The Trader: City sisters split by jealousy and hate

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The Independent Online
"BUT WHY on earth would Kirsty ..?" I sigh, unable to finish the sentence. Words, and thoughts, have failed me several times over the past week - ever since, in fact, it became clear that my electronic stalker "The Tagman" sat just a few desks away from me.

"Why Kirsty, of all people?" I almost wail, but the bewilderment I felt when the truth first came out has slowly given way to certainty. Kirsty did it for the oldest reason in the book: jealousy.

"But I thought she despised men," Laura says. "What about all those comments of hers about a woman needing a man like a moose needs a bicycle?" She stops, and frowns. "No, that's not right, but anyway ..."

"Well, maybe the moose changed its mind," I reply. "Remember how she took a shine to Jaap right from the start? I've been so busy being happy with him myself, I'd forgotten she wanted him, too."

It had all slipped my mind: the dramatic change in her wardrobe when Jaap stopped being our deputy boss; her frequent mini-skirted trips across to his new section of the floor for no reason; the way she warned me and Laura off him in no uncertain terms; her reaction when she found out he was already going out with me.

"For three months she sat and simmered with resentment," I say to Laura, "and obviously one day it just got the better of her. So much for my confident pronouncements that my e-stalker had to be male because no woman would ever do that. If you ever hear hollow laughter from my corner, it'll be because someone has mentioned the phrase `City sisters'." "And to think she might have carried on making your life hell," Laura says, sympathetically. She, after all, has been well placed to witness my sleepless look and jumpiness at close quarters, so she knows what she's talking about. "Bad luck for her, of course, to catch flu like that and be too ill to keep up the messages. It did rather give the game away, didn't it?"

"And right before Christmas, too," I say. "I mean, how much seasonal fun is she going to have this year? Three weeks in Edinburgh with her ghastly parents, popping Prozac and being psychologically assessed: it wouldn't be top of my present list, that's for sure."

I almost feel sorry for her, more than I would have believed possible. Perhaps there's something in that "City sisters" business after all. When you think about it, which one of us hasn't occasionally felt she has to perform much better than the boys to reach the same place and wondered if she has the stamina to carry on? Kirsty just took it too far, when the stamina had almost gone.

"I blame the parents, you know," I tell Laura. "The psychotherapist will." Whether Rory will is another matter. This whole affair has brought him forcibly into close contact with Human Resources - the people he despises more than anyone - and he's putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of Kirsty herself.

"I had to sit in that meeting room for the whole afternoon," he snarls when I ask about latest developments. "And all they gave me was a cup of tea and a biscuit. They probably think that'll do the trick with Kirsty, too. I could kill her. She has no idea how much trouble she's caused me."

I go back to my desk, wondering if Rory blames me as well - you know, for allowing myself to be harassed in the first place. I don't have long to wait. The boss follows me over to my corner.

"Look," he says. "I'm not having this kind of thing happen again. So from now on that means no in-house relationships at all."

And as he stomps back to his chair, I think: "Now what do I do?"