Seri leaned back in his chair with a groan and tried to stretch out the ache in his lower back. Through his office door he could hear the shuffling of paper and desk drawers closing as the rest of his team packed up to head home. Seri sighed. He had worked straight through the afternoon again, this time writing a proposal for the new real estate on Lot 96.
Seri reclined further and stared at the ceiling, savoring the stretch he felt in his back. He didn’t love the aches and pains from poor posture and few breaks, but overall, he didn’t mind working the long hours. It was, after all, how he’d gotten to the director position in the first place. He had been the only intern who turned in proposals ahead of schedule and then volunteered for more work. It hadn’t taken the company heads long to notice, and from then on, his progression through the ranks had been quick. It wasn’t that he had a particular interest in real estate, but the pay was good and it was a job that made sense to him. The hours might be long, but the work was predictable and deadlines were written down in black and white.
He stretched again and ran his fingers through his short brown hair. The problem lately was the volume of work. His team was competent, but Seri always did have a problem with – how had his last boss put it – delegating. Sure, he could pass more of these extra projects on to his subordinates, but then he wouldn’t be able to ensure they were done correctly. How did that saying go? “If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself.” Seri thought truer words had never been spoken. He promised himself he’d only work a few more hours before catching the train home. Maybe I’ll have one more cup of coffee –
Seri was just rising when his secretary Richard tapped on his door. He came in with his usual sunny smile and a cup of steaming coffee. Ahh, there are some perks to being a director.
“Good afternoon sir. I could hear your back crackling all the way through the door and I thought you might be on your way for a cup of coffee,” Richard said as he placed the cup between two leaning stacks of documents. Seri winced and carefully lifted the cup to his lips. Richard had even added the perfect dash of milk, just the way he liked it.
“Thank you, Richard. I guess I got a little caught up in writing the new proposal.”
Richard indicated the half-eaten lunch pushed to the side of Seri’s desk. “I can certainly see that.” Richard’s eyes grew wide. “But if our precious director grows so weak from not eating, you know who they’ll blame, don’t you? I’ll be labeled an incompetent secretary. No wait, worse than that! I’ll be the murderous secretary who starved the young genius director to death.”
Seri laughed. “Well, if you do get arrested, I’m sure you’ll become the warden’s secretary in a week, tops.”
Richard laughed, but then grew more serious. Which for Richard meant his usual grin was replaced by only a small smile. “Do try not to work yourself ragged sir. I’d rather not find out what it’s like to manage inmates.” Seri grunted in affirmation and pulled his chair back in front of his computer.
Seri was known for being able to close difficult projects quickly, but he owed a great deal to Richard for handling all the various ins-and-outs of his office. More often than Seri would like to admit, he had begun typing an email asking for a piece of information only to be interrupted by Richard coming into his office with that exact bit he was looking for. And perhaps more importantly, Richard single-handedly organized the schedules for all the other members in the office.
It also didn’t hurt that Richard was so good with people – he kept the entire office cheerful and motivated, and Seri suspected Richard personally organized birthday celebrations for all the employees. He’d even played the part of a security guard from time to time, when difficult clients became a little too pushy in the office. Richard had only needed to remove his customary smile along with his overcoat to convince their last problem client to make a hasty departure.
Richard was tall and always kept his long dark hair pulled back in a pony tail or pinned up in a messy bun. I’ll bet Richard’s always the most popular guy in any bar. How long had it been since Seri had gone out for a drink with friends? He had been seeing someone a year ago, but he had grown tired of waiting for Seri to finish work and had told him not to call anymore. And the girl before him? Seri couldn’t even remember her name.
Richard probably never forgets a name or makes his date wait on him. Seri could picture Richard surprising his date early, flowers in hand. He’d probably be wearing that suit with the purple vest. Seri thought that Richard looked especially good in that one, the purple emphasizing the slight grey of his eyes. Really, Richard could probably be a model with that figure…
Seri looked up with a start. How long has Richard been standing there? And what was I just thinking about?! He hurriedly took a sip of coffee to hide his reddening face. Cold. The coffee was completely cold. Maybe it really is time for me to take a break.
“Are you sure you’re alright sir? You look a little red.” Richard placed a cool hand on Seri’s forehead. “And you feel a little warm.”
Seri could feel his cheeks grow even redder. That’s it. You’re going out to a bar this weekend.
“I’m fine, I’m fine. I think I’m going to head home now.”
“Wonderful sir! You have been working awfully late these days.”
“Hey Richard, you’ve organized plenty of office happy hours. Do you know a good bar in the area?”
Richard brightened. “Ah! I know the perfect place. In fact, it’s just a few blocks from here. A childhood friend of mine owns it. It’s quiet and relaxing, just the thing a young director might be looking for to help ease the troubles of another long week. Allow me to show you!”
Richard leaned around Seri and began typing an address into his computer. Seri could feel a few strands of Richard’s hair, bound in a loose ponytail today, tickle across his cheek. He could faintly smell Richard’s shampoo, and Seri’s gaze lingered where the dark hair spilled around the curve of his neck. Seri wondered what it would be like to slide the hair tie off and run his fingers through his loose hair.
What is wrong with me? Maybe I’d better go to a club this weekend instead of a bar. Not really any stimulating conversation to be had at a club, but Seri thought it probably wasn’t conversation that he needed.
“There we go! Right here!” Richard hit the enter key and stepped back. Sure enough, it was only a few blocks away.
Seri stood up quickly and bundled his coat under his arm. “Great, thanks Richard. Maybe I’ll go check it out this weekend.”
“You won’t regret it! My friend runs the best bar in town! Unless you don’t care for it. In that case, it’s not so great, and he’s not even really my friend.”
Seri smiled. “I’m sure it will be just what I’m looking for. See you tomorrow Richard.”
Richard smiled back. “Goodnight sir.”