Tracy is a complicated and sometimes difficult woman, and Brendan loves her anyway. But your lover’s foibles are one thing to tolerate when they’re just your ‘lover’. Contemplating forever is an entirely different story. What happens when there are things about your love that you still want to change? And what happens when you have to face the fact that if change is what you need from them, that might happen . . . ‘Maybe Never’.
This is the story of Brendan and Tracy getting to that crossroads . . .
From ‘Maybe Never’:
When she walked into his office, Brendan’s eyes lit up. She was one of only a handful of people he’d given instructions to his assistant to allow back even without announcement. He was sitting behind his enormous desk. It was made of reclaimed wood from an old barn in the Pennsylvania countryside Brendan had told her with pride the first time she’d visited him there. He liked things like that—things with a history, things that were once something else and had been remade. Behind the desk were CD jackets that had been mounted in black lacquered frames, lined up in perfect symmetry; and just beneath them and behind his executive chair, a credenza piled high with files.
Apart from the desk—which contrasted with the modernity of all the other pieces in the room—everything looked crisp and brand new. On the desk itself were more files, paper strewn about and a large Apple computer which Tracy happened to know Brendan scarcely ever used. His work seemed to be conducted by iPad and iPhone these days, which made it harder to get and keep his attention when he was supposed to be just kicking back at home.
But now, surprised by her popping up unexpectedly, he came from behind his desk and pulled her into a hug, kissing her when she raised her chin and got on her toes.
“What’re you doing, slumming down here?” he asked, resuming his seat.
Instead of taking one of the plush chairs opposite him, Tracy went around and pushed his chair back, arranging herself on his lap. Brendan wrapped his arms about her waist and pressed a kiss into the side of her neck.
“Now if you get fresh with me, I’m going to have to call security,” he warned as he kissed her. “Because I have lots of work to do today.”
“Mr. Cole, you asked me to remind you about lunch. It’s almost one-thirty.”
Brendan’s AA’s name was Brett and she was probably about twenty-six. She had a short trendy bob and wore dark synthetic fabrics that looked like they would combust if she went near a flame. When Tracy had once remarked on it to Brendan he’d laughed and told her Brett was a vegan and didn’t believe in wearing any byproducts of living things, not even cotton, which Tracy thought was ridiculous. The toxic fumes from the factories that made Brett’s synthetic clothing probably did exponentially more to harm the environment each year than anything carnivores and people who wore leather and cotton could do in a lifetime.
But the real reason Brett got on Tracy’s nerves was that whenever she was near or had to speak to Brendan, she got this fawning look in her eyes; it was obvious she had a monster-crush on her boss.
“Would you like me to order you that Philly cheesesteak you like from next door?”
Brendan had begun to answer but Tracy spoke over him. “No, Brett. Mr. Cole won’t be having a Philly cheesesteak today. If you could just bring me the menu, I’ll find something and let you know.”
Brett paused, looking uncertain, waiting for Brendan’s confirmation. Tracy looked at her evenly and for a moment it was like a Mexican stand-off. Finally, Brendan leaned to the side, looking around Tracy, still on his lap, so Brett could see him.
“You heard the Boss-Lady. No cheesesteak today. We’ll see what else they have if you bring us the menu. Thanks, Brett.”
“Who names their girl-child Brett anyway?” Tracy muttered when she exited the office.
Brendan laughed. “Stop hating on my staff. You don’t like anyone who works for me, do you?”
“Or with you either. They all seem to be eager twenty-something year old women.”
“That’s the music business, sweetheart.”
“Why couldn’t you just be a plumber instead?” Tracy joked, turning around and fidgeting with the button at his collar.
“Here’s the menu, Ms. Emerson.” Brett had returned. Tracy reached a hand behind her without bothering to look at the young woman as she took it. When she was gone, Tracy got up and went to take one of the other seats, opening the menu to find Brendan something healthy to eat. And while she was here, she may as well get herself something.
“Hmm?” She turned the menu over in her hands. This restaurant should be named Heart Attack Central. Every other item was some grease-filled, fried or over-sauced . . .
“Yes, Brendan, what is it?”
She looked up, exasperated that she couldn’t find a simple chicken salad among their seemingly hundreds of selections.
“All kidding aside,” he said. “You need to try to be a little bit nicer to my staff. They’re young, they work hard . . .”
“I said you need to . . .”
“I heard you,” she said. “I’m just having trouble comprehending what you mean.”
“Trace, c’mon. You know what I mean. Just now you barely looked at the poor girl when she handed you the menu, and when you do look at her, it’s like she just spit in your face or something.
“And when you come in, you never really speak to anyone unless it’s to tell them to do something, and even then, you sound like you’re . . .”
“Wow.” She slapped the menu down on his desk.
“I’m just telling you what I see. I know you’re better than that. But everyone else around here, going on what they see alone? I’d bet they think you’re a bitch-on-wheels.”
“No wonder I don’t come here more often,” Tracy said dryly.
“Don’t get defensive . . .”
“How can I not get defensive? You’re telling me your staff hates me and that it’s justified.”
“That’s not what I said.” Brendan shook his head, his voice calm.
“And I guess you think you’re helping matters with that ‘Boss-Lady’ crap, like I run you or something?”
Brendan grinned at her. “You do run me. But only because I let you. Because I love you. And because the kind of shit that keeps you up at night rolls right off my back.”
How was it he always knew what to say? Just when she’d worked up a good, solid annoyance with him, he could extinguish it like the weak flame on a half-burnt match. But she wasn’t going to let him do it this time; not when she had a perfect right to be angry.
“Well, I don’t have an appetite anymore,” Tracy said, looking away from him, because when she looked at him, she couldn’t possibly maintain her righteous indignation. “Call Brett back in here. Get your disgusting Philly cheesesteak, and clog your arteries for all I care. I’m going back to my office, where people don’t think I’m a bitch-on-wheels.”
Brendan leaned back in his chair, arms folded behind his head, with the exhausted expression of a man watching a show he’d seen many times before. He heaved a deep sigh and waited. And when he said nothing, Tracy stood and grabbed her purse.
“Thanks Tracy,” he said affably. “It’s always great when you stop by. See you at home later.”
“Don’t count on it!” she snapped before flouncing out of his office. As she passed Brett’s desk, she made sure to shoot her a withering look.