23 Mayıs 2024

Best Kept Secrets

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The man and the woman both felt it uplift them, and with it, the familiar tingling in their stomachs. They also knew that it would heighten as they got closer. He started breathing heavier in anticipation, and he detected the same from her. Knowing they were almost there, he tensed his muscles.

Finally, the elevator reached their floor and the doors opened to a large, tastefully appointed waiting room. Michael Ewing allowed the attractive woman to go first, and he watched her seductive sway as he followed her to the reception window. He stopped a respectable distance back to give her privacy, although he did try to hone his hearing to determine if she was applying for the same position as he was.

Unfortunately, Mickey’s hearing was distracted by his attention to the woman’s shapely rear tucked into a form-fitting, above-the-knees skirt. What he could see of her legs looked appealing, and when she turned to move away from the window, his eyes shot up to her face to avoid being caught looking at the other parts of her anatomy he had been fixated on. Her freckled face was framed by shoulder-length, straight auburn hair. He risked a glance further down, but her navy blue blazer revealed little about what she had underneath.

Mickey smiled at her as she walked off, and was instantly smitten by her small, button nose and narrow lips that formed the warmest grin he had ever seen. She had that girl next door look.

After checking in, where he learned she was applying for a different job, he looked for a seat to await his initial interview. The waiting room was obviously intended to hold a large number of applicants, but fortunately, he and the woman were the only two present.

Ewing took a seat close enough to eye the woman without seeming too obvious, but far enough away not to be invasive. Pretending to study the papers he had been handed, his eyes observed the woman. Her legs were, of course, crossed, the gray skirt rising just enough to entice, but not reveal. Her jacket had separated and the buttons on her blouse were pulled taut, as though her breasts were too big for the garment. Naturally, that piqued his interest.

Subconsciously, his right hand attended to an itch on his left hand, the scratching causing him to touch his wedding ring. He remembered a time when he used to look at his wife with the same longing he now had for this woman. But those days had passed, and for the last six or eight months they had drifted apart. There were no open hostilities, and aside from having sex, they still mostly acted as a married couple. However, Mickey could not answer the question that continually floated around in his mind: why did they stay together? For that, he had no answer.

* * *

Leslie could see the male applicant stealing glances at her. There was a time when she would have been annoyed when a strange man looked her over. But this one was being very subtle, and since she was getting no attention from her husband anymore, it was almost a welcomed treat to know that some men still found her attractive; particularly one who was fairly handsome himself. In addition, he had been very polite to her, gentlemanly allowing her to enter and exit the elevator first and keeping a good distance back at the reception window.

The man had kind eyes and a demeanor that suggested he was a real gentleman. Oh, how nice it would be to find a man like that—eventually. For now, Leslie’s goal was simply to find a better paying job that would give her the independence to leave her husband and start over. Only then would she be able to worry about finding such a man.

* * *

Suddenly, like a beckoning from a higher being, a deep, but soft bass voice echoed through the cavernous room seemingly from nowhere. “Leslie Withy, Michael Ewing, please step up to the reception window.”

Mickey complied with a chuckle as he watched the attractive Leslie precede him. She glanced at him and smiled as she passed and he knew at once he had to know her better.

The two were ushered into a smaller room with a table where they were given employment applications to complete. Again, the two sat at opposite ends of the table. Fortunately, Mickey thought, it was a short table, affording him a closer look at her.

Leslie saw that Michael was again eying her up, but she still didn’t let on. “Damn! I can’t believe I didn’t bring a pen.”

Mickey looked up, saw the distressed look marring Leslie’s pretty face and immediately checked his pockets. He cursed himself for not having a spare. Impulsively, he said, “Here, use mine.” He stood, extending his arm.

“But how will you complete yours?”

“I’m sure you’ll be interviewed first. I’ll have plenty of time.”

“Well, thank you, Mr. . . . Ewing, is it?” Gee, handsome and a nice guy, Leslie thought.

“Yes. Michael Ewing.”

Mickey was right. Leslie was interviewed first. Afterward, on her way out as she passed him going in, she whispered, “He’s tough. Be sure of yourself.”

Surprised, Mickey offered his thanks. She’s almanbahis giriş a nice person, he thought. He hoped they were both hired so they could get to know each another.

