The warm, London breeze flipped her hair over shoulder and across her face. He watched as a smile spread across her face, still looking at the papers on the table. She brushed her fingers across her face, removing he stray strands of hair. She looked up and greeted his gaze. The sun was warm on their faces.
“What are you thinking?” he asked, shifting in his chair.
She sighed. “I'm thinking how different everything is. How far I've come. I'm an editor in London!” He laughed along with her.
“And now, I just put together my first issue, as an editor-in-chief!”
“It's perfect, Betty.”
“Oh, Daniel, thank you! I can't wait to send a copy home.” She carefully put her papers into her bag. “It's exciting. Were you this excited?”
“Yeah, I guess I was. Feels weird to be just an assistant now.”
“You're lucky your boss is nice,” Betty remarked. “When I was an assistant, my boss was a complete jerk.”
Daniel cocked his head and smiled. “I know, I was a brat. I'm not anymore, though.”
Betty smiled. “I know. I did a lot for you.”
Daniel laughed and crossed his arms. “Yeah, you did. I have no idea why. If I didn't have you, I'd probably be on some pretty hard drugs in that crazy Phoenix community.”
“Or dating a crazy chick who sets your apartment on fire.”
“Or being seduced and blackmailed by sixteen year old models.”
Betty shook her head. “Good thing you had me to knock some sense into you.”
Daniel smiled. “Good thing.”
They stood and Betty swung her bag over her shoulder. They walked side by side through London, enjoying the warm air before returning to work. Inside, Betty sat at her desk and pulled out the newest copy of the magazine. She slipped it carefully into a manilla envelope and sealed it.
“Can I get you anything?” Daniel asked, sanding in the doorway of he office.
“No, thanks, I'm good. Actually,” she stood. “Can you just drop this in the post box for me? I have to get to a meeting with Jordan.”
Daniel took the envelope from her. “Yeah, sure.” He turned it over in his hands and smiled. “Justin's going to love this.”
Betty smiled. “Yeah, he will,” she said, leaving her office. She made her way past desks and down hallways, stopping outside of a glass door. She knocked three times. A voice welcomed her. She opened the door to find Jordan Dunn sitting at his desk. He stood, smiling, as she entered.
“Betty! I believe congratulations are in order! Your first issue is marvelous. Please, have a seat.”
Betty thanked him and sat across from him.
“You're doing wonderful work, Betty. I'm so glad to have you here.”
“Thank you, Mr. Dunn.”
“Sales on your first issue are through the roof. It's one of our best issues yet. You're really making a good impression, Betty. I have high hopes for you and this magazine. You're the perfect person for the young people in London. It's one of their favorite magazines, and we have you to thank for it.”
“I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you, Mr. Dunn.”
“Betty, you're too modest. You've come a long way in five years.”
Betty smiled. “I certainly never thought I would ever be here in London as an editor-in-chief.”
“See? You should be proud of yourself.”
Betty's smile grew. “You know, I really am!”
“That's the spirit! Listen, I know you have lots to do for the next issue, so I won't keep you. I just wanted to extend proper congratulations. And, I have a meeting to get to myself.”
“Of course, thank you, Mr. Dunn.”
Betty let herself out and returned to her office. Daniel appeared in the doorway.
“Your first issue is on it's way to New York,” he said. “How was your meeting?”
“It was fine. He just wanted to congratulate me on the issue.”
“Don't forget you're meeting with everyone in a few minutes.”
“Right, I'll be there in a few.”
Daniel left Betty alone in her office. She sighed and spun around in her office chair. She scrolled through her email quickly, then gathered her things and made her way to the conference room. She put her things on the table and faced her audience, clearing her throat.
“Well, Mr. Dunn just informed me that our last issue is one of our best issues yet!”
People clapped and congratulated Betty. When they quiet, she continued.
“I just wanted to say that this couldn't have been done without your help and dedication. I want to thank you all for welcoming me as family and helping me put together this and future issues together. So, I guess now we should get started on the next issue. What do we have so far?”
