The insurance thing was new to me. For the last three years I’d been working as an account manager for an automotive software company. The company was bought out by a big corporate conglomerate and we were all given the option to take a severance package or stay with the same pay, but our job duties were changing. I didn’t like some of the new policies so I decided on the severance package which I’d been living on for two months.
Office work in general wasn’t my forte, I was actually a licensed cosmetologist, but four years prior I was the passenger in my ex-boyfriend’s car when we were T-boned on my side. It was his fault, or mine, we were arguing and he was too busy yelling at me to see the stop sign that he ended up running.
That was my downfall where my weight was concerned. For the first two months I was unable to work at all and then when I was ready to go back I had trouble standing for too long. Working at a salon wasn’t going to work, which was when I found the office job. Fifty pounds of fat, and one less boyfriend later I was at the insurance company.
It was fairly easy. A week into it and I felt like I had it down. I was a fast learner, and Lorena was useless. I would’ve been completely lost if it wasn’t for Eric helping me any time I had questions.
Eric… he was a god among men. He was tall and blonde, close to my same natural shade. His eyes were a beautiful sea green with hints of dark blue that made my insides melt when he looked at me. Ugh. I hated that I had to make myself make eye contact with him. There was no way I was going to let him know I had an epic crush on him. It wasn’t fair. I was sure he had a girlfriend anyway. Not that he was attracted to me at all. I wasn’t dog ugly, but I wasn’t who I used to be before the accident. Office jobs sucked for keeping the weight off. My old company had a potluck every week for one reason or another. The limited movement couple with copious amounts of carbs and fried food didn’t mix well.
I had to do something about that.
I was just pressing the print button when I felt an incoming post-it bounce off my head. Eric… the sexy beast. I grabbed the note and opened it to see what he had to tell me. It was like passing notes in class. He was just too damn cute.
You. Me. Donut cart in five minutes. Do not disappoint me.
Ugh. He was evil.
I drew two boxes on the bottom of the post-it, labeling one yes and the other no. I drew a fancy bubbly check mark in the Y box before sending it back over the wall.
I didn’t need donuts, but I wasn’t going to pass up the time with Eric. At home I hung out with my downstairs neighbors every now and then. My brother and Gran called me once a week from Louisiana to check in, but other than that I was a quiet homebody. The accident fucked me up pretty bad. After Quinn and I split – he was the reason I moved to Arizona, aka, Satan’s Asshole, in the first place – I stopped leaving the house. At first it was because of my back. After a while I was just uncomfortable in my own skin. Thankfully, my confidence was slowly coming back.
I decided the printing could wait and I got up to walk around the wall to Eric’s cubicle.
“Is it sad that I’m already ready to retire?” I asked. I needed a sugar daddy before I could do that. At twenty-seven and no 401k, I wasn’t even close to ready.
“Too bad you didn’t meet me when I was still ballin’,” he said. Eric turned toward me with a new note, a drawing of what seemed to be a mutant puppy with a crazy smile on its lopsided face.
“Aww, it’s almost as cute as if my nonexistent seven-year-old drew it,” I complimented. “Can I take it home to put on my fridge?” I was leaving the other comment alone. I didn’t want to think about Eric being my sugar daddy.
“Uh, that is wallet material, thank you very much.” He locked his computer and stood up.
“I don’t have a wallet. I can tuck it into the pocket in my purse,” I shrugged. “I’ll show everyone at the grocery store that will pay attention and tell them it was from my special friend. Short bus special, that is.”
“You’re an asshole.” He picked up a gift bag that was covered in purple glitter and handed it to me. “Lucky for you, I like assholes.” Eric put on his Ray Ban’s and strode out of the office like he owned it.
I took the bag, but didn’t look in it. I followed Eric out of the office. I hadn’t been to the donut cart yet so I wasn’t sure where it was. His tree-trunk like legs were so long I practically had to run to keep up with him. Maybe the cardio would negate the donuts?
“You do realize I’m like five feet shorter than you, right?” I asked from behind him. Unless he was embarrassed to be seen with me?
“Well catch up, munchkin. I’m walking slow.”
“Pfffft,” I snorted. My munchkin legs probably looked ridiculous chasing after him. “At least the cardiovascular exercise is going to make up for the donuts.” I honestly tried to eat decently. I just had a small love affair with bread and potatoes I wasn’t quite willing to quit.
“That’s what the pool is for at home. I swam a hundred laps this morning,” he told me.
“The pool at my place is no bigger than a kiddie pool. I don’t have lap options.” We did have a gym on site though. I needed to check that out.
“You should come by sometime. I have access to the Olympic size pool at the health club on the golf course,” he said. “My roommate is the manager there.”
“Oh nice,” I smiled. “Is there a driving range?” I wasn’t that good, but I enjoyed swinging the clubs now and then. Every time I hit a ball I imagined it was Quinn’s stupid head. He may or may not have cheated on me. Okay, he did.
