On her way from the airport to a high stakes presentation, corporate climber Julie Styron (Stockard Channing) gets a call on her mobile phone that her firm's C.E.O. is flying in for an unexpected meeting with her. Anticipating the worst, she immediately sets up a preemptive meeting with headhunter Nick Harris (Frederick Weller) to line up her next position. After wrapping up a botched presentation, Julie furiously dismisses her new technical assistant, young company underling Paula Murphy (Julia Stiles), who arrived late from the airport with Julie's presentation materials. When Julie returns to the airport hotel to unwind, she runs into Paula at the hotel bar. Over a conciliatory drink, Paula swiftly turns the tables on Julie; playing off of the career woman's earlier actions, Paula coolly calls into question the choices Julie has made in life.
As the night progresses, the two women get to know each other, in the spa, on the dance floor, and over drinks in Julie's executive suite. When Nick shows up at Julie's room for a friendly nightcap, their game takes a dark turn, and he becomes the unsuspecting pawn in their complex battle of power, authority and wits.