When the door slid open, a wave of uneasiness hit him from a skinny man with a pinched face. Glancing at the other four passengers, he saw a senior partner from the law firm he worked at as an accountant, the partner he believed was stealing from the firm. Her he definitely wanted to avoid. Slipping in with the others, he moved to the other side, brushed shoulders with the skinny, anxious man. A little of the man’s uneasiness dissipated. Did I do that? He pulled away, pressed himself into the corner.
Two weeks earlier, the founder of the law firm had sent him to a forensic accountant, a person called Brindle, to investigate the possibility that some was stealing from the firm. As they worked together, Brindle informed him that he, Giovanni, was a Gifted empath, someone who could sense others’ emotions, with the added Gift that he could sooth away worry. As infatuated as he was with Brindle, Giovanni could not believe that such a Gift existed. Anyone can read emotions from body language, he had told himself.
A couple people got out of the elevator on the twentieth floor. Glancing over at the law firm partner, he thought she looked calm as she leaned on the elevator wall. Despite that appearance, Giovanni sensed turmoil boiling in her. A scent like burnt toast seemed to fill his nose.
Will she recognize me? He looked away and stared at the elevator door. He rubbed his temples to ease the pounding in his head. Brindle’s report had been in the hands of the founder for a week. Nothing had happened yet, but Giovanni expected charges would be laid before long.
At the thirty-fifth floor, he let the partner exit ahead of him. As she headed away toward her office, he relaxed. His head cleared. Slowly, he walked to his desk. He had always hated elevators, thought it was claustrophobia. But could Brindle be right that it was the proximity to the anxiety of others that overwhelmed him. What am I supposed to do, walk up all those stairs?
As he instructed his computer to open to his work page, he remembered Brindle’s argument that he leave this firm before charges were laid against the partner that was stealing. “Come work with me,” Brindle had suggested.
Giovanni had been so tempted. Brindle was gorgeous and enticing. But this job was secure and working with someone you were falling in love with did not seem sensible.
Anxiety once more filled Giovanni’s body. Looking up he saw Mary, the head accountant returning to her desk. Her face was hard, her body tense.
Mary looked at him and shook her head. “Things are about to get messy,” she said. “As clear as the accountant’s report was, the partner involved is going to fight this. It’s going to be a very public battle. I’m not sure the firm is going to survive.”
“Computer, shut down.” Giovanni laid his palms on the desk, pictured never having to ride up that elevator again. “Sorry to leave you to handle this Mary, but I’m resigning. I’m going to HR right now.”
“You did the job you were asked to do.” She held out her hand to him.
“Sorry to leave you in the middle of this.” As he her hand, he saw the lines on her face relax, watched her shoulders pull away from her ears. Am I helping her relax?
“I will miss having you around, Giovanni. You have a way of making problems seem manageable. But I totally understand not wanting to hang around as things explode here. What will you do?”
“I’ve had an offer that I have been debating about.”
“I hope it works out for you.”
As Giovanni walked away from his desk, he felt lighter. A smile came to his lips. He’d call Brindle when he left the building, suggest lunch. If the offer to work together still stood, he’d give it a try. And maybe a work life partnership wouldn’t be such a bad thing.