Alone For Christmas(2)

By: Ashley John

After he grabbed his leather jacket and laptop bag from under his desk, he flicked off his cubicle light. He thought about keeping hold of the contract over the Christmas break and reading through it again before handing it over to Chip. He pulled on his jacket and almost put the folder in his bag, but he decided against it.

Rifling through the stack of papers to make sure he hadn’t missed anything, he walked over to Chip’s office door, but he paused before knocking. He knew Chip wouldn’t care about the contract, considering the eventful couple of weeks he had had. Noah didn’t know how news of his divorce had leaked to the office, but it was all people had been able to talk about in the run up to Christmas.

Before Noah could chicken out, he knocked heavily on the frosted glass in the door and took a step back into darkness. He waited for a response, or any sound of life inside of the office, but there wasn’t one.

“Mr. Harington,” Noah called through the wood as he knocked again. “It’s just Noah. I have the Johnny Wood contract you wanted me to look over.”

Thirty seconds of silence followed, so Noah got the message. Deciding his boss didn’t want to see anyone, he bent down and pushed the folder through the gap underneath the door. As he straightened back up, the door quickly opened and bright, fluorescent light flooded the darkness.

Chip Harington stood in the door, a frown on his brow, casting a heavy shadow over his deep, hazel eyes. He squinted into the dark at Noah, who took a step forward. Chip’s eyes glanced up to the reindeer ears in Noah’s ginger hair. Embarrassed, Noah quickly pulled them off.

“What are you doing here, Noah?” Chip asked with vulnerability in his voice that Noah had never heard before. “I thought everybody had gone home.”

“I just wanted to get this finished before the Christmas break,” he said, quickly scrambling down to pick up the contract he had pushed under the door.

Chip stepped to the side and walked over to his desk, leaving the office door open. Noah took it as an invitation, so he followed Chip into the bright office and placed the paperwork on the desk, next to a half-empty bottle of Jameson Whiskey. Noah wondered how full the bottle had been at the beginning of the day.

With a heavy exhale, Chip collapsed into his leather desk chair and pinched between his brows. It was rare Noah ever saw him in anything other than a sharp, designer suit, but today was one of those days. His tie had been pulled loose and it hung by his half-open shirt, which showed off the light speckling of hair on his broad, muscled chest.

“You’re a hard worker, Noah,” said Chip softly, a small smile forcing its way through his pained expression. “Not many people would stay behind on the night of the Christmas party to get something finished.”

“It’s my job, sir,” he said.

“Not everybody thinks like that.” Chip dropped the hand from his face and looked directly into Noah’s eyes. “I appreciate it.”

Noah was beginning to think Chip had forgotten all about the contract until he picked it up. He flicked through it for a moment, but Noah wasn’t sure if he was even reading. Either way, he seemed satisfied by what he was looking at, and he opened his top drawer and dropped the document inside.

“Good work,” he said as he sat up, unscrewing the cap on the bottle of Jameson. “Get yourself home, Noah.”

“Yes, sir,” said Noah quietly as he watched Chip pour himself a Jameson. “See you at the Christmas party?”

Chip stopped pouring and looked up at Noah with an arched brow. For a moment, Noah thought he had landed himself in trouble, but Chip just smirked and gently shook his head.

“I doubt I would be much fun,” he said, taking a sip of his whiskey. “You’ll all have more fun without me.”

“I doubt that, sir,” said Noah, taking a step back to the door. “You’ve earned this party just as much as everybody else in this office.”

Chip narrowed his eyes over the top of his whiskey glass and stared at Noah, amusement in his gaze. He closed his eyes, tossed back the whiskey and sat up in his chair.

Deciding he had overstayed his welcome, Noah turned around and headed for the door. Before he reached it, he noticed the sleeping bag on the couch under the window, and an open bag of men’s toiletries. Glancing over his shoulder at his boss, he almost made a comment but thought better of it, deciding to just say, “Goodnight, sir.”

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