„Are you gonna tell her she isn’t under surveillance anymore?“ his coworker asked, studying the girl working two desks down.
“ She has redeemed her place, but… Why should I?“
“For starters it’s eight in the evening and I know her mother has a birthday.“
He let the papers down. He didn’t know that, she hadn’t asked.
”She hasn’t asked.”
”That’s what I mean – she still thinks she is in black list.”
”Alright, you tell her she can go home.”
”She won’t believe me.”
”She made you a surprise party and everybody went with the idea though they knew how you react, but we still cheered her up. Later we all stood down when she almost lost her job. You think she’d trust us after that trick? Others were responsible for this, too, you do know that?”
”I’m waiting her to come and tell me it herself. For a woman, who has lost all her trust in her coworkers, she is doughty. I want her to admit she can save herself by giving me your names.”
”You won’t get them – she is sturdy, but no fox among the chicken.” The older man grinned. “Besides, you already know.” He took two steps towards the door. “I’ll tell her to go home. She is too tight up about this.”
”No.” He stopped him. “I’ll tell her. Go home, Jonathan, Jessie is waiting.”
”Don’t stay long either.”
”Hey.” He called quietly, standing near her. “You should be home by now.” That was his understanding of introduction. That ought to be enough he thought.
”I still have few things to finish, I’ll be going soon.” She didn’t sound very eager to go, so he took a seat right next to her table and watched her work for a while.
”I don’t pay extras.” He said bluntly, but even that didn’t seem to move her.
”I know, I just have this to finish up.”
He waited for a while, observing her brown hair shimmer in the lamp light and her hands typing fast.
”Why didn’t you tell me others had put you up to this?”
Her chest rose once to take in extra air she desperately needed and her look in her eyes showing boredom she shrugged.
”I don’t know. It didn’t seem right at the time.”
”Too much loyalty is not a virtue. How’s so?”
She had stopped typing. “How’s what?”
”Why didn’t it seem right?”
”I was out to get a smite, it wouldn’t mattered what I said – you weren’t in the mood to listen.”
He nodded. He remembered well that evening, too well even, but she was right – he wouldn’t have listened her thinking it was all in her mind.
”Then why do you work overtime if you know you’re not guilty?”
”Others think I am – I get half finished reports and messier edits. But don’t tell them I know – it’s not like I have much to do anyway.” She laughed openly.
”No personal life?” he admitted with fast grin. It was too familiar – neither did he, too much work back in the days had taken that joy from him.
She shook her head agreeingly.
He stared at her blue eyes for a second, thinking on sudden revelation he wasn’t gonna let her repeat his mistake and he darted up. “Well, then how about we get ourselves personal life and have a dinner together?”
She hadn’t noticed, but he was already carrying his suitcase and raincoat, which he put down on the seat he had just risen. It was slightly sudden, but he already reached after her light raincoat and held it out to help it on her.
”Seriously, if you refuse, I swear I fire you.”
She burst into laughter and let him help her. The birthday was forgotten – it was late for her to pay a fancy visit anyway he said to himself, turning her around to button her coat up.
”Why not?” she smiled.
It was definitely something to gossip about the next day. Actually, the day after – as hadn’t she brought him a cup of strong coffee to aid his headache and he at the evening asked if she’d like to repeat the evening out half aloud, their co-workers wouldn’t have dreamt of such couple to meet in a million years.
Neither did they, but he bare no regrets calling her out. He had taken her for a light dinner ending with a sideshow of some underground club. That included a remarkable show of some guy nailing himself on the door head down. Not that he was much of an anti-Christ lover, but that was in general rather interesting nor would he have ever dreamt of going to see it. He had feared it was too spooky for Selene, but she had taken it as natural as a shining sun. Later he walked her home and they laughed the whole way over the odd jump in the club – a little step they both hoped not to repeat in short terms as, as it turned out, it had freaked them both.
So, it had turned out far better than he had hoped for, filling his evening with more activity than he had experienced the whole month. Business dinners with his partners didn’t quite follow the word “fun”.
