Kevin Watts. The CEO of the company on the floor above mine. A smaller company that dabbles in video games. Children and amateurs.
I put my cigarette back between my lips.
As always, whether in this room or in the elevator where we sometimes bump into each other, I ignore Kevin.
“Or maybe the weather doesn’t bother you at all, Iceman.”
I cast him an icy glare. So what if it proves his point" I hate the man. I hate his perennially messy blond hair and his stupid printed ties. I hate how Michael keeps comparing me to him, saying I should care about my employees as much as he does. And most of all, I hate how he can never take a hint and keeps on talking to me in spite of all the times I’ve ignored him.
“Just kidding.” Kevin pats my shoulder. “It’s the holidays. You should relax.”
I shrug off his hand. “Aren’t you guys already relaxed enough for everyone in this building"”
He scratches the back of his head and gives a sheepish grin.
“I guess our company is a lot of fun.”
I narrow my eyes at him.
“Speaking of fun, we’re having our Christmas party at the office tomorrow night. Want to come"”
“No,” I answer right away.
“Don’t worry. There won’t be anything with cinnamon, I promise.”
I turn to him with a frown. “Let me guess. You got that piece of information from that employee you stole from me last week. What was his name again" Damon"”
“Dylan,” Kevin answers. “But I’m not surprised you didn’t get his name right, since you never even bothered to stop by his cubicle.”
“Why would I do that"”
“And I didn’t steal him. He wanted to be a part of my company, and I happened to have an opening.”
I take another puff. “How convenient. You always seem to have openings when people leave my company.”
“Lucky me,” he says. “After all, it would be a waste to let such talented people go.”
“Incompetent people,” I retort.
“They seem to be doing just fine for me. They’ve been showing excellent results, actually. It’s funny how a bit of appreciation can go a long way. You should try it sometime.”
“I didn’t ask for your advice.”
“No. You don’t ask anyone for advice. After all, you’re perfect, aren’t you" And you think you can get everything done perfectly all by yourself.”
I narrow my eyes at him. “As opposed to someone who can’t do anything by himself.”
“Although I guess you have to do some things by yourself now that your secretary’s gone. What was her name again" Sharon"”
“Cheryl,” Kevin corrects as he meets my gaze. “And don’t you dare – ”
“Too bad,” I go on. “I could tell she would have been at least a bit amusing in bed. But I guess she couldn’t handle – ”
My sentence gets cut off as Kevin swings his fist at my face. I dodge in time, but the tip of my cigarette brushes against his arm.
“Shit,” he hisses as he covers the burn.
Then he lifts his head to glare at me.
“You’re a big jerk, you know that" You’re the worst kind of boss and the worst kind of man.”
I extinguish my cigarette. “I wasn’t asking for a compliment, but thanks.”
Kevin swings his fist again. This time I catch it in my palm as I toss my cigarette butt into the bin with my other hand.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” I warn him. “You wouldn’t be able to handle the consequences.”
He grits his teeth.
“Whoa!” I hear Michael’s voice as he enters the room. “That’s enough playing, boys. Recess is over. Back to class.”
I let Kevin’s hand go. He turns on his heel.
“Hey, Kevin,” Michael greets him. “Merry Christmas!”
He leaves the room without another word.
Michael turns to me with a sigh. “What did I say about being nice at Christmas"”
“Nothing important,” I answer. “What are you doing here"”
“There’s a client at the office,” he tells me. “Wants to meet you.”
I follow him out of the room.
“Merry Christmas, everyone!” Michael tells everyone with a wave and a smile before walking out the doors.
I frown. “Who are you" Santa"”
“Actually, I will be Santa for our Christmas party, which I hope you haven’t forgotten is three days from now.”
Michael sighs. “Really, Lance, where is your Christmas spirit"”
“On leave,” I answer as I step inside the elevator.
I say nothing as the elevator begins to move.
What’s so special about Christmas anyway"
I thought this Christmas was going to be special.
I set my mug of hot chocolate down on my desk and slump in my chair. My arms hang limply from my sides and the pillow on my lap falls. As I pick it up, my gaze falls on the red and white dress I bought a few days ago, still sheathed in plastic and hanging on the wall.
I was supposed to wear that dress two nights from now to a Christmas concert, a date with my boyfriend, Arthur, before he went home for the holidays. I was going to give him a present after the date, too, maybe after we made out in front of the fire. But last night I found out that he was going out with someone else, an old friend of mine to boot. No wonder she hadn’t been in contact with me, and no wonder it always felt like Arthur’s mind was elsewhere.