tagRomanceStrictly Unprofessional

Strictly Unprofessional

byMaggiewayauthor©

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*****

This is so unfair. I'm pretty sure hobos have been treated better than this...

I've worked here for over four years. I have given my best years to this company. I have proven my loyalty. I'm a brilliant executive assistant, and my boss knows it. I've spent countless nights at the office typing up his deposition briefs, calling international clients, booking last minute flights for him. I've even walked Frankie, his black French bulldog when he didn't have time. If that isn't loyal, I don't know what is. Everyone loves me here. I'm the solutions person, the chirpy and bubbly EA with the megawatt smile.

But evidently I'm already past my expiration date because the promotion I had been promised has just been handed on a silver plate to a 24 year old leggy blonde, straight out of college. Here I am, a thirty year old that has given her all to this company, and all I have to show for it is a whole lot of bile towards the man who I thought had my best interests at heart. My mistake.

Why is Tristan treating me like this, after everything I've done for him? We've always gotten along, and I was even supportive when his mother passed away suddenly two years ago. A lot of people might not like him due to his cold and hard exterior but I've seen first-hand what a gentle and caring person he can be. Even though he might yell at me in front of the whole office for not rescheduling a meeting, he will ask me how my weekend was behind closed doors. Even though he constantly asks for a re-order of his coffee, he will give me the one he doesn't want anymore.

And then there's the fact we've always been friendly, and dare say attracted to each other. Well at least I can admit I have been attracted to him at times, but it's not like I would ever act on it. He is my boss. Or was, now that I think about it. He always valued my opinion, not only on work matters but personal ones, too.

But that was before Kylie. The leggy blonde.

She recently graduated and ever since starting here she has flirted her way through the office like a sandstorm, collecting connections and crushes along the way. Within 6 months she was promoted to Personal Assistant to a senior manager.

And evidently Tristan seemed to love her immediately.

I was okay with Kylie trying to flirt with my boss, and his boss and his boss's boss. I was okay with her daily fashion show of tight skirts and sky high heels, her platinum blonde hair always immaculate and styled. But this was the last straw - Tristan promoted her to the job he had promised me. Enough is enough and a week after the announcement was made, a carefully crafted letter of resignation made its way to his desk.

It pained me to do it, to actually write the words down. To actually print it and walk into the office to hand it to him. To see the look of disbelief on his perfectly sculpted face. I had no other choice. I can't continue working here day after day to face the humiliation of being passed in favour of some hot young thing. It's done and there's no going back - I've given my two weeks' notice, and my desk is going to be cleared out by then.

Tristan has barely spoken to me since my resignation, having been overseas in China on a large project virtually the last two weeks. The only interaction we've had is via email, and on that forum he is always bossy, direct and cold. So much for a goodbye for the man I worked for all these years.

———-

I turn my wrist to check the time on my black watch. Its 11.58 on a cold Friday night, and I am pushing my weary feet across the pavement down 52nd Street, my white heels clicking and clacking.

In one hand is a divine bouquet of white flowers, the scent of clean linen inviting itself into my nose with every step I take.

In the other is a large gift bag filled with chocolates, wine and other novelty farewell gifts, including a large card signed by the team. My farewell was held at a local bar just down the street from the offices and since the team go there so often, they decided to give us a round of free drinks. Never one to refuse a freebie, I had the free drink on top of the other four other colleagues had gotten me. Even though I had a great time with all my colleagues, there was a nagging voice at the back of my mind that I couldn't shut out. Tristan's.

His voice, throaty and smooth. This surely can't be the way we are going to leave things. This is not the man I have gotten to know inside out, Tristan is a kind-hearted person. Why would he just ignore me after everything I've done? He is never this rude or cold-hearted. Maybe I was wrong. Either way I have to just forget about it. It serves to validate my reason for resigning, and I only look at the positives for everything.

A gust of cold hair abruptly blows across my face, and as a result I exhale a small gust of condensation into the dusky sky, on the cusp of midnight.

Down the street beyond the three sets of street lights I can make out my bus stop, and my feet are itching for me to take a seat to give them a rest as I keep pacing forward, my hands completely full.

