She met him at a bar about a week ago… Tall, muscular, charming, confident… He was everything she could have asked for that night, especially when compared to the other men there. There was something about him that was different, almost as if he carried himself in a different way… A better way.
She bit her lip as she sat at her desk after looking around to see if anyone was watching. She recently became single after her boyfriend of 2 years did her dirty. She had gotten over him a long time ago, and she was loving the single life - hanging out at bars and clubs while maintaining a high position in her company. She even found a random $20,000 check within a black notebook from a "secret admirer" the other night. She was living the life she wanted!
But, she was concerned about one thing… Usually, she liked to give her men “the look” when she found them attractive. “The look” always seemed to happen when they were alone with each other, tired from a long day of fun, and ready to do one last activity before going to sleep. An activity she truly enjoyed!
With James, though, she hadn’t given him the look yet! She knew they wanted each other, and that he was more than capable of carrying his own weight, but something didn’t click with her, so she hadn’t done it. It was almost as if she could sense this tiny problem within him, she thought, but perhaps it wasn’t so tiny - maybe it was a large problem in disguise, and maybe her intuition was leading her away from him for some reason.
She brushed this thought off in an instant. No, of course not! He was like most of the men she courted; he had a steady career, he was handsome, confident, he stood his ground, and he was funny on top of it all. No, nothing was wrong with him, she continued inside of her head.
Her boss approached her from the other side of the room. She rose to meet him.
"Hello Mr. Hovsteff, how are you today?"
"Just fine, thank you. Can we have a chat in my office?"
"Yes, of course," she said. Her heart suddenly dropped - usually she knew when she and her boss were going to talk, it wasn't so sudden like this. Anxiety began to rise within her. Did she do something wrong? Was she not being productive enough? Did they finally find out about her "secret life?" She really loved her job and she hoped she wasn't about to lose it.
They sat in their respective chairs.
"First of all, thank you for being a giant asset to the company. We've watched you grow and develop over the past 5 years, you've moved up to a high position in the company, everyone here enjoys your presence, and we're extremely proud of you all around!"
She looked at him and said, "thank you, sir. I’m very happy to be here."
He looked at her thoughtfully and said, "we were surprised to hear that your boyfriend cheated on you. I'm very sorry about that. However, we were also very sorry to hear that you engage in… Extracurricular activities outside of the workplace."
Yep, anxiety in its true form. He found out. She had always thought that if someone like Barry Hovsteff knew about she did the things she did, he wouldn't be too happy, and her suspicions were coming to life in front of her very eyes.
She felt sick, but another emotion began to rise within her - anger. If she was such an asset to the company, why was he treating her like this? But, she figured she'd keep this emotion under control and take a moment to think about her response.
"Yes, I go to bars and nightclubs on occasion, however, it doesn’t affect my productivity in any way whatsoever. I am still one of your best workers, and I didn't rise to the position I'm in by chance." She ended her sentence in a matter-of-fact way since she knew already he knew this.
He looked at her with a kind of smugness, and she sensed he was going to let her go no matter what. "Savannah, we have a reputation we like to keep here. Our employees are upstanding, formal, good citizens, and we can't risk our image being damaged by someone who's acting a bit too... Recklessly."
She was shocked because this was the first time she had heard anything like this from him! Normally their conversations were very polite, however, she quickly felt even more anger rise within her. She was the one who was keeping the company afloat with how much work she did, she was the one who was vibrant and happy all of the time, and she was the reason why everyone enjoyed going to work. This man began to disgust her, and since she was about to be fired anyway, she rose out of her chair and started back-talking him.
"For the record, buddy, I am the reason we have a good image. Having the occasional -"
"More than occasional, Ms. Poppy."
...the occasional party actually makes me feel better at work, and I'm not going to let you push me around just because you believe I'm giving us a bad image. I will sit back down at my desk and continue my work now, I'm far behind."
She turned to leave, and he quickly got up and grabbed her arm. He put his face very close to hers and spoke through his teeth.
"Get your things, and get out of my building. Now." He let her go but continued to leer at her. She stared at him back, but eventually, her anxiety took over - she rushed to her desk, grabbed some of her things, and left, all the while being stared down by the boss of the corporation.
