“Okay, I will be right over,” I reply before the phone goes silent.
Alexander’s eyes are on me the whole time. He bites one of his fingernails, something I noticed he has been doing lately since the whole video going online. His eyes are big, surveying my every move, and when I put the phone down, he asks with his gaze before the words leave his lips.
“So? What did he want? Are you back at work?”
I look around, unsure of my faith. I have been at Alexander’s house since our fight. We were talking about going out of town and see Tyler when the phone rang, and Jackson’s name caught both our breathings stuck.
“He wants to meet.”
I gulp, watching his expression; we both know it’s a shot in the dark. Either he has excellent news, or I am fired. We stay silent; I see as Alexander thinks of the right words to say. The ones that won’t make me worry more than I am.
Because I am worried, I put this whole bitch façade, where people think I don’t care, but I do. I care more than many realize. It’s my job; I love it. It’s a part of me that I get to share with others. To talk to people and help them with their problems. To make someone’s life better.
“Then let’s go.”
Alexander grabs my hand, and we walk to the door. The car ride is silent, just the occasional hand squeeze from him, a small glance to make sure I am okay. It’s still early; at this hour, there are no appointments at the office yet.
My boyfriend parks the car; this time, it doesn’t matter to tell him I will be right over. His stern gaze shuts me up before I even have time to say the words out loud. With a sigh and gaining a smile from him, we walk hand in hand towards the building.
I don’t even pay attention to who is watching as we walk inside. The reception girls are probably staring, I have known one of them for a few months, and the new one, although shy, can be quite scary with the way she looks at people. Or maybe she doesn’t like me.
But despite all of that, I caught both of them talking about how handsome my boyfriend is one morning during their break. I can’t disagree, and when both of them noticed me at the door, the way all blood vanished from their faces was quite funny.
We stop just in front of the dark wood door; Alexander nods, giving me a small peck, and takes a seat on one of the chairs in the hallway as I knock and take a deep breath. The sound from my knuckles hitting against the wood echoes inside the room, and I listen as my boss’s footsteps approach the door.
Letting go of a long breath, I try to stay calm, and when Jackson opens the door, and I don’t see a smile on his face, I fear the worse.
“Hi Nicole,” he says, stepping aside as I walk into the office. “Please come in.”
Jackson motions me to sit on the same chair as last time. The one across from his, and as I loudly gulp, I put on my big girl’s pants and give myself a mental pep talk.
I can do this. I’m a badass bitch that went through hell alone and survived. I have come too far to give up now, and even if the worse happens, I am breathing. There’s a man outside that door that loves me; there’s a girl that if I tell her I need to bury a body, she will bring the shovel. I don’t need anything else. I have Alexander, and I have Layla.
One is my family, and the other is the one I want to start a family with.
I smile mindlessly as my thoughts drift to a small Alexander running around. I’m not the biggest fan of kids, but even I have to admit that it is cute. A little person with that boxy smile of his, those bread cheeks.
God, he made me soft.
“So, thank you for coming on such short notice,” Jackson says, interrupting my daydream. “The shareholders have informed me of their decision.”
Jackson lets his gaze fall from mine and takes an envelope from the desk. My stomach sinks, knowing he is doing this and not some HR person because it’s a delicate situation, and it would be better for me to go without causing a scene. Not one where they would be seen as the company who fired me because they have a cause. I am a face of this office, and I put their character in judgment.
“I’m sorry,” he says, resting the envelope on top of the wooden desk. “They decided to let you go. My letter in your favor wasn’t even considered. You know how this is, they-”
“Are a bunch of old men who still think women should be at home,” I speak, cutting him off. “I know Jackson. It’s not your fault. It’s not anyone’s fault but mine.”
He lets go of a sigh, sliding the envelope over to my side of the desk, and I pick it up, lifting only to place it over my knees. Staring at the small thing, thoughts rush through my mind.
Jackson lifts his eyes to meet mine and smiles kindly at me. He takes a folder from the drawer and turns his notebook so I can see the appointments he has booked.
“I booked them with me. I know these were your favorites,” he says, still smiling.
“They were,” I reply, and it hurts doing so.
Were, they are not my patients anymore. I won’t see them growing; I won’t be here to see how they develop and build character fighting their darkness. I won’t be here, and I can’t blame anyone else but me.
“Thank you,” I say, locking my eyes on his. “Jia is a particular case; I would like to know if you can keep me informed. I know you can’t share appointments notes, but-”
“You’re right; I can’t,” he interrupts. “But I can call you to ask about her. That way, you can keep in touch about her case as well. She is having surgery, you know?”
My eyes widen, staring at Jackson as he places the folder inside the drawer once again. He nods, searching for something on his phone, and gasps when finding it.
Oh crap, oh no. Layla. She hasn’t texted Jia back yet. She can’t go to surgery without talking to her. I need to get out of here, I need to tell Layla, or she will regret it.
“Thank you,” I confess, relatively fast standing up. “It was good to work with you, Jackson.”
He extends his hand to me, which I shake, wishing to see him again but to rush out of the office right away. Jackson walks me to the door, and when opening it, his eyes spot a very curious Alexander.
“So, this is your boyfriend?” He asks, surprised, extending a hand.
Alexander nods, shaking Jackson’s hand, and I tap my fingers against the heavy phone on my back pocket. Heavy because I can’t wait to pick it up and call my best friend.
“Hope to see you again, Nicole,” Jackson says, and I smile at him.
I turn around so fast, grasping Alexander’s hand and pulling him across the lobby, that he almost falls. The man I love doesn’t question me, not until the cold autumn wind hits our skins, and I am already dialing Layla’s number.
“What’s wrong? You didn’t even grab your things.”
His question isn’t answered right away because Layla picks up the phone, and before she can say anything else, I speak.
“You need to talk to Jia now.”