Suddenly my phone chimes loudly in my purse, alerting me to a received text message. Should I put my bags down to check it? Might as well. I run to a nearby bench to drop my bags off, fishing my phone out of my pocket to tap the screen awake. I hold my breath when I see Tristan's name in bold at the top of the list. Why is he messaging me now? I rip off my glove, my fingers shaking from being exposed to the cold as I tap the screen to read the message.

Come to the office. Now

What could he possibly want, now that I'm gone?

——

I've been so lost in constructing scenarios for the evening ahead that I'm surprised that I'm actually here. Back at the office I had already resigned to never set foot in again. Despite the late hour I can still see several floors lit up as I look up at the monolithic skyscraper, etched in black and silver panes.

Why does he want to see me now, when he knows it was my last day today? And why is my heart racing at the thought of seeing him one last time?

He'll already be in there, spending another late night on the computer, or on the phone to some international client to making a deal. As I step into the spacious glass filled lobby my knees suddenly feel wobbly, and all my provisions flee my mind like scattered marbles, my brain feeling like a stuffed pillow. I stop before I press the button on my elevator. Part of me is screaming to turn around, but I know I cannot deny him. After all I've known him for so long, it feels like saying goodbye to a friend.

I can't possibly think of what I need to do as I've completed everything necessary. He probably needs me to sign off a few things.

I sigh inwardly, as I stand in front of the stainless steel doors. I never got this nervous around him, so why now? Is it because I'm not ready to say goodbye to him, face to face?

I never got this nervous around him, so why now? Is it because I'm not ready to say goodbye to him, face to face?

Either way, I'm here now and it would be cowardly for me to walk away. Besides he was my boss, and I need a good reference from him. I push the silver button and almost instantly, the elevator door opens. I step in, knowing there is turning back.



I step out of the elevator slowly like a lost child, as if I've never been here before. But that's just silly. I've been here so many times I know it like the back of my hand. I walk directly into the expansive teal carpeted floor and make an abrupt right turn to Tristan's office, pushing the slightly ajar door open.

The black glass surface of his desk is perfectly arranged as always: a computer, a leather notebook, and a framed photograph of Frankie, his dog. The office is more like a display a huge room with floor-to-ceiling windows giving views of Fifth Avenue to the left, and Central Park on the other side.

The rest of the room is comprised of a large bookshelf and multiple modern impressionist paintings hang from the walls. I scan the room to look for Tristan and my eyes cast over to the end of the desk. There he is, standing on his lonesome looking out the glass window, his distracting image reflecting off the black transparent screen. I close the door quietly and he turns around immediately, almost expecting me at that exact moment. He is in his afterhours work attire, an unbuttoned white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, no longer crisp due to a long day, and tailored navy slacks. His dark tousled hair is dishevelled and I can see a semblance of a five o'clock shadow on his jaw.

"Hey, you wanted to see me?" I ask, putting my bags down on the floor right by the door.

"So today is your last day here," he says it like a rhetorical question, his mouth forming a harsh grimace.

"Yep, clearly you were busy with work up here?" I say softly, trying to avoid his intense gaze.

A muscle twitches at the corner of his amber eye. He declines to say anything, instead turning around, his back to me again.

"So what did you want me to come here for?" I dared to ask in a defiant tone. Why does he feel the need to bother me, I don't owe him anything anymore.

He clicks the pen in his hand like hail coming down, the drumming of his fingers relentless, and each click is making me increasingly unnerved.

"Why are you leaving?" he asks, his deep and commanding voice echoing in the room.

"You of all people should know why I am leaving," I snap, narrowing my eyes at him.

He raises an eyebrow in surprise at my defiance. Did he really expect me to be okay with the way he treated me?

"Why are you asking me now? You didn't seem to care when I handed my resignation letter two weeks ago—"

"I thought you were just doing it to get back at me" he calls out, looking straight ahead into the distance, "I didn't know you were serious"

He says the last part with a yearning sorrow that I didn't expect.

