|Chapter 2: The Games People Play
She saw him walk into the office, and immediately put her plan into action. As usual, he walked into his office to set down his stuff. She followed him in.
"Good morning Dave," she said, brightly.
He seemed a bit surprised. "Morning Beth."
"Here's your coffee."
Now he was definitely surprised. And suspicious. "Thank you. It's not . . . it's drinkable, right?"
She threw him a look that said he should know better than that. "Of course it is."
"Well, thank you. To what do I owe this honor?"
She rolled her eyes, though she had been expecting him to be a smart-ass about it. She could hardly blame him. It wasn't something she did very often. "Nothing Dave. Just be grateful."
"Oh I am. Don't get me wrong. So, thank you again."
"You're welcome." She continued to stand there.
"Uh, was there something else you wanted Beth?"
"Don't you have something for me to do? Some work, maybe?"
If Dave hadn't been sitting down, he most likely would have fallen into his chair. "Excuse me? Come again. I don't think I received that entire message, over."
Beth sighed. "Look, do you have any work for me to do?"
He stared at her for a couple of seconds. "No, I'm still not getting it. It sounded like you asked me if I had any work for you."
"Yes. Why is that so hard for you to believe?"
"It's just that, in all the years I've worked here with you, I don't think I've ever heard you ask me to give you work."
"I haven't. Let's just say . . . I did some soul searching this weekend and I realized that I come to work to work. So, have any?"
"Uh yeah, yeah I do."
"Great. I'll be at my desk when you gather your wits about you." She flashed him a sly smile and winked. Then she turned on her heel and walked to her desk, mentally chuckling at the look on his face. 'Guess I should do this more often . . . .'
Beth trudged into her apartment, entirely exhausted. Now she knew why they called it work. She had kept up the quickest pace she could maintain and still not make any mistakes. And, she realized, she had gotten more done in one day than she normally did in a week. It was somewhat gratifying, but she decided not to make too much of a habit of it.
She threw her stuff done, brewed some coffee and sat down to a microwave dinner. While eating, she analyzed her progress at Dave's attention/affection. The attention meter had skyrocketed today, because much of the work that Dave had given her required him around for some part of it. The affection meter had probably also risen, but that could be a temporary thing because of the novelty of her decision to work hard. She needed to go for something more . . . lasting. She already had big plans for Friday, but her goal had been to surprise him every single day this week. Her plan for Tuesday: dress conservatively. That would shock him. She also had another little trick up her sleeve.
She finished dinner soon enough and, as she was cleaning up, a yawn escaped her. She took that as a sign that she should go to bed early. She walked into her bedroom, changed into her pajamas, and fell into bed, asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.
Her alarm went off at around 7:00am, which was about an hour earlier than it usually did. As she got up, she realized that she would never, ever, have done this for any of her other boyfriends. If it hadn't been so early in the morning, that passing thought might have caused her to stop and wonder. But, alas, it was 7:00am, and she wasn't doing much thinking at all. Her thinking mainly consisted of finding an outfit that someone like Lisa might wear to the office. Lucky for her, she happened to have some clothes that would fit into the general category of office wear. Come to think of it, Lisa had been the one that had given her the clothes, and it had been while Lisa had been the news director. Must have been trying to hint at something. Oh well.
An hour later, she looked at herself in the mirror. Not too bad, actually. She had done her hair in a french twist, and considerably toned down her make up. They both matched the navy skirt, jacket and white blouse that comprised her outfit. She put on some earrings her mother had given her one Christmas, and a single, silver chain with a little glass heart went around her neck. She felt a little self-conscious when she looked in the mirror, but decided that the effort would be worth it if it had the desired effect.
The moment she stepped off the elevator, it felt as if everyone's eyes were on her. Maybe they weren't, but she couldn't help thinking they were. And as soon as she stepped into the office, she knew they were. The normal bustling activity slowed down as she made her way to her desk. She put on confident airs, despite the fact that inside, she was shaking from nervousness.
Joe was the first one to come up to her. "So, trying to get someone's attention?"
She looked up at him. "What was your first clue?"
"Hey, no need to get defensive. Besides, I think it will work. You had this most of the office staring at you. I think he'll notice if everyone else did."
"Yeah, well, I hope so. I went to enough trouble."
"I'm sure he will, don't worry about that."
"Don't worry about what?" Lisa asked as she passed by.
"I was telling Beth not to worry about what anyone might be saying about the way she looks."
"Yeah. Thanks Joe, for the boost of confidence."
"No problem," he said as he walked away.
Lisa scrutinized Beth for a minute. "Isn't that the outfit I gave you last year for your birthday?"
"Uh yeah. Saw it in the closet this morning and just felt like wearing it," Beth lied, flashing Lisa a smile.
"Uh huh. Well, it's definitely something . . . different."
"Yeah." 'That was kinda the point,' Beth added to herself.
Lisa looked at her a moment longer. "Well, it looks nice on you," she said as she walked away.
"Thanks," Beth called after her.
