“Please close the door behind you and have a seat, Miss Greene,” Gene said when Kylisha appeared in his office doorway. He was sitting in his usual seat behind the pine wood desk.
Kylisha eased into one of the brown visitor’s chairs. She put the legal pad and pencil she brought with her in her lap. “Will you be dictating a letter today, sir?” she asked, speaking like the diligent secretary that she was. Although it was thirty minutes before closing, Kylisha was still willing to work until the very end. If only her hands would stop shaking so that she could work.
“No, I wanted to talk to you about something of a personal nature.” Seriousness crept into Gene’s eyes as he leaned forward to capture her gaze with his.
“Personal nature?” Kylisha asked, feeling her heart speed up in her chest again. That ardent look on Gene’s face had her pulse doing double time. She’d dreaded this day coming for months. Had tried to put it off for as long as she could.
“Yes. As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’m your secret admirer,” Gene confessed.
Kylisha nodded and lowered her gaze to her lap. Would her hands stop shaking already?
Seeing her reaction, Gene frowned. He cocked his head to the side, debating whether or not he should continue. Were Kylisha’s nerves bad? Why was she always trembling around him?
“Truth is, I don’t want to be your secret admirer anymore,” Gene finally continued, too far in to back up now. “I want to date you openly, Kylisha. The fact that you haven’t returned any of my gifts or cards yet makes me think you want the same thing,” he added, determined to put all of his cards of intention firmly on the table no matter what the outcome.
Kylisha’s eyes snapped back up to his. His candor had caught her off guard, made her flesh start warring with her soul. Unfortunately for Gene, Kylisha’s flesh had never ruled her life. It wasn’t about to now.
“I’m sorry I led you to believe that you had a chance with me, Mr. Waldenhall. But us dating is simply not possible, sir,” Kylisha replied, doing her best to keep things calm and professional, despite her inner turmoil. “In fact, I consider it in my best interest not to date you.”
Rejection hit Gene like a sledgehammer. His gaze wavered for a few seconds. His Adam’s apple dipped low as he swallowed the bitter pill Kylisha just administered to him in an effort to make the necessary mental adjustments.
“Why, Kylisha?” Gene squeezed out, calling her by her first name. He hadn’t done since the Christmas party.
A rush of tingles attacked her body like waves against the seashore from the husky way he just said her name. These were the same kind of tingles Kylisha got whenever a gift or a card came from Gene. That’s why she hadn’t called off his pursuit before now. That and the fact that Kylisha simply hated confrontations.
Yet this was one confrontation she couldn’t shy away from. Gene was waiting for a reply. After spending his hard-earned money on Kylisha all these months without even a direct thank-you in return, he deserved a reply.
Taking a deep breath, Kylisha squared her shoulders and exhaled out the truth. “The fact that you’re my boss is the first reason I could never date you, Mr. Waldenhall. Things could get a little uncomfortable around here when the relationship hits one of those bumps in the road that all relationships do.” Not to mention the fact that she needed her job now more than ever since she moved from her grandparents.
“I never let my personal life interfere with my job,” Gene replied. “If I did, I would never be able to work with my stepfather, whom I’ve had several disagreements with over the years. Disagreements that we never brought to work with us and always settled away from the job.”
He had her there. Almost.
Kylisha took another deep breath and gave Gene her second and most important reason for not dating him. “The other reason I can’t date you is because you have way too many women for my tastes. I don’t date playboys, players or whatever they call guys who date a lot of women these days.” No matter how good they look in a tailored gray suit, she added silently.
Oh, how Kylisha wished she didn’t find Gene so darn attractive. She couldn’t seem to build up immunity to his good looks no matter how hard she tried.
Gene remained silent for a long moment, mulling over her last point. Kylisha was exactly right. He was a player. Gene used to call himself that with pride once upon a time. Now it seemed like a dirty word, like something he should be ashamed of. Should he?
Why isn’t he saying anything? Kylisha mused with nervous tension attacking her insides. Her hands had finally stopped shaking, but that only paved the way for the butterflies in her stomach to take flight.
As Kylisha continued to wait on Gene to respond, she saw a flash of extreme disappointment saddle up in his chestnut pools. If she’d blinked, she would have missed it since that emotion quickly galloped away only to be replaced with a look of detachment.
Kylisha didn’t know that Gene was used to not getting what he really wanted in life, that he’d practiced how to cover up his disappointment very quickly as a result. All she knew was that she wasn’t about to be just another number in his little black book, another notch on his player’s belt.
Clearing his throat, Gene finally spoke. “I appreciate your honesty, Miss Greene, and I do see your point,” he said, returning to his former business tone. “From now on, our relationship will remain strictly professional. As for those cards and gifts, please keep them as a token of my appreciation for all the fine work you do around here.”
“Uh…thanks?…Mr. Waldenhall,” Kylisha stammered out, not really sure what to say. But she sure knew what to do. “Well, I’ll be going now,” she said, rising to her feet. She couldn’t wait to escape back to the serenity of her desk.
Gene nodded and casually leaned back in his chair as if their intense conversation had never happened. Well, on to the next woman, he mused, comforting himself with the fact that he would not be without a date for long. In fact, there were many females just waiting in line for the chance to be with him. Unfortunately none of that consoled Gene as much as he thought it would.
© 2006 by Suprina Frazier
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