Copyright © 2018 by BLH All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written consent of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotation embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. Resemblance to actual persons, things, living or dead, locales or events is entirely coincidental.
It’s that time of the year. The decorations are out, the shoppers are in a frenzy, the music is joyful, with snow swirling and magic in the air. You know what I’m talking about. Okay so I totally sound like a cliché Christmas song and well maybe I live in Texas, so there’s not really any snow. In fact, it’s probably about 80° out there. Okay and there’s not really magic, but I definitely feel that way today. Today is the day that I’m getting my promotion. I will no longer be Sofia Thomas, copy editor, but I’ll be a full-on editor. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I know how important it is, but now I will get to make a real difference in the text I am reading as an editor.
I take a deep breath and look at myself in the mirror. I have my long dark hair up in a sleek bun and my blue eyes standout with the lighter make up on. Today I am wearing my power suit. It is simple and hangs on my slender frame well. Plus, it makes me feel like I can kick some ass. I shrug. I like my look. I look down to find my purse and I feel two strong arms wrap around me. Ben has been my boyfriend for the last year. He’s my rock. He has been so supportive of my work goals even though it leaves him by himself a lot. He’s also been so patient with me. He wants to take the next step in our relationship and move in together, so we will be together more often. It totally makes sense, but I am just not ready. It’s been an ongoing argument lately with us. I haven’t had the best track record with dating and I want to make sure I am with the one before that happens again. I’m happy he’s in a good mood this morning. He leans towards me and kisses my neck.
“You look stunning. You are going to knock them dead as an editor”.
I smile and turn to him. “You really think so? I’m so nervous”.
He chuckles at me, “I know so, but you better get going soon or we’re going be late”.
Did I mention we work in the same office building? Only he works in a law firm a few doors down. That’s actually how we met. I glance at my phone.
“Shit I’m so sorry baby. I’ll take my car today. You get going. I don’t want to hold you back”!
I start rushing around the house and then I feel his arm on my shoulder and I stop. I turn back around, and he gives me a kiss on the cheek and whispers in my ear. “You’ve got this.”
He starts to walk away as he is laughing at me when he yells “Good luck love!” Before closing the door and leaving me in a state of panic
I arrive at the office ten minutes late. Great way to start. I roll my eyes at myself.
I cringe. It’s my boss, Paul. I was really hoping to sneak past him.
“Sofia, I need you in my office please. Oh, and you’re late.” He taps his watch.
“I know. I’m so sorry sir. I’ll be right there”.
I go sit my stuff down at my desk. I’m so ready to have this conversation with my boss. I know he’s calling me in about the promotion. Although, it is definitely not a great way to start the conversation. I pinch the bridge of my nose. I take a deep breath and head for his office.
I knock on the door and he ushers me in. “Have a seat Sofia”.
I don’t know if I can even sit for this. I’m on the edge of my seat just waiting for him to tell me. However, Paul has never been one for getting right to the point. I’ve known him for four years now. He’s a great businessman but is not always the best man to work with. To be completely honest, he’s a short, plump man with a Napoleon complex. I want this job though so I’m going to sit here and be patient as he talks about… Umm… What was he talking about again?
He leans towards me and looks surprisingly remorseful when he says, “I’m really sorry Sofia”.
Sorry? What? Why is he sorry?
Paul interrupts my thoughts, “Sofia?”
“Oh. Yes. I apologize”.
He cuts me off. “I really think Mr. Turner is going to work out well in the editor position”.
“I was just telling you about how we had an application for the editor position that you will be working with. Mr. Turner has some amazing qualifications on his resume and I think he will fit in great here”.
“Wait. Did you say?”
Suddenly, the door opens, and I hear that voice.
No, no, no, no. It can’t be him. I close my eyes and breathe out. I turn around and see that arrogant smirk and I smile right back, the fakest smile I can manage.
“Ryan”, and I mutter asshole under my breath.
Apparently not low enough because he hears it and chuckles. Chuckles? Really? Does he find this funny? Paul clears his throat and starts to stand up.
“Oh good. You two know each other that will make things easier. Sofia, Ryan will be the new editor. I would love for you to show him the ropes. I will let you two get started. I already have a few projects lined up for you to work on.”
I turn around and look at Ryan who is grinning from ear to ear. How am I going to be able to handle this? Then Paul loses interest in us and turns away.
“Don’t forget, staff meeting in fifteen minutes I want to introduce Ryan,”
Now he wants to get right to the point? Ugh. I look at Ryan again and we walk out of the office.
“So, you heard the man. We should get started. We are going to be working very closely together,” he gives me that crooked grin that makes my knees weak.
No. I correct myself. He used to make my knees weak. Now he has no effect on my knees or any other parts of my body.
“Ryan what are you doing here”, I ask. My voice unfortunately breaks. Stupid emotions. Why do I have to be such a girl?
He stops at his office door and looks at me. “I thought we just had that conversation with Paul.”
“Ryan you know what I meant.”
He grins at me again. I mumble to myself. No effect. “Well this was a good opportunity. I couldn’t pass it up.”
“Oh, I’m aware of the opportunity. It was supposed to be my opportunity. Obviously, you wouldn’t care about that though anyways. It’s not like you need to worry about me anymore. Not that you ever did.”
His eyes widen at that and I see a look of pain cross his expression. I don’t have time to think about where that comes from when he reaches for me. I back up and flinch.
“Sof…” His features have softened, and I so want to give in, but then I steel my resolve and look right into his eyes.
“No, don’t call me that. Don’t ever call me that again. In fact, you know what, never mind. I think we are done here. It’s time for the staff meeting.” I face away and don’t even turn around to look at him again. I just walk back over to the meeting room and take a seat in the back. I don’t really feel like being anywhere near the people that will be at the front of the room for this meeting.
