Chapter 23 | Work Advances
Elizabeth was ecstatic up to go to the office that Friday. After a few days of working hard, she had finally finished it to the best of her ability. After reading it again and again, she was certain she was satisfied. She had made multiple backups and now the almighty flash drive of the file was in her fist. She was ready.
So that morning, she placed her bag in her usual seat and smiled as she headed straight towards Tanya’s office and knocked.
“Come in.” She promptly heard.
Elizabeth went in with a smile as Tanya’s chair turned towards her, “I’ve finished the article.” She said while she confidently handed the flash drive to her boss.
“Wow, and a week early.” She remarked as she took it in her own hands, “I’ll be looking forward to reading this. I will contact you by mail if there’s anything that needs to be edited. For today, your time is free. Clean-up your desk. I’ll give you the feedback or a new project by next week. Okay?”
Elizabeth, extremely pleased with herself, nodded joyfully and headed out. As soon as she arrived at her desk, she sat down with pleasure and laughed to herself. Her colleagues didn’t seem to care about the weird emotions she had been displaying since this morning. So that day, she cleaned her desk as the time swiftly passed by.
When she finished, there was only a bit of time left before office hours would finally be over. She sat in her black chair, spinning around at her heart’s content. She looked at the ceiling as she did so as she drowned in the sounds of keyboards and pens.
She was in solace when suddenly, her phone rings out of nowhere. It was loud, so much so that everyone’s eyes turned to her. She quickly grabbed her phone from her desk, tried to smile at everyone as she quickly, yet awkwardly, picked up her phone.
Without placing it close to her ear, she firstly ran to the closest out door space from her office. Here, it was the door to the emergency stairs just a couple of quick steps away.
Finally, she placed the phone to her ear as she sat down one of the steps.
“Hello.” She said, in a kind of irritated tone.
” El? You finally there?”
“Ha?! Mark!!” She couldn’t believe the voice she heard on the line, so she looked at the screen and saw that it was an unknown number.
” Hahaha, yes, this is my number. Sorry I didn’t text you beforehand.”
“No! No... It’s all good.”
“So, we just finished the first set of practices and were getting a break. I was wondering if you were free tomorrow?”
Flustered, Elizabeth answered, ” Yeah? Oh... Yep. I am, why do you ask?”
“I’m claiming your promise.” She could faintly hear Mark chuckle behind the line as he waited for her answer.
“Yeah sure, I’m free.”
“Great. Pick you up at twelve noon, let’s go for lunch.”
“Pick me up? I... can go there myself.” She hesitantly said.
There, Mark blatantly laughed at her words, ” It’s alright El... I’ll pick you up from yours.”
Slowly smiling, El replied,” Alright... See you by then.”
And with that, he hung up the call, and she sighed. Tomorrow. She stood up from the stairs and looked at her phone once again and saw that it was already okay to punch out from the office.
So, with no thought, she went back to her seat, got her bag, and headed to the exit. She signed herself out and there, happily headed home.
Tomorrow arrived quickly. Elizabeth woke up a bit earlier than usual. But it actually wasn’t early at all. It was nine when woke up and made herself a cup of coffee.
First, she ironed Mark’s sister’s clothes and folded it nicely before placing it inside a nice paper bag. She dressed herself up in casual clothes, a pair of jeans and a nice, plain, yellow blouse. She wore her hair down, yet brushed it well so that it would stay tame. Then took her sweet time in getting everything done.
Elizabeth looked at the time and saw that it was almost the time Mark said he’d arrive. So she grabbed her bag and her phone and scurried down the stairs. Even though it was five minutes early than twelve sharp, she hoped Mark hadn’t waited for her. When she got down and exited the lobby of the apartment complex, she noticed the familiar car parked at the side.
She knew it was him, so she hurriedly went up to the driver’s window and lightly knocked on it.
Mark heard a knocking noise from his side, so he bid himself to open his eyes and woke up from his rest. He got to her building about twenty minutes early and he figured it was a bit too early. So he waited for her rather than calling her down.
He turned to his window and saw that Elizabeth was earnestly yet lightly knocking on it. He chuckled at the sight and then opened it up. “Hey El... hop in.” He simply said. She then walked around the car to reach the passenger seat beside him.
He opened it up for her first, so he reached all the way across to push it open. She smiled in thanks and jumped in. “How long were you waiting?” Elizabeth nervously asked.
“Not that long.” Mark smirked towards her, before he turned towards to start the engine and said, “Seat belt.”
When she heard what Mark said, she turned to her side to pull it out. She pulled lightly, thinking it would be light like usual, but she noticed it wasn’t fully coming out. So she tried again, but this time exerted a bit more strength to pull out the belt, but it didn’t budge. Mark noticed her physical struggle and blurted, “Let me.” Before she could argue, he was already leaning towards her to grab the seat belt out himself.
She quickly let go of the seat belt when she felt his hand dangerously close to hers. Elizabeth froze on the spot as Mark focused on getting the seat belt out. From there, she didn’t know how to react, but looking at him, he didn’t seem to feel that there was anything wrong. She could smell a quick whiff of him when he leaned by. It was refreshing and woody.
