“You’re still here? Shouldn’t you be at home?” A hint of concern escaped the amusement in the man’s voice.
“We both know this might as well be my home, Kyle.” Marissa was only half kidding when she said that. “Hell, I’ve been getting some of my mail sent here for months. I even have a few changes of clothes in my office so I can spend a few days in the lab if I need to.”
“You worry me sometimes.” This time it was affection that accompanied his amusement. “How about you have some fun for once in your life and come out for drinks with me? It’s happy hour over at Mickey’s. At least see me off before I leave for vacation.”
Marissa had to hide the smile stealing her lips. Kyle never was very subtle with his flirting, though she’d be lying to herself if she said she minded. He’d been trying to convince her to go out with him for months. The scent of his cologne that drifted under her nose whenever he came by to ask made it difficult to say no. Or perhaps it was the dark brown hair that lined his strong jaw or his impossibly white teeth. No, it was definitely his eyes. She always struggled with maintaining eye contact with people. It was like the connection with another’s eyes would somehow reveal to them every thought in her head, like foreign eyes were oceans and she had forgotten how to swim. Yet she was always amazed at how willing she was to drown herself in those magnificent pools of emerald and sapphire.
“I’m sorry, Kyle. I can’t tonight. There’s a lot of work I want to get done. Maybe some other time.” She wasn’t completely sure if it was her who made that decision. It felt as if her mind was the one that made the decision for her, like it was separate from her and thought it knew what she wanted. Even so, she couldn’t find it within herself to change her mind.
“I swear you’re going to work yourself to death one of these days.” A weak smile stretched across his mouth that did nothing to hide his disappointment. “Take care of yourself while I’m gone. I’ll see you in a couple of weeks.”
“I will. Thank you, Kyle.” She said. “Enjoy your vacation. You don’t need to worry about me while you’re away. I’ll be fine. Really.” She wasn’t sure if he believed her.
He started to leave at that.
“Hey, Kyle?” She called to him as he was closing the door behind him.
“Yes?” He opened the door wider and leaned his head over the threshold.
“We really are close to something huge. All of the effort we’ve put into this project over the last few years… It’s all going to pay off soon. Trust me.”
He smiled at her again. This time she couldn’t tell what emotion was behind the expression. Without saying a word he closed the door and left.
And then she was alone.
She sat there for a short while in the darkness of her office. She wasn’t sure how long she had been sitting there but the automatic light had long since turned off, completely starved of even the slightest bit of sound or motion. It somehow seemed like an eternity since Kyle had left, since the door had shut behind him, since the light had gone out. Her mind felt like one those dreams where you’re running from someone but can’t get away, where you yell but don’t make a sound. It was racing but going nowhere at the same time. There was a sort of solace to be found in that kind of chaotic peace.
Just as suddenly as she had become aware of the precious solitude, the subtle, familiar hands of her work gripped her mind and stole her thoughts. And as if the light itself could sense the motion of those persistent hands, it sprung back to life and illuminated the room around her, revealing the look of pure determination etched into her face.
She had the lab to herself and there was a lot of work to do.
Stay tuned for Chapter 2, coming soon!
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