She never liked those business dinners specially when it included a big number of people as was the case that evening. It was the bi-annual get-together of all the four branches of her company in UK. Why wasn’t she left to welcome the long longed for spring nights in her small balcony with the company of a good book and a warm mug of flavored tea? Somebody calling her name to introduce her to a senior person woke her up from her daydreaming. She drew a warm, bright smile on her face welcoming that old lady in her early fifties who greeted her with an encouraging remark: “Hello, Faith! I have heard excellent stuff about you.” Faith softly laughed and said with a good humor: “Oh, ma’am! Do not believe everything you hear!” The older woman shared her the good-hearted laughter and suddenly said: “Ah, let me introduce you to Cliff Darcy. Darcy, would you please join us?” She looked where the old lady was calling to find a tall, shockingly handsome man in his mid thirties approaching where they stood. “This is Faith Adams, London branch. Cliff Darcy, Newcastle branch. Faith is handling three major accounts and her reputation is pushing the ceiling.” He looked at her and said in a coarse voice: “Impressive!” She was perplexed by the cold, indifferent tone of that short word he uttered. The lady’s voice cut her stream of thoughts when she said with her friendly tone: “Cliff has just got back home. Top management in the States required his presence over there for four years and we have been fighting for him to return till he finally did a week ago.” She looked up at him and said in the most indifferent way her professionalism allowed her: “How do you do, Mr. Darcy?” “How do you do, Ms. Adams?” She could see a shade of amusement at the corner of his dark grey eyes but it only lasted for a second before him turning to address the older lady discussing some business issues. She was about to excuse herself when dinner was finally announced to be ready.
They all moved to the grand dining room and she was grateful she was not sitting any where close to this arrogant Darcy. Who did he think he was anyway? She pushed him out of her head and decided she would not let him spoil her evening. On her right side sat a pleasant man in his early forties from Manchester branch. She was thankful that he did not actually talk about work, instead, he told her about his wife and new baby girl. He was a simple, easy to talk to man and she did enjoy talking to him till in the middle of a laughter she raised her eyes to meet that cold look upon Darcy’s face laying a lazy pair of icy eyes on her. She smiled at him but he did not smile back. She shrugged and directed her attention back to her talkative neighbor but she was disturbingly conscious of Darcy’s looks upon her.
The dinner was ending and everybody was bidding the others good-bye. She felt very exhausted and thanked God it was Friday. “I will sleep till noon,” she told herself before stumbling down but luckily a strong arm held her up just before actually falling. “I am notorious for falling down all the time” she said laughingly before raising her eyes to her rescuer to find herself in front of the very same person she did not want to see. “I can see that,” he said coldly. “Bear it, Faith,” she thought, “for a few more seconds. You won’t see him for the coming six months.” The thought was pleasant enough that she drew a wide smile on her face before saying: “Welcome home, Mr. Darcy. And a safe flight back to Newcastle.” He ignored her welcoming note and replied in the same coarse voice: “I am not going directly back to Newcastle. I am on vacation for the coming two weeks and I intend to spend it here in London.” Her smile faded away and she escaped his fixed look before saying in a low voice: “Oh, of course. London! Good night, Mr. Darcy.” She turned around hurriedly before he could reply and headed for the door. “Oh, dear Lord, two weeks in London?!!! Maybe if I lock myself up in my apartment, there would be no chance I accidentally meet him. God, do not let me face this arrogant snob or I’ll lose my job for punching a senior employee.” Some voice within told her that her wish will not be granted!