The Office

The Navy Pier

He can't find the words and she reads his mind.
Tris sits in front of me, wearing a flowing dark-blue dress she told me is warm enough for our trip to the Navy Pier, her legs pulled up to her chest, bare feet with black painted nails, hands holding a big mug full of the coffee she buys for me normally. I am not egocentric enough to think she bought it for this occassion, after she got off of work yesterday, maybe hoping that I will come to her in the middle of the night. Instead I think she adopted this small habit of mine to maybe change something bigger because she believes it to be a kind act. She is this kind of person, I know and I am aware that besides her obvious feelings for me she isn't obsessive in her emotions, is soft and warm and endearing really. At least these adjectives I would use if I wouldn't be the man I am. If I wouldn't have come to the decision that I can't be with her at least not emotionally.

I want to be hard and cold about her feelings and to some degree I am because being confronted with them after my lengthy exploration of the things within me seems just too much to take. I am unfair, I know. And I am cruel, pretending everything is alright, enjoying this meal she made for us, enjoying the silent music playing in her loft, the warm atmosphere. I feel like a parasite for a moment, indulging myself in her soft presence when I don't deserve it. Not in the beginning and especially not now while I can't find the words to tell her that besides the sex nothing else will come out of us.

I look outside of her window behind her, sun high in the clear sky. I know that some part of me just wants to go home, stay on my couch to read a book and find things to distract myself from everything that has happened so far. But I am a man that keeps his word and the bigger part of me wants to give her some sort of closure, some sort of an end, tying up loose threads. I know I am selfish again because I am aware if I don't let her down gently I will lose her for good. And there is no doubt in my mind that I can't accept that and even a light pressure because maybe I already did. I am detached mostly, can be professional just like she can be but I don't know how we should go on after this ... talk we have to have.

I put down my knife, eyes taking in the table in front of me. While I showered my secretary put it upon herself again to serve me with enough food to feed a small family, filling me with guilt and pressure, making me tense and silent. I know she knows that something isn't right with me, her eyes telling me as much while she nibbles at her toast. But I don't answer her inquiring glances and feel like a coward again for it.

Beside all these negative and angry thoughts I try to deny that this here, this breakfast after our last encounter, seeing her relaxed and at home, gentle and warm makes some part of me yearn to be a better man again, to be the fixed partner in her life, sharing with her simple things like this. To be the man that knows what is right in front of him, that he only has to accept and get accostumed to it because in all sincerity it is perfection.

Her phone chimes up and I see her frown at the display before she answers the call. I try to appear indifferent and I mostly am anyway because I learnd to talk myself into it. Until I hear her sigh. Raising an eyebrow at her in question, she mouths one name to me I would like to not hear from her. Four.

"Hello..." She says, the greeting soft and I think she is doing a bad job in disencouraging the man that still seems to be in love with her even though their relationship is over for three years now. My secretary is silent for a minute, biting her lip and the movement distracts me easily enough from the feelings inside of me. Her frown deepens before she replies, her voice laced with the smallest bit of annoyance that makes me smirk.

"No, I don't. I am busy." Tris says and stands up afterwards, leaving me behind to stare at her bare calves, the way her dress swiches around her softly rolling hips, the back of it extravagant with a deep cut showing off her pale, soft skin. I am not a man with a fetish, at least not if admiring the body of my secretary isn't one. It should be one probably because the way my eyes are fixed on her, the way I moisten my lip because I nearly taste her and the images installing themselves in my overloaded mind that never was bothered by something as simple as seeing a girl or women running around barefoot are bold signs for an obsession and clear hints at the huge impact the petite secretary has on my sexuality. She isn't aware of it and I guess I am lucky she isn't, isn't aware of the effect her mere presence has on my blood pressure more so now because I experienced what having this body under, beside and over me feels like.

Tris looks around her loft in search for something and I feel smug for seeing the bruise I left at the side of her neck when she turns around, a frown on her face and voice to low to hear. I try to not listen intently but fail because whatever he wants from her it doesn't seem like a friendly call only, the way her facial expression changes telling me as much. The man should really start to grow some balls and find another female he can bestow his puppy love on, a part of my brain thinks. I scowl at myself in the next second because I shouldn't feel possessive about her, shouldn't feel jealous that her ex-boyfriend still calls her to probably ask for a date. But I am.