“Of course,” he nodded. Eric held the door open for me that led to the courtyard where there was a Starbucks kiosk and the donut cart. “Sunday night a few of us may have indulged in a smokable substance and then dressed a guy up as a moving target…”
“Oh I have something in mind for a target,” I laughed. I bet Eric was cute high. He was cute in general. I was a lost cause.
“So did we. Bobby got nailed in the forehead,” he laughed. “Fuck, that was awesome.” Eric bent down to look closer at the selection of donuts. “Buttered French toast? Shut up and take my money right now.”
“That’s a donut?” I asked. What kinda fancy pants cart was he taking me to? “I make a kick ass crème brulee French toast,” I commented. I was a plain old fashioned donut girl… Although… if Eric was going to keep bending over like that I was willing to let him pick me one.
“The mixed berry with lemon glaze is pretty good, too. It’s got fresh berries in the middle,” he told me.
“That sounds good. You know better than I do,” I shrugged. I still hadn’t looked in the bag I was holding. Was it weird that he brought me a gift?
“The caramel pecan bacon one is pretty badass too. Tell you what? I’ll get four and then you can try them all,” he said as he stood up. “You should open that up, by the way.”
“Oh.” I lifted the bag to open it. As soon as I saw the top of the box I started to cackle. A fuckin’ Alan bobblehead. “What in the hell made you get me this?” I laughed. I loved The Hangover.
“Your cube is boring as fuck,” he answered. “I saw bobbleheads but I didn’t know what you’d like so I got my favorite in case you had no idea who Alan was. Then I’d get a cool ass bobblehead and I’d know you were a lame cubemate.”
“Alan is one of my favorite characters of all time. You done good, little buddy,” I smiled, patting his arm. Unf, it was solid.
“Annnd you’re one step closer to being invited into my wolf pack.”
“What if I told you I come with homemade baked goods?” I asked. “The special kind?” It was what helped me through my rehab on my back. The pain pills they gave me made me itch and I wasn’t up for the muscle relaxers either.
His blonde eyebrow lifted curiously.
“We may need to audition you. You play poker?”
Eric paid for the box of four donuts he picked out and moved over to the Starbucks kiosk for coffee.
“I know how to play; I’m not very good at it. My low cut shirts used to guarantee me a win with my brother’s friends.” Much to Jason’s dismay. My tits were still awesome even though I’d put on a little too much weight around the middle.
“I bet they did.” Eric ordered me a coffee too.
“Thanks,” I said when he handed it to me. I wasn’t even paying attention to what he ordered. I was too busy trying not to fall all over myself due to his ridiculous good looks. “You guys play poker a lot?” I wasn’t going to invite myself, but more Eric time wouldn’t be a bad thing… It was good. I hadn’t been attracted to someone like this in a long, long time.
“We’re trying to make it a weekly thing on Thursday night,” he told me. Eric pulled out a chair for me so I could sit and he sat across from me. He opened the box of donuts and smiled.
“Those smell delicious,” I told him.
“Help yourself.” He went after the French toast donut with the pat of butter melting on top.
“I want that one.” I pointed to the one in his hand. It did look the best.
“Get your own.” He took a big bite.
“You’re no fun.” I didn’t want a whole one. I went after the mixed berry donut. I was a sucker for lemon glaze and berries. I was sure the resulting moan when it hit my tongue was borderline sexual.
“I’m sure I will.” I pushed the berry one aside after two bites and slid the pecan one over for a taste. Fuck me sideways. I was going to gain a hundred more pounds eating these things. “I’m angry that you introduced me to these, asshole.”
“Hey, don’t blame me for your lack of willpower,” he laughed. Asshole held out the last bite of the French toast donut for me.
Because I thought it might be inappropriate to lean forward and take the bite with my lips instead of with my hand, I did it. It wasn’t sexy at all, mostly because I wasn’t sexy. It was one of the most delicious things I’d ever had in my mouth, though. The resulting groan/grunt sound that left my mouth was a clear indication of that.
“My willpower is just fine, thank you very much,” I said with my mouth full.
“Then you have nothing to worry about, asshole,” he smirked.
“Hey now, Asshole is my name for you. We can’t both be asshole,” I said seriously.
“Afraid of the competition? I wouldn’t want to be out assholed either,” he teased.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m as sweet as pie,” I told him with an innocent flirty smile.
“You gave me a cuss word for a nickname,” he pointed out. “You may want to reassess yourself.”
“Hey, it’s a term of endearment. If I called you a nice name you might want to be worried,” I said. I pushed the donuts back and grabbed my coffee.
“A nice name is bad? I think you have it backwards, Hobbit.”
“I have it just fine, and I don’t have hairy feet, so I’m not sure Hobbit fits.” It didn’t bother me, so it was fine. I was doing an internal happy dance because he even wanted to give me a nickname. I was so screwed when it came to him. Eric was just way too sexy.
“I’ve seen the fur patches on your big toes,” he teased and took a bite of the bacon donut.
“I do not have fur patches,” I scoffed. I didn’t have a lot of hair in a lot of places, that wasn’t his business though.
“Why Barney?” I was this close to being offended if it was the reason I thought.
“You know who Barney Rubble is, right? He was a miniature blonde who had chubby feet, too,” he explained.
