Was he flirting?
“Six thirty already,” Dr. Murphy muttered, glancing down at his watch and frowning. “I promised my wife I’d pick up something for dinner. Can you manage on your own for the next few hours?” The last bit was directed at Sansia.
“Like you weren’t doing the project on your own for the past ten months anyway,” Anara grumbled. “I’ll be fine,”
Sansia said, tilting the glasses higher onto her nose and then peeping up to make brief eye contact with Dr. Murphy. “There isn’t much more anyone can help me with now.”
“I wouldn’t dream of leaving you alone tonight, I’ll check back in as soon as I have my family settled. You know how family can be.” Sansia shrugged, she didn’t really know how family could be because she had never really had a family of her own. Her parents had died when she was just eight years old and she had been moving from one foster family to the next most of her life. Her quiet disposition and diminutive size made her an easy target for bullies and the child care department always had to be shifting her to a new location for her own protection.
“Well, I’ll see you later then,” Sansia said.
Dr. Murphy headed out of the door whistling a cheerful tune. “And that’s the last you will see of him until tomorrow morning,” Anara predicted dryly. “Doesn’t matter, he wasn’t helping anyway.”
“Well I’ve finished reviewing the files and everything looks logical to me,” Anara said, getting to her feet and stretching. “Do you need help with anything else?”
“No, I was serious, all I need to do now is reproduce the batch based on my last notes now they’ve been reviewed and update the notes on the subject and pull together the presentation notes for Mr. Payne.”
“So I can go,” Anara said happily. “That means I might still get a chance to see the moon tonight.”
“Didn’t they say something about not going outside tonight if it can be avoided?” Sansia asked. “Wasn’t it something about some of the dust particles potentially getting into the earth’s atmosphere?”
“It’s so crazy, this meteor could pass as close as point five lunar distances from the earth, that’s the closest any meteor that size has ever passed. You think I’m going to miss that?”
“Well, wear shades or something,” Sansia said. “At night? I’d look like a freak.” “Well just be careful.”
“Careful is my middle name.” “No, carefree is your middle name and your first name and your last name.” “Ha ha.”
“Just don’t do anything stupid; you’re the only real friend I’ve got.” “I won’t.” Anara slipped off her lab coat and slipped into her street coat. “I feel like a monster leaving you here.” “I’ll be fine,” Sansia said. “Okay, if you insist.” Hurrying towards the door. “But call me if you need anything.”
“Sure.” Sansia grinned as Anara hurried out of the door and disappeared down the corridor. At least she had the soothing music of the radio to keep her company.
“Mr. Payne.” Sansia jumped to her feet knocking the cup of coffee onto the sheets of paper on her desk. Raydon was dressed in the three piece suit he had been wearing earlier in the day but unlike her he still looked refreshed and full of energy. How did a man that size manage to move so quietly? “Darn it.”
“Ms…” “Beacon,” Sansia filled in automatically, quickly mopping up the hot contents with the white lab coat and wincing as the heat of the liquid seeped through the cotton material and stung her fingers.
“I hope that’s not my report,” Raydon said.
“No…yes…well…kind of,” Sansia muttered, still mopping feverishly.
“Well which is it?” Raydon asked strolling across the room to come and stand directly in front of Sansia’s desk. Sansia couldn’t help thinking that this was the first time the two of them had ever actually been alone together, it was very unnerving.
“No,” Sansia said, holding down her head and focusing on the few drops of coffee remaining on the desk. She was sorry now that she hadn’t allowed her light brown hair to grow long because it would have fallen forward and hidden her face from Raydon Payne’ scrutinizing glare as she bent over and dabbed at the brown spots embedded in the papers on her desk.
“So everyone has deserted you?” Raydon said and it sounded as if they could be just the hint of sympathy in his voice.
Sansia glanced up and noted that his face was not reflecting sympathy.
“I assure you…I…I’m quite capable of meeting the deadline sir,” Sansia said immediately.
“So what did you destroy here?” One finger of Raydon Payne’s lean strong hand circled the desk carelessly.
“Just…” Sansia tried to inhale a deep breath and start again. It wasn’t as if she had never spoken to a drop dead handsome hunk of a man before, actually, she probably hadn’t but she had seen enough of them on television that this one shouldn’t be causing her to experience breathlessness, heart palpitations and sweaty palms. “Mainly rough notes. But…but I’ve already typed everything into the…um…system.”
“That’s good to know.”
“It is, isn't it?” Sansia said, flashing a quick smile of relief. She would hate to imagine having to go through all that work again. Raydon Payne paused for a moment and then said suddenly, “you have a very beautiful smile.”
“Oh.” Sansia dropped her head again, where the heck was long hair when you needed it?
“Perhaps you should email me a draft of the report so I can start pulling my detailed presentation together,” Raydon said, turning on his heel and starting to walk towards the exit.
