The walls were grey, matching the blue dull carpet. The large desk was dark, made of rare wood. The space immense, too large for my liking. I turned around and glanced out the window, the view didn’t carry the same brightness. It looked bleak. The whole office did, despite my pictures and belongings. It might have suited my father, but it didn’t suit me.
I sighed and rubbed the bridge of my nose. Everything seemed to have changed. I couldn’t fight it. It was inevitable. Like change always is, I guess. I scanned the budget report in my hand, struggling to focus on it.
The small patter of heels walked into the office. Mrs. Kelly entered with a hot mug of coffee. My new old assistant. From her greyish white hair, cat spectacles and brown skirt, it looked like she should push into retirement. But the new CEO needed her. She knew what my father needed and could assist to ensure administration ran smoothly. As ancient as she was, she was an asset, knowing Bolt Investments in and out.
It didn’t stop my heart giving a lurch for Violet. The thought of her not being my assistant at my side any longer stabbed me. I felt like I was bleeding, losing something valuable. And the way we left things at the gala... the pain behind her eyes. I scowled and breathed out deep. She didn’t even pick up my calls or answered my texts. I just had to talk to her today and explain myself fully. I couldn’t let the silence fester.
Mrs. Kelly placed the coffee down on the desk with a slight shake in her hand. “Here’s your coffee Eric. I hope you like it.” She croaked, eyeing me suspiciously, disapproving I had to take my father’s place instead of a more experienced shareholder.
“Thank you Mrs. Kelly, I’m sure I will.” I smiled weakly.
She left the office in her snail-paced walk, taking tiny steps at a time. I huffed out and drank a sip of the brew. It was black with a teaspoon of sugar. But I lied to Mrs. Kelly, it tasted like shit. Like ash in my damn mouth! Everything seemed to taste bland and bitter since the gala evening. It just wasn’t like Violet’s. I set the coffee down and opted to look out the window instead. The clouds covered the sky, it depicted my emotion... the day looked miserable.
I grabbed my phone out of my trousers’ pocket, wanting to text Violet. But stopped, thinking she might be occupied with her new boss, I didn’t want to distract her. Deciding it was best to see her face to face.
Another missed call from Rebecca was noticed. I’ve been ignoring her relentless calls and called it quits with the other ladies I dated in my life. I just wanted to be left the fuck alone. It wasn’t worth it. The thrill and chase of women died in me.
I sighed. My thoughts reeling. I was CEO now, a powerful and intimidating position. I might have hurt Violet. I was still avoiding my real emotions for her and being reckless with her feelings. I hated it. I loathed my actions.
Was I turning into him... my father?
The realization paralyzed me, as I stood motionless at the window. The beep from my receiver snapped me out of my dark thoughts.
“Your mother is here to see you Mr. Bolton.” Mrs. Kelly’s raspy voice called.
I pressed the button. “Thank you. Please let her in.”
Two minutes later and my mother entered the cold space, a Starbucks cup in her hand. “Gosh, I used to come to this office a lot at the beginning, when your father first started out.” She gazed around the room.
“Why did you stop visiting?” I asked.
She sighed and rolled her eyes, “until I caught your father kissing another woman from the HR department.” She grunted. “You know, you look just like him twenty years ago.”
What the fuck! Now my mother confirmed it too. My head snapped to her; my eyes slightly narrowed. “That’s all I need to hear right now.” I grimaced.
My mother laughed. “I’m talking about how you inherited your father’s good looks.” She eyed me suspiciously, as I looked away. “What’s wrong honey, what’s going on. Since your dad’s accident, you weren’t the same son?” She asked seriously, and placed the hot cup down on the desk. “Is something the matter?”
I looked at her. My face tight with a clenched jaw. “Why did you stay with him till the end?” I asked firmly. “Why did you stay in a loveless marriage with a man that had countless affairs.”
My mother stared at me, folded her arms casually across her chest and nodded her head. “I stayed with your father out of choice.” She sighed. “Believe it or not, I loved him. Yes, he hurt me. Yes, he was unfaithful for the most part of our marriage. But I didn’t have the heart to leave him, and I decided to stay.”
“How could you let him disrespect you like that?” I interjected.
My mother narrowed her eyes at me, holding up her hand. “It was a difficult decision. Your father was a very successful man, and that success made him think he was invincible, sometimes to the detriment to his own family. I didn’t have anything to fall back on except my family and accepted a marriage without intimacy.”
I listened intently but couldn’t quite accept or grasp it. I shook my head. But my mother continued.
“Your father eventually did stop having affairs, he apologized time and time again and said he loved me, and I believed him and gave him another chance.” She simply said.
I scoffed. “So, you think I’m like him?” I asked bitterly.
My mother smiled warmly. “You have the same features as your father, you have his cleft, his strong jaw. The same scowl.”
I scowled but forced to relax my face. She laughed lazily.
“But you different from him son.” She said tenderly. “You have a big and caring heart. You could see the damage it can cause to a family. And you always protected me and your brother. One day you’ll love some wonderful woman hard and do all you can for her.”
“That day might be sooner than you think.” I muttered, as I looked down at the desk. “I’m afraid to fall and what it might bring.”
My mother came closer and placed her hand on my back. “Don’t be afraid.” She whispered. “Love, if you find it, is a beautiful thing to discover. And you hold on to it and give it everything you’ve got. If the other person jumped in, you jump in with her. Let life happen as long as you both in it together.”
I smirked and gave my mother a side bump on her shoulder, and she hugged me across mine. It was rare my mother and I had deep moments like this. “Who knows Eric... she might be right under your nose.”
I gave a laugh. “You still expect me to end up with Rebecca?”
“I expect you to follow your heart son,” she winked. “I know you been involved with many women, but it only takes one to change everything.”
She tightened the handbag under her arm and turned towards the door. “Drink your hot cuppa, before it gets cold.” She smiled. “Enjoy son!”
“You a life saver mom!” I shouted out after her as she left out the office door.
I walked to the edge of the desk, feeling rejuvenated after the chat with my mother, and picked up the cup. I took a gulp of the frothy latte. A hint of vanilla tingled my tongue. I wiped the froth with my hand at the corner of my lips. A small smile hiked up my mouth knowingly.
Suddenly I knew what to do.
I beeped Mrs. Kelly on my receiver. “Yes sir?” She said.
“Please call in Miss Harper, my former assistant.”
“She no longer works here. She resigned with immediate effect today. The new CIO’s previous assistant is taking up the position. I saw Miss Harper pack up her stuff this morning, when I dropped the files. I’m not sure if she’s still around.”
My eyes widened. “What the fuck!?”