I finally accepted the CMNF Corp. internship offer (read the previous chapter here), the wage was definitely way higher than all the propositions I could have dreamt of, definitely not something I could afford to refuse.
I actually started a few days later, in the marketing department as Mr de Millier, the CEO of the company, wanted me to. I was assigned an internship supervisor, Yann Meyers, a skilled french man who was sympathetic and interesting but also very demanding. My schedule became quickly hectic and it was almost impossible to meet my landlord and lover Christian, Mr Vincent as I had to call him here. It was our plan to meet at work, since his jealous wife was watching him as soon as he was leaving the office. This was indeed a failure and the most we succeeded to achieve were a few stolen kisses here and there while nobody was on our backs. I drowned my sorrows investing all my energy in work. Yann was pretty happy and I could feel it, impressed, by the quality of my work and my commitment. When I received my first payslip I seriously doubted that he actually valued my work … the variable component of my salary was not paid, and it was making a huge difference compared to what I was expecting.
The next day I finally managed to get an interview with Yann because I was seriously demotivated by the lack of appreciation of my work. It was late in the evening already, but with our plannings it was the only slot that we were able to find. We met in one of the salons normally reserved to meet our customers.
-“So Catherine … what can I do for you?” he asked with his charming smile
-“Well, this is now one month I started and I wanted to get a feedback on my work … what do you think? What should I improve?” I asked trying to broach the sensitive topic with tact.
-“Your work? God, it’s fantastic, you have done a wonderful job! You’re probably the best intern I ever had” he said looking very seriously at me. “I am so sorry I did not take the time to tell you before this interview … but you know how it is here. So hectic that we never find the time to step back and thank our staff.”
I stared at him speechless.
-“Well … I … I” I finally succeeded to say stammering. “I don’t understand then.”
He raised his eyebrows displaying a surprised face.
-“Sorry .. what is it that you do not understand Catherine?”
I fetched my payslip that I took care to bring with me and handed it to him. He took it from me and wait for me to explain my concern.
-“The variable part … it’s … it’s zero. What … what’s wrong?” I asked hardly concealing my anger. “My work has been good as far as I understand it, so ..so why?”
-“Ah! Yes … ok I see … we should have discussed this earlier. Your excellent work Catherine is the only reason why you have not been fired … but getting your bonus is a different story and I thought you would get it from your job interviews with us.”
I shook my head completely lost and shocked after all the efforts I made the past month.
-“I .. I don’t understand” I said with a tight throat.
-“It’s really simple Catherine. You have not embraced our corporate culture yet and this is why your bonus has not been paid. But to be honest I thought you were not interested in committing yourself in the company that way so … I did not insist. Our staff are free to comply or not, but it has some financial consequences as you just experienced it. It does not call into question your excellent work though.”
I was shaken and looked at him aghast before I could speak again.
-“So … so enlighten me … what do I have to do?” I finally asked.
-“You have probably noticed we are a very particular company … we tend to have the best results on the market and there is a simple reason: we have highly motivated personnel, well paid that’s right but that’s not the only reason. Mr Bokolo should have explained all that to you, maybe he did but you did not understand.” I shrugged here remembering my interview with the massive HR manager. “So…” continued Yann “… we promote seduction games here! Staff tend to dress up or in a sexy manner and they flirt. It creates a strong relationship and some competition as well … and believe it or not, we have the most motivated staff on the market. Our turn-over ratio is really low.”
-“So I am not … seductive enough then…” I said in a low tone
-“Well … you are very professional, which is quite impressive at your age actually … but the way you dress, the way you interact with people is also very professional, it kills all the natural seduction. You are a beautiful woman Catherine, you could do well but once again, this is a decision for you only. Take the example of your fellow colleagues, I am sure you would do very well” he concluded.
I started to picture my female colleagues and actually realized he was true. They all, or at least most of them, wore very short skirts, see-through blouses, high heels and I was able to spot the top band of stockings a few times. It looked like such unprofessional outfits and I actually never thought it could matter. As I was too long to answer, Yann continued.
-“It’s not only a matter of dress code Catherine… That’s also a mind spirit, a way of being and interacting with your colleagues. It applies to all of us, female or male staff. If you would like to succeed you have to … embrace our policies, well if can use that word.”
-“I see … I think I see” I finally replied. “I remember now Mr Bokolo and Mr de Millier talking about commitment during my interviews with them… it’s what was behind the word commitment right?”
-“Exactly Catherine. I have actually heard of your final interview… We can never know what to expect with our CEO, even for collaborators who worked with him for a long time like me.” He smiled and paused a few seconds. “From what I know you did not leave much to the imagination …”
I blushed remembering this humiliating moment. Yann was staring at me with a warm smile as if to encourage me to speak up.
-“I … I actually ended up … naked” I said in a fainted voice. “… and his … his assistant was there too.”
-“How did you feel Catherine?” he asked looking me in the face.
I felt more and more embarrassed by his questions but I answered him anyway encouraged by his friendly face.
-“It was the most humiliating moment in my whole life!”
-“Why? It made you hired … you should be proud on the contrary. You proved Mr de Millier you have what it takes to … to work with us” he said after a short hesitation. “Look at you, such a beauty but you hide behind those conservative clothes. I like the style, don’t get me wrong, but it shows a certain reserve… it does not encourage your colleagues to be flirty with you … and it does not help you to flirt with them either.”
He scanned my reactions for a moment and finally smiled to me. I was tested here I could feel it. He suddenly moved along and sat just next to me, at an unprofessional distance to my standards.
-“How do you feel now that I sit here?” he asked directly.
-“Huh … well … quite uncomfortable if I want to be honest with you” I replied with the same frankness.
-“Yes… yes I can feel that.”
He looked at me for a long time.
