By Design – Chapter 20

Eli sat behind his desk, tapping his pen against the tabletop, trying to think. He stared at Ken who was sitting in the chair across from him on the opposite side of the desk. Ken wasn’t doing anything other than staring back at Eli, his hands folded in his lap, an expression on his face that suggested he was really wondering why exactly he had been called in there.

That was fair enough. Eli had called him into the office and invited him to have a seat, and then hadn’t said anything else for the last ten minutes while the two men just continued to stare at each other. In truth, he was trying to figure out just how to phrase what it was he needed to say so that it didn’t sound desperate. But anything that came to mind with fell way short of that mark. After another minute or so, Eli couldn’t take the silence any longer. He just needed to go for it. Whatever came out of his mouth came out, and they’d go from there.

“I haven’t heard a word from Gracie Parker since our interview last week,” he said. It was not necessarily what he had wanted to say, but it would do.

Ken raised his eyebrows in response, as if to say, “Is that all you have to say after making me wait like this for the last fifteen minutes?” Instead, what he actually said was, “Were you expecting to hear something from her?”

Eli thought back to the day he had last met with Gracie. “No, I guess not. It’s not like we made plans for a follow up or anything. But still, I thought I’d hear something.” Ok. That really did sound desperate.

Ken apparently thought so as well. “Look, Eli, there is no reason for you to have expected anything from her. You and Miss Parker both know that is not standard procedure. Miss Parker is one who plays by the books when it comes to her job. She isn’t going to do anything that might put her reputation at risk. Even if she had wanted to contact you, it would have been completely inappropriate and you know it.”

Eli’s ears perked up at the wrong part of Ken’s explanation. “So, you think she did want to contact me but was afraid to?”

“That’s not what I meant,” Ken said, throwing his hands up defensively. But it was too late. Eli was already thinking ahead.

“Maybe you’re right,” he said. “Maybe I should contact her instead. That would be better.”

“Or maybe you should just cut your losses and move on,” Ken offered. It was probably better for his sake that Eli didn’t seem to hear his remark.

Instead, Eli was coming to conclusions of his own. “You’re right,” he said, nodding in agreement. “I should contact her. Ken, you know that new Italian restaurant that opened up? Could you make a reservation for two there for tonight? Seven o’clock should be good.” Eli grabbed his jacket and headed for the door.

“Where are you going?” Ken asked.

“To Miss Parker’s office. If I’m lucky I’ll be able to catch her before she leaves for the day.” He was gone before Ken had the chance to object.

“Well, this should be interesting,” Ken mused aloud, now alone in Eli’s office. Still, as much as he might disapprove of such childish behavior, Eli was still his boss. He guessed that meant he should go ahead and make the reservation Eli had asked for. He wondered how long it would be before Eli was calling him to cancel it again.


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