He even feared how she would act on the next day, something he hardly ever did. So far the girl would get fired fast if she thought herself so privileged to see more in the affair than a simple one night stand. But when he rose in the elevator, his heart bumping, he suddenly feared the total opposite. That to her that was indeed nothing more than one night stand. He made his heart strong and just before the door bell rang he knew that however she behaved, he would go both ways and make sure she would see more in this than just a fling. She wasn’t the type to faint and run; more like one who’d stay and see what happened next and he wanted more of her, he wanted that strength to stand with him, not support any other guy. That meant sending flowers was out – women tended to see flowers not so much as a sign of continuing affair, more like an end sign.
To add up his misery his secretary called in sick – something to do with her child- so he was forced to get himself someone else to fetch the files he needed. He called her number without thinking, moment later regretting the act and when she said soft “yes?” in the other end it was too late to pull back. Now that was a torment in full bloom. The nail guy from yesterday’s show was a child’s play compared to that. But instead of easer her load he only added to it, realizing way after lunch that her fingers were moving faster than yesterday and the pile on her desk only grew, losing little in size.
That view was the last straw on the camel’s back and instead of a polite approach, he jumped up behind his desk, marched right over her table, grabbed half of the pile and landed it on the nearest two tables.
“I know you two played an important role in my so-called birthday party! Now work accordingly!”
All eyes turned on him, then on her, then back to him. No diplomacy, they knew, but this was a surprise. Only no one dared to intervene, because as usual, he was right.
“And I do not want to see you working late again.” He declared to her shocked face, earning a cup of hot, dark as night coffee in a dark brown cup she said would cool his edge.
She said softly. “I’ll just finish this off then.” And she took the next papers from the pile.
“Good. And bring me the report from the second floor.” He murmured way softer than suitable, hiding his flushing cheeks and pumping heart behind drinking.
“By the way,” he then asked, still in the middle of the focus, “Jackson said NSSI is back in town, wanna come?”
All the focus shifted on her, making the thick air tremble. “Why not?” she smiled softly, still not looking up from her work.
“Good.” He zipped his coffee. “God, how much sugar do you put in here?”
“None.” She already handed him the sugar cup from the neighbor table.
“That explains it.” He took it without any extra moves and went back to his office, sitting down in a loud pump and concentrating on the recent report, giving little attention to it. All his attention was focused on others and peeping to see how others take that little news of him having a new girlfriend. Publicly. All now left to do was wait till others left and drive off with her to the private summer house where the party was held.
But nothing usually goes by the plan and neither did this event. It seemed others had all decided to work late that day and a simple wait-and-go tactics was out of the question. An hour after the clock hit five he ran out of patience, hiding no dark looks on her behalf. At first he had tried to look busy, but his mind kept going back on her pretty features and smart attitude, making him feel like a bear waiting for a treat.
She knew he was waiting, but she was in no mood to make it easier for him. She had no mood of what so ever really – she wasn’t feeling anything different at all, no excitement, no panic. She was typing the last page and sighed gladly, finally rising behind the table. She didn’t deny she was glad he had asked her out again, wondering if it was really a half-hearted prank to show others they could have fun too or was it slightly more. But it was too early to tell if it was either as yesterday had indeed been nothing more than a good evening between two friends. If he’d kiss her – now then she could say something about what they were.
She took her coat and pulled it on, saving the last draft once more to be sure and felt him handing over her purse. She gave her a cute smile, leaving in front of him. That’s when the gossiping started. He hadn’t even closed the door yet, when bees started buzzing. They were so stunned they stopped for a moment, eyes huge in surprise and stared at each other for a good minute, corners of their lips rolling upwards. They had a persona life, they realized right there and as insane as it seemed, under everybody’s noses and it felt good. They weren’t social outcasts as they had thought they were, they were different – they had something now and to him, this something was way more precious than his reputation. She was humored too and though it was a kiss to represent his intentions towards her, the smile he gave was assurance enough to make her realize she liked it too.
They burst laughing and went, leaving the buzzing swamp behind.
The party was not as amusing as their co-workers they knew, but they didn’t switch another word on their behalf, concentrating totally on each others company on one truly boring event. The concert itself was wonderful, but the party after, which the invited few got few glimpses, was a tread and sad sight of many drunken rich people, which made those two leave in haste only to stop not more than fifteen miles in South near the border of the town in some small cafeteria to have a cup of coffee. He let her choose their next meeting place, which she willingly called out to be a car wrecking event.
“Why a place like that?” he inquired, but she had no idea.
“Less drunker people,” she murmured over the foam of her latte. They burst laughing.