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Advances in the Workplace

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‘Ma’am,’ Shaz says, putting down a sheaf of files on the D.I.’s desk. The football is on and so they’re alone in the office. It’s the end of the day and Alex is tired. Shaz feels a weird guilty thrill for noticing that. Not to mention thinking of her boss as Alex.

‘Thanks, Shaz,’ Alex says. There’s a silence that is almost but not quite comfortable. ‘I see you and Chris are getting on better.’

‘We’re trying to be friends,’ Shaz says guardedly.

Alex smiles and something deep in Shaz’s chest twists to see her getting things so deeply and absolutely wrong. ‘Nothing more?’

‘No ma’am,’ Shaz says.

Alex, sensing gossip or perhaps a chance for psychoanalysis, stands up, perching on the corner of her desk. She’s taller than Shaz but like this Shaz’s eyes are on level with hers.

‘That’s a pity,’ Alex says. She’s not blaming Shaz, which is a change around here. Most of her colleagues knew Chris before they met her and didn’t trouble to hide it.

‘I think I figured it out though,’ Shaz says. She can’t quite bring herself to look at Alex, so she looks down at her boots instead. ‘Why we didn’t work out I mean.’

‘And why was that?’ Alex asks.

‘A combination of things, ma’am,’ she says, before leaning in and kissing her boss on the lips. Alex tenses as Shaz’s lips meet hers but she doesn’t pull away and after a second her lips part. Shaz is the one to break it pulling back bashfully and managing to look her in the eye. ‘Mostly that.’

‘Oh...’ Alex says at last. For a psychologist she’s been kind of slow on the uptake. Shaz has a feeling she’s just realising this now. ‘Oh.’

There’s a long silence during which Shaz really hopes she’s not fired.

‘Drink?’ Alex says at last. ‘I could use one.’