She hovered in the door of the ballroom. A cacophony of voices assaulted her ears. Parties have never been her favourite thing. This time there was no way out of it, it was after all the firm’s 30th anniversary.
She patted her hair. Nothing to be done now about her unruly mass of curls. She hovered another moment, wondering whether she should not have worn something more, demure. Oh, but this little red number really spoke to her heart at that boutique on Main Street.
She tugged down the dress. Squared her shoulders. Lifted her chin, and moved into the ballroom.
She checked over the set-up of the room she worked on until late that afternoon. As Personal Assistant to the Managing Director it was her job to make her boss look good. She gave herself a mental pat on the shoulder. Not an easy task with many of the “helpers” doing no more than gabbling a diatribe of critique, not lifting a finger to place as much as a table setting.
“Bunch of wankers. Most of them would drop dead if they could read my mind.”
She moved into the babble of the mixed crowd. A cloud of heavy perfumes clashing with too strong after shaves strangled the air. Claustrophobia threatened to shut down her airways. She suppressed a sneeze, scrabbling around her purse for a tissue.
“You have done well Adeline. Leave it to the caterers and go have some fun.”
“Thank you, Mr Pearson.”
She needed something cool to wet her parched throat. She dabbed at her watering eyes and started weaving towards the bar. She ordered a glass of lemon, lime and soda. She took a sip, the bubbles burning down her throat.
She smelt his rancid body odour before she saw him. Nigel, the Nerd from the computer office. He grabbed her arm, turning her to face him, pushing up against her.
“You look edible, girl”.
“Ugh,” her mind convulsed.
She mumbled something in return, knowing she dare not offend the chipmunk, and stepped away. She noticed an empty table for two at the edge of the crowd. Grabbed her purse off the bar counter and moved to it. Perched on the high chair, she surveyed the crowd. Unconsciously she touched her antique watch, the good luck charm she inherited from Grandma.
She locked eyes with Edwin, the most eligible and attractive bachelor in town. Annoying heat flared, firing up her neck to her face. Her breath hitched in her throat, chugging the soda straight down the wrong pipe. She turned away. A cough erupted, threatening to choke her. “He would never notice a mere PA like you”, her evil twin whispered in her mind.
She wiped her nose, balling the sopping wet tissue in her palm. She peeked another glance at Edwin noticing Ethel draped all over him.
“Ethel is more his type,” the cynical little voice in her head informed her. Rich, glamorous and her boss’ spoilt brat.
She looked at Edwin again. He raised his glass at her, a sardonic smile curving around his full lips. He winked. A wave of nervous butterflies let loose in her stomach. Her eyes skittered away, met Ethel’s. Ethel lifted her hand, a Cheshire cat smile plastered on her face, and waved. She gave Ethel a weak smile, waving back.
She flicked her hair back. Reached for her empty glass and went back to the bar, ordering a gin and tonic.
She sat back down in the high chair, tapping her fingers against her glass. Dismay enfolded her as she watched Nigel approaching.
“Is this chair taken?” Edwin asked behind her.
“I, uhm, I, no.”
He kept a watch on the door. Saw her entering the ballroom and caught his breath. He had always imagined what she would look like if she lost the business suit and let her hair down. His eyes stroked over her from the long curly hair to the dress sensually draping her body. He watched as she strode through the crowd.
Irritation sparked as he watched Nigel touching her. Touching her!
“Hey there. I missed you. Where have you been?”
“Hi Ethel. Been busy. A company does not run itself.”
“Here. I got you your favourite Bourbon.”
He shrugged off Ethel’s embrace and took a sip of the Bourbon. He looked at the bar. Craned his neck searching the ballroom. Found Adeline, her eyes on him. He smiled. Felt embarrassed as she turned away. He allowed Ethel to pull him into another embrace.
A sigh of relief rolled off his lips as Ethel’s father called her away to introduce her to other clients of his firm. He turned back towards Adeline, only to find Nigel approaching her.
His decision was instant and he found his feet moving to her table of its own accord. His nostrils filled with her familiar subtle perfume.
“Is this seat taken?”
Before she could answer he firmly planted himself on the high chair next to her. Time to get himself better acquainted with the iceberg now dressed in red. Maybe she will melt…….