A young, red headed woman stood, smiling. “Remember the girl that saved the little boy a couple weeks back? I was thinking we could feature her on the cover and do an article on her. I've been in contact with her and her family. She's a huge fan of the magazine, and I think it will look great for our readers.”
“Janine, I'm so glad you brought that up! I had been wanting to put something in the next issue about her. Go with it. Can someone get a hold of our photographers for a shoot? Walter?”
“You've got it, Betty.”
“Excellent. Anything for the What's Hot section?”
Two more people stood and excitedly explained their newest idea for the section. Betty smiled and gave them her approval and they hurried off to begin their next project. The meeting slowly came to a close and everyone had their nest assignments for the next issue. The conference room emptied except for Betty and Daniel. Betty organized her notes into her folder and stood.
“So, are we still on for tomorrow night?” he asked, leaning against the table. He fidgeted with his tie.
“Oh, right, tomorrow's Saturday!”
“You forgot about our date already?”
Betty smiled. “Of course not. This week just went by so fast. But, yes, we're still on.”
Daniel straightened up and cleared his throat. “Good. Okay. Cool. So, I'll pick you up at seven then?”
Betty could feel her face heat up in anticipation of their first date. She walked past him and towards her office. “Yeah, seven's good,” she said. Daniel followed a few steps behind. Betty dropped her folder on her desk and Daniel stood in the doorway.
“Seven it is, then.”
Betty sat behind her desk and smiled. “Yeah.”
A ringing phone broke the silence. Daniel jumped in surprised.
“Oh. I'll get it.” He hurried out of the office to answer the phone.
Betty spun in her chair, her back to the door, and held her face in her hands. She could feel her cheeks return to their normal color. She felt giddy and excited. She couldn't believe they were going on a date. Her excitement turned to nervousness. They were co-workers. She was his boss. Was this going to be okay? Was there a rule for this? Maybe not. Daniel did it all the time at Mode.
Daniel always slept with his co-workers. She panicked. No, Daniel was different now. He wasn't the same guy she worked for five years ago. He changed a lot when he met Molly. What was there to be nervous about?
Daniel's voice interrupted her thoughts. “Betty? Hilda's on the line.”
Betty spun around and picked up the phone.
“Betty!” Hilda's voice yelled into her ear.
“Hilda! How's the new house?”
“Oh my god, Betty, it's perfect! Two floors, three bedrooms-”
“Three bedrooms? Why do you need three?”
“Well, you know, just in case.”
“Hilda are you pregnant?” Betty shrieked.
“No, Betty! No. Not yet.”
“Nothing's set in stone right now. We just wanted the extra space, just in case.”
“How does Justin like it?”
“He loves it! He's at a musical now with some new friends and Austin.”
“Aw! I miss you guys. You need to come visit soon.”
“Of course we will! How are things in London?”
“So great! My first issue was just published. I sent a copy down to you guys. It's in the mail now.”
Hilda shrieked with excitement. “Just will be so excited to see it!”
“You girls do a lot of screaming,” Bobby's voice came on the line.
“Bobby! Get off!”
“Bobby!” Hilda warned.
The phone clicked. Betty could hear him laughing in the background.
“So?” Hilda asked.
“The man flew across the sea to be with you!”
“Don't try to pull this, Betty. You better put out!”
“Hey, I'm just saying. He's crazy for you, Betty.”
“No he's not.”
“Betty! You told me he asked you to dinner! Did you guys go yet?”
“We're going out tomorrow night.”
“Hilda, stop it, I'm so nervous.”
“Betty! You like him!”
Hilda laughed. “Betty, stop acting like you're in high school! You've had lots of boy friends. Why is this any different?”
“I don't know, maybe because he was my boss, and now I'm his. Don't you think it's weird?”
“Not any weirder than him sleeping with his assistants.”
“That's what I mean.”
“Betty, he's not that guy anymore, you of all people should know that.”
“I know. I do. I know. I don't know.”
“You guys were together all the time for four years. You worked together, you were friends, you've been through so much. It's only natural for feelings to grow between you guys.”
