By Design – Chapter 33

Gracie had thought about it a long time. It had been on her mind for almost the entire week since her run-in with Mei Chen.  Finally, she decided it had to be done. There wasn’t any other option.

She left her office early and headed straight for Walk on Design’s office building. She knew Eli would still be at work. He had been working a lot lately. That had been part of what had made her come to this conclusion in the end. The sun was almost completely set below the horizon before she got there. This time of year, nobody should be stuck at work past dark, Gracie thought as she let herself into the office.

Just as Gracie had suspected, Eli was hard at work behind his desk. His assistant, Ken, as well as Russ Walker were also with Eli in his office. All three of them looked over at her, astonished and confused, when the door opened and she walked in. All three of them seemed extremely surprised to see her.

Ken was the first to recover from the shock. He stood up from his chair. “How did you get in here?” he asked.

“It’s really easy to just walk in when there is no one at the front desk to stop you,” Gracie said.

Ken went red at her words, realizing that it was he who had neglected his responsibilities and allowed someone to walk straight into his boss’ office.

“Gracie, do you need something?” It was Eli speaking to her now. “We’re really busy.”

Gracie took a deep breath. “Actually, that is what I came here to talk to you about.” Why was she so nervous? She had gone over this a thousand times in her mind. She knew this was the right thing for her to be doing. She just had to get it out and hope he understood. “I can’t stand you being here all hours of the night, so stressed out, no time for anything else,” she told Eli, though she was well aware that she had the attention of all three men in the room. “I don’t want to just sit around and put up with it anymore.”

Eli narrowed his eyes as he stared at her. “So what are you suggesting?” he asked.

Here it was. The big moment. “I want to help,” Gracie said.

“Help with what?” Eli asked.

“With everything,” Gracie said. “I’ve been thinking about it. A lot. Isn’t part of being in a relationship about helping each other deal with their problems in life? I know you have a lot of stuff you are trying to deal with right now, and maybe you have Ken and Russ helping you with it, but you never talk about these kinds of things to me. You always just tell me not to worry about it, that you’ll get it worked out.”

“How do you know Russ?” Eli asked.

“But I can’t not worry about it,” Gracie said, ignoring Eli’s question as she remembered he still didn’t know about her and Russ meeting the week before. “I care about you and as a result I care about the things you are dealing with. And I want to help you deal with them.”

Ken and Russ looked from Gracie to Eli, waiting to see what his reaction to her confession would be.

Eli simply sighed. “I don’t know if there is anything that can be done to help,” he said. “By you or anyone else.”

“So, solving the world’s problems isn’t going so well?” Gracie asked, though she had already figured as much.

Eli snorted. “Forget the world’s problems. I’m just trying to deal with my own problems.”

“Well in that case, I think I might have a plan,” Gracie said with a sly, little smile.

The three men perked up at her words. Considering they were clean out of ideas, they were very interested in hearing what she had to offer.


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