I watch her looking through a dresser, pulling out black stockings and I take a sip from my own cup to not growl when she puts her mobile phone between her head and shoulder and starts rolling the nearly sheer material up her creamy legs. When she starts to push the skirt of her dress up, her foot secured on the mattress of her bed, giving me a good look of her thigh in the process, I put my mug down a bit more forcefully, making her turn around, cheeks a bit flushed because she discovers I am watching her. But instead of shying away, she starts to go over to me and there is something forbidden in her eyes that makes me lick my lips in anticipation.

"Mind if you help me with that?" She whispers, holding the receiver closed with one hand, the other stocking dangling between her feminine fingers. I don't think too long but take the sock, the material soft and like water flowing over my rough hands. Tris looks at me, cheeks a bit heated but doesn't hesitate putting her foot on my thigh, higher up than necessary and I feel the effect her closeness has on me immediatly. I watch her face, the small curl of the right corner of her mouth and how she tries to suppress a small laugh at probably my expense. I capture her eyes with mine and maybe she sees something in them, a threat to be careful because two can play the teasing game, because I see her swallow making me smirk in response.

"Yes, I am still here." She says into the phone, voice breathy and it annoys me that my employee interrupts the small game we play to forget the impending desaster of the talk she probably knows we will have. At least that is my reasoning.

The heaviness forgotten for a moment I brush my hand up on the insight of her leg, until I reach the hem of the skirt of her dress. My eyes are fixed on hers, while I push it up and I enjoy the hitch of her breath and the shudder in her muscles when I stop my fingers just before they reach her black lace tong. I smirk at her and lean forward, teeth biting the insight of her thigh, just above where her knee begins, taking in the scent of her body wash, not girly or flashy but a refreshing smell that doesn't uncomfortably invades my nose.

"No, no. Everything is... just fine." My fingers kneading her foot and stroking her heel, I let the material glide over her soft skin. She bites her lip to suppress the laugh, maybe is ticklish and the small information stays in my mind with all the other things I experienced she likes or that make her moan or groan. I start to roll the sock slowly up her leg, hands brushing skin that isn't covered yet, until the material is up to her midthigh. But I don't take my palms off of her and she doesn't take her leg back, but watches me, eyes darker, biting her lip. I don't resist the urge and stroke my fingers softly over her covered sex, making her shudder again.

"Tobias, I told you I am busy and I ..." I have enough of her call already, prey her phone out of her hand and press the button, hanging up on the lovesick bodyguard. She scowls at me, about to turn around and go away, but I am faster and feel hungry. My free hand goes to her hip and I pull her forward, letting her stumble into me. She yelps slightly, but I have her, secure her against me, her hot sex pressing against my chest that is still bare because I haven't buttoned up my dress shirt yet. I lean down a bit after pushing the material of her dress out of my way and bite her hipbone, my tongue darting out and travels along the hemline of her tiny black tong. I put away the phone somewhere on the table, sling my arm around her back pulling her forward so she has to put her arms around me to not fall into me.

Our eyes meet again when I look up from her and beside the darker color of her eyes and her still rosy cheeks, she looks thoughtful. I don't like it, want to use our current position to elevate the tension she probably feels just like I do.

"Come here." I command, my voice low, my face turned upwards to meet her lips. She hesitates only slightly before she leans down, her body sliding down into my lap, straddeling me, her hands going to my hair and my neck. Our kiss intensifies when her heat seeps through my pants and my arms around her tighten. I let my hands travel down to her behind, push up the material to lay them down on her nacked ass, squeezing it when she sucks on my tongue. A low sound hangs between us, drowned by our connected lips and I am not sure if she moaned or I growled or if it was a perfect mixture of us both. Tris pulls back after a while, out of breath just like I am and in a gesture of gentleness I let my forehead rest against her cheek, my hands still stroking her behind, fingers traveling on their own accord further down.

"You are insatiable." She mutters above me and I know she is aware so much because she feels my erection pressing against her.

"With you I am." I mutter back and know it is the complete truth. No other woman made me want the things she makes me, no other woman could hold my interest long enough. But I frown slightly at my own voice, feeling guilty again because it implies that there is more than just the need for her pussy clenching around my cock. My secretary presses a kiss to my temple, a featherlight touch of her lips against my skin and pulls away. My arms fall into my lap when she is gone but I know it is better this way.

"We should probably go now." Tris says and I look up when I hear the clattering of the dishes and jars she slowly starts to clean from the table. I stand up and join her, my eyes flickering to her face now and again, aware of the slight tension in her shoulders, the way she makes sure to not brush against my hands with hers when I give her something to put away. Maybe she is more aware than I thought she is and slowly begins the progress of saying goodbye. My heart clenches at the thought, but I school my features into indifference again because I have no right to feel the pain.

