The One Nighter(2)By: Shauna Hart
Maybe she could just leave a note?
But what would she say?
Thanks for last night?
You were great?
Maybe I’ll call you some time?
Even if she wrote it, it would be a lie. She would never see him again, and despite the exquisite passion he brought her last night, she was glad of it. Glad that she didn’t have to face him or the reckless side that she kept so well hidden. She grabbed her purse from the dresser while walking over to the door. Risking one last coveted glance, she pulled it open, walking out into the sunlight and away from her terrible secret.
One year later
Melanie Brighton sat at her desk, entering invoices into the computer. She sighed heavily as the computer warned her that she had to fill in all of the blanks for the third time. Jill popped her head over the wall of the cubicle, keeping her voice to a whisper.
“Mel, did you hear the news?”
She rolled her eyes before turning to face her. The gossip about Mr. Turner selling the agency had been traveling through circles for the past five years. It never stopped, and yet here they all sat years later. To Melanie, the whole thing was ridiculous, and she’d trained herself long ago to steer clear of the supposition. Jill, however, always had to be in the middle of things.
“If it’s about Mr. Turner selling the agency, you know I don’t want to hear it.”
Her curt response hit the target, causing Jill’s eyebrows to arch. Her red curls bounced around her shoulders as she lowered her chin, her green eyes twinkling with mischief. Red lips opened and shut as she made smacking sounds with her gum.
“Well, excuse me, I just thought you might want to know what’s going on,” she replied, her voice laced with sarcasm.
Melanie turned her attention back to the computer screen. “He’s not going to sell. It’s just a bunch of gossip.”
“He already did.”
She swiveled in her chair. “What?”
Jill nodded. “I copied the papers today. He sold it to some guy named Connor Mason.”
Melanie leaned back in her chair, feeling as if the wind had been knocked out of her. Jill disappeared to answer the phone, leaving her to stare at the wall.
For years, at different times, she’d feared this would happen. Most people in the insurance business knew that if the agency you worked for was purchased, your days were numbered. This buy-out couldn’t have come at a worse time. She was two months away from her six-year anniversary with the firm. During her review, she planned to ask for a raise and a long-awaited promotion to the position of office manager.
Now, she would be lucky to keep her job.
It wasn’t fair. She had worked too hard for this to happen now. For the past year, she’d worked late nights and weekends to show her loyalty to an agency that no longer existed. She couldn’t believe this was happening. All the extra effort she put in over the last few months was for nothing.
She went through the rest of the day in a haze. She didn’t even try to enter the rest of the invoices, because at this point, it probably didn’t matter.
Why work hard for a person who was bound to fire her?
* * * *
The next few days went by in a blur. Mr. Turner seemed to be missing in action. He let her run the show with periodic calls of instruction. Every time he called, she wanted to hit him with a large blunt object. Never once did he mention that he’d sold the agency, probably for fear she wouldn’t take care of everything. It soon became apparent that he had no intention of telling her until the last minute, and that hurt.
In all the time she worked for him, she had always thought of him as a kind old man, a mentor. Even at the age of sixty-nine, he still came in every day. She had been his right arm. For the first time in her life, she’d felt needed. Now, amidst the confusion of a lost pay check and a looming job search, she couldn’t help but feel betrayed.
His silence at the moment of truth cut deep.
Eventually, she found out from Jill that Mr. Turner had a lunch meeting with the new owner. The day seemed to come and go, with her spending much of the time hiding in her cubicle. Finally, it was five o’ clock, and she was free to go.
Her intercom beeped.
“Can you come in here for a moment, Melanie?”