Thursday, July 12, 2007
No Love Policy Part 3
If it was true that discretion was the better part of valour, then Daniel and I deserved medals for the levels of discretion we displayed at work. Three months had elapsed since we had first made love, and to the best of our knowledge no one at Symmonds and Chandler knew we were an item.
Shanice was surprisingly supportive. I had expected her to be upset because Daniel was my boss, but when she saw my blissful countenance she admitted that I hadn’t looked so happy in years.
And I was happy! Not only was the physical aspect of our relationship wonderful, but Daniel and I were also able to converse about anything under the sun. I even told him about my “no love” policy, and he laughingly told me he planned to put an end to that. I normally scoffed at the notion of finding one’s “soul mate” but I began to believe I had found mine in Daniel.
I wasn’t the only one caught up in the whirlwind of a new affair. Shanice and Daniel’s cousin Kevin had clicked at the barbecue and had become inseparable. I was thrilled for my friend, even though we were seeing less of each other.
Just when I was beginning to believe I could love again, the proverbial shoe dropped. I was on my way one morning to deliver a report to Daniel when I noticed a strikingly beautiful, smartly dressed woman speaking to his secretary Beverley.
As I passed and signaled to her that I was entering Daniel’s office, Beverley held up a finger. There was a strange look on her face.
“Ah, Ms. Harding, could you please let Mr. Forde know that his wife is here to see him?” she requested, indicating the woman who was making herself comfortable on a nearby sofa.
My heart stopped beating. “Excuse me?” I whispered, thinking I must have misunderstood her.
“His wife, sweetie,” the stranger interjected before Beverley could reply. She crossed her legs and stared at me haughtily.
I gripped the report tightly and nodded. I knocked briskly on Daniel’s door and entered. He looked up and smiled when he saw me, but the smile quickly froze when I flung the report at him.
“You lying, deceitful bastard!” I shrieked.
Alarmed, Daniel ignored the spill caused by the report knocking over his coffee mug and rushed over to me. I pulled away as he attempted to hold me and slapped him in the face.
“Your wife is outside to see you, Mr. Forde. Don’t keep her waiting,” I spat out.
He uttered an expletive and released me. “Sam, wait a minute…”
I held up a hand. “Don’t. Don’t even bother. I’ve heard this song before. In fact, I know the lyrics by heart. It’s just as well you were just a great lay and nothing more. Have a good life.”
I whirled and left the room before he could see the tears streaming down my face. Beverley was standing outside the door with her mouth open. It was obvious she had heard everything. Mrs. Forde appraised me coolly, a smirk on her face.
Wordlessly, I walked past them as dignified as possible. I entered the nearest ladies room, where I locked myself into a cubicle and cried my heart out.
I wasted no time. After composing myself, I returned to my office and typed a letter of resignation. I addressed the envelope to Daniel and placed it in the out tray on my desk. I grabbed my handbag and informed a colleague that I was unwell and wouldn’t be returning that day.
By the time I got into my car I heard Daniel calling my name as he ran across the parking lot in my direction. I ignored him and started the ignition.
“Sam, will you please listen to me?” he pleaded as I reversed from my spot. He came around to my window and leaned in. I threw the car into drive and glared at him.
“Answer one question, Daniel. Are you married to that woman?”
His jaw hardened. “Technically, yes, but our divorce will be final early next month. I don’t love her, Sam, I love you.”
I choked back a sob. “You love me? And didn’t have the decency to mention you were married? What kind of woman do you take me for? I would never have slept with you if I had known you were still legally tied to someone else!”
Daniel slapped the doorframe in frustration. “That’s exactly why I didn’t tell you! I didn’t mean to deceive you, baby. I didn’t expect to meet you and develop all these feelings; it kind of took me by surprise. I didn’t want to miss out on the chance to be with you. I planned to tell you.”
“When, next month when everything was settled?” I snorted. “To hell with you, Daniel. You’re a disappointment just like every other man I’ve known.”
I screeched out of the parking lot and left him holding his head in hands.
Shanice found me curled up on the sofa in my work clothes when she came home. She wasn’t alone; Kevin accompanied her. I sat up and rubbed my face and Shanice embraced me.
