(This is a continuing series called “Kissing Frogs” posted every Friday. To get caught up, you can click the “Kissing Frogs . . . so far” link at the top of the page.)
“It looks like he’s finally found us.” Joanna had been hovering at Tracey’s plate glass windows for five minutes, watching in fascination as Joey’s truck went around the block.
“Joanna, why don’t you go down and meet him. We need the flood stemmed, and we need it done NOW!”
Joanna turned from the window to face her friend and her boss. She grinned in a mischievous way and flipped her brown hair over her shoulder.
“Well, I’m not too proud to take your cast offs. Let me handle this for you. All of it. If I have to work deep into the night and maybe even spend several hours in a restaurant staring into his eyes, I will make sure this is handled, and handled well.”
To the untrained eye, it would seem that Tracey was unimpressed with Joanna’s flippancy, but as she flounced from Tracey’s office, there was a grin on her boss’ face. But not for long. In perfect contrast to the bounce that left the office came what could only be referred to as a storm cloud moving in the opposite direction.
“This would be the perfect job if it wasn’t for the people” thought Tracey as the president of the local chapter of NOW moved, like a low pressure front into her office. Tracey glanced at the boxing gloves hanging behind her door, but decided against it – she only had one pair. Instead she armed herself with her best smile, and a freely offered right hand.
“Ms. Free, how nice it is to see you again.”
“And you, Ms. MacManus.”
They went through the preliminaries: Tracey asking if she wanted anything to drink, Ms. Free saying “no thank-you” in the tone that really said “I don’t trust anything here” and finally the opening dance was over. Both Tracey and Ms. Free looked at their watches.
“Well, I see Dr. Faulkner’s disrespect extends to his punctuality, or lack thereof.” The contempt was rolling from her like fog off a swamp, and Tracey’s control on the situation was precarious at best. In an attempt to feign a lack of concern, Tracey turned to her desk, as if trying to complete some project far more important than the feminist about to shoot snakes from her hair at any moment. Thus Dr. Andrew Faulkner’s arrival caught her off guard, and she almost jumped at the sound of his voice – the voice with which she was so familiar, despite having never met the man.
“Ladies, please accept my apologies. I found myself trapped in a minor water fall between floors. My tardiness is absolutely no indication of the priority I place on these discussions.”
The deep rich voice had always brought to Tracey’s mind a middle aged man, with graying temples and silver reading glasses. His daily radio program began as an act of rebellion from her white collar democrat father, but continued past college as a test of her forensic and debate skills. She had been looking forward to the chance to put her one sided retorts to the challenge against her unknowing mentor for sometime, yet as she turned, hand already extended, she froze.
Framed in her doorway, wet from the knees down, and being toweled desperately by a very embarrassed Joanna, stood the most handsome man she had ever seen. Only five years older than she was, still in his late thirties, with a magnificent head of dark blonde hair and a carefully cultured goatee, Dr. Faulkner’s most obvious physical trait was his piercing blue eyes.
Gently dislodging Joanna from his leg, as one would shake loose an affectionate pet, Andrew closed the gap between them in one step, grasping Tracey’s hand in both of his, and locking her gaze in a piercing manner.
“Am I forgiven?”
Much to Tracey’s amazement, she was breathless. Fortunately so was Ms. Free.