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Hiding the Truth

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Part One

With a bang Harry Sinclair slammed the receiver down. They were short staffed as it was and now Dom had called in sick as well. A nasty case of food poisoning it would seem and he would be out of the running for quite some time.

He scratched his head and looked around the post room, he needed someone reliable to do the executive’s post and with all those temps he knew next to nothing about he really didn’t have much choice.

“Orlando!” he bellowed a little louder than he intended.

The boy in question ducked his head, probably afraid he had messed up again. “Yes, Mr. Sinclair?” His soft voice sounded nervous.

“Get over here, boy, I’ve got a special job for you.” Harry tried to keep a lid on his impatience, knowing that it would only make Orlando more nervous. He watched as the boy carefully made his way over to him. His gait was slow and Harry tapped his fingers restlessly on the sorting machine. Orlando probably noticed his impatience and tried to move faster, brushing a pile of already sorted post from the edge of a desk in passing.

Harry sighed deeply and called out to Orlando when he awkwardly bent over to pick up the fallen post. “Leave it lad, Elijah can do that, just get over here...”

“Yes, Mr. Sinclair.” Orlando’s face was flushed, his curls falling over his forehead and he unsuccessfully tried to brush them out of his eyes. “I’m sorry, Mr. Sinclair,” Orlando apologised, “is there a problem?”

Harry pulled a chair out and motioned for Orlando to sit down. “Yes, Orlando, a rather big problem I’m afraid. Dom has called in sick with food poisoning, and I need someone trustworthy to handle the executive post, especially the delivery is important. I’m sorry, but there is no one else that I can trust, you’ll have to do it.”

Orlando had gone pale at Harry’s announcement. “I… uh, will Dom be alright?” he managed to ask.

Harry nodded, “Yes, eventually, but it’s going to take a couple of days at least.”

“Mr. Sinclair?” Orlando started, “I-I I don’t think I can do that, what if I make a mistake, I mean… the executive post?” his voice went high and nervous at the end of the sentence.

Harry put his hand on the young man’s shoulder. “I know you can do it, Orlando. You’ve helped Dom out on several occasions; you know the routine with the other floors, this isn’t much different, lad.”

Orlando lowered his eyes. “If you say so, Mr. Sinclair.”

“I do,” Harry said firmly, intending to show he trusted Orlando, hoping it would give the boy some confidence in himself. “Now listen to me while I explain everything to you.” He stood and fetched a loaded trolley and manoeuvred it beside the chair in which Orlando was sitting.

“It’s very simple, Orlando. Each manager, the General Manager, and CEO have their own folder with their name on it. The first three are for the managers on the eighth floor, Mr. Bana, Mr. Jackman and Mr Pitt, the last two are for the General Manager and the CEO on the top floor, Mr. Wenham and Mr. Bean. There are two crates for packages and large envelopes, bottom crate is for the managers and the top crate is for the General Manager and CEO. Usually I would let you sort it yourself so you know where you’ve put everything, but there’s no time for that today I’m afraid.”

Orlando blinked rapidly, the information was clearly overwhelming him.

Harry pushed the trolley closer to Orlando, “Have a quick look and then I have to send you on your way, we’re already very late,” he watched as Orlando rifled through the folders and checked the two crates, mumbling to himself.

“Oh, before I forget. You’re to hand the post to their secretaries, that'll make it easier for you.”

“Oh… yeah, of course, Mr. Sinclair,” Orlando lifted his head, a little furrow of worry creasing his forehead as he tried to remember every bit of information Harry had thrown at him in the last few minutes. He hoped he wasn’t going to mess things up.

Harry broke into his thoughts. “You have to go now, lad, or we’re going to be in trouble. Mr. Bean in particular can be grumpy if he has to wait for his post.”

Sliding his arm into his crutch, Orlando slowly pushed himself to his feet. “R-right, I’d better be on my way then.” He slowly started to push the trolley to the lift.

“Orlando?” Harry called after him.

Orlando stopped and turned back to him. “Yes, Mr. Sinclair?”

“Don’t hesitate to ask for help, lad… You know…” Harry motioned at him and the trolley.

Orlando nodded. “Sure, Mr. Sinclair.” He started pushing the trolley with one hand again, trying to keep it from getting entangled with his crutch was quite hard work.

