the most thoughtful gift.

When I got to work on Tuesday, Diana called me into her office.

“How was your weekend? You had a ton of fun, I imagine,” she said when I sat down.

“I did,” I said, smiling. “It was also my birthday so I celebrated.”

“Well, you’re here in one piece so that’s a great sign.”

I’m glad that even after everything, Diana and I still have a great relationship.

“So, I know you have a lot on your plate right now. You’re taking on so much extra work lately and Dave and I really appreciate you.”

“Yeah. My plate is very full,” I admitted.

“To help take some weight off your shoulders, we have promoted Whitney into a brand new position that was created just for her.”

I was silent so Diana continued explaining.

“Brand strategy manager. She will continue overseeing social media, but in addition, she will work alongside you with branding.”

I blinked.

“I just wanted to run this by you since I know you and Whitney have not always seen eye to eye.”

How did Whitney weasel her way into a promotion? And yes, I was swamped with work, but that’s the way I liked it. I didn’t want help, especially from Whitney.

“Okay,” I said, sweetly.

“You’re okay with this?” Diana looked kind of surprised. 

What was the alternative? Refusing to work with Whitney and looking like an uncooperative brat?

“Don’t worry, Diana. We will make it work,” I enthused.

Immediately after the meeting, Whitney stopped by my office.

“I already have a ton of ideas for marketing pitches. We’ve been lacking in a few areas so I created a file outlining everything. I just emailed it to you,” she said.

I gave her the fakest, syrupiest smile I could muster. “Thanks. I’ll look at it.”

Keyword: look. Right before I moved it to the trash.

Later that evening, Brady and I met for dinner and drinks. I told him about Whitney’s promotion and how annoyed about it I was.

“Don’t be annoyed. At least you’ll be getting some relief from all the work you have to do,” he said.

“I don’t want relief,” I glared.

“It will allow you more time to invest elsewhere. Perhaps spend more time on each project instead of juggling multiple things at once…”

“I don’t want that,” I said sharply. “Everything is perfect as is. I don’t need help.”

Brady saw how irritated I was getting and took a bite of his food. I considered what he said and started thinking of all the upsides. I could treat Whitney like my own little personal assistant. I mean, I have been wanting one. I could keep her so busy with running my errands that she wouldn’t have any time to work on branding. Perfect.

Brady interrupted my thoughts.

“So did you free your schedule for the 19th through 21st?” he asked. 

I wrinkled my nose in confusion. “No. Why?”

He looked at me blankly. “Did you not open the gift I got you?”

I had spent so much time at work and Brady’s that I completely forgot about the little white box he gave me the night of my birthday. It was still tangled up in my sheets.

“No. I completely forgot about that,” I admitted.

A look of disappointment flashed over his face briefly. 

“What is it?”

“Why don’t you look at it when you get home?” he suggested, taking a drink from his beer.

I feel awful about completely disregarding his gift. I should’ve opened it that night.

Brady came home with me and I hurried to find my gift. It was exactly where I left it, tossed carelessly on the bed. I tore open the box and single piece of paper fell to the bed. When I picked it up, I saw that it was the flight information for a trip to Houston, TX. For me. I didn’t say anything for a moment and Brady spoke up.

“I know you don’t get to see your family often so I’m forcing you to go.”

My heart felt too big for my chest and I actually thought I was going to cry. It is probably the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever gotten from a guy. He didn’t book a romantic trip for the two of us, he booked a trip for me.

“That’s…very thoughtful,” I said, sitting down on the edge of my bed.

Brady sat next to me. “I know your family misses you. Go surprise your parents. They will be ecstatic.”

“They will be.” I threw my arms around him and hugged him, hoping he took it as a thank you. 

I know his gift isn’t extravagant or anything I’ve been asking for, but I would never go home if he hadn’t bought me that plane ticket. And I’m actually really excited. 

We hooked up and fell asleep after that. I was woken up in the morning by Brady who quickly got out of bed. I pulled the comforter over my head while I heard him getting ready. He shouted goodbye and I mumbled something back before he shut my door. 

I fell back asleep for little while longer, but my ringing phone woke me up. It was from an unknown Chicago number and even though I usually don’t pick up unknown numbers, I answered it.

“Hey, it’s me,” I recognized Brady’s voice on the other end.

“Hi,” I said sleepily.

“I was in such a hurry that I left my phone on your nightstand,” he said.

