Ayana sat there staring at the computer screen, still reeling from her run in with Inga, Rolf’s girlfriend a few hours ago in the parking lot. The unpleasant incident happened when she was on her way to meet a friend for lunch. She was about to open the car door when she heard someone yell her name and turned to see Inga marching toward her. Startled, she stood there, wondering what the blonde wanted with her and why she looked so livid.
When she reached her, she said rather nastily, “Is it because you don’t have a man of your own that you’re trying to move in on mine?”
It took a few minutes for Ayana to recover from her surprise. Why would she make such an assumption? “I’m not trying to move in on Rolf,” she said finally. “He and I work together, that’s all—”
“Since when does work include the two of you flying off to Argentina?”
“Our trip to Buenos Aires is purely business, Inga. I’m Rolf’s secretary so I have to go with him.”
“You expect me to believe that you and he are going to work all the time you’re there? What about at nights when you don’t have any meetings? What will you do then?”
Ayana shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know,” she said. “I haven’t thought that far ahead.”
“I can’t imagine that you would be eating alone. Knowing Rolf, he will invite you to join him for dinner. My concern is what will happen after dinner.”
“Inga, you don’t have anything to worry about. Rolf and I have been working together for about four years now and nothing has ever happened between us. Besides, you’re mistaken about me not having a man of my own.”
“You have a boyfriend?”
“But, Rolf said that you didn’t—”
“Well, I just started dating him. Rolf doesn’t know about him.”
“And it sounds like you don’t want him to.”
“I don’t see why it should be any concern of his. We just work together.”
Inga studied her for a few minutes. “Well, I’m glad to hear that it’s strictly business between the two of you. And I won’t say anything to him about your boyfriend. And you won’t say anything to him about our little conversation.”
“He won’t hear about this from me,” Ayana promised. She just wanted to get out of there. She had never been accosted by a jealous woman before and it was very unsettling.
“Good.” Inga looked her over, her expression one of disdain before she turned and walked away.
Ayana quickly opened her door and got into the car. She started the engine and drove off. Her head and heart were pounding. She hated confrontations. Fortunately, no one had observed them. Why did Inga think that she had designs on Rolf? Did she sense that she had feelings for Rolf? How could she not? Rolf was an extremely attractive man. No woman could resist him. Just thinking about him now made her pulse race. There were times when they were alone in his office, working and she could hardly concentrate because she was painfully aware of him.
While he was poring over some papers, she would sneak a peek at him, noting the way, he furrowed his brow when he was concentrating. His hair would fall rakishly across his forehead making her ache to brush the strands back. He would remove his jacket and tie and loosen the top buttons of his shirt. Underneath the shirt sleeves she could see the chiseled muscles of his arms. She wanted to reach out and touch them. The smell of his aftershave tantalized her senses and his eyes when he looked at her made her heart flutter. And when he absentmindedly stroked his jaw as he focused, she found herself imagining what it would be like to have those long fingers caressing her face.
Sighing now as she sat in her cubicle, Ayana had to admit that Inga had every reason to distrust her. She had lied to her about having a boyfriend. She wasn’t dating anyone. None of the men out there or in the office interested her. She was stuck on Rolf, which was unfortunate for her. How was she going to manage being in Buenos Aires with him for twelve days? They were to leave tomorrow night and arrive in Buenos Aires the following morning. The flight was over ten hours long. What were they going to talk about? Should she take a novel? How could she read, though with him there? Her head was beginning to hurt from all of these questions and she rubbed her temple.
Just then her phone rang, startling her. She glanced at the display. It was Rolf. She quickly picked up the receiver. “Yes, Rolf.”
“Do you have a minute?”
“Yes. I’m on my way.” She hung up and got up from her desk.
He was putting on his jacket when she went into his office. “I’m heading out now,” he informed her. “I have errands to run. Are you all set for tomorrow?”
She nodded. “I have the plane tickets, the files we will need and the itinerary for each day. Was there anything else you needed me to take care of?”
He glanced around before shaking his head. “No, I think we’re good. I will pick you up at seven.”
“I’ll be waiting in the lobby.”
“See you tomorrow evening.” He grabbed his briefcase and preceded her out of the office.
She went back to her cubicle to finish up some work. The next few hours went by quickly and soon it was time to go home. After showering and having dinner, she made sure she had packed everything she needed, including the new outfits she had bought earlier in the week. When she was finished, she watched the News and then went to bed.
The following day went quickly and soon it was time to go to the airport. She quickly showered, got dressed in a pair of dressy jeans, a red blouse and a denim jacket. She was ready and waiting outside on the steps leading to the front entrance of her building when the company car pulled up and the chauffeur went round to the trunk to open it. She wheeled her luggage over and he hoisted it into the back along with her carry-on. She thanked him as he held the passenger door open for her to climb in beside Rolf who looked very attractive in the black shirt and grey slacks.
She saw his eyes flicker over her before he smiled. “Excited about going to Buenos Aires?” he asked as the car drove off.
“It’s the first place I’ve been to outside of the United States,” she told him. “I’m a little nervous, I guess.”
He reached out and gently squeezed her hand, making her heart skip a beat. “There’s nothing to be nervous about,” he assured her. “I’m sure you’ll like it.”
“Have you ever been there before?”
“No, but I’ve heard great things about it. A female friend of mine who has been there said that it’s a city that is alive and sexy and gets under your skin.”
“Sounds exciting,” she remarked. Her heart was racing now because he was still holding her hand.
“It does,” he agreed, withdrawing his hand. “I hope you brought a camera because we will have time for some sightseeing.”
