I walked into Boss’s office and closed the door behind me. I was pretty sure I left all my resolve on the other side of it, because I felt like running, or disappearing into the wall, whichever would be easier. Boss looked up at me and smiled, and then his smile faded and he knit his eyebrows together.
“Hey Aust3n,” he said in a low voice. “What’s up?” He looked back at his computer screen instead of meeting my eyes.
“I need to talk to you about a rumor,” I said, my voice shaking a little. I gripped the door handle behind me, ready to bolt if things got too weird.
“A rumor,” he said slowly, his face turning toward me again. “What kind of rumor?”
“It’s about you. My friend Sarah–do you remember Sarah? She’s got red hair and–”
“I remember Sarah,” he said, cutting me off. “I remember seeing her the other day.” I looked at him, uncertain of what to say next. His face was so much older than I thought it was, creases around his eyes, tired, puffy bags under them. I wondered if I was the cause of it, and right then I could barely swallow, much less ask him if he was in love with me.
“I was wondering if–um. Maybe we could go out for a bite to eat.” It wasn’t quite what I intended on saying, but there was no way I was brave enough to do that in the office in the middle of the day. Maybe later. Maybe.
He shook his head and said, “I don’t think that’s a very good idea.” He turned back to his computer screen and said, “Is that all?” He was dismissing me. He didn’t even want to know about the rumor? This was it?
“I…Uh…” I felt foolish standing there. Obviously Sarah misheard, because he was dismissing me too easily for the rumor to be true. A surprising pang of disappointment filled my chest and I blurted out, “Really? You said you had feelings for me.”
“I do, and that’s why I’m saying no,” he said in a whisper.
“Oh,” I said, and then, “But then maybe you could come out with me so we could talk some more.”
“I thought–I mean–” Boss turned his chair and looked out his window, and then he turned it back and said, “How about seven?”
“OK,” I said, my heart beat quickening by the second. “But Aust3n?” he asked when I was already halfway out the door.
“I’m going to tell Ian. Right now. OK?” I nodded my head even though it was not OK, not even a little bit.