Rocked by Him(8)

By: Lucy Lambert



After turning off my computer and making sure the file was in a desk drawer, I grabbed my purse and traced my path back to his office.

Lucinda's desk was empty, the chair pushed in. A number of papers were scattered around, and there were still at least three incoming calls on the phone. She'd left in a hurry.

As I reached for the door handle, I wondered if she didn't have the right idea.

Bud had his jacket off, slung over his shoulder with one finger as though he were a fashion model.

Sweat stains ringed his armpits, a bead of it rolled down his forehead as I watched.

"You wanted to see me?" I said, making sure to stand in the doorway.

I'd become uncomfortably aware of just how quiet it got behind me. Everyone seemed to make a mass exodus right at five. I was pretty much alone in here with Bud. No Lucinda to keep me safe, or send him a call as a distraction. Even though I just met her, I dearly missed her at that moment.

"Yeah. Why don't you come on over here?" Bud said, patting the smooth, finished surface of his desk.

Against my better judgment, I did as he asked. Though, I stopped short of actually sitting on the desk beside him. However, this did bring me so that his face was less than a foot from mine.

"You did some good work out there today," he said, letting his eyes play freely over my body.

"What? Thanks... Wait, I don't think I showed you any work, Mr. Loughery," I said.

"Bud! Call me Bud!" he said, his face going red as he leaned back and spun his monitor around to face us.

"This doohicky program here lets me see exactly what you're doing on any company computer. I have to tell ya, I'm pretty pleased with what I saw."

I swallowed even as a cold chill ran down my back. No one had told me about this. He could see my computer activity? I quickly ran through my day in my mind, trying to recall if everything I'd done at my cubicle. I hadn't checked my email, or logged onto Facebook, or anything like that. Just work.

It felt like I'd just passed some sort of creepy inspection. Though, I imagine Bud would have liked it more if I had done something he could give me a talking to about.

"And listen," Bud said, his voice going quiet so that I had to lean in even closer to understand, "There are other ways you can advance around here, a girl like you..."

I'd put one of my hands on his desk to support myself. He put one sweaty palm over my knuckles and smiled.

Fight or flight kicked in. Every last part of my body just wanted to get out of there. It took every last shred of willpower to keep from calling him a sweaty old pig and telling him that I was quitting.

Instead, I yanked my hand out from under his and backed out quickly.

"Th...thanks. I'll see you tomorrow, Mr. Loughery!" I said, slipping out of his office.

"Call me Bud!" his voice chased my out.

Instead of going home, I went to a bar. It was a little hole-in-the-wall dive on one of the side streets. It was dark inside, lit pretty much by the neon signs advertising Bud or Coors or whatever. So dark I could hardly see the bartender. Not to mention the smell... But it was the closest place I could walk to, and they served rum. I'd downed a double before my mind started calming down.

The alcohol burned as it went down my throat. I concentrated on that feeling, on the sound of some classic rock anthem blaring from every corner.

The bartender looked at me as I ran my hand through my hair. I tapped the rim of my empty glass. Oh yeah, I definitely needed another one.

"Keep them coming," I said as the clear liquid sloshed into my glass.

I don't know how late I stayed out. All I knew was that I'd come into the bar when it was still light out, and left to find the city fighting back the night with all those lights. It was colder, too. Nippy enough that I wished I'd brought something a bit warmer to wear.

I knew I should have taken the subway back home, but I wasn't in the mood to figure out where to get off. So I hailed a cab. The driver tried to talk to me, but I just stayed quiet.

By the time I got back to my building, I felt like crap. All that rum had gone straight to my head, but rather than washing away all the stuff that happened to me that day, it was all I could think about.

As I stepped into the brightly lit lobby of my building, the concierge gave me a look. I knew I probably didn't look that great, either. My hair was a mess. My clothes were wrinkled. But I didn't care. It wasn't like I had anyone waiting for me upstairs that I had to look pretty for.

"Good evening, miss," the concierge said.

"Yeah."

I walked over to the elevator, dreading the ride up. Dreading going into my empty apartment. At least while I was at work, dealing with Bud and throwing myself at my first assignment, I hadn't been thinking about Jerry.

The LED screen showed the elevator descend to "1," followed by a ding. I stepped in as the door slid back, pushing the button for my floor.

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