Chapter 5—Breakfast

              It was a Saturday morning, ten minutes to eight o'clock. She was dressed in a lovely swishy silk skirt, ankle-length black boots, and a floral print Gypsy top which showed off her bare, creamy shoulders. Her iridescent auburn hair cascaded over those shoulders. Nobody was more beautiful than her that morning. As she entered the building, her 5'9 figure swayed temptingly but also gracefully. Smiles greeted her all around. The warm-hearted girl that she was, she returned the greetings with a smile that drew people to her luscious lips. It was still morning, and she had everyone all worked up already.

              "Let me walk you over to his table, miss Blume," the concierge said as she entered the breakfast room. This was her umpteenth time meeting The Boss at Eggs and Flowers. As she made her way to the table, she was warmly greeted by the staff. She nodded and smiled in reply to the Good morning, miss Blume or to the Hi Gina, how are you doing? from a number of patrons who knew her.

              Eggs and Flowers specialized in breakfast and dinner, and was closed for lunch. The place served excellent eggs for breakfast, and filled the room with fresh flowers for dinner. She understood Flowers was a place for a romantic dinner—a heart-melting dinner complete with a table-to-table violinist and flowers that guests could buy impromptu. She had had breakfast in this upscale place many times—all with her boss—but he had never taken her for dinner at Flowers.

              "Hi, Gina, nice to see you this morning. Meeting your boss?" A middle-aged man with an air of casual elegance waved at her as she was walking toward her boss' table. She stopped by to exchange niceties. The other two men, as well-presented as the first, turned their heads around to greet her. The first man stood up and approached her,

              "Let's have breakfast tomorrow. I might have something that I need your boss' help with," she took his offered hand in a warm handshake.

              "You mean my company?"

              "Yes, of course, dear. But I know you like it better if it involves your boss directly, no?" he winked wittily. Gina smiled, her eyes sparkled. Everything about her was just warm.

              "Sure. I'll bring him along tomorrow, too."

              "That'd be great."

              She nodded her head slightly toward the other two gentlemen as she was about to continue her walk to her boss' table. They stood up and shook her hand. Gina had to spend another three minutes on the introductory exchanges. They exchanged business cards. One was the CEO of a big consulting company on the East Coast and the other one was his VP.

              "Nice meeting you," she said, before looking at the concierge, who had been standing some distance away behind her, to continue escorting her to The Boss' table. They walked past a few more tables toward an exclusive corner spot, glass-walled on both sides overlooking the busy roads and a washed away view of Mount Rainier.

              As she walked, the patrons, who were important figures in their own rights, all envied the big man for having such a beautiful creature by his side; and if the same luck had been bestowed upon them, they wouldn't have taken her for granted.

              "Not the private room?" she asked the concierge as they walked past the private VIP rooms.

              "No, miss."

              "Oh, full I guess."

              "No. We always reserve one for him on weekends."

              That's strange, she thought. I will ask him. He usually needs a private room to smoke his cigar.

              He sat there. Sipping his espresso looking over his cup at her as she made her way to him. As she drew nearer, he put down his cup, stood up, and gave her a warm kiss on the cheek.

              She could smell faint musk, and a hint of tobacco on him. At 5'11 he was not much taller than she was, but she always thought he towered over her.

              "Good morning, Gina," he said, warmth in his voice.

              She could see that other than his espresso, the table was still empty. Not even a bread basket. He asked her what she wanted for breakfast, then he waved at the server who had been waiting on him inconspicuously.

              "Are you ready to place your order now, sir?" asked the server. He gave him a slight nod. She would have a pitaya bowl and he the eggs benedict. They would also have some orange juice and more espresso.

              "You look nice," he said. Approvingly. Then he opened the conversation with what she thought about the war Russia started with Ukraine. How a fragmented America did or didn't encourage Putin.

              I don't know. I haven't read it. Really? I look nice? That's all you can say? And you are going to spend this morning on politics, the world stage, and philosophy? And the mention of Putin—enough to ruin the whole day. Can we not talk about more personal things? Like how I spent last night after I couldn't see you for a drink, to report on a job well done? Gina thought, keeping a smile while listening to him half-heartedly.

