Thursday brought more back-to-back meetings. And an unexpected phone call. I had been communicating status to Jack via email. I was surprised to see his name on the display of my cell phone and I answered it quickly.
“So, Whitlow, have you convinced him to join our team yet?”
“No, Jack. I thought we had discussed this before I left.”
Kellan looked up, thinking something was wrong. I smiled and gave him the okay sign and he went back to what he was doing.
“We did. But I got a call from his boss this morning to ask me to keep you in Richmond for at least another week. Apparently, Kellan feels you two are very close to having the written deliverables ready for drafting and thinks another week would afford the time to get the documentation done. Apparently, he would prefer to do that with you there. So I think he is stealing you.” Jack laughed.
“I don’t speak enough Geek to be an affective member of his team, Jack, so no worries there. But I do agree that another week would give us time to have the deliverables drafted. Shall I extend my stay?”
“Yes. By the way, Doug Shepherd called to let me know how pleased he is with the new direction of the project. That is the second reason for this call. He thinks you and Kellan make one of the best teams he has seen. Said that I should find some way to keep the two of you together and devoted to projects for his business unit. After I talked to Randy, I found out Doug had given him the same feedback about Kellan.”
“Is Mr. Shepherd looking to create his own project management tam?”
“He could use one.” Jack replied. “He does have another big project coming down the pike and he has already asked for you and Kellan.”
“We haven’t delivered this one yet.”
“No, but you will. In record time, it sounds like. Are you up for the challenge?”
Another project working with Kellan? Twist my arm. “Sure, I guess. Let me get through this one, first, please.”
“Okay. So extend your stay for another week and we will go from there. Doug’s cost center is paying for it and he wants you there, too.”
“Sure, Jack. Thanks.”
I put my phone down on the table.
“Why didn’t you tell me you had asked for me to stay another week?” I asked Kellan.
“Because I didn’t. I told Randy another week would give us time to finish the document drafts and that it would be easier if you were here. I let him decide what he wanted to do with that information.”
“Oh. So do you want me to stay?” I suddenly felt a lack of confidence.
“Yes. Very much.”
He didn’t look up from the monitor and I could hear in his voice his answer had more to do with his wants than what the business needed.
“Did Randy tell you that Doug Shepherd has requested us to be his dedicated PM team?”
“No. That is a terrifying thought.”
I laughed. He was right.
“We need to leave in about 5 minutes to start the next round of meetings.” He leaned back in his chair and stretched. “I would like to be out of here by 5:30 this afternoon. We can take work with us, if we need to.”
I wrinkled my nose. “I hope we don’t need to.”
“We will know after we go through these meetings. Ready?”
“As I will ever be.”
“There is my dynamic duo!” Doug Shepherd greeted us as we walked into the conference room. Kellan smiled. I blanched. “Come sit by me.” He sat at the head of the table, indicating the two empty seats to his right.
Kellan moved around the table to sit on Doug’s right. I sat on Kellan’s right. I had learned the hard way that sitting on his left in a conference room meant we would be knocking elbows as we took notes and we tended to take notes at the same time of the same things.
This meeting would be a two-hour meeting. One hour to discuss the business process and one hour to go out on the floor to see them work. It was an information session for Kellan and me, not a meeting we were leading, so I forced myself to focus on Doug Shepherd’s words and not Kellan’s close presence.
It went well and was very informative and we had uncovered another layer of requirements by the time we reached the noon hour and the meeting was adjourned.
“I want to take you two to lunch.” Doug said as Kellan and I thanked him and prepared to leave.
“We could plan that.” Kellan smiled, always the diplomat.
“Today.” Doug commanded.
“We have a 1:00.” Kellan said. “I appreciate the offer.”
“Your 1:00 is with Julie Ellis and she reports to me”
Kellan seemed to know he had been beaten. “Where can we meet you?”
“I will drive.” Doug said, ushering us out of the room.
“I prefer to drive myself, Doug.” Kellan smile didn’t waver.
Doug looked confused for a second. “I was thinking the Aurora Café.”
Frustration crossed Kellan’s face. I didn’t know what was going on.
“The Aurora Café isn’t accessible.” Kellan said, meeting Doug’s eyes. “It is in an older building with steps at the entrance and no ramp.”
“I am sorry.” Doug looked at Kellan’s crutches, then at Kellan’s feet, where the braces showed below the hem of his pants. “I didn’t know you couldn’t climb stairs.”
Kellan took a deep breath before he responded. I waited in a near-cringe, thinking I was finally going to see Kellan lose his temper.
“I can’t.” He answered simply. “How about the Magnolia Grill? Same type of atmosphere and menu, on the next block and no stairs to climb.”
Doug nodded, “Let’s go.”
“You didn’t lose your temper.” I said to Kellan once we were in his car. “I would have gotten angry.”
Kellan shrugged. “Losing my temper wouldn’t help our business partnership and he truly didn’t mean any harm. He overlooked the obvious. I guess in some small way, I should feel complimented. The only drawback is now he is going to be very focused on my disability for awhile because I had to draw his attention to it.”
“We will see. So what do you think this lunch is about?”
He shifted the focus off of himself. That is Kellan, master of redirection.
“He is going to pitch his next project and ask us to work for him.”
“That is my feeling, too.”
“He called us the ‘dynamic duo.’ Yuck.” I stuck out my tongue.
Kellan laughed. “It could be worse. At least he likes us.”
I sighed. “I don’t know. I get the feeling being liked by Doug Shepherd could be almost as painful as being disliked.”
“You have a point.”
We were right. Doug did pitch his next project. And he did ask us if we wanted to work for him. We laughed and didn’t answer. The lunch was relatively pleasant. I would have to tell Jack about it, though, because I got the feeling that Doug’s offer was serious.
5:00 found us back in Kellan’s office. Both of us were tired and ready to leave. We would be taking some work with us.
Kellan was on the phone with his dad, who seemed to be inventing reasons to drop by Kellan’s apartment.
“He wants to see you.” Kellan explained with a shake of his head after he finally hung up. “Having my parents so close by has definite benefits and costs.”
“You have done risk/rewards analysis on the proximity of family?” I laughed.
“Only in my head every time my parents seem to be encroaching on my personal life.”
“Does that happen often?” I was in the process of shitting down my laptop.
“Honestly, no. I haven’t had a lot of dates since the accident.” Kellan said. “Which means my parents can be a bit overzealous when they hear mention of a girl. Sorry you get the brunt of it. Do you think you can find my apartment?”
I pulled out the map I had printed earlier. “With the internet, I can find anything.”
“Not into my hand-drawn maps?”
“You are a guy and a geek besides. You represent everything pictorially. I need street by street.”
“You could have said that.”
“I suppose I could have.” I smiled. “I will see around 7:00. Have a great ride.”
I wanted to kiss him or do something more than just say goodbye, but I knew that was the last thing his coworkers needed to see. “I will see you in a bit, okay?” I picked up my briefcase
To be continued...