I know it was you, p.1

I Know It Was You, page 1

 

I Know It Was You


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I Know It Was You
I Know It Was You

  by Bobby Mathews

  https://bwmathews.wordpress.com

  The others were coming.

  Maggie put her book facedown in her lap and slid a little closer to her desk so they wouldn’t see. The others moved past her desk, a faceless stream of men in suits, white shirts, and wide ties. Maggie watched them go. No one spoke, which was odd. Usually one or two of them stopped by the desk and flirted. Instead, they dispersed to their offices or desks in the bullpen. There was too much silence. Something was up. Maggie closed her book and slipped it down into her purse before Don stuck his head out of his office.

  “Hey Mags, can I see you for a minute?”

  Now alarm bells were going off in Maggie’s brain. Don Adams wasn’t the kind of guy who used nicknames for anyone, least of all his administrative assistant. Maggie stepped around the table that doubled as her workspace, running her fingers along its Formica surface, just to touch something familiar.

  Don Adams offered her a seat in front of his desk, but didn’t go back to his own leather-backed throne behind the wide cherrywood desk. Instead, he sat next to her in one of the guest chairs and crossed his legs. Maggie smoothed her skirt over her thighs and tried not to look nervous.

  “I don’t really know how to handle this,” Don said. “I need to ask you something. Have you been—I can’t think of the word I’m looking for—moonlighting? Working on the side?”

  Maggie’s hand went to her throat, touched the small silver locket that hung near her clavicle.

  “Yes,” she said. “I’m trying to make enough to buy a new car. Why? Is that a problem?”

  Don sat back in his chair a little and blew air through his pursed lips.

  “Can you tell me what you’ve been doing?” He asked.

  Maggie shook her head. “I don’t see where that’s really any of your business.”

  Don leaned forward and put his elbows on his knees. Maggie had seen this posture before. This was Don’s I’m being serious and caring look. It was as put-on as the rest of him. Don was so carefully thought out, from his Brooks Brothers suits to his razor-cut hair, that he’d never had a moment of spontaneity. Maggie thought Don probably practiced his sympathetic look in the mirror when he was home alone.

  “Listen,” he said, “I know what you’ve been doing. I just wish you’d come to me first. Maybe I could have helped you, so you wouldn’t have to—“ and here Don trailed off, finally running down like a clock spring that’s come unwound.

  Maggie raised her eyebrows. She couldn’t figure out what Don was trying to say, and Don seemed to have lost all ability to communicate. Finally, he reached over his desk and turned the laptop computer around. There, on the screen, was a high-res picture of Maggie. She was naked, and three men were penetrating her.

  “Oh my god,” Maggie said. She slapped the laptop closed so hard that it caught the Don’s fingers. He cried out, more in surprise than pain.

  “Why did you show me that?” She said.

  Don held his fingertips to his lips and blew on them.

  “I told you I knew,” he said.

  “What are you talking about? That’s not me.”

  Don cocked his head to the side, his studied I’m not believing this look. He crossed his arms over his chest and said, “That is you, Mags. Pendleton sent me the link, and by now, all the sales guys have seen it. And you know if the sales guys have seen it, distribution is all over it.”

  Again Maggie said, “It’s not me. It’s really not.”

  Don shook his head.

  “Don’t piss on my head and tell me it’s raining,” he said.

  Maggie drew a deep breath and opened the laptop again. The screen was blank for a moment, but then the offending photo popped back up.

  “Look,” she said. “That girl has a tattoo on her shoulder. I don’t. You wanna see?” Maggie unbuttoned her blouse just enough to bare her shoulders, first on the left and then on the right.

  “And look here. She’s got her nose pierced. I don’t have any holes in my nose. Well, besides the two that are supposed to be there.”

  And now Maggie saw the first real reaction from her boss in the seven months since she’d begun working for Don Adams. His eyes widened as he searched hers, a quick slash of a frown on his face.

