Life here has been nice and simple since she and Beau took the figurative seam-ripper and separated their couples jackets. There have been no emotional upheavals to speak of. Oh sure, Blondi gets lonesome sometimes, but it’s not often; usually she has seen enough of people during the day, so that it’s a huge relief to lock the doors and mount the stairs to her peaceful sanctuary. Her hours of solitude are not only relished and protected, but appreciated and necessary.
If she wants drama, she has only to listen to her customers talk among themselves. Sometimes they tell her what’s happening with them. It’s more than enough. She can care about them, but not lose sleep over their troubles. She’s been asked out, too, by several men, and it’s been easier to say no than yes. She hasn’t forgotten the bullshit that came with romantic involvement, either casual or with commitment, and she is finished with that. She doesn’t want it. Not even if it comes with rewards. So she has not sought after a situation where there could be longing, frustration or, on the flip side, passion and satisfaction from being with another person. She has avoided it. It seems the prudent and practical thing to do.
She has maintained her friendships and family relations instead; they are what counts in the long run, anyway.
And that is why this attraction to her employee comes out of the blue and feels a bit like a slap on the head: uninvited, unwelcome but, goddamn it, shaking her up. She can’t fire him; she doesn’t want to leave her business; she has to figure out how to live with feelings that cannot be acted upon. What if time doesn’t take care of them, make them go away? What if making up her mind to pretend this situation doesn’t exist only creates other problems? She worries about that: about not being real, about play-acting, about repressing things. That can’t be healthy either, and yet it’s essential here. The alternative would be a disaster; it would be messy, and the fallout itself would ruin all that is solid and lovely in her life (and surely his, what little she knows of it) right now.
Mostly what she wants is to keep a good working relationship gold instead of tarnishing it with unreliable emotions and irrational desires that do not serve her or anyone else. She knows she will not act on her unwanted feelings; she will not allow them to be obvious, she hopes; she will enjoy Rueben’s perfect princeliness during the day, and think of him as a co-worker and friend, and put him out of her mind at night. That may be the hardest part, but it’s the only road open that she can see.