Pulling up outside the red brick and tile house in the suburbs had him sweating. The place was perfectly kept; he knew she saw to all that as well as working full-time; tidy lawns and shrubbery a testament to her diligence and energy. Her car was parked in the driveway with another right beside it. Her mother’s most likely.
Unclipping the seat belt he reached across and grabbed the bunch of flowers.
Standing at the door and pressing the buzzer made him sweat even more. Eventually , it opened.
“Ah, I wondered how long it would take for you to turn up here.”
Meg was dressed in a bright orange leotard, pastel orange leggings and pastel and dark orange striped leg-warmers; bare feet and painted orange toenails. His tongue was stuck to the roof of his mouth for a split second, “That’s some outfit to be opening the door in. I thought you said you’d come in this afternoon? Not at lunchtime.” He shoved past her and turned in the hallway to present her with the flowers.
“This outfit is for doing yoga in and it beats wearing office gear any day. Oh how sweet, flowers… For me? Shall I cut off the heads of the roses and bin them now or later?”
“You wouldn’t dare. You love roses.”
“I do, don’t I?” She reached for the flowers. “Yellow, white and orange! You were covering all the bases then?”
“The florist told me what they all meant. So you won’t chop off their heads?”
“Not this time.” As she took the bunch of colour and fragrance she sniffed appreciatively at its centre as if she had every right to and had in fact been expecting them. But it was the first time he’d ever given her store bought flowers. He must be a worried man. The colourful bunch of roses said so much more than ‘sorry’.
“I really want you to reconsider your employment options Meg.” Her brows rose. She expected more from him obviously. “I’m begging now; for everyone. Please don’t leave. I can barely cope with changing a few appointments let alone anything else. And I’ve been a bastard to everyone there – I can’t seem to stop myself.” Which was true. “You keep everyone so happy there.” He wanted her to know she was wanted; needed; desperately.
“What? You mean you changed your own appointments to come and see me?” She knew for certain that he had one huge potential client scheduled for right about now – she’d made the appointment over a month ago. It was an account he’d been wanting for a long time and worth a lot of money if they secured it.
“Had to. I couldn’t see any other way around it.”
‘Oh dear, she was beginning to weaken. She’d have to be firm with him this time’. “I think you’d better come through. I’ll make tea? Or perhaps something stronger? You might need it.”
“Why? I know if I grovel sufficiently, you’ll come back.”
“Not this time Billy. I can’t. I’ve got a new job.”
“Already? You can’t have!” He followed her into the open plan kitchen and dining area. “How could you?”
“Easy. I want something more challenging.” She grabbed a vase and dealt with the roses. “And apart from us having had one disagreement too many and no laughs in the office, recently, I think it’s way past time for me to leave.”
“But I’ll be stuffed without you there.”
“No you won’t and you know it.” She walked toward him and put her arm around his shoulders. “Come on, sit down. I’ll fix you a drink. Brandy, I think.”
She handed him a crystal tumbler, “No ice, just how you like it. Now get that down you.”
“It’s only three in the afternoon. I don’t drink at this time of the day.” He took the offered seat.
“Well, you’re not usually out of the office at this time of the day either. But here you are.”
At that moment her mother came in from the garden.
“Ah, there you are William. I wondered if we’d see you this afternoon. Have you told him yet?”
“He knows I’ve got a new job. I just haven’t told him what or where it is.”
William took a large gulp of his drink. This was it; defeat and acceptance. She really was leaving him. His heart had steadied back into a normal rhythm. He’d be okay – he had to be. He could get a new secretary – he could. He just needed to convince himself a little more first.
“I wasn’t 100% sure myself whether I did have the job or not. But I found out just before I cleared out my desk earlier today.”
The older woman eyed them both, her blue eyes twinkling, “Oh well… I’ll leave you two to it then. Call me when you’ve told him what you’ll be doing dear.”
He downed the rest of his drink. “Well I guess this is really it then?”
“Don’t you want to know what I’ll be doing?”
“I bet you’ve been poached away by Don Barton? He’s always wanted you. Said you were the best damn asset the company had. And he was right.”
“No. Not exactly.”
“Look Meg, I’ll be straight with you, I guess I can do without you as my secretary. But I sure as hell can’t do without you as my wife, so if this is what you really want then I’ll have to accept it, won’t I?”
“That’s good darling. By the way I’ve moved your things back into our room.”
His eyebrows rose as she continued.
“I’ve been lonely. And I had to put Mum somewhere didn’t I?”
“You have? Of course you did.” He looked at her again; her eyes were shining and she had that Mona Lisa secret smile going on. “So what’s this new job then? Tell me all about it. I can deal with it, I’m calm now.”
Sitting on his lap as if it were the most natural thing in the world, which it was, she grabbed his right hand and said, “Guess,” as she placed his hand over her abdomen.
The new job now made perfect sense to him; after five years of their ‘never a dull moment marriage’, they’d decided to try for a baby. They’d been trying very hard for about a year. “Ah, at last, new beginnings – for everyone.”
She nodded; her secret smile still firmly in place.
He leaned away, their steady gazes holding fast, “When? I bet it was the Easter long weekend? On the brown leather couch after everyone had gone?”
“Hmmm….. it could’ve been there. Or on the desk afterwards, or in the lift on our way home. Remember?”
“As if I could ever forget that day. Is your mother really staying?”
“Good. When’s she leaving?”
“I’d say – any second now.”
The front door banged shut and they were both at the dining room window in record time, Meg opened it, “Bye Mum. I’ll call you.” The older woman waved and blew them both a kiss as she got in her car and reversed out of the driveway. She tooted her horn all the way down the street.
“Right wife, I think you’re way overdressed for what I have in mind.”
“Billy! It’s the middle of the afternoon!”
“So, we won’t do it here? Where then? Upstairs? What about on the stairs?”
Kissing him senseless was her pleasurable revenge!
(I hope you enjoyed this conclusion to the story.) ‘Secretary’s Revenge’ won 1st place in the 2004 Romance Writers of NZ “New Beginnings” competition. The theme was of course ‘new beginnings’ and those words needed to be in the story body somewhere. A romance has to have a ‘happy-ever-after’ ending. Sometimes referred to as ‘HEA’. A love story can have a much more poignant ending; central characters often losing out in the HEA love stakes.
When this story was written it was a different time. A slower time. Our technology moves at such a pace and we have to keep up or get lost in the dross. So you may have noticed a couple of things that ‘dated’ the story – the telephone handset being slammed down in anger – for one. There was nothing quite like slamming the ‘now old-fashioned’ phone handset down in someone’s ear to show your displeasure as you disconnected a call; somehow pushing a soft-touch button to disconnect the latest ‘Iphone 6’ call just doesn’t give a girl the same sense of satisfaction!
Now it’s back onto the latest ‘wip’ (work-in-progress) for me; a feel-good romance with erotic undertones (and overtones), set in Raglan, NZ. A divorced and jaded heroine (and she’s had quite a spell of celibacy too) who will have two men vying for her affections and attentions; there will definitely be a HEA with one of them!