I went over to pour myself a cup of coffee and said, “I don’t know if you get the credit you deserve around here or not, but I have to tell you what a wonderful job I think you do, and thank you.” I turned around and was instantly horrified at what I had done, although I wasn’t even sure what that was. She was crying.
“Oh Deborah, I’m so sorry. Don’t cry, please.” I sat down next to her and lay my hand gently on her arm. She reached over with her other hand and took mine and squeezed. She wasn’t making any noise but the tears were rolling rapidly down her cheeks. “I’m sorry,” I said again. I had no idea what I was apologizing for. She sucked in a deep, ragged breath.
“Don’t be sorry, Erin. You didn’t do anything. Thank you for the compliment. I’m sorry. I’m so embarrassed.”
“Oh no, don’t be embarrassed. Is there something I can do? Do you need to talk?”
She looked up towards the door and said, “I’m just a stupid woman. Unfortunately, there’s nothing anyone can do about that but me.” She looked at me then, right in the eyes and said, “Seth’s a good boy, he’s not like his father… but be careful, don’t make the same mistakes I did.”
“I’m sorry…” I was confused. Did she know about Seth and me? I suppose neither of us hid it very well, the clandestine meetings in our offices, the laughing and joking and sometimes a pat on the shoulder or a touch of the hand. Before I could finish my question however the door had opened again and the room began to fill up with the usual players. Deborah had wiped her face on a napkin quickly. Then she looked at me and discreetly placed a finger to her lips. I nodded and looked up in time to see Seth. He smiled at me and I smiled back. Then I looked around the room and wondered how many of the rest of them knew what Deborah knew. Then I wondered if it mattered. Then I wondered what she had meant about making the same mistakes that she had. James Hunter had left the room just before that… Deborah and James?
The meeting went as it normally did and I left it with about five new assignments. Seth was still talking to Harlan and Michael when I left. I took the folders with the new assignments back to my office and prepared to go to work. As I sat them down on the desk, I noticed a rectangular white and gold envelope lying there with my name on it. I picked it up and opened it, pulling out a white card with gold engraving. It was an invitation to “Hunter Corp Ball.” I sat down in my chair and looked closer at it. It was this coming Saturday night and would be held at the family’s estate in the Hamptons. Another thing I didn’t know about Seth. I had no idea that his family had an estate in the Hamptons. He’d mentioned something about riding horses at a house in Martha’s Vineyard… I wondered how many houses they actually had.
I felt, before I saw Seth standing in the doorway of my office. “Hi,” he said, when I looked up.
“Hey. How are you?”
He came over and sat down across from me. With a wide grin he said, “I’ve been smiling like this since yesterday. I can’t stop. You’re as amazing as I thought you would be. More so.”
I had to smile at that. Grant had told me I looked like I slept with a coat hanger in my mouth the night before when he got home this morning. He knew I had sex before I was finally ribbed into admitting it. I blushed now as I said, “I know the feeling.”
“Good, I’d hate to think it’s just me.”
“No, not just you. You’re amazing.” I felt funny talking about this at work and I felt myself blush again. I think Seth got it because he changed the subject then.
“The meeting went well. Deborah tells me my father was in the building today. Sometimes he stays around for the meetings. I’m glad he decided to skip it.”
Me too. “Oh that must have been him I passed in the hall. Is he a tall man with dark hair, gray at the temples… sharp dresser?”
“That would be Daddy,” he said with a sarcastic smile.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“How long has Deborah worked for you?”
Seth wrinkled his brow and said, “She worked for my father for over ten years and just sort of inherited me when he stopped working full-time. Why?”
“Close the door.” He really looked at me strangely then, but he got up and did as I asked. When he came back he perched himself on the edge of my desk and said, “Okay, so what’s up?”