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’Bette,’ I introduced myself with a smile, shaking his hand. ’Nice to meet you. Tina told me your girlfriend is pregnant. How is she?’
His face lit up, an incandescent glow that could rival the brightest stars. ’Last week, she brought our beautiful daughter into the world.’ His voice practically sang with elation, a happiness that could have been mine. ’They’re both doing so well.’
’Congratulations,’ I offered genuinely.
’Thank you, I’m on my way to work, and I already can’t wait to get home to them.’ His blue eyes said dreamingly.
’I can imagine how you must feel.’ I said my sunglasses hiding the deep truth behind my words. With a brief exchange of pleasantries, I began to walk away, a small pause causing me to reconsider. ’Tom, you’re one lucky guy,’ I called back to him. ’Can I give you one piece of advice? Go home. Savor the moments with them. Work can wait.’
As I finally walked into the exposition space, Erik was admiring Monet’s Nympheas. ’Bette, how lovely of you to join us today.’ He shot me a smile that said; I do mind you’re late, but during my latest management course I’ve been taught that flexible work hours are a thing of the present.
’Ah Erik, just the man I was looking for.’ My smile replied with; I need something from you. ’Can we have a word?’
With an air of pride, he trailed next to me through the exhibit, exchanging pleasantries with visitors along the way. ’How is your aunt doing?’ He asked.
’Today was a relatively good morning.’ I replied, and he held the door to the office area as we proceeded.
’That’s nice for you, those moments matter.’
A flicker of intuition pricked at my thoughts – he was too nice. In fact, he hadn’t had such a good morning since he had walked into the museum for the first time, the day he had replaced his predecessor. He closed the door of his office behind us.
’What I wanted to ask you,’ I said barely able to contain my excitement. ’I would like to take a few weeks off.’ A radiant smile illuminated my face, a copy of the spring sun flooding his office. The thought of spending quality time with Tina and Renee excited me.