HAYES, TWENTY QUESTIONS
Favourite colour, childhood stuffed animal, favourite movie, favourite song, type of music – the list goes on and on of the questions Sophia has for me. The only thing that makes it tolerable is she answers the questions too, letting me get to know more about her at the same time. Our childhoods couldn’t have been more different which only makes her more interesting to me and the more I get to know her, the more I like her. I’m also seeing her relax more and as she does, her natural sense of humour is coming out. She is funny and sarcastic as hell and I can’t help but wonder how she’d do up against Aidan - bet she’d verbally kick his ass, given the opportunity.
Dinner goes by far too quickly as we talk nonstop over delicious shrimp scampi and lobster ravioli. I fully expect her to be ID’ed but she isn’t, likely because she’s with me and they serve us wine without incident. She tells me more about her family up north, their unique living situation and how remote it is – I can’t imagine not having immediate access to Chinese food, I couldn’t do it! All of the fresh fish sounds amazing though – her Dad sounds like quite the fisherman.
The more she says, the more I want to know – it is a vicious cycle. She equally wants to know about me but I hate talking about myself – I’m boring by comparison to her.
“Sophia, I’d really like to see you again.”
School is done and I’m now officially employed by The Matthews Corporation. After Mr. Matthews told me he wanted to see me again it suddenly occurred to me that I was dining with my boss – not only my boss but the CEO of the company. I was playing a dangerous game and was in way over my head – he is a grown man, experienced in life and love whereas I’m only getting started in both.
I awkwardly told him he’d see me around the office since I’d be working for him and after that, the rest of dinner went quick. It was almost like he couldn’t get me out of his car fast enough when he dropped me off at home, thanking me again for my hard work. We shook hands after he opened my door for me and walked me to the front door of my apartment building but going no further, only ensuring I got inside safely.
The next day at the office word of the big showdown in the corporate office raced through the lower levels. Mr. Matthews’ secretary was arrested and taken away in handcuffs after which Mr. Matthews held impromptu staff meetings on each floor to fill everyone in on what happened and to answer any questions. Not being staff at the time, I didn’t have to attend the meeting and purposely avoided being anywhere near him.
Since then, I’m fairly sure he’s doing his best to avoid me - our dinner out was almost two months ago and I’ve only seen Mr. Matthews twice. Both times were at a distance and as soon as he saw me, he practically ran in the opposite direction. It is kind of difficult to not take that personally when all I was trying to do was the right thing and not cause any problems for him down the road. I can leave this job and go somewhere else anytime – he can’t so if we were to get together and things went to shit, his reputation could be in jeopardy.
Especially since he’d be dating a staff member.
I enjoyed my time with him – hell, I like him but none of that matters. I’m a grunt, he is the man in charge and this isn’t a romance novel – we aren’t meant to be. It sucks but it is what it is and it isn’t going to change.
“Soph, how’d you like to be my date for the office party on Friday?” Jeremy from Acquisitions asks me. I resist physically recoiling in an effort to not set him off worst than I’m about to.
“Sorry Jeremy, I don’t date coworkers,” I tell him as easily as I can, trying to make light of the situation. He guffaws at me, shrugging off my concerns.
“We’re not in the same department or even the same floor – there’s no conflict,” he argues, smarmy as hell and convinced he’s God’s gift to women. Jeremy is actually a vile and disgusting pig and I’m unfortunately his newest target – the latest in a long series of them. I gather my belongings and prepare to leave my desk – anything to get away from him.
I’ve even faked diarrhea to hide out in the bathroom.
“That’s not how it works Jeremy – at least not for me, sorry,” I say firmly as I walk past him. As I do so, he grabs my arm and stops me in my tracks. His grip is tight to the point of pinching and it hurts.
“You don’t know what you’re missing, bitch,” he hisses at me before flinging my arm free. I stumble from the force and he snickers before walking away, confident that he bested me. I let him go without saying a word, hopeful that this will be the end of it but doubtful at the same time.
Something is nagging at me that I shouldn’t let my guard down with that man.