I hold open the door to my car when she follows me out of her building, the streets filled with people even though it is quite cold outside. Maybe they want to enjoy the sun that doesn't hide behind big clouds filled with snow on this day especially because the weather report we listened to spoke of a blizzard that would reach us next week. We both discussed it over breakfast, making plans to hold a short meeting with the supervisors to tell them to be cautious if their duties as bodyguards force them to be outside a lot.

My eyes take in her simple beauty, the dark blue-dress showing only slightly under her thick black coat. The boots she wears have seen better days, are flat but fit her. Even more so because they contradict the feminine outfit she chose, just like she is a contradiction herself. I marvel at the way she seems both elegant but casual at the same time, how she glows and maybe I am turned on because I know how easily reachable her most private area is and because I helped her not twenty minutes ago to put on the nearly sheer black stockings now covering her legs.

Before she enters the car, our eyes connect, the door a barrier between us, but there are more restraints emotionally than physically between us anyway. I want to say something, anything really to make her smile, but Tris averts her eyes over my left shoulder. I turn around halfway and see a family, bearded husband, wearing colorful pants, hand clapsed around one of his twins running between his wife and himself. They seem carefree, exchanging small knowing smiles about their children's antics, laughing alongside them when they point out something random that only kids seem to see. And even though I don't like the way they dress, maybe living the alternative life that seems to be mordern today that I can't bring myself to appreciate, I envy them. Because they feel – for one another, for their children, for themselves. Its the first time I envy anyone really.

Averting my eyes I look to my secretary, to the warm smile she wears when she is greeted by the family we just observed. I see the woman giving her a thumbs up out of the corner of my eyes. Tris' mouth stays pulled into the friendly expression but her eyes are clouded and I gritt my teeth because I am the reason, even if only indirectly at the moment. When the frontdoor to her building closes, the family vanishing behind it, Tris slips into the passenger seat and I softly close the door. It is the first time she is in my car after our heated encounter in it and maybe it is as uncomfortable for her as it is for me, the objects in it laced with memories of her touch and mine.

My body wants to connect with her again in any way and not necessarily longs for her mouth doing the amazing blowjob like last time. It isn't a burning urge to feel her around me, on me, above me. It is a soft wish of feeling her skin against mine, of our body heat mixing together. I am not a romantic man by any means, the concept of wooing someone foreign, the act of letting someones hurt flutter in happiness a waste of energy and too fragile for me to really grasp. But maybe for her I would change that. If I wouldn't be a man of word and promised myself to not get deeper into this thing we started on Thursday that is.

I know it would be easy to reach out and grasp one of her hands, intertwine my fingers with hers, our palms connecting against each other. Maybe I would even go so far as to kiss the back of her hand, let my thumb glide over her skin. But these are just images in my mind and I don't move, let my hands stay on the steering wheel, the leather and iron underneath it hard, real against my grip but lets them feel empty nonetheless. Holding her hand would seem like an action reserved for relationships only and I don't do them. And I am aware that I am the reason for it and not the woman sitting in my car with me.

Our ride is silent mostly. She hums to a few songs playing from my playlist off-tune but it doesn't bother me. Quite the contrary to be honest. It's fascinating that she can be as relaxed but not at the same time, that she can open up so much with me next to her and I am aware again that she is perfection for me and I don't need to mention how much I lack in comparison to her.

Her eyes take in the streets we drive through and I have to remind myself often enough to keep my own on the traffic and not on her, the way her cheeks color because it is a bit too hot in my car, her hand randomly goes to her hair to brush some strands behind her ear. She bites her lips sometimes and seems to be deep in thought and maybe she is caught up in the drive to my house not two days ago like I discover I am.

Driving along the interstate the Navy Pier is bright against the dark water and azure sky, the Ferris Wheel in plain sight behind the buildings of the Chicago Childrens Museum and other attractions. The Municipal Pier was built in 1916 and was originally designed for shipping and recreational purposes. Its name changed in the late 1920s after World War I to Navy Pier because many soldiers lived here throughout the hard and devastating time and Chicago as a city wanted to honor the memory of their fallen citizens.

The Navy operated various training programs at Navy Pier throughout the second World War. Those enrolled often became aviation machinist's mate, metal smiths or diesel engine technicians. By the time training ceased in July 1946, some sixty thousand people – including sailors from Great Britain, Canada, Brazil and Peru – were trained at Navy Pier. The facility has evolved into a premiere entertainment center while also offering exposition facilities until now.

