The Astral Prince

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The Favor

The next morning, I moved through my work day without too many complications. Honestly speaking, complications were kind of my job. My job was to field all the complaints and complications in such a way as they never reach the executives ears. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to know if a problem existed, they just didn’t want to hear from the customers’ mouths.

As the manager of customer service for a large corporation, that is what I did all day. Except that I did not field a lot of the easy calls. I only got to take the easy calls when my team was slammed. Most of my day was spent taking calls from those clients that were deemed difficult, belligerent, or inconsolable. No, I got the hard cases that made the rest of them cringe. I guess that is why I get paid the big bucks.

“Yes, sir. I understand, sir.” The yelling ensued on the other end of the line as one of the executives entered our office space. “I am happy to send you a replacement, sir.” More yelling, and I had to stifle a sigh. “Yes, sir. I can certainly see how that could be an inconvenience. But you do realize that those plastic rings aren’t meant for that, don’t you?”

The executive that entered, Derek I think his name was, gave me an odd look. His brow lifted as his lip curled on one side. Shrugging, all I could do was grimace, even though I really wanted to roll my eyes. Doesn’t the man on the line know they have specialty shops for those kinds of things?

“Sir, I am sorry that you had to endure that embarrassing circumstance, but it would not be the responsibility of this company to pay the medical debts that you incurred. I am afraid that when you use the product in a way that it was not designed, then it is at that person’s own risk. The company is not liable for that type of injury.” The man was cursing like a sailor, and I held the phone away from me a bit as I clicked the mute button.

“Mr. Maxwell, is there something I can do for you?” The man had remained at my desk longer than I had expected for a routine check, so I figured I would ask.

The other end of the phone grew quiet, and Maxwell nodded his head in the direction of the phone. Releasing the mute button, I tried once more to console the man who got his tiny wanker stuck in the plastic ring of our product. Who does that? “Sir, would you like me to send a reimbursement product for your troubles? I know it will do nothing to subdue the humiliation you must have experienced, but it is the best I can do under the circumstance.” Maybe I can send him a link to the Adam and Eve website for any future ventures he has regarding his sexual adventures.

The line went dead, and this time I actually did sigh. Good thing the man in front of me had no clue what the conversation really entailed. I am not sure I was ready to try to explain it to him.

Turning a smile to Maxwell, I waited for him to explain his presence. “I guess he was not very happy with the outcome.”

I shook my head and smirked. “Apparently not.”

His mouth turned up at one side. “Well, it sounded like it was an interesting one, anyway.” I grimaced, and shook my head hoping that he would not press any further for details. “Well, anyway. That is not what I came here to talk to you about.”

I gave a small chuckle. “Thank heaven for that.” Looking him in the face, I got a knot in the pit of my stomach. “So, what can I do for you, Mr Maxwell?”

He moved a hand to the back of his neck while he looked at the many items on my desk, and the knot in my stomach grew. “Well, Mya. You see, I have this...function,” he started. There was a charming nervousness when he spoke to me, and it was really cute to see him squirm, but I wasn’t interested.

Maxwell had shaggy brown hair, the type men would have that posed on the cover of GQ magazine, and his eyes were a beautiful shade of seafoam green. He stood taller than me by several inches, and looked as though he worked out at the gym regularly. But, I was not drawn to this man in any regard. As handsome as he was, I remained uninterested.

“Ah, yes. The hospital benefit that our company sponsors?” I figured I would help him out. The quicker he got this over with, the quicker I could return to my duties.

“Yes,” he chuckled. “That one. And, well…” Again, he resorted to trying to find the right words to let me know exactly why he had come, though I already knew.

“Are you looking for someone to attend with you?” Again, the quicker he was done, the quicker I could go back to work.

He let out a sigh of relief, as if I had done him the biggest favor possible. “Yes, exactly!” He beamed at me. “Would you mind...going with me?” When a frown appeared on my face, he all of a sudden found this amazing ability to rush his words as they started gushing out in a flurry. “I know that you are a stickler for the company policy on fraternizing with coworkers, but I am afraid I had forgotten about it until only a few minutes ago, and the gala is...”

“Tonight,” I finished for him. Just beneath the surface, I could almost feel his stress.

“Yes,” he blew out in a heavy breath. “And,” his words came out of him less as a tumble and more intelligently. “I could really use your help, Mya. I wouldn’t ask you and put you in this awkward position if I wasn’t desperate. I just...well, there is this woman that will be there...and, well, she can’t know that I am alone there.”

