Her eyes shone into the night, glistening with unshed tears. She thought about the conversation she just had, telling him she loved him. But more importantly, she remembered his response to her declaration.
He was the only one she wanted, the only one she cared to have in her heart, in her head and even in her bed. She had come here to tell him everything but when she arrived it was to laughter and hushed voices. His office door was slightly ajar and when she looked in she gasped just loudly enough to stir Sean and Tara from their precarious position. She was lying across his desk, her shirt open to the bra, her skirt bunched around her hips. And all Alice could think about was that night months ago when she looked exactly the same way.
Sean looked up. Their eyes met and there was a brief flicker of panic, could it be because he cared or simply because he was caught. She wasn’t really sure but the fact that the look even ran across his face was enough. He helped Tara to a sitting position and her drunken giggles filled the air between them. His eyes locked on Alice, she moved into the room to show herself to Tara as well.
"Oh my goodness.” She hiccuped. "MY BOSS IS STARING AT MY BRA."
"Tara, take tomorrow off. Sober up. I need to talk to Sean now."
"But Alice, just let…."
"I want you to go before you embarrass yourself further."
Alice knew there was nothing for Tara to be embarrassed about. Sean was on the market, free as a bird to do as he wished. He made no excuses for his behavior and the women he chose were vapid enough to accept his money and not request his emotions. If that worked for them that was fine.
But she needed to tell him. She wasn’t like any of those other women or Tara. She needed more and this relationship they stumbled upon a few months ago had not ended there. She wanted more, needed more.
Tara gathered her things and left. Blush had settled on her chest and tears ran down her face. She was sure the alcohol intensified the sting of her admonishment but Tara needed to know she looked foolish.
Even if Alice had just looked foolish too not so long ago also lying across his lap, panting his name, begging. When the office door closed, Alice turned to look at Sean who had taken to adjusting his tie to avoid her eyes.
"Sean, we need to talk."
He shook his head in an attempt to deflect her question.
"All you want to do is talk. You take this lawyer thing way too seriously if you ask me. But you aren’t asking me are you? You don’t ask me much. You demand a lot though."
She looked at him and smirked. She knew she would be met with this opposition. He had this smug defiance that could drive a monk to murder. He wore it like armor to keep people from seeing him, from wanting to see him. She shook her head and turned to look away, giving him the escape he needed and the reprieve she needed from his glare. She couldn’t say it and look at him at the same time, no matter how badly she wanted to, she just couldn’t. He would change the way she felt, her thoughts, her feelings. He had a way of getting his point across without listening to anyone. He had a lot of ways.
“Sean. Stop. I don’t want to fight. I know there are things unsaid…”
He interrupted – “You still have things to say? How could that be possible? It is not possible that you have left one word unsaid or one rock unturned.” He stood to walk towards her and she could feel him standing behind her, too close but not close enough. “What do you have to say Alice? What now?”
She whirled around to look at him because now she didn’t want to give him the easy way out. She wanted to yell and scream and face him. Not facing him was just that, letting him get away with everything without seeing her pain. He needed to see it and to understand her anguish, to understand all she has dealt with the last couple of months watching him behave like a single man. She stood idly by as she watched him disrespect her and listened to him make a million promises as he kissed his way across her body. Making promises he never had any intention of keeping.
“I walked away from you then you reached out to me. We have worked together and been a part of each others lives for years and you simply decided not to talk. Not to smile. Not to say hello. I can’t understand. If you were only going to give me this and even less than this, why bother?”
“Because I can. That’s why. You let me. You always let me.”
He crossed the space between them and held her face between his hands, the tears spilled from her eyes, her eyes cast downward.
“Because I love you Sean.”
“And I can’t love you Alice. I can’t. Not again.”
“Again? When was the first time Sean? When was the first time because you didn’t show me, I had no clue. I had no clue. Don’t you think you should have made something that huge clear?”
He stepped closer to her, “I can tell you exactly when it happened, the first time was when you were here, under me, begging. Then it was one morning when you stood in the elevator and your smell held my thoughts for days. I knew I could love you forever. But I knew I didn’t deserve you so I will it to change. That’s when things changed and I wanted to walk away clean. But I can’t because you are here, invading my thoughts, my dreams. Every woman I am with I compare to you, every good morning lacks the musical sound of your voice, and every laugh is just a little flat.”
His admission left her stunned and silenced. And he smiled.
“I have stumped you. I have to stay strong, I want you to leave and not come back here to me looking for things I can’t offer you.”
“I am not going to leave because you can and you will give me all I wanted, all I need. I am not taking no for an answer. You can try to prove to me that we aren’t meant to be, you can do terrible things like bring my assistant here for me to see. You can do all of that Sean and I can’t leave. I won’t leave.”
She walked him back until he was leaning on his desk and reached for his tie, loosening it even though he worked so hard to fasten his way back into it.
“I love you Sean. You love me. It is time to stop ignoring it and start respecting that I can’t breathe without feeling you inside me and wanting to feel that again. I can’t think. I can’t let go.”
His hands tightened around my wrists, removing me from touching his neck, his chest. He placed them down at my waist and raised his eyes to meet mine.
“I am serious. Alice, I need you to go.”
“Go? I work here. I am a part of your life Sean. I am not just going. I am not. I can’t.”
“Alice, you have to do what works for you from now on. I don’t need this level of commitment in my life, you were a mistake. I can’t have you chasing women out of my office like some psycho jealous woman. This was a mistake and I can’t sit here and pretend this is what I want. Maybe I did at one point, I won’t lie. But now, now after all this between us, all this unspoken shit and even the spoken shit – I am done. If you don’t leave, I will. You know how to let yourself out and in apparently….”
He walked around me and picked up his briefcase at the door, he turned his face slightly and leaned his hand on the doorknob.
“For what it’s worth, I didn’t want it to end this way. But it has to end. I will submit my resignation tomorrow.”
When he left the room it was as if all the air was sucked from it, it was too quiet, too empty. Alice sank to her knees; a small whimper escaped her throat. She imagined this is what your heart breaking would feel like, the sudden emptiness of her life hung in front of her.
She found herself on the damp pavement, raising her eyes to the sky, the street lights shining into them. Even with all the freedom this gave her she stared into her future more bleak than when she walked up there just an hour ago.
She didn’t notice the town car at the curb idling. The window opened and Sean’s face appeared.
“Get in. Now. Get in because I don’t know what I am even doing sitting here waiting but something told me, something told me that I can’t leave it like this.”
“No, I can’t.”
“Get in Alice. I can’t be held responsible for what happens from here. All I know is that I can’t feel what I did when I closed that door and left you standing there. I can’t feel that ever again. Get in, now.”
The tears filled her eyes, her lip shaking. She reached for the handle and before she could, the door fell open.
And she got in…