I glanced to my right and saw his black iPhone sitting there.

“Do you think if you have time today, you could bring it to me at work? It’s kind of important.”

“Sure,” I said, smiling. I loved the fact that he was asking me for a favor. And if his phone was with me, how did he get my number to call me? He must have it memorized. We’re practically engaged. 

I told him that I would most likely take a break at around 12:30 and he told me to use the south entrance and let the receptionist know to page him.

His phone was dead so his alarm didn’t go off which explained why he woke up late. I put it in my bag to take to him later. 

When I got to work, Whitney was already working away at her desk.

“Reese!” she exclaimed. “I have a meeting set up for us today.”

“Okay. Who with?”

“I found this discount furniture bazaar that I think would be really good for us. It would be something a little different.”

“Discount furniture bazaar,” I repeated. While our stuff isn’t luxury by any means, I wouldn’t put it in the discount category. What kind of message would it send to our customers if we had stuff at some sort of flea market?

“Yes. I want to get some more information before presenting it to Dave and Diana. We’re meeting them at 2:00.”

“I’m busy at that time,” I lied. I actually wanted nothing to do with this foolishness she was trying.

“Oh darn,” Whitney said, not looking at all disappointed. “Well, I’ll let you know how it goes.”

Later that morning she came in my office.

“I was thinking since the last warehouse sale went so well we could do it twice a year. The next one could be around the holidays and we could turn it into sort of an event with other vendors and stuff,” Whitney said.

“I think the way we do the warehouse sale now is fine,” I replied.

“It is, but I thought it would be cool to spice it up a bit. I’m going to start planning it and send you what I come up with.” 

An hour later, she CC’d Diana and me in an email with a sample flyer for the holiday warehouse sale. Diana immediately emailed her back: “Interesting idea Whitney. Please send more info.”

I was so fucking irritated that Diana was even entertaining this. I grabbed my bag and headed off to meet Brady.

I got to the hospital and asked the receptionist to call him then I stood there talking to her because her eyebrows were awesome and I had to know who did them. She tried to tell me that they were natural which was an obvious lie. When I told her I didn’t believe her she pulled up a #TBT picture on Instagram. Same brows at thirteen. Whatever.

I sat down and waited for a few minutes until I spotted Brady walking down the hall toward me. And he was with Jessica. I can’t believe that after Saturday night he had the nerve to show up with her. I watched as they slowly walked down the wide white hallway, chatting and laughing. Brady was in dress clothes, a white coat and glasses, while Jessica wore bubblegum pink scrubs and a high ponytail. Bitch. 

“Hey. Thanks so much for coming,” Brady greeted me with a one armed hug.

“No problem,” I said sweetly and handed him his phone.

“You caught us just as we were heading to lunch,” Jessica said with that condescending ass smile on her face.

“Oh?” I looked at Brady.

“Yeah, we will probably just grab something quick from the cafeteria,” he said.

“Are you on lunch break too then?” Jessica asked.

“I don’t really have a set lunch break. I just come and go as I please,” I said.

“Nice,” Jessica smiled.

“Do you want to go down to the cafeteria with us?” Brady asked.

“No,” I said immediately and gave him a chilly look. “I actually have a lot to do and I put it all on hold to come here.”

“I do appreciate it,” Brady said.

“It’s not a problem. You can just repay me later.”

“How about I treat you to lunch?”

I glanced at Jessica who was watching the encounter with the smile still on her face. Ugh, she’s so weird.

“Okay. I could probably spare half an hour,” I said nonchalantly.

Brady smiled. “Great. You choose the place.”

He started toward the door without acknowledging Jessica so I waved at her before we walked out. We went across the street to a little Mexican place and got tacos because they were quick and we both really did need to get back to work. I asked him if he and Jessica frequently got lunch together. 

“No, it was a coincidence that we were both going to the cafeteria at the same time today,” he said. 

“Coincidence?” I repeated, hoping he would elaborate some more.

“Usually I work through lunch.”

“So do I,” I said.

Sometimes Brady is so oblivious that I think there is no way he could have anything going on with Jessica. It makes me feel like I’m crazy for even thinking it when Brady is so calm and cool about it. He is so casually unconcerned about her so I feel like their relationship is one sided. Not only that, but it took him forever to even have sex with me and we were dating. Even though Jessica seems like a thirsty skank, I just can’t see how anything could happen. Now I sound so naive. I don’t know what to think.

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