Friday, March 18, 2011
The White Knight
Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday
Today's words: breeze, mellow, tickle
Some stories need to be told. Miranda's begins here.
And now, it continues...
* * *
The White Knight
Miranda’s desk was always tidy. Beside the telephone sat a notepad stamped with the company logo, a Mont Blanc perched on top, angled corner to corner. Reference books along one side of the desk were lined up with military precision. A computer was centered on the desk return, the monitor angled at the perfect eye level to reduce neck strain.
The hectic week had put filing at a low priority. Three—very neat, very organized—piles of reports and correspondence were arranged in front of the row of books.
At the end of the day, Miranda logged off her computer, adjusted the notepad a fraction of an inch and removed her suit jacket, hanging it neatly on the back of her chair.
“It’s Friday, Miranda. Go home.” Robert McBride strolled down the hall toward his office, a coffee in one hand, a manila folder in the other. His peppered hair stuck out at odd angles which, Miranda knew, meant he’d been running his fingers through it all day.
“I want to tackle the filing. If I stay and do it now, I know I’ll sleep better tonight.”
Rob shook his head. Miranda was the first person in the office each morning and the last to leave at night. She had joined the team more than a year ago and Rob had forged an immediate bond with her. They worked in tandem, seldom needing more than a few words to express ideas, somehow anticipating the other’s needs. His own grown sons were long gone from home and he’d taken Miranda under his wing, like a surrogate daughter. Several times a month, she joined him and his wife for Sunday dinner.
“Go home and enjoy the weekend. Forget about the filing. It’ll be here on Monday.”
“That’s why I want to do it now.” Miranda turned up the cuffs of her silk blouse and eyed the filing. “The paper seems to breed overnight. There’s always twice as much in the morning.”
It wouldn’t take long; she estimated thirty minutes—forty, tops—to breeze through it. If she stayed late and got it done now, it wouldn’t be nagging at her the entire weekend and she could enjoy herself.
Rob knew it was futile to argue. “I just made a fresh pot of coffee if you want some.” He wandered back into his office, already absorbed in the contents of the folder.
Miranda played with the dial on the portable radio until she found a station playing mellow tunes. Her hips swayed with the music and she hummed off-key as she tackled the first pile. Each stack was organized according to client, making quick work of the filing. As she addressed the second pile, the front door of the office chirped, announcing a visitor. She glanced at her watch. It was well past closing and she knew, with the exception of Rob, everyone was gone for the day. By habit, she set a smile on her face and turned to greet the arrival. It was only ingrained professionalism that kept her lips turned up.
He wore a dark chocolate blazer, paired with a butter yellow shirt, the starched collar undone. Tan pants accentuated narrow hips and a trim waist. Dark, penetrating eyes smiled at her, even if his mouth didn’t.
“I’m here to see Rob McBride.”
She’d never seen him before, yet he looked familiar. No, it was more that he felt familiar.
“Do you have an appointment?” There was nothing noted in her calendar.
He nodded. “He’s expecting me. My name is Craig Matthews.”
“Please, have a seat.” She gestured toward a pair of wing chairs as she reached for the telephone. “I’ll let Mr. McBride know you’re here.”
Before she lifted the receiver, Rob came out of his office.
“Craig! How are you?”
Hands clasped in greeting, shoulders were clapped. Though Rob was much older, the mutual respect between the two was obvious.
“Come into my cell.” The two men disappeared into Rob’s office and the door closed with a soft click.
Miranda’s legs were shaking and there was an odd tickle in her stomach. She sank into her chair, dropped her head into her hands. Jesus, Rand, get a grip. He’s just a guy. And a stranger at that. OK, he was a cute stranger with an intense stare that seemed to look right into your soul, but she still didn’t know him. And yet, he felt familiar. She couldn’t remember meeting him, but somehow she knew she had.
The office door swung open and Rob strolled out. “Help me bring some coffee and cookies in.”
Miranda sprang out of her chair and followed him down the hall to the staff room. Rob poured coffee into an ornate carafe and set two cups with saucers on a silver tray while Miranda arranged cookies on a china plate.
“You didn’t tell me you had an appointment.” She hoped her voice sounded casual.
“Craig? I thought you’d be gone by now, so I didn’t mention it.” Rob arranged a sugar bowl and creamer on the tray, pulled napkins from a drawer and handed them to Miranda. “He’s interviewing me for his thesis.”
“Oh.” Miranda fanned the napkins on the tray, set spoons on the saucers.
“Why don’t you just ask?” Rob wasn’t quite successful at hiding his smirk.
Miranda fixed an expression of innocence on her face. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Rob laughed, a loud baritone bark that always made her smile. As was his habit, he ruffled the top of her head as though she were a toddler. She made an annoyed face, but the gesture always thrilled her.
“Forget it, kiddo. He’s married.”
Miranda’s heart sank. Figures.
Rob picked up the tray and pushed open the café door with his hip.
“But rumour has it that the marriage is on the rocks.” With an exaggerated look of disinterest, Rob swung out of the room with the coffee and cookies.
Well, thought Miranda, wasn’t that interesting.
* * *
Miranda's story continues...