“So, groceries have been ordered and should be here before four. You’ll be able to reach me by phone, text, the normal. Let me think, is there anything else?” Meyer asked as she recounted her mental checklist. She stopped speaking at the sound of Nathan’s phone ringing.
Meyer had taken the job as Nathan’s assistant because she believed in the work he did. To say that she was overqualified for the job was an understatement, but working for the Women’s Colab Company had been her goal since she had first read about Nathan and the company in college. She took the job hoping to move into a more senior position in time. She had been Nathan’s personal assistant for over a year and had excelled at it. They both knew her time as his assistant was coming to an end, as Belva their human resources director was getting ready to move across the country. Meyer had gone to school for human resources and a solid background in the field. She fidgeted with the tag on her purse as she heard Nathan in his office. The conversation sounded tense. Normally as his PA, she’d ask what was going on, and solve whatever issue had arisen on the call, or give him the pieces to do so. She felt awkward walking into his home office. She had met him at his house to go over any last details before the city shut down for quarantine. The entire company had gone to a virtual set up, and Meyer had been helpful in getting Nathan all set up. As brilliant as he was, technology was not in his wheelhouse.
She glanced down at her phone, she needed to get moving to get on the subway before it stopped. It would be running until four and then shut down for how long, no one knew. She could take a cab, but the fair would be outrageous. She stood in Nathan’s living room, looking out over the city. His view took in the entire skyline as the city sprawled out in the view. Her phone said, 3:15. Time was ticking, and she still had to pick up a few things before she was locked in her own apartment. No one knew what laid ahead for quarantine, but the thought of being locked in her tiny apartment for weeks did not thrill Meyer. With rent in the city so outrageous, she rented the largest apartment she could, as close to the city center as possible. Her studio apartment left just enough room between the end of the double bed and the fridge that she could just stand to take two steps into the minuscule bathroom. She thought that she’d only ever had to sleep there, so the small space didn’t matter too much.
Nathan walked out of his office, and before he said anything Meyer read his face, he was upset.
“Anabel isn’t coming. She’s staying in France.”
Meyer couldn’t say that she was exactly surprised. Anabel, Nathan’s soon to be ex-wife had been trying to patch things up for most of the time she had worked for Nathan. He loved her but Anabel had not been so committed to the relationship. She was not discrete about her extramarital affairs and Meyer hated to see Nathan treated so poorly.
“Traveling can be rough right now. Maybe it’s for the best.”
“No, she’s not coming home ever.”
Meyer’s stomach sank, she had been waiting for the bottom to fall out for Nathan, but she didn’t think Anabel would be cruel enough to do it as a pandemic swept across the globe.
“Nathan I’m,” she paused as her phone buzzed in her hand and she looked down at it briefly. The subway had closed early. “I’m so sorry Nathan, that’s awful.”
Guilt ate away at her, as she looked at him as he stood behind the kitchen island. He wore his button-down shirt, with rolled cuffs, and she looked at his strong forearms. She had always been attracted to Nathan but never let herself even entertain the idea; it would jeopardize all that she had been working towards. He was about ten years older than she was and had started to grey at the temples, which only made him more attractive she thought. He had deep blue eyes and a kind face, that was weathered in a manly way. Everything about him screamed compassion, kind, loving man. Women regularly threw themselves at Nathan, but he had been committed to making things work with Anabel.
“Thank you. Is everything okay,” he asked gesturing to her phone?
The fact that he was more concerned about her, than Anabel and his own situation only reinforced what a decent human being he was.
“It’s nothing. Do you want me to stay for a bit longer?”
“No, I’ll be okay. Will you be okay? You’re in Taylor Heights, right?”
“You’re all set up with a work computer and all?”
“I am. Do you need me to go over your office set up one more time?”
“No, I think I’ve got it. Thank you, Meyer, for coming over and setting all of this up, I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“You’re welcome. I should get going,” she said as she walked towards the door. She felt awful leaving him after such a heartbreaking phone call.
“Wait, Meyer, I hope this isn’t too forward but, are you going to be okay? I know you live alone and the apartments in Taylor Heights are famous for being small. Do you have everything you need for the quarantine? You’re good on food? Toilet Paper? Medicine?”
She turned around, standing in front of the door.
“I think so, thanks for asking. My place is tiny. I didn’t think I’d actually be quarantining in it, but I’ve stocked up and I’ll be okay.”
“How much can you stock up in such a small place? My friend Jason says he thinks we’ll be stuck until the end of May. Will you be okay until then?”
Meyer tried not to show the alarm at that thought on her face, but Nathan had learned her face well, and the ability to read it. Her soft brown eyes were like a window into her soul, kind and loving. He had found her attractive in her interview but didn’t let himself be swayed by her looks when he hired her. Her sheer determination to take a job that she was over-qualified for just to work for the company had won him over. Her chestnut color hair had laid softly over her shoulders, the day he had interviewed her but that was not what he had remembered most. Her lips, with their slight upturn and natural pinkness, he had found them irresistible. He thought about what it would be like to kiss her lips so many times, yet he never made a move. Although the spark had extinguished for Anabel, he would always care for her and that being said, it had been one of the reasons he had never made a move for Meyer.