“Of course, sir,” Sansia said. She got the distinct impression that Raydon Payne was rather anxious to escape her presence. Was he sorry that he had given her a compliment? Did he think that she would assume that he had some kind of interest in her and maybe start throwing herself at him? A man like Raydon Payne must be very accustomed to women throwing themselves at him and Sansia didn’t doubt that he would have rejected many of them, most of whom she couldn’t hold a candle to in the department of looks. “People call my father, sir,” Raydon said as he reached the door. Sansia felt her heart flutter, was Raydon Payne making another pass at her? Was he going to invite her to call him by his first name? “You can call me Mr. Payne,” Raydon said and Sansia felt her heart slump in her chest. She hadn’t realized how much she was looking forward to being flirted with by the young attractive vice president of sales and marketing.
“Of course Mr…” Sansia stopped in mid sentence and stared over at the radio.
“It’s starting.” Raydon chuckled. “Not you too Dr. Beacon.”
“My friend…she said that tonight the experts were expecting a meteor to pass closer to the earth than any have ever passed before.”
“Your friend sounds like a drama queen,” Raydon pointed out and Sansia had to hide the urge to smile, Anara was something of a drama queen. “But they’re talking about it on the radio now.”
“Everything on the radio isn’t true,” Raydon said.
“They say it’s passing right overhead even as we speak,” Sansia said, her face a mask of wonder. “So easily impressed little girl.”
“I’m twenty six years old,” Sansia said proudly. Being just five foot three and barely weighing a hundred pounds always resulted in people believing that you were much younger than you actually were.
“You’re little to me.” Well she was, Sansia thought grudgingly; the top of her head reached just beneath his shoulder. “I imagine quite a lot of people are little to you,” Sansia said and then couldn’t believe her boldness in speaking to Raydon Payne. “I…I didn’t mean that in an…an offensive…” What was she thinking?
“A strange moon?” Raydon said.
“Pardon me?” Sansia asked. “The reporter, he’s saying that they are witnessing some kind of strange moon. Maybe it is something to be impressed about after all. Perhaps you would like to join me at the top of the building and get a peep at what the world is calling a strange moon.”
“I don’t know if that’s safe,” Sansia found herself saying. Part of her desperately wanted to go with Raydon Payne to the quiet secluded roof and part of her was saying it would be the worst idea in the world to go off with a world renowned playboy like Raydon Payne alone.
“Me or the moon?” Raydon asked and flashed her such a brilliant smile that for a moment all thought of common sense vanished from her head.
“The...the moon. They did say the meteor was carrying some…some kind of dust,” Sansia said breathlessly.
“That was the last thing you heard?” Raydon asked.
“I’ve been kind of busy,” Sansia said and then wondered if that came out a little harsh.
“My people inside said that a missile was sent up earlier to destroy it before it came into the earth’s atmosphere. I thought that was the end of the matter but now it seems as if there’s something else going on.”
“Well…I think I’ll just stay here and try to finish up. Maybe Anara…Dr. Shoules will call and fill me in with any pertinent details.” Raydon shrugged. “Suit yourself. But know I’m not in the habit of offering more than one invitation.” With that he was gone. Sansia stared after him in shock. What did he mean by that? Was that his way of suggesting that he had given her some kind of ‘chance’ to be with him? The man was completely arrogant, pompous and self-centered. She would have added a few more choice words to describe Raydon Payne but the ringing of the phone on her desk demanded her attention. Sansia snatched the ringing phone from its cradle angrily.
“Dr. Beacon.” “Are you getting this?” Anara’s excited voice came back.
“Getting what?” “You’ve got to go online and check it out. I’m sending you a video right now, it’s amazing. It’s like the moon has become Swiss cheese. There are all these holes all over it.”
“Don’t be silly.” “I’m serious, just look at your computer.” Sansia logged into her account and clicked on the video Anara had sent her. She was right; there was the full moon and spotted all through it were small black holes.
“That’s so strange. Where are you watching this from?”
“A whole group of us went a little out of town to get a better view. This is the most exciting thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. You have no idea what you’re missing. I could be watching history in the making right now.”
“I guess; it certainly does look weird. I wonder what’s causing it.”
“I don’t know, it only started a few minutes ago and everyone here is completely psyched out.”
“Maybe I should go to the roof and see it for myself,” Sansia suggested. “You don’t have the kind of authority to get to the roof. You’ll be lucky if they let you pass the seventh floor“
"Well Ray…Mr. Payne…”
“Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!” “Anara! Anara!” Sansia could hear the low guttural sound of a wild animal not too far away. What was happening? Was Anara near a zoo or something, was she okay?
“Anara!” Sansia screamed into the phone again.
“Ugh…ugh…ugh…” and then the phone went dead.