Chapter 3: Friday, Friday

Her morning started at 7:00 with the insistent beeping of her alarm clock. Warily, Beth opened her eyes and hit the stop button, silencing the machine. Her tired body protested against moving, but she managed to get herself out of bed. Trudging to her closet, she opened it and eyed the outfit she was going to wear today. She had bought it yesterday, spending nearly all the money she had saved up to pay off some of her debts. But, she reasoned to herself as she admired it that the money had been worth it. Now fully awake, she happily grabbed the dress, a pair of nylons, and a pair of high heels and set to work dressing. In no time, she was ready to go to work, and she surveyed her appearance in the mirror.
The black velvet dress made her look svelte. It was a-line, and the skirt fell only to mid-thigh, exposing quite a bit of leg. The neck dipped suggestively low, and was held up by two thin spaghetti straps. Her hair was pulled back into a bun, and her make up was reminiscent of what she had worn on Tuesday. She was wearing black nylons and black high heels, making her look taller than she normally did. Around her neck was a black wire choker. She looked really nice, and she hoped Dave would find her attractive. She checked the time. 8:30am. Taking a deep breath, she did another once over. She was as ready as she was ever going to be. With another deep breath, she picked up her stuff and walked out the door.

The office was a buzz with the normal activity when Beth walked through the door. Two steps in, however, and the room was silent. Everyone stopped and stared as Beth made her way to her desk. If she thought she had felt nervous on Tuesday, then she was mistaken. All eyes in the office were on her, and most of the jaws in the room were on the floor. Every step felt like an eternity. Finally, she made it to her desk. She put her things down and glanced around the office. A facsimile of work replaced the silence, but practically everyone in the room continued to glance at her. She had to admit to herself that she enjoyed the attention, but she was too preoccupied about Dave and her secret admirer to really pay too much attention to it.
She swiftly set her stuff on her desk, sat down and took some deep breaths to calm her nerves. 'Everything's going to be alright, everything's going to be alright . . . .' It became her mantra as the butterflies in her stomach threatened to multiply. She was finally beginning to calm down when trouble struck. Lisa walked up to her, suspicion written all over her face.
"Hey Beth."
"Oh," Beth said, startled. "Hey Lisa."
"You look nice. Any special reason?"
Beth felt a bit apprehensive, but plastered a smile on her face regardless. "Nope, no reason," she answered as cheerfully as she could, hoping Lisa would accept it and go away.
But Lisa was too stubborn. "You know . . . if I didn't know any better, I would say you were trying to impress someone. Someone who has his own office maybe." It wasn't exactly an innocent comment.
Beth's head snapped up. "Whatever gave you that impression?" She just hoped it didn't sound too defensive.
Lisa scrutinized Beth a little closer before answering. "It's just that you've never been the type to dress . . . out of character twice in one week. On Tuesday you dressed conservatively, and now today you look like you're going to the prom. Something has to be up, and my intuition tells me that it has to do with Dave."
Did Beth detect a note of hurt and anger in her voice? In any case, she was certainly not going to let Lisa even think that the truth was the truth. "As a matter of fact, I have a date with a secret admirer tonight, someone from this office. If you must know, I look nice for him."
"Yeah, right," Lisa said, her voice dripping in sarcasm.
Beth was about to add more to that when Dave stepped out of his office.
"Oh hey Lisa, Beth. Beth . . . " was as far as Dave got before he actually noticed what Beth was wearing. He stood staring for a few moments, a look of shock on his face, before he finally cleared his throat and returned from wherever it was he had been. "Um, Beth. Here are the ratings for last month. Will you go file them."
Beth felt her cheeks flush slightly as she took the ratings from him. "Sure Dave," she said, and got up to go to the filing cabinet. As she walked away, she heard Lisa say, "Dave, can I talk to you in your office?"
"Alright," he had answered, and then she was out of earshot. Beth felt herself pale. What if Lisa mentioned their conversation to Dave? Beth didn't know if she could handle him finding out from Lisa, of all people. Taking some more deep breaths and repeating her mantra yet again, Beth filed the ratings and went and sat back down at her desk. She noticed a few things she needed to take care of, and set about it, desperately trying to keep her mind off what could possibly be happening in Dave's office.
It was fifteen minutes before Dave's door opened and Lisa came waltzing out. It was two seconds later that Dave poked his head out of his office door. "Beth, can I see you in my office?"
"OK," Beth said, getting up. Shooting an inconspicuous, but metaphorically lethal death glare at Lisa, Beth walked into Dave's office and closed the door behind her.
Dave sat at his desk and looked up at her. "Well, you certainly look nice today. Any particular reason?"
Beth felt herself flush, but willed herself not to think about it. "Well, thank you. There's not really a reason for it, I just felt like it."
Dave smiled at her and nodded his head. "Ah. You're welcome. Anyway, I have some stuff I need you to work on," he said as he stood up and handed some papers to her. "Just make sure you get this stuff to me by the end of the day."
Beth's curiosity was piqued. He normally didn't put a deadline on her. "Why by the end of the day?"
Dave sat back down and glanced at her as he shuffled some papers around. "Oh, just because I want to get it to Mr. James so I don't have to worry about it this weekend," he said nonchalantly.
"Oh. Ok, I'll get it to you as soon as I finish," Beth answered, somewhat nonplussed. Then she turned around and headed to her desk, wondering what Dave's plans for the weekend entailed.