Christ she still looks amazing. That fire is still there also. Unfortunately, it’s directed towards me, but damn if it isn’t hot. I just wish she would let me talk to her. There are so many things I wanna say to her, but I know it’s not gonna be easy to get her to listen. She just about broke me when she said she actually believes that I don’t care about her. I hang my head and I enter the meeting room. I pass by her, but she doesn’t even glance at me. I try not to let it bother me. I sit right by Paul as he gets up to address the room.
Paul quiets everyone down. “Alright everyone I will make this short, I just have a couple announcements to make. First of all, we are celebrating the holidays building wide this year. We will be doing a Christmas luncheon on the 20th, a sign up will be posted for anyone who wants to contribute and at that time we will be having a Secret Santa. We would love for you all to participate. We know that we have a few different businesses, but we would like everyone in the building to work well together and this is a great step in doing so. That being said, I will be sending my assistant Sarah around to get information from everyone for the Secret Santa. Now that we have the unnecessary tasks out of the way, I want to introduce you all to our newest editor. He comes to us all the way from California, but he was originally from this area. Some of you may already know him, Ryan Turner. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge that I know will benefit our company so please make him feel welcome and I can’t wait to see what great ideas he brings to the table.”
I stand up and self-consciously wave at everyone as they all clap and welcome me and sit back down as fast as possible. I’m just ready for this meeting to end and to get a chance to talk to Sofia again.
Later on, as we are exiting the meeting room, I see Sofia make a beeline to the exit to be the first one out. Oh hell no. She is not getting away that easily. But then I freeze as I see her run right into.. Who the fuck is that? There is some douchebag that was just walking in the door. It looks like he was there to see her. No that can’t be right. All I can do is just stand there.
She just giggled. Sofia does not giggle. Is she flirting with him? And then my heart shatters as I watch them hug and he whispers something in her ear. He grabs her hand and they leave. I release a breath I didn’t even realize I was holding and slump back down into my chair. I lean back and sigh. All I can think as I run my hand through my hair is what do I do now?
All I could think about was how fast I could get out of that room once the meeting was over. I can’t do this. I can’t be around Ryan. It is too overwhelming. I can’t even concentrate. I rush for the door as soon as we are dismissed and I end up running straight into Ben. I had completely forgot that we had discussed having lunch today. Ben chuckled as he caught hold of me.
He whispered in my ear then, “Whoa love, where are you off to in such a hurry. I hope it was because you were so excited about meeting me.”
Even in my hectic state, I couldn’t help but laugh. He is so adorable sometimes.
I let him grab my hand and he led me away from the office. We decided to go to our favorite bakery down the street. The quick ride there was completely silent. I had no idea what to say to him. Ben didn’t even know about Ryan. I was going to have to be honest with him, I just didn’t even know where to begin.
I went ahead and found a table while he ordered at the front. When he sat down, all he did was look at me and smile, but then of course he had to ask.
“Do you mind telling me what you were in such a hurry about earlier?
I sigh and fold my hands and look down at the table.
“Love? You know you can talk to me about anything?”
“I do, it’s just..” I break off mid sentence not really knowing how else to finish that thought.
Ben sighs. You can tell it’s bothering him that I have these walls that I just can’t let down. I can’t do that again.
“Sofia you have to let me in. How can I help if you won’t tell me what’s wrong.”
“I know.” The only way out is to be honest and I want to be with him. I want to open up even though it is scary. I decide to just get it over with.
“Do you remember me telling you that my dating history has not always showcased my best decision making skills?”
He laughs, “I think we can all say that at one time or another.”
I roll my eyes. “True. My last relationship though was particularly messy.”
Seriously. What do I do? I think back to our final day together and I wonder how I ever thought we could get past it and I could make things better.
4 years ago
“Ryan tell me you’re joking! Please.”
I hear the pleading in her voice and I see the tears streaming down her face and I am gutted. I am completely gutted. How can I cause the love of my life so much pain. Ultimately though I know it’s for the best. I’m not good enough for her right now. I am only 23. I just graduated with my degree and Sof is only 19. She is just beginning. I need to find myself. I need to make something of myself, be the man that Sofia needs and I can’t hold her back. Maybe if everything aligns just as I hope it will, I can come back for her and we will still be together one day.
“Sof, please don’t. I can’t…”. Tears are starting to run down my face as well.
“Don’t you understand? No matter how much I love you, it just wouldn’t work. I just got my degree and an offer to work in California and you are just beginning your college journey. It has always been your dream to attend school here. I can’t take that from you.”
Sofia runs up to me and grabs me around the waist and I break.
“I have new dreams. I can go to school in California. We can make this work. I don’t understand how you can do this. You told me you loved me. We just made love for the first time last week!”
And then it’s like a light bulb is going off over her head. She backs up slowly and then looks up at me.
“You don’t want me.”
“That’s it. It’s me. I’m not good enough. I wasn’t good enough. You got what you wanted right?”
I start to panic. No, no, no. This is not how it is supposed to go. I never meant to make her feel like this. It’s me that’s not good enough. She is perfect. How could I not see my timing. I’m such an asshole.
And then she ran away. I couldn’t catch her by the time I got out of my trance and she never talked to me since. No answers to my letters, email, texts, phone calls, messages with others in our circle (that was a worthless try anyways, our friends hated me just as much.)
As I end my daydream, I look around the meeting room I’m still sitting in and I realize how naive I’ve been to think this could be an easy mission. She may never forgive me, but I am going to do everything I can to show her that I never stopped loving her. She is still my beautiful Sof and the love of my life and I am going to win her back. Just as I am thinking this, Sarah walked in with a basket.
“Mr. Turner, congratulations again. Are you participating in our secret Santa?”
I shrug, “Why the hell not.”
TO BE CONTINUED….