In her perverted mind, Elizabeth could only react that he smelled intoxicatingly good. But she didn’t want to admit that to herself, so she disregarded his scent and took notice of his sharp jaw and thick eyebrows. His clear eyes that was curtained with beautifully long eyelashes.
She didn’t even notice that with a quick, powerful tug on the seat belt, it finally came out. Mark pulled it and fastened the line onto her side and smiled to himself in satisfaction. Seeing this, Elizabeth’s hearts seemed to flutter and run off a thousand miles per hour. The heat was slowly closing in and rising to her cheeks as she felt totally awkwardly focused in the moment.
Mark moved back to his own side of the car, but Elizabeth didn’t seem to move. He figured she must be hot, so he lowered the temperature of the vehicle’s air conditioning unit and said, ” Are you okay? You don’t look so well.”
Elizabeth reacted weirdly to the sudden question, yet forced out a smile and replied, ” Yeah, I’m fine. It was hot earlier.”
“I figured. Let’s go?”
Elizabeth nodded at his words, and finally, they headed out.
They arrived at a small restaurant just by the city’s center. There weren’t many people, and it wasn’t quite empty either. “We’re here.” He mentioned, and Elizabeth looked out the window to see the little, cute restaurant.
She was almost about to open the car door and get out herself, but suddenly, Mark said, “Wait,” She wondered what it was. So when she looked over, he saw him grabbing a pair of shades from one drawer and putting it on.
He got out of the car by himself and walked towards her seat. From that moment, she figured it out and moved to open the door by herself.
But Mark got to it first and opened the car door for her and escorted her out. ” Thanks.” She simply said.
He smiled as he pressed on his keys to lock the car. ” What’s up with the whole sun glasses thing?” She asked on their way to the entrance.
“The quarter-finals are close and my teammates said that media are on their feet for soccer players more than usual.”
Shocked at this revelation, Elizabeth said, “Hah!?! I shouldn’t have made you eat out with me then. ”
“It’s fine El. The sunglasses usually work, they’re huge, you see?”
A bit in relief, she trusted Mark’s words and continued on with the day as they both entered the restaurant and looked for a table themselves.
Quickly, the two sat down and the two ordered their respective meals. She was, first, admiring the room, next, needlessly looking through the menu a hundred times again even though she had decided, and now admiring the cute sat and pepper shakers that were on their table. It was quiet.
“So, how’s your article?” Mark asked, which, finally, made her look at him in the eyes. She coughed up her answer,
“It’s done, actually. I’ve passed it yesterday. I’m just going to see if there will be any revisions this Monday.”
He only nodded in understanding, and yet another wave of silence arrived. She then settled with ,
“Great, that you decided on eating out today, it’s my day off after all the work these past weeks.”
“Whoa, lucky... Our schedules matched.”
“Oh, I’ve brought Michelle’s clothes and left them on my seat.”
“Ahh, so that was what the paper bag you were holding was for. I totally forgot all about that.”
“So how’s practices going?” She asked.
Mark pouted as he remembered all the things they had gone through these past weeks. “They’re harsh. It hurts.”
Elizabeth laughed at his sulking. “Congratulations then, that you put up with it ever since.”
“I know, but it never stops.”
Elizabeth laughed even more at this statement. Seeing Mark act like a child was amusing and soon after, he joined in to laugh with her.
Their meals arrived, and with eating, came calmness. The two then spouted out more topics to talk about and produced more laughs to overhear.
They continued to explore the situations that happened in the surroundings and shared the things they found funny. They continued to remember the fun moments that happened between them back then and how they happened.
Soon, Elizabeth headed to the comfort room to relieve herself. In this time frame, Mark called out to the server and asked for the bill. In which he paid for it for himself. He didn’t ask Elizabeth, knowing that she would certainly argue and even win because she said that today would be her treat. Yet, his upbringing didn’t seem to allow that to happen. So, without hesitations, he did it.
When she came back, Mark seemed to directly bring her out the door after they had finished.
“What about the bill?” She said.
“I handled it.”
Elizabeth turned towards him and playfully punched on his chest. ” I was going to treat you today? Do you know what treat means?!”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Then, Why’d you pay!? I could’ve done that.”
“You already treated me today?”
“What do you mean?”
“Giving me your time is enough of a treat for me.” With that ending statement, Mark smirked and opened the passenger seat door for the slightly frozen Elizabeth.
“Oh, sorry...” she snapped out of it and slipped in the car. Mark rode in the driver’s eat as well, and as soon as he did, Elizabeth exclaimed, “I will absolutely pay for next time.” with determination.
Mark laughed and answered, “Of course.”
They then drove home. Mark escorted her back to hers and they waved each other goodbye. All in smiles after a great day had ended.
What the two didn’t notice was the dark background of the whole situation. The greed and power, one thought as they were spending their sweet time together. The laughter behind the scenes, the thought of new buzz going around and that it would all be due to him. A sweet advance in his job, and a significant promotion from his boss.
“Great new coverage for tomorrow. This will be a hit!” He thought to himself.
He followed the two around as he put up to his eyes and took a view from the two starting from when they entered the restaurant all the way til they arrived at the unknown woman’s home. The sound of the camera clicks in his ear as they drive him to dream of promotion’s ecstasy.