Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Rainy Day

The rap on the driver's side window of my Jeep Cherokee startled me. I push-buttoned the window down, and my heart jumped. Derrick Reid, the owner of Reid Electronics, the man who had interviewed me only hours ago, poked his head inside my vehicle.
The late afternoon rain had soaked him.
Me, too, before I'd dived into my Jeep. He blinked in the torrent.
"May I join you?" He jumped as thunder clapped overhead.
"Door's not locked."
He piled inside. Slammed the door. I push-buttoned his window up, then started the Cherokee and cranked on the heater/defroster.
"Sorry to pester you," he said, swabbing the rain off his face with the palm of his hand. "My car won't start. Won't turn over at all. Not a sound."
"I've got jumper cables."
"Good. I...can't find mine."     
"Could be a loose battery cable or a starter, though."
He blinked again, probably wondering how a woman could know such things. The résumé of mine that he'd reviewed before interviewing me today for a position as his executive secretary, didn't include the fact that I was born and raised on a farm where my family and I drove nothing but old vehicles constantly in need of repair.
But from my résumé he knew my marital status: Single. And my age: twenty-eight. And my work history in his company, starting as a receptionist and quickly working my way up to a junior secretary.
"When you got in the car," I said, "did your dome lights go on?"
He thought a moment. His curly, wet hair was walnut-brown, his eyes a shade darker. My heart started to leapfrog, just as it had when I first sat down in front of his desk for my interview—which didn't go very well. Again I pursed my lips and scolded myself: Get a grip, Judy. Maybe he's only thirty-something and single but he's the big boss.
"The dome lights came on," he said. "Radio, too. And the windshield wipers."
"It's not a dead battery. Or a loose cable. A jump won't do you any good. It's probably your starter."
He glanced at his watch.
"You in a hurry?" I asked.
A strong gust of wind blasted my Cherokee and rain swept across the windshield.
"Umm...not really," he said, but he looked sheepish.
"What are you driving?"
"Eighty-seven Cadillac."
I tried not to look surprised because I didn't want to embarrass him. I mean, the CEO driving an old car like that—I couldn't believe it. But he must have sensed my surprise because he said , "Look, when I was ten, I could build a computer component by component. At twelve, I could hack into my school district's computer system to change a friend's grade, but cars I know nothing about. They don't impress me. "
"I've got a cell phone, I can call a wrecker."
Thunder and lightning rocked us.
He shot another glance at his watch. "I need to get home," he said. "It's...well, it's Beasley."
"My Basset hound—a big baby, afraid of thunder and lighting. He's going berserk right now."
A smile rippled across my face. "Well, why didn't you say so, Mr. Reid? I'll give you a ride home. You can all a wrecker in the morning. Will you need a ride to work?"
"I'll  call a cab."
"Nonsense. I'll pick you up, if you like."
He shook his head. "I couldn't ask you to do that."
"Why not?"
I felt his gaze on me, a gaze far different from his all-business look when he interviewed me. This was a warm, appreciative gaze. "Um...all right," he said. "If you're sure you don't mind."
"I don't."
Windshield wipers clacking, headlights on, I pulled out of my parking spot onto the street and drove slowly through the rain.
"May I offer you something, Miss Allison? Gas money...?"
"Absolutely not, Mr. Reid."
"May I call you Judy? Call me Derrick."
"I'd like that...Derrick."
"I'm sorry about your interview." Now he sounded contrite. "I hope you're not terribly disappointed."
"I'm not. I knew going in I lacked experience."
"Let me assure you, Judy, you have a great future with the company."
"Thank you. "
Silence for a moment.
"Look," he said, "Driving me from and to work, that's not part of your job description. I'm thinking perhaps dinner tomorrow night. Sort of my humble way of saying thanks."
My pulse spiked, my heart started that leapfrogging again, and I felt warm despite being soaked.
"Dinner would be nice."
"You choose the place."
"All right." I stole a glance at him.
He was smiling at me hugely—a warm smile—and I smiled back.
"We look like drowned rats," he said.        
"No doubt," I said, but I was thinking I'd never seen a lovelier rainy day.

The End
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