Professional Boundaries(4)By: Jennifer Peel
All he needed was a runway.
“What are you doing here?” I spluttered.
Just as he started to answer, Boss walked out. “Kelli, my girl, you’re already here. Good, I see you’ve met Ian.” Boss sounded unusually nervous.
It was making me nervous. I looked at Ian and raised my eyebrow. He, too, looked nervous. I wondered why Boss thought this was our first meeting. Fine, I’ll play along, I thought. “No, I haven’t had the pleasure yet.” I walked toward Ian with an evil grin on my face.
He was looking a little panicked now.
I held out my hand. “I’m Kelli Bryant.” I wanted to throw in, “Remember me, the girl who loved you? But since that wasn’t in your plans, you decided to just walk away and pretend like I never existed?”
He held out his hand, but he looked wary.
I kept up the act and shook it. I didn’t want to touch him, but what else could I do under the circumstances? As soon as we touched, I felt a surge of warmth. Not good. While we shook hands, I tried to dismiss my conditioned reaction to him.
He stared into my confused eyes. “Ian Greyson. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
I smirked at his mock sincerity. For a moment, I thought he was going to smile, but that was very un-Ian like. He did squeeze my hand once before letting it go, though. I took the opportunity to look toward Boss. I wanted to know what the heck Ian Greyson was doing here. Boss looked redder than a chili pepper, and his balding head had beads of perspiration on it.
“So what are you gentleman up to this morning?” I was never one to stand on ceremony.
They looked at each other before they looked at me. Why did I feel like this didn’t bode well for me?
“Kelli, can I talk to you in my office, dear?”
Yeah, this wasn’t good. He never called me dear; honey yes, but never dear. I looked back at Delfia, and she knew too. Boss looked at Delfia too. “Delfia, could you please get Ian some coffee.”
He was staying?
“Gary, is there somewhere I could set up my laptop?” Ian asked.
“Delfia, please show Ian to the conference room and give him access to the Wi-Fi,” Gary directed.
I couldn’t believe this. My head was spinning.
Before Ian followed Delfia, he directed his attention to me, or at least I thought it was to me. “I look forward to meeting with you later.”
Was he talking to me or Boss? There was no reason for us to meet later, and I had no intention of doing so. I looked at Boss to respond to him.
Boss was rubbing the back of his neck now. Whoa, he was on edge. “We’ll all meet together after I’ve talked to Kelli. Then there will be plenty of time for you and Kelli to meet together.”
What was this? I was absolutely not meeting with that man. Boss couldn’t make me, either. What could we possibly have to meet about anyway? I stared at Boss blankly. He wouldn’t make eye contact, and I refused to look back at Ian. I just marched right into Boss’ office and sat down in one of the leather seats in front of his desk. I heard him mumble something to the moron before he walked in and shut the door. He didn’t sit at his desk, instead he sat next to me. This wasn’t good at all.
Boss took my hands in his. Before anyone thinks this is inappropriate work place behavior, think again. I had known Boss my whole life, and he was like a father to me, especially the last several years since my own sweet dad passed away.
He finally looked me in the eye, but his palms were sweaty. “Kelli, my girl, you know it’s time for me to try out retirement. At least that’s what Holly says.”
I smiled. “I think you will be great at it.” Then presumptuously I added, “And you know I’ll take good care of things here. You won’t have to worry.”
He smiled too, but it was subdued. That’s when my heart sank and a sudden realization hit me. “You’re not making me Director are you?”
He squeezed my hands. “Kelli, there’s no question you’re the most talented and dedicated employee that has graced these walls in the last twenty-five plus years, and there’s no doubt in my mind that you would be an excellent Director.”
“But …” I said.