Jide’s heart sank further when Florence refused his offer to sit down in the chair opposite him.He raised an eyebrow when she shook herhead. Is she worried that if she comes close enough to touch, I will pounce on her? His eyes ran over her discreetly. Evenin the tense moment, he still felt a thrill of delight at the way the overhead light glistened in the depths of hair falling on the sides of her neck. Her face was its usual pretty distraction and her cream-coloured dress gripped her hips subtly, stopping just below her knees to show off beautiful legs.
Jide could not stop the smile that touched his lips as he admired the light dancing on her caramel skin. Florence really was easy on the eye but her intelligence was her greatest asset. Heremembered some of their discussions and felt a sudden twinge of jealousy for the man who would be lucky enough to have her on his arm forever.
Florence stiffened as she did not entirely misread the smile on Jide’s face. It looked patronising to her and she had decided she had taken enough of that attitude from Jide Babalola. He might think she was mere eye candy, but she was not interested in hanging around like a decoration in his outer office. “I need your help, sir.” she said stiffly, hating the fact that she had to ask him for assistance at all. “As you know, I was just recently transferred to this floor to work for Mr Agboola. I have a request to do with another transfer, but if I put it in writing, I’m not sure if the Human Resources department will react favourably to it…” Jide’s eyes widened in surprise and for a moment he wavered between delight and concern, thinking he knew what Florence was asking for. Maybe she had been moreaffected by what had happened between them than he thought.
He steepled his arms and leaned forward, thinking of a gentle way to burst the mental bubble he thought he could see around her. “Listen, Florence.” He said, trying to look thoughtful.
“I know we bonded with some great conversation and we shared two intimate moments we really shouldn’t have… but I think what you’re proposing isa bad idea. We need to move beyond whathappened. We’re both adults and should be able to control ourselves. I don’t know if you know where I’m going with this…?” Florence stared at Jide with a confused frown and shook her head.Jide sighed. “Okay, I guess I have to be a bit more direct. Look, Florence, I know youwant me to use my influence to ask the head of HR to make you my secretary, but I think it’s not every wise. If we spend more time togtheer…”
“Good heavens, no sir! I want nothing of the sort!” Florence blurted, her mouth open in shock.Jide paused, the note of horror in the secretary’s voice penetrating through the self-involved fog in his head. “What? You don’t?”“No, sir, I do not.” Florence said tightly.
“I actually want you to help me get transferred back downstairs.” Jide stared at Florence, his turn to be open-mouthed in shock. Florence rushed to fill the silence with the excuse she had rehearsed. “It’s my wares I sell sir. Lugging those containers of stewed meat and snacks up the stairs is tedious work. I did not have toworry about that problem when I was working on the ground floor.” She said, hoping he would not see past the lie. “You know the elevators are off bounds to low-tier workers like me…” Jide watched Florence’s lips move, seeing clearly for the first time. There was a barely-hidden tone of anger and disgust inher first knee-jerk reaction. He felt shaken at the depth of emotion he now knew Florence had been hiding from him since their last serious talk. This woman was angry and hurt, and as intelligent as he thought he was, he had missed it. Jide felt his head spin as he realized Florence wanted absolutely nothing to do with him anymore. How had he misread the situation so thoroughly? “…so I would be very grateful if you could help me out sir.” Florence finished lamely.Jide was at a loss on how to regain his composure, so he pretended to be busy, clearing his throat importantly and shuffling the papers spread out before him.
“Okay, Florence. I will think about it and get back to you.” Florence stiffened at his dismissive tone. All he had to do was make one phone call to help her and he wanted to think about it? She swallowed the angry words that rose to her throat as she forced herself to remember her place; a status a few kisses had almost made her forget.You’re just an ordinary secretary na? The ‘lowest of the lows’. Or have you forgotten that phrase so soon? “Thank you, sir.” she choked out, glaring at his lowered head. “I’ll be grateful for any help.” The man who slumped in his seat after Florence left was a confused, worried one; cursing under his breath as he marvelled at the fact that he had misread Florence so totally.The woman who left Jide’s office was an angry one. He had just pushed the situation with Florence from bad to worse,and he didn’t even know it.
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