I pop my knuckles, my arms stretching as far as they can go as a tired yawn escapes me.

Finally…

Almost another hour later, I hit ‘publish’ and watch my post go live, exhausted beyond belief.

I can, without a doubt, call it a day now.

A sense of relief washes over me for what I’ve accomplished for the day, but I also feel overwhelmed by what I still have left to do. Not to mention, the aftermath of the interview. The anticipation of its result still has me on edge.

I close my laptop, sliding out of my chair.

“Heading out?” I hear Adam ask from behind. I glance over my shoulder, meeting his gaze briefly.

“Yeah, I think I’m gonna call it quits for today. I feel like I can barely keep my eyes open.” I reach for my belongings, packing stuff away. “You?”

He leans back in his chair, exhaling through a boyish grin.

“I’m starting to think coming in was a bad idea.”

My eyes shift to the mountain of files and folders stacked in front of him.

An involuntary chuckle escapes me, and I realize it’s the second time I’ve laughed all day. Perhaps all week.

Because of him.

Don’t start, my inner voice promptly jumps in. He’s not available and he never will be so don’t go getting all starry-eyed again. You’ve been through this already, remember?

A frustrated groan claws its way up my throat, and I have to resist the urge to let it out. In spite of my factual, spot-on thoughts, my heart sinks with a familiar sense of disappointment.

It seems keeping physical distance from Adam was a necessity, too.

“Well, I’m off,” I wave, feigning nonchalance as I sling my bag over my shoulder, heading for the door. “Have a blast.”

“See you later,” he nods.

I swallow as I squeeze past haphazardly-placed furniture, hating myself for not being able to have a simple conversation without my mind veering into non-platonic territory.

“Hey, Connie…” Adam calls just as I reach for the knob.

“Hmmm?” I look over my shoulder once more, my brow arching. 

He blinks once. Twice. There’s a slight pause before he speaks.

“Actually, I…would you…” he swallows, inhaling. “Do you want to get a drink?”

Now it’s my turn to pause, meeting his expression with a stunned, confused look. My eyes bulge impulsively, my knee-jerk reaction displaying itself before I can stop it.

“Oh…” is all I can seem to manage for several seconds, completely taken aback by his offer even though I’m well aware that he’s precisely the kind of friendly guy who’d ask something like that.

We’ve never hung out one-on-one before so it’s the last thing I was expecting. But I want to shake myself for thinking that the sudden invitation is anything more than a regular social proposal, even briefly.

And yet…there’s something about his tone.

And the hesitation…

Is he…nervous?

As normal as his words are, they’re kind of surreal; the type of thing I used to fantasize again and again about back when my crush on him was brand new and unjaded. But now, in the actual reality of it, I feel more anxious than excited by the prospect.

Still, I’d be lying through my teeth if I said I’m not tempted to take him up on the offer. To indulge in a harmless, friendly drink with a work colleague. But, as much as that interview made me want to stuff my liver with a bucket of vodka, being in the company of a man that I still have a hard time truly and genuinely thinking of in a completely platonic way with alcohol thrown into the mix has “bad idea” written all over it. With a capital B.

I shake my head, as if snapping myself out of a mute trance. 

“Uh, thanks but I…I already have plans with my roommate,” I lie. Second one of the year. Yippee.

Adam smiles, somewhat sheepishly, seeming a bit disappointed when I decline. He runs a hand through his hair, his eyes lowering. Suddenly, it’s awkward.

He nods, his gaze still averted, and I’m unsure if the gesture is more for me or himself.

“Maybe some other time, then,” he says, still smiling, but it doesn’t reach his eyes when he looks up at me again.

Aaand now I feel bad. Really bad. I want to say something to make it better, to make this weird, novel tension go away, but I have absolutely no idea what. So, I smile.

“Have a good night,” is all I can offer, leaving before it can get any more uncomfortable.

***

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THIS MAKES ME FEEL...
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid

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