That evening I couldn’t shake the feeling I was forgetting something. I double-checked my bag, went to my car and I even looked in the bedroom to try and strike a memory.
The sun had started to set around five, hinting we were getting closer and closer to winter every passing day. My window that had provided bright light had left me in the dark. So I shut down my computer and headed downstairs to see what was planned for dinner. I also had the need for a glass of wine.
Knowing Neil would be home any minute I went to his study and poured him a glass of whiskey. I sat the drink next to his chair and sat with my drink opposite him. A book I’d been itching to start found its way to my hand and soon I was swept away in the story.
Nearly two chapters later, Neil came through the door. His tie was undone and pulled down low, the first few buttons of his shirt fell open, exposing the soft hair on his chest. His brow was a harsh line and soft blue circles formed under his eyes. I left my book on the table by the old leather chair and stood to bring him his drink.
He pulled away from me as I tried to undo his tie and took the drink. I froze, unsure of what I had done in the seconds since he walked into the office. He turned his back to me and threw back the drink in one gulp, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and placed the glass down on the minibar with a hard thud. He refilled the glass and repeated the actions before finally turning his head to speak to me over his shoulder.
My nerves were on edge by now. I knew something was wrong and every possible scenario played my mind wild. Howie was possibly in trouble, him finding Hudson’s blackmail, my shenanigans with the accounts. Oh shit. That was it, I thought. I had forgotten to call the client and fix the issue. I hadn’t made it right yet and he knew. I fiddled all day instead of handling business. I suddenly began to question if I could juggle this act of lying.
“Greyshore called me today. Again. He said he hadn’t heard one word of explanation and pulled his account today. He also told his son to pull their account as well. You’ll know them better as Hukcomb Enterprises.” My heart dropped into the pit of my stomach. They were as well to do as The Rossi and Flynn families. They were also the only other ally shell company we could knowingly trust on the east coast. I wasn’t sure what to say so I let him go on without choice.
“Loreinna if this job is too much for you to handle now, you need to tell me because we will be royal shite by next week if we go on this way.” My hand shook as I clenched them so hard, the new ring on my finger dug into my skin. I was still at a loss for words but I tried to speak.
“It’s not Neil, I swear it was a mistake. I just forgot to call Greyshore. It- I never meant- it wasn’t intentional. I’ll fix this, I can…” He shook his head and it hung low, avoiding eye contact.
“No, it’s not that easy. You can’t just fix this with a phone call or a board meeting. I thought I could put my trust in you, I had. You had my full confidence to take care of an important client and you dropped the ball.” I broke when he spoke of such disappointment in me. My eyes welled with burning tears.
“It’s not too much. Not the job, it’s not that.” He scrunched his face with his hands on his hips and demanded I go on. “It’s everything, all together. Howie, Alex, us, this new Curran guy, and Tyler. All at once and I’m not processing it well-” That one word, us, sparked something hot and deep inside him.
“You’re struggling with the idea of us now? I just asked you to be my wife and you’re a dope at your job? That doesn’t leave much hope for us does it!” He threw his balled-up tie in his desk’s direction and opened the office door for me to leave.
“I need a bit alone, please.” My eyes hazed over and I just nodded thoughtlessly, my feet leading me upstairs to the bedroom.
I clenched my jaw tightly and sat at my desk. I opened the email from Hudson with further instructions for tomorrow morning. I filed it away in a separate folder and began to work on a new high-security account for Greyshore and Hukcomb Enterprises. I studied their account history and considered all their needs and how the old accounts they held did not offer them much protection for the amount of business they were responsible for on a yearly basis. So I took it upon myself to give them the VIP treatment of accounting. I had won Neil over once with my skills, I could do it with them as well.
It was nearly three in the morning when Neil finally came to bed. His work shirt was long gone, just his dress pants and belt hanging on his hips distracted me from his red-stained eyes. I could smell his whiskey on his breath from the doorway. He looked shocked to see me here, alone awake.
“Loreinna…” I pulled off the reading glasses I had to start wearing for when my eyes got tired. He looked more than tipsy, the most I had seen him ever in our relationship. I wasn’t sure what to offer him so I just stood up. My guilt would have me agreeing to anything he asked of me, even if it meant me leaving.
“I think I let my emotions get the best of me and for that, I am sorry for what I said earlier. We need to be well-rested for tomorrow. I need to go to bed and I think you should too.” I agreed softly and we slipped into bed rather silently. I was unaware of how emotionally drained I was and needed the recharge.
The next morning we went about our normal routine, he left for the office early as he usually did and I tidied up my plan before heading in myself. I called a meeting with Greyshore and his son without Neil’s knowledge. The two men were willing to hear me out with the agreement Neil would be present and agreeable at the new setup I had in store, though they both expressed their concern with continuing the business with us. I couldn’t blame them at all.
I knocked on Neil’s door twenty minutes before they were due to show in the executive board room and I had just enough time to get him back on my side.
“Come in.” His mundane tone clued me in he was focused on something intensely. I peeked in with a soft smile. I had even worn my hair down, knowing how it was a weakness of his with it had it in loose curls to frame my face.
“Hey, sorry. I’m going over finance reports for next quarter. We need to realign a few things now that Hukcomb is out.” His sigh was heavy but not directed at me.
“That’s what I came by to talk to you about. They both, father and son, are due in the boardroom upstairs in a few minutes. I stayed up fixing their new account plans last night. I spoke with them both this morning and they’re willing to play ball.” He dropped his pen on the desk and leaned back, eyes wide at my sudden news.
“Our cut may not be as good as it once was but we get them back Neil. I can show you the layout before we go into the meeting if you would like.” He ran a hand down his face and groomed his beard a bit.
“No, I trust you’ve figured it all out. I’ll talk the numbers with them after.” I grinned wide, feeling the apology behind the casual statement of trust.
“Great, I’ll see you up there in a few then?” He didn’t reply but stood and slowly walked around his desk, like a lion hunting its prey. When he finally caught me in his arms he kissed me deeply and slowly.
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