Another Flowerpot

When a boss discovers his worker’s secret, he tries to blackmail her, but it backfires.

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She stared at the man before her as if she’d seen one really bad rotting egg. He knew from the first time he laid his eyes on her she had no interest of knowing him better. Especially after a bad remark on her job, this made her now as bitter as ale gone off. He hadn’t really meant it, at least not about her, but as he hadn’t had a chance to fix it, she didn’t know it.

Even worse was his surprise to hear her voice in the other end of the line, when announcing his arrival with the goods in less than fifteen minutes. She hadn’t been expecting them anymore as he could read out from her stuttering, but she regained her posture fast, telling she’ll open the gates. That’s what you got when replacing your truck driver, who calls on Friday the 13th that he is sick. The whole day had gone down the hill from there. And now he had this pretty site to welcome him. How he had even memorized her voice was beyond his comprehension – it was just as pleasant as any other.

She looked strange with her working clothes. Obviously, with what they did, he could hardly imagine her wearing something more revealing or something that would have suited her more, but this was truly ugly shade of grey apron and jacket. Her hair were all messed up, too – probably put up in hurry and waiting few minutes in rain had turned her usually soft curly hair into fuzzy hay like mess. What a peculiar site she was. He blinked to get that vision out of his head. She was actually graceful like that.

He coughed. The older man that shared several her traits seemed nicely oblivious about them knowing each other and the way she clenched her lips into a very sharp edged line, she had no intentions of doing the honors and introducing them to each other.

She was wearing a long gypsy skirt. He hadn’t realized it before she turned to catch the truck’s back door that went flying towards her. She caught it with ease and softly let it fall against the machine’s side.

“50 bags of glass sand!” he announced fast, dragging his sorry ass in the back of the truck. He winched – the two standard bases weighed at least half a ton each and the man waiting for him to start didn’t look at all up to the pushing task.

He heard her approach and stop right behind him, sizing the bases. Then she gave a deep grunted sigh and clapped her cloves clean, before heading behind the first one and waited.

As the older man seemed to have no indications to help, he gave her a thorough judging look, which made her clearly ill at ease. She didn’t enjoy wearing those clothes any more than being seen in them he realized his mistake and scolded himself immediately. But he couldn’t help but wonder, what that seemingly untrained woman was thinking, offering herself to help.

Well, for one, he couldn’t do this on his own and that was clear – be as trained as you were, you didn’t pull half a ton into motion without the other pushing it. For two he saw no one else around up to the task. So he didn’t say anything more he thought he might regret and accepted her wordless help.

He tried not to goggle at her, but couldn’t help his fascination over the matter as he had never in his years seen a woman do it. Nor so young. He knew she couldn’t be more than twenty five, but the women he met hardly raised finger to carry anything heavy, they knew better than put their health in such risk. Ogling her so openly also meant, he didn’t fail to see how she stretched her right shoulder before pushing, which in his experience meant she must have prepared for a torment she wasn’t able to avoid.

“Push!” he demanded a second later, pulling as hard as he could and almost stop, shocked, realizing the whole thing went on move right on the first turn. But at that moment he had no time to let his jaw drop.

Good half an hour later, the whole thing was over with two heavy loads resting on the ground and them panting next to them.

He offered “the boss”, as he nicknamed the older man, the delivery papers for signing and now openly stared at the woman, who tried to make herself busy reading the sign on the package. It was obvious her day hadn’t been any honey pot either and seeing him was just yet another proof to it.

He made some small talk with the man, watching how she fast found an excuse and diplomatically disappeared towards the house, fast removing the apron and jacket, revealing a simple peasant blouse, which gave her curves far better appeal. Her shoulder seemed to bother her though, making loosing the jacket rather complicated task. He felt sorry for her.

She was no small lady, who looked like a child that needed taking care of. She was more like a Stone Age woman – broad shoulders, strong back. That skirt didn’t fit her though, making her hips wider than they really were, but being at home, he figured she cave little thought about what would be suitable to be seen in and what not.

He decided to make business with the man. Just to have the fun of “tormenting” the girl few more times.

He stood at their front door two weeks later. It had taken him that long to find a suitable excuse to intervene their home again and he wished it to be so firm excuse she wouldn’t, though justifiably start wondering if he wasn’t there for something else.

His little remark he so thoughtlessly had said was putting him through misery he never thought possible and he wished to apologize for it, but while she was working, he couldn’t find not even a moment when she’d be alone to do it. So he was still on knives with her.

He knocked.

A dog started barking inside and after a sharp command to shush, the door opened. Damned it be, he frowned, listening her voice, he hadn’t expected her to be home at this hour. He had thought it would be easier if he just came, talked business with the man and then let her find out later they were now engaged in business, thus force her talk to him.

But she was home and the door opened, with her radiating smile biting him hello. The shine disappeared, but the smile staid.

“Yes?” she asked after a moment of silence they spent staring at each other. She smelled like muffins.

“I came to speak with your father about business.” He started gruffly, trying with all means to keep the meeting warm and not to hide behind his usual sharp barking replies.

She took him in for another long second, before removing herself from his path and calling him in. “Come in then,” she said softly, “I hope you don’t mind waiting in the kitchen – we don’t have office here.” She showed him fast, where he could leave his shoes and coat, before moving on.

“Would you like some coffee?” She wasn’t really expecting an answer, marching straight to the machine and clicking it in before offering him seat. “I’ll call him in a minute.”

She disappeared and he was left there alone, taking in the pretty wooden kitchen and the aromatic smells the place was filled with. She had been cleaning, he could smell the lime of the cleaning pasta and now coffee and muffins were added to the punch.

She came back faster than he had expected, immediately filling two brown mugs with coffee, offering one to him and leaving the other rest before her after she had filled it with two spoons of sugar.