"What do you mean?" I dare to ask.

"I can't believe you are actually leaving, after all this time," he says softly, keeping his back to me all the way on the other side of the room.

My hand grips the door knob behind me tightly, my hands staying firmly behind my back. Why am I so nervous around him all of a sudden?

He runs his hand through his hair in frustration, "I can't believe I'm saying this but..."

I clear the rising lump in my throat as I feel the warmth rising in my cheeks, as I wait for him to speak.

"Are you sure this is what you want?" he blurts out.

He turns around to sit at his desk, his jaw tightening as he looks at me. "You are an asset to the company. You're always friendly, helpful, innovative, and a solutions person. You are my right arm"

Suddenly, a wave of sadness flashes across his dark eyes.

"What do you want me to say? You promised me that promotion and you just gave it...," I refrain from raising my voice, "her"

"Is that what this was all about?"

And there he gives me that look again—the one that always got him a pat on the back from his boss, the one that got angry clients to change their minds and stay with the company, it could probably get him out of a lawsuit.

Tristan shakes his head, sighing loudly. "Kylie is...well, she's proven to be very capable" He locked his eyes on me, and suddenly I find myself unable to look away. "But you have something that she doesn't"

I quietly clear the rising lump in my throat, "And what might that be?"

He runs a hand through his hair, which is always full, luscious and immaculate, keeping his gaze to the floor. Like an automatic reflex, I bite my lip in anticipation as I wait on what he has to say.

"You're not her" is all he says, but it speaks volumes to me. It screams at me. I muffle a gasp at the way he is looking at me right now.

"I apologise for my abrupt decision and I should have explained why I did what I did, but believe you have better plans for your future than that promotion" he says with complete sincerity.

Better plans?

"Wh-what are you trying to say?" I force the words out.

"l was doing you a favour, you weren't happy with this job. Don't deny it because you told me so," he says dryly.

I start to say something but the look in his eyes are denying me permission to speak.

Instead he continues speaking. "You're more talented than making phone calls for me, printing pages after pages of papers. I realise this is rather unprofessional but it is the push you needed. Plus, I had my own selfish reasons too..." A curl appears on the side of his lips, that all too knowing cheeky smile I haven't seen in a while. The smile that only I get to see.

"Come on, don't pretend you don't know. We've been denying our feelings for too long," a hint of blush appears on his cheeks, "I've been denying them too long"

"I don't know what you're talking about..."

I know exactly what he is talking about. So many times I have ignored them. All the times his glanced lingered a little too long whenever I ask him to sign an urgent deposition. All the times he would smile fondly whenever I tell him about a new ice cream flavour I have attempted to make. I always thought he was just being nice. Was I getting the wrong idea all this time?

"I think you do," he smirks at me, his mischievous eyes lingering at me.

My heart rate shoots up like a smack of heroin up the veins. This must be a dream. Only in my wildest fantasies has this happened. My boss who is so much more than just my boss. He's authoritative without being threatening, funny without being offensive, stylish without being a try hard. And he also happens to be ridiculously gorgeous. This man has just professed his feelings for me. I can only stand perfectly still, clasping my balmy hands.

Without a second warning he paces towards me, and I an unprepared when he grabs my right hand, which is surely dripping in condensation at this point. His grip is firm but unthreatening, masculine without being dominating. My face is a tomato red right now, and I am thankful that the only light on is by his desk.

"You've got to be kidding right? How can you tell me this...that I'm leaving?"

"I...never date co-workers. It's always been a rule I strictly adhered to," he locks his gaze on me, and I am frozen by his touch.

I can't help but smile at his comment. It's completely illogical, I should be projecting verbal bile at this man for treating me this way, but all I want to do is stand here and let him caress me.

Without a second thought, I say the only thing on my mind. My usually rational, organised and analytical mind.

"We aren't co-workers anymore, so what's holding you back now?" I say with a teasing smile.

He opens his mouth, his perfectly full lips inviting as always.

My breath is stuck in my throat as I stare at him, refusing to blink as I wait on him to continue.

"Nothing. Nothing at all"

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