Did I mention I was a sucker for the damsel in distress scenario? Except he is not damsel, and he is not really as distressed as he thinks he is.

I let my eyes drift skyward before finally looking at him. “Maxwell…”

“Sean, call me Sean.” Oops, so not Derek. I suppose I should really pay more attention to those small little details. At least I got Maxwell right.

Frowning, I shook my head. “Maxwell,” I started once more. “Can’t you just talk to the woman? Tell her that you’re not interested.”

He scratched the crown of his head a second before he answered. “Well, the problem is that, at one time, I was interested in her. But, just because one person is no longer interested doesn’t mean the other stops being interested.” He sat on the edge of my desk, and I gave him another frown. “With you on my arm, she might understand what I have been telling her for months now.”

My finger tapped on the top of the desk, willing this mess to go away but knowing that it doesn’t work like that. “And just what is it you want her to understand, exactly?” In other words, what is it that he was expecting of me if I go to this gala with him?

He looked a little more lively than when he started this conversation with me, no doubt feeling as though he was gaining some ground with me. “Only that I have moved on, and so should she.”

I groaned. It was not as if he gave me explicit details on what he expected me to do on my end if I went with him. “And what is my role in this?”

There was no doubt he could tell I was skeptical, and he winced a fraction before he continued. “Just be my date to the gala. Though, if you wanted to pretend you enjoyed my company, that would really help me out.”

Groaning, I had to ask. “You mean like a real date?”

He nodded and added with a slight flinch, “or even a girlfriend?” It came out sounding more like a question than a statement.

And there it was. “No, Maxwell, that is not happening. I am so not a good actress. You can’t expect me to waltz in there on your arm, and play act that I am gaga for you.” In a dismissive manner, I started to pull up my email to check for any last minute emails that might have come in while I was on the phone with little wanker man.

“It’s simple, Mya. All you have to do is walk in with me, dance a little...with me of course...maybe a peck on the cheek. That’s it.” An uncertain smile spread over his face, and I could almost feel his uneasiness starting to peak.

Even the thought of going made my stomach churn, and I started thinking of every reason why I couldn’t go. “What about Teresa from human resources? I am sure she would love to take you up on your offer.”

Maxwell laughed. “I am trying to put one woman off, not gain the interest of another.”

“I’ve got so much work to do before I can leave. I wouldn’t have time…”

He shook his head and chuckled. “As one of the executives of the company, I am sending everyone home in…” He considered his watch before continuing. “...forty minutes. I presume that will give you enough time to finish here and still have time to get ready for this evening?”

Ugh, he wasn’t giving up, and I could feel my resolve slipping between my fingers. “I don’t have anything to wear.”

When a gleam appeared in his eyes, and he smiled slyly, I knew he was about to blow that excuse out the water as well. “I hope you won’t find this too forward, but I was hoping I could convince you, and sent my assistant out to pick you up something. He should be back any minute now.”

I cast unseeing eyes over to my computer monitor, and I could feel the internal groan that was welling up in me. Being around a lot of people at once was not something I considered fun. “And what about the other executives, sir? Or even the CEO? I mean, if I waltz in there on your arm, and even look like we are romantically involved, it will not look good for me. I just don’t think it is a good idea.” When he gave me a curious glance, I half-wondered if I made another mistake.

Maxwell finally ran a hand through his hair as he chuckled, a tinge of pink coloring his cheeks from embarrassment. “I’m afraid they already know of my plan, and I don’t think it is something I will ever live down with them. But, they have all given me their blessing.” He dropped his hand back into his lap. “So, you see...I’ve thought of everything. What do you say? Help a man out?”

The bright smile he flashed was unnerving. “If you were not such a coward,” I started. Maxwell barked with laughter.

“Is that a yes? You’ll help this coward out?”

My eyes rolled skyward. I was going to regret this. Deep down, I felt it, and yet I knew I was going to agree. “Fine,” I muttered.

Maxwell stood from the desk and flew around to snatch me from my chair and squeeze me in a quick hug as he pressed a quick peck at my forehead. “You are a lifesaver, Mya!” With a quick pace, he headed towards the door. “I will send Clark in when he arrives with your dress for this evening. Thank you, Mya Miller. You have made my day!” Then he was gone, and I was left with a feeling of regret before the night had even begun.

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