It had been a month and a half, and no matter how many times she told herself it’d get easier, it never did. She had only one thing left to do, and she really didn’t like having to do it.
“I’m putting in my two week notice,” she said flatly. “As of today.”
“What?! You can’t be serious...”
“San,” AJ began. “Why? I thought you liked it here..”
“I do,” she sighed. “I just... I can’t work under this kind of pressure.”
“Nick,” AJ corrected her. “It’s not ‘pressure.’ It’s him.”
“One and the same,” she pointed out. “Nothing’s been the same since... he told me what he thought of me. I tried ignoring, being indifferent, focusing on things strictly business; nothing’s worked. Avoiding him is like avoiding air. He’s always around, always having to walk past me going in and out of the office... I can’t handle it anymore.”
“Why can’t you handle it?” AJ raised his eyebrows. “Is it because you’re not as indifferent to him as you like everyone to think you are?”
“Nothing like that,” she scowled. “I just... I don’t want to cause any trouble.”
“Trouble for WHO?!” AJ exclaimed. “That’s what I don’t get. I hang out with you all the damn time, San, and I haven’t gotten in trouble. Why should Nick get himself into trouble?”
“It’s... different... with Nick.”
“How?” AJ felt he was getting closer to the answer he knew was inside her; he could feel it coming.
“I.. I guess.. ugh,” she threw her hands up in the air. “Forget it. My two weeks are in. I’ll be gone by then.”
“It may take you more than that to find another job,” he pointed out.
“Already got one lined up.”
“Is that so?” AJ asked, surprise clearly written on his face.
“Yeah. Web design company downtown,” she shrugged. “It’s more in tune with what I’m gonna be going to school for, anyway.”
AJ nodded. He had to be understanding there; she’d gone to great pains making the decision to go back to school. At his persistence, most importantly. He was not going to discourage her from gaining experience and branching out and doing what she had to do for the sake of keeping her close by. As good a friend as she was, he wanted nothing but her happiness.
Even if he couldn’t keep her safe at all times by his side.
“Nick won’t be very happy about this, though...” he trailed off.
“Nick won’t be happy about what?”
Sandra and AJ glanced toward the door as Nick strolled in, his customary bland expression present. He’d gone as far as to look extremely bored all the time when she was in the vicinity, and that moment was no different.
Not that it did any good. She’d always catch him when he was lost in a moment of watching her work, interact with others in the building, or joking around and arguing with AJ. She’d catch the sparkle in his eyes when her gaze locked with his. He could almost confirm she had a similar sparkle in her own eyes on occasion, but he’d promised he wasn’t going to push the subject, and he hadn’t.
His resolve, however, was growing weaker and weaker by the minute.
“Nick,” AJ began, ignoring the warning look Sandra shot him. “It appears as if one of our own is leaving the building.”
“Oh yeah? What, is Howie taking another self imposed vacation?”
“Nope,” AJ grinned. “Our dear, dear friend San over here has landed herself a pretty kick ass job at a web design company downtown.”
Nick’s eyes immediately shot toward her, and she saw the shock and disappointment cross his features.
“You’re leaving,” he said mechanically.
“I guess I am,” she replied softly.
“I did it, huh?” he asked. “I made it so you had to leave.”
“Oh you two make me sick,” AJ groaned. “Idiots. The both of you. One too freaking caught up in his attraction to notice he’s being an IDIOT in holding back, and the other too caught up in a past that she lets haunt her to the point she can’t MOVE ON.”
Sandra, as well as Nick, stared at AJ, eyes wide.
“Oh, don’t look so surprised,” he scolded. “You’ve got a really good thing in front of you. Nick knows it, and he’s not doing anything about it anymore. San knows it, and won’t admit it. I don’t know what’s worse,” he said finally, getting out of his seat. “Not doing a damn thing about it, or living in denial.”
He walked toward the door, stopping only to say, “By the way, congrats on the new job, San. I’m happy for ya.” He then left, giving the door a gentle slam, leaving the two remaining people in the office speechless.
Nick glanced down at Sandra, sitting on the chair, and sighed. “So... that’s that, I guess.”
“He’s right, you know.”
“YES, again,” Nick shot back. “When are we gonna do something about it, San? I mean, collectively. I’ve tried on my own, and without your input, it just doesn’t work.”
“There’s nothing there that needs my input,” she said curtly.
“You’re wrong,” he replied. “SO damn wrong, San, and one of these days I’m going to prove it to you, and you’re gonna hate being proved wrong.”
And then there was one. When Nick left the office as well, she slumped back in the chair, bringing her hands to her face.
Leaving that place was a good thing, she reminded herself.
[chapter list | chapter eleven]