It gave him time to observe her. She had fixed her hair in a low bun, letting it rest on her neck, which was adorn with seemingly the only jewlery he had seen her wear – a wooden moon. Her shoulders were hardly covered with the linen shirt she had on today and the tender fabric only hazed away the shape of her perk breasts and full waist. The shirt was pulled together with strings, giving it corset look. She was again wearing that skirt and he had to keep hard from giving in the urge removing it from her wardrobe for good. It suited well with the shirt, but he wished to see her legs instead of staring at the opaque texture.

She didn’t stay put not even for one moment, instead turning her full attention on the oven, taking out the punch of muffins he smelled earlier. She snatched them one by one bare handedly on a plate and placed them on the table, encouraging him to take one.

His father arrived just as he was opening his mouth to thank her and she turned away, before she could see it.

This was new to him, to talk business with a man, who used his kitchen as his office, but through the years, he had to admit, he loved the appeal of old time business.

He hoped she would stay, but she was out of the kitchen right after saying she had already added sugar to his coffee.

Not one smile. He was thoroughly disgruntled by that. The whole time she was in the kitchen she hadn’t looked to his direction not once and smiled at him. Well, he hadn’t either, but that didn’t diminish her mistake.

He immediately disregarded that thought – her mistake. It hadn’t been her mistake! She had been busy and he had intruded her work. She had been calm and he hadn’t felt like being in the wrong place no even for a moment, even with the little ax of their disagreement still hovering between them. It was rude of him to demand her to give him some fake smiles he decided, especially when he so often scolded his secretary for this, saying she’d look so much more natural if she stopped that. And now he was here, mad she hadn’t given him the freak smile.

“She’s a remarkable woman.” He said, still staring at the door hole.

Her father gave him one questionable look, then grinned. “Yes, she is.”

He coughed, realizing what he had just admitted and turned his attention back on the boss.

“About the business…” he started fast, trying to brush off that tender feeling that had just filled him up to his hair routs. The man was beaming from the praise and the rest of the conversation went right in the same rout, warming the whole deal to be pleasant business for both of them.

So the father wasn’t gonna stay on his way now when he had decided to call the woman on a date. Getting the date out of her was a totally different matter.

They finished the business soon and he was led to the door, where the man wished him good day and turned back inside. He put on his cloves and started towards the car, when he saw a glimpse of her entering one of the staff buildings with huge pile of wood.

Insane girl! Was his first thought, remembering how just days ago he had seen her winch because of the pain in the same shoulder. It was obvious she wasn’t taught how to play damsel in distress, breed to survive, but this was too much! He hated people, who thought so little of their health they didn’t rest, when being hurt. He had seen several of his good friends become literally crippled through such thoughtlessness.

Without giving much thought he ran after her, bellowing from the door that she shouldn’t carry such weights.

That took her by surprise and not a good way as he soon learned, when dodging from a clay pot that hit the floor only inches from his right foot.

“OUT!” she yelled with all her might and sent another flowerpot through the air.

“Are you insane?!” He jumped from it and was covered with dust dry earth.

“This area is not for guests!” she gave her reasoning, but that didn’t seem to move him.

“And thus you through them with flower pots?”

She immediately pulled her attitude back, but the pot she was holding staid between her fingers.

“All I wanted to say was that you shouldn’t be carrying such weight with your bad shoulder – it won’t get better if you do!”

She gave him a long deeply disturbed stare, silently saying he had no business with her shoulder. She was right, he was fast to admit, but the words were out now and he prepared himself to take whatever she had been longing to say, be it about him mistreating her at work or her totally hating him. Whatever she wished to say, he told himself, he’s the man, he could take it as it was sure for the better if she could let her anger out, find the target to her outrage.

He was wrong, he couldn’t take it.

She slammed the pot back on the table. “That’s a way of saying I’m not suitable for this job either?” she asked mockingly.

It happened more than three weeks ago! He sensed his eyes narrowing – the woman was manifestly a grudge holding type and at that moment he had no idea, why he tried so hard to apologize to her.

“I had a bad day!” he defended himself.

“What has that to do with anything?” she pulled in a ragged breath. “Oh, sorry! You’re a man! Having a bad day is the best excuse to you! I had a bad day – if I’d get a coin for every time I had a bad day…”

Heat of anger clouded his mind there and he regretted deeply what he let out of his mouth next.

“W-what?” she paled and fell back against the table, before the words caught up with him in his head.

He had just repeated his insult. “Read the contract carefully, missy!” He continued, heart bleeding more with every added word. “Insult me one more time and I erase it! And I’m sure your Daddy would love to hear, what caused him this sweet deal!”

“You can’t do that!”

“I just did.” He murmured, seemingly pleased with it. She shrunk right before his eyes and he knew he had hit a tender nerve. She clearly cared for her family and their business, enough to obey even to such monstrosity. He wasn’t pleased with himself at all. What had made him add this tiny line to the end of the contract anyway?

He left fast, thinking only what a beast he’d become in her eyes. He had come with hope to get things straight; instead he’d done the exact opposite.

The next day brought him the result of his angry statement – her resignation. He stared at the paper for a good while, before managing to read out even the title.

She had quietly knocked on his door mere minutes ago and with a silent smile placed the paper on his desk while he was occupied with the phone. He nodded at her for recognition and turned back to his call, only mildly taking in what the paper was.

“I’ll call you back,” he said gruffly to the speaker and ran after her, paper tangling from his fingers. He didn’t catch her though, she had already left for the night, so he ran after her on the street, but she wasn’t there anymore.

He cursed his tongue. The woman was no daft simpleton and had just proven it – if you can’t avoid something, dismiss yourself.

 

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