“Are you saying I look like a cartoon character? A male one at that?” I wasn’t offended… at least not much.
“Your feet do,” he shrugged.
“They do not.” I curled my feet under the chair. I didn’t want him looking at them. I didn’t like being teased about my weight and if my feet were chubby it was because I was overweight. That was a no-no for me. Sure I could’ve kept it off, but I wasn’t in a good spot for a few years. I was getting better every day, and making better choices… like choosing to push the donuts away and not be offended by Eric’s chubby feet comments.
“Do too,” he said, stuffing more donut in his mouth. “I’m an asshole, right? I’m supposed to point that stuff out.”
“Only if you want to keep that name,” I shrugged.
“But you said a nice nickname is bad so it’s not like I can call you Sunshine.”
That was fine until he brought my chubby feet into it.
“Very true,” I said with a strained smile. He didn’t know me well enough yet, or even care enough to realize that it wasn’t a real one.
“Don’t worry, Frodo, we’ll figure it out,” he shrugged.
“We will,” I agreed. I took another drink of my coffee as I leaned back to look around. We didn’t have much around us. Arizona was pretty in its own right, but I missed the trees and swamps. I also missed Gran and Jase. I don’t know why I didn’t just move home after Quinn and I split up.
I needed to go visit them. I was going to have to wait until I was at the job a little longer and accrued actual vacation to do that though.
“Have you figured out why they keep Lorena on?” I asked out of the blue. She was an epic bitch. The higher ups had to know that.
“My guess is you can’t fire someone for behaving like an angry, festering cunt,” he answered seriously.
“That seems like the only reason. I guess every office has to have one,” I shrugged. I took another sip of my coffee.
“I heard a rumor someone is resigning from Claudine’s team. Maybe you could transfer?”
“And not sit next to you so I can drive you crazy, never,” I snorted. “I was just curious about her. She’s weird and has a weird laugh. I don’t trust her.” I also didn’t trust skinny broads and Claudine was a freakishly skinny broad. Tall too.
“Dude, if Pat wasn’t an awesome boss I’d move to her team,” he told me.
To check out her fake tits, no doubt. Eric was a boob man. It was obvious when his eyes cheated down to mine every now and then. It didn’t matter anyway. I was sure he had a girlfriend. If not, he definitely had a regular booty call. It was best I didn’t go there anyway. We were co-workers and that was a recipe for disaster. Not that I had a shot.
“As long as I keep my head down and stay out of her way I’m fine,” I shrugged. “I need to start building my strength and stamina up again so I can go back to working at a salon.” I really did. I loved doing hair still, but the weight made my back hurt when I stood too long after my injury healed.
“Good luck with that. Most people don’t make it six months with that bitch,” he said.
“Maybe I can break the trend,” I chuckled. Or maybe I should’ve tried to move to Claudine’s team.
“I doubt it. My senior tech told me she’s been sent to three anger management classes in the last two years by human resources,” he told me.
“At that point she has to be on some kind of warning, right? That doesn’t sound right. Why not get rid of the problem completely instead of trying to put a band aid on it?” That made no sense to me. One anger management class, maybe. Two should’ve been the firing point. I wasn’t in HR, so I didn’t know how they worked. I also hand been at the company long enough to know how it rolled.
“You know Talbot is boning Russell, right?” Russell was the VP of claims.
“I do now,” I snorted. “I’m not surprised, though.” Maybe that was why Eric was so cute? I needed to get laid and he was pure sex on a stick.
“I heard that Lorena has some kind of skin cancer and she leaves early every Thursday because she supposedly has outpatient chemo treatments,” he explained.
“And that’s why she’s a bitch?” That would explain some of it if that was the case. “I mean, that sucks if it’s true, but… I don’t know. I’m still not a fan.” Eric polished off the bacon donut. “Should we get back?”
He nodded and got up.
“She’s full of shit,” he said. “I heard her talking about being on some friend’s boat last weekend. Chemo patients aren’t supposed to spend a lot of time in direct sunlight and she’s got sunburn. Why would someone with skin cancer let that happen?”
“Because she’s full of shit, like you said.” I didn’t know what Lorena’s deal was, but she definitely didn’t have skin cancer. I stood up with him and grabbed my coffee. I wasn’t sure what it was, but it was tasty.
“I think she likes the attention it gets her to say that. It pisses me off,” he said angrily, like he was personally offended.
My guess was he lost someone close to him from cancer. I didn’t want to ask about it. I didn’t know him well enough yet. Gran beat breast cancer in the late 90s, so I could see why he would be offended. I was too. I would’ve been a wreck if I’d lost her. It was bad enough losing my parents suddenly when I was a kid. Watching Gran go through treatments wasn’t a very good time at all.
“Cancer isn’t anything to fuck with or lie about,” I agreed quietly.
We walked back to the office. I could tell Eric was pissed off at the whole Lorena thing, and I didn’t blame him. Especially if his loss was fairly recent.
I liked him, not just for his good looks either. He was fun to be around. Even if I didn’t have a shot I enjoyed being his friend. That was good enough for me.