“Nick!” She managed to slide past the door Neo style just before
he swung it close and told Betty to inform her that he was not in his office.
It was so close.
As it was, he had no other choice but to talk to her. Cat Lovett
would insist on talking, of that he was fairly certain. Even now, he could hear
the all too eager sound of boots trampling behind him.
As Nicholas Lee lamented over this unfortunate turn of events, a
plan hatched in his head. He lit up. Australia was, in a relative sense, still a
free country. Therefore, he was not legally bound to listen to her talking
about “the incident”. He was still contemplating on whether it was big enough
an issue to warrant capitals and at the moment, quotation marks seemed to
Rather than trying to do the impossible by avoiding her for the
rest of his hopefully long and successful life, Nick would let her have a
chance to talk and in return, he, to not hear a word of it. In fact, she could
talk and talk and talk and well, whatever Cat would do next. Nick, on the other
hand, would find himself suddenly liberated for a couple of hours that he could
use to review the new promotional ads for Super Water. Devising a campaign
strategy that kept people from remembering the company as the energy drink that
turned people green and planted a “USED TO BUT NOT ANYMORE” persuasion on
millions of people, all in a thirty-second ad, was no simple feat. Hopefully
before Nick even realised it, Cat would have left his office, all would be well
and he would have a good night’s sleep again.
The plan seemed so highly operable that Nick wanted to applaud
himself, and he turned to face her with this new spirit only to have it crushed
down to pieces.
She gazed up at him from behind her horn-rimmed glasses (horn-rimmed!) and for the second time
this week, Nick was lost somewhere in those eyes. Her bob length hair was down
for once and she was wearing a navy blazer, red capri pants and her only good pair
of boots. Sailor outfit aside, she looked… pretty. This was all very
disorienting for poor Nick. A week ago, she had been his mousy associate,
always full of geeky references with a general lack of ladylike charm. Today,
he noticed that her eyes were the color of melted chocolate. He needed to sit
So he did. Meanwhile, Cat adjusted her glasses and began gravely,
“Nick, we need to talk… about what happened last night.”
Nick smoothly proceeded with his plan. Or so he thought. He
could find neither a pen nor the Super Water folders (darn his secretary and
her odd penchant to play hide and seek with his office stationery), and after a
futile moment in search of an alternative plan, went on to scribble
thoughtfully on the wooden desk. Before there were papers, cavemen had been
using rocks to write on for centuries. He related to their anxious desperation
“Nick.” She tried again.
God, the woman seemed so obsessed with his name. He did not
“I was saying, about last night-” She stopped right then,
perhaps as it dawned to her what he was trying to pull, the first flaw in a
plan he had not fully thought out. “What, so you’re ignoring me now?”
“No.” He said without thinking and quickly cursed his superb
innate reflexes. “Darnit.”
Hands on hips and eyes calculative as ever, Cat sauntered his
desk in circles. He followed her as far as his peripheral vision would allow,
which was not very far as somehow during their conversation, the air
conditioner had seemingly failed to work and trickle of sweats was beginning
their journey down the side of his face, blurring the lazy motion of his
predator. The alarm in his head started chanting: Abort plan, abort plan.
Giving himself a mental slap, Nick steadied himself back to his
usual Senior Advertising Extraordinaire of Jacobs & Lee composure, and said
in a formal, more delighted tone, “Catherine, I was just about to call you. I
have some issues I’d like to discuss with you.” From extensive professional
experience, Nick knew that a few of his trademarked smiles here and there could
go a long way, and this was precisely that: a business discussion. “Have a
Of course, he should have known that going all business would
never work on a Lovett.
“Why are you smiling with all your teeth? It’s creeping me out.”
Better focus on the speech, he decided.
“Catherine, I have to apologise for my brash behavior last night.
