This vignette takes place a few months before the beginning of Daily Grind, as Rob Ancroft completes his move to Pittsburgh and meets with some of the other business men and women in the tech word there—including Sam Anderson.
(A Takeover Vignette)
On the elevator down to the ground floor of some parking garage in downtown Pittsburgh, Rob Ancroft, CEO of CirroBot, took two deep breaths that were supposed to release tension and anxiety—or so they said in all the books he’d read about stress and working yourself into the ground.
Didn’t help at all, alas.
His companion, Suzanne, gave him a sideways look. “Nervous?”
Perceptive woman. One of the reasons she’d been asked to come on to the CirroBot Board of Directors. He brushed non-existent fuzz of his suit lapel as they walked out into the night. “Honestly, somewhat.”
“Don’t be. It’s a friendly group.”
He grunted at that. “They said the same thing about the group in Chicago.”
She blew out her own puff of air, a cloud in the brisk night. “Things are a little different here.”
“I hope so.” He did feel more relaxed in this little city. It was smaller by far, than Chicago. Less windy, which given the crisp winter air, was a good thing. Maybe life here would be different now that CirroBot was completely relocated. A new start for the company and for him. CirroBot was poised to grow, and Pittsburgh was the ideal city for that.
Rob was dead set against making the same mistakes in his personal life as before. No more young men, no matter how talented, intelligent, or beautiful. No more flings. No more gold-diggers. Done. A serious relationship or fuck off . That was his new motto.
Suzanne must have read something in his expression or walk, something that made her pause and pull him gently to a stop outside a warm-looking restaurant in an area he recognized as Market Square.
Step one of learning a new home—knowing when you’ve been somewhere before, even in the dark.
Suzanne looked up at him. “Hey, I know you took it on the chin in Chicago, but you’re not going to be the token gay in the crowd here. You’ll fit in, trust me.”
He did. Had to. He’d let her and the board of directors take a significant portion of stock and control of CirroBot so he’d stop living at nearly the breaking point of sleeplessness and too many hours in the office.
“Ah yes, I’ve heard. The wonder-maker, Sam Anderson, out and proud at last.” His delivery was about as dry as the thin night air. How many of those tales were true, he wondered?
“Wait until you meet him.” She gave a chuckle he couldn’t interpret for the life of him. “Shall we go in?”
“Please,” Rob said. “I’m freezing my arse off out here.” He’d left his overcoat in the car. While it wasn’t bitter cold yet, it was cold enough in just a suit jacket and shirt.
Suzanne opened the door for him, and he entered. The place was nice—in that quasi-European way. Americans and their need to emulate what they found classier than their own aesthetic. Still, the restaurant was comfortable and warm. The scent of good food and spirits washed over him, as did the murmur of many men—and slightly less women—decked out in their business finest.
Some of the movers and shakers in the high tech business world of Pittsburgh. The bankers had their clubs. Tech couldn’t quite leave behind the bars of their start-up youths. He didn’t mind at all. He was far more comfortable in a pub any day. He’d even spotted one on the way here—another import from across the pond.
“Let’s get a drink, and I’ll introduce you to some folks,” Suzanne said.
Excellent. That was why he was here, after all. “Lead the way.”
The bar specialized in champagne, which was different, but delightful enough. He skimmed the list, made a selection, and soon enough they were wandering through the crowd. It was a circuitous route, but it didn’t take Rob that long to figure out they were working their way toward the aforementioned Sam Anderson.
A bobble of annoyance rose and fizzled. Throw the gays together, yes—but he did want to meet Anderson. He’d heard stories of his charisma and work ethic—but what was the real man like? The one who would fall in love with an underling and nearly nose-dive his career, yet come out on top of the world?
Sam had apparently caught their approach and disengaged from his conversation he was having with a man at a bar-top table, and turned his full attention toward them. “Suzanne. Great to see you. This must be Robert Ancroft.” He held out his hand.
“Rob.” It was almost an instinctual reaction to his full name. He took Sam’s offered hand.
A chuckle. “I know that feeling.” Sam Anderson had dark hair, blue eyes, and a firm handshake. He looked everything and nothing like his headshot.
Suzanne nodded to both men. “I’m leaving you in good hands. I saw a colleague over there I need to talk to.”
So, slipping away and leaving him with the business rockstar to sink or swim. Rob bit back the knowing grin
Sam had it instead, and it was charming. Charisma indeed. Rob stepped in closer so they didn’t have to shout at each other. “Not terribly fond of your full name, either?”
Rob had a few inches on Sam, but if Sam noticed, he didn’t react. He merely looked up, raised an eyebrow and said, “You do know Sam’s not the name I used much before.”
It hadn’t been. “Yes, I know. S. Randell Anderson,” Rob said. “What changed?”
Sam’s smile fell into something far more intense and serious. “Everything.”
Rob nodded. “Ah, yes. I know that feeling.” He paused. “But I don’t think for the same reason.” His moment of epiphany hadn’t been born out of love, but exhaustion, stress, and death.
The smile returned to Sam, though it held a hint of sympathy. “Life has a way of changing you. Or making you change yourself.”
Rob barked out his own laugh. “Quite. Let’s hope it’s always for the better.” He raised his glass. “Here’s to the names we want. And the futures we build.”
Sam touched his own to Rob’s. “You’re going to do just fine here.”
“So I’ve been told.”
He believed it, too. Something in the air maybe—or perhaps just the bubbly going to his head—but he had the same sense of giddiness he’d always gotten at the beginning of a grand adventure.
A new city. A new start to life. He’d see where this road took him.
Sam clapped him on the arm and nodded to the clusters of business people. “Let me show you around.”
Rob took a sip of champagne and followed Sam through the crowd. Time to work. Time to live. He’d do both this time.
Copyright © 2016 Anna Zabo
All rights reserved.