Professional Boundaries(9)

By: Jennifer Peel

While I was mulling over his invitation, he smiled at me. “Will this impose on your belly dancing class?”

I half smiled and shook my head no. I was still so embarrassed about the butt incident this morning. What do I have to lose? I thought. “Fine, wait here.”

He visibly relaxed.

I opened my door and hauled all my bags in. I found my lazy tabby cat, Charlie, lying on the top of my couch just waiting to be adored. I stroked his head several times until he purred. He was such a diva. Then I freshened up a bit. I smiled to myself to think of him standing out in the cold. Maybe that was rude, but the guy did break my heart once upon a time and he stole my job. And if memory served me correctly, he enjoyed cooler temps. After I took my own sweet time, I walked back out to meet him.

He was walking around the pool area looking around. When he saw me, he walked back my way. “Great, you’re ready.”

We proceeded to the parking lot, and he tried to make small talk. “This is a nice complex, do you like living here?”

I shook my head yes. “Yes. For apartments they’re great; a little pricey, but worth it.”

“Hmm …” he said. “Should I drive?” he asked as soon as we made it to the parking lot.

“I was just planning on following you in my car.”

He raised his eyebrow at me. “You won’t ride with me either?”

“You know what they say, stranger danger,” I said without apology.

He tried to compose himself before he spoke. “I forgot how willful you were.”

I smiled in mock delight. “So, where are we going?”

“Why don’t I follow you, so you don’t think I’m luring you anywhere?”

I smiled toothily. “Perfect.”

He just stared at me and shook his head. I let him get in a few more looks before I walked away, smiling to myself for throwing him off his game. I honestly wasn’t worried about Ian taking advantage of me. Heck, I had to practically throw myself at the guy when we first started dating. Our spark was undeniable, but boy did he try and fight it. Looking back, I suppose he was right to; I was awfully young at the time, but the heart wants what it wants, and boy did my heart want him.

He followed me to my favorite restaurant, Alicia’s. I personally knew the owners, Alicia and her husband, Jose. They were my first account as a junior account manager at Chandler Media. That was seven years ago. They still used the logo and ad designs I created for them. The design had an old world feel—we used an old world map of Mexico as the back drop. I’d since offered to touch it up or create a new one for them, but they’d become very attached to it.

Ian had no trouble keeping up with me. I kept wondering what he was thinking about as he followed me. I was surprised he was going to all the trouble; I thought he would’ve been happy to see me go. Funnily enough, my sister thought otherwise. She’d predicted he would ask me to come back. She believed he had ulterior motives for coming to Chandler Media, but I’d told her she was crazy. “Crazy like a fox,” she responded.

Alicia’s parking lot was almost full; that was a good sight for me. They deserved the continued success. I had never met harder working or kinder people, and their food was to die for, especially their smothered burritos. My mouth was watering just thinking about it.

Ian found a space next to my car and parked, and then we met each other on the sidewalk. He looked up at the place. I forgot, this probably wasn’t his style; he was more of the quiet café type, or at least he used to be. Oh well, if he wanted to talk to me, he was going to have to do it on my turf.

“I hope you like Mexican.” I knew he did, but I was treating him as if I didn’t know him it all. I could tell it bothered him, but I wasn’t sure why.

He looked at me oddly. “Of course,” he replied.

So I led the way to the entrance. There was a bit of awkwardness when we got to the door; we both reached for the door at the same time and our hands touched. Naturally, I backed off and let him open it. I had no problem with men opening my door, and normally I just assumed they would, but I was making no assumptions with Ian, now or ever.

“Um … Thank you.”

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