Monday, December 20, 2010

By Design

By the time I made it home the sun was coming up and my body was beginning to shutting down. I took a shower and crawled into bed. I hadn’t even begun to doze when my alarm sounded. “No sleep for the wicked.” I thought aloud and climbed back out of bed.

I checked my calendar to see if I could put off my morning business. I had a final fitting at ten o’clock and an eleven o’clock meeting with a potential new client. No sleep for me. I would come home after my meeting and sleep I thought. I started the coffee maker. I dressed and called the office.

“Cheyenne Designs,” Denise chimed happily, “How may I direct your call.” I could hear her smile.

“I want to speak to your fucking boss.” I said suppressing a giggle.

“Very, very, funny Ms. Cheyenne.” There was something in her tone.

“Ms. Cheyenne? Don’t call me that. Why are you calling me that?”

“So, how was the art show and reception last night?” Denise asked sarcastically.

“It was fine. I had a good time.” I responded. She went quiet.

“I see. Didn’t stay long huh? So, what was her name, or did you even ask?”

“It’s not like that.” I lied.

“Of course not, it’s never like that, is it Cheyenne?” I could hear the tone of her voice dip into the land of frustration, our past rearing its ugly head.

“Are there any changes in my schedule today?” I said changing the subject.

“Have you slept, have you?” She continued. I didn’t respond.
“You haven’t, have you? Did she see you out or did you dip while she slept.” She laughed a mirthless laugh. Again I didn’t respond. “Fine, don’t tell me! I’ll know when I see you, now won’t I!”

“Are there any changes?” I was almost growling

“There are no changes. I’m sorry, I just.. it’s just..”

“I’ll see you later. Get yourself under control.”

“No need to apologize. I’m ok. I am sure there will be other gala events that you won’t go with me to in the future and beyond.” She didn’t even try to hide the sarcasm.

“Look, you know the deal.” I added thinking I was helping. I was not.

“I know. I know! As long as we work together nothing else between us can happen.” She paused, “What if I didn’t want to work with you anymore?” Her voice softened. “What if I just want to be your lover?”

“You don’t mean that. Besides I am a much better friend than a lover.”

She laughed unconvincingly.

“As long as you know that you’re never going to find a woman as good as I am.” She sighed, I could hear the tightness in her throat. “Now get your ass to work. The new fabrics came in and they are gorgeous. I can’t wait for you to see them.”

“I’m on my way.”

Walking into my office still gives me a thrill. Three years ago Cheyenne Designs was just an idea. Now it was MY thriving business. I had a small staff that consisted of six seamstresses and a receptionist.
Denise was sitting at her desk and frowned at me as I approached.

“You haven’t slept.” She barked.

“Good morning to you too.” I smiled. She handed me a stack of messages and a cup of coffee.

“I bet you haven’t eaten.” She stood and crossed her arms looking very much like someone’s mother. I pretended to read the messages and walked to my office not responding. I powered up my computer and checked my email. Ten minutes later Denise walked in and placed a plate of food on my desk. “Just eat it. Your ten o’clock won’t be here for another twenty minutes.” She spun and walked out of the door.

I did as I was told. The relationship Denise and I have is a strange one. I met her one night when I was celebrating. After a year of success my client list was growing and my investors decided they would help me to expand. The next day I would be interviewing the applicants for the receptionist position for my new business. I was feeling so empowered that when I saw a beautiful woman at the bar I approached her. I rarely approach women, but I guess I was prowling in my new business owner skin. I offered to buy her a drink and struck up a conversation.

She told me her name was Dee. A nickname, it was just as well, if anything happened it would just be one more, in a long line of one night stands, and it was an easy name to remember. We talked. We drank. We danced. We drank. We went back to her place and because I knew I would never see her again. I didn’t hold back. We played for hours, and as usual when I exhausted her I slipped out. I didn’t sleep. I showered, changed and drank an obscene amount of coffee. Then, I went into my new office space and waited for my first applicant.

When she walked in I had my back to her. I turned to face her and heard her gasp. Needless to say, she was that one, one-night stand, that went horribly awry. We just stood there looking at one another. She handed me her resume and walked out of the office.

I was thrown. I thought there is no way I am hiring this woman. I held interviews for hours, still distracted by the fact that I’d slept with an applicant, a potential employee. Of all the interviews, no one impressed me. When the last one left I had a mountain of resumes on my desk, no prospects, a headache and a guilty conscious.

I shuffled through the paperwork until I came across her resume. My one-night stands name was Denise Moore and she was very qualified. I knew she had a wonderful personality because we had talked so much the night before. I knew she was passionate because of other things we’d done the night before. I also knew I was attracted to her and that could be a problem. There was also a pretty good chance she didn’t want to see me again, let alone work for me. I compared her resume to all the others. She was the one most qualified for the job. I didn’t know what to do.

The clock read close to six p.m. if I was going to do this it had to be now. I dialed her number and hung up before it connected three times. Knowing this was a bad idea, I called her again, anyway. She was hostel. I couldn’t blame her. I invited her to dinner so we could discuss in person whether or not she wanted the position.

“Which position? We’ve shared so many positions in the last twenty-four hours. Can you be more specific?” She laughed the laugh of the pissed-off.

“I deserved that I guess. I also understand if this is not something you want to do. I apologize for my behavior last night, Dee. I’m sorry I mean, Denise. I won’t bother you again.” I hung up the phone feeling very much like an idiot.

The phone rang.

I answered it.

