An Odd Exchange - 8 (UNEDITED DRAFT)

Ariba paused when she rounded the corner to her desk and found a beautiful bouquet of flowers sitting there. She frowned and looked around to see if she might catch the culprit, but there was no one there. She set her purse, and coat down on the desk and ventured to the blossoms. She stroked a delicate petal with a smile pulling up the corner of her cheeks.

She knew Carson sent them but to say she was surprised would have been an understatement. It’d been four days since she heard from the man. She wasn’t upset, she knew his schedule, but she also knew that she was sleeping with her boss too. So many things floated through her mind besides reliving her passionate and satisfying sexual encounters with the man.

“Who are they from?”

She started from her daydream when Frida popped up at her desk and leaned on the upper countertop.

“They’re so pretty. Not cheap whoever it is.” She winked.

Ariba restrained from rolling her eyes. This woman acted like they were friends every time she wanted to get up in her business. She didn’t like people like that. Fake fake fake.

She pulled the card from the bouquet before the bold heathen could reach it. She opened it up and released a breath she didn’t know she was holding when she saw no text just a rather crafty illustration of a praying mantis. She shrugged holding back her amusement at the inside joke. She paused, weird, they had inside jokes.

“No signature.” She shrugged retrieving a vase from the bottom drawing in their workstation. She liked keeping flowers at her desk anyway. She took her beautiful arrangement from the plastic and placed them in the vase and stood. “Is there something I can help you with this morning?” She was addressing her coworker who was for some annoying reason still lurking.

“Oh no, I mean you don’t have any idea who it might be?”

“Your guess is as good as mine.” She moved past the woman to get some water for the vase.

“You’re okay with having some strangers flowers on your desk?”

She shrugged. “I’m not going to waste perfectly good flowers just because someone didn’t sign the card.”

She smiled satisfied with her coworker’s silence before the woman walked away.

Summer meant she was free from school and her son was on his way up to visit her parents for a couple weeks. She hoped that would help him stay out of trouble for most of the summer. She only had one more year of classes before graduation. She couldn’t believe it! She was so ready to be done with all the tail chasing.

She made her way back over to her desk and added the plant food to the water before fussing with the flowers one more time. She set at her desk and logged into her computer. It was true the job she had was a God send, but she knew she had more in her than answering phones and keeping someone else's schedule.

“So, I talked with Maggie in marketing and she thinks the bug is some kind of nerdy way of trying to communicate a dating ritual so we’re thinking someone from accounting. Any guesses.”

Of course the woman was back. She presented a fake smile not even bothering showing teeth before she shrugged. Was this chick really going to hover around all day trying to guess who it is? Even if she did guess right Ariba had no intention of telling her.

She sighed. She loved the flowers but she didn’t like the attention. She justed wanted to do her job for another year so she could graduate without any student loan debt.

“Not even a shy flirtation from any of the accounting guys? What about Brett? He’s into exotic chicks.”

She frowned bought ready to let the woman have it when her phone rang.

Saved by the got damn bell.

“Good Morning, Mr. Wolfe.”

She heard his low laughter on the other end of the phone. “I like when you’re all formal. That doesn’t translate to the bedroom though.”

“Are you going to be in late today? Would you like me to cancel your nine am meeting?”

More amusement. “Someone at your desk?”

“Yes, there will be coffee and scones at ten am directors meeting.” She covered the phone addressing the woman still hanging out by her desk. “I should take this he sounds pretty ornery this morning. You know, work and everything.”

“Oh, yeah, of course. We should do lunch and figure out this secret admirer of yours.”

“Mmm, as intriguing as that sounds I’m all booked up for lunches. I should get back to this call.” She waited until the woman was well out of earshot. “Do you enjoy torturing me?” She whispered to Carson.

“Mmmm,” he moaned sending a chill through her. “I’ve never been one for the kinky stuff, but I’m willing to try anything.”

She gasped trying to keep herself looking professional. “Why are you calling me on my cell phone? It’s after eight.”

“Oh, just in case you were a little late getting in. Since you’re in the office did you get my little gift?”

“Mhm, it’s beautiful and attracting all the gossiping little hens.”

He laughed. “Guess I didn’t think that part through.”

“You think? But I do like the little mantis. Nice touch.”

She could hear him smiling through the phone and that made heat fill her cheeks. She cleared her throat. “When are you coming in this morning? There are some things you need to sign and we need to talk through your New York travel arrangements in a couple weeks.”

Her office phone rang and she frowned when his name came up. She answered his office page at her desk.

“Ms. Simmons, could you please come to my office?”

“Cute.” She said, into her cell phone before hanging it up and collecting her items she needed him to look at. She stilled her insides with a palm pressed to her middle. She didn’t want to be so excited that he was so close. She was being foolish and that wasn’t like her. She wasn’t sure why she let herself feel the giddy joy. Mixing these things rarely ended well and for girls like her, the chances were even more slim.  



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