Handsome's attentions in the office was a turning point for her in the eyes of the people who didn't work with her. The stuck-up pretty girls decided she must be the coolest if this best-looking of guys wanted her, if this gorgeous fellow didn't give the time of day to Kim (and every man seemed to fall over himself for Kim). She didn't care that they saw her in a new light. They were still the shallowest people anyone could ever come across but it didn't bother her that they had this new respect for either.
The fates had other ideas.
Her aunt took a turn for the worse, walking out of her house one day, and was finally found days later sharing beans with the homeless guys who live under the Belmont overpass. When she wasn't found in her neighborhood, the police and all the radio and TV stations were alerted, and the family fanned out and drove around for all those days trying to find her. When the police found her, she introduced them to each of her homeless friends by name. The police took her aunt to the emergency room and she went with her cousin and her cousin's husband to fetch her. She didn't recognize any of them and accused them of trying to kidnap her and get a ransom for her.
"My daughter is a real bitch! She'd rather let me rot than give you a nickel for me," she told her daughter, who was, in fact, a real bitch. This made her cousin cry and storm out of the room.
"It needed to be said," said her aunt, when the cousin and left. "She really needs to soften up or she'll be a hard-assed old lady like me."
"I don't know," said her cousin's husband. "I don't think you give her enough credit."
"You're way too good for her," said her aunt. "Too handsome, too sweet, too kind."
"You don't know her like you think you do," said her cousin's husband. "She is very tender and loving."
He left the room to look for his wife.
"What do you think?" her aunt asked her.
"I think I am going out of my mind," she answered.
"But not like this," said her aunt. "You're just caught in the middle of this shit."
"Yeah, that's a good part of it," she said.
"Now, what's your name?" asked her aunt, just as her cousin and her husband came back into the room.
"Mom!" gasped her daughter and started crying.
"Mom!" groaned her son-in-law and hugged his wife closely.
"Really," said the aunt. "Your name is on the tip of my tongue but I just can't recall it. Tell me the first letter. Is it a three? Does your name start with a three?"
The rest of the week was spent finding a patient, compassionate person to come live with her aunt on a full time basis. They all felt sorry in advance for whoever it would be.
When she came back to work, there was a phone message from Handsome.
"Hey, doll, I have to go out of town for a couple of weeks. I've got something I've been trying to get my hands on and if I don't go get it now, I will never get it. I'll call you when I get back. If Kevin calls you, tell him he has to wait for me to come back to have dinner. XO."
He'd ended with "XO" like "Ex-Oh." She was pleased.
Kevin did call her the next week.
"Say, hi, how are you? I was sick, that's why I haven't called. And then my wife got sick. And then I got sick again, but my wife was fine," blurted out Kevin all at once.
"I'm fine, Kevin, thanks," she said. "Connie had to go out of town. He said there was something he was trying to get his hands on and he had to go get it. It was now or never."
"Oh, hmm, ha, I hope it's not dangerous. Sometimes he goes to places that are dangerous. He has great stories to tell but it's dangerous getting to that point. Do you want to wait for him to come back to come over?" asked Kevin.
"Connie said you have to wait for him to come back," she said.
"Oh, wow, he really likes you," said Kevin. "Otherwise he'd have said to just go without him. Oh, wow, nice."
She blushed and smiled then realized she hadn't said anything.
"You there?" asked Kevin.
"Sorry, Kevin," she said. "I was busy blushing."
"Ha, hmm, oh, please," said Kevin. "You know he likes you."
She blushed some more.
"Are you blushing again?" asked Kevin.
"Yes," she said sheepishly.
"I have to tell my wife. She will tell me she knew it, she KNEW it," said Kevin. "For someone he never met, he always managed to mention the lady from the train."
Just then, the supervisor who worked under her arrived at her door looking concerned. She beckoned her to sit.
"Kevin, I have to get back to work. I'm sure Connie will call you when he's back in town," she said.
"Yeah, okay, right. It was good to talk to you," said Kevin.
"My best to your wife, though we've never met," she said.
"She will love that," said Kevin. "That is gonna make her day. Bye."
The rest of the afternoon was devoted to her supervisor and some problems that had come up, mostly involving people who'd made mistakes and didn't want to admit them. When they finally did, they were going to be expensive to fix but with a few calls here and there, the amount was reduced to almost nothing but those involved had to be addressed which took a lot of time and gave them all headaches.
"I'd suggest we go and get some adult beverages," said the supervisor, "but I have a child and I want to hug him close."
"I'll finish up here and go. I want to go see my aunt. She's gone around the bend and I want to see her while she might still know me," she replied.
"Sorry," said the supervisor.
"Nice of you to say," she said.
"Hey, what's up with that handsome man everyone says is your boyfriend?" asked the supervisor.
"He had to go out of town," she said. "He'll be back in couple of weeks."
"I am sorry I missed that whole thing with Kim," the supervisor said. "Rumor has it she was really cold."
"Cold doesn't begin to cover it. Did she and her fiancee break up?" she asked.
"The word is no, they are still together. He must have issues that include cold women," said the supervisor.
"And we never ever psychoanalyze the motives of others," she said.
"Not us," said the supervisor.
They said good night and she finished up the problems, shaking her head repeatedly while she documented the details. They knew they should always say right away if something was wrong but they decided it would be a terrible situation if they admitted it whereas there was only a problem when they tried to cover it up. Humans make mistakes, she'd told them, but the same people always forgot she'd said it. It was a mess but now it was over.
She shut off the light in her office and walked to the elevator. She thought about Handsome and smiled. She wondered when he'd be back in town. She wondered how long her aunt would know her and her own daughter. She wondered if the work mess was worth it. She sighed loudly as the elevator door opened.