No matter how many drinks I had, it’s still not an excuse. My action was
reprehensible and unprofessional. If it’s any consolation, I assure you that a
Lee does not kiss a Lovett… For that matter, we never even engage the Lovetts –
that includes you, your father, mother and brother, in any fantasy scenario,
romantically speaking.” He looked at her now unremarkable brown eyes, and
carried on, ”…Never. So, you have my word that it will never happen again. You
can go back to work.” He finished with a monosyllable ‘Ha!’. That actually felt
“I knew this would happen. You’re blowing this way out of
proportion. What are you, young?” She rolled her eyes. “It was just a kiss!”
It was his turn to be surprised. “Pardon?”
“Yeah, the night was partly, if not wholly, to blame. There were
champagne everywhere and people dancing. Sinatra was playing. You looked good.
I was wearing the $300 dress Jess convinced me to buy. With moments like that,
it would have been a huge crime if we didn’t kiss. And if nothing else, the
kiss was nice.”
She laughed, though it was set one octave too high. ”I mean, it
wasn’t downright terrible, was it?” Her voice sounded just a little bit shrill
then, lacking in conviction. Every one wanted to be assured of how they were
good kissers. That much was human nature and Nick was the master in analysing
human nature. But Cat Lovett wasn’t just every one, so what was she doing being
Nevertheless, the brutal psychoanalysis had to wait until later
as the situation at hand called for a verbal response, any response that would
avoid making him look, God forbid, intellectually challenged.
He did not recall standing up until he found himself looking
down at her and was briefly lost in the memory of their kiss. The kiss wasn’t
bad, he conceded. Nah, it was almost good, mindblowingly so. As in, with any
other woman, he would have proposed skipping work even if it meant missing out
on the multi-million dollar Super Water account. Almost, but not quite enough
for Nick to repeat last night’s folly.
This was Cat, his best ad person, and Nick needed her to be exactly
where she was: at a distance. It would never work out, just because. It was one
of those things people were told not to do and nobody asked why because the
reasons were obvious. Don’t cross the streets without checking both sides of
the road. Don’t drink loads of water before going to bed. Don’t mess with the
nice old church lady who gives every one candy at Sunday classes. Cat was the
church lady and you couldn’t mess with the church lady. It was that simple… though
granted his metaphor was messed up.
Too busy was Nick in his reverie that he failed to notice her: Cat
Lovett, all of a sudden in a distance that was too close for comfort, slightly
dreamy eyed and unless she was staring at his chin, it seemed that he had not
been the only one reliving their kiss.
As he discerned this piece of observation, for the second time
that day, Nick found the air supply in the room deflating exponentially. He
fought the overwhelming urge to clear his throat. ”No, it wasn’t.” He answered
finally, no longer sure what he was disagreeing to.
“I’m returning the dress.” Cat said.
Nick didn’t quite know how to respond.
They stayed there for several muted moments, neither wanted to
be the one making the first step that would irrevocably change everything, both
stubbornly believing that mind kissing…? So did not count.
And then she broke the spell. Sending a cursory glance at her
watch, Cat backed away quickly. “Darn it. I’ve got to go down there.” She
explained, “The SW people are getting restless and I have to show them what we’ve
Nick nodded. “Has the team come up with anything new?”
She shook her head. “New, yes. Good, nope. Jamie tried to pitch:
‘At Least, We Found the Cure…?’ Yes, question mark included.” She scoffed. “As
if that’s helping.”
“Alright. Stall them. I’ll come up with something.”
She said sweetly. “You’re the Lee in the Jacobs & Lee. Of
course, you’ll come up with something.”
The next ten seconds were filled with familiar, comfortable
silence – Cat taking out the missing folders (tucked inside his glass cabinet,
of course!) and Nick focusing his mind on anything but The Incident – now with
When she finally looked up, she said, “So, you and me. We’re
“We are good.” He agreed. They were more than good but he did
not say that. Just as she reached for the door handle, he called, “Cat?”
She turned. “Yeah?”
“Don’t return the dress.”
Her smile was unsure this time. “…Okay.” She said simply.
She closed the door behind her, and Nick, now finding himself
able to breathe again, looked outside his office window.
“Super Water.” He murmured to himself, trying to imagine the
tagline. It would come to him, he was sure of it. They always did.
After all, today was just like any other day.
As always, let me know what you think.
Crossposted on Wattpad.