“What could they still be talking about for so long?” Yolanda grumbled as she looked over at the closed door. “He’s been in there with her for almost an hour.”
Doris looked at her as she sat there craning her neck to see what was going on inside the office while her fingers danced over the keyboard. “You really got it bad for him, don’t you?” she said, shaking her head.
Yolanda glared at her. “I do not,” she denied crossly.
“Then why are you getting all bent out of shape because he’s in his office with Paulina?”
“I’m not all bent out of shape. I was just wondering why they are in there so long. Doesn’t she have any work to do? How would he like it if I were to spend such a long time in Max’s office, for example?” She sighed. “Then, again, he probably wouldn’t even notice.”
“I’ll have to disagree with you on that one. I think he has a thing for you too.”
Yolanda stared at her. “Seriously?” she said, incredulous.
“I’ve seen the way he looks at you when he thinks no one is watching.”
Yolanda shook her head. “No, I don’t stand a chance–not when Paulina is around. I mean look at how different we are. She’s tall and beautiful and I’m short and dumpy.”
“I happen to think that you’re pretty and vivacious.”
“Thanks, Doris, but I’m no match for Paulina’s beauty and elegance. I might as well be invisible for all the notice he pays me when she’s around.”
“All right, have it your way. ”
Yolanda glanced at her watch. “I’d better be leaving now. I promised Kenneth that I would meet him for lunch at twelve.”
“Who’s Kenneth again?”
“He’s a guy I went to university with.”
“I’ll let Leif know that you’ve gone out for lunch, if he asks.”
Yolanda got up from the desk. “I doubt that he will,” she said dryly as she grabbed her handbag. Just as she was about to walk away, the door to Leif’s office opened and Paulina stepped out. She looked stunning in the white slim fit pant suit that hugged her curves and the matching white strappy sandals. Her strawberry blonde hair fell in thick waves about her shoulders. She was laughing at something Leif said. He was standing in the doorway looking gorgeous as usual in a charcoal grey suit, matching tie and black shirt. They looked really good together.
Jealousy ripped through her like a knife. She turned and quickly walked away.
Kenneth was in the lobby, waiting for her. He looked great. They hugged. He was a welcome distraction but looking at her, he could see that something was wrong. He decided to wait until they were having lunch before he broached it.
“It’s good to see you too,” he said, smiling and they left the building. It was a mild, sunny day. They walked to the bistro around the corner and got a table at the back in a corner. After they ordered, he looked her straight in the face and asked, “Okay, who’s the guy?”
She stared at him, startled. “How can you tell?”
“I have seen that look many times. You’re in love. So, who is he?”
She sighed. “His name is Leif and he’s my boss.”
“So, what’s the problem? Is it against the company’s policy for you and he to date?”
“No. A few of my co-workers are dating each other.”
“So, why do you look like you’ve just come from a funeral? Is he married or already in a relationship?”
“No, none of those things. I’m just not sure how he feels about me. Doris, my co-worker told me that she has seen him looking at me on the quiet and seems to think that he’s interested. And then, there’s Paulina. She’s more his type.”
“If she’s his type, how come they’re not dating?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. They were in his office for a long time today, though.”
“Well, there’s only one way to find out where you stand with this guy,” Kenneth declared as their orders arrived. “Let him think that there is someone else in your life. If he thinks that another guy’s interested in you, it may push him to act.”
“You mean try to make him jealous?” She shook her head. “Bad idea.”
“Do you have a better one?” he demanded.
“And what if it doesn’t work?”
“Then, you wouldn’t have to wonder any more about how he feels about you and you can move on.”
She shook her head again. “I don’t like the idea. If he’s interested, he will make it clear to me.”
“What if he doesn’t because he isn’t sure about your feelings for him?”
“Kenneth, I don’t want to play any games. We’re not going to try to make Leif jealous.”
Kenneth shrugged. “It’s your call but if you change your mind, let me know.”
“I won’t change my mind,” she insisted and changed the subject.
They talked and reminisced about their time at university, the professors they liked and those they couldn’t stand, the friends they lost touch with and those they connected with on Facebook. The hour went by very quickly and soon they were heading back to her office.