###

Orlando pressed the up button and watched as the lift descended from the ninth floor. As soon as the lift doors opened he pushed the trolley into the empty lift. He got stuck a little with the front left wheel between the gap and the lift threshold but managed to tip the trolley with his left foot and push it inside just before the doors began to close.

Orlando pushed the trolley as far to the back of the lift as possible, knowing that a lot of people would get in on the ground floor.

He looked at his watch, it was ten to nine and Dom would’ve been long finished with distributing the post by now . He really hoped he didn’t have to hand something over to a grouchy Mr. Bean. He had only ever seen the back of the man and he looked quite imposing. Over six feet tall, dark curly hair and broad shouldered.

Dom had pointed him out in the lobby, while they were going for their lunch, he hadn’t really paid attention because some hunk of a blond had been demanding his attention, even if the man never saw Orlando, but he had caught Dom’s last words, “… with the dark curly hair.”

The lift doors opened on the ground floor and people surged in, looking at Orlando and the trolley with annoyance.

Orlando flattened himself against the back wall of the lift, holding onto the trolley so it didn't jostle anyone and glanced apologetically at the people who were pushed against it.

Just before the doors closed a tall blond with a sports bag slung over his shoulder slipped inside and smiled brightly. “Good morning all.”

There were some muttered ‘good mornings’ but none were very cheerful.

Orlando grinned a little and said, a little too loud perhaps, “Good morning.” The man turned around and winked at him, which made Orlando blush slightly. It was the handsome guy he had seen in the lobby before.

He grabbed the trolley when the lift rocked into motion again and then frowned, he’d forgotten to ask Mr. Sinclair whether he should go to the top floor first or start with the managers.

The lift started to empty out on the next couple of floors, until only Orlando and the blond man were left.

Orlando was still deliberating with himself where to go first. There was an awful lot of post for the managers, perhaps he should go there first?

“Are you new around here?”

Orlando’s head raised so fast he almost gave himself whiplash. “What? Yeah, no, uhm…” Oh, that was just brilliant, nice reply, very eloquent.

The blond grinned. “I haven’t seen you before.” He motioned at the trolley. “It’s usually the funny guy, what’s his name again... Dominic? I’m Sean by the way.”

“Oh… uh… right. Yes, that’s Dom, he’s not and I’m, yeah…” Oh boy, this was just getting worse. Orlando shook his head. “I-I’m sorry, this is my first time doing executive post delivery, I'm usually,” he pointed downward with his finger. “Downstairs, Dom’s sick and I’m Orlando.” His face felt as if it was on fire and he dearly wished for the floor to open beneath his feet and swallow him right then.

The blond, Sean, Orlando remembered, frowned. “Dominic is ill?”

Orlando shifted; his leg was beginning to ache a little. “He… uhm… he phoned in this morning, Mr. Sinclair said it’s food poisoning.”

Sean’s face showed his concern, “I hope he recovers soon, food poisoning is quite serious.”

Orlando nodded, not knowing what else to say. It was a little unsettling to see this man worry about Dom, but perhaps he saw Dom every morning and was just concerned?

The lift stopped on the eighth floor. This was the managers’ domain and Orlando decided he would go there first. If he delivered their post and packages and got the hang of it, he couldn’t make any mistakes with Mr. Bean’s post.

He smiled tentatively at the other man. “It was nice meeting you… Sean.” He started pushing the trolley forward, but this time the wheels got caught on the plush carpet of the eighth floor and Orlando couldn’t get any purchase to push the trolley out of the lift.

“Here, let me give you a hand,” Sean offered and put his bag down.

Knowing that he would have to accept some help, Orlando nodded briefly and watched as Sean dipped the trolley and pushed it out of the lift. He motioned for Orlando to come out as well and muttered, “They should get another carpet in here, this is rubbish.”

Orlando straightened himself and willed his leg into action, he’d been standing for quite some time and the stiffness in it seemed to freeze his other muscles as well. He leant heavily on his crutch and pushed himself forward.

Stepping out of the lift he reached for the trolley, but his crutch dragged on the carpet and he pitched forward.

“Whoa!” Sean caught Orlando before he could fall flat on his face. “Are you okay?” he enquired with concern, helping Orlando upright.

“Yeah, yeah, I'm okay,” Orlando said a little shakily and very embarrassed. Not only was Sean really good looking, he smelled very nice too.

Sean looked down and moved his foot over the floor. “This carpet is lethal,” he announced. “Something has to be done about it.”

