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They had never touched, but they were lovers. They knew what the other felt or thought; finished each others’ sentences, and stood blank in the face of blame. He was her boss and she was his protégé. Together they made millions for someone else. They were the perfect one-two punch—the perfect pair.
She’d missed the flight to New York City to meet with a VP of Purchasing who refused to do business with a woman, even over the phone, even on paper. Still, Joe had chosen Marie because she was the best. She missed the flight but caught the next out of O’Hare in time for the meeting. Through the office they made arrangements to meet at Grand Central for a quick lunch before the showdown.
She was adjusting the mid-thigh skirt to the new Liz Claiborne suit purchased in Orlando specifically for this trip. Legs never offended a man. Brains and ability on the other hand… This was her plan and when he saw her across the lobby, his eyes sparkled with understanding. He’d brought the VP with and his eyes sparkled as well. They closed the $2.3 million dollar, global copier deal without issue, and enjoyed the VP’s fat Cuban cigars and cognac in front of a mahogany fireplace at Merchants Cigar Bar sunk low in thick red leather chairs afterward. Marie puffed, drank and told off-color jokes, laughing heartly with the best of them. At some point the VP may have thought he’d been played, but Marie would jiggle her long nylon-sheathed legs and he’d forget quickly. He agreed to everything in the contract as long as only Marie handled the account, and that was just fine with everyone.
They held hands and skipped like kids down 5th Ave. when they turned the corner into Little Italy, she was overwhelmed with the odors and sounds, and she bounced excitedly when he took her to Angelo’s on Mulberry Street. They ordered linguine pescatore in panchetta marinara sauce with calamari and shrimp appetizers washed down with two full bottles of Bordeaux. She was drunk, dizzy, and silly.
She leaned into his strong arms as they staggered back to the hotel. In the elevator, he said the suit should be written off as business equipment and she fell against him giggling when it jolted upward. He walked her to her room next door to his, and then answered the ringing phone. He laughed at her fiancé and said, “It’s Joe, who else? Yeah, this is Marie’s room, wanna talk to her?” He fell on the bed laughing hysterically as he handed her the phone. She held the receiver away from her ear shushing him until he tipped an invisible hat and shut the door behind him.
The return flight to Chicago was early and quiet. Both were green and held tightly to the seat arms hoping the grip would settle their stomachs and head. When they landed, he went to the garage and she stared out the window as her fiancé drove. For his 25th anniversary at work, she threw him a surprise party at Moretti’s and his wife came uninvited. A year later the company lost their perfect one-two punch. He plays golf and she writes.