When I was running late last time, it was during a meeting that had barely started, so I was somewhat saved from complete and utter humiliation. This time, I was determined to get there on the dot, that I got to my building an hour and half before even any assistants or the freakin’ CEO gets there. For some reason, I just don’t balance; I’m either late or super-early. Though I do recall Chris Rock funnily saying that his father believed that you were either on time or late, you’re never early.
I was giggling to myself at Chris Rock and then Dave Chappelle stand-up playing in my head (do you ever do that?) when the doors of the elevator dinged to an open on my floor. Barely anyone was here except the mail guy, who seemed unnaturally eager, and a couple of other co-workers. I was reminded of the charity event when I saw Brad walking out of an office of one Hilary Reiner, zipping up his pants. I didn’t exactly have entirely high thoughts of Hilary, but my God they were never that low. Brad threw me a smile and I rolled my eyes, walking past him like I didn’t even notice him.
Behind me, I heard his footsteps picking up. “Aww don’t be like that.”
“Like what?” I asked, avoiding his eyes.
“Like you don’t know me,” he stepped in front of me, blocking my way, forcing me to stare him down. “Jeez, so pouty. I can fix that you know,” he winked.
His smiled dropped and his eyes focused. “Umm, what?”
“Herpes, lesbian, loser, married with three kids a house and a mortgage. Take your pick. Whatever you’re trying to sell, I’m not interested.”
For the moment that he was a little shell-shocked I made my way around him and towards my desk. I was determined to sneak in a little nap before David and the rest arrived, I guess that was getting shot out the window.
“Can’t a guy just talk to a girl?” Brad asked, leaning against my cubicle. I had designed my space so that it was comfortable and somewhat reminiscent of home; strangely, Brad’s presence was tainting it by simply being here.
I pressured two fingers onto my temples and circled. “Brad, not to be so rude, but what do you want?”
“Just a friendly chat with my partner in crime,” he smiled.
‘Partner in crime’ is something Daniel and I always say, and it sounded so weird dribbling from Brad’s lips.
“I think you should chat to David, if you need anything professionally.”
“Mmm…” he appraised me, making me regret that I placed ‘professionally’ as a distinction. It wasn’t meant to be taken in the same he was thinking. “Didn’t you hear?”
I turned around, shaking my head. “What?”
Brad grinned, pushing off my cubicle and standing on his own two feet. “David said you are here to assist me with my every need. And I like to think I need you, tonight, if you catch my drift,” he winked again.
I paused, staring through the silence gap. “You are so gross.”
He burst out laughing at my words. I was wondering why that was his reaction when, in that same moment, people began coming in and scattering towards their desks. David soon came after, smiling gingerly when he noticed Brad. Only half a smile when he saw me.
“You’re here early,” David commented.
“Yeah, Anna here was nice enough to let me in. We’ve been going over some awesome pointers for my new book and I think she has an array of really good ideas.”
I tilted my head confusedly. Had I imagined the whole scenario?
“Fantastic,” David beamed. “Well don’t let me stop you two. Please, continue. In fact,” he turned to me, “you can use the conference room after 10AM. You’ll both have peace and quiet to get things done there.”
This is like a horror movie, no?
“But, I—” I started, catching David from walking away, “I have a lot of work to get to. Besides, I’m sure Brad has better things to do than wait for the conference room to be free.” We obviously had other conference rooms, but I guess David wanted to keep us close. It suggested to me that he was going to stop by every now and then to see how things were progressing.
“It’s fine,” Brad said, staring straight at me with amusement, “I can wait.”
I narrowed my eyes. Of course he wasn’t going to help me out. What was I thinking? Oh, yeah, that maybe he was human? Just a thought.
“So then it’s settled,” he nodded to the both of us before going into his office.
“See you in an hour,” Brad said.
And because I was so unbelievably annoyed, I mimicked his words petulantly. “Meh meh meh-meh-meh!” The tilting of the head from side to side, the little kid voice, the blind rage, it was all there. Not my best moment, I assure you, but I was just soooooo annoyed!
Brad chuckled and then paced off. Which only furthered my agitation. You’d figure he’d be put off by the way I acted. I was one stomp of the foot short of a nappy, I swear to you. Again, admittedly not my best moment.
Because I wasn’t looking forward to sitting down with Brad, who I have come to the conclusion was psychotically determined to ruin my day, the one hour took forever to transition. Chatting casually to Noelle didn’t help, Leo was more interested in the bubbly Noelle than the downer that was me, and David probably wouldn’t want to hear a smidgen of my dislike of Brad, who he seemed to hold up in high regard. I was at an impasse; really, there was only one way to go, and at 10AM, I travelled in the direction of the conference room with the stepping of an exhausted camel trudging a few days in the Sahara.