Orlando, afraid that he was causing trouble, waved his hand in protest. “No, no, it was just me, I-I’m afraid I’m rather clumsy.”

“What’s going on here?” A voice behind Orlando thundered.

Orlando cringed. “Oh god, it’s Mr. Bean, he muttered to Sean, “I hope he’s not going to be too upset with me.”

Sean looked at him strangely before turning to the newcomer and smiled. “Good morning, Eric, Orlando needed a hand with the trolley. He pointed a finger at Eric, “Remind me to have the carpet on this floor changed, it’s a nuisance.”

Mr. Bean stood with his mouth open, then he shook his head. “I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He turned to Orlando, “Who are you and where is Dominic, and isn’t this post terribly late?”

“Y-yes, sir, I’m sorry, sir, I’m Orlando and…”

Before Orlando could utter anything else, the lift dinged and the doors closed. Sean sprinted forward but was too late. “Bloody hell, there goes me bag,” he huffed.

“I’m sorry,” Orlando said again, to Sean this time, “it’s my fault, I…”

Sean came back to him and held up his hand to stop Orlando's apologies. “Nonsense, if anything it’s this stupid carpet.” He looked at the cream coloured floor covering in disgust.

There was a long-suffering sigh behind them and both Orlando and Sean turned back to Mr. Bean.

“I’m not going to ask,” he said, casting a dark look at Sean and then glaring at Orlando. “Shouldn’t you be on your way?”

Orlando bit his lip. “Y-yes, sir, I uhm…” he looked around in confusion, he had no idea where he was supposed to deliver the post.

Mr. Bean sighed exasperated. “It’s that way.” He pointed to his left and Orlando nodded at him in thanks. “Bye Sean, it was nice meeting you and thanks for your help,” he said a little breathlessly and smiled at the blond, then he started to push the trolley in the indicated direction.

“Nice meeting you, Orlando,” Sean called after him.

The last Orlando heard was Mr. Bean asking Sean what the hell was going on. He hoped he hadn’t caused trouble for Sean with Mr. Bean.

###

Orlando made slow progress on the luxuriously looking, but highly impractical carpet of the eighth floor and he wondered if Dom experienced the same problem every day.

Probably not.

Before his accident Orlando wouldn’t even have considered that pushing a trolley could be such bloody hard work.

 

He finally came to a halt outside a door that said H. Jackman - Marketing Manager.

Orlando quickly rifled through the folders until he found the one for Mr. Jackman, pulled out the contents and checked the crate for parcels. There were no parcels for Mr. Jackman.

He straightened and knocked on the door.

“Come in.” A woman’s voice sounded.

Orlando pushed the door open and stepped into the office.

“You’re late this morning, Dominic, have you been flirting again with- Oh!” The blonde woman behind the desk flushed a little when she looked up and noticed Orlando a few feet away. “You aren’t Dominic,” she stated the obvious.

Orlando looked at the post in his hand and crossed the last few paces that separated him from the desk. “No, I’m sorry, I'm not, I’m Orlando. Here is the post for Mr. Jackman, Miss…” he checked the name plate on her desk, “Otto,” he said.

She smiled at him, “Thank you and I’m sorry, I didn’t know Dominic had taken some time off. He usually can’t shut up when it’s due and I’m babbling aren’t I?” she giggled.

Orlando grinned and shrugged. “Yeah, maybe a little.”

She laughed out loud at his words and winked at him. “I can see why you and Dom get along.”

Orlando looked puzzled at her. “You can? You know about me?”

“Of course I do,” Miss Otto, told him while she expertly used the letter opener on the envelopes Orlando had just handed her. “Dom always talks about downstairs,” she looked up quickly. “That’s what he calls it, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sound like a snob.”

Orlando smiled, “I don’t think you're a snob,” he assured her. “I have to move on though, I’m very late already. It was nice meeting you, Miss Otto.”

He managed to turn the trolley around and Miss Otto came from behind her desk to hold the door open for him. “Bye, Orlando,” she said and closed the door.

The next door read E. Bana – Financial Manager.

Orlando searched through the folder and checked the crates. Mr. Bana didn’t have any parcels, but he had a lot of post, with confidential written on the envelopes. Orlando decided this time to leave the trolley outside in the hallway, it would certainly help if he didn’t have to push it inside first when taking out the post before he entered.