“You know, ever since you got married, you think you're so wise with relationships.”
“Hey! I'm the married one! I am wise!”
Betty looked up and saw Daniel standing in the doorway, a flirty smile on his face. Betty turned away.
“Hilda, I gotta go.”
“Is Daniel there? Hi Daniel!”
“Put out, Betty!”
Betty hung up and turned back towards Daniel.
“Hi,” he said.
Betty sighed. “She's Hilda.”
Daniel chuckled. “Quittin' time,” he said.
“Oh, wow, it is.”
“Do you want a ride home?”
“No, no, don't worry about me, you go ahead. I gotta finish up something here.”
“Want me to stay with you?”
“No, go home, I'll be fine. I won't be long.”
“Alright, Betty. I'll see you tomorrow.”
“Yeah. See you tomorrow.”
She watched him gather his things and disappear around the corner. She scrolled through her email once more, replied to a few that awaited her reply, logged off, and threw her bag over her shoulder. She locked her office door and made her way through the now empty building. She took the elevator to the first floor and thanked the doorman on her way out. She stood on the curb, hailed a cab, and within moments, stepped out in front of her apartment.
In the lobby, she went through her mailbox, shoving the bills and junk mail under her armpit and made her way up the stairs, down the hallway, and around the corner to her apartment. She unlocked the door and pushed her way inside, closing the door and dropping her things at the table by the door. She shuffled through the mail as she walked into the kitchen. She tossed the junk in the trash and put the bills on the counter to be pain in the morning.
Her stomach growled and she glanced at the time. It was just a few minutes before seven. She fished through her fridge for the leftover pasta she made the night before and reheated it. She flicked on the tv and sat on the couch, the bowl of hot pasta in her hands. Her phone vibrated beside her. It was Daniel.
Make it home okay?
Yup. Just got in.
Good. Talk to you tomorrow. :)
:) Can't wait.
Daniel twirled his fork between his fingers as he and Betty waited for their orders to arrive. Betty shifted in her seat and pretended to be amused by the hostess leaning against the podium lazily. She bit her lip, hoping the night wouldn't get any more awkward. She already felt humiliated when she tripped outside her apartment and hit her head getting into the cab. Classic Betty, she thought to herself. Right in front of Daniel. But, how sweet of him to hold the door open for her. And pick her up off the ground. She sighed.
“Everything alright?” Daniel asked. Betty suddenly turned back towards him, no longer interested in the hostess by the door.
“Yes, yes, of course. Just thinking.”
“About how awkward this is?”
“What? No. Maybe.”
Daniele chuckled and lifted his glass of wine. “To awkward firsts.”
Betty felt herself blushing. She lifted her glass, averting her gaze.
“So. Uh. It's chilly tonight. Falls around the corner.”
Oh no, small talk. It used to be so easy to be with Daniel, what happened?
“Yeah, fall. I bet London looks beautiful in the fall.”
“Yeah. Better than New York, I bet.”
Their waiter arrived, carefully placing their dishes in front of them. Betty eyed her food; her appetite seemed to diminish.
“Is it cooked?” Daniel asked, watching her.
“Oh, yes, it's fine.” She picked up her knife and began to cut her chicken. Daniel watched her for a moment, then cleared his throat.
“So, the next issue looks promising.”
“Really, Daniel, work?”
“I'm sorry! I don't know what else to say.”
Betty laughed. “Yeah, I know. Why is this so weird?”
“I don't know. I used to be a master and this sort of thing.”
Betty rolled her eyes and they laughed.
“Did I tell you Hilda moved to Manhattan?”
“No. How does she like it?”
“She loves it. Got a three bedroom. I think her and Bobby and talking about having a baby.”
“Wow, that's wonderful.”
“Yeah. How's your family? Have you heard from them?”
“Yeah. Mom's doing well. Alexis and Dj are, too.”
“That's good. They should come visit. I miss them.”
“Mom misses you.”
“Yeah, she always asks about you. You were her favorite.”
Betty smiled and picked at her chicken. “She was always like a mother to me.”