“Come up and meet Doris,” she said when they were in the lobby. “She’s a really nice lady.”
“Sure.” Kenneth walked with her to the lift. He hoped he would get to see her boss as well. His curiosity was piqued.
Doris was at her desk and she was very pleased to meet Kenneth. “You didn’t tell me that he was this good looking,” she remarked as they shook hands. They chatted while Yolanda removed her jacket and put away her handbag.
“I’ll walk you to the lift,” Yolanda said to Kenneth when she saw that it was getting late and she needed to get back to work.
After Kenneth and Doris expressed mutual appreciation of meeting each other, Yolanda walked with him to the lift. As they waited, he asked her, “Does Leif have red hair, dresses really well and sort of looks like Kenneth Brannagh?”
She raised her eyebrows. “Kenneth Brannagh?”
“Okay, maybe he doesn’t quite look like Kenneth Brannagh. Anyway, your boss is coming over.”
Immediately, her heart began to beat faster. She turned around to find Leif striding toward them. He looked grim, or was that her imagination?
He glanced at Kenneth and then at her. “I see that you made it back for the meeting.”
She stared at him. Meeting? What meeting? Behind her, she heard Kenneth clear his throat. “Oh, Leif, this is Kenneth. Kenneth, Leif.”
The two men shook hands and exchanged pleasantries although Leif wasn’t smiling.
Kenneth turned to Yolanda. “I’ll call you later,” he promised. They hugged and as she was about to pull away, he bent his head and kissed her on the lips. The lift came just then and Kenneth stepped into it, turning to wink at her just as the doors closed.
She stood there, aghast for several minutes, painfully aware of Leif standing behind her. She was embarrassed to turn around and face him. When Kenneth called her later, she was going to give him a piece of her mind.
Taking a deep breath, she turned to face Leif. He was staring at her, his face glowering. Before she could say anything, he snapped, “My office, now,” before turning and walking away, his back rigid.
What on earth was the matter with him? And who did he think he was talking to her like that? She had a good mind not to go to his office but, he was her boss. She headed there now.
He was standing in front of the window and turned when he heard her enter the room. “Close the door.”
She closed it quietly behind her and then walked over to where he was. “Okay, is this where we’re having the meeting?”
“There is no meeting.” He wasn’t wearing his jacket or the tie and had loosened the top two buttons of his shirt, exposing his neck. She tried not to let her gaze go below his jawline.
“But, you said—”
“I know what I said,” he retorted.
She raised her hands. “Okay, no need to bite my head off.” What had gotten into him? He seemed really angry about something. Boy, was he attractive when he was angry–
“When you speak to Kenneth later, kindly let him know that the next time he wants to make out with you in public to do it somewhere else. This is not the place for it.”
His words were like blows, making her flinch. For a moment, she stood there, watching him, hurt and angry. “Is that all?” she asked stonily. He didn’t answer so she turned and walked out of his office. She didn’t go to her desk but went straight to the washroom.
The tears rolled down her cheeks and she quickly brushed them away. She felt so humiliated at that moment. Renewed anger toward Kenneth filled her. His foolish plan had backfired as she knew it would. Leif was livid, yes, but he was not jealous. This whole disaster just reinforced what she had thought all along–Leif wasn’t romantically interested in her. He would have reacted differently if it had been Paulina instead of her.
She stood there for several minutes, wondering how she was going to get through the rest of the afternoon and was tempted to leave early. Instead, she washed her face and dried it. She took a deep breath and then left the washroom. Once she was back at her desk, she buried herself in the work and it kept her busy until it was time to leave. Doris encouraged her to have a good weekend and then left.
Yolanda switched off her computer, packed up her bag, pulled on her jacket and got up from her desk. As she walked past Leif’s office, she said goodnight to him and left the building. On the bus ride home, she tried to read the novel Doris lent her but her mind kept going on Leif. Their working relationship was ruined now. Maybe she should start looking for another job. It wouldn’t make sense to continue working there now. Over the weekend, she would do some job hunting on the Internet.
