Lola Hale's Journal

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One Little Mistake

One little mistake! Still, I felt like crawling into a hole. 

It didn’t matter that I’d been trying to juggle the 12 line phone, three urgently needed spreadsheets and a new mini sub order for the procurement dept. while Angie had been out on vacation. I was supposed to be able to multi task and concentrate at the job on hand, and of course, in retrospect, I should have had a little common sense

In my own defense, I’m in Communications, and not normally at the front desk for the Nelson Institute. We often got a few ner’ do wells or men just down on their luck seeking employment. Usually you could tell from the smell. More often than not, from their scruffy, unkempt appearance. This one had two weeks worth of beard, and his turtleneck and jeans had surely seen better days. He had no socks and his sneakers were definitely in need of replacing. He smelled pleasantly of Listerine. A lot of them did that to cover up a booze problem. Rather automatically I waved this one off to the Custodial Department as well. ‘There’re always a few jobs down there,” I said..

But he said he wanted to turn in some papers but had gotten lost and grinned apologetically. So I guessed he’d already been there and gotten himself hired.

It was that grin that was my undoing. Even unkempt, I wondered what a man who looked like him was doing here instead of Hollywood.

Taking the papers, I forced myself to at least look at the header. Some standard forms that needed to go to Human Resources. He said just a few directions were all he needed, but well, I couldn’t let him get lost again, could I? I called Tish to come cover the office. She had the same reaction and vied with me offering to escort him to the correct office

I won out and got the distinct impression he was used to our mini battle of wills, our ‘I’ll do it’, ‘No, I’ll do it’ confrontation regarding him

Silently I thanked Weight Watchers that I fit into my new sweater and form fitting skirt so well. And that I was wearing heels as I accompanied him out of the office. All men liked heels…what on earth was I thinking?  He was Custodial, I was Admin. It would never work. Not that there was anything wrong being a Janitor. It was honest hard work. Besides, he might be married. As we waited for the elevator I stole a glance at his left hand. No ring. He had one on his other hand though. A masculine, refined thing of black onyx and gold. Matched his thick curling black hair…and greenish, golden eyes. I’d never seen eyes like that. Chameleon like…

The ding of the elevator brought me back to my senses but I almost forgot to push the button to take us downstairs.

A few more corridors and we were there. He grinned his thanks as I released him into the custody of Ms. ‘Hawkeye’ in Human Resources, as we called her. Nobody, but nobody got past her background checks prior to signing them on.

Oh, Security had their own checks, but she would be able to tell us height, weight, marital status, girlfriends, boyfriends (heavens, not him!) etc, etc. That is, if she would take her eyes off him. I could swear she was hyperventilating, the old bat. She’s old enough to be his mother! It was with regret that I had to leave him in her clutches.

“Ah yes,” she looked at the forms as I lingered, “Commander Crane. Welcome to NIMR. Now these won’t take too long. I see you’ve already met Lola Hale…”

I cringed. as he signed the papers.  I’d heard about Commander Crane. The Navy’s golden boy drafted for Seaview’s last mission and purloined away from them with more than a little pressuring from Nelson to take on the boat’s captaincy permanently.

“Ah, there you are, Lad,” Nelson emerged from one of the offices, briefcase in hand, and led him away, “I’m sorry I had to call you early from your fishing trip, but we have a new mission and I need to go over it with you.  I’d like us to get underway tonight… you okay Miss Hale? You look a bit…pale.”

“Huh? Oh, I’m fine, sir…Just fine.” (That hole I wanted to jump into was widening as my face reddened.)

“Have you met the Commander?”

“Er. Yes...Sir!” I almost saluted tall dark and handsome. And to think I’d told the new Captain of the Seaview to go to Custodial… Then the other thing struck. He was extending his hand. Ohmygod… to feel, to touch him…I felt myself sway.

“Easy now, I think you’d better sit down Miss Hale,” he helped me to a chair.

“I’m okay..sorry sir,” I said.

“Lee. My name’s Lee.”

“I have to apologize…’

“No need to apologize for feeling unwell Miss Hale,” Nelson said, “Why don’t you take the rest of the day off. I’m sure the girls can handle things here.”

“Thank you  Admiral," I managed, glad he didn't know what had happened.

“I don’t think she should drive, sir,” Crane said, “Can that briefing wait a few minutes? I’d like to take her home.”

“Very well Lad,” Nelson grinned and departed.

“Sir…”I tried to apologize to the Captain again.

“It’s okay, Miss Hale,” he whispered, “My mother always told me not to give up my day job. But if I have to, I’m glad to know I can still count on custodial in a pinch."  But there was no anger in his comment, only mischief in his smile.

And with that, Lee Crane, Captain of the Seaview, took me home, fed my cats, and wished me well as Seaview would probably be leaving in the wee hours.

One little mistake. But I wonder?