They finished their meal, chit chatting casually, and when they finished, they walked the streets of London, taking in the sights they still awed at. Betty's cell phone rang and she excused herself, seeing Papi on the caller ID.
“Mija! How are you?”
“Hi Papi. I'm alright. How's everything at home?”
“Wonderful! I wanted to be the first to tell you. I asked Elena to move in with me!”
“Papi! That's wonderful! Oh, I'm so excited!” Betty jumped up and down on the sidewalk. Daniel laughed.
“I have to help her move her things in. Call me soon, Mija. I love you.”
“I love you too, Papi.”
She flipped her phone closed and dropped it in her purse. “Papi asked Elena to move in,” she said to Daniel. He held out his arm and she took it. They continued to stroll down the street.
“Yeah. I'm so glad he doesn't have to live alone. She's good for him.”
“He must be thrilled to have everyone out of the house.”
Betty laughed. “Oh, I think so.”
They walked in silence for a moment. Big Ben sounded in the distance, informing them that it was nine o'clock.
“So, I was thinking of starting my blog again. I haven't been able to do much with it in a while.”
“That sounds like a great idea! I liked reading it. Put in a good word about me?”
Betty laughed and shoved him playfully. “Just don't piss me off or I might blog about that again.”
“Actually,” she continued. “I was thinking of turning my blog into my own magazine.”
“That's ambitious. You just started as an editor-in-chief.”
“I know, I know. It's not something I'm going to worry about right now. But, it's what I've always wanted to do. I wanted to start my own magazine. Something inspirational. That's why I started the blog; so I can write about what I want to write about. And, maybe turn it into something more.”
“Well, I'll do whatever I can to help you. As long as you hire me when you become big and famous. And not for an assistant position.”
Betty giggled. “Well, you'll have to earn that.”
“Oh, of course, why else would I be here?”
“Oh, it's not to be with me?”
“Oh, no, whatever gave you that idea?”
He laughed. “Well, I guess that's an added bonus.”
Betty rolled her eyes and pushed him again, laughing.
They crossed the street and turned down the next road, towards Betty's apartment. Daniel walked with her through the apartment to her door. Betty fished for her keys in her bag.
“Well, thanks for dinner. I had fun. It wasn't too awkward, really.”
“Oh, good, I'm glad. I was worried there for a second.”
Betty smiled and unlocked her door.
“So, I guess I'll see you on Monday?
“Yeah, I guess so.”
Daniel shoved his hands in his pockets. “Okay. Well. Have a goodnight.”
They stood for a moment, facing each other, Betty's hand still on the door knob. She smiled, turned away, and pushed through the door, closing it quietly behind her. Daniel smiled and turned down the hallway.
Betty leaned against the door, her head buzzing. She suddenly felt alone. She considered calling to Daniel, inviting him inside. Her hand was on the door knob. She wanted him to stay. She sighed and turned away, dropping her bag on the hook on the wall. She took out her phone and dialed Hilda.
“How was the date?” Hilda asked excitedly.
“Kind of awkward.”
“Are you at his place?”
“Is he with you?”
“Betty! You didn't put out!”
“Did he at least kiss you?”
Betty sighed. “No.”
“Did you even let him?”
“Hilda, it's not like I threw myself at him.”
“Betty, I know you! You hurried into your apartment and didn't give him a chance.”
“Hilda, we stood outside my apartment for like, five minutes. One of those in silence. He could have. He didn't want to.”
“Betty, stop it. It was only the first date. Give him a chance. Maybe he wants to make it special and romantic! Oh, Betty! I bet that's what he's doing!”
“He's not like that, Hilda.”
“Uh, Betty! He flew to London to be with you! There's nothing more romantic than that.”
Betty sighed again and looked at her finger nails.
“Give it time, Betty. I gotta get to work. Call me soon.”
She dropped her phone on the end table and flopped onto her bed. She thought about how natural it felt to be with Daniel. She thought about him flying to London for her and how determined he was to keep her in New York. Maybe Hilda was right. Maybe it would just take time.
