He suddenly thought that maybe she liked him, but he quickly threw that thought out. He was under the impression that she didn’t like anyone. He must be misinterpreting her behavior. Maybe this was some sort of lesson or test. Whatever it was, he found it distractingly out-of-character.
Now they were alone in her office and she was looking up at him where he had stepped back toward the glass wall that separated the office from a 30-story drop to the street below. It was a personal look. She was probing his personal thoughts, but she asked, “Did you see that?” Nothing more.
“Yes,” he mumbled. What else could he say? He started to explain, “Yes, but I . . . . “
“Here. Sit down and look at this. This is their weak spot!”
“I’m sure you’re right, but how . . . ?”
“Sit,” she said. “You need to learn.”
So he sat. He tried to concentrate on the screen, but he felt her come up behind him. He leaned forward. He felt her lean with him. He felt her hands on his shoulders. Her touch almost seared through the shoulders of his shirt. Then he thought he felt her breasts on his back. He felt her breath in his ear. He could smell her perfume. He could smell her hair that brushed against his cheek as she leaned in toward the flickering text illuminating their faces. She tapped the heavy glass screen of the monitor with her long, red pointed fingernail. “Tink, tink, tink!”
Under other circumstances, if Ms Jakes had not been who she was, if this had been a casual, personal encounter, Boyd would have been pretty turned on by the situation. And the fact was that he felt himself getting physically turned on despite what all the professional circuits in his brain were telling him he should be doing. At the same time, he was scrambling for the next move.
Moments of crisis seem to slow time. Instincts, training, passions, emotions all get compressed into tiny bits, tiny bits that can alter the course of a life. There isn’t time to sort through them all, put them into logical order, weigh the pros and cons, choose the best alternative, selecting from a variety of outcomes. There is in fact only time to react.
Boyd spun in the chair, breaking the physical connection and jumped to his feet. “Yes,” he said, almost shouting. “Yes, I see what you were talking about. I’ll get a draft together in the morning.”
Ms Jakes had staggered back a foot from his abrupt ejection from the chair. She looked at him in the darkening room. After a pause she said, “Yes. You’re right. This can wait until morning. It’s late.”
Boyd was relieved that there was no explosion, no comments, no acknowledgement of anything beyond the time.
Then she said, “Let’s go have a drink.”
Boyd hadn’t even known that Ms Jakes drank. Although with all the socializing she was forced to do in her job and her rapid climb to her position, it was hard to believe that she didn’t have to do at least social drinking. But he was glad to be leaving her office. A bar is a public place.
He grabbed his jacket. She pulled her dress into shape with a nonchalant twist of the fabric, ran her hand up for a quick adjustment of her curls, grabbed her bag, clicked off the computer monitor, and strode across the thick carpet of her office, flicking off the light at the door, leaving him trailing behind in almost complete darkness.
As they waited for the elevator he said, “It’s a perfect site for the project.” They both stared at the elevator doors. “I can’t see why they wouldn’t get the okay from the city to proceed.”
“It’s not a case of logic,” she replied. “It never is. The issue comes in compelling all the parties to agree on the financial returns and tip-toeing through the environmental implications.”