After last night, I decided to avoid Tyson at all cost the very next day. Just to have some space. However, fate had other plans. Upon walking in that morning, I saw Fearne sitting in my chair at the front desk.
“Hello Fearne, thanks for warming up my chair,” I teased as I took off my hat and gloves.
“Actually I’m covering for you this morning,” Fearne answered matter of fact.
“Oh?” I gave her, a curious look, putting my purse down on the desk.
“Apparently Mrs. Potts wants to you to be at Tyson’s presentation in the Finance Conference room.”
“I see.” I, assuming they just wanted me to take notes during the meeting, picked up a pen and notebook and made my way over. When I entered the room, I spotted Tyson setting up his power-point. Mrs. Potts and Mr. Cogswirth had already sat down, appearing to be in deep discussion. Also Jimmy Constable, head of the Government Services sector out in DC, was present. I managed to catch Tyson’s face and mouthed “good luck” before sitting down in a chair close to the door. He just smiled, clearly happy to see me. I could tell he looked a little nervous. Mr. Byrne, the last one to walk in, sat down next to Mrs. Potts. After the doors were closed, Tyson began his presentation. Despite the early nerves and stuttering a little, Tyson sounded confident and poised. He explained how different government agencies have had positive experiences with JLS products and how they want to continue with their subscriptions. Tyson also talked about his team’s plan to expand to other agencies like the Interior Department and the Federal Reserve. I actually found his presentation engaging, regardless of having to listen to it over and over again last night. From the nods that I spotted from Mr. Cogswirth, Jimmy, and Mrs Potts and even Mr.Byrne, Tyson did a phenomenal job.
I could not help but notice that he kept looking at me the whole time. Maybe he felt calmer and at ease with me being there. After he finished his presentation, he took a couple of questions from the meeting attendees. Most of the questions came from Jimmy and Mr. Byrne.
“Great job, Tyson. I am impressed,” Mr. Cogswirth said signaling the end of the meeting.
“Well thank you.” Then his next words came unexpectedly. “I would not have done it without Belle,” he nodded towards me.
“Oh really?” Mr. Byrne said, then turning to face me. I just smiled, suddenly feeling my face flush with all eyes suddenly turning on me.
“Yes. Belle spent the whole night helping me iron out this presentation together,” he smiled at me. “Thank you Belle.”
“Well I do what I can to contribute to the team effort,” I smiled, locking eyes with him. All of a sudden, I felt like he and I were the only two people in the room.
“Thank you Tyson…and Belle for your help,” Mr. Byrne declared, bringing us back to reality. Wow that’s a first! The CEO actually gave me a compliment and it had nothing to do with my physical appearance.
“I will send my comments later,” Mr. Cogswirth said. The meeting adjourned and I immediately took a lunch break, realizing I needed some air. For the rest of the day, I did not see Tyson to my relief. He remained shut in the Finance room the whole day with Jimmy going over further strategies.
“So you spent the whole night with Tyson,” Mrs. Potts later walked up to me as I was about to head out for the day. “I see why he wanted you to be at this morning’s meeting.”
“Oh I thought it was you who requested I be at the meeting,” I said, genuinely surprised, as I zipped my purse.
“No it was Tyson. I first thought it was because he needed someone to take notes, but apparently I was wrong,” her tone sounded serious.
“Well I wanted to offer him, my help since I did not have much to do that night. I thought I could use my talents to enhance his presentation. He looked like he needed to hear from a second person before the final presentation,” I said feeling as if I was in some interrogation room.
“So you spent the whole night working. Anything else happened?” Her arms were folded across.
“We took a break for dinner and ordered some take out. Other than that, he spent the whole night rehearsing his presentation.”
“What time did you end up leaving?”
“It was really late. Just before midnight. We wanted to make sure everything was perfect. And Tyson was kind enough to give me a ride home.” Outside, I tried to remain calm and cordial. Inside, I was irritated and I just wanted to go home.
“I see,” Mrs. Potts said still in that serious reserved tone. “What were your intentions?”
“What do you mean?” It was an innocent question but I knew where she was going.
“What did you hope to get out of it?” I stared at her weirdly.
“Nothing other than hoping Tyson gets to show all his hard work. I honestly wasn’t expecting him to credit me,” I replied sincerely. She still held a stern face against me. “ But I wanted to help him in every way I can as much as he has assisted me when I started here.”
“I saw the way he looked at you today. And the way you looked at him. I know that look,” her eyes were now piercing through me. “You two have grown very close recently.”
“We have a good working relationship,” I said, now feeling a little angry but decide to show restrained, though, I could feel sweat running through me.
“And I hope it stays that way,” she said with a serious tone in a voice.
“Why wouldn’t it?” I said almost sarcastically.
“Listen, Tyson has a great future here at JLS with a potential promotion. He doesn’t need any distractions. I am just advising and warning you that there are other more suitable ways to move up in your career and get ahead other than flirting and getting involved with a co-worker.” I just stood there appalled. Wow. She could have at least said “good job” and “thank you” for your help and your hard work.
“Don’t worry. I will make sure to control myself,” I finally answered stiffly.
“Good. See you tomorrow.” Could she be anymore insulting? How dare she accuse me of taking advantage of Tyson for my own gain? I decided to brush it off and not let it bother me. I grabbed my purse, relieved that the day was over. I just want to go home, draw myself a bubble bath, and pour a glass of bourbon mixed with some ice cream. Fate, however, changed my plans again.
When I exited the elevator, I saw Tyson standing in the ground floor lobby, waiting for me. His hands were inside his pockets and his body leaning against the wall.
“Hi Belle. I thought we could go out and celebrate our victory….just the two of us.”
“Oh,” suddenly Mrs. Potts’ words came back to haunt me. I just stood there staring at him. Part of me wanted to say yes. Part of me wanted to say no.
“You have other plans?” His face showing signs of disappointment, seeing I didn’t answer immediately. Then I thought for a moment. What harm could two co-workers celebrating their latest project success bring? Mrs. Potts can say what she wants and thinks. At least I know my own integrity. And I trust Tyson.
“No I don’t. Where do you have in mind?”