Incandescence (Part I)

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‘Let me guess, it’s not what I looks like!’ Victoria was the first to speak. Her arms were crossed and her foot was tapping away like mad.

‘Victoria, Mr Salvatore, lovely to see you’ I stood up to shake their hands but was mortified when I realized I was still wearing Bradley’s T-Shirt and Boxers. Just then Leonard joined his parents ‘What have I missed?’ Leonard greeted and Bradley ignored him.

Feeling under-dressed, I promptly excused myself and made a dash for Bradley’s bedroom.

‘I thought you had your own rooms?’ I could hear Victoria, demanding answers

‘We do, I’ve given Tori my room as she’s the one that needs more space’ came Bradley’s reply, but no one seemed to buy it.

‘Why am I even trying to justify anything, I’m 31 and this is my home. I’m not going to stand here and be treated like a child’ Bradley was becoming frustrated.

It wasn’t fair he was being interrogated by his family when I was the one that kissed him. I wanted to be there to offer him support, but getting changed with one arm was taking a lot longer than I had hoped.

‘She’s your employee’ his father yelled ‘keep your hands off her’

‘Dad you knew how I felt about Tori the day we had the interview; but that never stopped you from hiring her. We’re both consenting adults, we don’t need your permission’ Bradley fired back.

Bradley and his parents were exchanging heated words but managed to lower their voices. Unfortunately, this resulted in me being unable to follow the next few moments of conversation. Maybe not being privy to their conversation was for the better.

‘Will someone tell me what I’ve missed?’ Leonard interrupted everyone, still wanted answers to his initial question.

‘We walked in on them locking lips’ Victoria stated.

‘And you’re surprised by this? I’m surprised it’s taken them this long’ came Leonard’s reply before he continued ‘Now can we just have lunch; I don’t want it getting cold’ at that moment I was so glad Leonard was there.

‘Lunch?’ Bradley asked, sounding confused.

‘Yes, have you forgotten about our family lunch now that you have that girl?’ Victoria said with a hint of bitterness.

I finished getting dressed and spotted the clock as I entered the living room; it was 1.00pm – I had been outside on Bradley’s lap for almost 4-hours; it was no wonder Bradley didn’t realise it was lunchtime; we hadn’t even had breakfast.

‘Let me help set the table’ I offered, trying to shift the focus away from Bradley and I. As I set the table, Bradley made his way to the guest bedroom and changed out of his swimmers.

We sat down for lunch. Victoria interrogated Bradley and I at every opportunity; she made her thoughts very clear in that she didn’t want her son to settle for someone beneath him in social status. To put it simply, she didn't believe I was good enough for her son. Bradley and Leonard were on the attack, lashing out at their mother for being so pretentious and money focused. I tried desperately to defuse the situation, but to no avail.

Mr Salvatore manipulated every topic of conversation so that it would revert back to employer / employee protocol. I could tell Mr Salvatore was uncomfortable with the situation and that he wanted there to be no romantic ties, as they would compromise the family name.

Leonard on the other hand was very supportive. I loved that he had his brothers back and at this moment, he also had my back.

I wasn’t sure how long these family lunches usually lasted, but was glad when everyone left at 3.00pm.

‘I’m so sorry about that’ Bradley apologized as soon as everyone left.

‘Well to be fair, I should be the one apologizing seeing as though I’m the one that kissed you’ I replied.

‘I don't want to worrying about my parents and what they think. Mum has always been obsessed with marrying into wealth and business expansion. Leonard and I love her, we know she means well; but we really don't care about families joining and gaining power. We have more than enough as is.

Dad on the other hand, well he adores you. He doesn't care about status and money; but I can see he's worried that if something happens, he'll lose you as his employee.'

I understood what Bradley was saying and truth be know, I shared the same concerns as Mr Salvatore.

'For us to have a chance, we need our parents to stop walking in on us; they both have impeccable timing’ Bradley joked, but we knew he was right.

We spent the rest of the afternoon competing to see who’s parents were more embarrassing, it was funny we could laugh about something that would otherwise be so uncomfortable.