Mickey was out in twenty minutes, roughly the same length of time it had taken Leslie. He took his same chair as she had hers. “You were right. He’s a real SOB. Thanks again for the tip.”

“How do you think you did?”

“Well, you said to be sure of myself, so with that in mind, I’ll say I think I got it. How about you?”

She thought for a moment, then said, “Yes, me, too.”

They both smiled.

A few minutes later, the interviewer came out and said, “As far as Human Resources is concerned you are both acceptable. However, final determination will be made by George Rome, who is VP of Research and Development, in whose department both positions are available. Report to him in thirty minutes. There’s a refreshment room at the end of the hall if you want something first.” He gave them packets to present upstairs then returned to his lair.

Mickey snickered after the interviewer was gone. “It’s hard to take him seriously,” he quipped.

Leslie couldn’t help but to laugh also. “He acts as though you should be sorry you applied for the job.”

“How about some coffee?”

“That would be nice.”

There was something in that brief exchange that made each of the applicants feel a little better. Of course, they were attracted to one another, but neither was forward enough to do anything about it, their failing marriages notwithstanding.

As they gulped down the awful vending machine coffee, Mickey, wanting to keep something alive between them, asked, “So, what’s your reason for the job search?”

Obviously, Leslie wasn’t going to tell him the truth, so she merely replied, “More money. You?”

“My previous company decided to downsize and I was a casualty.”

“That’s a shame,” Leslie commented, meaning it. “Been off long?”

“No, just a few weeks; long enough to get all the honey-do’s done.” Which translated meant it was actually to keep the nagging to a minimum.

“Well, that’s good, isn’t it?”

“Let’s just say I’m very anxious to go back to work,” Mickey explained with a chuckle.

He had an infectious affability, Leslie realized. She hoped he got the job also; hoped she got it, as well. She wouldn’t mind getting to know him, even if only platonically.

They rode the elevator up a full ten minutes before their scheduled interviews. Mr. Rome received them promptly and collected their packets containing applications and first interview comments.

George seemed a jovial type as he opened each packet, then spoke. “Michael Ewing, you are applying for Quality Control Supervisor.” George then switched his attention to Leslie. He looked her over as though he were going to try to make her, not hire her, which, if he wasn’t a newlywed with a gorgeous wife and stepdaughter, he might have tried to do. “And Leslie Withy—

“I’m sorry,” Leslie interrupted, “it’s Weeth.”

“What’s weeth?” George asked with a frown.

“My name is pronounced ‘Weeth.'”

“I beg your pardon. Anyway,” George went on nervously, “by the way did you know the last two people who had these jobs married each another. Are you two married?”

“Yes,” Mickey answered.

“Yes,” Leslie responded.

It’s not surprising, Mickey thought. But, it’s just as well. If she was not married, the temptation would be too great.

“But, not to each other,” George commented with a smile.

Mickey and Leslie smiled at one another. “We just met in personnel,” she offered.

“Ah,” George noted. “No matter. The company has no policy against that.” He chuckled. “Good thing. My wife, Donna, works for the company also. We were just married a few months ago.”

“Congratulations,” the applicants offered in chorus.

“Thanks,” the VP said. “I was also appointed to this position about the same time and the two of you are my first hires, so I’m probably just as nervous as you are.”

“Well, sir,” Mickey ventured with a grin, “Just hire us and you can save us all a lot of misery.”

George looked up with a frown. “Mr. Ewing, do you think that was a wise comment to make at this point?”

Oh, don’t turn into an asshole, Leslie thought of Michael.

“Uh, uh, no, sir, I guess not,” Mickey offered. “We all seem to be a bit nervous so I—”

George burst out laughing. “I’m just messing with you. That was damned funny.”

Both Mickey and Leslie joined in the laughter, if for no other reason than to be polite.

Afterward, George put their minds at ease. “Look, we’re kind of casual around here, and most of us have a pretty good sense of humor, so relax. As you might further have gathered, we’re also not big on titles and salutations. Everyone is on a first name basis, from the owner, Peter Ford, all the way down.”

Both applicants smiled, feeling immediate relief.

