Bryan hated the look in her eyes when she realized who he was. Terror and sorrow and a little bit of anger thrown in for good measure. He’d wanted to do something nice for her, but now all she saw was a vindictive man who used her for his own personal gain.
The worst part was, Bryan wondered if she was right.
He shook the thought away and pushed through the doors to his office. He was in early again, hoping to beat her in. He knew Holly was going to try to go back to her old schedule, her old ways, but he wasn’t willing to let it happen, no matter what it took to convince her. Bryan was telling her the truth about wanting her to get back to the tasks he’d hired her to do, not baby-sit him.
Bryan also wanted her to have more time with Bobby. He was a good kid who deserved having his mother around more. Just like she deserved time with him.
Bryan busied himself with making coffee and sorting through email, waiting for Holly to arrive. It was four days before Christmas and Bryan was going to make sure Holly knew, before she left for the holiday, that she wasn’t going to lose her job, she didn’t have to work like crazy, and he never lied to her.
He’d barely slept all weekend, thinking about how hurt she’d been when she found out who he was. His eyes were having trouble focusing on the words in front of him, so he stumbled across the room for some coffee than sat down and tried again.
No matter how many times he read it though, the words said the same thing.
Holly was resigning.
Bryan swore out loud and threw the wooden pencil cup from his desk across the room. It shattered on the opposite wall and made him feel only slightly better. She was still leaving.
He knew she didn’t have another job. If she did he was confident she would have told ‘Santa’ on Friday. Nope, she was just leaving. Giving her two weeks notice.
Bryan glanced up at the clock. She would be there soon, and damn if he was going to roll over and accept her walking away from him.
When Holly finally arrived, Bryan had cleaned up the splinters of wood and the pens and pencils. He’d printed out her email and had a copy of it on his desk. He knew she wasn’t going to voluntarily go see him so he waited a few minutes until she was settled at her desk then walked out.
Bryan stood beside her silently for a moment, knowing she knew he was there. She didn’t look up at him, just stared at her computer screen. When he cleared his throat she took her time peeling her eyes away from the screen before meeting his. The red around her eyes and the blotchiness in her cheeks told him she’d been crying, probably as recently as on her drive into work.
His heart sunk and he knew, he just knew, he had to make things right between them.
“Could I see you in my office, please?”
She nodded and followed him wordlessly, but she did follow him.