He knocked on the door. There was no answer. He knocked again, but when there was still no answer he stood contemplating what to do. Should he go inside anyway or should he try the other manager first and check back when he was finished there?

He shrugged. The other manager was probably also waiting for his post so Orlando stuffed the letters back in Mr. Bana’s folder and hurried to the final manager's office a few doors down.

B. Pitt – Production Manager

Mr. Pitt had only one letter, but the crate contained three parcels with his name on it and they were quite large, Orlando realised he couldn’t take them all in at once, so he had to take the trolley into the office with him.

With a sigh he knocked on the door.

“Enter.” A deep voice called and Orlando pushed the door open.

A tall blond man stood beside the desk reading the paper and he looked up when Orlando pushed the trolley inside. “Well hello there, you’re not the usual piece of scruff.”

Orlando frowned, what was that man talking about? “Good morning sir, I’m stepping in for Dominic, I’m here to deliver the post.”

“Excellent, let me give you a hand,” the man said enthusiastically.

Orlando thought he meant to take the parcels from him, but when he bent over, he felt a hand on his arse and with a squeak he quickly stood up straight.

“Lovely reflexes, despite the…” He pointed at Orlando’s crutch.

Orlando moved laboriously until the trolley was between him and the blond and fished out the parcels with one hand, keeping a wary eye on the other man. “I don’t appreciate being felt up, sir,” he said softly.

“What was that?” the blond asked with a smirk.

Orlando pushed the parcels towards the man. “I’d appreciate it if you kept your hands to yourself, sir,” he repeated, flushing with embarrassment.

The blond only grinned and moved closer to Orlando, who inched backwards, bumping into a solid wall of muscle.

“What the hell is going on here?” a now familiar voice barked.

Orlando cringed and didn’t dare turn around, afraid Mr. Bean would fire him on the spot.

“Just a bit of fun with the new boy, Eric, no need to get all uptight about it.”

“As far as I can tell, Brad, he’s not having any fun. Orlando was it?” Mr. Bean addressed Orlando directly.

“Yes, sir?” Orlando slowly turned to look at Mr. Bean.

“Were you finished with Mr. Pitt’s post?” The tall man looked at him sternly.

Yes, sir, I was.” Orlando nodded.

“Then finish your round here and move along,” Mr. Bean told him.

Orlando nodded again, he cast a quick glance at Mr. Pitt and then slowly started to push the trolley out of the office. Again the plush carpet was working against him and he couldn’t get the trolley over the threshold.

With a sigh Mr. Bean strode over to him and helped get the trolley into the hallway. “I can see what Sean has against this carpet,” the dark haired man muttered. “On your way, boy.”

Orlando walked back to Mr. Bana’s office to see if he could deliver the post there and he was almost out of earshot when he heard a voice thunder. “One of these days you’re going to get us into real trouble. What if the boy files a harassment suit!”

Orlando winced and shook his head. He wasn't going to do any such thing; he hoped saying no was enough for Mr. Pitt.

Back at Mr Bana’s office, the door now was open and a tall dark haired woman was sitting behind the secretary’s desk. Leaving the trolley outside, Orlando took the post for Mr. Bana and knocked once before entering the office.

“Good morning,” Orlando said. “I have the post for Mr. Bana.”

The woman looked up and watched Orlando limp closer. “You took your time,” she said with a frown. “Where is Mr Monaghan?”

Orlando put the post on the corner of the desk. “Dominic is indisposed, I’m filling in for him today.”

Without another glance at him, the woman scooped up the post and checked it out. “Make sure you’re earlier tomorrow, Mr. Bana doesn’t like his post being late!”

After a quick glance at his watch to see how late he was, Orlando backed out of the office, darting a fast look at her nameplate on his way to the door. “Of course, Miss Tyler.” He nearly bumped into Mr. Bean on his way out, who only nodded at him absently and Orlando heard Miss Tyler say. “The post has only just been delivered, Eric, you really need to call Mr. Sinclair on that.”

Orlando rolled his eyes, not waiting for Mr. Bean’s reply, he still had more post to deliver and hoped Mr. Bean wouldn’t return to his office until after he'd delivered the post there.

Pushing the trolley slowly over the bothersome carpet, Orlando reached the lift and was happy to see it waiting for him already.

