Shade's Fall(3)

By: Jamie Begley

Evie’s eyes went to Shade’s before coming back to hers. “I’ve already eaten. I’d better get back; I left Rider doing lunch by himself,” Evie said, leaving before Lily could make up another reason for her to stay, not that it would work. It never did.

Lily slipped by Shade, who made no effort to move away from the door, forcing her to brush her body against his. She then took a seat on the chair, sitting next to his desk.

She had been having lunch with him every day for the last month, and she was determined to put an end to it that day. When he had called her into his office after she had first begun working at the factory, she had thought it was because she was new and Razer’s sister-in-law, but she had been here for over a month and he was still waiting to have lunch with her. She had tried everything to get out of the tense situation, yet somehow, every day at twelve she found herself sitting in the same chair.

Shade closed the door then took his seat at his desk. Handing her one of the plates with baked chicken and vegetables, he then began eating his own food.

Lily took a bite of the chicken while debating the best way to tell him that he didn’t have to tie his lunchtime up with her.

“How’s your arm doing since the cast came off?” Shade broke into her thoughts.

“Fine. The doctor said that it was healed.”

“When does school start back?”

“In a month.” Lily looked down at her food. It went down easier if she didn’t look him in the eyes. Shade was always polite, but he made her nervous. He was friends with her sister’s husband; both men had looked after her since Razer and Beth had begun seeing each other.

“How many classes are you taking?”

“Four. They’re pretty simple ones. I already completed the coursework in my major area. The only courses I have left are just to give me enough credits to graduate.”

Shade continued eating his food silently.

Lily took another bite, swallowing it down as she decided to broach the subject on her mind. Clearing her throat, she played with the food on her plate. “I know you and Razer are friends, and I appreciate the club giving me a job for the summer, but I—you don’t have to eat lunch with me every day, Shade. I can eat outside with the rest of the workers.” Lily released her breath, proud of herself.

“Don’t you want to eat lunch with me?” Shade questioned, his gaze steady on her.

“No. Yes. I don’t want you to feel like you have to keep me company because of Razer and Beth being your friends.”

“Do I seem to be the type to do anything that I don’t want to?”

“No.” He definitely wasn’t that type.

“Good, then that’s settled.”

Wait, what did that mean? Lily was confused and, unless she made herself look like an ungrateful brat, she was stuck for another month of lunches with Shade.

“Have you applied for any jobs yet?” Shade asked, changing the conversation.

“A couple. One in Jamestown, and two in Colorado.”

“Do you think that you’ll really be able to handle a job as a social worker?” Shade’s voice held doubt, which he made no attempt to conceal.

Lily stiffened in her chair. “Yes, I do. Why?” Her eyes rose angrily from her plate to find him staring at her mockingly.

“Well, you don’t exactly take the best care of yourself. How can you look after someone else that needs your help?”

“None of the situations I’ve been in have been my fault,” Lily protested.

“You need to learn to take care of yourself before you can help take care of other people that will be depending on you.”

“I can take care of myself just fine,” Lily snapped.

“You could if I taught you how,” Shade said, leaning back in his chair.

“What? How?” Lily tried to keep track of the turn in their conversation.

“I could teach you self-defense. That is, unless you change your mind about being a social worker.”

“I’ll make a good social worker. I—” Lily argued.

“Good, that’s settled. Monday, when you come to work, bring some workout clothes. I’ll work with you an hour every day at the end of your shift.”

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