“That settles it, then.  I’ll come by on Monday morning and fill out the transfer request.”

Gus leans in close.  “Sam…are you sure about this?  Transfering departments for a girl you haven’t even gone out with once—that’s the talk of a crazy man.”

“What’s going out have to do with it?”  I scowl at him.  “I’ve been with her eight hours a day—some days longer—five days a week for the last three years.  Plus we’ve played on the company softball team together the last two seasons—”

“Yes, I know.”

I catch his eye and we both snicker a little and look away.  Yeah, another damn oinker moment as we both recall one memorable game where Frannie hit a line drive that bounced off the collarbone of the first baseman and hit her in the eye as she ran to base.  She sported a black eye for a week.  I swear karma craps on her all the time, but she seems to take it in stride.

“My point, Gus, is that dating is all about posturing and lying.  You present a façade, shovel bullshit, and pimp yourself to a potential mate—or a potential bedmate, if you’re not of a serious mind.  Why the hell do I need to do that with Frannie when I already like what I see?”

“Black eyes, coffee spills, and all,” he remarks.

“Precisely.”  I don’t know what he’s seeing in his mind’s eye—probably the mess in the coffee room yesterday—but I’m seeing my last glimpse of her in my rearview mirror as I’m driving out of the Harper & Lyttle parking lot.  She helped me carry my things to my car and made sure I had all the right flight information.  I flatter myself in my belief that she simply wanted to spend those last few minutes with me, but I’m pretty sure I’m right.

“Maybe you should date her first—seriously date her­­—before you rush her off to the altar.”

“I’ll consider that option.”

“No more martinis if you’re wanting a transfer.  It has to be approved all the way up to the CEO, and in case you hadn’t noticed, Harper is here.  If you’re drunk and whooping it up, he’s gonna remember it.”

“When was the last time you saw me drunk, Gus?”  I signal to a passing server, and obediently order a club soda.  Gus grins and slaps me on the back, getting to his feet.

“I have networking to do, even if you don’t.  Try to stay out of trouble.”

“I can’t promise that.”  But I plan to stay right here until he’s done, and then maybe we can play some Blackjack or poker before we turn in for the night.  I’d leave right now and head back home to L.A.—and Frannie—if I wasn’t afraid Harper might notice.  Damn office politics…I hate that kind of crap, but since I’m a couple rungs up on the coporate ladder, I have no choice but to play them sometimes to get what I want.

My club soda comes, bringing with it—like some strange, exotic garnish—Malia Moreno.  She sits in the chair Gus just vacated, sucking down the last of what looks like Sprite.  She’s holding a slice of lime in her hand.

“Hey, Sam.”

“What’s up, Malia?”

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