Love and War

(Part 1 from 2. Fiction.)

I nearly dropped to my knees the moment he walked into the office.

He was being led by the president of the board, Kristen Winters, as she showed him around. She saw us all congregated in front of his new office, ready to meet him, just as she'd told us to do before she brought him up to the office. She smiled, seeing that we'd followed her instructions, and approached us.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your new boss, David Windsor."
David Windsor. What an interesting name. It also sounded like the name of somebody arrogant, but I'd have to get to know him first. Although, with looks like his, there was a good chance he was a bit arrogant.

Kristen introduced us individually, and David shook our hands after she did so. "The girls are Penelope, Amy, and Marie." Handshake, handshake, handshake. "And the guys are Jonathan, Christian, and Alex." Handshake, handshake. Then he got to me. He looked me up and down quickly with his flashing blue eyes and I felt frozen. Then he stuck out his hand and I shook it. I did my best to appear calm, although on the inside I was screaming like a little girl in excitement. His touch was electrifying.

"Anything you'd like to say, David, before I leave you to get to it?" Kristen asked warmly. I noticed that the girls all shuffled a little closer to him, and so did Christian. Jonathan, the only person in the room who wasn't totally taken with David, rolled his eyes.

David clasped his hands together and said, "Well, there's not much I have to say. I'm your new boss, but you already know that. I look forward to working--" he looked right at me "--with each one of you very closely."

Kristen smiled and shook David's hand, lingering a little bit longer than she really should have, then she turned and walked away, getting in the elevator and leaving. David then turned to all of us and said, "Well, I guess we should all get to work, then." With that, he turned and walked into his office. The walls were glass, so we could all still see him. While the girls continued to stare, Jonathan, Christian, and I turned and went back to our desks, although I noticed that Christian was stealing more than his fair share of glances.

As I sat down, Jonathan nudged me and said, "They're acting like schoolgirls, aren't they?"

I chuckled. "Yeah. They are."

"I'm surprised you're not all over him. You know, since you're gay." He realized that that was a bit insensitive and added, "And also because, you know, Christian's gay, too, and he's practically drooling."

I laughed again. "Yeah, well, I know how to control myself. Plus, he's probably straight. I don't fall in love with straight guys."

"Yeah, I know. Because if you did, you'd probably be puppy-dogging me, right?" he said with a smile.

"In your dreams, straight boy."

He laughed. "Touche, gay boy."

He walked over to his desk as I laughed and shook my head. I really liked Jonathan, as a friend, of course. We bantered like that a lot, and it was fun.

Finally, the girls were able to get back to work and Marie came over to her desk next to mine. She and I had been best friends since college, so it was only natural that we had gotten our first jobs together. Granted, I was 29, and she was 28, but this place was still our first jobs, technically. We'd been here for three years.

Marie leaned over to me, brushing her dark black hair out of her face, and whispered, "He. Is. HOT!"

I laughed. "I know. I saw him."

"Yeah, I think I might go for him. That is, if Penelope doesn't get to him first."

Penelope was our resident nymphomaniac. She had tried to seduce Christian, Jonathan, and I (in that order) ever since her employment. All three of us had turned her down, but that hadn't stopped her. Our old boss, Kyle, had given in, though. He'd left because he felt so guilty about cheating on his wife and couldn't bear to see Penelope around the office. So now, we had David.

"You can probably get him, though," I said, trying to cheer her up. "You're not that bad looking."

She laughed and punched me on the arm lightly. "Shut up. But honestly, I don't really think I have a shot. I mean, seriously, did you SEE him?"

I had seen him, yes. His image was probably forever burned in my mind. He was probably around 30, maybe 31, and at my guess, maybe about 6'2''. He had moderate brown hair, with a little bit of black mixed in, making for a nice-looking combination. He seemed well-built, and those blue eyes of his certainly helped his image.

"Alex?" Marie snapped her fingers in my face. "Are you in there?"
"Wha--" I had been so lost in thought, I hadn't noticed her trying to get my attention. "Sorry, what were you saying?"

She smiled. "I said, Maybe he's gay, and you can have him."

I scoffed. "Don't be stupid. Even if he was gay, he would never go for me."

Marie sighed. "You know, I really hate your insecurity. You look really hot, you know."

