Yes, we have more Andrew Grey—that is to say, his writing. Here’s a bit about his novel Dutch Treat, with an excerpt to follow. (Then, come back tomorrow for a little Western action from Shared Range.)
If you missed the interview and would like to check that out now, click right here: Andrew Grey Interview
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When Michael accepts a company assignment overseas, he doesn’t count on being dumped by his boyfriend on the way to the airport. The breakup is a bad omen–Michael’s time in Europe would be one long misery of loneliness and corporate backbiting if it weren’t for his friendship with his coworker, Stephan.
When he finds out Stephan wants more than friendship, Michael is torn. Even if he chooses to risk his one bright relationship in Europe for a chance at love, when this project is over, isn’t his only choice to say goodbye?
“I think you’ll want to get that coffee now. Curtis called a management meeting for eight thirty, and you know how he is,” Kyle said after making sure the hallway was empty. Michael knew exactly how he was, even after having worked for the man only a few months. Curtis’s changing moods were well-engrained upon everyone who worked for him. Michael had often thought the man needed a good dose of mood stabilizers, but couldn’t say that to anyone.
“Thanks for the warning.” Michael opened his e-mail and saw the messages from Curtis sitting in his inbox like terrorist pipe bombs just waiting to ruin a perfectly good Friday. Ignoring them for now, Michael got up and accompanied Kyle down to the cafeteria, returning a few minutes later, coffee in hand, to go through his e-mails and prepare for his day and the infamous meeting.
At the appointed time, Michael got up from his desk and hurried to the conference room, finding the other managers already there and Curtis sitting at the head of the table, looking toward the door. Michael glanced at the clock just to make sure he wasn’t late before closing the door and taking one of the empty chairs. Curtis had a real thing about being on time for meetings and appointments, even though the one person on the team most likely to be late for anything was Curtis himself. Every week, Curtis had a set time to meet with each of his managers, and more likely than not, Michael would be kept waiting for his appointment. But heaven forbid, the world would end if he were a minute late for anything Curtis scheduled.
“We’ve been tasked with taking on an extra project because of the shuffles with the logistics team. They lost one of their project managers, and since our team still has two,” Curtis said, as he turned to Kyle and Michael with one of his self-righteous “I fought for you, so you owe me” looks on his face, “I’ll be reassigning the projects this morning, and things will need to change. Right now the workload isn’t balanced, and this additional project is going to make things even more complicated. Brian, I’m going to need you to take on one of the projects. It’ll be one of the simpler ones that fits with your team. Kyle and Michael, I haven’t figured out how I’m going to divide things up yet, but I’ll talk to both of you later this morning.”
Michael felt his stomach lurch, but he was careful to keep any reaction off his face. He currently had three projects, and all three of them were well under control, fully planned, and carefully timelined. He’d spent months doing all the requirements-gathering, documentation, planning, and team building, working nights and even weekends to make sure they were right, and now who the hell knew what Curtis was going to come up with. After Curtis’s little announcement, the man launched into stories that ate up almost the next half hour. Michael kept looking at the clock, wondering when he could get back to his desk. There was plenty to get done regardless of Curtis’s project shakeup, and he had calls that needed to be made. Zoning out, Michael tried to organize everything in his head so that when he could get out of here, he could get right to work.
“So I woke up in the middle of the night, wet, and when I lifted the covers, my crotch was green. The bag of peas had leaked all over everything. Never refreeze the bag of peas. Once they thaw, throw them out.” Everyone laughed, and Michael did as well because it was expected, even if he’d already heard the story of Curtis’s vasectomy and the infamous bag of peas at least twice. Kyle had confessed after the last telling that he’d heard it at least six times. The only comforting thought about that story was that the world would be spared from any more “little Curtises”—there was a God after all.