I plan to take her to the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows – first in the United States – that was annouced to be closed at the end of the year and I think she will like it. Especially on a day like this when the sun streams into the windows and the craftmanship of different artists, motives and colors captures anyones eyes in awe and fascination at the beauty of nothing more but colored windows.

"I am right back." I say to her, withstanding the pull to lean down and kiss her cheek when she nods with a smile. How easy the urge to engage in simple gestures like this install themselves in my mind when I never before felt the need to be as affectionate with anyone besides my family members isn't as surprising as it would have been four days ago. The only thing slightly disturbing is the feeling of how right it would be to just do it, when I am aloof mostly and don't engage in silly displays of the obivious.

"Is something the matter?" She asks, frowning in concern and I shake my head no. I see a glint in her eyes but don't know what it means. I scowl when her blue-greys are still fixed on me and she shrugs, smiling softly again. I feel both amused but also aggravated that she seems to be immun to my gestures.

"Ok." Tris says, leans back against the railing, hair blowing in the wind, hands pulling her scarf up against the cold, hiding the mark I left on her. Before I can get lost in watching her, I turn around and make my way over to the cafe. I feel tense with the impending words I have to say that still won't come to my mind and I know I am distant most of the time, lost in my thoughts. I know that she probably thinks I am indifferent. I hope so at least.

"One hot chocolate and a coffee." I tell the woman behind the counter, my eyes wandering over the counter to the different sorts of cakes, sandwiches and other pastries on display.

I think I am lucky that she wasn't aware that all I could concentrate on while we took a turn around the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows was the way the light and the windows painted her face in a transfixing way. Whenever she pointed out something I schooled my eyes on it but know she more then once caught me staring at her, her cheeks lightly coloring, biting her lip in response to maybe hide a smile – happy or knowing I don't know.

I feel like an asshole for it and the notion is new to me. I am not stupid enough to not know what she probably thinks when something like this happens. Tris though mostly professional and strong and oh so brave is a woman after all and some part of me is sure that she is a romantical human being. Maybe she thinks I am falling in love with her. Maybe she hopes that this day is my way of showing her that I want more than just sex. Maybe she – even if she isn't illusional enough – wants to trick herself in believing in me, in my heart that is mostly unmoved, in me as a person to be more than I am, in me as a man to make the right decision. I know there is nothing I can believe myself to be anymore though.

"Your order, Sir." The cashier says, smiling suggestively. I frown slightly and pull the money out of my wallet. Her fingers glide along my palm unnecessarily when she takes the bills and I clench my jaw, tempted to point out that her colorful painted face and low neckline are disgusting to look at. I stay calm though, telling myself that lashing out at someone randomly isn't my normal way of interacting with people. I judge them silently, am polite mostly even though most people annoy me and getting kicked out of a café for leaving the girl in tears isn't on my agenda today, not when I am already bothered enough with myself finding sentences to let down the woman I should love. My eyes flicker to her at the thought and my control shatters. I don't feel anything for a moment.

"Your change, Sir." The woman behind the counter pulls my attention away from the scenary at the railing of the Pier.

"Keep it and buy yourself a course in how to not look like a slut." I growl and stalk out of the cafe, Tris' hot chocolate and my coffee in hand. I see her talking to a man, his back turned in my direction. When I am still a few steps away I see Tris smile, blushing lightly, hand going to her hair again to brush away some strands and something inside of me tightens. I control myself enough to not squash the styrofoam cups in my hands in response to the knot inside of me. When she laughs she holds a hand in front of her mouth and something in my chest snaps.

I gritt my teeth hard and am torn between feeling jealous because another man talks to her, has her attention and angry at myself for the notion. Even though I have no right, no claim on her by any means, I feel myself being pulled in their direction to show the other man with the blond hair that this woman is with me, that I am the one she decided to love. Some part of me says I shouldn't interrupt her, shouldn't feel protective of the secretary I can't let myself love, shouldn't feel the strong urge to dance in the entrails of the man that has the gull to even approach someone like her. Tris who is too perfect – at least in my eyes – for anyone to deserve her mere presence let alone the happy sound of her laugh, her glinting eyes and lightly flushed cheeks.

Staying back a bit to get myself under control again, I continue to watch her, the way her mouth moves when she talks, her gestures sure and lively when she points in different directions. I don't know myself anymore I realize when I feel how emotions I normally don't feel for anyone but on my behalf invade my whole body, my muscles tense, my eyes narrowed a bit. I am honest enough to be aware that I am unreasonable, that I overreact but I can't sooth the burning in my chest and start my way over to her.