A lone bag stood in the middle of the lift and Orlando realised Sean’s bag must have been travelling up and down since their meeting earlier. He put his trolley between the lift doors and carefully moved around it to pick up the bag, then he stepped out of the lift again and looked around; there was no sign of Sean anywhere. The person he did see walking down the corridor, though, was Mr. Pitt who smirked at him.

“Still here?” The blond asked.

Orlando shrugged. “I found Sean’s bag in the lift but I don’t see him, do you know where I can leave it for him?”

Mr. Pitt’s eyebrows raised. “Sean… is it?” He looked Orlando up and down and the smirk grew wider, then his eyes settled on the trolley. “You still have to go upstairs, right?”

At Orlando’s hesitant nod, Pitt took the bag from him and stuffed it in one of the empty crates on the trolley. “Hand it over to Billy Boyd, he’ll know where to find Sean and give it to him.”

“Thanks,” Orlando murmured and, keeping his eye on Mr. Pitt at all times, he got back into the lift, pressing nine for the top floor.

He wondered whether Sean was a janitor or something or a maintenance man. Everyone seemed to know him and apparently he went everywhere… except downstairs of course.

Nobody came to the post room unless they had to.

When the lift doors opened, Orlando noticed to his relief that even though this was the floor where the Big Bosses resided, they apparently didn’t care much for plush carpet because there wasn’t any.

Orlando hoped Mr. Bean wasn’t around, the man was very intimidating and meeting him twice in one day was more than enough.

 

He pushed the trolley through the corridor and was surprised when instead of two offices there was one large one with lots of glass. The secretaries were sitting in front of the glass wall separating the office from the reception area on the floor and it looked very friendly and inviting, nothing as formal as what was on the managers floor.

“Hi, you must be Orlando,” a young man with a distinctive Scottish accent said with a bright smile.

Orlando smiled back. “You must be Billy.”

The other man nodded. “I am and I bet Dom has told a lot of tall stories about me.”

Orlando pushed the trolley closer and couldn’t hold back his escaping giggle. “He did, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he did the same about me.”

Billy laughed, standing to assist Orlando with the post. “Oh yes, he’s been entertaining us with ‘the adventures of the post room’.” He bent down to check the crates and pulled a face at the bag stuffed in there.

“What’s this?” Billy asked.

Orlando who had been busy checking the remaining folders turned to face him. “Oh, that’s Sean’s. He helped me out with the trolley and then his bag was taken by the lift. I found it later and Mr. Pitt said to give it to you, because you would know where to find Sean.”

With raised eyebrows Billy nodded. “Yes, I do know where to find him… as a matter of fact here he is now.”

“Orlando!” Sean stepped out of the lift and immediately spotted the young man. “You’ve made it here, not too much trouble with the carpet I hope?” he asked as he came up to the two young men.

“Sean, hi! No, it’s fine, thanks.” Then Orlando’s face sobered and he put a hand on Sean’s arm. “I hope I didn’t get you into trouble with Mr. Bean?”

Sean smiled at Orlando, putting his hand over Orlando’s. “Eric’s bark is worse than his bite. After I explained everything to him he understood.” Sean assured him.

“I’m glad, I was a little worried,” Orlando admitted. “He’s a bit intimidating, don’t you think?”

Sean chuckled. “Just a bit.” He turned to Billy. “Could you do me a favour Bills? Can you check if Mr Bean needs me between twelve and one?” He then turned back to Orlando again. “I’d like to take you out for lunch, Orlando. What do you say?”

Orlando looked at Sean with his mouth open in surprise, then he pulled himself together. “You want to take me out?” he asked incredulously.

Sean grinned. “I don’t know any other Orlandos, so yes, you!”

Blushing because he’d made such a stupid remark, Orlando shook his head and looked down at his crutch. “Are you sure? I-I’m rather clumsy and unsteady on my feet as you’ve noticed and-”

A hand gently lifted his chin. “Orlando, stop belittling yourself. I would very much like to take you out for lunch. Okay?” Sean told him with a smile. “That is…” he turned to Billy again. “Does Mr. Bean need me?”

Billy shook his head as he checked the diary on his desk.

“Good. It’s a date then?” Sean asked Orlando.

“Okay,” Orlando nodded, scarcely believing someone actually wanted to take him out. He started to push the trolley back to the lifts with a confused look on his face.

“See you in the lobby at twelve!” Sean called out after him and when Orlando looked over his shoulder, Sean winked.

When the lift dinged its arrival, a happy smiling Orlando stepped inside.

tbc