Professional Boundaries(8)

By: Jennifer Peel

He sighed heavily. “Come on, Kelli, can you give me a break here. It’s been a long day.”

I smirked. “And I should care, why?”

I could tell he was ready to lash back, but he stopped himself and took a breath and thought before he spoke. “Kelli, I’d like to talk to you about rescinding your resignation.”

He sounded sincere.

“Fine, you have two minutes. Go.”

I think his lip twitched like he was going to smile. “Can’t I come in?”

I shook my head. “I don’t let strangers, especially of the male variety, into my apartment.”

He crossed his arms and narrowed his gorgeous brown eyes at me. “Kelli, you know me.”

“Isn’t funny how sometimes the people we think we know the best are the ones we really don’t know at all,” I said with glee.

He stood there and stared at me for a moment. I didn’t budge. I was serious about not letting him into my apartment, and I was serious about not knowing him. After he broke up with me that was one of the hardest parts for me to reconcile. I thought I knew him so well, but in reality I didn’t know him at all, because my version of Ian may have freaked out a little bit about the whole love thing, but he never would have treated me so harshly.

He bravely stepped toward me and softened his tone. “I have a feeling I’m going to need more than two minutes to convince you. Can I take you to dinner?”

I stared into his deep brown eyes. I noticed he had some subtle lines around them now, and I even noticed a gray hair or two in that dark hair of his. So much had changed in thirteen years. Thirteen years ago I wouldn’t have even given his invitation a second thought, but now I needed a third and even a fourth thought.

While I was mulling over his invitation, he smiled at me. “Will this impose on your belly dancing class?”

I half smiled and shook my head no. I was still so embarrassed about the butt incident this morning. What do I have to lose? I thought. “Fine, wait here.”

He visibly relaxed.

I opened my door and hauled all my bags in. I found my lazy tabby cat, Charlie, lying on the top of my couch just waiting to be adored. I stroked his head several times until he purred. He was such a diva. Then I freshened up a bit. I smiled to myself to think of him standing out in the cold. Maybe that was rude, but the guy did break my heart once upon a time and he stole my job. And if memory served me correctly, he enjoyed cooler temps. After I took my own sweet time, I walked back out to meet him.

He was walking around the pool area looking around. When he saw me, he walked back my way. “Great, you’re ready.”

We proceeded to the parking lot, and he tried to make small talk. “This is a nice complex, do you like living here?”

I shook my head yes. “Yes. For apartments they’re great; a little pricey, but worth it.”

“Hmm …” he said. “Should I drive?” he asked as soon as we made it to the parking lot.

“I was just planning on following you in my car.”

He raised his eyebrow at me. “You won’t ride with me either?”

“You know what they say, stranger danger,” I said without apology.

He tried to compose himself before he spoke. “I forgot how willful you were.”

I smiled in mock delight. “So, where are we going?”

“Why don’t I follow you, so you don’t think I’m luring you anywhere?”

I smiled toothily. “Perfect.”

He just stared at me and shook his head. I let him get in a few more looks before I walked away, smiling to myself for throwing him off his game. I honestly wasn’t worried about Ian taking advantage of me. Heck, I had to practically throw myself at the guy when we first started dating. Our spark was undeniable, but boy did he try and fight it. Looking back, I suppose he was right to; I was awfully young at the time, but the heart wants what it wants, and boy did my heart want him.

He followed me to my favorite restaurant, Alicia’s. I personally knew the owners, Alicia and her husband, Jose. They were my first account as a junior account manager at Chandler Media. That was seven years ago. They still used the logo and ad designs I created for them. The design had an old world feel—we used an old world map of Mexico as the back drop. I’d since offered to touch it up or create a new one for them, but they’d become very attached to it.

Ian had no trouble keeping up with me. I kept wondering what he was thinking about as he followed me. I was surprised he was going to all the trouble; I thought he would’ve been happy to see me go. Funnily enough, my sister thought otherwise. She’d predicted he would ask me to come back. She believed he had ulterior motives for coming to Chandler Media, but I’d told her she was crazy. “Crazy like a fox,” she responded.