Martin is on his way up. He’s finishing his post-graduate degree in architecture, has an internship at the hottest firm in the country, and a clear goal of becoming the next big thing in the industry. There’s only one thing standing in his way.
Andrew is the leading architect in North America. Those who make it a year working for him have a career set in gold. The problem is reaching the end of that year working for the most arrogant and obnoxious boss in the history of unbearable employers.
When a business trip puts Martin and Andrew in close quarters, will Martin learn from the master, or will he fold under pressure and quit like most of his predecessors?
“This one’s on me,” Andrew had said in his CEO voice, brooking no argument.
“Today was amazing,” Martin said. He was careful not to sound too eager, lest he put Andrew off again.
“Allow me to be frank?” Andrew asked.
“Have you ever needed permission before?” he smiled.
“I think you’re beautiful,” he said. “I don’t know if you feel the same about me, but I would like to see where this could go.”
The first reaction he had to this was one of relief, knowing he didn’t imagine the vibes or chemistry between them. The second, more rational reaction poured water over the fire that was ignited in his gut and made him think of his little brother, his career aspirations, having a job to pay the rent and keeping social services away from his door. “I would like it too, but I don’t want to risk my job,” Martin said seriously. To his ears it sounded like he’d rehearsed that line. Just then the servers delivered their plates and an awkward silence fell.
Then Andrew said, “Why would you think it would affect your job? If things didn’t work out, we could still work together.”
“This is not going the way I imagined,” Andrew said.
“Just tell me this. Did you hire me on merit or because of my looks?”
“Am I not supposed to be offended by that question? Because I am a bit.”
“I enjoyed today, I really did. But know that I’m not looking for an easy ride to the top and that I will work to earn everything I achieve.”
“I never had any doubts about it,” Andrew said.
Martin sighed. He kept his eyes downcast as he shuffled his food around. “The point is, I really like you too, but I think maybe we should keep it professional. This job is amazing, it’s one of the biggest things that’s ever happened to me. I want get all of the benefit from my experience at Ryder and Associates.”
“You sound like you believe I would screw and dump you with the next day’s trash.”
“I don’t know what to think,” Martin said. “I haven’t really had a lot of experience with men. And from what I see from your life, you’re all about the job, with little time for a personal life. I’m looking for a family, someone who will commit to a life with me. I have too many responsibilities to start a fling with my boss. People depend on me, and I have my own dreams of starting a family.”
“Jesus, one date and you’re talking about getting hitched,” Andrew said.
Martin could see the struggle behind Andrew’s eyes, but it faded as a steel look replaced the uncertainty on his boss’s face. “I’m not your mentor, Martin. Quite frankly, you can’t afford me. My time is precious, and I’m very selective about who I spend it on. If you want someone to teach you how to draw, ask one of your professors. If you want life experience, I’m your guy.”
“You know, I could learn so much from you,” Martin said. “I watched you in the meeting today, and you were incredible. You were born to do this, you are a master at what you do. Why wouldn’t you want to teach someone what you know?”
Martin was exasperated.
“What makes you feel like you have a right to my knowledge?” Andrew said, now also irritated. “Just because you’re talented? I didn’t gain my knowledge from book smarts. I learned the hard way. I worked days around the clock -- days, literally. I had to swallow bullshit from so many people that it became my staple. I had to do five executives’ jobs and watch them enjoy the praise and get the bonuses and the women and the holidays, while I had to grin and bear it.” He shoved his plate away from him. “I’ve given you the opportunity, Martin, it’s up to you to take it. You have the platform that millions of others would have given their left ball for, including me. But I’m not going to make it easy for you. If you want it you will have to work goddamn hard for it.”
“I’m willing to work for it,” Martin said tersely.
“First of all, leave your attitude at the door. I enjoy your personality and what we have going, but when it gets to work I don’t kid around. I will teach you, I will teach you everything I know, in all aspects of life, but you will have to rise to the occasion. I’m not going to waste my time on someone who’s just going to work for a few years then settle for a life of banality and buy a station wagon and start a family.” Andrew huffed out his breath.
“You don’t think you can have it all?”
“My level of success isn’t achieved with starry eyed notions of two-point-five kids and a goddamn mortgage. It comes with sacrifice. In this regard you can’t have it all, and you will need to make that choice right now,” he said and flagged the waiter. “There is a world of opportunity at your doorstep, Martin, it’s there. You just have to wake up to it.” He signed the check and got up. “Take the car back to the hotel, I’m going for a walk.”