|2| Dark Sorrow||

“Mr. Lane. May I have a word?” Daisy said, after knocking on the door frame to Dyan’s office.

He looked up from his computer with the smart glasses perched on the tip of his narrow nose. “Uh, sure. Is there something the matter?”

“In short? Yes.” She clasped her hands behind her back and strolled into the room. She looked around at the dismal interior wondering how any one in their right mind could say held up in the place like this without encouraging madness. She brought her attention to her feet because she needed to focus on her mission which was Irene and not her guardian. It was difficult to do what she knew she had to do. The most difficult part was trying to find a good way to say something hurtful.

“Please, have a seat.” He extended his arm toward the chair on the other side of his wooden desk.

“Thank you.” She took a popper perch on the edge of the chair.

He took his seat behind the big oak desk and tried not to stare at the rather lovely, well-kept woman. “To be blunt, Irene’s behavior, as proof from her suspension from school, and her tyrannical abuse to some of the staff tells me that she isn’t doing well. However, I do believe the problem might be that she’s simply working through the loss of her parents, her life, her understanding of family and security. I realize that you are a very busy man, but Irene needs to know she’s not alone.”

After she settled, she found his eyes dilated in the dank interior. “It’s been near a week since my arrival, and since the first day, I’ve not seen hide nor hair of you. Unfortunately, that means neither has Irene.”

“I’m sorry.” He said, pulling his fingers through his hair. Again the dark interior of the office made it difficult for Daisy to make out any details. “I-I’ve been busy.”

“I realize that--”

“I-I’m sorry,” He took a deep breath. “I’m confused. I thought hiring you would help Irene, would change her erratic behavior so she can return to school.”

“That is my intent, but it’s going to be a team effort.”

He took a deep breath and leaned back in the car. “I’ve been wanting to spend more time with her. I truly have.”

“I hate to say this, but I feel I must. You seem to be quite consumed with your work. Have you ever considered that maybe this placement isn’t the best for her?” She winced after she made the suggestion. It made her ill, but in a few of her placements she was obligated to her young charges to pose the question.

He frowned up at her. The dark room couldn’t hide his appalled look of disdain. “They left her to me. Entrusted her to me. I--I’m not going to abandon her!”

“I understand that but maybe there’s a relative of hers that is better suited to give her the emotional support that she needs. It’s nothing to be ashamed of--”

She never intended to make him upset. “I don’t like what you’re implying.” He stood and started pacing. “I-If they didn’t think that I could do it they would have picked someone else. I make good money. She’ll want for nothing!” He rattled on.

After he stopped, Daisy ventured to speak. She wasn’t going to give up until the man heard all she had to say. “Having a child changes your life. You have to make sacrifices you’ve never made before. It’s a selfless endeavor to be sure especially for a single parent.”

He stopped pacing and eyed her critically. “So if I were a single woman it’d be different?”

“That is not what I’m suggesting at all. I know plenty of single fathers who made it work.” She exhaled and looked at her knees adjusting her position in the chair. “I’m coming across all wrong. Let me start again. I can only imagine this responsibility just being dropped on your lap. At the end of the day, it’s about what’s best for Irene, right?”

He scratched his head, then leaned against the desk with his head hung. “Of course, you're right. I just don’t feel good about dropping her off somewhere else. I know I’m no good at this but they trusted me so they thought that I was the best option for her and I don’t want to throw her away like she means nothing.” He looked up and his sorrowful eyes met hers. “That’s why I hired you.”

She presented a slight smile and pushed up off the chair and took a few steps closer the him. She wanted to reach out and console him even though she knew that wouldn’t be proper. “I teach etiquette. I even help troubled girls find their path, but Irene needs therapy and a guardian that can support her and my teaching. I never claim to work miracles and I never claim to handle it all on my own. “

He let out a big exhale and rubbed his palm up his forehead. “Well, what then? What do you need from me?”

The corner of her mouth lifted and she pushed off the chair. “Let’s start with--” she made her way over to the thick heavy curtains and pulled then back drenching the space with light. “We’ll start with having a good look at you.”

She laughed at his retreat from the sudden change in illumination. His eyes opened revealing startling hazel green ones.

Her chest tightened at the sight of him and she feared the feelings were mixed. As handsome as the man was he also looked like sorrow had it’s way with him. Bags under his eyes dimming them, greasy hair, and a frail form. Under the layer of grime and strife however, she was moved by his subtle beauty.

“Next,” She said, with a pleasant smile on her face. “We will require your afternoon.”

He presented a shy smile. “What did you have in mind?”

“We go on a picnic together. The three of us.”

He crossed his arms over his chest and nodded. “Okay, I can do that.”



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