5 - Personal Matter

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**There are two conversations in this chapter that will be repeated in the next chapter. This chapter sums up Eve's feelings, while next chapter sums up Dane's feelings. You'll see Eve's side of the conversation in this chapter and Dane's side of the conversation in the next chapter.**

***

Eve had been in Dane's office waiting for him to come in. He had a black loveseat against the west wall, so she'd been sitting in it. What she didn't expect was to be sitting there for two hours.

It'd now been a week of working at Radcliffe Inc., and nothing completely crazy had happened. Nothing. Eve was surprised by this. Was it a good thing to be surprised? It should be, but for some reason Eve was disappointed. She wanted the excitement and drama that she'd been used to at Vanderbilt Co.

I started working here to leave that behind. I shouldn't miss it.

She shook her head in disagreement with herself and tried to think of something else.

Within the last week she had gained a rhythm. A routine. She came to work at 9:00 a.m. every day, was greeted by Faelynn the second she walked in, went to retrieve Dane's coffee from the coffee cart on floor three, set her stuff down, and set Dane's coffee at his desk by 9:15, five minutes before he arrived.

He always came in at 9:20, just like clockwork. But not today.

Maybe there's something he does every Thursday in the morning.

But that doesn't explain how he was on time a week ago.

Maybe he was just on time a week ago because I just started work and he wanted to greet me.

She sighed, tired of the arguments she'd had with herself, and shook her head once again.

He had a charity event scheduled for this weekend, and he needed to be notified. Eve received an email about it. His last assistant scheduled Dane's appearance there. As she remembered, it was her job to notify him. And she had been patiently waiting in his office for the past two hours for him.

Finally, he came through the door grunting, clearly upset. He set his briefcase in his chair and turned to face her, as if he could sense her presence. He looked slightly startled before asking why she was in his office. 

She stood up. She could tell that he was angry and exasperated. His tone threw her off. "I, um, got an email this morning."

Again, he used that tone, but this time it came with a much sassier response. 

"Well, the email has to do with you." She could hear the slight raise of her pitch when addressing him the second time, but she didn't care about it. He had no reason to snap at her.

She was starting to get angry after his snappy reply. Why didn't he have any patience with her?

"I'm just doing my job. There's a charity ball for child hunger this Saturday at six in the Lincoln Opera House. It's black tie." She was angry, but she did her best to keep her anger inside of her. She'd had a mean boss when she worked for Vanderbilt Co., and she didn't want to deal with that again.

She could picture her previous boss, Patricia, as she stared at Dane. His appearance turned into Patricia's appearance in Eve's mind. She could remember the first time Patricia yelled at her like it was yesterday. Her black, beady eyes, her wrinkled skin with bracelets that clanked against her bones, and her towering, superior posture had reminded Eve of a crow. She remembered the hot pink lipstick stain on Patricia's teeth as she reminded Eve that Eve didn't belong there. She could practically hear Dane's silky voice transform into Patricia's voice, which sound like nails on a chalkboard.

Eve knew that if she said anything there'd be a chance she got fired, so she held her tongue. The last thing she wanted was to be fired not long after she was hired. Even though she didn't think she said anything wrong, he clearly thought she did.

Though he looked angry and his words were mean, she was surprised he didn't actually yell at her. The whole time he kept his voice still, as if he was afraid of unleashing something inside of him. That was something so distinctly different from Patricia that it almost shocked her. Almost. Knowing it wasn't time to stir up trouble with her new boss, she left the room.

***

He worked in his office for hours before leaving for his lunch break. Eve acted like she was busy, although she had actually been playing solitaire for the last hour on her computer. She was startled when he came out and sat on the edge of her desk.

She was thrown of by the tenderness of his voice with his very sweet and heart-felt apology about how he went to therapy every Thursday.

"Yes. I've only been working for you for a week and I've already snapped at you, too. I'm sorry for interrupting your Thursday routine, I will do my best not to bother you on Thursday in the future," she said, unable to look at him.

His sparkling, gray eyes smiled at her before he continued, requiring that she attend the ball with him.

Again, he surprised her. She looked up at him unexpectedly. "Why?"

She attempted to smile after hearing his semi-sexist reply about how he wanted her there for business, not pleasure.

"So in other words, you want me there as your scapegoat, so people won't talk to you," she clarified.

He began mentioning a promotion. She'd just started! She wasn't even thinking about a promotion!

"Do I have to attend?" she asked politely. Balls weren't really her thing. Dressing in a big, sparkly princess dress and dancing to slow songs annoyed her. She'd been doing that since she was old enough to dance, after all. Her mom had thought it was a great way of showing her what her life would be like one day. She didn't want to be reminded of that. She didn't want to remember the sleazy men that smelled like whisky and grabbed her ass when she was just a teenager.

He laughed. She realized she liked his laugh. It was a nice, uplifting and strong laugh. His following reassurance didn't really matter to her because she realized that she would go just to hear that laugh again.

"Okay," she said, smiling back at him.

Why do I feel so attracted to him?

She felt at peace around him. The look in his eyes calmed her somehow. Whether she was going to have fun or not, she didn't care anymore. Of course, that was only because she would be there with him. She didn't care if he was her boss, she was going to find a way to be with him despite her better judgement.

Whatever it took.

{updated: 7/19/19}

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