These second interviews were a snap, and Mickey advised Leslie almanbahis of this, having been first this time. It was for her also, he learned when she stepped out into the area that could become her new workspace. But still, the moment of truth was about to come, and no matter how confidant either was about the interview, it was no guarantee that they would be hired; so each was more nervous now than when they first arrived.

George stepped out a moment later with a grim expression on his face. Knowing he was a playful sort made them want to think he was just toying with them, but then, they really didn’t know him that well, so the acid in their stomachs really started to churn.

“Mr. Ewing,” George said in all seriousness, “may I call you Michael?”

“Everyone calls me Mickey.”

Like the—”

“Yes, like the mouse,” Mickey jumped in.

George snickered, “Okay. And Mrs. Withe, may I call you Minnie—no, just kidding—Leslie?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Well, then, Leslie, Mickey, the decisions have been made.” He paused for several seconds as though they were contestants on American Idol. “Welcome to Ford Enterprises.” He extended a hand to each. As they shook hands, he said, “I look forward to working with you. See you bright and early Monday morning.”

As they rode the elevator down, all smiles, Mickey said, “Well, now that we’re going to be working together, as I mentioned to George, my friends call me Mickey, and I’d be thrilled to have you as one and for you to do the same.”

“I’d like that very much,” she said with a warm smile. “I’m Leslie.”

“Good. Then I’ll see you bright and early Monday morning.”

“I’ll look forward to it.”

* * *

To be sure, Mickey was thrilled to have been hired, but he was even more elated to have made the acquaintance of Leslie Withe. Somehow, he knew that he would not have these feelings about the job had Leslie not also been hired. He couldn’t remember being so smitten with a woman in his life; not even when he met Victoria, his wife. And it wasn’t as though she had done anything—other than just be herself—to entice him. So, he was confused as to what it was, particularly since he was not the type who had extramarital affairs.

He didn’t even think he could attribute it to his failing marriage, because he had certainly met other attractive women since the union started it’s downhill slide, but no other female had had such an effect.

Mickey allowed himself to believe, however foolishly, that Leslie’s parting words had been meant for him. But subconsciously he knew she’d been referring to the job. However, Leslie had some indefinable quality that touched something within him and he couldn’t stop thinking about her all weekend.

* * *

And even though Leslie’s marriage was not particularly good, neither was she the type to have an affair because of it. However, she was more comfortable in the company of men than women. That was not to say she had any masculine or lesbian tendencies. It was simply a preference. So the combination of Mickey’s sex, affability and because, like her, he was a new employee, made him an irresistible candidate for a friend. And so, she also looked forward to starting her new job.

* * *

Monday morning Mickey arrived at work raring to go, having decided to put Leslie Withe aside and concentrate on his new job. The fantasies he had entertained over the weekend about her were just that, and he had no reason to expect any of them to come true. He placated himself by reminding himself that she was just a woman he had met, and even though they would be working for the same company in the same department, it was unlikely there would be much interaction between them. She had done nothing or given him any indication that he should expect anything else.

Of course, that all went out of the window the moment he laid eyes on her again as he passed her cubicle just outside George’s office. Mickey always thought he had a good memory, but the person he saw Monday morning was positively not the same Leslie he remembered from Friday. It was as though she’d had a make-over during the weekend. Her make-up was applied a bit differently, drawing attention to her opaline green eyes. Her cheeks had a softer look. Her hair, still that natural auburn color, was fuller, and though still straight, had more body and the hint of streaking with lighter auburn shades.

In a word: stunning.

Even her attire—what he could see of it from her sitting position behind her desk—was more appealing. The requisite blazer that most of the women seemed to wear was still present, but somehow it seemed a bit more stylish, certainly a more colorful blue than the drab navy from Friday, and underneath, a semi-low-cut pullover shirt that revealed the swell of breasts that were on the slightly larger side of what would be average for her frame.

“Are you going to just stand there and drool or are you going to say something?” Leslie asked with her trademark warm smile. Although almanbahis giriş his stare was the positive confirmation she needed for the change in her appearance.

“You look amazing,” was all Mickey’s flooded mind could manage to stammer.

