At the Club
The club lights flashed and waved to the beating music. They washed the dancefloor in neon colors, in time to the heavy vibrations of the giant speakers. Surprisingly, Toby admired the bright lights, how they illuminated the huge space and modern architecture. Though he found himself nursing a headache at the bar.
Jan from accounting had organized the “bonding time” for the office, saying how it’d bring everyone closer together. Toby had been devoid of any good excuse, so now he was stuck between a beer, clubbers, and Jan, with her volume louder than the pounding speakers.
“And so that’s when I said, ‘Kevin, that’s the wrong variable!’” She snorted in laughter at her own joke. Toby managed a smile. “You see, he made a simple mistake!”
“No, I get it. I think Susan’s around here somewhere, she’d appreciate hearing it too.”
“That’s a good idea, but I can tell her on Monday!”
Toby took another drink. He liked Jan well-enough at work, but tonight was proving a little more difficult.
“That does bring up a good point, though. I haven’t seen many people from the office here." Scanning the room, she asked, "Do you think they're stuck in traffic?”
“Yeah, maybe,” Toby answered, knowing full well it was more a case of empty promises. Still, there was something about the disappointment in her eyes that struck him. “But hey, you got some of us here.”
She gave a small smile and looked around again, this time lingering towards the lights.
“Hey, let’s go dance!”
Before Toby could gently protest, she’d swept him onto the floor, beer and all.
Moving to the beat of the music, Jan motioned the waitress to relieve them of the drinks that kept his hands from being placed in the spot where she desired.
Remembering the reason for the party, she hesitated to move in closer to get a feel of why she was beginning to form a different feeling for him.
Breaking away suddenly as the music slowed down, she headed to the bar to allow the tension to subside.
"Did I do offend you in with any inappropriateness," Toby said quietly as he joined her at the bar.
"Not at all." Jan, said hurriedly while ordering another drink. Seeming a bit distracted, she continued "I'm just a bit weary from all the planning, and only a handful of them bothered to make an appearance. I'll have to justify the expense especially with since the number of no-shows after they sent their RSVP. This club was expensive. But I have to admit, the ambiance is fabulous."
I've had enough for tonight, Jan grabbed the microphone and announced to her co-workers that their event was ending and reminded them to leave their ticket with the concierge for the door prize drawing. She then instructed them that, should they wish to stay and continue to enjoy the club's atmosphere, the bar attendant would issue them a tab. And I expect to see each of you tomorrow morning with a clear head. So that means, make sure each of you look out for the other. Safety first.
Turning to Toby, she asked tentatively, "Would you care to continue our dance at my place?" She could see he was taken aback by his new version of the woman he tried so hard to avoid at work. She wasn't talking loud or acting obnoxious now like she did in the office. Her former self no longer visible, but a quiet resonance and glow he hadn't noticed before compelled him to say, "Yes, I'd love to. No other place I'd rather go."
An awkward silence engulfed them as the car approached her apartment. Once inside, Toby was surprised at her unique taste in decor and eclectic style. He felt comfortable on the floor besides the fireplace.
As he looked around the living room filled with beautiful art pieces. he noticed hors d'oeuvres were spread out on the bar. Did she expect him to return with her, he wondered. He smiled, then sampled a few. Delicious. More wonders to uncover. No longer pretending not to care, he admitted that his feeling for her had changed. There were always there. Her singing softly in the next room interrupted her thoughts. He closed his eyes and envisioned a night he'd not enjoyed in a long time.
As Jan appeared in the living room, Toby tried not to appear anxious as he strolled over and caressed her arm.
Jan pushed him gentle, then turned away. Her tone no longer melodious, she said sternly, "Please sit for a moment. I need to talk to you." She quickly tossed the wig from her head. It landed on the couch. Then she unbuttoned her blouse and removed the padding that was used to make the appearance of a more voluptuous shape.
What the heck is going on here," Toby said, now confused and somewhat scared. He couldn't believe his eyes, when once stripped down to the core, the beauty that presented itself before him was more enticing that he grasped for air.
"Again, what is this all about?" he said trepidly.
Jan had already decided to unveil the facade she'd portrayed for more than two years. The office party planner, loud and obnoxious co-worker, and general female everyone laughed at while visiting the coffee room could end tonight. Her assignment was completed.
Lowering them down on the couch, she said, "Hi Toby. My name is Catriona. I'm from Internal Affairs ("IA")." I was assigned the Accounting Division to discover who was behind the irregularities in the procedures written for our debt collection department.
Stunned, Toby couldn't believe what Jan or whatever her name was confessing. Did she think I was the one responsible? Was that why she was trying to get close to me? Now Toby was afraid. He had confidence in his loyalty to the company. All she had to do was look at all the Employee of the Year awards he'd received.
Catriona interrupted Toby's thoughts. "My investigation is nearing an end. The ones I invited who didn't show up were tipped off by the person we're focusing on. We're looking at several of the others who didn't make an appearance tonight. I just wanted you to see the true me before I left," she said.
She continued, "I've asked that you be assigned a departmental role within the IA unit. That's why I took so much interest in you. I've been in other units. That's why I needed a disguise.
It took about half an hour for Toby to fully understand what was going on at their company. As she explained in the softest voice he'd heard, he thought to himself that he'd make a great actress. In fact, that was exactly what she was and the reason their company hired her into their IA Department.
Finally Toby stammered, "You're beautiful. I knew there was some inner quality residing somewhere, but your voice sent me in the opposite direction whenever I heard you at the coffee bar.
Catrione smiled. She wanted to express her true feelings, but she couldn't yet. She had to wrap up her findings and turn over the official report.
Facing away from him, she grabbed her robe to cover herself. Toby sprang up and quickly embraced her.
Lips parted, then sealed.
Happy rest of the week everyone with whatever you are working on.
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