Without a glance in her direction, I press her hot beverage in her hand, my free arm slinging around her waist afterwards and pull her against me. The man frowns, brown eyes flickering from her to me and I school my expression into the one I use to intimidate my employees when I heard complaints about their behavior on a job. There is a tense silence settling around the three of us and I feel my jaw working hard, hand probably gripping my secretary's waist too hard but she doesn't flinch and I won't back away anyway.

"Thank you for your help again, Miss." The man says, foreign accent in his voice, smiling down at the secretary pressed against my side and I feel her shift a bit, pulling away only slightly but she doesn't push my arm away.

"You're quite welcome." She answers, voice laced with confusion but kind. She is far too kind, I think to myself. He nods, eyes traveling to me and I don't have to stand up straighter because I already am a head taller than him. I smirk and he swallows before he turns away. We watch the man go down the Pier, my eyes trained on his back. When she speaks up, I look down to her and she meets my eyes, cheeks lightly colored again, an affectionate smile on her lips.

"He was just asking for directions, Eric." Tris says, tone soft and I hate my own possessiveness for something or in this case someone I have no right to feel anything but professional about. I am still angry as well.

"And you are what? Working for the tourist information?" I answer her, my voice pressed a bit and not the usual distant drawl. I don't feel remorseful for lashing out at her, my anger, annoyance and all the other idiotic feelings inside of me burning away any resemblance of my mostly logical approach to situations. She raises her eyebrow, takes a few more steps away from me, my arm falling to my side. Tris' eyes narrow slightly and I know why she is angry.

"Eric, I just... " Her voice isn't soft anymore, but filled with confusion and an edge I know speaks of at least an ounce of annoyance. I feel stupid and interrupt her.

"I don't really care." I bite out and before she can speak up again, I lay my hand down at the small of her back and push her lightly, pulling her along. We have to escape this moment, I probably more than she because I don't want to talk now when I am not fully in control of the things inside of me and everything she does to me. When did I give her so much power?

"Do you want to ride the Ferris Wheel?" I ask her and she nods, but stays quiet. There is tension in the air around us and being the person that I am I know that she is probably put out by my behavior, by my out of character display of dominance in front of a man that isn't worth both of our attention. But my arrogant attitude doesn't stop the voice inside my head and heart that tells me that he could probably love her the way I can't.

I frown slightly, the bitter and cheap taste of the expensive coffee hot on my tongue and strengthening the foul taste in my mouth. My face probably shows my annoyance, my tense shoulders a sure sign of my anger as well. But I can't seem to stop myself and feel the knot in my stomach tighten again. I am confused for only a few minutes why I would react so violently, why my control would slip from my hands so easily. The reason is simple, accepting it is not. Maybe I was an idiot again, a stupid stuck up jerk for not acknowledging it beforehand, for pushing it down and covering it with all of these thoughts. Because my reaction gives me an awareness about something I still wasn't sure about this morning: I am definitely in love with my secretary.

The emotion is frightening, letting my hands go numb and the hair at the back of my neck stand up. My heart beats fast, painful because I never felt it react to anyone this way and my stomach churns. Even more so when I think of everything this realisation could, would, should but won't change. The things it entails are able to install more fear within me and I am a stupid fucking coward because I am sure that I won't tell her about it, that I will stick to my decision.

When I paid for our tickets we enter the red and white glass box, taking a seat opposite to one another. She still doesn't look in my direction and I try to tell myself that I deserve her treatment, that she has every right to feel angry but I never was a fair person, a considerate man. I guess my next words are fueled by many things and some part of me knows that all of them aren't enough to justify the insult. But my thoughts are circling, captured by my stubborn ignorance, the fear to lose and have her, the inept jealousy and the safe knowledge, that I will have enough time to make it up to her when we both had some time to forget about everything that happened in a too short amount of time.

"I never thought you are an easy woman." I say casually, eyes fixed on the probably beautiful scenary outside when we are on our way up to the top. There is silence for a moment and a movement out of the corner of my eyes lets me react without really recognizing it, catching her hand before she can slap my face. We stare at each other, her cheeks colored red in rage, her eyes wide with anger and hurt. I am no hero, I think again and pull her forward. She stumbles into me, needs some time to find her footing. As soon as she has it, I pull her down onto me, catch her hips with my hands, hold her down on me, feel the first signs of being close to her, the tigthening of my abdomen, blood rushing through my veins. I crash my lips on her mouth, bite her bottom lip and I should probably not show her my desperation and anger because that clever mind of hers may come to the right conclusions after all but I can't. I need this.