“May? Are you sure?”
“Well no one is sure but, Jason works with the WHO and said all of New York is looking at a full shutdown until then. Will you be okay until May?”
“I didn’t think it would be so long. I guess I could always rent a car and drive home, to my brother’s house.”
“The brother in Michigan? Meyer that’s a terrible idea. Who knows what the roads are going to be like? Look I have a crazy idea, and you are under no obligation to take me up on it, but you are welcome to stay here if you’d like. I have more than enough room. You can pick from one of the three guest rooms. Hell, pick two,” he chuckled.
Meyer bit her bottom lip, a sign that she was thinking. Nathan loved that she did that, and found it adorable.
“Please, you’d be doing me a favor. Plus, it will save you having to explain how to log into the remote poral over facetime,” he laughed.
Nathan prayed she would agree, he was legitimately worried about her all alone in her tiny apartment.
“I don’t have any of my stuff here.”
“I could drive you over and help you pack up if you wanted?”
There was an awkward pause as both weighed their options, hoping to make the correct choice.
“Are you sure that it would not be an imposition?”
“Absolutely not. I would be so grateful for the company. May is still two months away and who knows what the future holds. I’d be worried sick at the thought of you alone in your apartment.”
“You’d worry about me?” Meyer asked, tying not to show her excitement that he genuinely seemed to care about her wellbeing.
“Yes. I know you don’t have any family here, they’re all back in the Midwest. What if you got sick or ran out of food, or there’s civil unrest?” Sensing he had overplayed his hand he rubbed the back of his neck nervously.
Meyer recognized the sign of nervousness; he always did that before he gave a speech. She wondered if the chemistry she’d felt between them more recently was actually something more. The optics wouldn’t be good office wise. She didn’t want people to get the wrong idea but what Nathan said made sense. No one knew what was ahead.
“All right, I’ll stay under one condition.”
“You have to let me rent the room from you. The optics of this won’t look good, but if I say I rented the room from you it would look better.”
“Always the HR manager,” he laughed, “if it makes you more comfortable, then it’s a deal, but please know I would never ask that of you. You are able to stay free of charge.”
“Thank you, I know. We should get a move on if we are going to make it back to my place and back here before curfew.”
An hour and a half later, Meyer and Nathan had loaded up his Tesla with everything she’d thought she’d need. He had been surprised at the size of her place and had made a joke about needing to pay her more. She laughed, but the truth was she was already paid very well. The city was just incredibly expensive. Together they hauled everything into the guest she had chosen at Nathan’s. One wall of the large bedroom was all windows looking out over the park. It had its own on-suite bathroom and was practically larger than her entire apartment. The room had been decorated tastefully, in hues of tan, and white. The wooden furnishings in the room had been collected from Nathan and Anabel’s travels around the world. Nathan had left Meyer to settle in as he lied about some work emails he needed to catch up. Meyer knew it was a fib as she knew is inbox better than he did. None the less, she took the time to settle into the room. She felt relieved to share the quarantine with someone. In the back of her mind, she cautioned herself not to blur the lines of professionalism, no matter how attractive she found Nathan.
She emerged from her bedroom and instantly smelled something burning. Walking into the kitchen she spotted Nathan at the stove, attempting to cook dinner. He had not noticed her presence as he pulled the frying pan off of the burner and put it into the sink.
“Was that dinner?”
Nathan turned around at her voice, and his embraced smile set butterflies buzzing around her stomach. His nervous smile was his most handsome smile she thought to herself.
“I was. Normally I am better at this, I don’t know how I burnt that so terribly.”
“What was it? I mean before it burst into flames,” she laughed.
Nathan laughed too.
“Chicken, I think.”
“You think? When was the last time you cooked for yourself?”
“I won’t lie, it’s been awhile.”
“Ah the plot thickens, you needed someone to come stay to make sure you don’t starve to death after the all of the microwavable food runs out.”
They both laughed.
“No, I used to be decent at this. I’m just out of practice I guess.”
“I’ll tell you what, how about you let me cook tonight as my way of saying thank you for letting me rent the room? How does that sound?”
“Okay but I at least get to help. There’s two more chicken breasts that I had not incinerated yet, in the fridge.”
“Alright, chicken breasts, and what did you want to go with it?”
“Um, I’m not sure,” he paused, “yet.”
“Do you have any pasta?”
“Fresh or dried?”
“You have fresh pasta in the fridge? I didn’t order it?”
“No,” he said as he laughed.
“Okay dried then. How does chicken carbonara sound with mushrooms and broccolini?”
“That sounds incredible. I had the feeling you might be into cooking when I spotted your kitchen set up at your place. It was kind of intimidating.”
“I love to cook. Can you chop mushrooms,” she said as she set the container of fresh mushrooms in front of him.
“Yes boss,” he joked. “Would you like some wine?”
“Sure, that would go nicely with this.”
Nathan grabbed a bottle of wine from the bar in the livingroom and set a bottle of red and a bottle of white on the kitchen island.
