Jeronica wobbled slightly as she walked along the corridor. The offices of Data Analytics Marketetic Normalisations, nominally a market research firm with a small sideline in filibuster – the mercenary meaning of filibuster, – were very modern and thus the ceilings were ridiculously high. Even so her hair brushed the ceiling when she was, as now, wearing her thirteen-inch high heels. They were polished silver and dazzlingly bright under spotlights, a gift from a grateful fashion designer whose timely presence at the death of a pop-star had produced the best-reported funeral of the decade. Her hair was also piled high on her head, reminiscent of a sixties beehive but with noughties glamour; a hint of sophisticated understatement, inasmuch as a three foot high hairstyle could be understated. She looked absolutely stunning and completely out of place in the offices.
"Jeronica?" The voice came from somewhere down by her knees and she paused in her high-speed wobble, caught her balance, and peered down. There was a soft creak as her leggings stiffened to help keep her upright, and she saw that Colton was kneeling on the floor, his hands patting the carpet around him.
"Colton," she said, her voice flat and carefully neutral. Colton had started two weeks before her, and the competitive atmosphere that Jeremy Diseased-Rat insisted that the office had meant that she was aware that he would be looking for ways to unseat her and steal her position as Head of Fashion and Soft Power. Colton was currently Vice-President of Cults and Sects and there were rumours that he was trying to extend his portfolio into Charm Offensives, which was definitely borderline with Jeronica's Soft Power division. "Are you trying to trip me up?"
"No, Jeronica," said Colton. "I've lost both my contact lenses on the floor somewhere. I knew it had to be you coming past as all I could see was leg and no-one else is that tall."
Jeronica thought about this, wondering if there was a hidden compliment or veiled threat in there somewhere, and finally decided that it was a semi-pathetic chat-up line. "Both your contact lenses?" she asked.
"Yes. JD-R was congratulating me for locating three churches in Ghana that are willing to pronounce Sith as their official religion so that we can leverage it to get both Jedi and Sith declared legal UK religions and patted me on the back. Enthusiastically."
Jeronica nodded, forgetting that Colton wouldn't be able to see this. Jeremy had left more than one intern needing hospital treatment, and on one occasion a back-brace, with his enthusiastic back-pats, bum-slaps and bear-hugs.
"Oh, yes, sorry Colton, I nodded. I forgot you wouldn't be looking up."
"Can you help me find my contact lenses please?"
Jeronica hesitated. Helping him would mean taking off her shoes and getting down on her knees on the floor with him, which would be (at least symbolically) coming down to his level. A bad precedent to set. On the other hand, if she just said no or walked off, Colton would be sure to accidentally mention it in passing next time he was near JD-R, and his views on team-play, though fairly contradictory to his insistence on a competitive atmosphere, were held just as strongly.
As she dithered, her superior height let her see an approaching intern, which solved her dilemma.
"Of course, Colton," she said. "You, Anneject!" The unfortunate intern looked up at the sound of her name, and then looked up further, and then further still. Craning her head back so far her neck hurt, she managed to make eye-contact with Jeronica. "Help Colton find his contact lenses," she said. "Have you met him? He's Vice-President."
Anneject looked terrified, and dropped to her knees next to Colton straight away. Colton looked dissatisfied, and ran his hand in a desultory fashion over the carpet.
"I'm sorry I can't stop," said Jeronica, speaking very quickly as she saw that Colton was about to say something. "I have a meeting with JD-R and he hates tardiness. If this intern doesn't find your contact lenses for you just let me know and I'll have a word with her about her teamwork."
It was enough, she saw Colton's mouth snap shut like he'd just caught a fly and his lips firmed into a mean little line.
"Thank-you, Jeronica," he said. "I knew I could rely on you."
"Any time," said Jeronica, leaning forward enough to unbalance herself and start off her high-speed wobble again. "Any time."