When she was with Steve, for example, she tended to rest her hand on his shoulder whenever they were speaking, and she always sat with her chair pressed up against his at meetings. Annamaria did everything exactly as he requested and never hesitated to ask for more to do. In our weekly meetings, she always deferred to Steve, and could often be heard talking him up as a marketing guru who would lead us out of the wilderness into great riches. You would have thought she meant every word of it. Annamaria once told me that her father was a Baptist preacher, and when I watched her in action, I couldn’t suppress the thought that she would have done him proud with her style.
      I loved coming into the office every morning. It was dynamic, filled with drama and intrigue, good versus evil, and even enough interesting engineering challenges to get my rocks off. It was the most fun I’d ever had.
      At home, it was the polar opposite. When Medusa came into the office, and met Steve for the first time, she visibly shuddered. After that, my wife and her clan spent hours warning me about that woman and the other one, that red-headed marketing person who wouldn’t stop talking. They suggested no alternatives, though, only criticism.
      “They’ll cut you to ribbons, Bob, and eat you for breakfast,” mother Anthea nagged at me. “My daughter told me about that Steve person. He’s too slick for you, Bob. You have no chance with people like that. And that woman. She just wants to get in bed with you to get more money. Don’t you know any better than to hire that sort?” I took to tuning out their words and only listened to their tones and rhythms and although it came out to be the worst music I’d ever heard, at least it was non-toxic that way.

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