“Daniel called Kevin, who called me. I know you’re hurt, love, but I think you need to hear the full story.” She smoothed my hair and nodded to Kevin.
Daniel’s cousin began hesitantly. “I normally don’t reveal my family’s business, but I haven’t seen Daniel so happy in a long time, and I have you to thank for that.”
I began to speak, but Shanice shushed me and motioned to Kevin to go on. “Look, Daniel didn’t have an easy marriage. That b--, sorry woman that he married was a self-centred tramp who horned him constantly. She even went as far as to abort their baby because she didn’t want the responsibility of raising a child. Daniel stuck with it for six years but that was the last straw. He filed for divorce and moved back to Barbados to get away from her. Now she wants him back but he’s moved on, to you.”
I was stunned by Kevin’s revelation. My heart went out to Daniel but I was still angry at him for hiding the truth.
Shanice squeezed my hand. “I’m sorry you had to find out like this, but if you give up on that man you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. Think about it.”
They left the room, and I resumed my fetal position and lost myself in my thoughts.
The next few days at Symmonds and Chandler were a nightmare. Word had gotten around the office about the row in Daniel’s office and the rumour mill was in a frenzy. I held my head high and ignored the whispers. Daniel kept his distance; he was either in a meeting or out of the office.
One week after the argument, I was summoned to the chairman’s office. He must have heard I resigned, I thought as I rode the elevator to the top floor.
“Samantha! How are you doing!” Mr. Fenty boomed, motioning for me to sit.
I was puzzled by his jovial mood. Good Lord, was he that glad to get rid of me?
“So, I see some changes are ahead for your department,” he began.
I bristled. “Well sir, I believe the time comes when one must look for other ways to maximize one’s potential,” I returned defensively.
“That’s true, but Daniel Forde’s departure will still be a great loss to the company.”
I widened my eyes in shock. “Pardon me sir, what did you say?”
“Mr. Forde has resigned with immediate effect and has recommended you as his replacement. So, are you up to the challenge?”
My head spun. My God, Daniel never turned in my resignation.
I nodded absentmindedly. The chairman congratulated me on my promotion and I took my leave. Fifteen minutes later I was on my way to Daniel’s house. His Santa Fe was parked in the driveway and I let myself in with a spare key he had given me in happier times. I found him in his bedroom packing and I stood in the doorway and took in his tired face.
“Planning on leaving without saying goodbye?”
He looked up, startled, before continuing to pack. “Do you really care? I thought I was just a great lay?”
I ignored his comment and drew closer. “Why did you resign and tell Fenty to promote me?” I demanded.
He straightened and looked me in the eye. “I destroyed your faith in me so the least I could do was give you something in return. And you deserve it.”
I looked at Daniel and knew in that instant that I loved him. “What if there’s something I want more than a job?” I whispered, touching his face.
He remained motionless as I placed my arms around his neck and held him close. I laid my head on his chest and inhaled his scent. He felt so good. His arms tentatively stroked my back and encircled my waist.
I raised my head and saw Daniel’s eyes were wet with tears. I tiptoed and pressed my lips against his. He kissed me hungrily and we sank on to the bed.
Much later, we snuggled in each others’ arms, momentarily sated.
“I’m sorry about what you went through in your marriage,” I said as I traced his lips with my finger, “and about your child.”
“I don’t want you back out of sympathy, Sam; I want you to come back because you love me.”
“I do love you. I haven’t felt this way in a long time, maybe never,” I reassured him.
He nuzzled my shoulder and smiled. “I know how monumental this is for you, Ms. “no love” policy. I couldn’t bear disappointing you after what you went through in the past. I want to be better than those other bastards you dated.”
I grinned and nibbled on his earlobe. “Take it from me, you are. So, are you still planning on running away?” I asked, indicating his suitcase.
“No, I think I have all I need right here,” he replied, before sealing his statement with a kiss filled with promise.
Hope you enjoyed. To mark the anniversary of the Bridgetown Riots on July 26, I'll post up a few chapters of a novella I wrote for NIFCA 2005, entitled Two Days In July. It was awarded a bronze medal.