-“I definitely think I have to help you to come out of your shell” he said. “Would you accept to do a little experiment?”
-“Yes, a little exercise to help you getting up to speed with our … our manners.”
I felt his intense stare on me and felt forced into answering
-“I … well … ok” I surprisingly agreed.
-“Good!” He got up, staying next to the sofa. I looked up at him not understanding what was expected of me. “Ok now imagine that you are at home, in your own sofa … you’re watching TV. Show me how you would sit.”
I looked up at him, frozen.
-“Come on, show me!” He encouraged me.
I reluctantly took a more “relax” position, my legs laying on the sofa, one ankle over the other to ensure my thighs kept glued against each other.
-“Ok … interesting. It’s still very conservative though. Let me help you ok?”
I nodded getting more and more worried. He gently took my right ankle and untied it from the left one, moving it aside in a lot less conservative position. He caught my left ankle with assurance.
-“Bend your knee Catherine” he asked … or ordered I was not so sure actually. “Let me position you as if … as if you were a doll, can you do that?”
I gulped and slowly nodded. He pushed my left foot towards me, the more my knee was bending, the more my thigh became steep and I could feel the hem of my skirt sliding along it. I unconsciously resisted his push out of fear that I would show too much. He paused and looked at me.
-“What is it? You want to stop our little exercise?”
I hesitated a second.
-“I .. No, I’m sorry … ok, well, you can continue, show me!” I finally answered.
-“Excellent Catherine! Moreover you’re probably wearing panties, aren’t you? There’s no risk I could see more than you would want me to, is it?”
As shocked as I was that he dared to ask such a question, I managed to shyly nod.
-“Good!” He resumed his push and moved my thigh against the sofa back. I was less and less comfortable in that very daring position. He finally knelt between my thighs looking down at me. “That’s what a committed employee working for me would do Catherine…”
He caught my nervous look towards the door and smirked.
-“No worries, we are probably among the last workers here tonight. There’s nothing to worry about … moreover it’s kind of a standard … attitude when it’s … it’s becoming late here. Are you afraid of me?”
-“That’s not that Yann … it’s … well I have somebody and …”
-“… and you’re afraid, he, Christian Vincent, could catch us aren’t you?” I nodded. “He works for us for long enough to know this kind of things can happen … must happen if you are to succeed. So do we continue Catherine?”
I looked at him surprised. I certainly thought we were done here but he apparently had more in store for me. What should I do? Guilt, curiosity and a certain excitement were battling in my mind.
-“Let’s … continue, show me” I heard myself say with an hesitant voice.
-“Ok! You are going actually to show me … ” he paused an instant and I started anticipate where this was leading. “Show more of that cleavage you’re hiding so well, will you?”
I swallowed and with my shaking hands, I unbuttoned the two top buttons of my blouse.
-“All of them Catherine!” He ordered.
I complied until my blouse finally opened free.
This is when I started to feel guilty … Not because I was actually doing this “exercise” but because I was feeling I was actually enjoying it. My body was perfectly able to communicate with me to tell what it enjoyed or not. I was cheating on my lover … my heart and my body were failing him. Yann probably felt my hesitation and repeated his order.
-“Remove it Catherine!”
I removed my blouse without thinking and let it fall behind me. Yann was contemplating my covered breasts and my tummy. I could feel his stare caressing my skin as surely as if his hands were on me.
-“How do you feel now Catherine?”
-“I don’t know actually. How … how do you evaluate my … commitment now?” I answered by another question.
He smiled and contemplating my upper body with insistence he finally replied.
-“Quite good actually. Can you commit more?”
I gauged him staring directly in his eyes and nodded. My hands went behind my back, as if I was not controlling them anymore. I felt the hook of my bra get loose and the cups loosing of their support. I slid the straps from my shoulders and along my arms and finally exposed him my naked breasts, staring at him the whole time. We lost eye contact when he could not resist to look at my nakedness.
He appreciatively nodded and smiled.
-“That’s definitely good Catherine. Not only because I can admire you more in … details, but also because you took the initiative here. You actively flirt and this is exactly the behavior, we, I, am looking for.”
Very slowly, probably not to frighten me, he moved his hands until they landed on top of my shoulders. He raised again and helped to lay on my back on the sofa. I did not know up to where this test was planned to go, had he any plan actually? He finally came to lay by my side, his face overhanging mine.
I nervously checked the entrance of the salon again which made him chuckle.
-“Nervous aren’t you?”
-“Yes … yes I am” I said feeling a shiver going down my spine.
He stayed by my side for a few minutes and it felt like an eternity to stay half naked, exposed to my supervisor. He seemed to gauge me, I was unable to read what he was actually thinking. Did I act stupidly? Should I have refused? Should I push the game myself forward … having the initiative as he said. All those questions were spinning in my head, I was worried and excited at the same time.
-“What do you think Catherine?”
-“I … really don’t know. I definitely understand more of what is …expected of me.”
-“Good! Very good! That’s the goal of this exercise. I think we can end it now” he said to my relief. “You can dress and go home.”
Having said that he raised and helped me on my feet. He watched me the whole time I was dressing back.
-“Think of all of that Catherine and come back tomorrow with a different spirit ok?”
-“I … I’ll try to Yann … I promise.”
-“Excellent. See you tomorrow then. I have to write a little report … about you. It seems that variable amount will be positive next month … well if you continue to commit of course.”
I nodded a bit hesitantly.
-“Yes… yes of course. See you tomorrow Yann.”
-“See you tomorrow Catherine.”
I left the building and felt completely lost. I went home like a robot, unable to remember how the commuting was or what happened during it, which was actually quite frightening. My mind was so occupied processing the events and the emotions I felt during the “exercise”. Did I actually cheat on my lover? What that feeling normal? No surprise I had hard times getting to sleep that night.