Eyes riveted on her watch, she frisked the mobile from her purse, clattering the contents onto the floor. Shoving everything inside, she re-checked the time. She gazed at the entrance, biting the insides of her cheek. He cantered in with pursed lips.
“What happened? Why did you want to meet so early?”
“Umm, I am not sure how to say this. I think you feel the same, the way you look at me… I like it. I like you.”
He stiffened, “Are you sure? We have been working together for years. You are special to me. I don’t want to wreck our friendship, our family life.”
“But I cannot drive you out of my mind. You dominate my every thought. My husband… I…”
“Shush, no reasons or justifications.”
He moved closer. Her stomach flipped.
“God, you make me feel like a teenager.”
He cupped her face, inclined his head, and gently sucked her lips. Eyes closed, she laced her arms around him. Gasping, they pulled apart.
“You are so beautiful! Are you Okay?” He rasped, kissing her palm.
“Yes. It was…different.”
Hearing footsteps, they flitted to their seats. She ran her fingers on her stinging, swollen lips letting a giggle escape.
In the trailing weeks, the imperceptible gestures and glances spawned into canoodling in the storeroom, the stairways, and the narrow corridor outside the washrooms. With the coffee machine near her cabin, his caffeine consumption swelled. She turned scarlet at the casual grazing of fingers and the proprietary pat. The caresses escalated to groping, stroking, and kneading. Then, unmindful of the stares of their colleagues, the couple veered to unguarded recklessness.
At home, life went on – kids and spouses like props in a play; furniture relegated to the corners.
Sexting clouded their days until they graduated to booking a hotel room.
Then his daughter fell sick, and they cancelled it. Next, her husband brought his mother home, so they cancelled again.
“I think this is a sign that we need to stop. Our colleagues are gossiping about us. I don’t want our names tarnished. I feel responsible for you and that’s why, I curbed my desire earlier. I am worried about the repercussions if management hears about us.” He whispered, raking his hair.
“Are you afraid of being blamed? It was I who started it. Should we just raise our hands and surrender?”
“It is not who fired the shot, but who paid for the bullet, that matters. The man always gets the axe while the woman is treated as a victim.”
“Do you think I would let them hang you?”
“Not at first, but eventually you will succumb to the pressure.”
He applied for a transfer to another branch, the weight of the transgression pecking like a woodpecker.
Visits to the storeroom dwindled and the coffee machine conked out. The family endured their shadowed existence.
She was the last to reach the office every day.