I'm an avid dreamer, always have been. Every once in a while I'll have a dream that captures my imagination and won't let go until I get it down in print. This was one of those dreams.
The story is incomplete, and there are parts missing and needing to be fleshed out, but I wanted to share a story in it's beginning stages. I hope you enjoy it. Anything in capital letters or parantheses are in the works.
He was known to be a womanizer by the public, though she knew him as her employer and friend. She knew he went through women fast, but he wasn’t one to waste time on something he knew wasn’t going to last. He’d always had an instinct about things like that, which is what made him such a good businessman.
Something was changing, however. He was literally getting rid of everything in his rooms downstairs. She could hear the chatter of a woman, and tried not to acknowledge the pang of jealousy that automatically accompanied the thought of him with any other woman. When she heard what the woman was saying, and saw that every word was heard by him with no concern about his feelings, her jealousy turned to anger.
(Things about how he was getting rid of everything. “There must be something wrong. She was right there in his house. His stuff was so expensive.”)
The woman was just a mover, after all. She was surprised to see he was even getting rid of the pool table. He loved that pool table – had taught her the game at it’s side. She watched the look on his face as it was taken out, then saw him react to the moving lady’s words.
“I am not retiring!” he yelled, but without conviction. The thought of him retiring really was ridiculous. He was only 32 after all. He turned his brown eyes to her, shrugged and gave her that “What are ya gonna do?” half smile before turning back to the empty rooms.
As he looked around the practically empty rooms, she could see dismay and resignation fighting for place on his handsome features, and her heart ached for him. She walked into the connecting room to the left, which held a few sparse pieces of furniture. He plopped into the upright, dark brown chair, and watched as the movers took another piece of furniture away, the other woman still chattering on her cell phone.
She knew what he’d do even before he did it, and was there to push him back down into the chair, knowing he needed to chill. Though he wouldn’t show it, this was killing him. She walked around to the back and began to massage his shoulders. The muscles were so tight, though a part of it might have been from her abrupt and uncharacteristic move.
She learned early on touching him was a bad idea, as it usually led to butterflies in her stomach and tremors in her hands. Though he was normally a very touchy feely guy, he seemed to sense her reluctance and had always maintained a respectful distance. So her initiating such intimate contact might have created another level of tension to pile on top of his previous strain.
Her fingers gradually worked their magic, however, and he began to relax into the back of the chair. Not until the movers came back in and the other woman’s chattering stopped did she wonder how this might be misinterpreted. Looking up she saw the woman’s eyes popping out of her head at the sight they presented. Instead of allowing it to shame her, she rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to helping him handle this.
A few more minutes and the movers were finally done. As she pulled her fingers from his neck he didn’t make a move, his head hanging down toward his chest. She wondered if he’d fallen asleep when he took a deep breath, held it for several seconds, and slowly let it out. He looked up at her.
“Thank you,” he said, rolling his shoulders.
She stretched her fingers and rubbed each palm. “You’re welcome.”
He stood up and slowly walked around the chair. “Let’s see, you’ve been working for me for the last eighteen months and only now I discover your latest talent. What have I been paying a masseuse for if you had such skills?”
She grinned up at him. “You don’t pay me to be your masseuse. You pay me to be your assistant.”
His laughter, deep and rumbling in his chest, made her heart skip a beat. She took a few steps back and faced the now empty adjoining room to put a little distance between them. Before she could get herself back under control he stepped up right next to her and draped an arm across her shoulders, pulling her tight to his side. Perhaps her unexpected move invited his own.
“It’s an odd sight, you know?”
She nodded, not trusting her voice. He didn’t seem in any hurry to let her go, and if she didn’t get away from him, well, she didn’t know what might happen. She’d worked hard to rid herself of her impetuous nature, having dealt with too many consequences because of it. One touch from this man caused the careful wall she’d built to crumble.
“Well,” she croaked. Dumb voice. She cleared her throat and tried again. “It’s time I get back to work.”
“What am I going to do?” she cried. “People are on their way in here and I have no pants on!”
“Where are they?” he whispered. She could hear the laughter in his voice, and wanted to hit him for it, but didn’t dare let go of the blanket.
“In the drier. They should be done, but I don’t want to run out of here wrapped in a blanket, especially not when they all saw you walk in here.”
He scrunched his face at her, told her to stay put, and walked out the door. She crouched in the corner sending up fervent prayers that no one would want to come in, and hoped he knew she was kidding about the last comment. They’d joked for so many months now about needing to be careful. He hadn’t been dating anyone and people, well, were people.
“Here go you,” he said, handing over the warm jeans. “Hand me the blanket and I’ll hold it up just in case someone walks in.”
Knowing he wouldn’t look she handed the blanket over, making sure to keep herself covered, then frantically pulled on her jeans. Just as she buttoned the top the group came bustling in. Embarrassed to be caught in a dark room with him she dropped to the floor behind the chair, pulling the blanket out of his hands and over the top of her, becoming utterly still.
She heard the whump of him sitting down in the chair, and simply prayed it wouldn’t draw everyone’s attention her way.
“What are you doing?” he whispered.
“Shush, they’ll hear you,” she whispered back.
She waited in that painful position until the group left and he told her it was safe. She pulled the smothering blanket off, only to be confronted by his face perched on the back of the chair. He was so close she couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, could only marvel at how utterly gorgeous his eyes were even in semi-darkness. When he gave her his, “What’s up with you” raise of the corners of his lips she remembered moving slowly towards his face but didn’t realize what was happening until well into the kiss.
