Southern Spice

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Chapter 5

“So, what did he say?” Muriel probed.

“What did who say?” Becks busted in, looking chippier than he had the past couple of weeks.

“The new guy in legal that took over for Dolly. He asked her out.” Muriel blurted. I gave her wide eyes and a look that could kill. I didn’t want him to know about the date. There wasn’t a policy on workplace relationships, but I still didn’t want my boss to know I was going on a date with my replacement.

“Drew?” He said with a bit of disgust. His reaction kind of pissed me off.

“Yes, Andrew,” I snapped, then looked back to only address Muriel. “He is super cute, polite, and funny, like cheesy funny.” We both giggled, then caught Becks angrily shuffling papers.

“Don’t we have some work to do, ladies?” Becks asked, annoyed by our childlike laughter over a man that was not him. I believe his jealousy was showing. Beckham Donaldson was not the center of attention, and I could tell it struck a nerve.

“Why, I declare we do.” I did my best breathless Scarlett imitation. And as a result, I got my favorite sexy half-smile out of him. “Okay, in all seriousness, though, we need to talk about the fundraiser. It’s coming up, it’s my first time planning it, and it has to be perfect.”

“It better be,” he jokingly threatened. “I am trusting you with my father’s most favorite event. I don’t think he would want anyone else to take it over.”

The fundraiser was for a homeless shelter for families. Orion took one of his buildings and flipped it to a one-stop shop for families to get back on their feet. Whether a parent was in jail or rehab, it was a place where families got to be families again. It was the project I admired most and donated time for when I first started.

Every year we do a themed gala to raise money for the shelter. This year we had a circus theme—sans wild animals. There would be a big top tent, acrobats, clowns, circus treats, you name it. But what I was really excited about was that it was a formal event where we had to wear something circus-like. No detail was too big or too small.

***

A few weeks later, we were in full-swing planning. The fundraiser was a week away, and I was finishing up the last details with the event planners. I had been working a lot of late nights at the office and noticed that Becks was staying later as well. Normally, he left around 6:00 p.m. to be home with his wretched fiancé, but there hasn’t been a rush lately. He has been holed up in his office, trying to run the company just as well as his father. I was proud of him, but I could tell he really needed to let loose.

“Hey, boss.” I knocked on his partially opened office door and walked in. He looked up and gave me the biggest smile.

“What are you still doing here?” He asked.

“I should ask you the same thing. You have been staying mighty late these past few weeks. Is everything okay?” I was genuinely worried about him burning out.

“Yeah, just busy. What about you?”

“You know, planning this gala fundraiser, trying to impress the boss,” I laughed.

“Well, the boss is impressed.”

I smiled and walked over to his desk and leaned forward so I could remove all the papers stacked in front of him. “You know, as your personal advisor, I think you need a break. Let’s go have a drink.”

He stood up and leaned toward me, close enough that I probably could have moved an inch and my lips would have been smack dab on his. I was getting hot but didn’t back up.

“That sounds like a fantastic idea,” he agreed.

We ended up a couple blocks over at a martini bar, one too many martinis into some business talk.

“Seriously, Dolly Jane, you are really an amazing person. You are incredibly smart, funny, and thoughtful.”

“Aren’t you being sweet,” I said, not really knowing how to take a compliment since I didn’t normally get many.

“I know you think you aren’t respected, but you are. You are a force, and you have proved it in the last six months. Everyone on the team sings your praises. You truly are DRDC’s ray of sunshine,” he said in a cute southern accent.

“Why, Beckham Donaldson, are you turning country on me?” I chuckled.

“Maybe,” he laughed.

We continued to sip our drinks when he started to say something, then stopped to think about it, as if he was being careful.

“How are you and Drew?”

I wasn’t expecting that question.

“Good. We’ve been on a couple of dates. He is a nice guy, funny and smart.” I shrugged. There really wasn’t much to say. We had been out on a few dates and both enjoyed our time together, but there was very little chemistry between us. He was more like a friend than anything.

“Is he your date to the gala?”

“Yes, Andrew Alden asked me to the gala, and I accepted.” I smiled. “It will be a novel experience going with someone. The last two years I went stag, so I’m looking forward to having someone to dance with.”

