Slipperless #5By: Sloan Storm
After she spoke, Fiona leaned in towards me, pressing her tender lips into mine. As we kissed, salty remnants of her tears found their way into my mouth. If my idea eased just a small part of her sadness, it would be worth it. And anyway I had every confidence that, with the right support team in place, somehow we’d find a way to make this work.
We separated from one another, and as we did I stood.
Turning my back to her, I walked in the direction of the conference room door. I arrived at it, and after reaching down to the handle, I pressed my thumb into the lock, clicking it closed.
Afterward, I turned back towards Fiona and smiled at her.
“Why did you do that?” she asked.
A grin spread across my face as I looked at her. “Just in case.”
With that, I made my way towards her once again and extended my hand as I drew close.
“I think we need to adjourn our meeting. Don’t you agree?”
Fiona reached up and slid her fingers into the palm of my hand. I closed my digits over hers and offered support while she used me as leverage to stand.
“Well, what are we going to tell Human Resources… not to mention your legal team? This is a clear violation of my contract you know.”
With my hand wrapped around hers, I pulled Fiona towards me until our bodies touched.
I looked down at her.
“How about we tell them to go fuck themselves?”
Fiona smiled as she looked up at me and nodded.
“Of course,” I began, as I pulled her body into mine, “There’s someone else I’d like to fuck first…”
Immediately after my encounter with Gabe and for several days after, I had a difficult time coming to terms with my feelings towards him. It was difficult in the sense that I’d misjudged him. It was clear after what he’d promised to do, dedicating the project to the memory of my grandmother, that my initial beliefs about the goodness within him were true.
Even so, I’d been guilty many times in my life of thinking the best of people only to be let down by them at some point when I needed them most. And the truth was, no matter how wonderful I thought his gesture might be, no one had ever occupied a place in my heart like he did now.
Trusting him would mean risking not only my emotional well-being but in all likelihood, my fragile sanity. Even so, I reasoned I’d be far better off living in the warmth of his affection, even if it wouldn’t last forever, than condemning myself to a life devoid of risk-taking. Because, in the truest sense, the sympathy he’d shown me made me feel as if the chance was worth taking.
And so, I decided once and for all instead of doing what I normally do and analyzing everything to death, I would just trust Gabe, believe in him and allow things to play out as the universe saw fit.
At his direction, I wasted no time in replacing Amanda and Melissa. My inclination was to find candidates with suitable experience and seniority, but at Gabe’s urging, I instead settled for students only a couple of years out of graduate school.
I had my share of misgivings about his recommendation, because, in spite of their terrible behavior, both of the women were good scientists. His theory, which he claimed was backed by years of real-world evidence, was younger candidates were often hungrier for success and more easily trainable as a result.
And in a not-so-subtle way, he reminded me while he had no problem taking more time to get the project back on track, we didn’t have forever. By choosing scientists I could mold, we stood a far better chance of achieving success more quickly.
To my astonishment, Gabe was right.
Before long, the new team was coming along and making terrific strides.
It was a relief to have some of the burden removed from me, but also I felt a new sense of excitement about the project in general. Gabe had all but relaxed the relentless pressure he put on me in previous weeks and months. Ironically, where before I’d actually begun to resent the long hours and endless effort, I now found myself relishing the challenge of seeing the project through to its completion as soon as possible.
In fact, as the days turned into weeks, I grew more enthusiastic and energized. Not so much about finishing, although that was very important, but rather I felt a growing need to pay tribute to Gabe. The way he’d touched me awakened a new respect for the man and an appreciation for everything he strived to achieve.
In spite of all of the wonderful things happening at work, I still struggled with the loss of my grandmother on an almost daily basis. The fact that I still lived in the apartment we shared didn’t help, but until things were completely resolved with the project, I couldn’t risk moving and taking a chance on a new place.
The first couple of weeks after she died, I found myself unable to think about anything having to do with her. But as my mood started to brighten overall, I realized that was a mistake. Aside from the initial days after her passing when I cried almost nonstop, I hadn’t dealt with her passing in a healthy way.