October 31st 2017
Calvin and Noah both leaned, their heads nearly touching as they focused on the piece of paper laid on the desk between them. Today was a great for the photocopy machine to break down, and for their usual handy man to be off sick.
Just his luck, Calvin thought to himself.
And things had only gotten worse when it struck five in the afternoon, but he was nowhere finished with his work. Even with the help of his assistant, there was still a whole lot left to do.
Their current client -a Mr Andrews- was a demanding asshole who was prepared to only give them half a week to design a house for his daughter who would be living there with her soon to be husband.
Paynter industries specialised in hotels however, over the years, they had expanded to also accommodate interior designing. It had been a very good idea as the profit from their vast number of clients was exceptional, however, at times like this, Calvin wished that he had just stuck to the hotel business. His life would have been so much easier. At least, one part of it would have been.
Usually, Calvin would have taken two weeks to complete a project like this, however, Mr Andrews was a difficult client. And as much as Calvin wanted to shove the papers in the old man’s face and tell him to go take his business elsewhere, he knew that Mr Andrews was good business and that he had deep pockets. Sadly, all of that seemed to come with a rotten personality.
“How big is the room again?” Calvin sighed, leaning back in his big office chair.
Noah spared his boss a brief glance before going back to his notes which he jotted down in record speed when the client had come by with all the specified requirements. “20 feet by 15.” He told his boss without even consulting his notes, not that they would help much anyway since it looked like a five-year-old had scribbled across the page.
“And what needs to be in there?” Calvin asked, even though he knew it off by heart by now.
Noah scratched the back of his neck. “Pretty much everything a baby doesn’t need.” He scoffed.
Calvin cracked a smile at that, chuckling lowly. “Good one.” He praised his assistant.
And then they were back to work again.
Hours passed and it was only when the clock struck half ten did they book look up from what they were doing. “Sorry,” Calvin muttered as he picked up his phone, not checking the caller ID. “Hello.” He spoke into the phone, holding it between his ear and his shoulder as he carried on writing.
“Hey.” A small voice spoke from the other end of the phone.
Calvin huffed, leaning back in his seat. “Who is this?” He asked even though he knew exactly who it was. He just wished that it was someone else.
“It’s me, Audrey.”
Calvin pursed his lips. He didn’t say anything else. He wished that she would just take the hint and then take a hint, but alas, that was just wishful thinking. “Is something wrong?” He finally asked after a few awkward moments of silence passed between them.
“No.” She replied instantly, not wanting to worry him.
He rolled his eyes. “Then why are you calling?” He asked, his lips pursed. Calvin glanced up at Noah quickly, happy that his assistant was actually pretending to not listen in on the conversation.
She ignored the snarky way in which he was speaking to her. She was used to it now so it didn’t bother her anymore. Well, not too much, anyway. “I was just calling to ask if you were coming home tonight.”
“Well, of course I’m coming home. Where else would I go?” Calvin was conscious of Noah listening in on his conversation, especially since he wasn’t being exactly quiet about it. He gave him a smile and jerked his fingers towards the door, indicating that he would be taking a step outside. Standing up, he did just that.
Closing the door behind him and taking a seat on one of the chairs waiting across the hall, Calvin crossed one leg over the other so that his ankle was resting on the knee. He had missed what Audrey had said. “What?” He asked into the phone, already bored with the conversation.
“What time are you coming home?” She asked.
“Why does it matter to you?”
Audrey sighed. “Calvin.”
“Whatever.” He rolled his eyes, not that she could see.
He wanted to hang up on her and go back to work, but she carried on speaking. “Calvin.” She called him again.
“What now?” His frustration was clear in his voice as he leaned his head against the wall behind him. “I’m busy.”
“I know, but I just want you to know that your dinner will be in the fridge. Just heat it up or I’ll do it if I’m awake.” She told him, hoping that he was actually listening and not just ignoring her like he usually did.
He ignored what she had just said. “Don’t wait up for me.”
“Okay.” She responded, and he could practically hear the smile in her voice. Audrey thought that he had said it out of kindness, but she couldn’t be more wrong.
“I’m going to come home late and the last thing I want to do is to see you.” He smiled, thought it was not a pleasant one. It was one that came with the satisfaction of knowing that whatever he was saying, was hurting her, was making her upset.
Audrey didn’t say anything. She just swallowed what felt like was a stone in her throat and closed her eyes for a second. “Okay.” She said softly, complying to what he had ordered because she didn’t want to aggravate him when he was already so tired from working late. “Is there anything you need me to do before you get home?” She asked, hoping to prolong the conversation,
“No.” His answer was instant.
“Okay.” She repeated, sighing softly. She was so tired of this. “I love you.” She whispered into the phone, but he heard her anyways. He always did.
Calvin merely hung up the phone in response and stood up, stretching before heading back into his office to get as much work done as possible. There was only so much overtime that he could expect from his employees, even if they were getting paid for it.
