Professional Boundaries(6)

By: Jennifer Peel



Instead of heading home, I headed for my sister, Amanda’s, home. Hopefully the kiddos were already off to school. I loved my nieces, Courtney and Samantha, to pieces, but I needed their mommy this morning. She was only five years older than me, but she had been mothering me since I was little, especially after our own mother walked out on our family when I was just six. Once in a while Joan, our mother, would contact us, but for the most part we didn’t have any kind of a relationship with her. It was sad, but we had dealt with it for so long, we just considered it our life. We’ve never expected anything from her. Besides, our dad was the greatest, and he made sure we turned out alright.

In fact, I think we turned out better than alright, especially Amanda. She was the best mom and wife ever. My brother-in-law and dentist, Zane Culver, hit the jackpot. Honestly, he was great too, but no one held a candle to Manda Panda, as I endearingly called her.

As I pulled into the drive of her perfect suburban home, I realized I had several missed calls on my phone. First, it was Boss, then Delfia, then a number I didn’t recognize, but I did recognize the area code as being from Colorado. I could only guess who that was. It didn’t matter; the only person I wanted to talk to shared my DNA. It showed too. As we got older, we’d frequently been asked if we were twins. I wish we were twins, the identical kind, because Amanda was gorgeous inside and out.

I completely turned off my phone and threw it in my satchel. It felt weird because, to me, it was like an extra appendage and I wasn’t used to being off on a weekday, but turning it off was also kind of freeing. Too bad I liked to eat and pay bills and be a responsible adult. Thankfully, I had a good amount in savings. I had never touched the life insurance money I received from my Dad’s passing either. I was saving it for a house one day. Amanda frequently bugged me about buying instead of renting, but to me, buying a house now was saying I was planning on being single forever. Like a schoolgirl, I imagined I would be picking out my first house together with my husband as we talked about what rooms our kids would eventually have. And, honestly, I just didn’t want to live in a big house all by myself; it would only remind me more of how lonely I was sometimes.

I hurriedly walked up to the front porch and retrieved my key. “Manda Panda, are you home?” I yelled out as soon as I opened her door.

“Come on back, Kelli Jelly,” I heard her yell back from the kitchen.

I rolled my eyes and grinned. Maybe someday we would have to come up with new nicknames. I threw off my heels and walked back to the kitchen to find my sister, Betty Crocker, baking away. It smelled like homemade bread. Perfect, I needed a carb coma.

My floured, apron-clad sister looked over at me from the oven. “Who died now?”

I couldn’t help but cry again. Suddenly, the full weight of my on-the-spot decision really hit me.

“Oh my, did someone really die?” she asked as she came over to wrap her arms around me.

“No, just my career.”

She stepped back and looked at me. “What do you mean, honey? Gary would never fire you.”

“He didn’t,” I responded. I told her the whole ridiculous story. She had never met Ian, but she knew what he had meant to me and how devastated I was when he broke up with me.

“Well, that’s quite the story. Are you sure he knew you worked there?”

“Positive.”

“Hmmm.”

“What does that mean?”

“I just find it interesting, that’s all. Is he married?”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“You don’t find it weird that your ex-boyfriend just all of sudden shows up after how many years and becomes your boss?”

“You don’t know Ian, this has nothing to do with me. It’s purely business for him. He’s an opportunist.”

“I bet he is,” she responded.

“Seriously, sis, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

She shrugged her shoulders and led me to her kitchen table. We both sat down.

“So you’re really going to let this guy take what you’ve worked so hard for?”

I laid my head down on her table and moaned. “What else can I do? I can’t possibly work for him. I used to make out with him, and I told the guy I loved him and he told me that was a complication and never talked to me again, until today.”

My sister grinned evilly. “Was he a good kisser?”

I slowly lifted my head up. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“It’s all in the kiss, right?” She smiled toothily.

“You have no idea.”

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