              Her mind was elsewhere when he startled her with a question,

              "How was your evening with Roy yesterday?"

               How does he know? Did he have people follow me?

              It did not trouble her, but she was extremely curious.

              "How do you know?"

              The Boss couldn't tell her how he knew, because then he had to tell her that he had discreetly texted Roy while she was on the phone with Doxxan's people yesterday. "Gina is going to call you soon. Please help with her request," his text was. He also didn't want to tell her how Roy had replied with a fervent sure and at the same time probed if he could ask her out for a drink that evening. He remembered how that had made him feel: I am not her father!

              "Roy told me."

              "Told you? When?"

              We parted ways late, 1 AM—Roy couldn't have called him then. Or this morning? They can’t have done, they’re not on such familiar terms—with Roy's boss, perhaps, but not with Roy. It had to be before. But why would Roy tell him about it? Anyway, is The Boss jealous? He’s jealous, isn't he? Her mind was swirling.

              "Does it matter? I just wanted to know if you enjoyed your evening. If it's private, I withdraw my question," his tone was teasing. He smiled warmly, and looked at her affectionately.

              Oh, it was amusing to him? Just when I thought he felt a tad jealous. He is kind and all, but he is cold! She thought.

              "It was ok. It was work, that's all. Nothing to tell," she said. The sparkle in her eyes dimmed. She seemed uninterested. She needed to busy herself with something. The drinks had not arrived. She settled with playing with a corner of the napkin on her lap.

              "Hey, Gina ..."


              "That's ok. I was just trying to interest you with another topic of conversation. I don't want to bore you with my frustration with this world. So I thought talking about your evening would be good. Obviously, I was mistaken. I'm sorry. You’re looking so pretty this morning; I don't want to ruin it," he said.

              Oh, what did he say? So pretty?

              "No, no, no. That's ok. I don't mind telling you about my evening. It was truly nothing special though," Gina said.

              "No, that's ok, Gina."

              "I want to tell you," she said. She looked at him intently.

              "Alright." He couldn't say no, not if he didn't want to upset her further.

              Their pitaya bowl, eggs benedict, orange juice, and espressos came at once. As The Boss took the first sip of his second espresso, Gina started telling him about her evening with Roy. The Boss listened, trying as much as he could to appear interested. Gina went into great details with the story. And when she had ascertained The Boss understood there had been nothing to that evening, she began her breakfast with the first sip of her orange juice.


              Gina told The Boss about her casual encounter with Abram Vargas, the CEO of Trelleco—the Telco company serving the entire West Coast—just a while ago, and the breakfast meeting that was set for tomorrow.

              "Any preceding event leading to this?" he asked. She said no. Amazing, the Boss thought—but he made sure Gina didn't notice his appreciation of her.

              The Boss had long realized this was where Gina was most useful to the business. People were attracted to her. Whereas other VPs had to cultivate it over time—incurring substantial expenses for lunches, dinners, events, and gifts—business opportunity was just a byproduct of Gina's charm. She walked past people and she attracted business like a flame to moths.

              "Tomorrow—on a Sunday?" The Boss asked.

              "That’s what he said. Is that ok with you?"

              "Yes. Any day. Can you spare your Sunday?"

              Spending a Sunday with you? I'd like that, she thought gladly.

              "I can. No problem. It's business," she said.

              As soon as the words left her mouth she realized her mistake. Why did I have to add the last part? What if it's not business? He can't ask me out? Idiot! How do I take it back? But of course, she could not retract that.

              Close to 9 am The Boss reminded her of the meeting she had to go to. "That is ok. One of them couldn't make it so I have moved it to Monday," she said. Nevertheless, The Boss could stay only for another half an hour. He had a lunch meeting to prepare for.

              So that's why he didn't take the private room, she thought, because he wouldn't have enough time to smoke his cigars. Meeting me was just a fit-in thing.

              She was dismayed. She felt like a speck in his vast agenda. Nothing special, unlike she was in Roy's agenda. Roy—now him she could use to console her disappointment—would call her at the right time just like yesterday. Most probably.

              She knew The Boss wouldn't, but that didn't stop her from thinking: Don't blame me if I accept his offer to go out again tonight. She tossed her hair in the wind and lightly grinned as she walked out to her car.

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