Flames of Desire|
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Copyright ©2014 Michelle Hoppe
An Authorized Excerpt
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The sharp sound of someone's knuckles connecting with the door shattered the stillness of Jack's office, pulling him from his contemplation of Mindy's picture. He'd been staring at it for hours, trying to figure out what he should have said in response to her ridiculous statement yesterday. Success in that endeavor eluded him still.
"Come in," Jack said, just as the second knock echoed around him. "Come in," he spoke louder.
Jack watched as his secretary, Joyce, stuck her head into the office. "I'm sorry to disturb you, Mr. Bishop, but there is a delivery for you."
"Put it on the table outside. I don't want to deal with anything right now."
"But, sir, it's not what you think."
Jack wasn't in the mood for guessing games. "Fine, just bring it in, Joyce." His tone was sharper than he'd meant it to be, but everyone knew he was in a foul mood, hence the closed office door. Usually Jack Bishop was happy, energetic, and a great boss, according to those who worked for him. However, today was different. Jack's mood was dark and unapproachable.
Everyone in the office knew about his fight with Mindy. After all, it had started right there in his office, and the volume of their discussion was anything but low. In the end, Mindy had stormed from the room in tears, and his slamming of the office door pretty much indicated Jack's feeling about the situation. His staff also knew by the slumped shoulders, lack of a smile, and the dark circles under his eyes that things had not improved during the night.
Joyce, with her mysterious delivery, was the first person brave enough to enter his office in six hours. Jack watched as she pushed the door wide open and carried in a bouquet of flowers. He could see the vase was heavy and, after a second's pause of surprise, he stood and moved to take the burden from her hands.
"What is this?" Jack scanned the huge display for a card.
"I don't know. There is no note, at least not that I could find." Joyce had a smile on her face.
"Do me a favor and call the florist. Find out who these are from."
"Yes, sir." Joyce hurried out of the office without closing the door behind her.
Jack continued to stare at the beautiful arrangement, now casting a large shadow over his desk. There were yellow roses, some white and yellow carnations, and bunches of little white flowers he'd never seen before. Intermixed with all the yellow and white flowers were fern fronds. Large green clusters that had to be two feet high. It was definitely an ostentatious display.
Joyce returned to his side. "The florist said they cannot give out personal information on a customer."
"When did someone's name become personal information? For Christ's sake, I'm not asking for their home address, phone number, or credit card information. All I want is a fucking name."
Joyce began to laugh, then thought better of the idea. Perhaps it was the look on his face, but her giggles subsided and she became all business again. "I don't know what policies they have in place, sir. They simply said they were not at liberty to give out that information."
"I'm sorry, Joyce. I didn't mean to bark. Thank you for trying."
"It's okay, Jack." Joyce seemed to hesitate, then continued, "Have you tried to call her?"
Jack ran his fingers through his hair, shrugging his shoulders, and returned to the back side of his desk. "No. I don't… I… fuck. I can't even tell you exactly what we were fighting about anymore."
Before Joyce could respond, there was another knock at his office door. Joyce turned at the same time Jack yelled, "What?"
"Mr. Bishop," a new intern, Susan, answered.
"Come in." Jack's voice still held more than a note of irritation, but the disapproving look on Joyce's face kept him from saying more.
"I'm sorry to interrupt, sir." Susan approached the desk and, with shaking fingers, held out an envelope for him. "But this letter was just delivered for you."
Jack ripped open the envelope as Joyce ushered Susan out of the office, closing the door this time. Jack dropped into his desk chair and unfolded the single sheet of paper on the blotter in front of him.
The words were written in Mindy's delicate script and Jack devoured them.
Candlelight and music,
Warm fire lights the way.
This, my darling lover,
The end of a perfect day.
You and I together,
Lost in the fire's glow.
No need for words between us,
Our hands and bodies know!
The letter was not signed. Jack read the words again, before spinning his chair around in a circle like a small child on a merry-go-round. Jumping to his feet, still holding the letter in his hand, Jack walked across the room. Pulling open the door, he smiled at the startled look on Joyce's face.
"I'm going home."
"Is everything all right, Jack?"
"Better than all right." Jack didn't wait for her to respond. With a spring in his step, he headed for the elevator and quickly left the building.
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