disarm Foster.”
Thomas: “Thanks Peter. I know that Caroline wants her new job to work and I want my team to work.”
Peter: “Have you thought how you want to handle Foster at our Friday morning Division Chiefs meeting this week?”
Thomas: I usually try to ignore him as much as possible. Frankly Peter, I loathed Paul before. But now that I know how much I’ve missed out on with my family because of Paul—I hate him. I have a 41 month old son, Trevor, that I’m just now getting to know—I can’t get those missed years back.” Again, Thomas is famous for his cool unemotional exterior. But, he doesn’t have that control in evidence when talking about his nemesis, Paul Foster.
Peter: “Thomas, if I can give you some advice—as a friend.” Thomas nods. “ … Don’t let your feelings rule your decisions and actions with regard to Foster. Don’t give Foster that power over you. Ignore him, dismiss him, and move on. I will monitor the situation discretely and if I learn that Paul is damaging my team—by interfering with one of my other Division Chiefs and his family, your family—I will deal swiftly and harshly with him. Leave him to me.” As Peter says this, he has an idea germinating in his mind to proactively circumvent Foster.
Thomas nods, knowing that Peter means what he says. Then, they part as Peter leaves Thomas’ Division office suite and Thomas returns to his desk.
To be continued with Chapter 29
(1) Fire & Ice Story Logo is a composite of MSOffice Clip Art images:
fire (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=fire&ctt=1#ai:MP900438774|mt:2| ); block of ice (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=ice&ctt=1#ai:MP900402236|mt:2| ); and a heart (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=heart&ctt=1#ai:MP900399589|mt:2| ), 5/13/12grati
(2) Image representing Caroline Walters is that of Anne Hathaway and was found at “beauty about com” at
(3) Image (cropped and brightened) representing Thomas Kane is that of Richard Armitage portraying John Porter in Chris Ryan’s Strike Back Series 1 (2010 on Sky 1), episode 3 (pix 37) was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/StrikeBack/album/series1/Episode3/slides/ep3_037.html
(4) Image of Thomas’ Director and Division Team is comprised of the following actor portraits:
Image representing Director Peter Wendt is that of American actor Tim Gamble and was found at http://earthcirclefilms.com/notebook/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/tim-gamble-farmer1.jpg;
Image representing Martin is that of British actor Brian Protheroe and was found at http://www.brianprotheroe.co.uk/Brian_Protheroe/Brian_Protheroe.html;
Image representing Mary is that of American Actress Mary McDonnell portraying Laura on Battlestar Galactica and was found at http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-lz9THa5gdMk/TWmtypjKBCI/AAAAAAAAWJc/KUWTvZfn3NU/s400/laura_l.jpg;
Image representing Todd is that of American Actor Seth Green and was found at
Image representing Fiona is that of American Actress Raven Symone and was found at http://images.wikia.com/suitelife/images/2/23/Galleria.jpg;
and Image representing Allen is that of actor Logan Lerman and was found at http://www.zimbio.com/Logan+Lerman
(5) Image (cropped and brightened) representing Thomas Kane is that of Richard Armitage portraying John Porter in Chris Ryan’s Strike Back Series 1 (2010 on Sky 1), episode 3 HD (pix 12) was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/StrikeBack/album/series1/Episode3HD/slides/ep3hd_012.html
(6) Image representing Thomas Kane is that of Richard Armitage portraying John Porter in Chris Ryan’s Strike Back Series 1 (2010 on Sky 1), episode 3 (pix 35) was found at
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