“Thank you,” Leslie acknowledged, her grin widening. “I’ve wanted to make some changes, and I thought this would be a good time, coinciding with a new job.”

Fortunately, George appeared in the doorway from inside his office, which prevented Mickey from uttering something that might embarrass him.

“Good morning . . . Mickey, you said you liked to be called?”

“Yes, sir. Good morning to you.”

Stepping aside, a striking blonde became visible. “This is my wife, Donna. Ready to start your new job?”

“Ready, willing and eager,” Mickey replied. “Nice to meet you, ma’am,” he offered, stepping closer to shake her hand.

“That’s the spirit. As soon as the new girl gets here, we’ll get started,” George said.

“Uh, this better not be her,” Donna said, feigning annoyance.

“What?” George asked, stepping into the cubicle. “No, that’s not her. Who are you? What have you done with Leslie?”

Leslie blushed, finally realizing that her new boss was toying with her.

Donna smiled to show she was in on it. “Hi, Leslie, I’m Donna. Don’t let him bully you. And you,” she said pointing to her husband, “behave yourself with her.” With that Donna departed.

It was an odd scene, to be sure, Mickey thought. But what made it even more unusual was the manner in which George’s wife eyed Leslie: certainly no jealousy; almost lustful. But Mickey knew that couldn’t be right. The other strange element was what Donna told her husband: behave yourself with her; not keep your hands off or any other statement that would warn him to sexually leave her alone.

“. . . new job, new look,” Leslie was explaining to George when Mickey returned to reality.

* * *

The morning flew by as George had given Mickey stacks of documents to read to learn about what his Quality Control section was responsible for. So, he had no time to think about Leslie or anything else. It carried him to a late lunch in the company cafeteria, where he even brought some of the material to continue his studies. Fortunately, at this hour, the dining area was virtually deserted, so he was able to really delve into a particular manual.

Therefore, he was completely startled when a voice asked, “Want some company?”

If Mickey had been stunned by the sight of Leslie this morning, he was absolutely mesmerized by the vision before him now. The blazer was gone, and while the satiny shirt was not tight, it fit her form close enough to suggest a knockout figure. Added to the spectacle now was the fact that he could see her skirt, which matched her blazer in color, but more importantly was noticeably shorter than the one from Friday. Her legs were definitely no disappointment.

“Leslie, what a pleasant surprise. Please sit down.”

“I’m not bothering you, am I? You look involved in what you’re reading.”

“No! Don’t go!” He hoped he didn’t sound too anxious. “I need a break from all this reading.”

“You’re sure? A couple of girls from the department invited me to join them, but it sounded like the makings of office gossip, and I really don’t feel like listening to that. I’d rather draw my own conclusions about working here.” Please don’t say you’re busy, she prayed silently. She’d been hesitant to even approach him; not only because he appeared busy, but she had never been forward with men, particularly since she had been married, even with her marriage on shaky ground, and even though she was only looking for company, nothing more.

“Sit, please.” This is fantastic, Mickey thought. She’d rather be with me than the girls. But how do you know it’s you, queried his disbelieving conscience. There’s no one else in here. But, that’s just it; she could have sat alone. Furthermore, she sat to his left at the square table, not across from him, affording him a view of even more of her legs as her skirt rode up her thighs a bit. And she didn’t pull it down, either. To avoid being obvious by gawking, he forced himself to ask: “So, have you come to any early conclusions about working here?”

“Not really. Everyone has been very nice, but as an initial impression, I’m going to just chalk that off to them being nice to the new kid on her first day.”

“I think I would agree with that assessment,” Mickey said. “Do you think you’re going to like the job?”

“Yes, I do. George is a really nice man, and so far, a good boss. And I don’t think that’s just going easy on the new girl her first day.”

“I haven’t had much interaction with him so far,” Mickey noted, “but I agree with you about him. He seems very patient.” There were many questions he wanted to ask Leslie, but he didn’t want to be pushy, nor nosey, nor too personal, which was uncharacteristically hard for him because he had this gripping desire to know all about her.

Likewise, there was much more Leslie would have liked to learn about Mickey, but after all, it was just their first day, and prudently, it would be wiser to wait and see if any friendship developed between them. So, for now, the discussion remained very superficial.

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