“I’m afraid I might have a bit of a crush.”
Jillian had to put a hand over her own mouth to prevent her iced latte from coming out. Her friend watched her with a slightly shamed expression as she forced the liquid back down and subsequently cleared her throat.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Her voice came out too high, so she cleared her throat again and resumed in her usual throaty, often scolding tone. “On who, exactly? Don’t tell me it’s him, out of every possible man in that newspaper.”
She blushed behind a thin layer of perfectly applied foundation. “Well, you see, I don’t really interact with the other men-”
“Because they’re not in your section.” Jillian sighed. “Right. So I’m assuming it’s-”
“Mr Steiner.” Her burgundy-painted lips curled into a small smile, while her friend’s expression sank into one of near despair. “Yes, I’m afraid it is.” Her smile brightened, albeit sadly. “But I assure you it’s unrequited.”
Jillian rolled her eyes. The pessimism was, sometimes, very hard to bear and even harder to keep up with. Unless the man was married – which he wasn’t – or dating a supermodel – which he probably wasn’t – there was no rational reason why it should, automatically, be considered impossible.
“Q, he’s ten years older than you.” Her friend opened her mouth but Jillian cut her off. “As far as I know, from the time I worked there, none of his relationships ever pick up. He’s as unlucky as you are, which is enough reason to make it a possible mutual… thing.” She wasn’t sure whether to call it a ‘crush’ at their age.
“Unlucky is one way to put it.” Her friend responded darkly. “But I see no reason why he would be interested in me.”
“I didn’t want to tell you over the phone, but there’s a bit of an unsettling situation going on at work.”
His ears perked up. Thus far, he’d only been partially interested in the conversation, merrily writing work e-mails on his phone offering only one ear and one eye to his friend. Though they were both in their late thirties, Patrick would be turning forty soon and had been in an ill mood about it. Any hint of misery from anyone else, even if from a close friend, was a cheerful reminder that his life wasn’t ending just yet.
“Oh?” He fought a smile and merely raised a brow. “Any little idiots leaving thumbtacks on your chair?”
His friend smiled and shook his head lightly. He looked tired, both physically and psychologically, but not as bad as he’d looked a few years back on his first days as collaborating editor of the newspaper.
“No, the little idiots are behaving, surprisingly. Maybe some thumbtacks on my chair is what I need, to keep my mind off things.”
Now Patrick’s phone was sitting next to the unused napkins and both his eyebrows were raised in expectancy. “Well? What is it?” His friend opened his mouth for a second, then lowered his gaze back down. Patrick stomped his foot audibly under the table, making him jump.
“My wife is making fish for dinner. Fish, Noah. Whatever is happening with you can’t even compare-”
“I think I’m attracted to someone I shouldn’t be.”