When she got home, she showered, changed into a plaid flannel nightshirt and had dinner. After watching some television, she picked up the phone and called Kenneth. As soon as he answered the phone, she said to him, “Your plan didn’t work. You didn’t make Leif jealous. I told you that it wouldn’t work but you didn’t listen to me. You went ahead and did what you wanted to do just so you can prove that you were right. Do you have any idea how humiliated I was?”
“Calm down, Yolanda and just tell me what happened.”
She told him what Leif said. “I was so hurt and angry. I wish I hadn’t taken you upstairs to meet Doris. If I hadn’t, none of this would be happening.”
“When did he tell you this? Before or after the meeting.”
“There wasn’t any meeting.”
“Then why did he tell you that there was?”
“I don’t know.”
“Yolanda, did it ever occur to you that he made the meeting up as an excuse to get rid of me?”
“Why would he want to get rid of you?”
“Because he was jealous and didn’t like seeing us together–”
“No, enough of this jealousy foolishness. Why can’t you admit that your brilliant plan didn’t work–?” she broke off when she heard the doorbell ring. “Someone’s at the door.” She went to see who it was and her heart skipped a beat when she saw Leif. “He’s here.”
“Leif. What’s he doing here? I’m not dressed for company,” she added, flustered as she glanced down at her bare legs peeping out from underneath her nightshirt. “I have to put on a pair of jeans or something.”
“Why do you suppose he showed up at your place now?”
“I don’t know,” she snapped. “I’ve got to go.”
“Call me and let me know what happened.”
“Yes,” she said and hung up. The doorbell rang again. She turned off her cell phone and hurriedly placed it on the table before dashing off to her room to pull on a pair of leggings. Then, she rushed to open the door. As she stood there watching Leif who looked amazing in the turquoise v-neck sweater and blue jeans, the anger she felt toward him dissolved and all she wanted to do was throw her arms around him. “I didn’t expect to see you,” she said, sounding a little breathless. She stepped aside so that he could go in and closed the door behind him. She turned and faced him.
“I should have called first instead of just showing up like this,” he said quietly, his eyes restless on her face. “I wanted to apologize for my behavior earlier today.”
She leaned against the door. “You seemed very angry,” she said.
“I was but it doesn’t excuse the way I spoke to you and I’m very sorry.”
“I accept your apology.”
“Is Kenneth your boyfriend?” The suddenness of his question startled her and a few minutes went by before she answered.
“No, we’re just friends.”
“Then why did you let him kiss you?” he demanded. His hands were shoved deep in his jeans pockets, his body stiff and his expression dour.
“I didn’t let him kiss me. He took me completely by surprise. ”
“If the two of you are just friends what possessed him to kiss you like that? Are you sure you didn’t encourage him?”
Her mouth tightened. “I didn’t encourage him. He kissed me because he wanted to make you jealous.”
“Well, it worked. I was jealous from the moment I saw the two of you together. That’s why I came over and told you that there was a meeting. I had to have a reason for interrupting your little tête-à-tête. And when he kissed you, I saw red.”
She gaped at him. “But, what about Paulina?”
He frowned. “What about her?”
“I thought you and she—”
“Paulina is a very beautiful woman, yes, but I’m not attracted to her. You, on the other hand, are a different story. I’m deeply attracted to you. I have been for a very long time.”
Her heart was pounding now. “I didn’t think you even noticed me.”
He looked surprised. “Not notice you? Have you any idea of how hard it is for me to be around you and not want to touch you? Like right now.”
Her chest was rising and falling swiftly now and she seemed to have trouble breathing normally. “All this time I thought you had a thing for Paulina,” she said, swallowing hard when she saw the expression on his face as he moved closer to her.
“No, it has always been you,” he muttered thickly and then, his hands were pulling her against him, making her gasp. His mouth closed hungrily over hers and she kissed him back, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck. She was wedged between him and the door. As they exchanged passionate kisses she had to admit that if it weren’t for Kenneth, this wouldn’t be happening right now. His foolish plan had worked after all.