“I did,” she said. And she brought a book to read as well. It turned out that she didn’t need it. They talked and then she watched a movie while he looked over some papers. It was just after mid-night when she went to sleep.
Buenos Aires was beautiful. She loved the colorful buildings mixed in with the faded European grandeur. She stared out of the window of the taxi, her eyes drinking in the sights. Their hotel was located in the most stylish neighborhood of La Recoleta and surrounded by the best city´s restaurants and shops. After they checked in, they went up to their rooms. “We have time to unwind, shower and go over some notes before the meeting,” Rolf told her as they rode the elevator. “I’ll meet you by the front desk.”
“All right.” She couldn’t wait to shower and change. It was going to be a long day. Her room was bright and spacious. The bed looked so good that she wanted to throw herself on it. Instead, she took out what she was going to wear, stood for a moment, looking out the sliding doors at the buildings opposite before going into the bathroom to undress and take a long, hot shower. Rolf wasn’t by the front desk when she went down but a very handsome young man was there. He smiled when he saw her. “Buenos dias,” he said.
“Buenos dias,” she replied. “I’m afraid I don’t speak much Spanish.”
“That’s okay. Most people who come here don’t. My name is Ramon.”
“Is this your first time to Buenos Aires?”
“Yes. On my way over here, I saw a little of the city and it’s beautiful.”
“Yes, it is a very beautiful city.”
Just then the elevator doors opened and Rolf stepped out. She turned to Ramon, “Excuse me, Ramon.”
“It was nice meeting you, Ayana.”
“It was nice meeting you too, Ramon.”
She walked away and joined Rolf. They had breakfast and then they went through the papers until it was time for the meetings. The day went quickly. The attendees were from Europe, America and Asia. They were about two women in attendance. During the breaks, she spoke with them. Annette, the one from Cleveland nudged her saying, “You have a very attractive boss. Is he married?” She herself was married and had three children.
Ayana shook her head. “No. He has a girlfriend, though.”
“Too bad. I think you and he would have made a very nice couple.”
Ayana didn’t answer. She just smiled. Over the next couple of days, when they had spare time, Rolf and she went sightseeing. She loved Buenos Aires and hoped that she would visit it again someday. The days went by very quickly and it was their last evening before they flew back to New York in the morning. Tonight, Rolf was taking her for dinner at a popular restaurant where they would be treated to a Tango show.
After she finished getting ready, she went downstairs to the lobby to wait for Rolf. Ramon was on duty and he smiled broadly when she walked over to the reception desk to give him her key. “Buenos noches, Ayana.” he greeted her, his dark brown eyes traveling appreciatively over her figure in the black cocktail dress.
“Buenos noches, Ramon.”
“The man you’re with, is his your boyfriend?”
She shook her head. “No, he’s my boss. We’re here on business.”
Ramon smiled. “Bueno. Then, he won’t mind if I took you dancing later. I can teach you the tango, if you like.”
He was very nice man but she wasn’t interested in him. Smiling apologetically, she said, “I’m sorry, Ramon but I can’t go dancing with you tonight. I already have plans.”
“What about tomorrow night?”
She opened her mouth to tell him that she was leaving in the morning when Rolf joined them. He looked at her and then at Ramon who said to him, “Your taxi is waiting outside, Senor.”
“Thank you.” Rolf handed him his key and then turned to Ayana. “Are you ready?” he asked abruptly.
“Yes. Goodnight, Ramon.”
She didn’t notice Rolf grimace but when he started to walk away, she followed him.
He held the door open for her and when she climbed into the back, she caught a whiff of his cologne. After he got in and told the driver where they were going, he leaned back in the seat. For several minutes neither of them said anything. They were both looking out of the window. Then, she heard him say, “You and the guy at reception seem to be on very friendly terms.”
She looked at him but his head was still turned toward the window. “Ramon is a really nice guy. Very friendly.”
“A little too friendly,” he replied. “Tonight wasn’t the first time I’ve seen him flirting with you.”
“He wasn’t flirting with me. He was just being friendly.”
“I saw the way he was looking at you, Ayana. He wants to be more than friends.”
“Well, he invited me to go dancing with him tonight but I told him that I already had plans.”
Rolf looked at her then. “If you and I weren’t going to dinner and a show, would you have gone dancing with him?”
She shook her head at once. “No, I wouldn’t have. I like Ramon but I’m not interested in him.”
“Is there someone you’re interested in, Ayana?” he asked quietly.
“Yes, but you’re already in a relationship.”
He reached for her hand, making her heart leap in her chest. “I ended my relationship with Inga last year.”
Ayana stared at him. “Last year?”
“Yes. I thought you knew.”
“No, I didn’t. When I saw her in the parking lot on the day before we flew out, she made it sound like you were still seeing each other.”
“You saw her in the parking lot?”
Ayana told him what happened. “To diffuse the situation, I told her that I had a boyfriend,” she concluded.
“I’m sorry that you had such a nasty run in with her.”
“She heard about our trip to Buenos Aires and jumped to conclusions.”
“I wonder how she found out about it. I will have a word with her when we return. I don’t want her accosting you anymore.”
“I have to admit that it was very unnerving.”
“Let’s not think about the incident any more. It’s our last evening in Buenos Aires. Let’s enjoy every moment.”
She nodded. “Yes, let’s enjoy every moment.”
He raised her hand to his lips. “And I hope that tonight will be the first of many enjoyable nights you and I will spend together.”
The brush of his lips against her hand made her pulse race and her stomach flip flop. Yes, the evening was off to a very exciting start.
Sources: Smart Meetings; Prokerala; Four Seasons; CTrip