"Robert is despicable. A narcissistic pig. But, I think you already know that, don't you?" Samuel said to me, his words crisp and matter of fact.

I took a sip of my coffee before sliding my sunglasses down the bridge of my nose, revealing the blackened eyes that the concealer failed to cover.

"Yes, Samuel. I do."

"He is about to cost us this business. Something needs to be done," he stated, lacing his fingers together in contemplation.

I had met Robert a year prior. He was painfully handsome and possessed a charm I had never experienced with men my age. Robert was twenty years my senior and I was smitten with this salt and pepper man.

Workplace relationships were looked down upon, so when we decided to engage, we kept our relations private. What started as a few coffee dates turned into a tumultuous affair. He fulfilled the validation I so desperately sought. I was meek while he was boisterous, laying on the flattery so thick that it took my breath away. Looking back, it was suffocating. But I took the delicious bait like a helpless fish drawn from the water. And, my fate was to be determined by the one admiring me, hanging by shiny thread.

This asphyxiation didn't deter me, however. It made me euphoric. I chased that intoxicating high for six months, a hopeless fool for his affection.

It started as a cold stare when I was talking to Samuel about an upcoming deadline. He claimed we stood too close, I flitted my eyes, and Samuel smiled at me in a different way. Then, he claimed I was secretive with my phone. I'd always hand it over because I had nothing to hide. The charm always returned though, and he would shower me with gifts, assuring me that he just didn't want to lose me.

Robert started rising to the top at work, landing business deals left and right. It was like he was on a manic frenzy, an unstoppable force. Ample praise poured in from our superiors, their pockets filling like a street peddler’s hat. His ego swelled and he was back to the Robert I knew and adored. Our secret relationship was at an ultimate high. The jealous disputes were there, but less bothersome.

Whispers started around the office a few months later of some curious transactions. There were talks of someone skimming the business deals. All arrows pointed to the top seller and Robert found himself being pulled into the office to be questioned. He never talked to me about it, as we never really talked about personal things with one another. But, it was not a secret. I started to shy away from him, slow to answer texts, busying myself on our typical date nights and forgoing the sleep-overs. Robert didn't care for that, and made it apparent. He thought I was seeing someone else.

Robert slowly morphed into a malicious predator, stalking my every move. I could feel him peering through office windows when I was consulting clients. He made his presence known across the street from my apartment, where he posted late into the night. Then, one night he entered and gripped my throat, slamming me up against the wall. His eyes were lifeless, dark and glazed like a cobra. Saliva spewed from his lips as he hissed accusations of my unfaithfulness- a filthy whore. Like a field mouse, I cowered, wishing to be blind so I could unsee the demon. His grip bound tighter, and I felt the euphoria once more, as I surrendered to my certain death.

Early the next morning, I woke up disoriented on my kitchen floor. There was a stiffness on my face, like a dried charcoal mask. I rose slowly and shuffled to the bathroom, trying to recall what happened and wondering why I ached so terribly.

I gasped when I saw myself. Tears welled in my edematous eyes as I heaved a helpless breath. I felt around my jean pockets and to my surprise my phone was still there. It was six thirty and I was due at work in an hour. I ran to the front door and found that it was locked. He must've thought I was dead.

I dialed Samuel. I spared the details but told him I needed him to pick me up. We drove to the neighboring town and slid into a booth at a hole in the wall coffee shop.

"Are you going to fire him?" I asked.

"Something like that. We discovered he has been cheating the company for years. I thought you might like to help, given your situation," he replied, staring at me in a way I didn't comprehend.

"I don't understand what you're suggesting," I stated, narrowing my eyes behind my sunglasses.

"I thought maybe you would want to help us fire Robert permanently. To make sure he never touches another woman, or robs another company blind ever again. He's been through every woman in the office. You just stuck around the longest," he said carefully, pressing his hands together.

I sat silently for a moment, contemplating and taken aback. A year prior I was a meek, insecure intern being swooned by the epitome of evil. I thought carefully, embarrassed that I had been so ignorant. I was just another notch in his headboard. I felt disgusted.

"Does anyone know about Robert and I?" I asked, swelling with rage.

"Our superiors know everything. However, I assure you nothing would ever come back on you. They run a flawless business. He will be eliminated either way. I just thought perhaps you would like to be a part of it, to watch him suffer. Not to mention, there have been talks of your performance in our meetings. They are looking to make room for you," he informed me.

I didn't speak, my mind lost in a sea of fury, rocking, and out of control.

"Would you like to accept the offer?" Samuel pressed, his words smooth and business-like.

I drew in a malicious breath. "I accept."

December 14, 2020 18:11

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Alex Allison
00:49 Dec 15, 2020

Such an interesting take on the prompt! The ending pulled it all together nicely and I'm so glad Robert gets caught for his crimes 🙌🏻 Great work, can't wait to read more 😊


Lucy Newman
15:28 Dec 15, 2020

Thank you so much Alex!!


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