*****Betty flipped through the magazines on the table as she ate her cereal. The sun shown brightly into the kitchen and poured over her, warming her body. She put her empty bowl into the sink and brought out her laptop, staring at her blog, now up on the screen. What to blog about? She needed ideas. She had been so caught up with her new job that she hadn't had much time to, well, be inspired.
No time to be inspired? She thought. There's always time for inspiration.
And she began to type.
With my new job in London keeping me busy, I thought I didn't have time to be inspired. But, really, there's inspiration all around us, in everything we do. I mean, you have to be at least a little inspired to be able to put a magazine together, right? I think I've been overlooking all the inspirational things since I've been here. Today, I'm going to make it my goal to get out and be inspired.
She paused in thought, than hit publish. She would have time to write more later. She suddenly had an urge to get out and see all that she could see. Plus, it was probably one of the last warm days they would get – she had to take advantage of it.
She grabbed her keys, pocketed her phone, and hurried out of the apartment, eager at all the inspiration she would see. She walked down the street, smiling at passer-byers and taking in all the sights, sounds, and smells. She felt the warm sun on her skin and listened to the birds chirping along with the chatter of a bustling crowd. She caught a whiff of what smelled like fresh bread, and she did her best to follow her nose to where the smells led her.
She came to a bakery, just around the corner, with the door wide open, welcoming the warm air into the little room. She let herself in, taking in the scents. She just had to buy something. She made her way to the display which held fresh pastries and treats. Three young children ran, laughing, sticks in their hands. They stopped suddenly when they saw her. She smiled to them and they returned the greeting. They stood quietly behind her.
“Oh, are you boys getting a treat?” she asked them. The three boys were quiet; shy. Betty moved aside and they eagerly approached the display, noses pressed against the glass. An older woman appeared from the kitchen and greeted them. She bent down and slid the case open, removing three cookies from the display and placing them carefully on napkins. The boys stood on their tip toes, watching carefully. She passed each cookie over the counter at each boy, waiting patiently. They giggled their thanks and ran out the door. The woman smiled and turned to Betty.
“What can I do for you, dear?”
Betty watched the boys hurry across the street, waving their sticks at each other, faces full of crumbs. She turned toward the woman and glanced back at the display.
“Oh. I could smell all the freshly baked things. I just had to come and get something. But, it all looks so amazing.”
“I just took a loaf of bread out of the oven. Fresh and warm. Interested?”
“Oh, yes! Please!”
She smiled and hurried into the kitchen. She returned a few minutes later with a loaf of bread, carefully wrapped. Betty fished through her wallet for her cash.
“Oh, honey, this one's on me.”
“No, I can't just take it. Please, let me-”
“You're American, huh?”
The woman smiled. “Dear, put your money away. It's no good here. This is on me.” She spun on her heels and headed into the kitchen, noisily gathering pots and pans and dropping them into a sink. Betty smiled, let a couple of bills on the display, and left.
She tore off pieces of the bread as she walked, savoring the warm, fresh taste as it melted on her tongue. She continued to walk the streets and through parks, watching the people around her. She watched tourists take pictures of each other in front of famous buildings and consult their maps for their next destination. She watched them as they twisted their heads all around in awe, taking in the sights, as they were driven around in a horse drawn carriage.
As noon approached, she felt her stomach growl, and she decided to look for somewhere quaint to eat for lunch. As she searched, she past by a flower shop, carts filled with flowers just outside the door. She bent down, letting the petals tickle her nose as she took in their scents.
“Excuse me,” a voice said. “Do you think these are pretty?”
She stood and turned. Daniel held out a bouquet of beautifully colored flowers. She gasped.
“Daniel! What are you doing here?”
“You updated your blog. I figured you'd be around.” He gave her the flowers and she smiled.
“You know me so well.”
“Well, I better by now. Wanna get lunch?”
Betty nodded and Daniel led her through the streets towards an outdoor cafe. They were seated and they ordered. As they waited, they watched the busy sidewalks and streets.
“You're clearly enjoying London.”
