The next morning I went to work planning to get through the day the same way I had made it through the day before. Avoidance and distraction. Only my plans were thwarted the moment I turned on my computer at work. I already had an email from Tobias.
Louisa Taylor will be here for a meeting this morning. I need you to sit and take notes for drafting once the meeting is over.
I stared at the words for five minutes solid, unsure why Tobias considered this a good idea. My stomach churned, I didn’t want to see them together, I didn’t want to take notes… I frowned, disappointed I clearly couldn’t stay professional about the situation, but the truth was, the moment Tobias and I had crossed the line only a few days into my new job position, all remnants of professionalism had flown out the window anyway. Still I forced myself to hit reply and I began to type, I was going to have to fake it until it didn’t hurt so much to be around him anymore, however long that was.
Yes. Of course. I see the meeting is scheduled for 10am. I will make sure refreshments are ordered.
I called the pastry shop down the road and placed an order for delivery to the office at 9:55am. Tobias didn’t reply to my email, not that I had expected him too so I focused on my work. Just before 10am the food and coffee arrived so I walked across to Tobias’ office holding it all and knocked on the frosted glass door with my elbow.
“Come in.” He replied. I pushed open the door with the same elbow and walked inside.
“I have the refreshments for the meeting.” I explained, walking to the meeting table in the middle of his office. He stood up as I placed the box and coffee tray down on the table.
“Thank you Ruby. I didn’t expect you to go to such trouble.” he replied softly, opening the pastry box.
“I dialled a number and they delivered. It really wasn’t too difficult.” And I was trying to prove to myself that I was capable of being mature about things. Although I knew underneath it all, I was just pretending.
“Thank you all the same.”
I shrugged and pulled the coffee cups from the tray. “I’ll go wait for Ms Taylor at my desk. I’ll bring her through when she arrives.”
Tobias didn’t say anything, so I turned and walked toward the door.
“Ruby.” he whispered once I placed my hand on the door handle. I stopped but didn’t turn around. He didn’t say anything else and all that hung between us was empty air and unsaid words. I sighed before pushing the door open and walking out.
Five minutes later Louisa arrived. Her perfect blonde hair was down, styled loosely with soft curls that sat around her face, bringing attention to her striking blue eyes.
She wore another bodycon minidress, purple this time and somehow she looked even better than the day before.
“Ruby.” She smiled widely. “I believe Tobias is expecting me.”
I nodded and stood up, unplugging my laptop as I did so. I closed the top and carried it as I walked toward Tobias’ office. “Follow me, I’ll take you through.”
I knocked on the door, but walked inside before Tobias had even replied. “Louise Taylor is here to see you Sir.” I looked down at the floor, I had avoided his eye contact thus far, I didn’t intend for that to change, especially not now.
“Louisa, it’s nice to see you again. Please, take a seat. Ruby ordered us some food and coffee so please help yourself.”
“Oh delicious, I really shouldn’t, but I am a sucker for custard danishes.” She giggled. “Thank you Ruby.”
“No problem.” I remarked dryly, walking toward my spectating chair in the corner of the room.
“Ruby is going to take notes. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Oh not at all.” Louisa replied. I looked up and watched her as she took a danish from the box and placed it down on a napkin. Out of the corner of my eyes I watched as Tobias sat down at the table. For a few minutes they spoke about projections and estimated returns. I took detailed notes so writing the report would be easier. The sooner this was over, the better.
“I think that is all of the vital stuff out of the way. We could probably discuss the rest over dinner tonight.” Louisa murmured.
My head shot up, not so subtly and I felt myself frown heavily in Louisa’s direction. My stomach rolled. I didn’t need to hear this, I didn’t need to know what he was doing with her. I looked at him, not expecting his eyes to be on mine, but they were. His icy blue eyes were focused on me and not her. He swallowed hard before turning his head back to Louisa. “Yes. You’re probably right. Uh Ruby… you can head out and type up those notes for me.”
I wanted to throw the computer on the ground and tell him to shove his job, in fact I was surprised I hadn’t yet. Instead I calmly stood up and walked with my laptop out of his office.
I sat down at my desk and let out a strangled breath, I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t stop my emotions ruling me, not at home, not here. Working for the man I had fallen in love with, but couldn’t have was driving me mad. I couldn’t make him love me, and I couldn’t make him open up either. I was fighting a losing battle and I needed to concede before I lost my mind as well as my heart.
I resolved to work on the notes until Tobias walked Louisa out of the office. He took her down to the elevator and waited until the doors closed after her. He walked back up the hallway, stopping at my desk. Against my better judgement I looked up and our eyes met. All the oxygen in my lungs evaporated into nothing and my throat burned.
“Ruby…” He whispered. “I…”
“Don’t.” I replied holding my hand up. I shook my head and bit my lip. This was it, I was calling time. “I quit.”
His eyes widened as a deep frown crossed his face. “Please, don’t…”
“I can’t do it Tobias. I can’t be professional. I can’t come here everyday and pretend I don’t love you.”
And I can’t watch you with other women...
“I don’t want you to leave.” he whispered.
“Well, unfortunately we don’t always get what we want.” I stood up and grabbed my purse. “Goodbye Tobias.”
Saying the words hurt more than I could have ever imagined, but cutting the threads tying us together were more than necessary now.
I walked out from behind the desk and brushed passed him, his hand caught mine. “Ruby I… I don’t want to lose you.”
I pulled my hand out of his and turned to look back at him. “You can’t lose something you never truly had Tobias.”
I walked to the elevator, still unsure if my rash decision was the right thing to do. I needed the job, I needed the money… but I couldn’t do it if it meant sacrificing my heart and sanity.
I stepped inside the elevator and rode it to down to the ground floor.
Tears rolled down my cheeks the moment I stepped out of the building. I had wanted to keep it together at least until I made it home… Home… I didn’t even have one of those anymore. I needed to go to the apartment and pack and get the hell out of this city.
I walked into the building, ignoring Chris at his post as he opened the door for me. Once I was in the apartment I leaned against the door and let the tears fall thick and fast. I slid down the door and sat against it, and let my body shake from the deep sobs I just couldn’t stop from coming.
I had picked the wrong guy again, only this time I had fallen in love. My heart belonged to him and even though I had told he couldn’t lose something he didn’t have, he did have me and he still had me and I knew that even leaving the city and running away wouldn’t change that.
But I had to try.
I wiped my eyes and stood up. I walked through the apartment, forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other until I made it to my room. I walked inside and sighed, at least I only had to pack clothes.
I grabbed a suitcase from my closet and began to empty my clothes from my drawers and closet into it haphazardly. My hands brushed over the pink dress from the ball. I hadn’t taken it into the shelter yet. I’d told myself it was because I was too busy, but really I knew it was because I was clinging to it like I’d been clinging to hope of a real relationship. Not anymore. I left the dress on the bed and finished packing my clothes. Once I was done, I took one last look at the bedroom before wheeling the case out into the hallway with the dress hooked over my arm.
I left the phone Tobias had bought me on the bench and walked back toward the front door. I slipped my hand over the handle and turned, while holding the case in one hand and my dress in the other.
I let out a sigh, allowing the mess of emotions that were coursing through my body out for a short moment. I turned the handle and opened the door, but before I could walk out into the corridor the elevator doors pinged open. Tobias walked out, breathless and visibly stressed. His eyes settled on mine and for a moment all the turmoil was forgotten. I wanted to step forward, and fall into his arms. He looked down, breaking the eye contact between us, focusing instead on the suitcase.
“You’re leaving.” He mumbled.
I tightened my grip on the case, unable to speak… and I just nodded.