As the end of the day loomed closer and closer, Beth found herself becoming more and more apprehensive about finding an inconspicuous way of discovering what Dave had planned for that evening.

It was not long before quitting time when Beth finished all the work that Dave had given her to do. As she stared at the small pile of papers on her desk, she inhaled deeply and sighed. Right after lunch, she had figured out the best way to approach Dave about what he planned to do after work. She was going to take the finished work into his office, and chat him up. She only hoped she could pull it off. With another quick sigh, she stood up and walked into his office, only pausing to grab the work on her desk.

She walked into his office and shut the door. He was on the phone, and gave her the universal signal that he would be with her in a moment. So, for lack of anything better to do, she listened to his conversation and tried to figure out whom he was talking to.
"Uh huh . . . yes, I did . . . Next weekend . . . It was the earliest I could get . . . Two days . . . I have to be back to work on Monday . . . He's not here . . . "
His conversation wasn't making any sense to Beth. It was too bad she couldn't listen in at her desk. She tuned back in.
" . . . I'm sorry, but it was the best I could do . . . She's coming too, I think . . . "
Now Beth's ears perked up. She? She who?
" . . . Look, I have to go now . . . Ok, I will . . . I love you too. Bye Mom." Dave hung up the phone and smiled sheepishly at Beth. "I'm going to visit my parents next weekend."
Beth just smiled at Dave, though she wanted to inquire who was going with him. "That's sweet Dave. Anyway, I brought you that work you gave me."
"Oh good," Dave said as he took it from her. He looked over it briefly, then looked back up at her and smiled. "Thanks."
Beth took in an inaudible breath and then plunged ahead . . . trying to sound casual, of course. "So, why was it that you wanted me to get this done so fast? I wouldn't ask, but you don't normally give me a deadline to meet."
Dave regarded Beth with mild bemusement, or that's how Beth interpreted it anyway. "Well, since you probably won't stop hounding me until I answer you . . . " he trailed off, then, seeing Beth nod in agreement, sighed and continued. "I have a date this weekend, and that's all I'm telling you, no matter what you threaten me with."
Beth just looked at him, then raised her arms in mock surrender. "That's all I was curious about," she lied through her teeth. Dave seemed to know it as well, because he raised his eyebrow a bit. Putting on a brilliant, but fake, smile, she reiterated herself. "Honestly."
"Well," he said, getting up and still eyeing her warily, "then I won't have to go bitchcakes on you."
Beth laughed at him. "No, you won't have to do that Dave," she said, then lowered her voice seductively, "unless you want to."
He stared her in the eyes. "Don't tempt me," he said, with a hint of mischief in his eyes and voice, though he kept his face straight.
Beth thought her heart was going to jump out of her chest. He had the bluest eyes. She felt like she could get lost in them. But, the moment passed, and Dave was now pushing her out of his office. "Get out of here Beth. You've had a hard week, and I know you have that date with your secret admirer tonight," he smiled at her with a hint of evil.
"How'd you know about that?"
He looked at her like she was insane. "Oh come on Beth, you know how gossip travels in this office. I was bound to hear about it sooner or later."
"Riiiiight. I just figured it'd never get around to you, but you're right, I should know better."
Dave grinned. "Now get out of here before I have to push you all the way out."
Beth smiled a genuine smile at him. "Thanks Dave. You have a good weekend too."
He looked down at her, and smiled a wide smile. "Thank you. I will. I hope your date goes well."
"Yours too."
"That makes both of us."
"Well, bye."
And with that, Beth walked out of the office, physically feeling her heart shatter.

As Beth took her . . . sixth? . . . no, seventh shot of tequila, she reflected on how her life was in a perpetual state of getting worse. Dave had someone else . . . who he was taking to meet his parents. Her secret admirer had turned out to be nothing. She had spent a lot of money on the dress she now wore, all for nothing. She couldn't remember how long she had been sitting in the little booth in the corner of the bar that she frequented, but it was long enough. She downed her eighth shot, and got up to leave, angry and hurt . . . and a little wobbly. She left the money for her drinks on the table, then carefully made her way to the entrance. She was just making out the door handle when it opened. Her vision resolved to show her that Joe stood there, staring at her. Her vision resolved a little more to show her that he was alone. A woman stood next to him, also staring at Beth.
"I was just leaving," Beth mumbled, then ran past them out to the street, where she caught a cab to her apartment complex.
She paid the cabby, and wove her way up the stairs to the door of her building. A perilous walk up the stairs inside the building later, she opened the door to her apartment, and walked in, tossing her stuff on the floor. A moment later she joined them on the floor, but with a bottle of tequila and a shot glass. She proceeded to down a succession of shots. Now she was getting good and drunk, and with no one around to bother her. Of course, she shouldn't have thought it so soon. There came a knock at the door. Beth sat at the floor and stared at her door for a second, trying to figure out why the powers that be were against her in everything. She considered ignoring the knock, but a powerful pound answered this thought. She sighed heavily, then heaved herself off the floor to the door. As the door swung open and she was able to figure out who stood in front of her, she suppressed a groan.


Part 1
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