“Oh, it's so beautiful here. Look!” She pulled the loaf of bread out of her bag and held it towards Daniel. “Smell!”
Daniel smiled, closed his eyes, and smelled the bread.
He laughed and tore off a piece.
“Isn't it wonderful?”
“Betty, it's just bread.”
“I got it at this cute little bakery. She gave these boys cookies! They were so cute.”
Daniel chuckled, watching her.
“I'm so glad you found me. I was actually going to call you.”
“Yeah, I thought we could hang out.” She hesitated. “Or something.”
“Well, here we are.”
Their lunches arrived and they joked and laughed as they ate. They walked through London together and watched street performers amusing the tourists. They watched as children played and tossed coins in the fountains and as horses trotted by with family filled carriages. The afternoon passed by effortlessly and the sun began to set.
They stopped beside the Thames river and watched the sky turn from yellow to pink, talking casually. The approaching night breeze caressed their faces as they laughed quietly. Betty watched the boats drift on the calm water as stars dotted the sky. Daniel casually moved closer to her and let his hand graze hers. Betty smiled at the river and leaned her head on Daniel's shoulder. Daniel leaned against her head. Her hair smelled like strawberries. He smiled and took her hand in his. After a moment, Betty turned to him. Butterfly wings tickled her stomach.
Daniel met her gaze, taking her other hand in his. He cleared his throat.
“So, I think I owe you something.”
Betty looked at him, puzzled. “What do you mean?”
“Well, you know. Typically, at the end of first dates, people kiss.”
“Oh, really? I had no idea. I thought that was just in the movies.”
Daniel laughed. “You're making fun.”
“What? No! Never!”
Daniel's hands were suddenly on her face. Her heart leapt and she felt her eyes close. His lips pressed warmly against hers. She felt her arms reaching for Daniel, tracing the sleeves of his shirt and twisting around his neck. She pulled away suddenly, blushing, her arms still wrapped around him, his hands still warm on her face.
Betty shook her head. Their arms dropped to their sides. “Nothing. Nothing at all.” She smiled. “Do you, uh, want to walk me home?”
Daniel smiled and took her hand in his. “Of course.”
Daniel pressed closer to her, letting his lips brush her neck. They had barely made it inside Betty's apartment when Daniel kissed her again. He couldn't help himself. Betty let him push her towards the wall, kissing her face and neck. She wrapped his arms around his neck, lost in the warmth of his kisses. Was this it? She thought. Were they going to sleep together? Her heart raced, the spastic thumping filling her ears. This felt fast. No. It wasn't fast. It was normal. That's what normal people do. But, it was Daniel. She couldn't do this with Daniel.
I haven't felt this way since Henry, she thought.
“Are you thinking again?”
He was right. She always over analyzed things. Don't think. She grabbed Daniel's hand and led him into the bedroom.
*****Betty was suddenly aware of Daniel's body warm against hers. She opened her eyes and stared into the darkness for a moment, letting them adjust to the lack of light. Daniel snored slightly at her side and she smiled. She pushed herself closer to him and reached for his arm, draped lazily around her waist. She twisted her fingers in his and he moved his arm towards her face and sighed. He kissed her neck lightly.
“Hi,” she whispered.
Through the window, she could see the morning sun's rays just start to peak over the horizon. It was still too dark to see much, but daylight was just around the corner.
“What time is it?” Daniel asked.
“I don't know. Early.”
He nuzzled his face against her neck. “Okay,” he mumbled, drifting off to sleep, pulling Betty close to him. She smiled and let her eyes close.
*****When Betty awoke again, the sun was shining brightly through her bedroom window. She turned over to see that the other side of the bed was empty. Daniel's clothes, which were thrown on the floor from last night, were gone. She sat up and looked around, stretching her arms. She swung her feet over the bed and shuffled into the kitchen, Daniel's shirt just barely covering her. On the counter waited two cups of coffee from the coffee shop next door. She leaned against the counter and breathed in the aroma.
The bathroom door opened and Daniel came out in his boxers. “Good morning, lazy,” he said, kissing her cheek. “I got you coffee.”