Finally, the waste of time Curtis called a meeting was over, and Michael hurried back to his desk. Checking his e-mail once again, he found it blessedly empty and began making calls, ticking other tasks off his list as he verified that all critical tasks were on plan. The last call he made was to the software rep, Marty, to make sure they would deliver the customized store register code as promised. Their timeline for delivery was already tight and any slippage would delay the entire project. Michael did not want to have to explain that to Curtis, or for that matter to Mark, the vice president of the technology development. After being assured that everything was on track and that no problems had been found, they talked for a few minutes about Marty’s new baby before disconnecting. Michael had known Marty for years and had worked hard under his previous director to build a good relationship.
Checking his list again, he set up meetings for the following week before starting to work on the next steps in his project documentation. Fridays were usually good days with limited meetings, which allowed him to get caught up, and if he were lucky, slightly ahead on the next week’s work. “Michael.” He looked up and saw Kyle peering into his office. “Curtis asked me to send you to his office.”
Kyle definitely looked a little worse for wear, and Michael wondered just what had happened, but Kyle walked away without saying anything more. Michael picked up his day planner, and after locking his PC, walked down the hallway toward the front corner offices where the directors and vice presidents had their offices. Curtis’s door was open, but he wasn’t at his desk. Taking a seat in one of the chairs, Michael opened his planner, updating his to-do list with tasks he needed to do next week, until Curtis walked in and shut the door. Glancing at his watch, Michael realized he’d been waiting for almost fifteen minutes.
“As I said in the meeting this morning, we need to reassign some of the projects, but something else has come up since then.” Curtis sat down in his leather office chair, fishing through the piles of crap on his desk. “The Shoe Finder project for Europe is in trouble. Europe doesn’t have the resources to work with Kyle to complete the project. They have people to do the work, but not manage it from their end. They asked if we could send the project manager over there to work with their people until the project is completed at the end of October.”
“So Kyle will be going to Europe for, what, five months?” Michael asked, trying to figure out which of Kyle’s projects he could take over to help out. “What can I do to help?”
“That’s the issue. Kyle isn’t willing to be away from his family for that period of time, and Mark wanted me to ask if you’d take over the project. I want to stress that this is Kyle’s project, and you don’t have to do this.” The last sentiments were added in a rush that rendered them completely meaningless. In other words, Michael read into it silently, you don’t have to do this, but Mark will remember that you weren’t a team player and weren’t willing to do what the company needed. Since Kyle had a wife and kids, those things didn’t seem to apply to him. Michael was speechless. He hadn’t seen this coming at all, and now everything had been turned on its end. Curtis continued talking without waiting for Michael’s response. “We’ll move the Canada and Asia projects to Kyle, and transition the Europe project to you. You’ll keep the automated-scheduling project since that’s already being implemented.”
“When do you need an answer?” Michael asked, bringing Curtis to a screeching halt, and Michael realized Curtis hadn’t made any plans for what would happen if Michael said no. Curtis had simply assumed Michael would do it, and he probably would have for Dennis, his previous supervisor and one of the best people Michael had ever worked with.
“We need an answer as soon as possible, but you know if you pull this off, this could be a career-making move for you,” Curtis said as he leaned forward, the part about the promotion that he knew Michael had been hoping for going unvocalized, but definitely implied.
Michael’s throat felt dry. “Let me think about it.”
“You did the US version of this project, so this shouldn’t really be all that hard,” Curtis told him, leaning back in his chair, and Michael could almost see him pull his salesman’s hat out of the drawer. “And you’ll get to spend some time in Europe. Have you ever been?” Curtis inquired, his voice taking on an edge of excitement.
“No, I haven’t,” Michael answered, feeling a twinge of excitement himself. “I need some time to think about this,” he said, checking his watch, “and I have a meeting in a few minutes.”
“Get back to me this afternoon, and we can hammer out any details.” Curtis turned his attention to his computer, and Michael realized he’d been dismissed. Opening the office door, Michael stepped out and saw Mark walking down the hallway toward him.