As soon as she got in her car, she let it all out. Tears streamed down her face and she sobbed for a good, long while. She couldn't believe it - after 5 years of hard work she was let go, and it wasn't even deserved! She had always believed that her lifestyle was healthy for her, she never told anything to any of her co-workers, and she was responsible for setting all of the company's production records. He acted irrationally, and now she wondered if she would ever be able to work for another company like that ever again. All of these things flew through her mind, and she really, really wished he was in the car with her.
"I need you. Call me when you can" was the message she texted him. He usually initiated the conversations, but she was so shaken and so terrified for her future... She needed him as soon as possible. Since it was almost 5:00 pm anyway, she figured he'd be done with work soon. "Go to my apartment and I'll meet you there soon" he responded, so she wiped the tears from her face and began to drive.
She spent 30 minutes on his couch with her head in her hands and her eyes well lubricated. She knew he was trying his best to get there as quickly as he could, but damn, she really wanted him there now…
It was almost like he could read her thoughts as he opened the door and set down his suitcase. She leaped from the couch and embraced him without any hesitation whatsoever. The tears had stopped by that point, and her spirit lifted as he embraced her back, essentially telling her that everything was going to be okay. They stayed there for a moment before he motioned for them to sit down.
"What's wrong?" He asked in a confident and kind voice.
She sniffled before responding. "At work today… My boss wanted to talk with me. And usually, it's okay, we talk about someone on my team and how they can improve, or something like that. But today…"
The tears started to come back as she retold the tale.
"...he found out about my life outside of work. He said that I'm not uploading the company's good image… He grabbed my arm and got really close to my face… I'm just…"
She didn't say anymore, but he embraced her and let her cry onto his shoulder. He knew she had been fired, but he didn't want to say anything quite yet. He just held her and waited, patiently, like there was nothing else in his world except for her.
But suddenly, she noticed something shift in him. She slowly withdrew her head from his shoulder and looked him in the eyes while furrowing her eyebrows a little.
He looked a little embarrassed. He didn't want to admit this to her quite yet, but she noticed, so the time was now.
"I… I'm inexperienced with relationships. I had a rough childhood, a lot of my time was spent trying to survive. You're only the 3rd woman I've ever been with. So… I don't know what to do or say. I'm a little anxious. But don't take it personally, I'm still here for you."
She slowly turned her head away and looked at the table. There is no way in hell, she thought, that the one time she truly needed a man she triggered his anxiety. She knew it was irrational, but she really wanted him to be confident right now, she really wanted someone to take care of her and hold her while she cried herself to sleep. And the one time she needed it, she didn't have it.
She looked into his eyes and hugged him once again, but deep down she realized why she hadn't given him what she gave all of the other men - she realized that this wasn't going to work and that she needed to spend some time with herself.
"I have to go," she said after a while, and he saw her out to her car. As she drove to her place she was in a daze, doubt began to fill her entire being, and she plopped onto the bed without taking any of her clothes off. As she lay there the doorbell rang, and the last thing she wanted to do was answer it. But, for one reason or another, she did.
Blake was standing at the door with a bouquet of flowers. Blake was one of her co-workers, and she liked him, but since they were working together she never thought anything more of him.
"Hey… What he did was unacceptable. I really enjoyed working with you, and I want to let you know something. May I come in?"
She smiled. "Of course, come on in."
He came in and stood in the living room, making it quite apparent that he didn't intend to stay long.
"I have a friend who works in an office much like ours, in fact, it's better in almost every way! They're looking for someone with your skillsets, so I'm going to tell him to refer you, okay? We're going to get you back on your feet, Savannah. I promise."
He handed her the bouquet of flowers, and she smiled while saying, "thank you, Blake. You don't know how much this means to me."
"You're welcome… You deserve it more than anyone. Right, okay, I'm going back to my house now. I'll see you around!"
Wow, she thought, she never thought of Blake as being someone like this… He always kept his head down at work, his nose to the grindstone. But she liked this side of him, and she sprang into action by calling out, "wait!"
He turned his head towards her, suspecting what was to come.
She walked up to him. "Can I… Can I visit you for a while? I would really appreciate the company…"
He smiled as he took her hand with a gentle yet commanding force and brought her to his car. I'll spare you the details, but it's safe to say that her short-term and long-term needs were taken care of by this man and that in the end, everything turned out the way it was supposed to.