Tris resists for only a few seconds, struggeling, pushing against my chest with one hand while the other is still captured in mine. But I suck at her bottom lip before I bite it again and it is all she needs. Tris meets my aggressive assault with her own onslaught of violence and I feel amusement and awe fill me at the strength that small secretary of mine possesses, how her hands pull at my hair, how she is the one straddeling my lap, grinding into me once. She is the one to leave my mouth, the one who bites my jaw, sucks my neck, my earlobe before biting it and I groan deep in my throat because I now found a new way to let go of the things inside of me besides running, calculating, reading, fighting. Its her. She is my absolution, my way out. She speaks up, breath hot against my ear, my hands gripping her hips tight, probably bruising them.

"How fucking dare you." She growls and beside the incredulous tone there is still the pain. Before she can go down on me again, I capture her face, pull it to me and let her look into my eyes. I don't say I am sorry even though I should. She stares at me, grey-blue blazing with probably all kind of thoughts and emotions running through that intelligent mind of hers. When she nods, I take a breath, let her pull her face away. My hands are empty when she takes her seat next to me then but I don't fill them with holding her to me. It doesn't feel appropriated. Not when I hear her sniff beside me and am not strong enough to look at her maybe tear-stained face.

It starts snowing again when we drive back to her loft. I look through my rearback mirror and see my bag sitting on the seat, my things I took with me to Seattle and afterwards to her safly tugged away. At least I can flee as soon as the words leave my mouth. I plan to bring her to her door even though I will have a hard time letting her go. My reasons replay in my mind, the reasons why I should keep her, why I want her and why I won't take that step. Some part of me tells me that this is my once in a lifetime chance, that there won't be another woman like her. And besides that being a troubling and silly cliche phrase, I believe it to be true.

I turn off the engine when I stop my car in front of her building, about to leave the car when I feel a hand on my arm, holding me back. I close my door again and look at her. Her eyes aren't as red-rimmed anymore but they don't hide the fact that she indeed cried. There were no hard sobs, no ugly sounds of my inappropriateness, of my failure, but I don't need any to know that I am quitter.

"I...", she clears her throat, hands again folded in her lap, eyes staring out of the front windshield, "I know what this was about and even though it was..."

I interrupt her, pull her chin up and kiss her. Her mouth is hot and welcoming, the kiss slow, our tongues caressing instead of fighting. I feel one of her hands in my neck, not scratching with her nails, but fingertips gliding over skin. Her other lays over my hard beating heart, presses against my chest. She is the one to pull back and I look into her eyes, filled with awareness, pain and sadness. Clenching my jaw, I lean back in my seat, hands grasping the steering wheel hard to stop myself and any unconscious movement, to not wander back to her. I realize that I am the one prolonging the inevitable, maybe cheer on hope when there is none really, elongating her pain and probably interfere with the start of both our process to let go. I brace myself and don't hesitate when I speak up.

"I can't allow myself to love you. The only thing I am able to do is give you this. This physical relationship. That's the only commitment I can give you and I want you to consider it." My voice sounds detached, hard and though I know it hurts her, I am proud of my display. It is better this way.

"I know." She says and my eyes that were fixed on a silly sticker on the back of the car in front of us stray to her for a moment. Tris doesn't look in my direction, her hair obscuring most of her face, but I can still see the light curve of her mouth, the small smile and again I realize how strong she is, how wonderful. I gritt my teeth. The silence stretches too long and I know I should say something, but I don't. My secretary, my sweet, caring secretary opens the door and the snow covered ground swallows any sound of her boots. But the cool air wakes me up and I lean over to her side, catch her hand in the last moment.

"Think about it, Tris. About my offer." She doesn't turn around for a moment and I let go of her hand. Before she closes the door, she nods, thoughtful expression on her face and I discover that some part of me was arrogant enough to believe that she would jump at my proposal when I already should have known that she is too proud and self-assured to drop this low, to be happy with this nothing I can give her when she deserves so much more.

I watch her close the door, stay in front of her building until I see the light being turned on in her loft. Reality sinks in, slowly but steadily but I don't break down because I am not a hero. A hero would probably run up the stupid stairs because he can tell wrong from right. A hero would have never let her go. And though I know now that I am in love with her, that she means a life I never could even picture for myself but yearn for, that she is as perfect for me as I never hoped, I also know that I can't be a hero. Not even for her.

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