Authors: Leigh Bennett
“Are you ready to go?”
"Are you sleeping with anyone else?" My tone was light and chit chatty. I had just changed into my pajamas and was lying on my bed cuddled up to Scott, who had stripped down to his underwear.
"Do you want me to?" he joked.
"It's up to you."
He laughed. "In case you haven't noticed, I’ve hardly got time to
see you, let alone anyone else." He raised his pierced brow. "Are you?"
It was my turn to snicker. "I haven't done this kind of thing before.
I can only handle one at a time." I said my next words carefully and
employed the chit chatty tone again. "I wasn't sure if you would end up here tonight, that's all.” I was doing my best to sound nonchalant but wasn’t convinced I was pulling it off.
"What? Why? Sorry if I wasn’t talking to you much tonight. Work
stuff. But you looked like you were having a good time."
"I thought you might have gotten a better offer."
"Huh? But I wasn't even talking to..." He stopped for a moment. "Oh, Tanya? Yeah, right. I don't think so."
“She’s very pretty,” I said, as though justifying why he should be
with her. “And she’s got a gorgeous figure.”
“She’s alright.” He shrugged.
"I don’t think she likes me much. She tried to trip me over on the
dance floor." I laughed to avoid sounding whiney, but it was the truth.
Really? Sorry about that.” He paused, clearly thinking about what
he was going to say next. “She and I slept together a couple of times, months ago. It was nothing. Drunk... you know. “
"It's okay. You don’t have to explain anything."
"No, she should have left you alone."
I ran my hand lightly down his chest. "I can understand her torment,"
I said dramatically, attempting light-heartedness although this conversation
was a little disconcerting.
He entwined his fingers in mine. "Anyway, how can I even think
about anyone else after what you did in the shower tonight? No one’s
ever surprised me like that before. That was awesome!"
“Yeah? Do you want to know how it ends?” I heard him chuckle as
I slipped down under the covers.
The sun was streaming through the window when I awoke a few
hours later. Scott wasn’t lying next to me. There was twelve dollars o
n the pillow along with a note he'd written on my shopping list paper:
Sorry, I thought I’d better go and pick up the van. A mate took it home last night, but he’s going away for the weekend, and it’s got all our equipment in it.
I forgot to tell you the other day we were putting your names o
the door last night so here’s your money back. It is NOT for services
Have a good weekend, and good luck with your new job on Monday
I should have Wednesday night free if you’re not doing anything.
Give me a call.
At least he wasn’t doing a runner. I made a mental note to switc
my Wednesday night yoga class to another day. It looked as though this
could become a regular thing.
THE WEEKEND FLEW AND
, before I knew it, I was nervously drivin
through peak hour traffic to the sleek grey office of Avalon IT. Bronwyn
Wallace, my new boss, met me at the reception desk. Although I had
made a special effort with my hair and makeup that morning, I still felt
inadequate next to her perfectly manicured style. She presented an air
of authority, which gave me the impression that a strand of mahogany
hair would not dare leave its place in her glossy bob and her red lipstick
would never have the courage to venture outside the carefully applied
line around her mouth. She smiled and introduced me to Rachel, the
receptionist, a young, bubbly girl fresh out of Business College and whom
I was now supervising.
“Hi,” Rachel said brightly, taking her telephone headset off her
golden curls and extending a hand for me to shake.
It was a mazelike open office, desks separated only by dividers,
meaning that most people sat in groups of two. I was led to a workstation
directly behind the reception desk, just hidden from public view by a
section divider and, as I was now also assistant to those in charge, just
in front of the offices of Bronwyn and Ray, the managing director. I spent
the day getting acquainted with the client database on my computer,
going through the reception routine with Rachel, and generally taking
in as much information as I could about my new company and job. I
was desperately trying to remember the names of the twenty staff
members I had met when Rachel attempted some small talk via the office intranet system.
'How’s everything going?
' The message popped up on my screen.
'Not bad. A lot to remember
.' I typed back.
'Do you live close by?
'About twenty minutes, depending on the traffic. You?'
'Five minutes walk away.'
'I used to walk to my last job. Great exercise.'
'I know, but lately my boyfriend’s been driving me.'
'That’s nice, especially in this weather.'
'Have you got a boyfriend / husband / partner?'
'No, not at the moment.'
Bronwyn walked out of her office and handed me a small pile of
handwritten letters. “Abby, could you please type these out for me?
When they’re done, you can go home. You, too, Rachel; we’ll just divert the
phones. It’s pretty quiet at the moment.”
“Excellent. Thanks, Bron,” Rachel sang out. After Bronwyn returned
to her office and closed the door behind her, Rachel’s next message
'You’ll love Bron. She’s the best boss.
“Hi, Rach.” First day jitters were a thing of the past when I arrived
at work the following morning, greeting the receptionist as I breezed
past. Bronwyn had left some paperwork in my in-tray the previous
night, which I diligently got straight into. After an hour or so, my mind
was so wrapped up in words and numbers that I failed to notice the
man standing at my desk until he spoke.
“Abby, is it?” I looked up and was pleasantly surprised to see that
the voice belonged to a handsome man not much older than me with
light brown hair, a friendly smile, and a neatly trimmed goatee. His
blue eyes twinkled as he extended his hand. “I’m Sean. How have you
“Fine, thank you.” I shook his hand politely. “What do you do here?”