“Will you save one dance for me?” Becks genuinely looked like there was a possibility I would say no. I didn’t understand what was going on between us right now. Maybe it was the alcohol?

“Won’t your fiancé get mad if you are dancing with your lawyer?”

“I really don’t care if she does.”

I wasn’t going to push the issue any further. So, I ordered us another round of martinis.

“You know pretty much everything about me, but I feel like I don’t know much about you pre-DRDC.”

Becks knew a good bit about the Dolly I am now, but really had no clue about my life before me working at the company. I was surprised he asked.

“There isn’t much to tell.”

“Oh, I know that’s not true. Tell me about where you’re from. Your parents. Siblings.”

“I am from Madison, Georgia. Which is small, and beautiful, and known for its historic architecture. You would love it.” I never saw Becks so attentive and excited to hear me talk in the six months I had been working for him.

“I’m an only child. My daddy was the chief of police and my mama was a stay-at-home mom and homemaker. She volunteers a lot at the church. She is extremely religious, and you could imagine how that relationship works with me as her daughter.” We both laughed. “My dad passed away five years ago from a heart attack.”

“I’m sorry.” He said.

“Thank you, I appreciate that. But Becks, there is something I want to say to you. When your father passed, it was like losing my second dad. He was such a good man. I want you to know how much he talked about you and loved you.” He looked away, and I could tell he was getting emotional.

“Thank you. That really means a lot. Especially when I think I’m never going to be as good as he was at running the company.”

“I think you might be wrong about that. You are doing an amazing job. Maybe even better than your dad. He would have been so proud of you.” The man beamed at me. He needed to hear that from someone.

“Okay, now back to you. College?”

“You know I went to UGA.” He shook his head, motioning for me to continue about my college experience. “What you might not know is that I had a cheerleading scholarship. I was a flyer.”

“A flyer?” He raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah, you know, one of the girls that gets tossed up in the air. Of course, that was forty pounds ago.”

“Okay. This has been bothering me.” He interrupted. “I don’t want to upset you, but I must ask. What is the obsession with your weight? You have been making comments ever since the pickle date.”

“Ah, the pickle date.” I shook my head. “You know, I have body image issues stemming from going from a tiny cheerleader body to a curvy lawyer body.”

“You shouldn’t have any issues, Dolly Jane. You look perfect to me,” he said, stroking my cheek. I knew this was wrong, but if that man wasn’t engaged, I would take him home right now and fuck him to sleep.

How is this even fair? The one man on this earth that is perfect in every way thinks I am perfect too, but is engaged to a stupid skank witch that has no idea what she has in a future husband. I was getting so angry at the situation that I was almost in tears.

“Um, I think I am going to get going. I have an early meeting tomorrow. Thank you for the drinks,” I said, trying my best to look away and get out of there as quickly as possible so that he wouldn’t see me cry.

Once I pushed out of the bar, I started to speed walk as the tears streamed down my face. I wanted to scream out that it wasn’t fair. I loved Becks more than anyone or anything ever. Stopping to catch my breath, I heard a voice calling my name. It was Becks. Shit. I had to wipe these tears away. I couldn’t let him see me cry.

“Dolly. Wait!” He finally caught up.

“Yeah?” I said, doing my best to cover up that I had been bawling my eyes out.

“What’s wrong? Did I say something? Are you crying? Why are you crying?” He said as he put his hands on my shoulder to inspect my face. I’m certain that it was giving away the fact that I was having a small mental breakdown. I closed my eyes and couldn’t fight back the tears anymore.

“No. No, don’t cry.” He said, putting his hands on my cheeks and wiping the tears away with his thumbs. “What’s wrong? Did I do something?” He sounded panicked, but I couldn’t let him know why.

“This isn’t fair, Becks.”

“What isn’t fair?” I knew after I said what I was going to say, I might as well quit my job because things would never be the same. But I couldn’t take it anymore. This is mostly his fault. I was fine watching him from afar, being the friend and not the leading lady. He constantly made me think I was maybe more than that and gave me false hope.

“I can’t do this. I have to go.” I broke from his grasp and the prison of his perfect eyes and ran off. Yes, I chickened out. No, I was not proud of it.

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