As I approached the office, they were laughing coming up the hall from the opposite direction. It gave me a chance to check him out, the eight years has been nice to him, truly a man of steel, from this point forward, there is no past, no history, no hurt. As we approached the office, someone called Renee, he told us to go in and set-up, he’ll be right with us. Before I could even get my laptop out of my hands, Steele reaches out and caught my arm, then asked do we act like strangers or long-lost friends? I just looked at him, so he does recognize me. That was the same question I wondered when you came into my office this morning, I wasn’t positive if you even recognize me. I didn’t want to put you on the spot, especially after the way you bolted from the meeting this morning, he said. I had work to do as you heard the deadline is 9 am. Ok, that explains your 2nd escape, but the first as soon as we walked in? The time was a coincidence that all. Do you remember that your eyes have always been the window to your true self! Ok, your presence caught me off guard. I’ve been up for the past two nights trying to stay on top of my responsibilities. I’m tired and really was praying that I was having a hallucination. His commit was cut short as Renee walked in. Diane, he says, can you get an extension on the Clem report, apparently, some of the changes coming down have caused some type of revolt and there is an office-wide manager meeting in an hour and a corporate-wide at 9 am. As I approached his desk to call, I asked what the hell happened last night. Then went straight to the call as they answered. After 10 minutes of apologizing immensely, and promising to smooth over ruffled feathers, I hung up and told Renee he owes me big time and I intend to collect, now what’s going on. As Renee rehashed last night meeting, I wondered how and when did the crap hit the fan. I am, well Steele and I are now over the psychologist, occupation and physical therapist. Redd the previous director over the therapist has been fired and the department split. Now there is an acting director of the speech and special education therapist who’s coming from Steele’s agency. In addition to both agencies employees and policies are being merged over the next 6+ months. A couple of other departments are being told that they now have a co-director or are being split, all in the name of working more efficiently and effectively. So the remainder of the meeting, I set at Renee’s desk and pulled the reports that would still be needed for the Clem report while Renee brought Steele up to date on some of our challenges and programs. Even some of the information was new to me as I only been an official director for 48 hours. What did I allow them to put me in the middle of; Ugg.
Before the manager’s meeting, Renee suggested we grab something to eat. I told them to go ahead and I’ll meet them, then papa bear came out and Renee asked did I have breakfast? Renee always gets on my case about working too hard and skipping meals, but did he have to do it in front of Steele! I told him I grab something at this morning meeting and I am ok, but before Renee spoke Steele decided we have a history route. Bribe her with her favorite of the week and she can’t deny you, Renee just looked between us, as I stated that there’s not enough time to get to Rockies and back nor do they deliver. Then I just have to take you after the meeting until then come join us I’m hungry, said Steele. I have plans, no can do, and before I get tag team any further, let’s go. Renee asked Steele how you learned that trick so fast. He didn’t just learn it, some habits never change, but they do evolve. Renee decided to table the conversation, and we went to the cafe in the building.
Renee asked Steele what made him get into occupational therapy and child psychology. Those fields are so on different ends of the spectrum, even Diane’s dual degree baffled me. Finally, Steele realizes most people go by the last name, but everyone uses my first, so he asked why. A good way to avoid the past! There happens to be two D Thorne and D Thorn in the organization, and for a while, we worked in the same area, in being the newest I suggested that everyone used my first name and he continued being Thorn. It also stopped the “are you related” questions until someone learned that the president and I shared the same first initial and last name. Renee also threw in the fact that unlike the first Thorn, Diane isn’t a true thorn as David is.
Now, not knowing the situation and observing Renee’s and my interaction and comments, by the end of lunch I figured I’ll be hit with another question, especially after Renee informed me that I can pick a date to come over for dinner after having to deal with the Clem funders today. I intend on picking two dates because you owe me for the late night circus I had to deal with last week. Or maybe I’ll make a weekend of it and leave you to do all the cooking. Hey play nice, my heart can’t take another weekend this close. At this point, Steele cleared his throat to remind us we weren’t alone. Realizing in hindsight how it must sound to him, I decided to let him stew in his thoughts for a day or so. Let’s go, the meeting should be starting by the time we get there.
Hey, I need some vodka and chocolate after this day I am ready to go crash. I said as soon as Liz answered. I’ll pick up the vodka and meet you in 30, she responded. The meeting was long and sleep enabling, to say the least. Any other time when Thorn speaks I usually make sure that I have some chocolate ice cream with sprinkle to keep me awake during his speeches. Being new in the manager position, I skipped on getting something, but this will be the first and the last time. In the meantime, my mind just kept wandering back to Steele, wondering what he’s doing, is he married or involved, children, and why did he leave like he did eight years ago. I have to keep reminding myself that what we had is in the past.
By the time I pulled up at my place, Liz was just getting out of her car. Liz, I am not sure how I am going to make it with Steele in the next office all the time and working so closely with him. Time has done mean things, and the eight years looks good on him. Seeing him today was like I was back at camp on the last day when he just left. Has he said anything to you or is he acting like as stranger? He recognized me as soon as he walked into the conference room this morning, just wasn’t sure what the climate was so until we had a moment of privacy he didn’t want to say much.
But now he’s really confused cause the conversation at lunch with your father probably have him wondering if we are involved. I decided to let him stew on that thought for a bit. Why would he think that? Well, we had a major meeting tomorrow with one of our funders that I was asked to reschedule. For the dealing it, he offered me an invitation to dinner. I told him I picking a weekend and he would have to do all cooking again. Pop’s response was he wasn’t sure that his heart could handle another weekend so close! We kind of forget we weren’t alone for a second, but I caught Steele’s expression. In the meantime, there is an office-wide meeting in the morning, hopefully, a condensed speech from Thorn and I can get back and bury my head in my computer and block out my new co-director and get some work done. Questions, questions, and more questions are all I have for that man, with the first thousand “why”?
Girl let’s forget about him for now and enjoy, I pick up our favorite Chinese food, you get the glasses and plates and I get the food. We are going to toast your new position. By the way, I pregnant. What the hell did you just say as you pour yourself a glass of vodka? You are what? Liz don’t play like that! I am not ready to be an aunt. Just joking! I just saw your mind slipping away and needed to grab it back to the present quickly. You never did get over him, did you? Who Steele! What was there to get over. We spent the summer working together, we indulged in some personal enjoyment, he asked me to come and stay with him and I said no, what is there to get over. Ok, Diane, when did he ask you to go with him? I think after all these years there is more to the history then you shared. What really happened and how much personal enjoyment did you enjoy?
Why in the hell do you think I said he screwed me over for life! Until the end, I never realized just how much he came to mean to me, just how much he became part of me. It just all happened so fast, Timothy’s death, our argument, and the end of summer. No man since has captured my mind or my heart. No other man has caused me to feel relaxed enough to enjoy any personal enjoyment. Oh my god please don’t tell me that you had sex with him? NO, and no one ever came as close since him. I never understood what happened! Diane, are you telling me you are still in love with Steele after all this time? I wouldn’t say in love, but I still need to know what happened. Girl, then you need to ask him. I can’t just ask him. I don’t want him to know how miserable I’ve been all these years. Why do you think I buried myself in my school work and now my job, and now he’s back! I need another glass of vodka to drown my misery in. You have to be at work early, and our rule is one glass a night till Saturday, and you already had two glasses. This is exceptional circumstances, which calls for exceptional measures. Nope, not happening. I don’t like you right now, I’m going to bed. You do that I see you for lunch tomorrow and see myself out.