Sitting at her desk that evening, Skylar’s fingers danced on the keys of her laptop. She was determined to finish the Motion for Summary Judgment in the Bally matter, which was a complex commercial lease case. Mr. Bally was the CEO of a company that owned multiple commercial properties around the city. Many millions of dollars were riding on this case because the tenant had skipped out after only eight months on a five-year lease. An added problem was the fact that the tenant had also made material alterations to the property, leaving it in a condition that was going to require six figures in repairs and modifications. When Lipstein handed her the file last spring he had been ominous. He had held the file in a tight grip after Skylar reached out to take it, releasing it into her hands only after saying to her in a very serious tone, “Mind this one closely, Battelle. Treat this client like you would your own child; one for whom you will need to care and nurture for years to come.”
Skylar stopped typing to take a bite of the cold pad thai delivered to her an hour before. Strange, she thought, that Lipstein wanted her to treat a multi-million dollar company like a child. To say it was a reach to do so was an understatement. Skylar loved kids and working for a faceless corporation was about as far from a mother-child relationship as you could get. For her it was, anyway. To Skylar, Lipstein’s remarks translated to mean that she needed to work really hard and give the client everything she could. Mr. Bally was high maintenance to say nothing of his intense demeanor, but Skylar had figured out how to handle him by now. Plus, Mr. Bally liked her.
She had been putting in tons of hours on the case and knew Lipstein was quietly watching her. Now that she knew he was passing her up for work and instead giving it to Marisa, she was going to put in all the time she could on this case. That meant staying at the office even longer than she normally did. That meant racking up billable hours. She had planned to prepare the Motion for Summary Judgment next week so she could focus on other cases this week. But Bally was more important to Lipstein. Despite being late, her meeting with Mr. Bally had gone quite well. Skylar had left Bally’s and returned to the office to work on the motion since her depositions had been canceled. Seven hours later she was still at it. It was 9:30 and she was exhausted.
She chucked the to-go container into her trash can with only half of its contents eaten. If she was going to finish this motion, chocolate was in order. Skylar got up out of her chair and stretched, feeling her vertebrae crack in several places. Sitting at a computer for hours on end really did a number on her body. For a second she went through a thought process about how a trip to the gym would be far better than stuffing her face with chocolate at the moment, but she quickly dismissed it. If she was going to work all hours of the day and into the night, she deserved it.
She pulled opened the top drawer of her desk, rifling through its contents. Checking all of her drawers without success, Skylar walked out into the hall in pursuit of chocolate hidden in someone else’s desk. She knew her assistant, Lisa, was on another diet so she did not bother looking in hers. Down the hall on the right was Valerie’s office. There was a good chance there would be some sweets in her desk. Valerie was a paralegal who did good work but had a terrible attitude. She was never happy and was always complaining about something. She was also known to drink too much. Her husband of less than two years had left her for a younger co-worker of his. Valerie was refusing to negotiate with him so their divorce was still dragging, and she was extremely bitter.
The hall lights were out since it was so late, and the only lights still shining were the exit signs and various tiny green, blue and red lights on computer monitors, printers, phones and other electronics around the office. Skylar slowly walked into Valerie’s office and turned on the light with a loud, click. She headed straight for the bottom right drawer in her desk, wondering for a second why she still had her high heels on when nobody was around and her feet were so tired. She forgot about her sore feet when she saw what she was looking for. Jackpot. M&Ms and a bag of chocolate kisses. Skylar reached in for a small handful when she heard a noise in the hallway.
She froze. Who could be here now, this late? Everyone had gone home hours ago and security wasn’t due back around for at least another 45 minutes. She didn’t move, trying to listen for another sound. And then she heard it. A slow, very quiet swishing sound was making its way down the hall. Her heart was thumping so loudly Skylar put her hand filled with the chocolates up to her chest as if to muffle it. The noise was getting closer. She looked down, ready to jump under Valerie’s desk to hide. But she felt like she was stuck in quicksand. She couldn’t move her legs to do it.