“Ladies choice,” he said as he stood behind the two bottles.
Meyer turned and looked, “I think red. I know it’s chicken but I’m not a big fan of white, if that’s okay?”
“The Pino Noir it is then.”
She watched as he took the bottle of white and put it back into the wine fridge. He grabbed two glasses and came back into the kitchen. She continued cooking as he opened the bottle and pour them each a glass, and then brought hers over to her, setting it on the counter next to her. She turned around as she took a sip. The wine was delicious. She felt a wave of heat, not sure if it was from the wine, standing in front of the stove or being alone with Nathan cooking dinner for them. It was in that moment she knew she was in way over her head. She smiled as watched him meticulously cut the mushrooms, trying so hard to do it perfectly.
That night they ate dinner together in Nathan’s beautiful apartment and both felt the chemistry between them more strongly than they ever had before. After dinner, they played a game of chess, where Meyer beat him and finished the evening watching the news. Both were incredibly distressed at the information, as a nation, the pandemic had arrived and was taking its toll. Later that night Meyer laid in the big bed, looking out over the beauty of the skyline. This view sure beat the view of the white wall in her apartment. She wondered if Nathan was thinking about her like she was thinking about him, or if he was still thinking about Anabel. That night she fell asleep with two king-sized pillows tucked up behind her, not to feel so alone in the giant bed.
Over the next few weeks, the quarantine dragged on. Work continued, but there was less and less to do as the whole world seemed to be grinding to a halt due to the pandemic. Meyer’s family was glad that she had chosen to stay with Nathan. Meanwhile, she kept waiting for Nathan to bring up Anabel, but he didn’t, nor did she see anything in his inbox from Anabel, or a divorce attorney. She wanted closure for Nathan, and partially for her own reasons. Keeping things strictly professional was becoming more difficult. Nathan was wonderful, and if she’d let herself admit it, she’d fallen for him completely. Yet, she did her best not to let her true feelings show, as Nathan did the same.
As the weather warmed, and the first sunny days of June came along, the quarantine was officially lifted. On her last night there, Nathan cooked them dinner. She had been giving him lessons all through quarantine and he had been an excellent student. Meyer had enjoyed teaching him so much and would miss the nightly lessons when she returned home. Dinner that night was awkward, and Meyer couldn’t tell if it was her own perception or there was truly something “off.” Either way, she felt a pit in the bottom of her stomach all night. She didn’t want to leave, the time with Nathan had been incredibly special.
After dinner she scrapped the plates and began to wash up, she had volunteered. Nathan walked in and set the water glasses on the counter next to the sink, and she couldn’t help but notice that he looked sad. He lingered next to her and she glanced up at him, there eyes meeting. Neither of them said anything, both having so much to say to each other, but both too unsure to act. Nathan walked back out of the kitchen and Meyer began to load the dishwasher. The gnawing feeling that had been present all night, couldn’t be ignored any longer. She dried her hands and took a confident step towards the living room where Nathan was sitting with a book. She took a deep breath, knowing that she was taking a gamble on everything, and started walking. She walked into the living room and Nathan stood up. It struck her as an odd gesture, but she didn’t focus on it.
“Nathan, I am officially tendering my resignation effective immediately.”
He stood looking at her confused.
She walked up to him, “So I can do this.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and brought her lips to his. The feeling of his lips caressing hers sent an electric charge through both of them, and he pulled her in close as he kissed her back.
“You don’t have to..” he said in between kisses.
“Yes.. I… do..” she replied as she reached for his belt.
An hour later, Nathan and Meyer laid in a sea of discarded clothes on the living room floor, both in awe of the best sex of their lives. Meyer curled up next to Nathan, and rested her head on his shoulder, as she played with the curly hair on his chest.
“I only have two regrets,” he spoke up.
At the word regret, Meyer’s heart sank.
“The first is that I am going to have to find another assistant, and no one will do as good of a job as you do.”
“And the second?”
“That we waited until the last night to do this. What a waste of a quarantine,” he joked.
She let out a soft laugh.
“Can I make a confession,” he asked as he laced his fingers in between hers across his chest. “It has been so difficult not to tell you that I have feelings for you. I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable while you’ve been here.”
“Really? Well if it’s confession time, I have to confess that I’ve felt this way for a while.”
“Ugh, we wasted so much time,” he said playfully. “Don’t go home tomorrow, stay with me.”
Meyer propped up so she could his face, “What?”
“Move in with me. We’ve already been living together for the past three months. Move in, for real.”
“What about work?”
“Well, technically you don’t work for me anymore unless you want to. I had a wild idea a few weeks ago that I wanted to float by you. What if instead of taking Melva’s position, if you come back to work as our second in command. No one knows this business better, is more committed, and would do a better job. What do you think of the idea?”
“Are you serious?”
“I am. I know I just threw a lot at you, and one offer is not contingent upon the other.”
Meyer, leapt on top of Nathan, and the air expelled from his body in a playful laugh.
“I take that as a yes, then?”
She nodded and leant down and kissed him as he wrapped his arms back around her on the living room floor.