Monday, May 30, 2011

An Office Kiss

         "Good morning, Mr. Parks," my secretary, Katie Wells said, stepping into my office. Same smile as always, same lilting voice. But her eyes darted away from mine. "You've got a busy morning scheduled, sir."
I stood up behind my desk. Cleared my throat. ", I mean, Miss Wells, about last night—I'm sorry."
"Me, too. We weren't very smart."
My smile felt weak. "I somehow forgot
What I did was totally stupid."
"It was only a kiss, Mr. Parks."
"More than one," I reminded her.
"My fault, definitely," she said. Then she finally glanced at me, a look of desperation in her deep brown eyes.  "Could we just...just forget it?"
"I think so. I mean, we have to. You know the rule here at Harding and Harding—no romantic fraternizing between employees."
"I know," she said softly. "Now about your schedule this morning, Mr. Parks..."
The sun streaming through the big window behind my desk gleamed off Katie's chestnut hair. No company vice-president could ask for a better secretary than Katie Wells. Her attention to detail and her willingness to assume responsibility—unbelievable. Add to that her buoyant personality—a guy would be a fool to ruin a professional relationship with an outstanding employee like Katie Wells. Unless...unless...
I nodded. "All right, Miss Wells," I said, and reassumed a boss's demeanor. "Let's tend to business."
After a hectic, conference-filled morning, I ducked into Tom Hart's office and slumped into the chair in front of his desk.  "You're looking glum, pal," he said. "What's up?"
A college buddy of mine, Tom was in charge of human resources. He's the one who sent Katie to my office for an interview over a year ago. I tried to explain what happened last night. "We were working late in my office, we finished, we ordered pizza in, we were relaxing—"
"Oh, no—don't tell me!"
"I found myself looking at her as if I'd never seen her before. I was no longer her boss. All at once I kissed her, and she kissed me back...and then she darted out of the office. Like the roof was caving in."
Tom nodded thoughtfully.  "Only one thing to do."
"Recommend her for a promotion—a better job, a different department, more responsibility, more money—I'll help. In fact, I already have something in mind. We'll even send her off to a different building. She'll thank you, and the temptation for both of you will be gone. Though you'll have to break in a new secretary." Tom offered a consoling smile. "I'll recommend someone matronly-looking this time, pal."
At five that afternoon, Katie sat in the chair in front of my desk, looked at her notepad and said, "Tomorrow morning, Mr. Parks, ten o'clock—fiscal meeting. I'll have your material ready."
"Good. Good." I swiveled back and forth in my chair. "Miss Wells," I said, "I have news for you." She looked alarmed—maybe she thought she was being fired. But she said nothing. "I'm recommending you for a promotion."
Her jaw dropped, nearly landing on her notepad. "A promotion?"
"Yes." I cleared my throat. "I've been thinking of your career development. Mr. Cummings, VP in Public Relations, has been looking for an assistant—not just a secretary—but an assistant. This will be a great advancement for you."
Katie stared at me. "Are you trying to get rid of me, Mr. Parks?"
"Look, Katie. Things are different now, and I know how important your career is to you. I'm not going to ruin everything for you because mistake. A foolish office kiss."
Her jaw lifted. "Apparently you don't know me very well, Mr. Parks."
"I know that you’re the best secretary a VP's ever had. You're bold. Independent. You anticipate problems and handle them wisely. You're decisive."
"I resign," she said flatly.
I nearly fell out of my chair. "You can't—I won't let you!"
"I love my job with you, Mr. Parks, but I've known for sometime time now I don't want to be a corporate ladder-climber. Too much of a rat race. I rather go back to teaching first grade. Which I loved. Even if it was less money."
I stood up. What was she telling me? I was afraid to ask. Afraid to hope. Because if I were reading her wrong, I was about to make a total fool of myself. Again. I gulped. "You're saying—?"
"I'm saying I'd like to eat out tonight, Andy. Instead of in the office. Something besides pizza."
As she stood up and smiled, her full lips had never looked so inviting.  I stumbled around my desk, wrapped her in my arms, and kissed her again. This time with impunity. "Your resignation," I told her, "is accepted. Gladly."
The End
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