“You didn’t tell me where or when?” She huffed.

So I told her where and when.

I arrived at the restaurant early. I had to get myself together. I was nervous and that wasn’t like me. I saw her get out of a cab. As she entered the restaurant and walked towards the table I couldn’t stop staring at her. Beautiful women are my weakness and she was ridiculously beautiful. Suddenly this seemed like a really, really bad idea. She smiled and stuck out her hand for me to shake. I stood and shook. The contact sent a wave of heat through me and I flashed back on the night before. The way her body felt in my hands, on my skin and the taste of her. I bit my lip and removed my hand from hers. We sat.

“So is this my interview, or was I interviewed last night?”

I felt the blush creep over me and hoped she didn’t see it as well. She smiled warmly and placed her hand on top of mine on the table. I acknowledged the gesture then slid my hand from underneath hers. She picked up her napkin placed it into her lap and opened the menu.
We ordered and I chose a wine to go with our appetizers. We didn’t speak. I couldn’t stop watching her, though I pretended not to. I needed to say something, nothing came so I didn’t.

“Don’t you want to ask me questions?” She asked nervously and reached for the bottle of wine.

“Do you like the wine?” I asked taking the bottle from her and refilling her glass.

“If I do will I get the job?” She laughed nervously and took a deep breath.

“Do you want the job? If you do, the job is yours.” I refilled my own glass and watched her. I was more like undressing her. I caught myself and took as much of the attraction out of my voice as I could.
“You are qualified and I need to fill the position as quickly as possible. I can no longer design, sew and take the orders. I need help and well, you did apply.”

“I have a feeling you can do all that and more, Ms Cheyenne. I went to your web site your designs are beautiful, and if your picture was on it, I would have recognized you and saved us both some embarrassment.”

“Thank you, and just Cheyenne, please. I guess a picture would have helped. When I am more established, I’ll consider that.”

“If I took the job, not that I’m going to, when would I start?” Her hands were shaking.

“I’d like you to start on Monday, if that’s okay with you.”

“Today is Friday?” She said it like a question then looked at me seductively.

“It is indeed Friday.” I responded removing my jacket. It felt like I was on fire. “Did you want to start sooner?” I joked refilling my wine glass.

“Once I start working for you I won’t be able to see you like I saw you last night. Will I?”

“That wouldn’t be very professional. So no.” The waiter was back delivering our dinners. We ate for a time in silence.

“Can we spend some time together tonight?” She almost whispered the request. I watched her not responding. “Think about it.” She said holding out her glass. I refilled it. We finished our meal small talk filling the spaces not occupied by thoughts of what might happen after dinner. The waiter cleared our dishes and asked if we wanted dessert. I declined and ordered an Irish coffee. Denise ordered the chocolate mousse. Watching her eat the sinful dessert didn’t strengthen my resolve. I paid the check and we left the restaurant. I remembered once we were outside that she’d arrived in a taxi. Fuck.

“Can I give you a ride home?” I offered. She smiled, nodded yes, and wrapped her arm around mine the way she had done the night before. We walked to my car. I vaguely remembered where I was going, and we arrived I really didn’t want to go inside. This was feeling more and more like a date. Something else I didn’t do.

“To thank you for dinner, the least I could do is offer you a nightcap.” She got out of the car before I could respond. Walking briskly to her front door. Leaving the door ajar so I had no choice but to come inside. Besides, I couldn’t think how to refuse without hurting her feelings. I groaned. One-night stands cannot last two days it’s against the rules, and then you surely don’t ask the one night stand to work for you. When I fuck up, I do it big.

I got out of the car and followed her inside. Her apartment was cute. I hadn’t noticed much of it last night or in my hasty retreat this morning. She handed me a drink.

“Amaretto, this is a favorite of mine. How did you know?” I tried to joke, my mind skipping though my contingency plans when I realized I’ve never been quite in this place. There was no fucking plan.

“Shall I give you a tour?” She took me by the hand and showed me the kitchen, the bathroom and I hesitated as she approached her bedroom. “Oh yes, you’ve already seen the bedroom.” She smiled licking her lips.

“Denise, this isn’t a good idea if we are going to be working together. I’ll finish my drink and go. I think that will be best.” I downed my drink and handed her the glass.

“It’s Friday. We don’t have to worry about Monday until Monday.” She moved closer to me placing the glass on a table as she approached. She kissed me. I stepped away from her. “Just one more night Cheyenne, please. I promise I won’t bring it up again.” I knew she was lying I also knew I wanted her. Like I said, when I fuck up, I do it big. We made love all weekend. When she showed up for work Monday morning, early, she behaved like the weekend hadn’t mattered. Like she’d gotten me out of her system. I was relieved; right up until the time her lie reveled itself. I’ve never been sure if she took the job because she wanted it or because she wanted me.

If I said that weekend was the last time we were together I’d be lying. So I won’t say that. She knows my energy and that I roam, for lack of a better word. She reacts badly to other women in my life in any way except when I’m draping them in fabric. We end up compromised when I take her to one of the parties or openings I’m often invited to, which is why I’ve stopped inviting her. She tells me often that she’s the woman of my dreams, but I’ll never know that until I wake the fuck up!

“Your ten o’clock is here.” Denise said, handing me my kit and removing the empty plate.

“Are you still mad at me?” I asked removing my tape measurer from the kit and finding the file for my new client.

“I’m not. Well, not until next time.” She kissed me lightly on my forehead and winked at me. I followed her out of the office, refreshed and in full designer mode.

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