“I saw,” Betty said with a grin. “Thank you.”
They sat at the small table together, coffees in hand, sipping quietly.
“You're surprisingly calm,” Daniel pointed out.
“Yeah, for being late for work. Betty's never late.”
Betty gasped. “Oh my god! It's Monday! We have to go!” She jumped to her feet, but Daniel grabbed her arm, pulling her to him.
“Betty, relax, we're not that late. We'll get there. I called Mr. Dunn and told him you were feeling a little sick this morning, but that we were on our way.”
“Daniel. You can't cover for me. You should have woken me up.”
“Betty, you've covered for me more times than you should have. And, you looked so cute sleeping in my shirt.”
Betty smiled. “I'm going to get ready for work.”
She left Daniel alone in the kitchen while she hurried back into her bedroom, digging through her closet for a quick outfit. She dressed quickly and sprayed extra body spray, hoping to hide the fact that she didn't shower this morning. She grabbed her bag with her work in it, threw on a pair of heels, and hurried into the kitchen where Daniel was dressed and waiting. He smiled and handed her her coffee.
They hailed a cab outside the apartment and within fifteen minutes, Betty was seated in her office. Jordan Dunn knocked, standing in the doorway, smiling.
“How are you feeling, Betty? Daniel told me you had a rough morning?”
“Oh, yeah. I think I was, oh, just a little hung over. So unlike me. I'm so sorry, Mr. Dunn.”
Jordan laughed. “Betty, it's fine. You're always here an hour before everyone else. I think we can allow you one day to come in late.”
“I have a lunch meeting with the girl who saved the little boy – Karen is it?”
“Yes. This afternoon. I'd love it if you would join us.”
“Oh, of course!”
“Excellent. We'll take my town car over at around eleven thirty. See you then?”
“I'll be there.”
Jordan nodded and left her office. Betty opened her blog and began to type a new entry to pass the time. When she closed her laptop, it was already eleven o'clock. She was suddenly aware that she hadn't seen Daniel since they arrived to work together. He hadn't come into her office once. She peered through the doorway to see that his desk was empty. She walked through the office, signing paper work for photo shoots and reviewing articles with the editors. At eleven thirty, she made her way outside where she was greeted by Jordan.
“We lost an editor today,” Jordan said once they were in the car.
“What do you mean?”
“Clarissa. She's moving to the states to be with her father. He was just diagnosed with cancer. She gave her notice to me today. So, we'll need to find someone to replace her.”
“Oh, that's terrible. I'll have Daniel send her some flowers.”
“I've taken care of that. Picked them out myself. We'll certainly miss her here.”
“Yeah, she's so nice. Do you have anyone in mind to replace her?”
“Well, that's why I'm telling you. You know them best. Is there someone you think could use a promotion?”
“I'm not really sure. I'll have to think about it.”
“We have plenty of time. You can get back to me on that.”
The car pulled up in front of the restaurant and Betty and Jordan made their way to their table. Shortly after, Karen and her mother arrived. They greeted each other and shook hands, then sat and began their meeting. Karen explained to them the events leading to the young boy's near tragedy and how she stepped in to help. Betty was inspired by this young girl's story, only fifteen years old. They decided on a date for the photo shoot for the cover and parted ways.
Back at the office, Betty found Daniel waiting in her office.
“Hey,” he said.
“Did you hear about Clarissa's dad?”
Betty nodded. “It's so terrible.”
“Yeah. I guess there's a position open.”
“Yup.” Betty sat behind her desk, trying to avoid the conversation. She knew where this was going.
“Who's going to get it?”
“I don't know.”
“Who are you considering?”
“I don't know.”
“Not even me?”
“I'm just saying. I don't really want to be an assistant forever. You of all people should know what that's like. Plus, I shouldn't be sleeping with my boss.”
“Daniel, can we not talk about this now?”
“Alright, fine.” He stood. “Do you need anything?”
Betty turned away. “No. Thanks.”
Without a word, Daniel left.
Betty sighed and dialed Hilda.