“I’m one of the Account Managers. They’re great here; I hope you
“Thanks.” I smiled as he turned back toward his own desk.
Rachel’s message popped up on my screen, and I realised
she noticed I was still looking at his retreating form.
'He’s single, just in case you were wondering.'
'That’s nice; now get back to work, young lady.
' I put a smiley face on
the end to show her I was joking and heard a little giggle a few seconds
after pressing the send button.
'By the way, I’ve gotten to know everyone here, so I’m your girl if you want
to know anything about anyone.'
.' I typed back, then decided it might not be such a bad idea
'Are you free for a drink after work?
'I knew you’d be curious. Can’t tonight; how about tomorrow?
'It’s a date.
' I looked over at the rest of the office. Sean had his
back to me, his wavy brown hair bouncing as he nodded, deep in a
I TRIED TO RING YOU
last Friday night. Did you go out?” My mother
was calling for her update. “How’s the new job going?”
“I saw Luke’s band play again, and yes, the job’s pretty good so
far, but it’s only been two days.”
“He’s great. He hasn’t changed much really, just gotten taller, and
he’s got a couple of tattoos. The girls still love him, and he’s awesome
on the guitar.” That should cover it.
“I can just imagine,” said Mum. “Marie wasn’t happy about the
tattoos, and she’s never been overly impressed about all the girls,” she
chuckled. She took a deep breath, which meant that she was considering
asking a personal question. “Have you heard from Josh?”
I knew she’d ask eventually and had been biding her time. Josh
had been the dream son-in-law of both my parents– handsome, successful
career, reasonable finances, treated me nicely
all the stuff my parents
deemed a pretty good catch. I think they were more upset about our breakup than I was.
“I haven’t heard from him,” I told her. “I’m not expecting to, and I’m not contacting him, either. We broke up remember?
“Yes, I know.” Mum sighed. “Sorry.”
The Wednesday happy hour was afoot when Rachel and I walked
into the pub on the corner near our office. It was beginning to fill with
office workers. Men in shirts and ties and women in tailored pants and
silk blouses gathered around small, dark wooden tables for impromptu
, informal meetings. The place smelt like furniture polish, which was a
pleasant surprise, having grown accustomed to the faint smell of vom
it and stale beer of Springers. We found a vacant table with a couple of stools situated around a pole.
“Do you like it at Avalon so far?” Rachel took a mouthful of her rum and diet coke and slid onto the burgundy leather stool.
“I like the atmosphere, and the people seem nice.”
“They are, generally. Bronwyn’s great. Ray is okay. Everyone else
has their moments, I guess, but they’re all pretty good on a day to day
basis. Pippa in accounts can be a
sometimes, and Pete has a tendency
to talk to your breasts, but you’ll work them all out. They’re all pretty
harmless. Most of them are married, or partnered up; I spend half th
e day transferring personal calls.”
“Is Bronwyn married?” I was curious to know more about my
“No.” She leaned forward and spoke more quietly. “I heard a
rumour that she and Ray are... you know.”
“He’s married.” Her voice was barely above a whisper. Then she sat
back and returned to her normal voice. “But I’m not sure how true it is.”
We sat in silence, pondering the possibility of truth in the rumoured
affair. I couldn’t quite picture it. Bronwyn was a stunning, sophisticated
woman in her mid-to-late-thirties. Ray was a slightly podgy, grey-haired
fifty-something, not altogether unattractive, but you couldn’t doubt his business sense, having been one of the original partners to start Avalon IT from the ground up. It was obvious they got along well as
colleagues, but the image of them caught in a passionate clinch did
n’t quite make sense. Then again, I didn’t actually know either of them.
My plate of potato wedges arrived, sided with sour cream and relish
. I dug in greedily. I was always starving once five-thirty rolled along. “Help yourself,” I told Rachel.
She screwed up her nose. “Thanks, but I don’t eat carbs; I’m watchi
ng my weight.”
Up to you, but you honestly don’t need to watch anything.” Rachel was slimmer than I was. But I remembered a time when I was needlessly
paranoid about my own weight. Nowadays I let my hunger do the
talking, and it worked for me. I hadn’t dieted in years.
“So what do you think of Sean?” The name of the office hottie broke
into my thoughts.
“He seems nice, but I haven’t really spoken to him.”
“Well, as I said, he’s single and about thirty-ish I think. He’s not really in the office much as he’s out visiting clients most of the time, but he’s in every morning at least.”
eyes.” I decided to play the game just to appease her.
“He’s easily the hottest guy in the office. I’d definitely go for him if I was single.” She grinned. “He was checking you out, too.”
I stop mid-bite and swallow. “He was not," I scoffed. "He can’t. He sits with his back to us.”
“Well, maybe you didn’t notice, but I did.” Rachel folded her arms
huffily and then tilted her pretty blonde head in a listening motion “Is
that your phone?”
The familiar tune reached my ears then too. I rummaged through my handbag and quickly answered it without bothering to look at the
“Hi.” The voice on the other end of the line caused my pulse to race.
“Scott.” Scott. I had completely forgotten he had tonight off. “Sorry
, I was thinking about calling you.”