‘Bradley, do you think you’ll be able to bring a Laptop home from work tomorrow?’ I asked as our conversation shifted to work.

‘I have this one that I was using to remote desktop, how about I leave it here for you’ Bradley offered, pointing to his laptop.

I grabbed the laptop and turned it on, but it was set up with Bradley’s User ID. 'Do you think IT can change this so I can log in?’ I asked

‘Nope!’ came Bradley’s response rather suddenly and before I could ask he continued ‘because no one is to know you’re here – remember!’

‘In that case, I’ll need your password’ I said and when he gave me his password I felt butterflies in my stomach ‘Tori’.

‘While I’m logged in, shall we get started on the email to staff regarding my absence’ I asked as I opened a blank document and Bradley pulled me close to him. I started typing.

By now you will be aware of an incident that occurred in the staff carpark last week that resulted in our Director of Staff Performance and Retention, Tori Taylor, becoming the unfortunate victim of an armed robbery.

Tori sustained a gunshot wound and we have been advised that she is recovering from her injuries.

To aid Tori in her recovery, the Company has provided her with a leave of absence; we ask all staff to refrain from contacting her during this period.

I’m sure you will join me in wishing Tori a speedy recovery.

We understand this occurred as a result of a weakness in our security system. As such, please be advised that JL Corp have increased security and surveillance across our business.

The health, safety and wellbeing of our employees is paramount and we are doing everything in our power to protect our employees.

If you have any questions or concerns relating to the security of our facility, please liaise with your departmental manager.

We appreciate your concern and cooperation.

Leonard Salvatore

Once we finalized the wording of the email; Bradley wasted no time in sending it to all employees across the Company.

Within minutes of the email being sent my phone buzzed. Bradley leaned forward and picked my phone up from the coffee table

1 Unread Message from ‘Unknown’

We both looked at the phone as I opened the message
I told you to watch out, but you didn’t listen. I Look forward to our next catch up

‘This guy is psycho’ Bradley yelled in frustration while throwing my phone. This message appeared to have rattled him more than it was affecting me.

‘Do you think your investigators will be able to find him?’ I asked, hoping Bradley had received new leads on the matter.

‘I know they’re working tirelessly on the this’ came his reply before he continued ‘we will find him. Between the cameras at work, hospital, CCTV vision and phone tracking; I don’t think it will be much longer before he's behind bars' Bradley gave me a reassuring hug but I could see this message was affecting him.

‘Do you think it’s coincidental that I received this message right after you sent out the email?’ I asked, finding the situation a little too coincidental.

‘You really believe it’s a colleague don’t you’ Bradley stated, almost as though he felt I was holding back information.

'Bradley, someone had access to our staff carpark – it can’t be accessed without a security fob. They knew when I finished work, even though I had stayed back that evening and now I receive a message a few minutes after you sent out an email about me. It can’t all be coincidental. Do you really still believe Jackson is behind this?' I asked

‘Don’t you?’ Bradley replied

‘I really don’t know anymore. I know this all started after Jackson left, but he’s no longer an employee. We took his fob and security passes when we terminated him, so how can he gain access to our facilities?’

My reply was rational. I had spent the past few days running various scenarios through my head and kept returning to the same conclusion; it was either a colleague or someone close to me (and I chose to run with Option A).

We sat there contemplating various scenarios. Bradley sent his investigators screenshots of the new message and I could tell this situation was really bothering him.

What was surprising me most was how quickly I could lose track of time when with Bradley. His family left at 3.00pm and it was already 8.00pm. As neither of us was in the mood to cook, we heated leftovers and sat on the lounge for a quick TV dinner.

I was still weak from my injuries and knew I needed rest. Giving Bradley a goodnight kiss, I made my way to the shower; once again helping myself to a t-shirt and boxers from Bradley’s wardrobe before heading to bed.

I lay there for a while, thinking of the whirlwind of a day I had just experienced; but mostly I found myself focusing on everything Bradley had shared with me earlier that morning.

I fell asleep thinking of Bradley.

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