Need to start at the beginning? Click here for Part 1 then use the link at the bottom of each post to advance to the next chapter.
I fiddle pointlessly with the hard hat that is perched haphazardly on my head like a bowling ball. There is no use. I will never look like anything but a complete weirdo in these things.
Claude, on the other hand, looks like a model in the latest construction sheek magazine. The bright yellow dome sits atop his head like it was made to be there. It only makes him look all the more rugged, work-hardened, and sexy.
“I am so glad we did this,” he says. “I can see the vision so much better in person.”
When Claude had first suggested we take a tour of the Cimmeron building, still very much under construction, I thought it would be the opposite of helpful. Without the finishing touches, it’s just wood and steel. I didn’t think it would help either of us picture what should be inside it.
I was wrong. Somehow, what was only a two-dimensional design on paper has come to life when seen in person. I can easily visualize the end product, the way the halls will look, the rooms, the massive entryway.
I take a few more shots with my camera while Claude does something on his tablet. “You were right. But then I again I should have known. You are a professional after all,” I concede.
This is our third official meeting and while things are nowhere near personal between us, they are less stiff. Claude smiles at me. “As are you, Janice.”
“I’m just a secretary,” I remind him as I put the cap back on my lens and turn to head toward the elevator.
“Don’t sell yourself short,” he says, coming up to walk beside me.
“How long have you been doing this anyway?” I ask. I wonder why I haven’t asked before. Claude doesn’t look a day over thirty, he’s got to be relatively new to this.
“My partner and I started this firm right after I graduated from college. It was a huge risk.”
Ah ha! Partner. I knew it! The hot interior designer simply couldn’t be straight. Life just isn’t that good to me.
“She’d been working in a firm for a few years, so she at least was a little more experienced. We got some seed money from my parents. That’s why my name is first on the sign.” He smiles coyly as he pushes the button to call the elevator.
Wait. What? Did he just say ‘her’? I look over at him, trying to keep my jaw from falling off my face. “Um…so…Dunlop is your…?”
Instinctively, I look at his left hand. And he catches me doing it. He holds it up. “Not married. It’s my older brother’s wife. I’m single.”
“Oh,” is all I manage to get out.
Fortunately, I am saved by the ding of the elevator arriving. Claude and I step in. I am still contemplating the fact that Claude is single, though still possibly gay, when the elevator doors close fluidly.
Claude and I are alone in the elevator as it takes us from the very top of the Cimmeron building back down to the lobby. It’s the first time we haven’t been jammed in here with a bunch of construction workers. I am just starting to appreciate that when the elevator stops.
My eyes snap to the digital display. Instead of indicating what floor we’re on, it’s blank. I look at Claude.
“It appears we’re stuck,” he says.
Read Part 5 here