"Beth . . . lookin' fine!"
"Go away Max."
"You will be mine someday."
"Fine," he harrumphed as he headed to the booth.
It was that moment that Dave walked into the office. Beth decided to stand up and look like she was doing something so he would notice her. She walked over to the coffee machine and got some coffee for Dave, glancing at him as she poured him some. Apparently he noticed, because he was still standing in the doorway to the office, staring at Beth. She hid a smile. So far, so good. Gracefully, she walked over to him.
"Dave, are you alright?"
He just stared at her. "Beth . . . uh, Beth?"
She smiled. "Yes." She handed him his coffee.
He shook himself slightly, and gulped it all down. "You sure are full of surprises this week, aren't you?"
He walked to his office, still shaking his head, with Beth in tow.
The two of them worked closely the rest of the day. And, Beth realized happily, he kept looking at her. Phase two was successful.
Her plan for Wednesday was rather shot to hell when she accidentally overslept. She was on time, just not early, like she'd wanted to be. She rushed into the office, and ran to her desk, almost missing the red rose lying there. The flash of red caused her to double take. She dropped her stuff and gently picked up the rose. It was fresh and its aroma was soothing and delightful to her nose. That was when she saw the card lying on her desk. She picked it up and read it.
To the most beautiful red head, a beautiful red rose,
the flower that outshines all others.
Not signed. How typical, and yet romantic and mysterious. She wondered who her mysterious admirer was. Inconspicuously, she sat down and glanced around the office. She ruled out Matthew because, as hard as he might try, he could never be quite so . . . articulate. She ruled out Max for the same reason, with the added fact that he could never be so suave. Couldn't have been Mr. James. That would just be wrong. She doubted it was from Joe, considering he knew the person she was attracted to. It could be Dave . . . but she didn't want to get her hopes up. Besides, he wasn't even in the office yet. Besides, there were a few other guys it could have been. Now she was just curious to discover who this man was. She was so lost in thought that she didn't even realize that the object of her affection had arrived. At least, she didn't realize it until he was looking at her with a bemused expression on his face.
"Oh! Hey Dave."
"Pretty rose. Who's it from?"
"I don't know. Card was unsigned. Maybe you know."
Beth handed the card to Dave, which he read with an expression on his face that said just how amused he was by it. He handed it back to her, obviously trying not to laugh.
Scowling slightly, she asked him, "what?"
His eyes twinkled and the expression on his face took on a mischievous look. "Kinda cliché, don't you think? Maybe a little sappy?"
She looked back down at the card. "I think it's sweet," she said, defending the card and, indirectly, the man who had written it.
"Maybe," Dave said, shrugging. He walked into his office, Beth right behind him.
"What do you mean, maybe?" she demanded of him.
"I just mean that maybe that is the sort of thing that you might find . . . sweet. I, however, don't"
Beth didn't know what to say. "Well, I guess everyone is different."
"I guess so."
Beth just stared at him, shook her head, and walked back out to her desk. She jumped back when she noticed the little teddy bear sitting there, with a heart in his hands. 'Ok, guess it's not Dave . . . .' she thought to herself as she picked the bear up. It was actually a very adorable little bear. She smiled slightly, and the smile became a bit broader when she noticed another card on her desk. This card read:
I want to give my heart to you, as does this bear. Would you
accept the love that we both want to give you?
Beth sat down, not sure what to think. These little notes and gifts were causing her to be slightly distracted, but she still was in love with Dave. She would hate to have to reject someone for someone else. She didn't even know if Dave felt the same way she did. And she didn't know if she could love someone else. Although, maybe this mysterious admirer was the man she was supposed to be with, and not Dave. She would have to think about it but in the mean time, she would continue with her plan to be the object of Dave's attraction.
The day continued, with no more notes or gifts from her secret admirer. Beth was still confused as to what to do about it, but she hadn't had much time to think about it, as Dave had given her plenty of work to do.
When she finally did have time to think about her admirer, it was in her dreams. She saw a man wining and dining her, and she loved it. Upon waking up, however, she couldn't remember who the man had been. She sighed. Another day.
Beth really didn't have a plan for Thursday. Well, she did, but it was just to continue working hard to lull Dave into a false sense of security. Friday was the day, she hoped, that would make him hers. She put the complication of the admirer aside. She would deal with that once her plans were complete.
She arrived at work relatively early. She arranged her desk, and got to work.
When Dave got to work, she had his coffee waiting for him. She followed him into his office to talk to him for a second. When she came back out, there was a little note on her desk. All it said was:
Please meet me for drinks on Friday after work.
I think you know the place.
Beth glanced around her desk, but there wasn't anyone nearby. This was beginning to get annoying. Not only was this person distracting her from her goal, but also Friday was the day she had been planning on working late, with Dave, of course. She sighed. Now she had no idea what to do. The only thing she could think of was to play tomorrow by ear. Beth focused her mind. Dave was still her first priority. She would deal with this admirer of hers when she had the time. Right now, she had work to do.
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