“How was it?” Hilda asked once Betty explained the night before.
“Alright, I guess.”
“No. I mean. It was great. But, now things are weird. I haven't seen Daniel all morning and now he wants a promotion. Everything's complicated now. We shouldn't have done in. If I don't give it to him, he'll be upset. But, if I do, everyone might think it's because we slept together.”
“Betty, this isn't Mode. I don't think it will be that big of a deal. No one knows you guys slept together, anyways, right?”
“I guess. I don't think anyone knows. I don't know. It just feels weird now. But, it didn't at home. Just here at work. We shouldn't have done it. I slept with my assistant! I'm not better than Daniel.”
“Betty, he's not just an assistant. You guys have history. Don't be so hard on yourself.”
Betty sighed. “I have to get back to work. I'll talk to you later.” She hung up and stared at her computer screen. Daniel appeared once again in the doorway.
“Hi. I'm sorry about that. I'm in no position to ask for a promotion.”
“It's fine,” Betty said simply.
“No, it's not.”
“Daniel. It's okay. Let's just forget about it.”
“Okay.” Daniel approached her desk and sat. “Is everything okay?”
“Is this weird?”
“Because we work together?”
“Do you want me to quit?”
“What? No. Daniel. I'd never ask you to do that.”
“I don't want you to feel uncomfortable with this.”
Betty shook her head. “I'm not. Don't worry.” She smiled reassuringly.
“Alright,” Daniel said, sounding unconvinced. He turned and headed back to his desk.
Betty spent the rest of the afternoon flipping through paper work and scheduling meetings for the next issue. Quitting time quickly rolled around the corner, and Betty didn't hesitate to pack her things and leave, deciding not to stay late. She said goodnight to Daniel, who was in the process of packing up his things for home, and hailed a cab.
In her apartment, she sat on the couch in the silence, thinking over the night before. A knock at the door interrupted her thoughts. It was Daniel.
“Hey, can we talk?”
Betty stepped aside, inviting him in, and closed the door behind him. She sat on the couch, Daniel sitting next to her.
“What do you want to talk about?” she asked.
“Yeah. I know you feel weird about this. I want to fix it. What can I do? Just tell me. I'll do anything.”
Betty thought about this for a moment, then leaned in towards him and pressed her lips against his. Daniel closed his eyes and held her head in his hands, kissing back hard. After a moment, Betty pulled away.
“It doesn't feel weird right now,” she said.
“It doesn't feel weird to be kissing your assistant?”
“Stop. Don't say that. That makes it weird.”
“Actually,” Betty began. “I was thinking, you have experience as an editor. You'd be good for the job. You deserve it.”
“Betty, no, I can't take it. There has to be someone else who deserves it.”
“No, Daniel, I want you to have it.”
“You're just doing it so I won't be your assistant.”
“No, I'm not. But, it is a bonus.” She smiled at him. “Maybe things won't be as weird. I want you to have it. I'm telling Dunn tomorrow.”
“Daniel, don't argue with me.”
He smiled and kissed her.
“So, we're okay?”
“Even after last night?”
“Yes. Well. I thought so. Do you think so?”
“Yeah, I think so.”
“So. What does this mean?”
“What do you want it to mean?”
She just wanted to be with him. It all seemed so unreal. But it as real. Her feelings were real. She loved him.
Betty hesitated. “I want it to mean whatever you want it to mean,” she said slowly.
“I want this to be real,” Daniel said, taking her hands in his. “I want us to be real.”
“Like. Serious? Like, a relationship?”
“Yeah, why not? Do you not want that?”
“No, no. I mean. Yes. I would love that.”
“Good. Me too.”
“So. I guess this means you're my boyfriend?”
Daniel laughed. “I guess so.” He leaned in and kissed her. Betty's heart fluttered in her chest as she moved closer to him, feeling his chest beneath her hands. She felt his heart beat against her palms. She moved her lips against his, pushing him back against the couch, taking in the sweet scent of his cologne. It was so familiar, so wonderful. She didn't want any of this to change. This was perfect.