I laughed, but only half-heartedly. I certainly didn't like my image, although to other people, I probably looked hot or something. I was 5'10", and thin, but not muscular. I had unruly black hair that usually just went everywhere instead of being combed down. I was pretty hairy, too. On my arms and on my legs, but not so much on my chest. I didn't really like my hair, but whatever.

Marie always told me that I needed to boost my self-esteem, which was pretty sucky, stemming from a childhood of being chubby and incredibly unattractive. The only thing I liked about myself were my eyes; people told me they were mesmerizing. They had two layers to them: they were brownish-blackish on the inside, and deep green on the outside. Flecks of yellow dotted the green, and flashes of blue sometimes appeared in the brown when I was out in the sun.

"Well, if he likes insecure people, let me know," I said to Marie. "He'll be all over me then."


Marie sighed. "I just want to see you happy, Alex. You know that. And the only way you'll ever be happy is if you boost your self-esteem and let yourself believe that somebody can love you."

I really hated it when Marie did this. "Can you please be quiet?"

She held up her hands in surrender. "Fine, fine." Suddenly, her eyes got really wide. "Wait! I have an idea!" She got up and rushed across the office, heading straight for Penelope. I watched, confused, as they talked back and forth for a few moments, laughing and looking very secretive.

When they were finished, Marie rushed back over to her desk and sat down, smiling to herself. "What is it?" I asked her.

"You'll see," she said, barely able to contain her obvious excitement. "Oh, yeah, you'll see."

I shook my head, leaving her to her own crazy devices. Sometimes, I couldn't really understand the things Marie did.

***

A few days later, as I passed by David's office, I saw that he was sitting at his desk, looking sexy, writing something down. He happened to glance up and see me. Panicking, I started walking faster, but it was no use. He caught my eyes, smiled, and waved me in. I reluctantly did.

I no longer really liked David. Like I said before, I don't like arrogant guys. And boy, was David arrogant. The night of his first day as boss, we all took him out for dinner, and the way he talked about himself, his looks, his talents, his achievements, blah, blah, blah, had really been quite egotistical. So I pretty much written him off and hadn't spoken to him since. It was better that, actually. Then I didn't have to deal with the confliction of being attracted to him and not liking him at the same time.

I opened his door and walked in, sitting down in the chair in front of his desk. He gestured at the door and said, "Can you close the door, please?" I stood up and closed it. Once it was closed, he got right to it: "You don't like me, do you?"

I was taken aback. How had he picked up on that so quickly? "Well, not as much as I could, I guess." Being blunt with arrogant people was the best way to deal with them, in my opinion.

"Why?" He actually sounded hurt. He looked it, to. His eyes were filled with emotion.

I, on the other hand, was suddenly filled with regret. "I'm sorry. But there's just a lot about me you don't know, stuff that I would prefer you don't know."

"And that stuff prevents you from liking me?"

It keeps me from getting hurt by you, I thought. But what I said was, "Yeah. It's complicated."

David nodded. "Okay. Is there anything I can do to fix this....stuff? Because a good boss wants to be like by--" he gave me the same look he had given me on his first day, when he'd looked directly at me "--ALL of his employees."

I gulped. "Well, I guess. Although I'm not really sure what those things are." I wanted to be as vague as possible.

David nodded, the smile having returned to his face. And the dimples, too, I noticed. "Good. You can be sure that I'll try."

"Great," I said, feigning excitement. "So, should I get back to work now?"

He nodded. "Go on." I turned to leave, but just as I was walking through the door, he called my name. "Alex?"

I turned. "Yeah?"

"Try not to make assumptions, okay? They can really keep you from seeing what's right there in front of you."

"Okay," I agreed, not really sure what he was talking about."

"Good." He smiled again, and those dimples flashed, again. "You can go now."

"Bye." I left his office, feeling confused, and I sat down at my desk. Marie was already at hers.

"I walked by his office and saw you in there, talking to him!" she raved. "What did he say? Does he like you?"

"No!" I cried. "Nothing like that. He just asked me why I didn't like him."

Marie gasped. "So he is gay! I knew it!"

I shook my head. "No, he isn't Trust me, my gaydar isn't going off; he's straight as an arrow."

"Or a circle," Marie muttered.

"Shut up!" I said, laughing. "Anyway, no, he didn't ask me that like you think. He asked me because he wants all of his employees to like him as a person."

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