It was a nice kiss, she sensed that right away. Simple, sweet. It lasted longer than she thought it would. Only when she realized he wasn’t kissing her back did she figure out he was graciously waiting for her to pull away. So many thoughts ran through her head at that moment. He was just being nice. He didn’t want to embarrass her. And he obviously wasn’t enjoying this kiss as much as she was. All of this in a millisecond. She also understood this was it. Her time with him was done.
Knowing it would be her one and only chance, she lingered, memorizing the feel of his lips against hers.
Bracing her hands against the back of the chair she stood up. Without a glance, without a word, she walked around the chair and into the hallway, grateful the group had moved on. She ran up the stairway to her office, pulled out her purse and headed straight for the front door.
What had she hoped? That one kiss would bring him running to stop her, showing him in a single moment all he needed was right here? Stifling a laugh that could very well have been a sob, she walked out to her car, got in, and started it up. Only then did she dare look at the house. He wasn’t even at a window to watch her leave.
“Idiot,” she said under her breath.
She wasn’t referring to him.
It took longer to get her things together than she thought it would. Unfortunately every little item came tangled in memories of him, of them, memories she wallowed in. It was a good punishment for the mess she’d made.
He called. Of course he called. He even sent flowers and left messages and had once stopped by her apartment. She’d been home at the time, but knew he’d never make a scene when she wouldn’t answer. After he left she opened the door and saw a dozen white tulips on her doorstep. If this were a movie, she would have gone running after him for bestowing such a sweet and intimate gift. But this wasn’t a movie, and he knew they were her favorites. It was one of the first things he asked when she’d been hired.
“What are your favorite flowers?”
“White tulips, why?”
“If you’re going to get flowers from someone, they might as well be your favorites. And I love to send flowers.”
He sure did. She was on a first name basis with every employee at every flower shop in the county. And a few out of state as well.
“At least he never made you order your own flowers,” she said out loud. There was that.
She hadn’t dared go back to the house to pick up her things until she knew he’d be out of town. That way even if someone did let him know she was there, he couldn’t hurry back. Today he was out of town. She’d made all the arrangements, so there was no need to hurry. He wouldn’t be back until later that night.
(Employees come to say goodbye, ask where she’s going to work, she doesn’t know yet, but promises she has enough money to live on for a few months.)
She’d never had to worry about money working for him. He was beyond generous, and would have given her anything if she’d even hinted about needing something. But she never took advantage, not like the other women in his life. She never wanted to be lumped in that group. He deserved to have someone who treated him fair.
With a sigh she began pulling open drawers, trying to remember what was truly hers and what really belonged to him. Silly things like paper clips, a stapler, and pens shouldn’t have raised a lump in her throat, but he insisted on getting the paper clips in fun colors just because she liked them, buying her absolute favorite pens, and had even personally painted her name on the stapler when she complained one day someone kept stealing it. The stapler hadn’t disappeared since.
She closed the drawer without picking up a thing, and hurried through all the others before she became maudlin. In almost no time at all she’d filled her box, amazed at how little of her life she’d kept here for someone who spent most of her day in this one room. Although, if she’d had her way the entire room would have been boxed up and sent to her home.
With the box stored safely in the trunk of her car she reached for the door handle of when a voice called from the house.
“You forgot something.”
It was tempting, the idea of jumping into the car and driving away. It was so tempting the door was open when something appeared over her shoulder. With a reluctant hand she reached up and took the stapler.
“Somehow I don’t see anyone else wanting to use it.”
He sounded tired, his voice strained, but she couldn’t turn around. Couldn’t face him.
“You’re supposed to be in Denver,” she said, fingering the letters of her name.
“I cancelled,” he said.
He didn’t answer. He didn’t move. His lack of spirit unnerved her more than she wanted to admit. Never one to stick around and wallow in awkward situations, she muttered a quick thanks over her shoulder and got into her car. He didn’t stop her. He would simply let her go, because it’s what he thought she wanted.
Ashamed at her cowardice, she rolled down the window. “Thank you,” she said, not quite looking at him, “for everything. I appreciate the opportunity you gave me. It was an honor working for you.”
As she turned the key to start the car he finally spoke. “You’re my best friend.” The anguish in his voice stopped her like nothing else could possibly have done, paralyzing her hand mid turn. His hands suddenly gripped the side of her car. Out of the corner of her eye she could see his knuckles turn white with tension, but still could not make herself look at him.
“You’re my best friend,” he said again, gentler this time. “I thought – I thought…”
Frustration built up so high she couldn’t maintain this silence any longer. If she was going to leave, she would do so having laid all the cards on the table. “You thought what? That I’d be willing to stand idly by watching you pick woman after woman who wanted you only because of your position, your money, or your reputation? You thought I’d be here for years and years trying my best to keep you from knowing how I can’t even bear to have you touch me because it makes me feel things, think things….
“You thought I’d be okay eventually watching you get married and having children with someone that wasn’t me? I know we’re friends, NAME, but I can’t stand being friends any longer.” She thumped both fists on the steering wheel. “I’m tired of not being seen as anything but your sidekick. How can you not understand I’m in love with you!”
She flicked the key and started the car, putting it in reverse to back down the driveway, not caring if she dragged him along the way. Maybe then he’d understand her own pain. Only when she got to the road did she finally look his way. Never in their time together had she seen him look so ragged: unkempt hair, clothes so wrinkled he might have slept in them, and dark circles under his eyes. It was enough to make any woman forgive and forget if it would simply make him smile again.
He reached a hand out toward her, beckoning. He would immediately take her back, no questions, no reprimands. He was that sort of man. He was absolutely perfect.
With a sob she put the car in drive and left him behind.
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