Office Affair

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Head over Heart

"But Gabriel, we agreed..."

"I know what we agreed. But it's not working, is it? Every feeling I have for you is far from professional. And judging from the way you blush each time you walk into my office, the problem is mutual."

"None of that matters. This job means a lot to me, and I don't want to screw it up."

"What if I assure you that I won't let my personal feelings affect my professional judgement?"

"It would help. But aren't you worried about your own job?"

"I single-handedly doubled the firm's profit within my first year here. I'm not worried."

"Knock knock."

I nearly jump in surprise.

"Jesus, Kelly. Why are you always sneaking around here?"

"Good afternoon to you too, Mr. Howard. I just came to check up on some department reports. But it seems like I've interrupted something."

"No! You weren't interrupting anything."

"It's not urgent anyways. I'll catch you tomorrow." Kelly walks out of the room as silently as she came.

"We can't continue this conversation here. We're already raising suspicions."

"That's not surprising. The energy between us is nuclear. But we're not done yet." He looks me over, his eyes lingering on my lips.

I suppose I could invite him back to my place. "Sorry, but it's too risky to do this here. You've given me a lot to think about. But judging on your past behavior, I'm not sure if this is what I want. I need to clear my head."

"Sure. Think about it, I won't rush you. I...care about you, Jade."

I stare at him, speechless.

"I'll see you tomorrow."

"Yep." I toss and turn in my bed all evening. I want Gabriel, I can't deny it, but everything about him screams trouble. I lay under my covers, painfully awake, counting the minutes until morning...until I get to see him again.

I suddenly get a message from Gabriel. Our first meeting has been cancelled. Meet me in the cafe for breakfast.

Jade: Is that supposed to be a question?

Gabriel: No, it's an order.

I guess it's time to go. "Good morning, Mr. Howard." He raises his eyebrow at my use of his last name, and I see a smile in his eyes.

"Good morning, Jade."

"Any reason why you demanded me here?"

"Is it crime to be treat my assistant to breakfast every once in a while?"

"Something is giving me toothache this morning. I don't know if it's these pancakes or how surprisingly sweet you're being."

"I've been called many things before, but "sweet" is a new one. You bring out hidden sides of me."

"It suits you. I can't help but wonder one thing."

"What is it?"

"Your sudden change in heart-did it have anything to do with me seeing Byron last weekend?"

"I won't deny it, I don't like seeing you with another man. I was afraid of...losing you. Even though we aren't really together, are we? But I've felt like this for a while. I thought if I ignored it and focused on work, I'd forget about it. But each day I suppress the urge of fucking you in my office was another day or pressure building up inside me. I couldn't keep the facade up."

"So that's all it was? Sexual tension?"

"Yes. No. It's more than that. You're different than anyone I've met before. I'm still trying to figure it out." His phone rings. "Sorry, I have to take this. It's Bakewell." I quietly sip my latte, watching Gabriel's confused confession.

I think he has deep feelings for me, but he seems conflicted about it. I watch him talk on the phone, as his face harden and his brow furrows. "We should hurry to the office."

"What's wrong? What did Bakewell say?"

"He wants to meet with me immediately. It doesn't sound good."

"Do you think it's about the partner job?"

"Maybe. It's hard to tell."

"Go on ahead without me. I'll take my coffee to go and catch you up."

"Okay, see you at the office."

"Thank for coming in at short notice, Gabriel."

"No problem."

"How are you making progress on that trust fund case?"

"It's going well, sir. Our court date is approaching, and we're almost ready."

"And that assistant of yours- have you been getting on?"

"Yes, sir. We smoothed things out our issues, and we're working much better together now."

"That's good to hear. I knew it was the right decision not to let this one go. However, it's come to my attention that certain rumors have been going around."

"What kind of rumors?"

"It doesn't matter. I don't believe in the whispers that go around. That being said, I'm not ignorant to the goings-on in my company. I'd like to remind you of the non-fraternization agreement that you signed upon employment, staying immediate termination of your job if this rule is broken."

"Yes, I remember that ridiculous piece of paper. But I'm dedicated to this company. I win every case, and I bring in the big money. With all due respect, I know I'm not that disposable to you."

"You're right. But your female counterpart might be. Respect the rules of my company, Gabriel, or someone else will end up paying for your recklessness. Understood?"

"Loud and clear."

"You can leave now."

30 minutes later... "Hey, how did your meeting go?"

"Fine."

"Was it about the partner position?"

"No."

"Then what?"

"Nothing that concerns you."

"Excuse me?"

"Jet get on with your tasks. I'll be in meeting all day, so don't disturb me."

I press my lips together, trying to hide the hurt on my face. What the hell is wrong with him?!

Without a second thought, I hurry back to my office before he senses my emotions. I'm so sick of his mood swings.. Back and forth, hot and cold... I was naive to think he had feelings for me.

I keep my head down for the rest of the day, trying to distract myself with mindless tasks. As the clock approaches 5, I realize I need to hand some files back to Gabriel. I take a deep breath to steady my demeanor and walk confidently back into his office only to find it dark and empty.

I can't believe it! He left without saying a single word to me! And after everything that he told me at breakfast... I knew I couldn't trust him. I knew he didn't really care. Why can't I learn to just walk away?

The evening is cold and grey as I make my usual trip back home. I try to ignore the angry tears stinging the back of my eyes. As I approach my building, my heart skips a beat the the familiar figure standing outside. "What the..."

"I'm sorry to show up like this, but I had to speak to you."

"Have you lost your damn mind?! You ignored me all day at the office, and now you want to talk? At my house?"

"Please, let me explain. Can I come in?"

"Fine, but it better be good."

"Thank you for letting me speak to you. Firstly, I want to apologize how I spoke to you in the office today. This-us- is new to me. I'm still learning how to treat you not only as an assistant but also as someone who I care about on a deeper level."

"Oh." My face starts to redden but I look away.

"The reason why I avoided you is because Mr. Bakewell is suspicious about us. I don't want to risk your future career, Jade. I... I don't think we can continue this affair. I'm sorry."

"I knew something like this would happen. I'm disappointed I put my job at risk."

"I'm sorry I put you in that position."

"The job means everything to me. I don't want to lose it. But...I don't want things to end with us either."

"I feel the same way. But I would hate myself if I jeopardized your career. You're a driven woman, and that's one of things I've liked about you. I'm sorry, it's not our time."

"You're right. I don't want to screw this opportunity up. So...I guess...This is over."

"There's one last thing. I'm not ready to let you go straight away. Let me take you on a proper date. We'll go somewhere we can't get caught and spend one last evening together."

"It still sounds risky..."

"Far from it. I have a boat. We can get away from all of the drama. Just you and me."

"It'll just make things more complicated. I'm sorry."

"I understand, it was a long shot. I'll see you at work on Monday."

"Goodbye, Gabriel."

The rest of the weekend passes by in a blur. I try to keep myself busy, but my heart is aching for him. I know my feelings will continue to consume me as soon as I see him in the office.

Next Monday... It's going to be okay. As long as I avoid him, I can make it through the day.

"Jade, I'm glad you're already here."

"Didn't expect you to be here so early Mr. Howard."

"Are we back to "Mr. Howard" again?"

"I just thought..."

"It's okay. Carmen is back in the country, and we're going to meet her again."

"It's finally time?"

"Yes."

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