Rae arrived at work and slid her purse into her bottom desk drawer. She tapped the keyboard and pulled up her email. Too many messages needed her attention. Rae worked at a busy marketing agency in a role that required her to perform a job meant for three people. Her boss, Basil, favored and took advantage of talented individuals with multiple skills. Rae was tech-savvy and good at digital marketing and design. Everything Glassdoor said about Basil was true. Yet every time Rae thought about leaving, she considered some of the perks and stayed.
Basil appeared in the doorway to her office and leaned against the door frame. “Hey, we’ve got a new client. A restaurant opened on State Street, and they invited us to sample the menu and sit down with them. Will you have dinner with me tonight?”
Rae sighed. She didn’t trust Basil, especially not after his drunken behavior at the Christmas party he threw for their clients last year. He’d put his arm around her while introducing her to a client she only worked with over email. Rae had worn a classy off-shoulder cocktail dress. Basil had stroked her bare shoulder as he made the introductions, but she couldn’t do anything without making the situation awkward or making a scene.
“Unfortunately, I have another obligation.” Rae focused on her computer screen and clicked the keys to show she was too busy to be bothered.
Basil frowned. “Oh, come on. You need to show them you’re interested in working with them.”
“I understand, but it isn’t something I can cancel.”
Basil narrowed his eyes. “Is this work-related?”
“No, I have plans with a friend.” Rae knew Basil didn’t like her answer when his eyes narrowed even further, becoming slits.
“Is it a date? Or do you have a boyfriend?”
Her lips formed a thin line. She sat taller in her seat, lifting her chin. “No, but I made plans with a girlfriend.”
Rae didn’t owe him anything about her life outside of work, and the truth was bizarre and unbelievable. He wouldn’t believe her if she said, “Sorry, Basil. I’ve got a date with three hot alien men who landed in my backyard this morning.”
Basil’s gaze swept over her. “That’s a shame. The menu is amazing, and the chef is a friend of mine. I invited him to dine with us.”
Rae pursed her lips. He liked to point out all the people he knew or how well-traveled he was as if she cared. Basil always had something witty or smart to say, and even when he didn’t, he made it seem like he did. “I’m sure you can fill me in on the details.”
“Fine. I’ll ask Olivia if she wants to go.”
Rae nodded. Olivia was a graphic designer that worked in their office.
Basil turned on his heel and left her office, but not without barking reminders from halfway down the hall. “Don’t forget about the client meeting. We need to do some mock-ups, a new website, and social media. Social media is your department.”
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I know.”
Basil’s footsteps faded in the distance, but the echo of his too-loud voice was still in her ears. She rested her hands on her head and let out a groan. Then she grabbed her cell phone and went to the bathroom. Rae wanted to call Kat and make sure she was okay. She picked up her phone and dialed her number.
“Hello?” Kat’s voice was hoarse, raspy, and strained.
“Hey, did I catch you at a bad time?”
Kat was silent for a few moments. “No.”
Rae sensed Kat was lying straight through her teeth. Her office was quiet, except for the hum of fluorescent bulbs buzzing inside the wires in the overhead lights above her desk. “I wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“I’m fine.” Kat’s voice was watery and thin.
“Are you sure?”
Kat sighed. “I never expected three aliens to land in my life.”
Rae laughed. “Yeah, I know what you mean.”
“I think...” Kat stopped talking mid-sentence and sounded a million miles away.
“Kat, what’s wrong? You sound so sad.”
“I don’t know what to make of Ferrix.”
Rae bit her lip. “You like him, don’t you?”
“It doesn’t matter. I can’t be with Ferrix.”
Rae arched an eyebrow. “Why not?”
Kat sighed, and it seemed to echo across a cold and infinite vat, a bleak, dark vacuum. “I’m bonded.”
“So? What does that mean?”
“Ferrix read my thoughts, and he knows that I’m dating Rick.”
Rae smirked. “Well, you are dating Rick, and I thought things were getting serious with him, but he hasn’t been around lately. Did something happen?”
“We made plans a few times when he was back in town, but something always came up. I called him a few times, but he hasn’t called me back.” When Kat’s voice broke, it was like a porous cliff swept away by angry seas. “I think there might be someone else. I’m starting to think he ghosted me rather than tell me the truth.”
“I’m sorry.” Rae wished they weren’t on the phone so that she could wrap Kat into a hug. “It sucks to be cheated on.”
“I’m okay. We weren’t exclusive, and we’d only been dating a few months. Rae, I’m not going to date anyone else. Maybe I need to take a dating sabbatical and swear off men for a while.”
Rae was unsure if she believed her friend. “I guess since you’re done with guys, I’ll find someone else to have a threesome with.”
Kat burst out laughing. “What?”
Rae cracked a smile. “We’ve got three hot aliens in our backyard, and it’d be a shame to waste the opportunity. I’m kidding. I’ll talk to you later. Even if I don’t feel like doing any of it, there’s a ton of work.
“Hey, thanks for listening. I appreciate that you called to check on me.” Her voice faded, her words barely a whisper.
“Of course. I love you, Kat.”
Kat sniffled. “I love you, too. I’ll be fine. I’m over Rick already. Ferrix too. I’ll see you when you get home.”
“Okay, I’ll see you later.”
Rae went back to work but couldn’t concentrate. The way Nin looked at her was mesmerizing. Her body ached for him, tingling with raw desire. She kept having fantasies about the sexy alien but tried to push the thoughts out of her mind because there were so many barriers between them. It would be hard to put together a marketing strategy for the new client when his rippling muscles and intense silver eyes invaded her thoughts. That’s all it could ever be. Rae let herself entertain fantasies about him, but it couldn’t go anywhere.