Stella's Awakening(3)

By: R.K. Ryde

Self-consciously I exit onto the parquet floor of the hallway, and make my way to my office. Even though tenants are allowed to decorate as they please, I have decorated in a sleek style, in keeping with the original art deco theme of the building.

Pushing through the frosted glass door inscribed with Stella Interior Designs in gold font, a feeling of safety and relief washes over me. I’m glad to be amongst the familiar confines of my professional space, well away from the temptation I left standing downstairs on the sidewalk.

“Morning, Josie.” I greet my receptionist as I breeze past her.

I hired Josie two weeks after setting up office, one of the best business decisions I made. She’s a petite, shapely brunette with a wild laugh and wilder spirit. Her upbeat, quirky style compliments my more serious, industrious nature. We get along fabulously. She’s the yin to my yang. Having her frees me up to immerse myself in the creative, design process of my work, while she looks after all the paper work, initial contacts and much of the dreaded leg-work.

Reaching my office, which is a small section divided off at the back of the room, I plop my handbag on the floor and exhale loudly as I flop into my chair.

“What’s up?” Josie asks, poking her head around the corner of my doorway, startling me.

“Nothing. Why?”

How can she know? Is it that obvious? My pulse quickens as a familiar warmth spreads across my chest, and I know my pale skin is turning a sickening shade of pink for more than the first time this morning.

“Come on, something’s up. You never come in this flustered. Spill the beans.”

I sigh, rubbing my forehead. “It’s nothing, really,” I try to dismiss her.

“Nothing? Really?” she mimics me, raising her eyebrows. “You could’ve fooled me. Look at you, you’re blushing! Something’s got you in a spin.”

“It’s just someone I ran into this morning.”

“An old flame? An ex?” she pushes.

“No, no, nothing like that.” I wave a dismissive hand at her. “Just someone I met this morning.” I try at nonchalant.

“A guy?” I can hear the excitement in her voice.

I pull a ‘you’ve got to be kidding’ face, roll my chair up to my desk, and flick on the computer.

“It is a guy!” she squeals, bouncing on the spot. “In all the time I’ve known you, it’s never been a guy! Hell Stella, I’ve never even seen you look sideways at a man before. Who is this mythical creature that has you all flustered?”

Her uncanny ability to read me has me baffled, but her infectious excitement proves too difficult to ignore. "That’s the weird part,” I say, scrunching up my nose and twisting in my chair to face her.

She steps further into my office, and perches herself on the edge of my desk. “What?” she asks, leaning closer, her big, brown eyes sparkling with anticipation.

“I don’t know who he is.”

“Huh? What do you mean you don’t know who he is?” She eyes me suspiciously.

I sigh, surrendering to her girlish need to connect via gossip. “We bumped into each other down at Tiffany’s while I was having my coffee this morning. We only exchanged first names, then he walked me up to the building. End of story.”

“So you only know his first name? What did he look like? Did he say where he worked? Was he wearing a uniform?”

“Stop, Josie, please,” I interrupt her, holding up my hand, not wanting this mole hill turned into a mountain. “It doesn’t matter. I’m glad I don’t know who he is. That way nothing can happen.” It feels good to say those words out loud, reconfirming to myself what I already know to be true.

“But why?” she wines. “You never give guys a chance.”

“Please, Josie, just drop it. I really don’t want to go there.”

Josie stands on a defeated sigh, “Okay, but I’m just saying ...” She waggles a finger at me childishly, and backs out of my office.

She’s trying to lighten the mood, and it works. A smile creeps over my face at her whimsical way. She’s the kind of girl I would have loved as a friend in high school, but wasn’t allowed to have. She’s always trying to get me to go out with her to clubs or bars, to hook me up with a man. But I’m not that kind of girl – I can’t be that type of girl.

Also By R.K. Ryde

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