“Hey babe,” said Jordy as he popped his head in the doorway. “What are you up to in here?”
“Oh, Jesus! You scared the life out of me, Jordy!” Skylar straightened herself up and took a deep breath. She held up her hand full of chocolate kisses and replied, “Chocolate fix. Highly critical to my productivity this late.”
“Mmm-hmm. Does Val know you swipe from her stash?” Jordy said, raising an eyebrow.
“Nope.” Skylar popped a kiss in her mouth. “And she doesn’t need to. You want one?”
“Sure, thanks,” he replied as he reached out. Skylar tossed a kiss at him.
“Have you been here all this time?” She asked with a mouth full of delicious chocolate.
“Yeah, you know, trying to get some things done to jump start my morning tomorrow. But, I’m headed out of here. I’m going to meet somebody for a drink at The Asp. Care to join me?” He spun his Rolex around his wrist to check the time. “You can’t possibly be staying much longer.” Skylar heard something different in his voice and felt a little uncomfortable. Jordy stepped closer and reached out to touch her arm, raising his glance to meet hers. “Come out with me,” he said in a low tone.
Skylar stepped back, pretending to fumble with the chocolate wrapper. “I…I can’t. I’m working on a motion so I’m here for the long haul. You know how it is,” she said a little too tartly.
“Oh, c’mon,” said Jordy, “you’re only young once. You really need to get out more.” He looked at his watch impatiently and gave her a look that told her he thought she was a little pathetic.
Now thirty, Skylar sometimes felt fifty. She rarely spent nights out at restaurants and clubs like other thirty year-olds. When her friends did manage to get her out, she felt uncomfortable and reserved. Her friends often made comments like, “we need to loosen you up!” They were always trying to get her to go out and meet men. When she did, her friends gave each other looks throughout the night like they were in cahoots in coordinating some pathetic mission to fix her boring life. Skylar noticed. But dating didn’t interest her. She knew plenty of handsome, successful guys, but she had no interest in playing the dating game with any of them. It was no secret to her friends or her, for that matter, that she had forgotten how to have fun. Or maybe she never really knew. She reached in Valerie’s drawer to grab a few more kisses and then slammed the drawer shut. “Have a good time.”
As she walked past him and headed to her office, she felt Jordy’s eyes on her ass.
“Hey, Skylar,” called his voice from behind her, “why is it that you never have a guy in your life?” The accusation in his voice was noticeable, stopping Skylar in her tracks.
She turned around slowly looking down at the floor, noticing the ridiculous gold and burgundy pattern in the carpet. “Not that I need to explain my life to you, I have had guys in my life,” she said, trying to ignore the violated feelings rising in her chest, “but none of them so far has proved to be worth keeping.”
“Really? Because honestly, and don’t take this the wrong way, it seems like you try pretty damn hard to shut people out of your life. At least, that is what you seem to do with me,” Jordy shrugged and smiled.
Skylar was floored. At first she thought he was just playing her like she had seen him do with so many women. He had tried to sleep with her before, but this was different. Looking into his eyes she realized he was being genuine. He seemed hurt.
“Jordy…I just…I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say,” she said, looking at the chocolates in her hand, feeling more than a little guilty for being curt with him. “I guess I’m not really open to a relationship right now. You know, being so busy with work and everything.”
Jordy straightened up and laughed. “Relationship? Is that what you think? Nah, sweetheart. I just figured we could have some fun. Lord knows you could use some,” he said with a wink. “Your loss, babe. I’m off then, but before I go, how about a little kiss?” He cocked his head and gestured for her to come plant one on his willing lips.
Fucking Jordy. Rather annoyed but not exactly surprised, Skylar held back from swearing him up and down. Instead, she took a step and then slowly walked toward him. Jordy, trying not to look shocked that she was taking him up on his offer, leaned forward, reaching to take her hand and pull her in for the kiss. Skylar stepped closer, reached her hand out to his and then dropped a chocolate kiss into his palm.
“Muah.” She gave him a wicked smile, turned and darted into her office.