Brad was already waiting for me in the conference room, getting up when I was opening the door and traipsing along like his presence didn’t irk me. He sat on the farthest end, and I dropped down onto the chair adjacent from him.
“Let’s get started shall we?” I asked.
He looked disappointed. Hesitantly sitting back down. It was almost a mechanic manoeuvre. “Get started? On actual work? Are you serious? I thought we were going to have some fun.”
“Oh my God,” I said, my voice firm, “You are a walking lawsuit.”
He shrugged, unaware. “What?”
“Little did you know, I actually do have some ideas. I happen to work at this job, which may be shocking to you but, hey, not my problem. Either way, if David wants something out of it, then I’m going to assist him, not you, him.”
“Stone cold. I get it,” he murmured.
I blinked twice. “Okay.”
He leaned back and intertwined his hands. “Okay. What do you have for me?”
I still felt uncomfortable and distracted around Brad. It could be paranoia or very well a possibility, but I felt like he was mentally undressing me; and the longer I spoke, the more time he had with me in his imagination. To throw the thought of me outside of his mind, I asked him questions here and there. What do you think about that? How do you want to go about doing this? Nothing too personal, all related to the job.
At a point, though, I got myself distracted. Henry’s words blasted my mind, harassing me and fanning out a detail of the happy road and the sad road with Daniel’s future. If Daniel knew the full story, he’d probably go ape shit; but I didn’t want to stress him out in his time of hard work and commitment to the job. There’s nothing worse than being thrown off your game, knowing you were this close to winning.
“What?” Brad suddenly asked in a moment of silence, where I didn’t even know he was staring at me.
I shrugged, seemingly taken aback. “What?”
He narrowed his eyes and smiled. The man, although attractive, was very easily losing his charm with me. “There’s something on your mind, I can tell.”
I shook my head. “It’s nothing. It’s stupid.”
“Go on,” he prodded. “Don’t be shy. Tell me.”
Our interactions have been nothing short of ridiculously awkward, and this instance was just the same. I felt hot, like my collared white blouse was choking me, my breathing pattern turned heavy. All the while, I was hoping he didn’t take notice.
“I want to ask you something.”
“Wow,” he stretched the word out, exaggerating his pleasure from my suffering.
I felt my cheeks heat red so I avoided his gaze. “All I want to hear is a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.”
“Okay.” He waited.
I cleared my throat and explained to him who Henry was and what he wanted. The deal, the meeting, the time and day. I even told him that he was easily contactable to schedule said meeting. That perhaps his father could join. The whole shebang.
After I finished, I waited in silence for Brad’s response. He was staring at me, smile still plastered onto his face; his mind, through his eyes, clearly working overtime. Then he went for the kill. “Okay, yes.”
I straightened up and my brows lifted in gradual surprise. “Yes?”
He nodded, grinning. I was about to breathe in relief when he said, “If you go out with me.”
I squeaked out a frozen breath from my lung. “I—I have a boyfriend. I can’t go out with you.”
Brad shrugged, and I thought it was completely over, that he wasn’t going to do it regardless when he leaned in to hammer the final nail into the coffin. “He doesn’t have to know.”
***Hey all! Just wanted to clarify this is not a BONUS post. I think I’m sick or something I don’t know what’s wrong with me right now (I have a non-stop headache for coughing two days straight, and my throat feels like the aftermath of when you choke; among other things, it all sucks!) no idea what’s going on or when I’ll get better, but I didn’t want to leave you guys hanging without a post, but that means I need to post now so I can focus on figuring out what’s wrong with me and resting. Thanks for understanding, and if anyone can suggest any remedies (I was thinking green tea, but don’t know) I’m all ears. Also, I couldn’t figure out what to do for my 200th CaliforniaSoulBlog post on wordpress coming up (yes, it’s true! Thank you all for being there for me, even up to witness my coming 200th post, you have no idea how much your support means to me; love you guys!), so I’ve decided to leave it up to you guys. Here are the options: post more than one post on the Wattpad story, or one extra long post for Samson&Delilah, or one extra long post for CaliforniaSoulBlog. Comment below and let me know. I’ll try my hardest to get better so I can post a Samson&Delilah post at the end of this week or even earlier, depending on how I feel. Really hope you enjoyed this post. Lots of Love, (and sorry for any inconvenience or whatever) Soul xo***