  “You—you’re sure? That there’s nothing you want to tell me, I mean.”

  Maggie kept her face composed, unafraid to meet his piercing gaze.

  “I’m sure,” she said. She tilted her head toward the screen. “That’s not me.”

  “All right,” Don said. He pushed the closed laptop away from them, hesitated. “You’re fitting in well here. I just—I just don’t want to have any misunderstandings.”

  Maggie stood up and smoothed her skirt over her thighs, and started to walk away. When she got to the door, she turned. “Is that all?” she asked. Don nodded. He wouldn’t look her in the eye.

  “Even if that had been me, there’s nothing wrong with it,” she said. “You’re lucky I don’t go to HR, you pulling a stunt like that.”

  She shut Don’s office door behind her, then circled back to her desk. She took her time, tried not to let on how much she was shaking inside. It wasn’t just fear. It was anger. She’d known it was a bad idea even before the cameras got rolling, but the money was too good. She’d done everything she could to disguise herself. Temporary tattoos, nose ring crimped into place and making it hard to breathe all the time. Still someone had recognized her.

  Who?

  She couldn’t imagine Don Adams scouring the Internet for porn. He preached at some little church on the weekends, had pictures of Jesus hanging on his office walls. Of course, that was the type, wasn’t it? Preach on Sunday, freak on Monday. Probably got off showing me the picture, regardless of whether it was me or not.

  Don spent the rest of the day with his door closed. His work emails were more terse than usual. Maggie took care of some work orders, set up a couple of meetings for the next week, and tried to get back into her book, the latest Jodi Picoult. It wasn’t working, though. She burned through three cups of coffee that afternoon, even though she knew she’d pay for it in lost sleep.

  Maggie left before Don, not even sticking her head in his office to say good night. She was creeped out enough already, and she didn’t trust her shaky body not to betray her. The ride home was uneventful, and she opened a bottle of wine to counteract the effects of the coffee. She kicked her shoes off in the kitchen, unsnapped her bra and slid it free through the sleeves of her blouse and tossed the damned uncomfortable contraption toward the laundry room.

  In the apartment, things were better. Quiet and still. It was the same old apartment, with its same sprung couch and thrift-store coffee table. Maggie put her feet up on the table and sipped some wine, feeling the dark red liquid seep into her body, lightening her mood ever so slightly.

  Maggie went and dug the Picoult novel out of her purse, returned to the couch. It was easier to read here, and soon she lost herself—at least for a little while—in the lives of people who didn’t even exist in the real world. When her wine was gone, she went for another glass, and then another. By the time Maggie realized that she hadn’t eaten dinner, she was well and truly buzzed.

  A quick call to Pizza-Licious fixed that, and around nine-fifteen, a young man with wispy blonde facial hair and the distinct aroma of pot was standing at Maggie’s apartment door, waiting for a tip. She gave him a five, made sure the door was locked, then tossed the pizza back onto the coffee table and went for the last of the wine.

  The kitchen was dark, but that didn’t bother Maggie. She knew where everything was. She emptied the wine into her glass and tossed the bottle into the garbage. Then she went to the window and looked down at
the street from her third-floor window.

  Boylston Street looked pretty much like it always did, this time of night. Cars were parked and dark. There was barely any foot traffic, except for one man hustling away toward Fifth Avenue. His back was turned to her, but there was something familiar about the set of his shoulders. Maggie stiffened, leaned forward to peer through the blinds. When he turned the corner, she caught a glimpse of a streetlight against wire-framed glasses.

  Don. There was no reason to think it, other than that awkward, awful conversation in his office earlier. But the height was right, the build was right, and Maggie knew she was right. What was Don Adams doing on her street, walking away from her apartment? The thought sent a shiver through Maggie.

  Maybe it wasn’t him. It was, though. She knew it down deep in her bones with a certainty that frightened her. She sat on the impulse
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