“Sorry about that,” he scratched the back of his head as he closed the door behind him.
Noah just nodded. “No worries, sir.” He got back to work, trying to finish designing the room, but he just couldn’t seem to concentrate anymore. Minutes passed and still no luck.
He looked up at his boss who was sitting down and listing down all the resources, crews and anything else that was needed in order to gain a rough estimate of how much they would end up spending, and how much they would charge the client. He pursed his lips. “Was it your wife?”
“Sorry?” Calvin asked, having not heard the question as he was concentrating.
Noah offered him a small smile. “Was it your wife on the phone earlier?”
“Yeah.” He nodded, chuckling to himself. “You know how they can be.”
Noah had a chuckle of his own to offer. “No, sir. I don’t.” He shook his head, his tone light.
“No wife or girlfriend?” Calvin aksed.
“No.” He shook his head.
Calvin smirked. “Lucky man.”
“Quite the contrary, actually,” Noah began, placing his pen down on the desk. “Being single sucks.”
“That’s what you think.”
“Trouble in paradise?”
Calvin paused for a moment, his eyebrows furrowing together as he thought for a moment. He didn’t feel comfortable with the way this conversation was going, especially not since he viewed Noah as more of an employee than a friend. “No.” He replied nonchalantly, leaning forward on the desk to get back to work; anything to get away from the current conversation.
“Didn’t sound like it.”
Calvin leaned forward, resting his elbows on the desk as he stared the man who was sat across from him, straight in the eye. “I don’t see how that’s any of your business.” He spoke, challenging Noah to go on.
Noah resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “I heard you on the phone, you didn’t seem very happy to talk to her.” He noted, his words almost innocent. Almost.
Calvin frowned. “It’s late and I’m tired.” He had no idea why he was justifying himself, but the accusing tone that Noah was using on him seemed to just pull the words right out of him.
“I bet she was calling you to ask when you were home, or even better, what you wanted for dinner?”
“Something like that.” He muttered lowly, but Noah heard him.
Noah leaned back in his chair and clenched his jaw, his arms braced on the two arm rests attached to the chair on either side of him.
“I don’t see why you care so much.” Calvin spoke when Noah made no move to say anything else.
“I care because I see the way you treat her.”
“And in what way do I treat her?” Calvin scoffed.
“Like you deserve better than her, that she isn’t worth your time.”
“That’s where you’re wrong.” Noah shook his head. “Audrey deserves so much better than a cheating husband who treats her like crap on the bottom of his shoe. You’re the one who isn’t worth her time, yet she still sticks around. You should be grateful that she loves you enough to stay with you, even with everything that you’ve put her through.”
Calvin didn’t speak, he didn’t trust himself to not fire Noah. No matter how much he wished to strangle his personal assistant, he knew he wasn’t wrong. But it hurt hearing it.
Calvin dropped his pen on the table and shut his laptop, leaning back on his chair, resting his chin on his hand. He thought to himself, leaving Noah to calm down.
He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t pay attention to Noah who sighed and apologised to his boss for his ‘inappropriate behaviour’ and ‘unnecessary meddling in his personal life’. It was only after the heat of the moment that Noah realised just how much he had crossed the line. He was surprised that his boss hadn’t already fired him for the way he had spoken to him. But it was only when he was told to go home and come in early tomorrow, did Noah release a sigh of relief.
He gathered his stuff and stepped out of the office, leaving his boss to himself.
Noah had come too close to exposing the truth tonight. He had no idea how he would face Mr Paynter tomorrow. There was no doubt that he now knew.
Calvin couldn’t concentrate, nor could he get any work done. He had tried, but his mind kept on drawing up blank. All because of Audrey.
And that pesky personal assistant of his.
There was no doubt that Noah cared for Audrey in ways that he shouldn’t, ways that weren’t moral since Audrey was married -even if it was unhappily. Calvin wasn’t an idiot. He had seen the way that Noah had taken discrete glances towards his wife whenever she used to visit the office, or when he would pay home visits to drop off some work.
Noah liked Audrey, and Calvin hated it. Even if he did hate Audrey.
Sighing, he leaned forward on the desk and rubbed his hands over his face, releasing a breath of air. Calvin was tired. Packing the papers in a neat pile in the corner of his desk, he grabbed his laptop, his wallet and his keys, and then headed out, muttering a ‘good night’ to the door man on his way out.
It didn’t take long for him to drive home. And it took even less time for him to walk into the house and head to the living room. Just like the other day, he found himself sitting on the coffee table, silently watching her as she slept on the couch.
A few minutes passed, until it soon turned into a whole hour. It was only when he felt his eyes drooping and his stomach rumbling in hunger did he stand up to head to the kitchen.
He had no doubt that Audrey had cooked him dinner.
There was never any doubt with Audrey.